Last week’s executive meeting promised excitement with both the $20,000 van and the Change Proposal on the agenda. Accountability and transparency turned out to be hot topics for an executive still grappling with a legacy of disorganisation and misuse of funds.
Opening topics included the need to repaint certain road markings, partly due to the fact that people had been parking in two “ambiguous” car parks which in fact belong to VUWSA. A motion was passed to repaint the road markings on both Salamanca and Wai-te-ata Roads at an expense of $928. The executive then went in to committee to discuss the $20,000 van incident, centring on the confidential “Van Expenditure” report. The incident involved the ‘pimping’ of the VUWSA van, using over $20,000 of student funds. While Salient cannot report on what was discussed in committee, it can disclose the two resulting outcomes of the discussion:
President Jasmine Freemantle motioned “that the Van Expenditure be released by VUWSA as a public document, noting disappointment in the 2007 and 2008 suppres-sion of this document.” Education Vice-President Freya Eng also motioned “an executive apology to the student body on behalf of the Association for the actions of Geoff Hayward and Education Vice-President Paul Brown, and for the subsequent suppression of the Van Expenditure document by the 2008 executive.” The executive agreed that it was the actions of these two individuals which led to the misuse of student funds, and not the team as a whole.
Out of committee, members went on to look at the International Students’ Council’s proposed budget. After picking up on several mathematical errors, and interrogating ISC officer Nana Wu on the quantity of jumbo lolly bags required, the executive decided to come back to it after amendments have been made.
Next on the agenda was the Change Proposal. Freemantle presented some documents, stressing that they had been unanimously endorsed by everyone on the Change ProposalSub-Committee. These included the job description for the new role of ‘Association Manager’, as well as the 120 day plan for implementing the Change Proposal. Eng expressed concern that some staff members were unhappy with the plan being extended to 120 days, but this was rejected by Freemantle who had heard nothing of the sort, and stated that a 120 day plan is “more viable”. Finally, the executive decided to write-off $407.03 of VUWSA unpaid phone bills from 2007.
Education Officer Robert Latimer sug-gested that an apology be issued to the student body “for the pledge of writing off the 2007 debt that 2008 President Joel Cosgrove promised.” This sparked debate among the members about the relevance of apologies, with Eng arguing that it would be a waste of student money and executive time to be apologising for every short-falling of previous VUWSAs. Despite this the motion was passed with a majority vote.
The meeting saw a strong focus on executive accountability and stringent use of student funds. Students gained two apologies, some new road markings, and the promise of change-over the next 120 days.