Welcome to our live blog of the USU Board meeting on 28 August.
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We’ll begin our live-blogging of this week’s USU Board meeting momentarily. As a brief disclaimer before we get going, I’ve never attended a Board meeting or used the live blog unsupervised before, so it’s unlikely this is going to go off without a hitch. That said, I have a message thread with the more technically literate Honi editors up and running, so hopefully any tech fuckups on my part should be fixed relatively quickly. In the meantime, please direct all complaints, suggestions, and general hate to me, Georgia Behrens, and preserve your respect for the general competence and professionalism of my nine fellow editors.
Apparently this meeting the Board will be discussing a motion regarding the Fossil Free campaign, a wom*n’s publiction funding proposal, a recommendation related to a student refugee, and a few Capital Expenditure requests.
First on the agenda is a presentation from James Alexander about Incubate, the USU’s student “startup accelerator”(http://incubate.org.au/).
Liam Carrigan now speaking to a motion changing regulations surrounding the use of circular motions (decisions made outside official board meetings).
The regulation would require 100% consensus on a motion being decided by circular, instead of a basic majority.
The motion is passed.
Bebe D’Souza now speaking to a change in the ACCESS Partners Policy so that partnerships that would be beneficial to students would be afforded greater flexibility in meeting financial targets.
D’Souza now speaking to a change in the internal advertising policy (e.g. use of advertising space in USU facilities). The changes would enable greater use of these spaces for the promotion of student campaigns.
Motion to accept the changes to the internal advertising policy pending some wording changes is passed.
Sustainability Portofolio holder Edward McMahon now speaking to a motion pertaining to the Fossil Free campaign.
McMahon: This is an international campaign aimed at getting universities to divest from fossil fuels generally. At USyd, we want to get management to divest from Whitehaven Coal.
McMahon: We should renew our commitment to divestment from fossil fuels, support students involved in the Fossil Free campaign, and call on the university to follow our lead in divesting from fossil fuels.
The motion is passed.
Now discussing Capital Expenditure requests. Discussion of expenditure to convert certain rooms in the Holme Building (the Badham Room and Bodham Bolinsky Room) into USU office space.
It is proposed that the old photography room in the Holme Building will be turned into general USU space, which can be used by students.
VP Bebe D’Souza now speaking to a change in the ACCESS Partners Policy so that partnerships that would be beneficial to students would be afforded greater flexibility in meeting financial targets.
Liam Carrigan seeking to clarify that there will no overall loss of student space as a result of these changes. CEO Andrew Woodward confirms this is the case.
The motion is passed.
Now discussing Capital Expenditure request for minor renovations to the Incubate space.
Director of Student Programs Louisa Anthony says these renovations will make the space more effective and useful for student entrepreneurs.
The motion is passed.
The meeting has gone in-camera for the moment (read: your correspondent has been kicked out).
Alisha Aitken-Radburn now speaking to a motion seeking funding for a USU women’s publication- a history of women’s involvement in the USU. She says it will be more of an anecdotal history than exists at the moment. The book will be a really effective way to engage with alumni. Target deadline is this year’s USU Annual Dinner, but that isn’t locked in. We already have at least 60 people on board.: Marie Bashir and Belinda Hutchison have already agreed to take part.
The motion is passed.
Edward McMahon now speaking to a motion asking for a Palestinian refugee who is a student for a semester at USyd to be given a free ACCESS card.
McMahon: We should be looking into setting up a system where people can come to us in special cases if they have special contributions to make but cannot afford to get an ACCESS card and get involved.
McMahon: I would like to propose that all people seeking refuge in Australia at USyd be granted a free ACCESS card.
McMahon: Let’s look at developing a formalised scheme where people in a precarious position can be given assistance to get ACCESS.
Tim Matthews expresses concern that this will create a situation where students in difficult positions have to come to the Board and “beg” and have their personal circumstances discussed by the Board.
Robby Magyar wanted to know if staff had been consulted. They had.
Bebe D’Souza: I agree with Tim that it shouldn’t be up to the Board to consider these cases on a case-by-case basis. We should just be guiding general policy direction.
Simone Whetton: I think it would be better if we could come up with a general criteria we could apply rather than considering things on a case-by-case basis.
Liv Ronan; I think it could be problematic to approach this on an ad-hoc basis. I don’t think we have to skills to exercise discretion on this sort of thing, so I don’t think it should be in our purview.
Kate Bullen wants to give him an ACCESS card not because he is an activist, but because he is in need.
Kade Denton: I am concerned about the precedent this sets in terms of future decision-making on this sort of thing. I am also concerned about how this affects our public image, and that his activism may disenfranchise certain members of our community.
Robby Magyar: What we could do for this person in his semester here could do a world of good, and it’s only $45.
McMahon: I don’t believe concerns about precedent are particularly relevant here- we’re not a court of law. I think we can grant this as “an exceptional circumstance”, and let it be known that we don’t propose to do this as a matter of routine until a more formal framework has been set up.
Matthews: This sends a bad message to the university community when we say that “if you can’t get an ACCESS card, you have to know a Board Director”. Not everyone knows a Board Director they can ask for help. I also think that someone’s political activism is a bad reason for them to be given an ACCESS card.
Matthews: This is about what happens when the next person, or the next 20 people come to us, and what we say then.
Matthews: I don’t buy that we can grant it this once, and then just knock back anyone who comes to us after this until we have something set up.
