Last Wednesday, the thirteenth of August ANUSA held it’s third OGM for 2014. During the meeting a constitutional amendment, a funding request, and a motion of censure against the president where all moved.
The third ANUSA OGM had the highest turnout of any OGM in 2014. The crowd was drawn because of the momentous nature of four key items – The three agenda motions and a widely expected surprise motion.
The first motion was for a constitutional amendment to allow referendums to be held. This amendment would allow Fossil Free ANU (FFANU) to propose a referendum to ask ANU to divest from fossil fuels in the forthcoming ANUSA
ANU Union Chair Josh Orchard proposed an amendment to the motion; changing the minimum number of students required to call a referendum from 1% to 2% of the student population. The amendment was accepted and the motion was passed without objection.
The second was a motion to give $5000 to the ANUSA Women’s’ Collective.
The third motion was protesting against the changes to higher education, particularly fee deregulation. Laura Wey, the ANUSA Education Officer, moved the motion. The motion was passed. The National Union of Students have called a National Day of Action which will be happening this Wednesday, the 20th of August. The Vice Chancellor of ANU, Professor Ian Young, lobbied for fee deregulation and a student forum will also be held at the Chancellery at 1pm on the same day.
Just before 1pm the final motion was brought forward by a senior member of Education Action Group, Connor Drum after the chair, ANUSA General Secretary Gowrie Varma, opened the floor to other motions. Drum proposed a censure motion on ANUSA president Cameron Wilson. Drum’s motion asserted that Cameron Wilson, President of ANUSA, failed to fulfill his obligation to represent the interests of students, acted unconstitutionally when he dissolved the position of Communications Officer and did not pursue the policies of consultation and openness upon which his ticket was elected.
Drum’s motion was the most anticipated event of the meeting, a preliminary report by Woroni a day earlier had broadcast the possibility of a censure motion. The motioned seemed to be a draw card for many students who had apparently come explicitly to support Wilson.
After Connor Drum the motion forward Varma ruled that the motion was inadmissible due to an incorrect interpretation of the Constitution. Treasurer Nick Barry moved to amend the motion so that the Chair could accept it.
The major gripe that Drum appeared to hold was that Wilson had acted unconstitutionally in dismissing the ANUSA Communications Officer, Jennifer Edwards. The ANUSA executive countered that the ANUSA Constitution does not protect this position. This caused Drum to dissent, prompting several members of the audience to move for a gag order against Drum. Faced with the possibility of a gag almost forty minutes after first proposing the motion Drum withdrew his motion and a significant proportion of the meetings attendees left.
Those who remained in the comparatively skeletal crowd eventually received the motion that was moved by Erin Gillen, head of the Women’s Collective – a department of ANUSA. The Women’s Collective had earlier tweeted that they’d come en-masse to support the move. the motion proposed that the Women’s Collective receive $5000 of funding to fulfill its tasks for the rest of Semester 2 despite not presenting a budget, possessing an ABN, or having conducted an internal expenditures audit in the last three years.
Erin Gillen explained that the Women’s Collective had refused to submit a budget to ANUSA for Semester 2 in objection to a new funding model introduced by the 2014 ANUSA executive. As a result, the women’s collective have received little funding from ANUSA. As Gillen and her seconder, Loren Ovens, explained, their objection to the model was rooted in concerns of the department’s ‘autonomy’. The new model requires the group to submit a budget in order to receive funding which the collective believed limited their autonomy from ANUSA by limiting their ability to make discretionary expenditures.
The changes to the funding model were clearly a bone of contention between the ANUSA executive and the Women’s Collective. Question time proved quite eventful as many students got up to ask Gillen questions about the motion. There was a palpable tension and a motion to proceed to a vote on was eventually cast and the result was close enough to warrant a head count by the ANUSA Executive. The motion was passed and the two and a half hour long meeting finally came to an end.
Photography by Abigail Widijanto. With additional reporting by Maddalena Easterbrook.