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Shi-ster: Abbey Shi’s $50k donation non-existent

“It’s a pretty poor reflection on her character” said former colleague Liam Thomas.

Abbey Shi, the infamous former General Secretary of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), has failed to make the $50,000 donation she controversially promised to the SRC after being censured by the Council last November.

SRC President Swapnik Sangavarapu told Honi that the SRC had not had any contact with Shi since the November Council meeting and that “receipt of the money seems unlikely.” 

Abbey Shi was contacted by Honi for comment but did not reply before publication. She remains in Australia, making a surprise appearance last night on SBS World News to speak about Lunar New Year. 

Ignoring Honi’s messages on national TV

The purported donation arose at November’s Council meeting after co-General Secretary Liam Thomas moved a motion to censure Shi for failing to fulfil her duties during Semester 2 of 2020. Thomas accused Shi of a “complete lack of engagement” and asserted that, despite sending dozens of emails and messages, he had received “no responses.” The motion, which passed with two abstentions, also called on Shi to repay $3000 of her approximately $12000 stipend. Shi is yet to repay this money. 

Immediately following her censure, Shi dramatically appeared in the Zoom meeting, apologised for her absences and promised a donation of $50,000 to the SRC. In November, Shi told Honi the donation was “in ode to the SRC councillors, office bearers, staff and Honi editors who are (and will be continuing to) fight the battle of the SRC’s funding cuts and university fee hikes.” The SRC, including Sanagavarapu and then-President Liam Donohoe, voted to accept the donation in spite of opposition from Socialist Alternative (SAlt) councillors. 

At the time, Shi said that the money came “100% from my own earnings,” citing “the stock surge and CFD trades in times of the rebound of the NASDAQ, ASX and other Asian stock markets.” Sanagavarapu told Honi that “if and when Abbey presents a serious offer of donation, further investigation into the source of the funds…can be undertaken.”

Sanagavarapu defended his initial support, telling Honi that the SRC runs on “a shoestring budget” and that “the difference between costs and desired expenditures is close to $50k…the donation could have been used to benefit students in any number of ways.”

Liam Donohoe was contacted for comment but failed to reply before publication.

Liam Thomas, who moved the original censure motion, told Honi he was “incredibly disappointed” but “not completely surprised” at Shi’s failure to make the donation. He said “the failure to keep her word is unfortunately pretty consistent with the lack of respect she showed towards the organisation and the students it represents. It’s a pretty poor reflection on her character all round.”

Thomas had supported accepting Shi’s money at the November Council meeting, thanking her for her “generous donation.”

Former Councillor Jack Mansell, who voted against the motion to accept Shi’s money, said the donation was “extremely objectionable” and that “the SRC is a political organisation, not a charity case… so $50k just being thrown around is something to be worried about.”

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