The return to Student Representative Council after the winter break started with a bang – if a long and drawn out one. Once again, ANUSA’s accreditation of the NUS and the adjacent Key Performance Indicators proved to be a heated issue for the SRC.
Moved by Education Officer Skanda Panditharatne and seconded by President Lachy Day, the motion to pose Exit and Assessable KPIs on the NUS was based on holding the NUS accountable through financial means. Exit KPI’s determine whether or not ANUSA accredits to the NUS. The Assessable KPI’s determine how much money ANUSA gives to NUS in the form of fees. Broadly, the motions hoped ‘that these KPIs will continue to support the national union while pressing our case for further improvement.’
With 18 Exit and Assessable KPIs in total, the motion predominantly asked the NUS to act constitutionally, be financially and logistically transparent, move towards promised goals, and ensure safety at meetings and NUS related protests. The original motion can be found in the SRC 5 agenda.
Discussing KPIs at the SRC proved to be an arduous task, with much of the last hour of the meeting devoted to the many amendments put forward against the motion. This was no surprise, as KPIs and ANUSA’s re-accreditation of the NUS have historically proven to be a divisive issue.
There were four amendments to the motion in total, three that passed and one that failed.
The first amendment was to remove Exit KPI 2, which demanded ‘that the NUS does not condone the use of violence as a legitimate means of protest, and takes all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of violence and ensure safety at NUS endorsed protests.’
This amendment was moved and seconded by prominent Socialist Alternative members Kenya Matsebula and Wren Sommerville, who both disagreed with the motion holistically but especially disagreed with the idea of ‘qualifying activism,’ especially within the context of the Black Lives Matter movement. While Panditharatne and Day protested this amendment, arguing that inquiries would not freeze protests and would in fact encourage more protesters, it was ultimately passed.
The second and third amendments which passed were:
- To reduce Assessable KPI 9 to $0 and increase the amount of the other Assessable
KPIs proportionally to 545.45 accordingly.
- To move the base level of accreditation to $5 500 and moving all exit KPIs to
assessable status, with a corresponding change to the value of each KPI to $250
equalling a total amount of $10,000.
With regards to the first of these amendments, this would mean that KPI 9 would no longer hold any value, and the funds would be redistributed across the other KPIs. The KPI reads ‘that National Executive commits to appointing a Returning Officer for the 2020 NUS National Conference who is not a current or former member of any NUS faction ** This does not exclude a person who is a member of a political party, as long as they were not previously a member of a faction.’
The latter of these two amendments would see a minimum accreditation of $5 500, with each Assessable KPI resultantly being valued at $250 each. This is an increase of $1 500 from the initial baseline accreditation funding of $4000.
The fourth amendment, which did not pass, was moved by Zoe Ranganathan and seconded by Maddy Crowe. This amendment, which proved to be one of the most divisive of the night, would have ensured that ‘ANUSA recognises the strenuous circumstances of COVID-19 and will not impose any financial penalties on the NUS.’
Ranganathan, the Disabilities Officer, further argued that KPIs are fundamentally inaccessible and ableist, as they promote a toxic productivity culture that cannot be accessed by disabled people. CASS representative James Eveille also argued that ANUSA should not hold double standards, and should realise how the current climate has prevented NUS officer holders from achieving their full potential much as it has their ANUSA counterparts.
In opposition to these arguments, Panditharatne and Day emphasised the importance of keeping the NUS accountable, and noted that many of these issues are ongoing and need to be addressed. Ultimately, the amendment was not passed.