The newly elected ANUSA executive held its first meeting of the Students Representative Council (SRC) this week. The meeting was dominated by the Executive’s progress reporting, signs of a possible rift between ANUSA and the NUS, and a belligerent Socialist Alternative insisting that ANUSA should be more activist.
Each ANUSA officer gives regular reports at the SRC on their work since the last meeting, or in this case, what they have been doing over summer.
The President, Christian Flynn, celebrated the successes of O-Week and in negotiating with the ANU on the safety of immunocompromised students attending in-person or accessible online classes. Flynn also stated ANUSA was close to securing a competitive rent agreement for the Night Cafe in Kambri.
Additionally, Flynn voiced concern about Residential Halls’ compliance with COVID-19 safety measures and urged all students with concerns to reach out to him.
Vice-President Chido Nyakuengama focused largely on the renovation of the Brian Kenyon Student Space (BKSS) and on the popularity of its free breakfasts, drawing roughly a hundred students by the end of O-Week, and its lunches. Chido plans to launch the space as a venue for clubs by the second semester.
The Treasurer, Jaya Ryan, announced that, due to private sponsorship, ANUSA was actually under-budget for O-Week, but could not specify by how much. Ryan also announced that ANUSA had secured 35 percent of the Students Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) as funding, but that he was negotiating for more.
Additionally, the treasurer is organising a survey on wage theft on campus. Prompted by a student’s question, Ryan said that he supported the National Union of Students’ campaign to give 100 percent of SSAF to student unions.
Finally, Women’s Officer Avan Daruwalla announced that the Women’s Department would begin a 50 percent subsidy for all birth control sold at the pharmacy on campus.
The three NUS Delegates’ reports centered around whether ANUSA should continue paying its accreditation to the national union. The NUS is known for being incredibly factionalised and some question its usefulness and efficacy. Sinead Winn argued in her report that the factionalism of the NUS can be helpful at times, and that ANUSA should continue its accreditation.
However, both Flynn and General Secretary, Ben Yates, questioned ANUSA’s membership in the NUS, arguing that it was hamstrung by its factionalism, with too much focus on targeting politicians, but proposed further discussion on the subject.
Several representatives were formally approved at the meeting. This included autonomous Department Officers elected last year, General Representative Dorcas Bugeme as a General Representative replacing Samantha Shaw following their resignation, and four new Deputy Education Officers: Luke Harrison, Jasmine Delaney, Perpetual Nkatiaa Boadu, and Gabriel Luca-Morison.
After the formalities of the SRC were dealt with, the meeting moved onto debating motions, which centre around policy proposals and stances. Two motions proposed by the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) were passed.
The first condemned the “…right-wing, anti-democratic attacks on the Adelaide Uni SRC,” following a funding standoff there. The second motion rejected the Department of Defence’s nuclear technician scholarship to support the new AUKUS deal and called on the ANU to reject any future work with the Department.
The SRC also passed Education Officer Beatrice Tucker’s motion to launch a ‘No Cuts at ANU’ campaign against further course cuts and to maintain “…a high-quality education.”
Throughout the meeting, SAlt belligerently argued that ANUSA’s provision of food services and support kits contradicts its claims to being an activist union with the aims of improving the treatment and education of students.
In response, the Vice-President argued that providing material goods creates a base for activism, by providing a better standard of living, bringing concerned yet non-activist students to ANUSA where they can engage in activism, and allowing ANUSA representatives to hear student concerns. Indigenous Officer Katchmirr Russell pointed out that, as someone whose identity is heavily politicised, sometimes ANUSA events offer safe spaces.
ANUSA has hit the ground running this year, both with O-Week and its election promises; we will have to see if this momentum holds as the semester develops.
We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and emerging. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.