OUSA’s Annual General Meeting Canned Due To Lack Of Students

OUSA’s Annual General Meeting Canned Due To Lack Of Students

Guess we’ll never find out what caused the Taj Mahal fire :(

OUSA’s annual general meeting (AGM) happened on Tuesday 23 August. Or at least, it should have, before it was cancelled because not enough students showed up.

The AGMs, also known as “Student General Meetings” (SGMs), are theoretically meant to be a chance for students to have a say in how our very own students’ association is run. According to President Melissa Lama, it is compulsory for OUSA to hold an AGM every year: “We are a governance group that is held accountable by our student population; therefore, it is another opportunity for students to engage with us.” However, for the meeting to even become valid in the first place, at least 0.5% of students must attend (100 people). Even meeting this remarkably low bar (known as a “quorum”) has been a challenge for OUSA in recent years, with the Exec often resorting to giveaways, or even pulling people in from hallways and corridors, to meet the magic number.

This year was no different. The tantalising prospect of winning a $200 voucher at Mela did not seem enough to attract the punters. OUSA even let a few “joke” proposals slip through this year, having learnt from the Sign Up Club (SUC) debacle of 2021 that nothing attracts students like a good shitpost. Not even the sheer chaotic energy of getting OUSA to follow through on proposals like replacing the clocktower’s chimes with a DnB drop, or allowing the President to declare the “First Nice Day” of the year in Sem 2 and unilaterally cancel all classes, seemed to be able to draw students away from their lunch. 

When a team from Critic Te Ārohi and R1 showed up at the Main Common Room to cover the meeting, less than 50 people were present. Some seemed to just be having lunch, oblivious to the AGM sign at the door, the large sound system set up or the team of increasingly panicked Exec members running around trying to draft students into participating in democracy. Despite a last, desperate push to get the numbers up, including attempts to recruit the flat-pack bed salespeople who were set up outside Union, efforts to resuscitate the quickly-flagging meeting proved futile. Finally, 15 minutes after the meeting was due to start, with little progress being made towards that magic number, the Exec were forced by constitutional rules to can the event. Melissa said she was “gutted we could not meet quorum,” but was “hopeful we will find other avenues to engage students, and increase interest in attending AGMs.” 

Despite generally low engagement in student politics, one event in 2021 managed to inspire significant student involvement, thanks to the shitposting SUC. SUC infamously rallied their members to turn out en masse to submit and vote for proposals, forcing OUSA to consider motions like establishing a second Hyde Street Party, and making Bill and Bill the official Uni mascots. Despite drawing enough students to make our students’ association do their bidding, OUSA bit back and nullified all SUC’s proposals as “breaches of the OUSA constitution”. 

This article first appeared in Issue 21, 2022.
Posted 6:45pm Friday 2nd September 2022 by Denzel Chung.