SUPRA President resigns
The Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA) has announced that its President, Angelus Morningstar, resigned on Thursday March 28 after a “long and sustained” discussion at the Council meeting. When pressed on the matter, Morningstar explained that he had breached financial regulations. However, as the discussion was ‘in camera’, that is, closed to non-members and without publicly available minutes, the Gate is unable to provide any further details. The SUPRA Executive said that they “cannot provide further comment at this time” as they are currently seeking legal advice. Morningstar has been replaced by former SUPRA Treasurer, Joanne Gad. Ah democracy.
New Pro-Chancellor not pro-USU
A controversial ex-University of Sydney Union (USU) Board Director has been appointed as the University’s new Pro-Chancellor. Dr Barry Catchlove, who will now serve in the ceremonial Pro-Chancellor position, briefly acted as a Senate appointed member of the Board in 2011.
The Gate can reveal for the first time the controversial circumstances surrounding Catchlove’s time on the Board. Long time readers of this paper will remember that 2011 was a traumatic year for the USU as the University attempted to prematurely end its Occupation License, which affords the USU control over the Manning, Wentworth, and Holme buildings. Plainspeak? The Uni was trying to screw over a student organisation. A great struggle ensued and for some time the future of the USU appeared to be in great doubt.
As this played out, another unseen battle was taking place in the Board room. Catchlove had been arguing that the USU should allow the University to take over the venues. This sparked tensions as Catchlove appeared to be acting in the interest of the Senate (which was supporting the take over), despite the fact the rest of the Board and the broader student body were almost universally opposed to the University’s venue grab. One long time USU observer described Catchlove simply as “Spence’s lapdog.”
As the other Board Directors became suspicious of his motives, Catchlove claims he became isolated from the Board, excluded from all-staff emails and not invited to meetings. A source inside the USU at the time told the Gate that Catchlove was accidentally not included in one email. Catchlove eventually resigned in bitter circumstances just a couple of months into his term, much to the relief of everybody.
While there had been conjecture that Catchlove’s appointment to the position of Pro-Chancellor was a reward for his loyal service to Spence, the Dr himself pointed out that the ceremonial position is unpaid and mostly consists of attending hours of graduation ceremonies. The Gate has to admit that, if anything, we would probably classify this as a punishment.
Josh Sprake Zarathustra
Josh Sprake has resigned as one of the three SRC Queer Officers – whose role is to co-convene the Queer Action Collective (QuAC). He resigned last week after news that fellow Queer Officer Fahad Ali (with whom Sprake originally ran with in the Collective’s election last year) and Councillor Evan Van Zijl had put forward a motion to remove him, to be debated at the April 10 SRC meeting.
Ali and Van Zijl accused Sprake of “failure to show any interest in the Collective beyond a desire to attend meetings”, failure to help with organising any Collective activities, “violating collective autonomy” and having a “controlling, dominating and authoritarian presence during meetings that stifles discussion, impairs consensus and creates an unsafe space”.
In his resignation, announced to QuAC via Facebook, Sprake apologised for any behaviour that caused members to feel this way toward him, however refused to accept the allegations made against him, saying he resigned because he no longer feels “welcomed into QuAC,” and believed that the claims were “unfair and unreasonable”, particularly given he had only attended one meeting, because of work obligations.
State of the Union
The USU has suspended the sale of native American-style headdresses by a Union vendor following complaints published in the Gate last week. USU President, Astha Rajvanshi, said they were taking the matter “very seriously” and were seeking the advice of a lecturer specialising in American indigenous cultures. While most of the Board members agreed with the action taken, USU Secretary Zac Thompson said it was wrong to disrupt the vendor’s “right to trade” prior to expert advice.
Board Director, Tom Raue, also raised concerns that the USU’s resolution to support the strike through their marketing department had not been sufficiently acted upon. The USU published one blog post per day of strike activity. “I certainly didn’t assume every time there was a strike we had to do something,” said USU CEO, Andrew Woodward.
UNSW NLS splits
Following the disaffiliation of Sydney University NLS from the national group, UNSW has also dissolved ties. David Bailey-McKay, Convenor of the former NLS branch, has told the Gate that UNSW has faced the same problems Sydney University did, including a “lack of reform”, and that part of the reason for the split was “solidarity with USYD.”
Disaffiliation from NLS appears to have national groundswell, with James Cook University, Griffith, Deakin, and potentially RMIT having already broken ties with the National Caucus.
In response to the split, Kathleen Studdert, NLS caucus member, called the UNSW ex-NLS faction “spinless gimps.”