The meeting kicked off with OUSA Events Manager Dan Hendra outlining what will be involved in the upcoming Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival. Hendra said the event, soon to be held for the third time, has four strategic goals. These are to “achieve a true town and gown event”, to “educate people about drinking quality over quantity”, to be “financially successful” and “to grow stakeholder relationships”. 3621 general tickets were sold last year, 715 of which were student tickets. The event hosted 61 stalls in 2014, and is planning for 75 in 2015.
Recreation Officer Jonny Martin asked Hendra how many students he expects to attend the event and Hendra said they are aiming for over 1000 students. Martin also asked how long the event takes OUSA staff to plan, which Hendra said often differs but is currently taking up the equivalent full-time hours of at least four staff. The questions followed criticisms last year for a lack of student attendence, taking up too many OUSA staff hours, and losing too much money.
Next on the agenda was the future of Planet Media Dunedin Ltd, which was set up in 1988 to house Critic and Radio One. President Paul Hunt said the PDML board believe the company structure is “not appropriate”. PMDL runs at a loss each year, does not guarantee media independence in its current format, and requires a General Manager who is the same person as the OUSA CEO. He said one of the main arguments for keeping PMDL is to maintain media independence. However, Hunt argued that because OUSA is the main stakeholder in the company, it can control who is on the PMDL board. Currently there are two executive members on the board of six, however the executive members usually would make up half of the board.
OUSA CEO Debbie Downs said if the company were to dissolve and become a department within OUSA, a media advisory board would need to be put in place to mediate any media independence issues between Critic/Radio One and OUSA. A board structure has not yet been decided, but Downs said there would be no OUSA executives or staff members on the board.
Education Officer Zachariah Al-Alami asked if the board would be able to “censor what Critic can say”. Downs said the point of the board would be the exact opposite and would avoid any incidences of OUSA trying to censor Critic.
Finance Officer Nina Harrap tabled her report from the 17 July Bottle Buy Back. Harrap was pleased with the event. $1153.60 was paid out but there was a discrepancy of $64.90. She aims to put a system in place for the next Bottle Buy Back to ensure that even if the event gets busy, this won’t happen again. The final Bottle Buy Back for the year will be held on 9 October.
The dates for the OUSA referendum were finalised, and it will run from Monday 5 October to Friday 9 October. The referendum will be binding and will decide whether the executive structure should change. Three options will be included in the referendum: to keep the remaining executive, to add one full-time vice-president, or to add two full-time vice-presidents. Hunt said the computer system used requires yes/no answers, making it possible for students to vote “yes” for all three options. Hunt said it will need to be made clear that only one option can be selected. The 2016 budget will be in the same referendum.
Martin suggested that since OUSA executive meetings are public, they should occasionally be held in the Main Common Room so that students can attend. OUSA Secretary Donna Jones said she will organise one in future.