VUWSA has opened its elections to all students, meaning it can now claim to represent those students who have specifically not signed up to be VUWSA members.
The VUWSA annual general meeting (AGM) was held in the Hub last Wednesday, and also gave VUWSA another referendum question for this year’s election, two new life members, and a streamlined constitution. The 2013 AGM was an efficient affair, though the annual quorum scare was present as usual with quorum of 100 members reached at 1:27pm as the 100th person filed in to signs of visible relief from the Executive. VUWSA’s constitution requires quorum to be met within half an hour of the meeting’s advertised start time.
VUWSA successfully passed a motion to allow all students—as opposed to just VUWSA members—to vote in the annual VUWSA elections, meaning VUWSA effectively has a mandate to speak for all students again. This mandate was removed with the introduction of Voluntary Student Membership in 2012, as VUWSA could no longer count all students as members. While VUWSA membership is still voluntary, VUWSA can now claim to speak for all students despite all students not being members. Currently, approximately three-quarters of students are VUWSA members.
Student and non-VUWSA member Shaun Wallis believes VUWSA should focus on becoming a better-run organisation, instead of claiming to represent students who have not signed up to be represented by the association.
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“As long as they only speak on behalf of their members, then it’s okay,” Wallis told Salient.
As previously reported in Salient, VUWSA’s mandate has been consistently challenged by the University for not representing all students, as only three-quarters are members. Membership numbers were part of the rationale behind the University removing VUWSA’s seat on University Council.
It is expected VUWSA will use universal elections as weight to their argument for a return, as they could claim to be fully representative of the student body once again. When asked by Salient, McCourt stated that the change was made as VUWSA acts in a “universal” role and that voting should reflect this.
“[VUWSA’s] about serving all students, and serving them equally. We believe all students have the right to choose who their representatives are,” said McCourt.
The changes will take place this year, meaning all students will be able to vote to elect the 2014 VUWSA Executive.
A motion moved by student Tyrone Barugh to force VUWSA to hold a referendum on the continued funding of the VBC passed by 63 votes in favour to 40 against, with seven abstentions. The exact wording of the motion is yet to be decided, but it will not be binding on the 2014 Executive whose decision it would be to remove funding from the student radio station.
Barugh told Salient other VUWSA members were also concerned at the annual cost of running the VBC—around $30,000.
“The VBC provides value to its presenters and its very small group of listeners, but not to most Vic students,” said Barugh, adding that the VBC could “probably” run without a paid station manager, and move to streaming online only.
“That might make it better value for VUWSA members,” said Barugh.
As the question will be included with the NZUSA referendum question already in the VUWSA Election, there will be no added cost. Salient will explore what the referendum will mean for the VBC in coming weeks.
Motions were passed to instate Ian McKinnon and the late Rosemary Barrington as life members of VUWSA. Both had served on VUWSA, and as Chancellor of Victoria—a position McKinnon still holds today.
Barrington served as VUWSA’s International Affairs Officer in 1967, implementing a bulk importation of rice that fed hungry and disadvantaged students at Victoria, despite strict import and price controls. She became Women’s Vice-President in 1968.
“Her strongest contribution … was to lift student representation across Victoria from her time in the ‘60s, but also as Chancellor,” said McCourt. “Ms Barrington realised the importance of partnership between students and staff to make Victoria a better place.”
McKinnon joined the VUWSA Executive while studying towards a BCom in Economics, and became Men’s Vice-President in 1966.
“Ian’s time at Victoria … has been one that has backed students from day one. Ian is a great advocate for students, and his service is an example of service and dedication to students and to University life,” said McCourt.
Other constitutional changes made were “pretty basic tidy-up amendments”, according to McCourt. All these amendments were passed unanimously.
Nominations for the 2014 VUWSA Executive close on Thursday. Nomination forms can be found at the VUWSA reception, Student Union Building. Voting will be held from 26 September to 2 October.