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USU Board Meeting: Gigs, A-frames and questions about investments

Last Friday, the USU Board presided over a successful month for C&S events and live performances, emerging issues over a dodgy A-frame, and a debate over the organisation’s investment strategy.

In what was an unusually short USU Board Meeting tucked in the Cullen Room, the Board debated the merits of a review on its investment portfolio and hailed its performance over what was a packed month for live performances and C&S events. 

Dispute over the need for an investment strategy review 

Despite a largely routine Board Meeting, Board Director David Wright and Honorary Treasurer Ben Hines disagreed significantly over the extent to which the organisation should review its investments. 

“I don’t fully agree with the conclusions that you’ve come to,” said Wright. “I have no problem with the recommendation with respect to continuing review of the investment strategy.”

Wright cited an allegedly “extremely strong” investment performance in 2021, “in excess of 24 months of market growth on funding”. Wright went on to say that Hines and the Board should analyse its investment funds in the context of the recent floods’ adverse impact on inflation. He noted that such a review should consider investment performance over “three to five years” instead of a shorter time frame. 

“I’m very comfortable with those investments at this point in time,” Wright continued.

“What I’m not comfortable with is that the Board has not, at this point in time, considered our risk exposure rules; whether or not investments at the moment meet risk tolerance, and whether or not we wish to review the investment manager in that respect.”

Following a lively discussion, USU President Prudence Wilkins-Wheat said she felt that the investment review had not yet been “laid out”, with questions hanging over the review’s objectives. She suggested bringing the review up to the USU Finance Committee for further deliberations.  

Debunking a dodgy laptop giveaway 

In the past week, the USU has faced questions over the origins of an A-frame featuring the giveaway of “10 laptops every day” near the USU premises. A QR code on the frame takes students to a form containing a single identification question. According to CEO Andrew Mills, the A-frame issue was brought to the Board’s attention by Honorary Secretary Belinda Thomas who was lauded for her swift notification. 

Mills outlined the measures that the organisation is taking to rectify the issue and curtail the spread of the potentially fraudulent program.

“We are running through all the primary ISPs [Internet Service Providers] to block and dismantle it,” said Mills.

“I’ve also alerted the University Chief Marketing Communications Officer to progress trademark registration for USU because our logo also includes a crest and therefore we need to submit an application to submit [an] application to IP Australia.”

Gigs, Glitter Gala success, and a nod to Honi 

The Board highlighted the success of its series of live performances and concerts throughout the month, with the CEO mentioning Honi’s reviews of Tyne-James Organ’s alternative rock number, Emo Nite, and a plethora of other events at Manning Bar. Mills also noted an upcoming classical music performance paying homage to Chopin at the Holme Building. 

Similarly, Nick Comino, holder of the Queer Portfolio, spoke on the success of the USU’s Glitter Gala event two weeks ago, congratulating the Board on a packed night. 

Following these discussions, the Board promptly went in camera after just under half an hour’s worth of deliberations. Whether this development is a positive for the Board Directors’ campaign promises for a more transparent USU remains unclear.  

Update: A correction was made to correct attributions of comments from USU CEO Andrew Mills to Board Director David Wright.

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