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USU Board: The return of Foodhub, pool tables and responsible investing

The first Board meeting chaired by President Cole Scott-Curwood saw the USU swimming in money (again) while updating on a number of important initiatives.

Art by Khanh Tran.

Last Friday, the USU Board met again to discuss FoodHub updates, improvements to USU facilities, and their investment portfolio, among other things. The meeting marked the first of the new board’s tenure with Cole Scott-Curwood chairing as President. Honi was also joined by newly-minted PULP editors.

FoodHub to restart from next week

After much back and forth, the Board announced the return of Foodhub – its joint program with the SRC to supply essential food and toiletries to both domestic and international students. In his report, USU CEO Andrew Mills acknowledged food insecurity as “an increasing threat to students” and praised both the USU and SRC for their work in restarting the program.

Foodhub will be available on Level 4 in the Wentworth Building on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10AM to 2PM. According to Scott-Curwood, Foodhub will be operational from Week 1 of Semester 2 in a “soft launch” before becoming fully operational from Week 3 after an official launch event.

Scott-Curwood said that the SRC is organising sourcing food supplies, whilst the USU is coordinating the space and extra supplies in a similar arrangement to last year.

Investment portfolio review

The USU Board’s Finance Committee conducted a review of it’s investments following an Honi investigation that revealed hundreds of thousands linked to fossil fuel companies. The Board has approved a new framework in line with the Committee’s recommendations that avoids investments in fossil fuels, gambling, alcohol, tobacco, armaments, and munitions sectors.

“In line with this, we’ll be updating the USU Investment Policy and ensuring our investment manager has an appropriate plan to make USU investments more diversified, ethical, and fit for purpose,” said Scott-Curwood.

Finances

Honorary Treasurer David Zhu described the USU’s financial position as “the best it’s been in our long history”, but cautioned against complacency. He warned against rising operational costs, as well as an anticipated third Omicron wave and changing macroeconomic conditions.

“It’s not as if we have a dragon’s hoard of gold lying around… we need that money for a rainy day,” he said.

Improvements to facilities 

As usual, the USU has been busy with improving its facilities to better support student life. Notably, students will now be able to use the pool tables in Wentworth, following an Honi article about their disuse last semester. The USU has also been developing “Zoom rooms” for clubs and societies (C & S), which are fitted with big screens and will allow C & S to host hybrid events with their members.

Disability Room

On disability spaces, Scott-Curwood said that the USU has made “good progress” in liaising with the SRC’s Disabilities Collective in negotiating with the University for spaces. However, he also acknowledged that the project was still in its early stages. Considering the years-long delay in implementing disability spaces on campus, Honi is hoping to see progress sooner rather than later.

“Due to accessibility requirements, the 2021 SSAF application submitted by SUPRA on behalf of SRC, USU, and SUPRA earmarked the current Ethnocultural Room as the location for the Disabilities Space. The USU Ethnocultural Portfolio Holder is leading discussions and collaborating with students and groups who have or may use the Ethnocultural Room to ensure the replacement is appropriate and meets their need,” said Scott-Curwood.

Pride and Consent Week

The USU will be contributing to and supporting the SRC-proposed Pride and Consent week, organised by the USyd Women’s Collective. According to Scott-Curwood, details of the week will be shared in the near future.

PULP returns this semester

The USU’s student publication PULP (previously stylised as Pulp) will finally be restarting this semester, with their first ever print edition set to be released early on. As previously reported, the revamped magazine will feature culture and campus life-focused articles, as well as online multimedia content. PULP will be hosting a launch event at the Verge gallery on 19 August from 6pm.