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USU Board meeting: Common Room to be transformed into performing space

$33,000 will be spent to make the space safe, with additional funding to be sought from a SSAF infrastructure grant.

As Honi trudged to the board room without an invitation for the second time in two months, we knew in our heart of hearts that this would be both the best of times and the worst of times. And we were right. There were barely enough seats for me and my fellow editor and it stretched on for over an hour – the longest meeting I’ve witnessed this year. But god if it wasn’t the best damn board meeting yet.

Finance

USU CEO Andrew Mills reported a high level of activity in April and a large portion of May, with food and beverage outlets once again outperforming their budgeted estimates and REWARDS, venue hire, and sponsorships failing to meet their targets. Same as it was, same as it ever will be. While the balance sheet is sure to be buoyed by unbudgeted graduation revenues, Vice President Nick Forbutt queried Mills on how the union plans to reverse this continuing trend. While the CEO said that strategies were being developed in an “ongoing process” and that a “recovery plan” was in the works, no specifics were mentioned.

Membership

USU membership experienced some gains during the month of festivities. Enviro Week saw approximately 100 new members sign up and somewhere between 400 and 500 new members joined across the election period. Andrew Mills captured the moment perfectly, when he said, “In summary, there’s a lot of activity there.”

Social media

A boardroom stoush broke out over the union’s social media figures, with the CEO reporting positive trends for all platforms except Twitter, which lost a whopping three followers. A lively discussion was sparked by Immediate Past President Connor Wherrett’s proclamation that the USU was not “fulfilling [their] destiny.” Wherrett claimed that both follower and engagement counts were not enjoying real growth, despite the turnover of new students. Directors’ Ben Hines and Ruby Lotz chimed in with their agreement, bemoaning the frequency of sponsored posts and unoriginal content.

“USyd posts a photo of the Quadrangle, and we post a photo of the Quadrangle,” lamented Hines.

The Common Room

$33,000 has been budgeted for the refurbishment of the long abandoned Common Room. Dangerous flooring, exposed electricals, and water inundation (among other things) plague this juicy piece of Holme real estate. A SSAF infrastructure grant application will be submitted for additional funds, as the USU intends to transform the space into a multipurpose performing space. But between now and November (when the Uni will consider SSAF infrastructure grants), the USU will use that $33,000 to make the space safe and usable.

Epic gamer moments

Andrew Mills declared the gamer lounge event at Hermann’s bar a huge success, saying that the USU would look to host more of these in the future.

“Really, for the gamers it’s great,” Mills said.

Senate Appointed Director David Wright wryly pointed out that this was about video games, not poker machines. What a scoundrel!

Performing Arts Working Party

Both Honourary Secretary Benny Shen and Andrew Mills touched on the working party throughout the meeting. The working party is comprised of 12-15 members from across the campus performing arts, with Mills having hosted them at Courtyard weeks prior. 

“It’s all about the principle of co-design,” Mills explained, noting that the Common Room might just be the beginning, with the possibility of a Reading Room refurbishment being explored.

Pulp editor resignation

An editor of Pulp has stepped down and the USU is on the hunt for a replacement. Despite our best efforts, we do not know who it is or why they resigned. The only thing for certain is that everyone at Honi gives a warm farewell to whoever it is that resigned. It won’t be the same without [insert name here].

Hermes

When asked about the future of the USU’s flagship literary journal, President Irene Ma said that it was a matter for the future executive and that last year’s had been trashed due to the financial impact of COVID. Here’s hoping that Australia’s oldest literary journal has friends on the incoming board!

The Catholic Society

Following the USU’s promise to meet with the Catholic Society’s executive and conclude their response to the society’s actions in April, Honi was informed that while the meeting went ahead and that there was indeed a “conclusion,” Honourary Treasurer Cady Brown would address the matter further in her executive report. To the best of our knowledge, she did not. What this vague “conclusion” is, we cannot say – but it might be a matter for the AGM.

Radical Sex and Consent Week

Wom*n’s Portfolio Holder Belinda Thomas confirmed that the previously titled “Consent Week” would return to its original title “Radical Sex and Consent Week.” 

International student engagement

Following a question from Pulp, both Mills and Ma confirmed that almost every USU event had been live streamed for remote students. Mills went on to say that SSAF funding applications would be submitted to fit every USU room with live streaming capabilities.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Ben Hines, Benny Shen, and Nicky Rigby were the only ones in attendance to drink their bottled Santa Vittoria, with Nick Rigby visibly guzzling his down. Hines claims that Nick Forbutt and Cady Brown had theirs as well, but Honi was unable to verify this claim.
  • Ben Hines’ hair was looking more bronzy than usual. Honi was unable to identify the source.
  • Connor Wherrett said he’d be 30 minutes late but only ended up being 15 minutes late. An outstanding achievement for the Immediate Past President!
  • There were a LOT of questions, with ongoing directors gunning for prez attempting to demonstrate their acumen for accountable governance. It cut both ways though, with Connor Wherrett and Nick Rigby, two departing board members, going out with a bang.
  • Before the meeting commenced, NLS Board Director Ruby Lotz was chumming up with the Liberals in a corner. Is the machine well and truly dead? Stay tuned to find out.
  • Vikki Qin zoomed into Friday’s meeting, but at one point, she joined the zoom twice. Vote stacking gone wrong or just a simple mistake?
  • Connor Wherrett loves his lollies.
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