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Wright still in USU after bureaucratic error

Alexander Wright will remain a member of the University of Sydney Union for the time being following “inadvertent procedural inadequacies” in the USU correspondence with him, John Gooding reports.

The Holme Building. (Image: lostoncampus.com.au) The Holme Building. (Image: lostoncampus.com.au)

The University of Sydney Union (USU) has annulled a set of resolutions expelling Alexander Wright from the Union due to “inadvertent procedural inadequacies” in the Board’s paperwork.

At the most recent Board meeting, recommendations to expel Wright (who in May 2013 took a naked photograph of a female student and showed it to other students without her permission) and debar him from exercising his rights as a member until the expulsion had resolved were passed unanimously. However, in an email from USU President Tara Waniganayaka to Wright prior to the meeting notifying him of the motions, Waniganayaka incorrectly advertised the date of the meeting at which the motions would be heard as November 28 instead of October 31.

There is no explicit mention of a ‘notice period’ in the USU Constitution, but “the Board is committed to abiding by due process and procedure in all affairs, and in light of the above, has formally rescinded the resolutions,” said Waniganayaka.

Identical recommendations are set to be heard by the Board at the next meeting, on 28 November; according to Waniganayaka, this time around Wright has been given both due and correct notice.

“I would like to emphasise that the rescissions of the resolutions had absolutely nothing to do with the substantive content, but only the procedure around the matter.

The woman affected by Wright’s actions discovered the photograph had been taken and shown to multiple people eight months after the incident, when she was showed the picture by a third party. As there is a six-month limitation between when an offence is said to occur and when proceedings are commenced, Wright could not be charged by police with committing a crime.

Two days after Honi first reported that Wright had taken and shown the photograph, Wright then appeared at a Union event which the female student was also in attendance. Wright was then asked to leave after reports of intimidation of both the female student and other attendees.

“The conversations that ensued raised questions of the extent to which, by remaining silent, the Union was abrogating its constitutional responsibilities to provide and maintain safe spaces,” USU Board Director Liv Ronan wrote in a USU blog post shortly after the October 31 meeting.

“These resolutions stand as a crucial reinforcement of the Board’s commitment to protecting the safety and welfare of its Members. Where Members have their welfare jeopardised, it is the duty of the Union to ensure that this is not perpetuated or worsened in its own spheres.”

UPDATE: This story previously did not specify who within the USU was responsible for advertising the incorrect date to Wright.