AUSA’s proposal to leave the NZUSA passed at today’s AUSA Annual General Meeting with a majority vote of 50 to 29 votes. The termination of membership is in accordance with Section 5.6 of the NZUSA Constitution. AUSA cites the lack of value for money as the primary reason for leaving.
Meeting a quorum of over 80 enrolled students or members of AUSA, the voting area held in Shadows was packed. The discussion of the motion was chaired by Bob Lack, distinguished chair of AUSA and NZUSA.
Renata White, a Co-President/Tūmuaki Takirua for Te Mana Ākonga, The National Māori Tertiary Students’ Association, told Craccum he thought it was a good meeting, but is concerned about whether the motion has the support of Māori students. White questions whether AUSA sought a wide range of students’ perspectives on the matter or if it was discussed in closed-door meetings and only presented to students at the AGM.
He says while some information was prepared by AUSA, the agenda provided to students was not a well-rounded resource. “There wasn’t information addressing the concerns of underserved groups such as tauira pasifika, international and rainbow students.” White says it was not clearly stated in the agenda how the AUSA would grade NZUSA, and what change they are wanting to see.
AUSA General Manager Will Watterson, stated the AUSA is willing to go on record that they will continue to work with Te Mana Ākonga and Tauira Pasifika to ensure their financial stability. “Student groups who may be affected, particularly Te Mana Ākonga and Tauira Pasifika asked very legitimate questions around funding and support.”
Watterson says he felt the meeting went well, but was surprised no student in attendance questioned what their money would be spent on. “No student questioned what NZUSA is doing with their money or what that money might alternatively be spent on on campus.” Watterson says they have outlined ideas for this in their NZUSA Discussion Paper including hardship grants, advocacy, food banks and more events on campus.
Will Watterson confirmed to Craccum the AUSA will continue a relationship with the NZUSA, despite the decision to leave the student union. “We are looking forward to working with NZUSA in good faith to help them do what they do better.” AUSA President, Anamika Harirajh stated that the AUSA recommends the 2022 Executive revisit the topic of whether to rejoin or not early next year.
Other agenda items discussed in the AGM included an explanation that the audited accounts were not ready in AUSA’s 2020 Annual Report due to their auditors experiencing an unprecedented backlog of work caused by the early 2021 COVID lockdowns. Subsequently, students voted to pass the motion to amend the AUSA Constitution that the deadline for AUSA AGMs be extended to no later than Week 7 of Semester 2 to allow a more realistic timeframe for audited financials to be completed.
Additionally, students voted to pass the disestablishment of the Campaigns Officer role, a vacant role since Oliver Murphy’s resignation in 2020, due to personal reasons. AUSA states that the role has been absorbed into the job description of the Engagement Vice President.