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USU Board Meeting: prolonged discussion over Clubs Against the Cuts motion

Objections to its substance, grammar, and implications were all raised.

On Friday, the USU held its October board meeting. While it wasn’t quite Halloween, it certainly had a few spooky moments — everything from evil electoral reforms, sinister surpluses, and morbid motions.

Clubs Against the Cuts kerfuffle

Following a motion from Board Director Isla Mowbray to endorse and support the Clubs Against the Cuts movement and oppose the Future FASS Plan, Board Director David Zhu raised an objection — commencing what was a rare display of USU board debate. While he broadly supported the motion and opposed the course cuts, he raised concerns over a motion in the SGM which called upon the University to reconsider ties to the military, with particular reference to the recently inked AUKUS alliance. Zhu said that it was not necessarily the USU’s place to take a stance on foreign policy or defence. 

“It’s not for us to be condoning or condemning this particular issue.”

Following this, immediate past President Irene Ma objected to particular phrasing in Mowbray’s motion. Where the motion read: “The USU has a responsibility to listen to students and amplify their collective voice,” Ma proposed that a greater emphasis be placed on direct advocacy to the University.

This was followed by self-described “pedantic” interjections from Honourary Treasurer Ben Hines that the motion did not make sense grammatically and confusion over where the motion began and the preamble ended.

With the required amendments, all Board Directors voted in favour, except Senate-Appointed Director David Wright who abstained

The final motion read: “The USU supports the mission of Clubs Against the Cuts and commits to advocating for FASS students at every level of the University,” whereas the original motion directly supported and endorsed Clubs Against the Cuts.

There’s no place like Holme

Renovation and maintenance of the Holme Building has been abuzz during the semester. The long awaited renewal of the Common Room is edging to a close, with new flooring and painted walls being recently completed. It will be available to C&S in Semester One next year and there are plans for a piano to be installed.

Sections of Courtyard have been dug up to repair broken pipes and the pavers have been completely regrouted. The broken pipes were apparently leaking into the elevator shaft below, but the recent maintenance has resolved that concern.

The beloved calendar wall in the entrance of Holme has been painted over, with an expansion of seating and tables filling the void. While we mourn the departure of a well-loved installation, the USU did flag the potential for a ‘What’s On’ wall.

Finally, the ‘revitalisation’ of Footbridge Theatre that was promised in last month’s board meeting has been progressing well. The Conservatorium has been working with University Infrastructure (UI) in preparation for the Con to take over the theatre as a teaching and performance space in Semester One next year. USU CEO Andrew Mills refused to be drawn on the details of the ‘revitalisation’, saying it was a matter for the Con to discuss, not the USU. It was revealed that a previously forgotten dressing room was rediscovered at the top of a stairwell.

The USU’s “unnecessary” cash pile

President Prudence Wilkins-Wheat said the amount of cash-on-hand the USU had felt “unnecessary” and wondered if it could be used for the USU’s investment portfolio. Finance Director Rebecca Sahni said nothing had been decided as of yet. 

Electoral reforms

Recommendations from the USU’s Electoral Officer were accepted today, with a number of pending changes to the electoral regulations. While the reforms clarify a number of grey areas, with the new regulations banning the purchase of alcohol with campaign funds and unifying campaign exclusion zones for USU and non-USU campus outlets, the decision to ban candidates from giving interviews before the official campaign start date was curious. This year, both Pulp and Honi conducted interviews with Board candidates before the start of official campaigning to allow for their recording, editing, and transcription. This meant they were ready for publication as soon as the official campaigning period commenced. Commiserations to the Honi and Pulp editors of 2022!

New USU Coffee Van

A three wheel coffee van (which resembles a scooter more than anything) is under production according to Mills. The van will allow the USU to access areas previously unavailable to them, like the Susan Wakil building and the Conservatorium. When asked if the van would be driven to Conservatorium or transported in some other way, Mills assured us that it will be a fully registered vehicle and it was his understanding that it would be driven. While the van was a gift from Vittoria Coffee, it is not part of any deal or arrangement, but rather a gift reflecting the USU’s long term use of Vittoria Coffee in campus outlets.

Manning and Hermanns to be open for events only

Following a question from Board Director Belinda Thomas, it was revealed that Hermanns Bar and Manning Bar would both only be open for events, not regular trade. Hermann”s will be opening for regular trade in February next year. In explanation, Mills said that the number of students on campus couldn’t support any other model for the two campus bars. While the news is disappointing, there was a brief mention of a Manning party in December to round out the year

Pulp reforms

Wilkins-Wheat was once again tight-lipped after a question from Pulp about the details of the USU’s plan to reform its flagship media publication.

Courtyard Tapas

Mills clarified that while he said Courtyard would be developing a tapas menu, aperitivo is more accurate, as it reflects the “Italian café style restaurant that Courtyard is.”

When asked if the fabled arancini would be making a return under these menu reforms, Mills said he himself was a fan and that the delightful fried snack may or may not be making a comeback.

International fest

International Fest had a total attendance of more than 720 people, with 28 clubs participating and 21 club events all up. The Live Walking Tour of Asakusa was a particular highlight, with 55 attendees.

Creative Awards

The USU Creative Awards are currently being showcased in Verge Gallery and can be viewed online as well.

Editor’s note: the paragraph on Manning and Hermann’s was edited for clarity.