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May 11, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Students fail to show for ANZAC meeting

Despite large interest in Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association’s (VUWSA) decision not to lay a wreath at this year’s ANZAC Day commemorations, the association was unable to seek a mandate from students due to a lack of numbers in attendance at last week’s Student Representative Council (SRC).

VUWSA policy requires that at least 50 students take part in an SRC in order to meet quorum. On the second quorum count student attendance numbered only 36, not enough to pass a resolution which would have represented Victoria students’ views on ANZAC day commemorations.

The Exec agreed at a meeting on 22 April to reject an invitation from Wellington City Council to lay a wreath during the city’s ANZAC Day commemorations, citing the lack of a mandate from Victoria students on the issue.

In preparation for the meeting, VUWSA President Jasmine Freemantle met with the Chief Executive of the Returned Services Association, Dr Stephen Clarke, and produced two ANZAC day resolutions.

The untabled resolutions offered that VUWSA “support the right of individuals and groups of students who wish to express themselves on ANZAC Day by laying wreaths,” but that the executive “will not lay wreaths on behalf of the student body unless directed to do so by its members at a Student Representative Council or General Meeting of the students’ association.”

The second resolution posed that VUWSA “coordinate a forum with the VUW History Programme and other relevant VUW programmes in order to discuss and explore the history of ANZAC Day, and how the social meaning of this day has changed over time.”

Despite the SRC not meeting quorum, several students still engaged in a lively debate on the ANZAC day issue.

2008 VUWSA President and member of the Workers’ Party Joel Cosgrove took the opportunity to express his opposition to laying an ANZAC wreath due to New Zealand imperialism. He argued that “the New Zealand Flag represents both British imperialism and New Zealand imperialism contained within one entity.”

President of ACT on Campus at Victoria University, Peter McCaffrey, spoke in opposition to compulsory membership in the student association, complaining that “if VUWSA takes any position on any policy you’re automatically misrepresenting some students.” He went on to congratulate VUWSA for not acting without student permission, though added that “at least VUWSA could be consistent and not take any position on any issue.”

One student, Daniel, spoke against laying a wreath due to the political nature of the issue, and called for some sort of commemoration which “avoids the whole political division.”

Another student confronted Freemantle about not seeking a mandate for ANZAC day earlier, accusing the executive of “subverting the democratic process for [their] own views.” Freemantle admitted that the executive could have acted sooner to get a mandate from students, though pointed out that the invitation to lay a wreath was only received three days before ANZAC day.

One other person in attendance asked “if you don’t need a policy on other things, why do you need a policy on ANZAC day?” Administration Vice President Alexander Neilson replied that in the case of ANZAC day the executive could not make a unanimous decision on whether to lay a wreath. He explained, “We could not work out what the students who elected us wanted to do,” and added that “If we can make a decision, based on the views we were elected for, then we have a mandate.”

Victoria Acting Vice-Chancellor, Professor Neil Quigley, said that the university itself “does not have an official ANZAC Day policy.”

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Comments (9)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Is there any provision in vuwsa’s governing rules(or whatever their equivalent is called)for a ‘sub-quorum’? This is where only half the quorum is necessary for a meeting to make a decision, providing that the decisions are ratified once a full quorum is reached at some later stage.

  2. Jackson Wood says:

    No. There needs to be full quorum before motions can be put forward and voted on. ‘sub-quorum’ seems like a silly idea in that the people who come late didn’t hear discussion on the motion.

    A quorum count can be asked for at any time during a meeting if members believe there are enough students to constitute an official SRC. Untill then no official business can be discussed/passed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    In no way am I a personal advocate of sub-quorums. However they feature in many organisations. ‘Time’ is an important thing to be aware of in the sub-quorum idea. The general idea is that any business conducted under sub-quorum conditions would be ratified under full quorum conditions on a different day, rather than later that day where missing members would obviously be late as you say. Absentees could catch up through the minutes of the meeting etc

  4. Ms. says:

    Yeah, just what I thought would happen. People get all righteous and angry and then do fuck all. Outrage on the internet is easy. Actually doing something about it isn’t.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It seems that inferring righteousness and outrage on the internet is easier still, I couldn’t give a fuck about student politics. I left a comment because my friend wrote this article and I was hoping to raise some discussion, which appears to have happened, and for that I’m happy

  6. Mr. says:

    So let’s find an evangelical church and blow it up for being anti choice!

  7. Anon says:

    Anon, I believe Ms. is referring to alll the people who kicked up a stink online about how outraged they were, and then didn’t show up to vote. Not you.

  8. Tim Edwards says:

    How about we hold the meetings with more notice and at a time where we can all make it?
    I’m on a course that means I am not available to come to campus for several weeks at a time.

  9. Matt Fairhurst says:

    There was plenty of notice, and it was well advertised. And you’ll never get a time that everyone can be available for, every time. Either the issue was important enough for you to find a way to make it for the meeting, or it wasn’t.

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