Comments Off on Education Committee Proposes Establishment of Deputy Education Officers
The ANUSA Education Committee gathered for their first meeting of term four. Hosted in the ANUSA Boardroom, the meeting set the stage for current ANUSA Education Officer Harry Needham to outline five proposals, which aim to alter the functioning of the Education Committee.
Most notably, Needham proposed the establishment of “two or more” new deputy positions to the committee. The deputies would work closely with the Education Officer and assist “with running campaigns and convening the committee”. It was concluded that the positions would be more effective if they were elected.
2019 Education Officer-elect, Tanika Sibal, voiced her support for the establishment of Education Officer deputies. Sibal also supported the appointment of these positions instead of the proposed Education Committee elections.
Needham highlighted that deputy Education Officers would have been “useful” during his organisation of the ANUSA supported first-year camps, citing his excessive workload during this period.
The current Education Officer demonstrated his belief that the limited student engagement in the actions of the Education Committee was partly the result of a lack in “student buy-in” and that the creation of Education deputies would help resolve this issue.
The positions would be unpaid but would be eligible to receive a slice of the current $5,000 ANUSA honoraria fund. However, questions were raised as to the equality surrounding the delegation of the paid Education Officer’s work to unpaid deputies.
It was concluded that constitutional change would not be required to create the positions. Needham clarified that the process for the establishment of the deputy positions is still unknown and was dependent on the pending drafting of the Education Committee’s terms of reference, which Needham is hoping to complete by the next Education Committee meeting.
Comments Off on ANUSA and NUS Hold Protest in Response to #LibSpill
August 26th, ANUSA and the National Union of Students (NUS) collaborated to protest former National Treasurer Scott Morrison’s rise to the top of the Liberal Party and consequently the Prime Ministership.
Scott Morrison was sworn in on the 25th of August by the Governor-General as Australia’s 30th Prime Minister following a successful leadership spill, which saw Malcolm Turnbull dislodged as the leader of the Liberal Party.
Garema Place provided the canvas for ANU Students and other social advocates, to protest Morrison’s performance in his previous portfolios as Immigration Minister and Treasurer.
The protest consisted of a disappointing turnout comprised of ANU students and other community members, who huddled around a hung banner which proclaimed; “SCOMO = Cuts to Unis, Anti-Refugee, War on the Poor”.
ANUSA Education Officer Harry Needham stated that the number of protestors was “below what he had hoped”. Needham emphasised that the limited time frame to coordinate the protest and the timing in the scheme of the semester significantly impacted the level of student participation.
Needham further stated his belief that the ascension of Scott Morrison to the Prime Ministership instead of Peter Dutton suppressed the community’s reaction.
When asked whether he thought the turnout would have been larger if Peter Dutton had won the leadership spill, Needham agreed, citing Dutton’s negative portrayal in publications and media outlets. However, reiterated that Scott Morrison had been “inaccurately portrayed” as a moderate alternative and was “no better” than his fellow colleague Dutton.
Behind the protests were objections to the former Minister for Immigration’s instrumental role in the orchestration of Operation Sovereign Borders, a program established in September 2013, which aimed to combat maritime people smuggling. The online event titled the new Prime Minister as the “chief communicator of anti-refugee propaganda,” and echoed the sentiment that the Morrison Prime Ministership would see the current treatment of refugees continue.
Protestors also focussed on Morrison’s position at the forefront of the ‘It’s okay to say No’ campaign leading up to the same-sex marriage plebiscite in late 2017.
The online event demonstrated the former Treasurer’s willingness to reduce funding for universities, while concurrently increasing tax breaks for big business and “the well-off”. The event also titled Australia’s 30th Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a “strident defender of all the rorts used to give wealthy investors massive tax discounts.”
The ANU protest mirrors those undertaken on the same day in Sydney by activists, student unions, and community groups, who concurrently undertook protests against the leadership spill.
In a media release, the NUS Ethnocultural Officer Hersha Kadkol outlined the motives for protest, highlighting that “Morrison gloated about the fact that Australia’s ‘stop the boats’ campaign has become a model for far-right parties and governments around the world.”
Sydney University Student Representative Council President Imogen Grant echoed similar motives for protest. Grant stated that: “We can no longer say that far-right politics are embodied by minor players like Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning. The Liberal Party wants to take their space and this raises a terrible danger for refugees, migrants, students, workers and all oppressed groups in Australia.”
