The UniLodge ResCom (Residents’ Committee) has been torn apart following the resignation of six key position-holders, including President, Treasurer, and Social Officer.
These circumstances have arisen following the apparent resignation of David Streamer, then President, who was removed after failing to fulfil the academic requirements of a scholarship linked to his position. Streamer himself has confirmed that UniLodge management rejected his offer to remain President on a voluntary basis, and that he was forcibly removed.
Immediately after Streamer’s removal, the UniLodge Treasurer, Arts Officer, Green Officer and Cultural officer also resigned. The Social Officer resigned prior to Bush Week, due to personal reasons.
This occurrence comes after a number of recent controversies concerning this year’s ResCom, including a rejected attempt by the committee to close meetings to the general UniLodge population, and the fact that ResCom does not yet have a constitution.
Residents have also expressed discontent with the ResCom’s general contributions to UniLodge life, which has been characterised as dry and lacking in community events.
“I didn’t even know what ResCom is,” said Andrew Gaffney, a first year currently residing at Kinloch Lodge, who is actively involved with a number of ANU student organisations. “Apart from what my SR organises, there is virtually no social experience to speak of.”
More broadly, questions have been raised as to the extent to which UniLodge’s current state is a result of ResCom’s own inadequacies. A number of senior members of the UniLodge community have attacked the general competence of ResComm, including UniLodge SR Sam Guthrie, who delivered the following statement:
“Personally, my experience of the 2012 Residents’ Committee has been disillusioning….The successes of 2011 haven’t been capitalised upon, and the opportunities presented by Lena Karmel missed; the committee has required stronger leadership, drive, passion, communication, direction, and professionalism all year.”
Guthrie also added to this: “It is my opinion that blame can only rest with the executive, as it would in any other organisation. However, I must stress that I do not question their intention, only their execution.”
The ResCom executive itself has its own perspective on UniLodge’s difficulties.
When questioned, David Streamer expressed extreme dissatisfaction with his experience on ResCom, attacking the extent to which ResCom had to engage with “people who put [their own interests in] future ResCom/ANUSA/Union/other student elections ahead of ResCom’s interests.” Streamer also critiqued the financial relationship the ResCom held with management.
“This whole community spirit programme funding is a joke,” Streamer stated. “Ashvin (the UniLodge Residential Life Manager)…has made it more difficult to access money with the increasing pile of policies and changes he’s introducing. ResCom needs its own ABN and bank account as soon as possible and I’d highly recommend incorporation in the long run.”
“But only when ResCom has a proven record of professionalism and reliability, which is still far from being achieved,” he reflected.
Reports have also arisen that the ResCom was only deprived of funding due to an incident where it was handed over $10,000 and did not provide any receipts to management.
As for the future, all is not lost for UniLodge just yet. Plans are currently being made to appoint the vacant positions for UniLodge ResComm, although a proposal to hold early elections for the 2013 committee was rejected. A student committee facilitated by UniLodge Management has also been active in attempting to establish a constitution. A finalised document is yet to be confirmed.
In the mean time, previous UniLodge Secretary Michelle Pereira is acting President of UniLodge ResComm, and interim officers have been appointed for most of the vacant positions. Rumours have also been circulating that the 2011 ResCom executive has been asked to return.