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August 15, 2011 | by  | in News |
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Students Defy Apathy at AGM for one Brief Moment by Actually Discussing Things

Students who attended VUWSA’s AGM last week threw aside the mantle of student apathy and debated a number of important issues.
The first instance of this arose when it was moved that VUWSA’s constitution be amended to create an online voting system for Special Representative Councils (SRCs).

The amendment means that a motion which is put forward at an SRC can be voted on by students through an online system. If a motion is put at a physical SRC with at least 20 people, the motion can be debated and then put electronically to students. They will be emailed a link to a voting page, along with any relevant documents and video footage of the meeting.

For the motion to be approved, it requires support from a simple majority of 5 per cent (approximately 1000) of VUWSA’s members.
When this issue was opened to the floor for discussion, one student expressed concern for the requirement of 100 students’ signatures to call an SRC. She believed this was a potentially unattainable target for minority groups who may wish to pass a motion without the support of the executive.

Others in the crowd believed the target was set at a reasonable level.

“It seems reasonable relative to the whole Vic population,” they said.

VUWSA President Seamus Brady acknowledged the concerns but emphasised that the new online system would only really be used a last resort.

“It is really to provide better scrutiny of the issue as a safeguard,” he said.

“I’m very pleased that the motion allows for online SRC voting to be passed, as it will allow more students to actively engage in the policy setting of the Association and for that policy to be more robust and representative,” Brady told Salient.

Debate occurred again when VUWSA Queer Officer Tom Reed moved a motion for VUWSA to “actively support” the Legalise Love campaign. Legalise Love has been established to lobby for equal marriage and adoption laws for same-sex couples, as well as to oppose homophobic bullying.

Many students felt they needed more information about the campaign before they could decide if they wanted VUWSA to support it. Others were also concerned that “active support” would translate to financial support.

Vice-President (Welfare) Asher Emanuel pointed out that the goal of equality was already a principle held by VUWSA.

“The campaign’s principles align with VUWSA already… it doesn’t have any secret campaigning strategy like burning down buildings… if they do begin to act in this way, we can vote again to remove our support,” he said.

Finally, students engaged in discussion over VUWSA’s plans to respond to function under Voluntary Student Membership.

Student Stella Blake-Kelly moved a motion that VUWSA engage in a consultation process with students over the potential changes to the association in light of VSM

She further moved that the recommendations made in this process be voted on by students at a future general meeting.

“The debate is no longer if VSM is coming, but when,” she said. “And VUWSA has not yet presented students with options of how it could function in a voluntary environment.”

Some within VUWSA took issue with Blake-Kelly’s claim that VUWSA has not been planning for VSM.

“VUWSA has been consulting with the university but for many reasons, some legal, these plans have not been communicated with students,” said Emanuel.

Brady also stated that the University, “a slow-moving beast”, is unwilling to take action on the issue until the law is passed and it is certain that VSM will eventuate.

Despite the lively discussion over these issues, all passed with a large majority.

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  1. Charlotte says:

    Yours is a ceelvr way of thinking about it.

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