Grant further highlighted that “Abbott’s government was brought down by student and community protests” and that they don’t want “a Trump wannabe for Prime Minister”.
Comments Off on Clubs Council Passes Reforms to Funding Policies and Executive Powers
The Students Clubs Council has passed various motions largely aimed at reforming the existing funding policy and expanding executive powers.
The Students Clubs Council met yesterday for their third Clubs Council Meeting of 2018. Seeing a number of executive positions vacated as of this semester, a significant focus of the meeting was to address any issues that have come about as a result of this.
Newly vacated positions in the executive include Chairperson, Communications Officer, Funding Officer and General Officer. While the other positions have all been filled, the position of Funding Officer still remains vacant.
Included among the issues caused by this change in the executive is the fact that the new Communications Officer, James Howarth, was only recently able to gain access to the Clubs Council email account. This has seen a backlog in emails to and from the council, with at least one club not receiving any notification that it’s bid for affiliation had been approved.
A major reform to the Clubs Council’s funding policy is the instituting of a flat rate of funding per person for Club events, allocating $11 per ANU student in attendance for ordinary events and $15 per student for “special events”. This is a move away from the funding rate being determined by the amount of people who attend the events, so as to allow for equal rates of funding to all clubs regardless of their size or popularity.
Another reform focused on granting to Council’s executive the discretionary power to refuse applications for travel grants should the use of such a grant be unreasonable or already funded through another student representative body. Speaking to the motion, Secretary of the Clubs Council Howard Maclean highlighted that almost every other grant included such a discretionary feature, and those that didn’t involved a considerably smaller amount of money.
Proposed as the Executive Powers Reform, another reformative motion was put forward with the purpose of standardising Executive powers under various policies and setting “ground rules” to executive meetings. It also looked to “centralise governance provisions under one policy”. Changes under this reform include the clear setting out of the process by which club regulations, council policies, and rules are interpreted, as well as to reconcile executive decisions with the constitutions, regulations and policies of both the Clubs Council and ANUSA.
Comments Off on Online Survey Suggests Apathy Towards Student Politics
The 2018 ANUSA election concluded last Thursday. 9.32% of the undergraduate population casted their votes. Five of the six executive positions were uncontested. Ten of the twelve College Representative positions were also uncontested.
During the election week, Woroni conducted an online survey on undergraduate student engagement with the ANUSA election which received 106 responses.
Given the rather limited sample size, it would be incorrect to classify this data as a representative and conclusive intersection of ANU’s undergraduate body. However, it does give some insight into the minds of students and their perceptions towards ANUSA.
36.8% of the responses said they were not voting in the election. A majority of the reasons reflected apathy – 54% said they did not care about ANUSA nor believed whoever runs ANUSA makes any difference to them; 21% said they did not have the time effort to understand enough about the policies of candidates; 15% expressed hatred towards student politics; and 10% thought their votes would have no impact on the election outcome.
“As long as I graduate with my degree, I don’t care about what happens to this institution”
“They have the same policies every year, and never do anything new or different once they get elected.”
While 63.2% of the responses said they were voting in the election, 62.3% of all responses also said they would never consider running for a position in ANUSA.
This year, 71 candidates from four tickets and five independents (less than 0.6% of the undergraduate population) nominated themselves to run for a position in 2019 ANUSA. In 2016, there were 120 candidates from eight tickets and eleven independents.
The ANUSA constitution lists four objects of the Association – “to promote the welfare of, and further the interest of, Undergraduate Students”; “to work for quality and equity in higher education”; “to afford a recognised means of representation for Undergraduate Students within the University and the wider community”; and “to foster community, equity, and diversity within the University.”
What do respondents think about ANUSA’s role in the ANU community?
48% said ANUSA’s role is to advocate in or represent the interests of students; 37% said ANUSA’s role is to provide services to help students with their specific problems; and 11% said ANUSA is responsible for running student events and helping students with club and society activities.
“It should be [student] advocacy, but at the moment it’s more [about organising] social [events].”
“To advocate for the students from a position that is independent from the university administration.”
The final question of the survey asked respondents whether they knew how and how much ANUSA receives funding annually.
59% either knew that ANUSA receives funding of at least one million or knew its funding comes from student contribution. But 28% also said they either did not care nor had any idea about where ANUSA receives its funding, and 6% thought ANUSA receives funding directly from the ANU administration.
