Participation, engagement, and diversity

Tom Simmonds, incoming president of VUWLSS, discusses his vision for 2023.

man with white shirt collar black jacket, with mussy hair
I am extremely grateful to have been elected VUWLSS president for 2023 and can’t wait to see what the year ahead brings.

I was born and raised in Auckland before deciding to move down to Wellington for university, and I have loved it ever since. Next year I’m going into my fifth year at Victoria University of Wellington, studying an LLB and BA majoring in politics and international relations. Outside of my studies I’m a big sports fan. I enjoy playing cricket during the summer, and I’m always keen to spend time with my mates on the weekends. Despite an unprecedented few years with COVID-19 and protests, I have loved the experience I’ve had at Law School, and have made many great memories and friends during my time at the old Government Buildings (OGB).

As president for 2023, it’s my goal to increase engagement on campus and bring the Law School back to life after the interruptions of the past few years. Socialising with others is crucial for the mental health and wellbeing of students, and being able to connect with my peers in person has made a huge difference for me as I’ve worked through my law degree. Facilitating engagement on campus through events and initiatives will be a key priority for VUWLSS in the new year.

As teaching shifts back towards in-person learning in 2023, supporting students who can’t attend in-person classes is also extremely important, and VUWLSS will continue to advocate on their behalf and make sure their concerns are addressed by the Faculty. Additionally, I know that OGB can be a pretty daunting and challenging place, particularly when you’re a younger student in second year, and I want to make sure that campus and library aren’t too intimidating for new students.

Despite significant improvements, the Law School is not as diverse a place as it ought to be. Māori and Pasifika are systemically disadvantaged by New Zealand’s legal system and are also underrepresented in the Law School community, and these institutional problems must be better addressed. The representative groups—Ngā Rangahautira, Pasifika Law Students’ Society, Asian Law Students’ Association, VUW Feminist Law Society, and Rainbow Law—are an integral part of our community at Law School, and VUWLSS will continue to support the incredibly valuable work they do to enrich the experiences of students.

I’ve met terrific people during my time at Law School and made great memories, and it’s my goal as president to help ensure that others leave the halls of OGB with the same positive experiences that I’ve had.