The USU Board held a special meeting yesterday to consider the organisation’s 2021 budget. The meeting passed by almost entirely in-camera, but it was a number of Christmas-related controversies which, to the gratitude of Honi Soit, enlivened proceedings.
Student media cruelled by Secret Santa
Yesterday’s meeting was the first in-person meeting since the onset of the pandemic. Directors were given the opportunity to choose whether to attend in-person or via Zoom. Originally, seven directors indicated in-person attendance, clearing the way for Honi to join proceedings. However, a number of directors subsequently reneged and indicated they too wished to physically attend so as to participate in the Board’s Secret Santa, effectively locking out Honi Soit due to COVID room capacity restrictions. As a result, Honi was relegated to the purgatory of a laggy Zoom room.
The USU’s much-vaunted ‘transparency review’ remains curiously opaque. Completed in September following criticism of the Board’s in-camera policy and general opacity, the report produced several recommendations aimed at improving the transparency of the organisation. Following opposition to two of the recommendations at the October Board meeting, the recommendations were not voted on, and the issue has yet to be included on agendas, despite repeated promises by President Irene Ma to do so. President Ma has yet to authorise the public release of the October minutes, vaguely citing “workload.” Honi has been assured that the report, recommendations and draft amendments will be released by early March, six months after their completion. The October minutes pertaining to discussion of the review, which have not been released due to Ma’s “workload”, will be released whenever Ma deigns to get around to it. One employee told Honi that the USU was “the least transparent student organisation in Australia” and “less transparent than some of the dodgy charities that get caught up by the ATO.”
Scabs and stinges
After a year of drastically reduced hours and significant unpaid overtime, USU employees were thoughtfully and generously thanked for their hard work by the Board with Coles gift cards worth as little as $10. The gift cards come amid an ongoing union boycott of Coles. USU employees were scathing in their response: “honestly fuck the bunch they’re worse than Coles” said one. “It’s pretty representative of who they are when their Christmas present for an entire year’s worth of free work is helping scabs” said another. Another employee asked “how are we a ‘union’?” Christmas shopping certainly can be a fraught pursuit, but Honi recommends the Board put a bit more thought in next Christmas!
Pulp regulation changes
Before Honi was dispatched from the virtual boardroom, the Board passed new regulations which allow them to appoint an unlimited number of editors for Pulp, the USU’s student publication. The position of Multilingual Editor was abolished. These changes follow on from October’s Board meeting, where the position of Senior Editor was created.
The 2021 budget was dealt with entirely in-camera.