In a unanimous vote yesterday afternoon, first year board director Oscar Bai has been censured by the USU Board for failing to meet his attendance obligations.
The Board also voted on suspending Bai’s remuneration, privileges and benefits, which carried with 11 votes for and 1 abstention from Bai himself. As a result, Bai will not receive his May or June stipends and his meal card and director-only discounts are suspended until 20 July.
The Special Resolution notes that this has been a repeated occurrence, specifically listing 10 events where the Executive felt that Bai breached his Board duties. Further, Bai has received multiple written and verbal warnings regarding his behaviour and potential consequences.
On 21 August 2019 President Connor Wherrett met with Bai to inform him that he was in breach of his fiduciary duties when it came to trying to influence the decision making process of the New Club Panel as he had undeclared conflicts.
In response, Bai messaged afterwards saying “People you think are friends are attacking you on trumped-up charges. Do you know that feeling?”
On 1 October 2019 Vice President Lachlan Finch met with Bai saying “he needed to lift his game as a board director”, with Oscar accepting and pledging to do so.
On 8 April 2020 the Executive emailed Bai, concerned about his attendance record, where he was given a warning that his failure to attend meetings could put his directorship on the line. Bai never replied to the email.
Bai apologised at yesterday’s meeting and described the motion as a “wake up call”, committing to improve his performance. He also noted that being an international student during the COVID-19 crisis has proven difficult. Bai himself is in China, and was unable to return to Australia as a result of the travel ban imposed by the Morrison government on 1 February this year.
However, with USU meetings continuing online, and his breaches dating well before the travel ban was instituted, it raises questions over the validity of his partial excuse.
Honorary Treasurer Maya Eswaran was the only director to speak to the resolution yesterday, where she noted that the motion was focused on supporting Oscar.
Speaking to Honi Eswaran said, “It is unacceptable for paid directors elected by the student body to not satisfy the minimum requirements of their role. It’s important that board directors know they will be held accountable, especially when a new set of students will be joining the Board in June. Having passionate and committed directors goes to the heart of our ability to remain an independent student-run organisation, which has the confidence of its staff and members.”
This is the first censure against a board director in five years.
Honi reached out to Bai for comment however he did not respond in time for publication.