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USU Board Meeting: Clubs, Catholics, and Consent

The board met, and meet they did.

The USU Board met for their monthly meeting on Friday in the ever-illustrious Cullen room.

Catholic Society response

The meeting began with open question time where USU President Irene Ma responded to a question regarding the Catholic Society’s Life Week activities and their ableist poll on Eastern Avenue. Student media received a statement from the USU following the meeting.

The Clubs & Societies (C&S) team was first alerted to the event on the afternoon of Monday April 26. It was determined that the event had not been organised or approved by the USU or C&S. 

“USU staff questioned the use of club collateral and branding across the event, explaining that it looked very much like it was in fact a Catholic Society event,” said Andrew Mills in a statement.

Individuals operating the stall explained to USU staff that the event had been organised by the USyd Chaplaincy through the University.

Following this, the USU wrote to the Catholic Society requesting an internal investigation into why the event used CathSoc signage and branding and was promoted on their social media channels. USU management has invited the Catholic Society executive to meet and discuss the issue further.

President Irene Ma stated that the C&S Committee has called for an urgent meeting to discuss the matter and decide how to proceed further.

Consent Week

After talks with the Women’s Collective, the USU has decided that the proposed Consent Week will be held in Semester 2 Week 2, saying that Enviro Week and the upcoming elections occupy much of Semester 1’s remaining calendar. 

While in previous years it has been referred to as “Radical Sex and Consent Week”, the USU has exclusively referred to the event as “Consent Week” in all their discussions. When contacted for comment, SRC Women’s Officer Kimmy Dibben said that the Collective had noted this new language and had informed USU President Irene Ma that they will not participate if the name remains as is.

“We believe the conversation is as much about positive conversations around sex as it is about consent and sexual violence prevention,” Dibben told Honi.

Dibben also refuted the reasoning for the delay to Semester 2. “The main reason for the push was venues not allowing us or even getting back to us,” said Dibben, noting that the Collective had asked the USU for assistance in securing Eastern Avenue but were rebuffed.

The name and date were not the only point of contention though, with Dibben saying that while past Radical Sex and Consent Weeks have received between $2-3k in contributions from the USU, the Board only planned to allocate $500 to the event.

When asked for comment, Ma denied that the USU refused the Collective assistance and reaffirmed that the event did not go ahead in Semester 1 because of a short turnaround.

“We agreed that when we were presented a solidified plan we would happily assist in facilitating it.”

She went on to say that the $500 funding figure was floated at their initial meeting and that as an unbudgeted event, it would be financed from Wellness Week’s budget.

Manning…re-activated?

CEO Andrew Mills declared the ‘Return to Manning’ party a “great success”, saying that with over 450 students attending the event throughout the evening and only a $700 deficit, Manning has well and truly been activated. Given this success, the CEO expressed an interest in running further events throughout the year, with colleges and other clubs in talks about collaborations.

And now to Finance

Referring to the first quarter, CEO Andrew Mills said that the USU was tracking well, with the student union only running at a $25,000 loss with revenues of $182,000. Sponsorship, ACCESS rewards, and Host Co. remain underperforming, with all three divisions missing their forecasts. On the brighter side, USU outlets, particularly food and beverage, are overperforming by 2-3 times their projected revenue.

On the topic of ACCESS rewards though, Mills expressed an interest in analysing the purchasing data of ACCESS rewards members to identify trends and outcomes. He then indicated that said data would be de-identified if this were to occur.

Semester Two Welcome Day (s)

Mills indicated that C&S feedback has led to the USU expanding Semester 2 welcome day by an extra day or two. Club executives expressed that such a short window of time would not be sufficient for promotion or recruitment.

Miscellaneous notes

  • Board Director Ben Hines was the only one to open his bottled Santa Vittoria. When questioned after the meeting, fellow director Prudence Wilkins-Wheat said that while she usually would drink hers, the water provided at Friday’s meeting was sparkling, not still.
  • Board Director Cady Brown had not one, but TWO laptops open. Honi is uncertain why she needed such raw computing power.
  • President Irene Ma indicated that her report contained a “story”, but the board accepted the report as having been read. We’ll have to wait till 2023 for the release!
  • The Board is seeing Queer Revue tonight, with Ma saying that she is “very excited”. 

The meeting went in camera at 1:29pm. Honi was not allowed to be in shot.

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