The term of the 2021-23 Board Directors ended with some procedural changes and lengthy farewell speeches. The Honi editors were greeted by a wide spread of food, ranging from roast chicken and lamb to a delicious pumpkin and feta salad, and dug into what was sure to be a tasty meeting.
Two of the motions on notice concerned the recent election of Board members: the first was to pay Simone Whetton for their work as Returning Officer in the election, and the second was to hand over directorship of Wentworth Annex LTD from outgoing Board Directors Cole Scott-Curwood and David Zhu to incoming President and Honorary Treasurer, Naz Sharifi and Nick Dower.
Wentworth Annex Limited was created in the 1980s to carry the intellectual property (IP) of the USU. It is completely controlled by the USU, as the USU is unincorporated it cannot hold IP. Control of the organisation is handed down each year, with Scott-Curwood noting that there was nothing to report back from his co-directorship other than the fact that the “IP is still held.” with Telita Goile noting that “limited” and “LTD” have the same number of syllables in reaction to Scott-Curwood’s report.
In a more exciting turn of events, Verge Gallery has requested $85,000 of capital expenditure to renovate the gallery and provide more exhibitions throughout the year. Speaking to the motion, Scott-Curwood outlined the recent exhibitions such as Thea Anamara Perkins’ work about her grandfather Charles Perkins’ time as a student and other WorldPride events.
CEO Andrew Mills noted that renovations to Verge Gallery will increase accessibility to people with limited mobility, stating that the Gallery “is the most accessible place on campus, or will be.” The motion carried with no dissent.
The final motion on notice was to approve the skin cancer check reimbursement policy, where all eligible USU staff are able to apply for financial reimbursement for skin cancer checks. Mills spoke briefly to the motion, saying “I’d just like to acknowledge Telita’s leadership on this.” The motion carried with no dissent.
Reports from the wellness and WHS teams acknowledged the work the USU has been doing to “formalise and enhance how we keep people safe”.
Andrew Mills took his report as read, however, Cole Scott-Curwood noted some achievements, particularly in the area of providing free food to students. According to the report, 2000 people have visited the FoodHub since March and received 3000 kilograms of food. He also noted that 60 people a day are accessing FoodHub during the semester break.
Executives then presented their reports. Isla Mowbray, Honorary Secretary, stated: “ It’s been a journey to get here, it’s been a privilege to serve on this Board.” She noted her work in revamping PULP and providing extra support to the clubs and societies, before announcing that “it’s time to spread my wings beyond the board in Berlin.”
David Zhu’s report mainly endorsed incoming Honorary Treasurer Nick Dower: “I could not be happier to hand over treasury to [Dower].”
Telita Goile spoke about the end of her term in her report: “I have had such a wonderful year working here.” She also noted Cole’s support: “Cole, thank you for being an amazing president to work alongside, and happy birthday to Cole, he’s [redacted] today.”
Scott-Curwood discussed the work he’s been doing to provide a seamless transition — “I’ve been furiously emailing people to get my President’s email down to zero and I have five left today.” Readers will be happy to learn that the editors then sent a sixth email.
He noted the initiatives the USU has implemented this year: “We came into this year deploying our operational surplus of 1.2 million dollars in 2022 through to 1.2 million dollars in new initiatives to the USU.” He also highlighted Manning Bar’s so-called revival — stating that the outlet will return to daytime trading in semester two.
Scott-Curwood shouted out Prudence Wilkins-Wheat for her contributions towards revamping PULP — she responded by unmuting herself on Zoom and announcing that she was in Florence. “Gee, what a flex” he responded.
Scott-Curwood went on to speak about the draft Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). He spoke about how the USU plans to seek feedback on the plan, particularly through the appointment of a casual student leadership role specified for Indigenous students to help implement the plan – this opportunity will be made available after financial readjustment.
Finally, he passed around a letter formally announcing the USU’s $2.7m divestment from the Australian Foundation Investment Company (AFIC). He noted that investigation into the USU’s ethical investments produced a “big body of work leveraging expertise in [the] Finance Committee to develop exclusionary guidelines, [and] codify that in our investment policy.”
“The change has taken some time, right from the beginning of my term as president right to the end,” he added.
The meeting progressed with reports from portfolio holders. Sharifi spoke to congratulate “my successors Grace [Porter] and Julia [Lim] for taking on Ethnocultural and Women’s Portfolio.” Noting her excitement to have them serve these communities “that I have loved serving.”
Mowbray spoke of her time as Director of Student Publications, sending well–wishes to Sargun Saluja for the meticulous work of defamation checks, but looking after an exciting publication nevertheless. Madhullikaa Singh continued, mentioning her handover of Environmental and International portfolios to Saluja and the ongoing planning of next year’s International and Enviro fests. Singh also added, “I’m really upset that I didn’t get Taylor Swift tickets.” The editors too failed to acquire tickets before the meeting.
Alexander Poirier, zooming in from Queensland’s Conservatorium library, gave a quick tour and recap of EdCon happenings. They noted the progress of the Disability Space in Manning building and their efforts in involving other student leaders into FoodHub.
The meeting ended with question time. Honi asked about the timely uploading of May and June minutes, with Scott-Curwood responding that previous meeting minutes are only approved at the start of the next meeting.
Honi then asked about the expected timeline for implementing an Indigenous student leader. Scott-Curwood added that with management reconfiguring the budget, conversations with the Gadigal Centre, and resourcing a casual student and permanent role to support development and implementation, the recruitment process could “take as long as it takes.” Scott-Curwood noted that more information would be available in time for the next July meeting.
Questions were then lined up in regards to the USU’s draft Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) — however, when framed that we had a few to ask on behalf of our co-editor Ethan Floyd, Scott-Curwood displayed some hesitancy and added it would be better to have this dialogue within focus groups and this would not be the only opportunity to address the plan – Honi deems it would be valuable as well to answer questions within this public forum where questions can be publicly asked and reported on the plan. Committing to answer students’ concerns out of camera, both publicly and privately.
Scott-Curwood then answered questions in regards to adding free Pixii products in the Gadigal Centre as a key action of the RAP. The USU currency provides free Pixii period products in all 51 USU male, female, and unisex bathrooms, and has been exploring other opportunities through FoodHub and conversations with the Gadigal Centre.
The Board will next meet on the last Friday of July. Honi looks forward to seeing the new Board members take their seats at the table.