Over the last three weeks, rather than putting their time to productive use, a number of your elected representatives on the OUSA Executive have been preoccupied with petty bullshit, infighting and personal grudges.
They’re wasting the student services fee that you pay, and, frankly, embarrassing themselves. If the Exec want to have authority and respect, they ought to pull their heads out of their own arses and get some fucking perspective.
Basically, it all started when the 2017 OUSA Exec voted to endorse Monique Mulholland for the National Women’s Rights Officer of NZUSA. But when Caitlin Barlow-Groome went up to the NZUSA conference, she decided to split her four votes evenly between Monique and her more experienced opponent, Nikita Skipper. The split didn’t matter at all, as Nikita ended up winning 30-2. The Exec were on the whole perfectly happy with Nikita winning, and several members described her as “great”.
Caitlin was later asked to apologize to the exec for splitting her vote without first consulting the exec. She apologized, and the exec passed a motion to accept the apology. No harm, no foul, and we can all move on, right?
Nope, because that would be way too simple and productive. A group of former exec members, Bryn Jenkins, Max Chan, Cody Kirby and Danielle Pope, and a current one, Abigail Clarke, who all seem to have some personal grudge against Caitlin, decided that the apology was “not sufficient”. So they attempted to force the issue to a Student General Meeting, something normally only used to force a no-confidence vote and remove the President from office. A massive overreaction for a minor technicality, which affected no one.
They made several accusations of constitutional breaches (despite OUSA obtaining legal advice to the contrary), demanded that Caitlin make additional apologies, and even implied that her pay should be withheld as punishment.
2017 OUSA President Hugh Baird attacked the whole thing as a “stupid controversy,” saying, “to be honest I'm more disappointed that Caitlin apologised. She should have backed herself and not given in to a couple of individuals having a sook”.
“If Monique had lost by one or two votes, I would see the need for some sort of argument. Monique lost by twenty votes and was never really in the race. [The exec] are flogging a dead horse with this argument and wasting precious time.”
The defining feature of this ‘scandal’ was incompetence. For all the intricate details of the OUSA constitution thrown around, many of the parties seemed ignorant of basic OUSA procedure. At one point a document written by Abigail which referred to Monique as ‘volatile’ and accused her of slander was made public and given to Monique to read during a meeting. That was awkward for everyone involved.
Thankfully, after three weeks of petty squabbling, the issue was finally brought up in formal meeting, at which point OUSA’s legal advice let everyone know that there had been no constitutional breaches, and the complainants withdrew their objections – but not without a tearful claim that they had been “painted as the villain,” “victimized” and subjected to “lies and attacks,” followed by a long discussion which largely amounted to everyone saying over and over again how dumb the issue was and how they needed to move on.
Postgraduate Officer Kirio Birks summed up well when he said, “this whole issue is a really bloody stupid thing”.