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Alumni Council votes down Convocation

Sydney University’s Alumni Council has voted down a proposal to hold a meeting of Convocation, reports Mary Ward.

Last Tuesday the USyd Alumni Council voted against a proposal to hold a meeting of Convocation.

David Burrows, who represents Arts & Social Sciences graduates, put forward a motion for the Alumni Council to write to the Chancellor demonstrating support for the call for Convocation put forward by the so-called ‘rebel’ Senate Fellows, former ALP minister Verity Firth, Radio National host Andrew West, The Conversation’s arts editor Catriona Menzies-Pike and undergraduate fellow Patrick Massarani.

Burrows said the motion went to a vote, but was not passed.

A source told Honi the vote saw 12 votes for, nine against, and one abstention, however no member of the Alumni Council is willing to confirm the exact count.

The Alumni Council is the renamed Standing Committee of Convocation, which has all the powers of Convocation and the power to call a meeting of Convocation. This means if the vote was successful, it would have seen the a meeting of convocation on fee deregulation called immediately.

Both Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence and Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson attended the meeting. Firth, Rebecca O’Brien and Murat Duzdar, known supporters of the proposal, were not in attendance.

‘The Chancellor gave us an update on the University and her work. I have been told that her presentation was already scheduled, and was not related to the motion regarding Convocation,’ said Burrows when asked about who spoke at the meeting.

‘The Vice-Chancellor then presented an update on the federal budget and proposed changes to higher education policy, and gave us his thoughts on Convocation and his intentions for the consultation process,’ continued Burrows.

When Honi sought a copy of the minutes from the Executive Officer of the Council we were told that the minutes are not published and only available for members. The precise confidentiality obligations of members is unclear.

Burrows believes that USyd alumni should be able to voice their concerns about tertiary education policy. ‘As a representative on the Alumni Council, I think it’s vital that alumni have a say in the future of our University, particularly when determining its stance on the Government’s proposed changes to higher education,’ said Burrows.

‘While I respect the important role the Vice Chancellor will play in this process, it is essential that the wider community has a voice in deciding whether or not the University supports the deregulation of fees.’

The Alumni Council has 50 members. Five are the fellows of senate, 36 are elected by graduates on a faculty basis, and nine are members of executive alumni associations who are appointed by the vice-chancellor on the recommendation of the council’s president and the Director of Alumni Relations.

The proposed meeting of convocation will likely be raised at the senate meeting this Monday.