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VUWSA is officially pro-choice, following last week’s AGM in the Hub.
The AGM was held on Level 1 of the Hub at 1 pm on 30 September, and reached quorum of 100 with the promise of pizza luring students in.
The roll of officers, apologies and minutes of the 2013 AGM passed without controversy.
Outgoing VUWSA President Sonya Clark then ran through the VUWSA half-year work reports (reviewed earlier this year by Salient), as well as highlights of the year, such as the Fairer Fares and Rental Warrants of Fitness campaigns.
Clark also ran through the statement of accounts, including the budget which shows VUWSA as having a surplus. VUWSA ran deficits in 2012 and 2013.
Students in attendance raised questions as to how VUWSA had a surplus. Clark said the surplus was due to VUWSA budgeting for spending which it has ended up delaying this year.
Another student also asked about student consultation with respect to VUWSA’s recent withdrawal from NZUSA.
Incoming VUWSA president Rick Zwaan said VUWSA would continue to have a strong presence on student issues nationally, and that consultation would be a key part of that.
Next was discussion of VUWSA’s constitutional amendments. The first amendment makes it so students only have to sign up once to VUWSA rather than renewing every year. Students will still be able to withdraw their membership at any time, and will still be able get a wall planner and diary at the beginning of every year.
The second amendment changes the way the president resigns. Now the president must give notice of resignation to their executive, not just to themselves. Salient does not anticipate a resignation this year, but this seems like a sensible change.
The third amendment changed leftover gendered pronouns in the constitution which were missed last year.
The meeting then moved to the referendum initiated by the Women’s Group. The motion was that VUWSA supports and recognises the importance of access to safe, free and legal abortion, and that pregnant persons should have complete autonomy over their bodies to make a choice without bias, stigma or pressure from external parties.
Speakers then spoke for and against the motion. Students speaking against the motion voiced concerns about groups who are opposed to abortion feeling alienated from VUWSA if it publicly supports access to abortion, and questioned whether VUWSA should involve itself in social issues.
However, the majority of speakers argued that the motion was supportive of whatever choice people wished to make, and that VUWSA has historically taken stances on social issues, such as marriage equality in 2013.
The vote was then conducted by secret ballot at audience request. 91 students voted in favour of the motion, 19 against and ten abstained.
In a Special General Meeting conducted in conjunction with the AGM while votes on the referendum were being counted, Salient News Editor Sophie Boot was elected to Publications Committee, which oversees the functioning of Salient.
Both meetings then concluded with the much-anticipated arrival of pizza.