Liam Carrigan: We as a board should look at the opportunity this motions offers to create an official policy and program for matters such as this.
Carrigan: I encourage the Board to look at this through a human lens and consider the impact this will have on the individual.
Eve Radunz: What will be the timeline of taking something like this to the governance working party to come up with a more fully-fledged policy?
D’Souza: It could be as soon as next week, it could be next year.
Eve Radunz: I would be happy to support this, but I suggest as a compromise that we send this matter to the GWP and have a special meeting to decide this at a later date.
Bullen: I don’t believe that it’s his activism that makes him worthy for an ACCESS card. We should give him an ACCESS card because he would qualify for an equity scheme we will develop at a later date.
Carrigan: We need to foster a safe environment for all students, so I agree with removing the politics from this so we don’t alienate certain members.
Aitken-Radburn: I do want to know what would happen if someone else came to us tomorrow. I’m still not comfortable we have an adequate response to that.
Denton: I think we’re being quite inconsistent here at the moment. We’re saying that we’ll tell someone who comes to us tomorrow to go away until we have a policy, but we’re going to grant this person a card. I think we either need to say that this person should wait, or that anyone who comes to us tomorrow should be able to have an ACCESS card.
Aitken-Radburn: I agree with Kade on the inconsistencies, and I don’t think I can support it for that reason.
Carrigan: This person is at USyd for just one semester, so there are time pressures. Yes there’s an inconsistency, but I think the time pressure outweighs that.
Now proceeding to a vote on granting the individual an ACCESS card for this semester.
Bullen, Magyar, Carrigan, D’Souza, Radunz and McMahon in favour, Matthews, Aitken-Radburn, Ronan and Denton against.
Board unanimously agrees to work on a policy surrounding the establishment of an ACCESS equity scheme.
Now discussing a motion changing the name of Re-O Day to “O Day” because people were confused and thought it was a Latin American-themed event (i.e. Rio Day)
The motion is passed unanimously.
Andrew Woodward asking the Board for guidance and direction from the Board about what constitutes political correctness. Wants to know why it’s OK for there to a burlesque dancer at Sex and Consent Day, but not to have a back-to-school party- and so on.
Bebe D’Souza says that she tried to propose last year a system where the appropriateness of certain events could be determined by the portfolio holder for the minority for whom the issue could be problematic.
D’Souza now explaining why there is a difference between a burlesque performance and schoolboys/schoolgirls party. “I understand that identity politics and political correctness issues can be difficult, and I think that we should try to develop a better system for vetting these events in accordance with that.”
D’Souza: We should definitely try to develop a better process to enable staff to consult on these sort of issues.
Seems like the entire Board is now eager to school Woodward on why there’s a difference between a burlesque performance and a schoolboys/schoolgirls party. In case you weren’t already aware, it comes down to sex positivity, coercion, and sexualisation.
Seems like the entire Board is now eager to school Woodward on why there’s a difference between a burlesque performance and a schoolboys/schoolgirls party.
Hannah Morris congratulates Woodward on seeking the Board’s input proactively, rather than waiting for something to go wrong and then responding.
D’Souza suggests that until a formal policy has been developed the staff should vet events with portfolio holders.
D’Souza suggests that we should avoid treating “offensiveness” as the metric for whether an event should be held. “Offence is an extremely subjective thing, and this is about avoid discriminatory stereotypes that are harmful to vulnerable groups.”
This issue will proceed to a working party.
Now proceeding to the finance report. I am generally financially illiterate, but am confident in my interpretation of the report as saying that the USU seems to be doing fine in the finance stakes.
Board still discussing financial matters that I am too afraid of drastically misinterpreting to want to blog about.
Now hearing report from Al Cowie, USU’s Head of Marketing.
Signage for gender-neutral bathrooms on the verge of being finalised. There are some complications with getting the correct Braille for the signs, as there is no legally-approved Braille to denote “gender neutral” that can be used on the signs.
In other exciting news, the USU has now cracked 11,000 likes on Facebook.
(Honi Soit only has half that many likes, if you haven’t liked our Facebook page go do it now).
Board is currently working on a finalising changes to the EFTPOS policy so there will be no minimum spend at USU outlets.
Moving on to report from Director of Student Programs Louise Anthony.
Everyone is sad that the USU’s debaters didn’t win at Australs.
Now hearing report from Honorary Secretary Eve Radunz
Constitutional amendments submitted by the Evangelical Union have been approved such that anyone wishing to become a member of the EU will no longer have to sign a declaration confirming their faith in Jesus Christ. “This will make the Club more accessible.”
SMH journalist and my personal idol Kate McClymont will be speaking at the USU Annual Dinner.
Treasurer and VP’s report presented and accepted very expediently “in the interest of time and drinks”.
President’s Report now being presented. Tara draws everyone’s attention to excellent board-staff collaboration recently.
Tara has been meeting with leaders of other university student organisation in her capacity as president to share ideas.
Andrew Woodward now speaking about staff response to Honi Soit’s article about revues. A number of staff were offended by the the article.
Liam Carrigan says that he will liaise with the author of the article and with staff to try and achieve positive outcomes for everyone in the aftermath of the article. In particular he would like to ensure that all student performance groups have adequate access to performance spaces.
And with that, the meeting is closed, and everyone looks to be off to get beers. Except for me- I’m off to do laundry.