The major source of ANUSA’s funding comes from SSAF allocation. SSAF stands for student services & amenities fee. Full-time students each pay $298 per annum, while part-time students each pay $149 per annum. In 2018, nearly $2 million (36% of SSAF Funds) was allocated to ANUSA.
According to the ANUSA expenditure report from 1 December, 2017 to 15 August, 2018, besides “Salaries & Wages” which constitutes 40% of ANUSA’s total operating expenses, the three other major expenses included $295,823.91 on “O-Week Events”, $117,096.00 on “Health & Wellbeing Co-ordinator”, and $84,073.86 on “Departments & Collectives”.
The handover of ANUSA will take place on 1 December, 2018. The elected ANUSA Student Representatives will then serve for one year until 1 December, 2019.
With voting for next year’s ANUSA positions having closed at 4pm today, the election results have now been released.
Due to a number of positions being elected unopposed, including all but one of the executive roles, students voted to decide who will occupy the positions of Education Officer, NUS Delegates, General Representatives, and College of Asia and the Pacific Representatives.
Tanika Sibal was elected as Education Officer, on their Refresh ticket.
Brandon Tan, Henri Vickers, Jade Lin, Ailsa Schreurs, Anabelle Nshuti, Christopher Atkins, Peter Sun, Jocelyn Abbott, Isabella Keith, Taylor Heslington, Harsh Thakkar, David Harvey, Madeleine Lezon, and Yasmin Poole were all elected as General Representatives.
ANU is able to send 5 delegates to the National Union of Students National Conference. The delegates elected were Niall Cummins from Ignite, Ashish Nagesh from Reform, and Lachy Day, Tanika Sibal and Croft Sun from Refresh.
Kai Clark and Alison Wong were elected as College of Asia and the Pacific Representatives.
Voter turnout in this year’s elections is well below the numbers of past years. 1688 (9.32%) students submitted an electronic ballot, down from the record high turnout of 2651 (18.84%) submitted last year and the 2190 (21.92%) witnessed in 2016.
Comments Off on ANU Queer* Department Calls for Removal of NUS Queer* Officer
The ANU Queer* Department has called for the resignation of Jasmine Duff, one of the two National Union of Student (NUS) LGBTI Officers.
The call for resignation follows a motion of no confidence passed at the Queer Collaborations conference in June, where delegates from across Australia cited examples of “transphobia, harassment, bullying and intimidation”.
One such example occurred during the 2017 NUS National Conference, where Duff reportedly misgendered a Queer* student who had expressed dissatisfaction with the NUS. After the student corrected her, Duff reportedly told them to “get fucked”.
In a post to Facebook, the ANU Queer* Department held this behaviour to be “unbecoming of a national representative and, in particular, of one representing a marginalised student body such as the Queer* community.”
Jasmine Duff is one of two NUS LGBTI Officers, along with Kim Stern – both of whom are factionally affiliated with Socialist Alternative (SAlt), represented on campus through Left Action. Despite being enrolled at Monash University from 2015-2017, Stern has been active on the ANU campus this year, organising student protests and, in March, stalling ANUSA’s second SRC.
Reported in Farrago, Duff was also accused of “failure to comply with, or complete a number of her responsibilities” as outlined in the NUS Constitution. The cited responsibilities include a responsibility to liaise with LGBTI groups in the wider community as well as supporting LGBTI officers across campuses and encouraging communication between them.
When contacted by Farrago, Duff claimed such accusations had never been raised with her prior to the motion of no confidence, and that contrary to the motion she had in fact upheld her responsibilities as listed above.
When contacted by Woroni for comment on the length of time it took for the ANU Queer* Department to publicly call for Duff’s resignation, Matthew Mottola, the current Queer* Officer, responded that the motion was passed during the winter holidays and was affirmed “at the first department meeting of the semester”. As such it was affirmed as soon as possible given when teaching periods and meeting dates lined up.
When asked what he would like to see in an NUS LGBTI Officer, Mottola stated that he “would like to see that the candidates who are endorsed by Queer* Collaborations are actually elected at NatCon.” Something he acknowledges is highly unlikely due to factionalism.
To date it appears that Jasmine Duff has not tendered a resignation as she is still listed on the NUS website along with counterpart Kim Stern. While Mottola has a good working relationship with Stern he has acknowledged that there are “a lot of other Queer* Officers across Australia who have expressed their frustrations about a lack of communication and collaboration with the officers.”
