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USU receives historic funding allocation

Michael Rees reports on the fun that was the USU AGM.


The University of Sydney Union (USU) will receive its largest annual allocation of Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) funds since the abolition of compulsory student unionism, according to its yearly financial report.

At the 42nd Annual General Meeting of the USU, held last Wednesday, Treasurer Sophie Stanton reported the USU will this year be allocated $3.2 million in funding from the SSAF, along with $1.8 million from the University’s capital sinking fund.

Stanton also reported that the USU had achieved a budget surplus of $11,317 in 2013. During this time, the organisation generated a total revenue of $21,831,624.

USU President Hannah Morris noted that the seat of the USU at the SSAF negotiating table remained as important as ever. In her Presidential speech, she said, “autonomy over SSAF allocation is a gift which we should not give up.”

Stanton did not include the sum of the legal costs incurred by the USU during the Tom Raue dispute in her report, as they have not yet been finalised. The Board is also yet to determine whether it will enforce a court order for such costs against Raue.

In her annual report, Hannah Morris spoke to concerns about transparency and accountability within the USU. She said that the board aspired to be “more consultative as we attempt to make decisions, more transparent in our decision-making processes, and to be held more accountable to the decisions that we make.”

Additionally, she asked members to be “critical and constructive in the way you approach the inadequacies you perceive of [the USU], and work with us to find solutions.”

Notably, Morris did not mention the controversy surrounding Tom Raue, which has featured prominently throughout much of her term as President.

Amendments intending to replace the word ‘Union’ with the acronym ‘USU’ in the organisation’s Constitution were questioned by incoming board director Alisha Aitken-Radburn. Current directors Robby Magyar and Bebe D’Souza noted that they had raised similar concerns in internal board meetings.

USU Honorary Secretary John Harding-Easson said that the University of Sydney Union is legally registered as the ‘USU’. He also noted that a number of major trade unions use acronyms in official documents and communications.

All 2013-2014 Board Directors were in attendance, with the exceptions of Karen Chau and Tom Raue. Raue was unable to attend the meeting as he is presently banned from campus.