Category Archives: Administration

Discussion Dinner and Annual General Meeting – 2013 Semester 2

pizza Monday 29th July,   5:30pm onwards,      School of Biological Sciences Tea Room     (Thomas Building)

There will be an AGM,    then we will hang out and have snacks and discussion,   followed by pizza dinner ($5 for paid members, $7 for non-paid members). 

5:15pm – Executive Meeting

6pm – Annual General Meeting (all members)

6:30pm – Discussion Dinner and Socialising



Science: What is the difference between science and pseudo-science? Why should we be skeptical of pseudo-science? Are we just being close-minded by rejecting pseudo-science?

Religion: In principle, could we ever prove the existence of God? What kinds of things would count as evidence? What is the difference between having evidence for something’s existence, and proving something’s existence?

Ethics: Do considerations of environmental concerns, and treatment of animals suggest that we should be vegetarians? Is agriculture damaging to the environment? Is it acceptable to kill an animal, supposing it is sentient just like a human?

Politics: What are the motivations for the GCSB bill surrounding public surveillance? What will be the positive and the negative effects of such a bill?

Science: Thousands of people believe they have had experiences with aliens and UFOs. Does their testimony count as evidence? Why or why not? When should someone’s testimony count as evidence?

Philosophy: Supposing we could predict the actions of some person, but were not in anyway causing that person to act in any way, can that person still be said to have free will?


Some cool old RSS posters

david tennant velma whatdoesitmeandarwin emilystrange jamesrandi

Semester Two, 2013

News from the Exec Meeting on Monday:

  • Skepchicks Group: We will be starting a subgroup for women in RSS. There are not many women in RSS and we hope to increase the numbers, we will have women at the sign up stall, start a coffee group, and perhaps start a FB group. Watch this space for details.
  • Some talks in the Pipeline for next semester:
    Open Culture: Why it matters; why you should care.
    From Is to Ought.
    Reductionism in science.
    REAL debate.
    Islam 101: The history and the teachings.
    Feminism: The role of Men in Feminism; Skepchik and Elevatorgate; The ethical terrain of abortion arguments.
  • We will continue to have weekly meetings but also make some of these movie nights and social events rather than always having seminars/lectures.
  • Future dinners will need to cost more (or fundraising?) in order to cover costs of so much pizza!
  • Fundraising was considered but no firm plans have been made.
  • New Exec Positions:
    President: Kieran David Deane-Alder
    Secretary: Zachary Ardern
    Deputy Secretary: Jenny Zhi Cheng
    Treasurer: Simon Wegner
    Media Officer: Joshua Guilbert
    Anti-Harassment Officer: Talia Sellars

(Other bureaucratic things were discussed but they are not really relevant to general members)

Exec+ meeting for second semester 2013

Monday 24th June, 6pm, Shadows 

We will be having a meeting primarily for exec members on Monday 24th June at 6pm at the back of Shadows on campus. While this is an exec meeting if you would like to join the exec for second semester please come along to the meeting. We would also like to have more undergraduate students (to take over in future), more womenmore event organisers, and basically anyone who isn’t just more of the same (white male postgrads). 


Up Coming Events – March 2013

Discussion Dinner: Meet and Greet

Tuesday 12 March, 5:30pm
School of Biology Building Tea Room
Paid members Free OR on the day $5.

A Talk on Charter Schools by Peter O’Connor

Tuesday 19th March, 6pm
Arts 1 Room 315
Speaker Profile:  Associate Professor O’Connor is an internationally recognised expert in applied theatre. His research has focused primarily on using applied theatre as a public education medium to address major social issues including public health, gender equity in schools and the development of inclusive, empathetic and critical school cultures. Recent applied theatre research includes national programmes on preventing family violence and child abuse and parenting programmes in Youth Justice Facilities. His work in Christchurch following the February earthquake has lead to UNESCO funded research and programme development. In 2011 he was named a New Zealander of the Year by North and South Magazine for this work. He is currently engaged in the ongoing debates about charter schools and the nature of quality public education. Peter was previously the National Education Manager for the Race Relations Office and the National Project manager for the Like Minds campaign with the Mental Health Foundation. His 2003 PhD on his work in forensic psychiatric units won the 2006 AATE Distinguished Dissertation Award in Washington DC.

Same Sex Marriage and Religious Exemptions: 

How New Zealand Law and International Human Rights Law Interact. 

