Friday 27 September 2019 1:48pm
A new book explores the story of the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) from 1980 to 2015.
Audeamus! We Dare! written by former OUSA staff member Philippa Keaney follows the story of OUSA and the students who have been part of its journey for the 35 years between 1980 and 2015.
Since its creation in 1890 OUSA has been tasked with providing representation, advocacy, support and activities to enhance the student experience.
Ms Keaney, who had previously been a ghost writer for a biography, decided to take up the challenge of writing the book in 2015. She began to spend her free time trawling through old OUSA records, minutes and issues of the Critic to compile the history of the association into a narrative.
“This process has made me aware of how much change has happened in a short period of time,” she says.
The book follows the period when there were nominal student fees, through to the introduction of student loans as well as a shift in tertiary education as a whole, she says.
The changes also brought opportunity; they opened up tertiary education to the masses, with the University of Otago roll growing from 6,500 in 1980 to 12,000 in 1990.
"This process has made me aware of how much change has happened in a short period of time."
While students adjusted to a new tertiary system, OUSA also had its struggles during the period – with voluntary student membership introduced.
“I was really impressed with the way the Association realigned itself and with the University’s willingness to work with the students’ association.”
The other big change the past 35 years of OUSA has brought is a shift away from political engagement as an organisation, Ms Keaney says.
The shift to a semester calendar for the University year, with a potential for three exam periods, diminished the time available for collective interaction and engagement with national and international political concerns, she says.
“That’s certainly a loss. If you read the 1980s minutes they were engaging with everything.”
For Ms Keaney, one of the big positives which stood out to her was the impact women have had in the Association.
“We’ve had these incredibly strong women as association secretaries over many years and they’ve provided a welcome dose of support and consistency, and have been a counterweight to that new executive year by year.”
Audeamus! We Dare! is available to buy from the OUSA website, the main office on Cumberland Street and at the University Book Shop.
The Audeamus! We Dare! Book Launch is being held at Staff Club on 28 Sep from 5:30pm.
Guest speakers include:
Mark Henaghan, Emeritus Professor Otago, Auckland University
Aaron Hawkins, Dunedin City Councillor
Philippa Keaney, Book Author