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May 4, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Eye on Exec

Considering the furore that erupted over the executive’s ANZAC Day decision last week, I was surprised not to see it on the agenda this week. So were other members, apparently. On entering the meeting, Campaigns Officer Sam Oldham (who has been active in responding to online ANZAC criticisms) glanced at the agenda and immediately demanded, “What about ANZAC day?”

President Freemantle allowed the topic to be added to matters of Urgent General Business, stating “We can talk about that if you want.”

But first on the agenda was the Food Bank Database Entry Update Report. As Education Welfare Officer Robert Latimer has been away in Nelson, he was required to do this data entry work “from distance.” Despite this, the data has not been submitted and Welfare President Seamus Brady’s emails have been met with silence.

Unfortunately, the issue was not resolved at the meeting due to Latimer’s conspicuous absence. No apology was submitted, and the Executive have not received his work report.

The Executive was also hoping that Latimer would turn up for other reasons. At their previous meeting, Brady had expressed disappointment due to one member not turning up to the flu shots. At the time the member’s identity was not made public, but it has since been revealed that the disappointing member was Robert Latimer.

At the time Education VP Freya Eng argued that “discipline should be administered,” but as we now know, Latimer would not be present for action to be taken.

Secondly, the Executive generously allowed an Executive Grant to Salient for $300. This will contribute to sending Salient members to the 2009 Qantas Media Awards, where the Salient website has been nominated for an award, with Alexander Neilson admitting that he thinks it is “a good thing to put forward.”

Finally, the meeting turned to the elephant in the room: the ANZAC Day debacle. Freemantle asked the Exec if they would like to go in to committee, but members agreed with Eng that “it would make the situation worse.”

Discussion began with an acknowledgment of the “interesting commentary” that had been made in response to VUWSA’s neutral stance on ANZAC day commemorations. On 22 April the Executive decided not to lay a wreath on behalf of students for ANZAC day. Freemantle advised members that she has organised a meeting with students this Wednesday at 1pm at the Mount Street Bar “in order to get a clear policy on the issue.” Freemantle will also be extending an invitation to the Returned Services Association to meet with her and the three Vice Presidents to discuss the matter.

Freya Eng expressed concern with the way that the exec had been portrayed in the media in the previous week, with the story appearing on Scoop, Stuff and in the Dominion Post. She lamented, “It made us look like we think that Anzac Day condones war, and that’s not the view that we have. We do respect the ANZAC tradition.”

Freemantle added that though VUWSA has an ANZAC tradition, it has been “a chequered one.” She noted that in 2006 the executive decided not to lay a wreath mainly because “no one could be bothered”, yet it was not reported and “no one made a fuss.”

In the end, the Executive agreed that the reason that they had decided not the lay the wreath was because there was no collective agreement among the group. Some members were personally against laying a wreath, where others were for it. Alexander Neilson explained that “we do something when we as a collective executive can make a decision. There was no idea of what we should do—that’s when we go to students.”

Salient would like to make note for the inaccuracy in last week’s Eye on Exec column concerning VUWSA’s projected surplus. A surplus of approximately $50,000 is being projected, not $600,000 as reported.

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