Monday, 13 August: The International Students’ Department’s second Ordinary General Meeting of 2018 was held at the Brian Kenyon Student Space.
Motions were passed to make amendments to the ISD Constitution in preparation for the upcoming ISD elections.
From 2018 onward, elections will only be held for the four executive positions: President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer.
The four portfolio directors (Education, Social, Publication, Well-being) will be appointed instead of being elected. Members of the current executive committee are allowed to apply.
When asked to explain the rationale of the amendment, ISD President Mina Kim commented that the past elections were “toxic” and “over-politicised”, often developing into a “popularity contest”.
“By reducing the number of elected executive committee members, candidates will have to consider the benefits of having a ticket against running independently.”
A panel consisting of the four newly elected executives and at least one of the current executives, given that there is no conflict of interests, will review the applications. Applications will be open in Week 9, and interviews will be conducted in Week 10.
To comply with Section 8.7 of the ISD Constitution, ISD President Mina Kim has asked Eden Lim, the incumbent ANUSA General Secretary, to be the Returning Officer of the ISD election. In previous years, the ANUSA General Secretary has always the Returning Officer.
At least three Probity Officers will be in office for the annual election. A new section 8.8 will be inserted in the ISD Constitution describing their powers and roles. At least two will be elected at a General Meeting of the ISD, and another Probity Officer will be a representative of the Interhall International Committee. Candidates cannot be nominated themselves as Probity Officers.
Probity Officers will have the power to refer candidates, who they believe have breached the constitution, may recommend the candidate to the Returning officer and recommend action under ANUSA Electoral Regulations section 3.2.3.
“The problem about having only one Returning Officer is that the Returning Officer was overburdened and wasn’t able to respond to complaints fast enough, giving unfair advantage to some parties.”
The purpose of having at least three Probity Officers is to ensure that there are enough Probity Officers to work on alleged or suspected electoral infractions and misconducts when a Probity Officer has a potential conflict of interest with the candidates involved.
ISD Elections will be held in Week 8 after the Presidential Debate in Week 7.
Yesterday afternoon, Woroni and Observer came together in the Woroni office to interview the incoming General Secretary, Treasurer, and Social Officer.
The largest point of contention this election is the fact that Education Officer is the only position contested. Incoming General Secretary Lachy Day assures us that this is not necessarily as dire as it has been suggested, highlighting the “cyclical” nature of elections and the similar election that took place in 2013.
Many of the questions put to the incoming executive were subject to the outcomes of the Governance Review that ANUSA is currently undertaking. Issues contingent on the review include; any modification of pay within ANUSA and the nature of the relationship between the SRC and the Clubs’ Council going forward.
Lachy Day: Incoming General Secretary
Lachy asserts that his institutional experience places him in a better position than his predecessor to bring back the Policy Register as instituted by 2016 General Secretary Kat Reed.
He also hopes that Governance Review will present potential avenues for General Representatives to strengthen their involvement with ANUSA. His emphasis on engagement continued in his aspiration to improve student participation and attendance in forums other than the SRC. When asked if the lack of engagement was a result of lack of knowledge about what happens in these forums Lachy joked that perhaps we need to make “OGM’s more spicy.”
Matthew Mottola: Incoming Social Officer
Matthew first fielded a question on the issues which surrounded this year’s Friday Night Party. While he couldn’t say anything concrete without discussion with the incumbent Social Officer, he stressed that starting conversations and planning earlier were things that he could do to ensure that the next Friday Night Party runs smoothly.
When queried as to his promise to pay student leaders, Matthew clarified that he did not believe that student leaders should necessarily be paid more, rather that they should be paid appropriately in accordance with their duties. However, the specifics as to who is to be paid and how much they should be paid is also reliant on the Governance Review.
Dashveen Jose: Incoming Treasurer
Dashveen talked to a number of areas he hopes to address in his upcoming term. The incoming Treasurer outlined his plan to improve financial training for club treasurers so that ANUSA doesn’t have to “bail out” clubs, as it has recently had to do with the ANU Biology Society.
Dashveen wants to work with ride sharing companies or the taxi industry to make sure that students have access to safe transportation around Canberra when other options may not be available.