Tuesday 26th March, 6pm 
Arts 1 Room 315
Abstract: This talk will give an overview of how international human rights law has developed since its origins in the aftermath of World War II, and how that body of law now interacts with New Zealand’s own law. Against that background, the current debate about same sex marriage, and the case for religion-based exemptions from solemnising same-sex marriages, will be explored.
Speaker Profile: Paul Rishworth joined The University of Auckland Faculty of Law in 1987. His research interests are in the field of human rights and comparative constitutional law, and South Pacific legal studies. His work on the New Zealand Bill of Rights has been widely cited by peers, practitioners and judges. He has worked over the years as a consultant and advisor for government agencies and groups, including the Human Rights Commission, in New Zealand and overseas, on issues ranging from restrictions on hate speech to the autonomy of religious organisations to hire and ordain leaders. Paul was the Faculty Dean and the Head of the Department of Law 2005-2010. He remains involved in the litigation of civil rights issues in the higher courts and in community organisations. Most recently he submitted in person the NZ Law Societies submission to the same same-sex Marriage Bill. Details of this submission and the NZ Law Societies position can be found here:

A Talk on His Book: “Seeking God In Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design”

Friday 29th March (Good Friday), 5:30pm
Biology Building BLT100
About the book: The doctrine of intelligent design is often the subject of acrimonious debate. Seeking God in Science cuts through the rhetoric that distorts the debates between religious and secular camps. Bradley Monton, a philosopher of science and an atheist, carefully considers the arguments for intelligent design and argues that intelligent design deserves serious consideration as a scientific theory. Monton also gives a lucid account of the debate surrounding the inclusion of intelligent design in public schools and presents reason why students’ science education could benefit from a careful consideration of the arguments for and against it.
A podcast of an earlier discussion with Bradley Monton is available here:

Meetings in 2012

We had our first meeting for 2012 last week, where Natasha talked about pornography in the meeting called “Make love not porn?”. This week we’re going to be discussing the Kony 2012 issue, and next week local skeptic and magic man Nathan Grange is joining us to talk about magic, skepticism and psychology. For more news and discussion (and event invites), please join our Facebook group!

We’re meeting this semester on Fridays at 5pm (usually finishing at 6-7) and the room is Case Room 1, Owen G. Glenn building. For now the priority is to get some more meetings organized and get the meeting organizers more organized. If we get all that done, we might look at adding a second weekly meeting time, especially for those who can’t come on Friday evenings, but probably not until the second half of semester if at all. We have no current plans for meetings during the mid-semester or exams break.

Posted by Richard

The second semester begins

Tomorrow the second semester begins at the University of Auckland, and RSS resumes after a two week break from meetings.

We’ll be having a stall from 10 til 3 each day this week. We’ll have fliers and information about the club and upcoming events, with around a dozen RSS people taking turns behind the table. If you would like to drop by or direct a friend to our stall, it will be at the same location as last semester, i.e. by the big sculpture located between the Kate Edger IC, the quad, the recreation centre and the maths/physics building.

Our meeting times for this semester are Mondays and Thursdays at 5 pm. Our Monday meeting time is unchanged from last semester, but the location has changed (slightly) to Case Room 1 – right next to Case Room 4 where we had them last semester (in the Owen G. Glenn building, ground floor). Our Thursday meetings will be at a new room – G25, a seminar room in the East Wing of the Clock Tower (where the graduate centre is; between the main Clock Tower and Elam B – building 119).

You can see where these buildings are on the map if you’re not sure. I suggest you check them out beforehand if you’re not familiar so you can get there on time (I hate getting texts during a meeting asking me where it is – as if I’ll be paying any attention to my phone!).

Later in the semester we’re going to have to switch to a different case room on Mondays, but Case Room 1 will be our location for at least the first 6 weeks. Meetings finish between 6 and 7 pm – it just depends how long speakers and/or the audience want to stick around on the night.

Some of our upcoming meetings include discussing “how is religion affecting society” (Mon 18 July) and “should we end the war on drugs?” (Thu 21 July), “what is rationalism?” (with Dr. Bill Cooke, Mon 25 July), a quiz competition evening (Thu 28 July) and “Darwin and religion” with visiting scholar Dr. Ted Davis (1 August). We’ll be discussing a range of interesting topics again this semester, some being chosen by popular consensus, and we’ll have lots of new and old guest academics joining us to talk about their area of expertise. To be kept up to date about future meetings, be sure to join us on Facebook, Google Groups or both.


New regular meeting time/place

Hey all

We now have a new regular meeting time and place – in addition to our Monday 5pm Case Room 4 slot. From the first week back after mid-semester break (i.e. starting Thursday 28 April) we’ll be having meetings in OGGB5, in the Owen G. Glenn building (level 0) from 4-5pm.

This second regular meeting time should be especially good for those who can’t make the Monday 5-6 pm meetings, and will allow us to cover more topics and have a bigger impact.

When can you come to RSS?

Hi everyone

Now that a lot more people have joined RSS, we want to get some input from the new participants on when we should have our meetings. Our meeting times are based on when is most popular amongst our members, as well as when guest speakers are free. We may also be having a new regular meeting time in the second half of semester, so the most popular non-Monday timeslot will be selected for that. Here’s the link – please fill in the times when you’re available on a typical second half of the semester week (time period roughly mid April-mid June). We use this information in deciding when our non-fixed meetings and one-off social events are held too, so please have your say – it often comes down to one or two votes to decide which time to do something.


I have completed the online AUSA reaffiliation form a few days ago and it has been received. Reaffiliation will probably occur this Wednesday around noon at the student forum in the quad, since I’m pretty sure we have met all the requirements. I’ll confirm (or deny) this closer to the time.

Update (22/3/11): AUSA are holding their AGM this Wednesday, so we’ll be reaffiliating next Wednesday on the 30th of March (see our calendar).