New Otago University Students' Association president Ruby
Sycamore-Smith, with former president Francisco Hernandez.
Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A lack of work for graduates means former Otago
University Students' Association president Francisco Hernandez
is heading to Wellington.
Mr Hernandez is leaving Dunedin after being involved in
student politics in the city for almost five years, which
included spending last year as president of OUSA.
He leaves proud of his record as president, saying the
association made strides during the year.
These included signing a memorandum of understanding with the
Dunedin City Council and negotiating the trial of a 25% bus
discount for students - something the association had long
been fighting for.
He struggled to convert student political success into wider
arenas, failing to win a seat on the city council and in a
bid for a post in the New Zealand Union of Students'
''I have been really successful at using politics to make
life better for students, but I haven't been able to use
politics to make life better for myself, which is ironic,
because it is usually the other way around.''
He was sad to leave Dunedin, but felt he had little choice
after failing to find a job here.
''I did try and look for work in Dunedin, but there is just
very few jobs for graduates here.''
He hoped to eventually move back to the city.
''I definitely want to be back in Dunedin. This is a really
nice city and I want to live and raise my family in Dunedin
He will divide his time in Wellington between finishing his
master's degree and doing part-time work for Catholic support
agency Caritas and a company called Inspiration Education.
He still holds a seat on Otago University's council, which
means continuing to fight for Dunedin students and regular
visits to the city for meetings.
The biggest concern he has for the future of OUSA is the fact
that in a postvoluntary student membership (VSM) environment
it is now almost completely reliant on the university for
funding - as opposed to being directly funded by students.
''The biggest challenge that OUSA faces is the university
relationship. It's really good at the moment, but maintaining
that will be a key thing.''
''I actually think [VSM] hasn't helped the relationship.
Everyone says it has helped, but at the end of the day you
can't have a genuine relationship when it's one party giving
He is confident new president Ruby Sycamore-Smith has what it
takes to run OUSA.
Ms Sycamore-Smith said she had always been ''a good supporter
of Fran'' so it would be a matter of continuing his ideas and
''also coming up with some creative and vibrant ideas'' of
Ongoing issues with slow internet access, increasing support
for clubs and societies and getting students to vote in the
general election are among her priorities for this year.
She decided to run for president after enjoying the step up
from campaigns executive to welfare executive last year.
''It was a huge step up and a lot more responsibility, but I
kind of enjoyed it more. I got to spend a lot more time at
OUSA and was involved in a lot more projects.''