In early December the National Union of Students held its annual National Conference. In an event normally filled with drama, the 2019 conference was no exception.
Conference began with an issue regarding the National Labor Students’ nomination forms, which spun the previous months of negotiations between the factions into chaos. This lead to a delay on conference floor, and the conference did not begin until the evening session at 7pm.
The next day began in a similarly dramatic fashion, with Student Unity calling for a campus count, which led to an hour and a half of votes being counted. This resulted in the knowledge that Student Unity had over 50 per cent of conference floor, and would have final say over every vote for the rest of the conference.
In terms of motions, there was a small amount that related to ANU and ANUSA. These motions followed SRC 6, which ended in the police being called to campus after a student refused to leave the meeting. EDU23 failed, but originally condemned ANUSA for calling the police to the meeting, however, this platform was removed. ANU student Zoe Ranganathan spoke for the motion, saying that calling the police to universities without consultation with different ethnic groups drives these groups away from engaging with student associations.
EDU32 further condemned ANUSA, specifically ANUSA President Lachy Day, who was General Secretary at the time, for undermining freedom of speech, through the new standing order regulations that were proposed in an SGM. Bizarrely, the motion itself was not proposed by ANU students. Day was heckled during the debate, with ANU student Kim Stern yelling “you sycophant”. The motion passed, with Day voting for the motion, effectively condemning himself.
Also notably, a motion was passed regarding Student Media Integrity. It called all student media publications to journalistic integrity standards “expected outside the newsroom of the Daily Mail”. It was moved by the two Labor factions, Student Unity and National Labor Students. This was to ensure that “ake news” about the NUS and key factional players wasn’t spread, with those speaking on the motion calling student media “a threat to democracy”. ANUSA Education Officer Skanda Panditharatne spoke against the motion, defending student media for presenting legitimate criticism for student associations.
ANU also had a number of students elected to positions within the Union. Georgette Mouawad, from Student Unity, was elected as the ACT State Branch President, a position that has not been elected since 2017. Sophie Macdonald, the ANU Student Unity convenor, was elected to the NUS National Executive.
Grace Sixsmith attended NatCon in 2018 and EdCon in 2019 and sat with Student Unity on conference floor.
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