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August 12, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Democracy Inaction

The empty student seat on Victoria’s University Council has finally been filled, with VUWSA President Rory McCourt taking out last week’s by-election.

36 per cent of students gave McCourt their first vote, just four-per-cent more than voted for second-placed candidate Michael Gilchrist. The election was run as a Single Transferable Vote, meaning electors ranked candidates from one to four, with one being their most preferred candidate.

The seat contested at the by-election has remained empty this year following the collapse of the Student Forum, when VUWSA along with several other student groups decided to withdraw. The Forum, whose Chair was meant to fill said Council seat, was implemented by the University as a result of Voluntary Student Membership at the start of 2012. Depending on which University staff member was talking or which document you were reading, the body either replaced VUWSA as the representative body of students or was there to act as a consultative group.

“I’m going to bring to Council an independent, representative student voice that’s connected with what students go through everyday,” McCourt told Salient.

“Undoubtedly, my role at VUWSA will make sure I’m accountable and faithful to students. I’m excited to get on with the job.”

McCourt will join David Alsop, the second student representative on Council who was elected at-large last year. “I’d like to congratulate Rory on his election victory, and I look forward to him joining me on the University Council,” Alsop said.

“With the fees meeting next month, and the upcoming appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor, we are moving into a critical stage of the year and I’m pleased that students are finally fully represented at Council.”

Both Alsop and McCourt’s terms will finish at the end of this year. It is not yet clear how the second student-representative position—that this by-election filled—will be appointed for 2014, as it is dependent on the outcome of the current student-representation review.

Earlier this year, VUWSA obtained a legal opinion from public-law firm Chen Palmer. It challenged the University’s interpretation of the VSM legislation which claimed the Students’ Association President would no longer be automatically entitled to the second student seat. The University is yet to respond to this differing opinion, but Salient will have further details as they come to light.

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