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First year students allegedly excluded by new Liberal Club executive

Elijah Abraham reports.

Dysfunction continues to plague the Sydney University Liberal Club (SULC), with a recent complaint made to the USU claiming club members were excluded from an event on factional affiliation grounds.

This is the latest in a string of internal issues for SULC. A recent controversial AGM, which was specially administered by the USU, saw Josh Crawford seize control of the SULC executive with a faction that had splintered from the club’s centre right. In June, a chaotic O-day produced allegations of stacking, non-student sign-ups and misleading advertising. Earlier in the year, in May, the club was dissolved by the USU following sustained factional in-fighting.

The most recent complaint was lodged by Manning Jeffrey, a member of Dom Bondar’s ticket that competed against Crawford for SULC control. In an email to Clubs & Societies, provided to Honi, Jeffrey alleged that he and other first year students were excluded from the “New Members Dinner” which took place on September 8. 

The first year officers, Niamh Cronin and Nam Nguyen, wrote to Manning “We have prioritised attendance based on how early people RSVP’d, and their level of engagement with the Liberal Club and the Liberal Party more broadly.”

“As part of the new executive’s plan to re-energise the Club we feel it is important that we provide new members with the opportunity to meet and network in a safe and casual environment.”

Jeffrey claims he and other first years have been “repeatedly and systematically excluded from participating in the club in the short time since the AGM”. While Jeffrey conceded that he had been involved with the party for some time, he expressed concern for other first years, who he claimed had little club involvement and had supported Bondar at the AGM, saying “they are all clearly being excluded for exercising their simple right to support who they wish in a Club they’re passionate about.”

Crawford told Honi, “No one was excluded from the event on any factional grounds or any other issues other than that, we were prioritising genuinely new members in order to create a safe environment for them.”

It was alleged that Jeffrey and the other students were not “genuinely new members” and that a SULC executive member had put Jeffrey on notice for allegedly continuously messaging multiple executives regarding this event. He denied having ever engaged in harassment.

USU President Michael Rees advised Honi that in response to the complaints, the C&S office had asked the SULC executive to communicate more clearly with C&S and with its members when events were targeted at a particular cross-section of its roster.

“I do not believe that the complaints related to this event are indicative of a systemic problem,” Rees said.

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