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‘It was nice to see all of the lesbians’: April Board Meeting Recap

Audits and elections and investments, oh my!

Huddled in a boardroom on the second floor of the Holme Building, the USU Board gathered for its third board meeting of the year on Friday.

Cost of living initiatives 

The USU is planning $170,000 worth of new food initiatives such as six dollar meals and free food truck events that have graced Eastern Avenue in recent weeks. Immediate Past President Prudence WIlkins-Wheat said that they “love it” and “always take advantage of it,” with President Cole Scott-Curwood adding that he “really like[s] it too, because it’s so cheap.”

So far this year, 3,500 free meals have been delivered to students, out of 10,000 promised by the board. Advertising for the role of Foodhub supervisor has also been released online, meaning that the program can expand to a “breakfast club”. Students will be offered a free breakfast on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 9-11am, with the intention that they will then be able to access Foodhub afterwards.

There has been a fraud

The Board touched on an incident in which a staff member defrauded the USU, stealing money from its laden coffers. They explained that rather than taking the incident to the police and imposing formal penalties on the individual, they are taking a “compassionate approach” by offering the individual a payment plan.

As a result, the USU has made efforts to ensure that a similar incident doesn’t happen again. So much so that CEO Andrew Mills has identified his focus for this month to be “risk”. 

The USU is in the process of protecting their logo via copyright, which was not done until now. This led to an occasion last year in which the USU logo was used to promote a competition promising a free MacBook to students. They are also negotiating with the University to gain rights to use their logo to make merchandise.

Audit season is in full bloom

A large part of the meeting revolved around the recent audit completed by the USU. Auditors reported that there were “no material misstatements” with the exception of an error on the balance sheet that had to be corrected, and the aforementioned instance of fraud.

At the close of this section, Alexander Poirier asked if there was any progress on club and society audits, to which both Scott-Curwood and David Zhu replied that “this is a completely different type of audit.”

Scott-Curwood then moved the Board forward to financial reports. The USU appears to be in a good position, requesting further capex funding to continue supporting students.

They also reported that they are changing investment firms, as part of their move towards divestment. They have made changes to their investment policy, including appointing a new investment manager and approving the proposed investment plan. The USU will be divested from unethical sectors by June 30, with further acquisition to continue through 2023.


Some of the finer points of the meeting involved an amendment to the process of passing circular motions: instead of unanimous assent for these (largely administrative) motions, the Board will now require that two-thirds of Board Directors vote in favour of circulars.

Madhullikaa Singh then asked if there was any risk to reducing the majority, to which Scott-Curwood replied that if Directors were uncomfortable with anything passed via circular motions, they were able to make it a regular motion instead. Adding to this, Mills noted that it was a more practical way to manage “simple, procedural” circular resolutions.

Portfolio reports

Naz Sharifi kicked off the reports, saying that updates to the ethnocultural room were well underway. She congratulated the food and beverage team for the diversity of cheap food options on campus, particularly the inclusion of Halal, Kosher and vegetarian options at the food truck.

Alexander Poirier spoke about the queer and disabilities portfolios. They noted the passing of Lesbian Visibility Day, saying it was “nice to see all the lesbians”. Poirier was unsure of any queer events coming up. Mills reminded him that the Queer Revue was happening that weekend. 

Poirier then mentioned that the Disabilities Collective will be releasing a report on the upcoming Disabilities Space. Additionally, when asked about the expected opening date for the space, he reported that while USyd had said it could be expected in September 2024, when pushed they amended it to September 2023. Finally, Poirier said that there will be a Disabilities Week next semester.

Singh delivered a report on the Enviro Fair, saying that it was changed from Enviro Week to allow it to continue beyond a week. She said that the speaker series was successful, workshops were effective, and thanked the marketing team for their work redesigning the event.

Singh also noted that she is working with SUPRA, USyd Student Life and The City of Sydney on an event to celebrate 100 years since the first international student arrived on campus.

Finally, question time came. Honi asked whether the USU had an issue with staff retention in light of Rebecca Sanhi’s retirement and changes within hospitality outlets. Mills reported that they were working hard not only to retain but to recruit new staff, particularly with graduation festivities approaching. He noted that there were 500 casuals employed by the USU, and that they receive benefits such as a meal card.

The Board will next meet on the last Friday of May. Honi looks forward to the free food.