Execrable | Issue 12

Referendum questions questioned

The Executive meeting held on 13 May came with ample discussion on the upcoming referendum and a variation on the agenda.

In an Executive round up, Hamish was looking into getting a committee together regarding TED Talks in Dunedin. Nick was “frothin’” after agreeing to a repayment plan in regard to a loan to the Hockey Club, which Ruby also seemed pleased about and admitted the process had “taken us a couple of years.” Brydie was working with heads of colleges to get a more concrete and streamlined approach to dealing with sexual assaults in residential halls. Henri said the Tertiary Day “overall went really good,” but extra help setting up would have been desirable. Laura had a meeting with the previous Education Officer, Jordan Taylor, who was incredibly helpful, with Laura mentioning she could have talked with him for longer.

The Executive round up also saw Nali mention she had to leave the meeting early, but that she had an item to discuss with the group, despite it not being included in the agenda. Nali’s item concerned the Campus Memorial Policy, including the provision of Dedicated Trees. It appeared Nali had in some ways lobbied a number of members on the topic prior to the meeting and what followed was a less than procedural and judicial approach to the meeting. The under-informed discussion was drawn out into a period of talking over one another with no real substantive framework for the conversation. Ryan proved the most reasonable on the topic and recognised the under-informed nature of the debate, suggesting that the Executive form a working party with the University Chaplaincy regarding the death of students.

A long onslaught of referendum debate then followed. Nick started the ball rolling with the suggestion that the OUSA investment fund be put to students via Critic to get “more active engagement,” rather than as a referendum question. He reasoned that it had potential to have a wider reach to students given Critic’s readership. Ruby was hesitant to agree, saying that Critic is “probably only targeting a certain sector of students.” Eventually it was decided to put a question into the next referendum, as Ruby thought it “important to go through traditional resources for formalities,” despite the fact that the recent OUSA survey shows 90 per cent of students read Critic.

So they could get to the moderator in time, the referendum questions were discussed next. The first three were received with little debate and concerned OUSA’s active opposition of the Education Amendment Bill (No. 2), OUSA’s support of the legalisation of Marijuana following the ban of synthetic cannabinoids, and OUSA’s support of a Universal Student Allowance.

Much debate then followed as to whether the referendum should include a question on OUSA’s support for GST-free fruit and vegetables. Nali was for including the question, and also suggested that women’s sanitary items be GST-free. Nick agreed with Nali on both, saying, “I’m addressing all women, in the same way this addresses fat people.” Hamish didn’t seem to think it was a big concern to students, saying it “depends on the person. I get paid quite a bit but I never eat fruit and vegetables.” Kurt, on the other hand, said it’s “not a live issue,” and Ruby agreed it was a “waste of space.” Eventually, it was decided the question would remain, with only Kurt and Ruby opposed. The final question concerned OUSA investigating the establishment of a student bar, which remains a live issue. The Executive accepted all 11 questions, including those submitted by students.

Last year’s constitutional breach at the NZUSA election was also discussed in terms of whether it would be highlighted in the referendum, or confirmed at a SGM (Student General Meeting). The breach involved three delegates attending the NZUSA election not casting votes for then-OUSA President Francisco Hernandez’s bid to be NZUSA president, despite an OUSA Executive motion that directed delegates to do so. While it was suggested a SGM was required to declare the breach, it was decided it was easier to “pop it along with all the other questions,” following doubts that quorum at an SGM would be met, which required roughly 100 people to attend. However, an Emergency Executive Meeting was then called on 15 May after it was revealed to be a requirement of the OUSA Constitution to hold an SGM in order to report a constitutional breach to the student body. The SGM will be held on 22 May at 12.30pm in the Main Common Room, with an accompanying sausage sizzle.

The meeting also saw Ruby congratulate the Rowing Club on their recent success at the NZ Universities Rowing Championships after they acknowledged OUSA’s support. She said she was “incredibly proud” of the Club and was looking forward to continuing the supportive relationship.

In other news: the Hyde Street Keg Party Report was spoken to by Ryan in Committee of the Whole; the Chinese Scholar and Student Association was disaffiliated from OUSA with little fuss; and OUSA’s financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2013 were also received, revealing a net surplus for the year of $525,467.

Finally, a reprioritisation of the budget was then discussed, following the Uni Games falling through. With plans now in place to send teams to the Eastern Australia University Games, a request was made to spend $11,000 for students to attend. The Executive agreed to reallocate $11,000 from the Summer Games fund to the Eastern Australia Games, with the remaining $2,120 to be used to fund a new dance competition.

Questions for the OUSA referendum to be held 27-29 May 2014

  1. Should the Otago University Students’ Association Annual Audited Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2013 be received and accepted?

  2. Should the Otago University Students’ Association Annual Report for 2013 be received and accepted?

  3. Should PricewaterhouseCoopers be appointed as Auditors for the Otago University Students’ Association for 2014?

  4. Should Anderson Lloyd be appointed as Honorary Solicitors for the Otago University Students’ Association for 2014?

  5. Should Donna Jones’s appointment as Secretary of the Association for a further four (4) years be ratified, pursuant to the executive resolution sc47/14?

  6. Should the following be adopted as OUSA External Policy? “That OUSA believes in guaranteed student representation on University governance boards and committees, and as such actively opposes the Education Amendment Bill (No 2), 2014”

  7. Should the following be adopted as OUSA External Policy? “That OUSA supports the legalisation of Marijuana following the ban on all existing synthetic cannabis products.”

  8. Should the following be adopted as OUSA External Policy? “That OUSA support the move to a Universal Student Allowance.”

  9. Should the following be adopted as OUSA External Policy? “That OUSA supports Goods and Services Tax (GST) free fruit and vegetables.”

  10. Should the OUSA Executive investigate the establishment of a student bar?

This article first appeared in Issue 12, 2014.
Posted 4:32pm Sunday 18th May 2014 by Claudia Herron.