Tom Greenwell has been elected president of the postgraduate association, SUPRA, with the vice-presidency split between Lily Matchett and Alexandra Nixon, at the organisation’s annual general meeting on Tuesday.
This week’s meeting was the second attempt at a general meeting for SUPRA, after their first meeting was called inquorate with fewer than the 25 councillors needed in attendance.
The organisation has long been plagued by low constituent engagement, with only 190 votes cast in the most recent council election, despite receiving $1.3 million SSAF funding this year.
The meeting’s ‘repselect’, where recently elected councillors vote on the new executive and named positions for the upcoming term, predominantly saw members of the broadly left Postgraduate Action (PGA) and Lush elected, as well as a smattering of Labor and independent candidates.
Mike Butler and Kiriti Mortha also contested the presidency, with Kevin Dong elected treasurer. Dong will be tasked with returning SUPRA to a surplus, after it ran up a $50,000 deficit last year.
Cameron Nottingham and Melanie Stevenson were elected joint secretaries, despite being absent from the meeting. The Director of Student Publications role went to former Honi Soit editor Nick Rowbotham. Ahmed Suhaib was re-elected Education Officer.
Tuesday’s AGM followed a controversial election earlier this year, with the two main left-leaning tickets, Postgraduate Action and Lush, splitting over disagreements between them.
In a statement, Postgraduate Action indicated concerns Lush’s policy regarding the University’s Strategic Plan only included “ensur[ing] the voice of postgrads is heard in development, modification and deployment of the plan” and did not include “any meaningful position on the university restructure, fee deregulation, or free education.”
Postgraduate Action then merged with a number of previously unaffiliated students, including those from Labor, as well as Lily Machett and Tom Greenwell, who disaffiliated from the Grassroots faction at the same time. Rival ticket Lush then found itself without the necessary votes to affect the outcome of the meeting.
A number of constitutional amendments were also passed during the AGM. The most controversial of these altered the definition to “women” in the constitution, to “female identifying and non cis-male.”
A more specific definition was recommended as part of the Returning Officer’s report, meaning that the current 12 councillor positions required by affirmative action are now open to non-cisgender students of all identities. At the most recent election a number of the candidates occupying positions elected via affirmative action were elected without a single vote, raising further doubts about the ability of SUPRA to adequately engage with the student body.
* In full disclosure, Oliver Moore ran as a candidate in the 2016-17 SUPRA elections, but was unsuccessful.