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Morris withholds info from Board on recommendation to Senate

Justin Pen reports on the Board Directors that weren’t.


USU President Hannah Morris has failed to consult the Board in a recommendation to reappoint Senate-appointed Board Directors Emma McDonald and Simone Whetton, whose terms expired on 31 December 2013, according to information received by Honi Soit.

Four Board Directors, who wished to remain anonymous, have confirmed that Morris submitted a recommendation to the Senate, the governing body of Sydney University, without consulting the Board.

Morris’ recommendation has since been retracted, following the revelation of information to the rest of the Board.

Both Senate-appointed directors have had continued access to the Union’s mailing list and Dropbox. They have continued to receive messages and circular motions pertaining to Board decisions.

Minutes from the February meeting reveal that Whetton attended and voted on at least two motions, which pertained to the “Reallocation of Student Space into Admin Space” and “Capex re Cellar Theatre and Upgrade”.

It is alleged that Morris was aware that McDonald and Whetton’s terms had expired at least a fortnight before other Directors were informed.

A number of USU Board Directors were independently informed that the terms of the Senate-appointed Directors had expired, prior to an informal, weekly meeting of the Board on Thursday, 3 April.

The four Board Directors also confirmed that Morris indicated she had already taken care of the issue and that a recommendation to Senate had already been made without the input of other Board Directors.

They also indicated that Morris had asked the Senate-appointed directors not to come to the March Board meeting. During the meeting, Morris told the Board that McDonald and Whetton had given apologies but remained otherwise silent on their absence.

Decisions which occur at ‘Board Weekly’ meetings are considered too inconsequential to require record or publication.

Notably, the reappointment of McDonald and Whetton would have impact upon the Board Executive’s capacity to remove USU Vice-President Tom Raue, by way of special resolution. The USU Constitution requires that two-thirds of Board Directors vote in the affirmative to successfully remove Raue from Board.

In a situation where 11 Directors are present and voting, Raue must raise at least four votes to save himself. If McDonald and Whetton were reappointed and present at the special meeting to sack Raue, he would instead need five votes to prevent his removal.

Though no formal regulations exist regarding the recommendation or determination of Senate-appointed Directors, this year the Senate emailed Morris to ask for the Board’s recommendation.

The process to appoint Whetton last year was reportedly long and drawn-out.

Senate-Appointed Directors hold one-year terms, subject to the discretion of the Senate. The Senate has discretion to ask Board for recommendations, but may appoint Directors without consulting the Board.

“The recommendation for appointment or reappointment of Senate appointed Board Directors is an internal process that Board will determine”, Morris said.

“I will be providing all information possible to assist the Board in making this decision.”

Four Board Directors, however, have claimed that requests for Morris’ email correspondence with the Senate have been ignored.

The decision to re-appoint outgoing Senate-appointed Directors McDonald and Whetton is now under the deliberation of the whole of the Board.