The USU Board has officially censured director Tom Raue for perceived violations of his duties and the Board’s regulations.
The censure motion was passed with 7-1, with two abstentions.
The Board claimed he had acted against his constitutional duties of “promoting the interests and furthering the development of the union” and to “accurately and without distortion represent Board policy on any issue”.
In July, Mr Raue spoke out against members of controversial pro-life club LifeChoice Sydney, and was warned by the Union Board.
Later, in his capacity as SRC Vice-President, he published a report in Honi Soit condemning the USU for approving the society.
A third incident occurred when he encouraged members of the Sydney University Atheist Society to boycott Interfaith Week, a USU program.
Mr Raue claimed that his personal dissent from the Board regarding LifeChoice and Interfaith Week strengthens the Union.
“By criticising board policy, I’m trying to do what’s best for the Union,” he responded during today’s board meeting.
“I believe speaking freely about USU Board matters furthers its development. No reasonable person could read my comments as misrepresenting board policy.”
The censure motion was moved by USU President Astha Rajvanshi and seconded by Honorary Treasurer Rhys Pogonoski.
“We have ways to dissent internally,” Ms Rajvanshi said. “Tom could’ve questioned LifeChoice at Board meetings, or with the programs department, or made a working party to deal with it. This isn’t a rebuke for his beliefs. It’s a rebuke for the way he expressed them.”
But many disagree with the Board’s decision.
“The comments he made were personal [opinion],” said left-wing student activist Brigitte Garozzo.
“Other Board directors have done far worse without being censured.”
Former USU Vice-President Melissa Brooks called the decision “outrageous”.
“We used to censure directors for gross negligence and undermining our negotiations, not engaging with members.”
Today’s censure motion was essentially symbolic. Many of Mr Raue’s supporters believed a second censure motion could lead to his removal from the Union Board, but Ms. Rajvanshi was quick to explain this was not the case. Any board director can be removed by a two-thirds majority vote of board directors at a special general meeting, regardless of whether or not they have been censured, or how many times.
A small update was posted on the Union Board Blog later, saying “this action will not necessarily result in his removal from the Board. However, if future actions by Tom Raue are found to be in breach of our Constitution and Regulations, it could result in such an action being taken.”
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