The Sydney University Boarders and Skiers Club (SUBSKI) have had a rocky start to the year, having been issued with a final warning from the USU mandating any further breaches of regulation will result in the club’s deregistration.
The move follows SUBSKI’s suspension from the Clubs and Societies program in February, after a complaint was received regarding inappropriate content in a newsletter sent to all attendees of a SUBSKI Japan trip in early 2018.
Following the incident, the USU asked SUBSKI to provide a written submission outlining why SUBSKI should be permitted to remain in the C&S program. SUBSKI’s response on March 9, 2018 included potential implementations such as holding pre-trip information sessions on responsible drinking, a training pamphlet for committee members, and instating an Equity Officer to provide support on nights out.
These proposals were deemed “impressive” by the USU Board, who at Friday’s meeting lifted SUBSKI’s suspension from the C&S Program.
The Board also suggested appointing a Women’s Officer to assist in changing SUBSKI’s culture, and said they were “very hopeful” about the effectiveness of these measures.
These events are the latest in SUBSKI’s tumultuous history with policy and regulation since its inception in 1997. The club was formerly affiliated with Sydney University Sport and Fitness until 2012 when misdemeanour by SUBSKI representatives on a New Zealand ‘Tour of Duty’ trip resulted in SUSF cutting all ties with the group.
SUBSKI then approached the USU in 2014 to become members of the C&S program. In spite of the group’s infamous issues concerning sexual harassment and bullying, the USU allowed the club to reform under C&S, provided they comply with strict conditions. Such measures included compulsory training in sexual harassment for the executives of the club, as well as sexual harassment and bullying lectures for all attendees of overseas and interstate trips.
For the most part, SUBSKI adhered to these conditions and dutifully carried out training seminars, however, they failed to meet several other requirements of operating within C&S. Last year, an individual who had been implicated in instances of intimidation and harassment on a trip in July was elected into an executive position in November.
The executive’s inadequate response to the complaint made this February prompted the USU to evaluate SUBSKI’s overall compliance with the C&S guidelines imposed in 2014. Upon deeming SUBSKI’s conduct unsatisfactory, the Board decided to suspend SUBSKI’s registration at that time. This meant they were excluded from the OWeek festivities on Eastern Avenue this year, as only those registered under the C&S program are afforded an official stall. As a result, the group was left trying to recruit new members from a small marquee beside Cadigal Green, far removed from the energy and activity of the main OWeek proceedings.
In a statement to Pulp, SUBSKI President Tristan Oldfield said that as a result of the suspension, the club “received 437 new memberships in 2018, which is 50% less due to exclusion from OWeek” and called on the USU to “give [SUBSKI] a fair go”.
At Friday’s meeting of the Board, the USU expressed serious concerns about the extent of an entrenched negative culture, making note of SUBSKI’s repeated history of breaching acceptable standards set by the USU and the USyd Code of Conduct. SUBSKI’s status as a registered club now depends on the effective implementation and compliance with measures targeted at changing the deeply entrenched culture.