During the confidential ‘in camera’ portion of today’s USU Board meeting—in which the general membership were not allowed inside the room—the USU Board voted 8-5 (in secret ballot) to pursue costs against former Vice President Tom Raue by deed, at an as of yet undisclosed rate.
Honi understands that the suggestion to pursue costs by deed was first put forward by Senate Appointed Director Simone Whetton. A separate motion, that would have allowed the Board to simply pursue Raue in court for full costs, reportedly failed by a margin of 10 votes to 3. Instead, Raue will now be presented with a deed requiring him to consent to, what is understood to be, yearly payments. If he refuses to do so, the Board will effectively be returned to square one: reconsidering the question of whether to pursue costs through the courts, or through an independent debt collector. The former will be costly to the union, and the latter unlikely to recoup the full $50,000.
In response to the decision, Raue, who was not allowed into the meeting, stated he would not pay if he could avoid it, and that the USU would have to pursue him in court. ‘When I initially released information I knew it would come with a lot of challenges. I did not do it in personal interest but in the interest of students. I knew I may have had to pay costs. Even though I disagree with politics and actions of certain directors, I did not expect them to pursue costs against me. The decision to spend $100, 000 was not mine. [The case] could have been done without hiring senior counsel, junior counsel and a law firm. I ran my case for free. The person responsible for this cost should not necessarily be me, or the Board but the managers who sought to remove me from the position.’
The board initially refused to release the outcome of the vote until 5pm. However, following the occupation of the board meeting room by student activists, the Board passed a procedural that allowed the results to be released immediately.
The Board’s decision to resolve the vote by secret ballot, when the discussion itself was already confidential, openly disregards any commitment to transparency adopted by the USU this year, further suggesting a reluctance by individual directors to account for their position amidst public controversy. Yet despite attempts to conceal identities of the voting blocks, Honi understands that the 8 directors who voted to pursue costs were President Tara Waniganayaka, Olivia Ronan, Alisha Aitken-Radburn, Kate Bullen, Kade Denton, Tim Matthews, as well as the two senate appointed directors
The timing of the vote—within a month of executive elections—mirrors the timing of last year’s vote to remove Raue from board, and suggests a desire by management to leverage directors’ executive ambitions against them in supporting the management’s agenda.