Dashveen would also like to decrease ANUSA’s dependence on SSAF by garnering more corporate sponsorships. However, to ensure that any potential sponsors are ethically viable, Dashveen intends to collaborate with department officers to devise an ethics criteria, which potential sponsors must adhere to.
What Comes Next?
As it stands each of these members of the incoming executive brings a plethora of experience, as well as an inherent desire to improve the experience of students both on and off campus as well as those participating in governing bodies.
What remains to be seen is whether or not they will be able to apply these policies and achieve their goals once their terms begin in earnest.
Comments Off on Education Officer Nominees in ANUSA Elections Debate
The Pop-up hosted the first ANUSA debate between the two nominees for Education officer Niall Cummins for Ignite ANUSA and Tanika Sibal for Refresh ANUSA. The position of Education Officer is the only contested executive ANUSA position in week four’s student elections.
Both candidates echoed the sentiments of their policy documents when prompted with notice about their proposed actions towards the currently implemented 12 week semesters. Cummins strongly asserted that the current system “takes students for granted” and that he will consult with the education committee to campaign against the current 12 week system. Sibal highlighted how courses are being condensed to fit into the shorter semesters and subsequently, students are receiving less for the same amount of money. Sibal also asserted that she would “work closely” with Vice President Campbell Clapp and President Eden Lim to produce campaigns centred around how the 12 week semesters have influenced the experiences of students and teachers.
When queried as to their opinions on the live streaming of the NUS, Niall demonstrated his concerns. He highlighted that a live-stream of the event, removed the ability for the union to discuss “contentious issues” and was sceptical as to what benefits a live-stream of the event would provide. In contrast, Refresh Candidate Sibal, supported the proposal. She drew on her experience at this years conference, asserting that when camera’s accompanied the appearance of Greens Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, the discussion became far more efficient and she believes that a live stream would achieve a similar result.
Sibal was queried as to whether she would distribute a list of parliamentarians and how they voted on issues in light of her proposal to collate and distribute information on politician opinions regarding increasing HECS repayment threshold. The Refresh ANUSA candidate expressed an interest in pursuing a similar course of action given the upcoming election likely to be held in 2019.
Prompted on notice as to his plans to reform the education committee, Cummins outlined that he plans to emphasise key focuses of the committee going forward. Drawing experience from the recent committee meeting on housing, Cummins outlined that a clear meeting objective allowed for greater student engagement and productivity. The Ignite for ANUSA candidate also outlined his plan to shift the structure of the committee to align closer to the model of a parliamentary system. He also asserted that he wished to work with two passionate general representatives to work towards more effective campaigns.
Both candidates asserted that funding cuts from the federal government are the greatest foreseeable education issue in the coming year. Sibal demonstrated that she aims to counteract this through the provision of lobbying campaigns through print and social media. Cummins more directly cited action to lobby directly to cross benches as well as producing campaigns demonstrating student opinions.
An audience member asked both candidates as to how they will respond to the recent cuts to the diploma of languages by the federal government. Cummins demonstrated his intent to produce a “big campaign”, which utilises the testimonies of alumni and those who missed out on the program. Sibal praised the current efforts of the education committee and pledged to continue their work.
The incoming President and Vice President were also interviewed. They showed enthusiasm for their upcoming terms. 2019 will be the first time in three years that the two positions are nominated from different tickets.
Comments Off on Refresh Vice President Candidate, Hannah Minns, Resigns from ANUSA Elections
Refresh ANUSA Vice President candidate and current Griffin Hall President, Hannah Minns has withdrawn her nomination for ANUSA Vice President. Released on the Refresh ANUSA Facebook page, Minns has cited personal reasons her decision. However, she will continue to campaign with the Refresh team during next week’s elections.
Minns’ withdrawal leaves independent candidate and current College of Law representative, Campbell Clapp, as the uncontested Vice President.
Campbell Clapps’ uncontested election leaves Education Officer as the only executive position to be contested during the week 4 ANUSA election, subsequently bringing to an end the trend of hotly contested and eventful ANUSA elections, which has run since 2013.In the 2013 ANUSA elections, ‘Bounce’ won all executive positions bar Education Officer unopposed. However, the respective Bounce candidate Laura Wey was eventually elected to the Education Officer position.
The recent University of Sydney Student Union (USU) elections have also taken a comparable direction to the upcoming ANUSA elections. During their May elections, the four USU executive positions were run without opposition.