My screen was awash with a sea of purple as the USU board came together to celebrate Wear It Purple Day. But while the day was purple, the USU is in the red.
CEO Andrew Mills reported that the USU has served up over 2000 lockdown lunches so far from their kitchens.
Mills spoke to proposed changes to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. According to Mills, these changes would place advocacy organisations at risk of being deregistered “even if they have not broken any laws.”
Mills expressed concern that these changes would hold not-for-profit and charities accountable for the actions of their members, with any illegal behaviour compromising the organisation as well as the individual.
Senator Rex Patrick has provided formal notice to the Senate that he is moving a disallowance motion on these new ACNC powers. In response to a question from USU Board Director David Zhu, Mills said the USU would “wait and see” what happened in the Senate before involving the student union in any efforts against the reforms.
Senate-appointed board director David Wright was less concerned with these changes, saying that he’d “like to know” if an employee or affiliate of the USU was engaged in illicit behaviour.
With a budget deficit of $59,361 having been originally projected for July, the $153,951 surplus that the USU closed the month on is glad tidings. That surplus is unlikely to remain though, with a “less positive” result for August planned.
July’s numbers have undoubtedly been buoyed by all staff agreeing to voluntarily reduce their hours by at least 1 day and supplement their income with disaster relief payments. In response to a question from Pulp, the Board reported that amongst staff who have applied for relief payments, all applications have been successful.
The USU’s WeChat account received the most monthly growth, with 382 new followers. But all platforms experienced some degree of growth. The USU’s Instagram welcomed 151 new followers, while their Twitter and Facebook saw 19 and 15 new followers join their ranks. Twitter’s growth exceeding that of Facebook should be welcome news to ex-President Connor Wherrett, who used his final months as an ex officio board member to express dismay over the USU’s social media strategy.
To the USU’s website, the C&S page received over 45,000 views during Welcome Fest, a 218% increase from last year. 357 of those views can be attributed to the Arts & Crafts Society, who received the most hits of any club profile. This uptick in views extended to the USU’s entire website, with over 107,000 visits, totalling to a 514% increase on last year. I’m not sure what this means for the health of the Union, but it’s surely good.
President Prudence Wilkins-Wheat noted that, like most organisations, the lockdown has “hit us pretty hard.” Wilkins-Wheat is pursuing a number of projects to keep students engaged though. The USU Board Instagram has been revived and a collaboration between the USU and SRC on a student life e-newsletter is in the works. In a note to Honi, Wilkins-Wheat said that the USU, with specific mention to Board Director and Con Student Belinda Thomas, was working with the CSA to resolve many of the issues that arose from a recent article.
Pride Week is coming up, with the USU festival having been successfully transitioned to a digital format. Starting on 31 August, the festival will feature movie nights, educational panels, and performing arts showcases.
Following their ableist stunt last semester, the Catholic Society was suspended pending mandated sensitivity training by their executive. The deadline for this training was set for mid-August. USU President Prudence Wilkins-Wheat reported that the executive have completed the required training and that the Catholic Society has been un-suspended as a result.
Wilkins-Wheat reported that most revues have been delayed or cancelled except for one. Wilkins-Wheat speculated that this was Arts Revue but didn’t wish to be held to that. Engineering Revue has taken a different tack, with plans to publish a digital newspaper as a replacement. Honi Soit has always encouraged the diversification of the student media ecosystem, and welcomes EngoRevue’s foray into print media this semester. Excited for the puns!
New Pulp editor
The board is set to meet on Monday to discuss developments in the recruitment process, but no clarification could be given as to what stage of recruitment the USU had advanced to. This process has been a protracted one, with previous Pulp editor Mia Castagnone having left at the end of sem 1. One begins to wonder if the USU will select a replacement editor at all.
Over 600 new USU members were reported during the Welcome Fest period, but once again, Rewards signups failed to meet their targets.
- Board Director Isla Mowbray was wearing a vibrant and captivating rainbow knit sweater. Hats off to her!
- CEO Andrew Mills delivered much of this news via a snazzy new powerpoint. He certainly spent the holidays brushing up his comms strategy!
- Senate-appointed Board Director David Wright took issue with the word “defend” in reference to the USU’s efforts to explain the necessity of SSAF fees during lockdown. In his opinion, “promote” might be better suited. Curious stuff!!