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Board rebuffs USU communications plan

Justin Pen attended a bored meeting to deliver this report.

USU Logo

Last Friday’s USU Board meeting saw the rejection of a new communications strategy, which promoted the Union to the University of Sydney student body.

The proposed plan was panned for its emphasis on brand promotion, and its failure to create a dialogue with students.

Concerns about the plan were first raised by Vice-President Tom Raue, who argued it could potentially discourage students from expressing legitimate concerns with USU operations.

“We shouldn’t be selling the Union to students, we should be the voice of students,” he said.

Raue also raised concerns about the sponsorship of USU events and programs by Sydney businesses, arguing that excessive corporate sponsorship had eroded the Board’s ability to communicate and promote events to its students.

Board Directors Robby Magyar and Bebe D’Souza agreed with Raue. The pair pointed towards the recent Members’ Forum on USU Transparency, where similar concerns were raised by members of the student body.

D’Souza cited concerns raised at the Forum that student leaders should not necessarily be “brand ambassadors”.

The Board unanimously agreed to return the plan to marketing and communications for alteration.

The Board also approved a request for additional capital expenditure intended for the further development of the Laneway Café, which is slated to replace the newsagency on the second floor of the Wentworth Building later this year.

Several recommendations to amend the constitution were also raised by Board Director Kade Denton, which were unanimously assented to by Board in anticipation of the Union’s Annual General Meeting on 28 May.

Noteworthy among the proposals was a recommendation to replace every instance of “women” with “women-identifying” within the USU constitution, in an attempt to increase inclusivity within the Union.

Discussion of sales and marketing report also revealed that, though revenue from ACCESS cards had declined, the total amount of card sales had risen. This follows the drop in membership cost, from $99 to $75, in 2014.

The meeting was Raue’s first since he was suspended from Board following recent legal action between the Vice-President and the Board Executive.

Two hours of the meeting were conducted in-camera, during which members and staff were temporarily vacated and forced to wait in the hallway.