Words by Felix Eldridge
The meeting opened at 6pm
The purpose of this specially convened meeting was to approve the recommendations altering the student media election rules. Basically, confirming that there would be a new set of rules for future elections, which would be held four weeks later than the AUU elections and would be platformed online.
AUU President Oscar Ong revealed that he had discussed the proposal with the University Council Secretariat, and they had agreed to run the online elections.
Director Tamsin Anspach outlined concerns about the proposed changes. In particular, issues with interpretation, the lack of information provided and the fact that the rules had not been looked over by a lawyer.
Ong said that he had talked to Gary (the AUU Executive Officer) and they decided that a lawyer was not necessary. Anspach asked if she could hear that from Gary himself, so Oscar called him. Gary said that the decision to get a lawyer to look over the rules was ultimately a Board decision. He also mentioned that there wasn’t really much risk in the election of student media directors and that the election should be very simple to run. However, he also said that a legal review could be undertaken at the request of the Board.
Student Media Chair Angus Heaton stated that: “It’s not going to be as competitive as the stupol elections, therefore the rules don’t have to be as comprehensive.”
Director Patrick Stewart complained that context was missing from some of the discussions during the special student media committee. He said: “Student elections can become quite competitive and we can’t predict that. We want to set up a set of rules that will master the test of time, rather than having to revise the rules every year …We want students to examine the content and quality of media that is being put out. The rules are not shaped to achieve that outcome … They look like they have been done in a rush. There is a lot of work to be done in my mind.”
Anspach then asked if Ong was open to the rules being checked by a lawyer and Oscar agreed to have it looked over.
Stewart then spoke about the imminent deadlines to get the rules approved by University Council (whose approval is necessary to alter AUU election rules). He questioned why the item took so long to be proposed given its importance and recommended that the item be deferred. He said: “Having strong rules is better than getting it done in time this year.”
Ong replied: “We should be willing to take this risk to change the system.”
Heaton added: “Kearin (The AUU Marketing Manager) was very happy, very supportive. Kearin envisioned that it would work. Gary doesn’t see any significant risk, Kearin and I don’t see any significant risk.”
Stewart continued to question the statements, talking about the cost of elections and having to produce magazines or purchase equipment to make and play radio snippets, therefore allowing the most ‘cashed up’ candidate to win.
Anspach suggested that the ‘Mock Dit’ (examples of each ticket’s proposed On Dit style) should be printed in black and white, so that all candidates could be put at an even playing field considering the cost of colour printing. Board directors rejected this suggestion because coloured printing has always been a staple of On Dit tickets and the election process shouldn’t change that.
Shortly after this, AUU Vice President Hugh Sutton moved a procedural motion that the election rules motion should be voted on immediately. Stewart attempted to raise a procedural motion while the voting was taking place and was named twice by Ong.
Ong then allowed Stewart to move a different procedural motion, adding a clause to the motion that provided legal review of the rules by a lawyer. This motion passed.
The meeting was opened at 6.11pm
The board went in camera quickly.
The Board then moved to amend the minutes of the last meeting. Stewart asked the Board to rephrase a comment about his naming for talking while the President was talking which Ong agreed to. Anspach also asked to have her comments regarding conversations with On Dit Editors rephrased, however Ong was not willing to do this. Director Arabella Wauchope raised concerns about the precedent of retroactively altering the record of what was said at meetings. A motion to amend that part of the minutes failed.
Stewart then wanted to discuss an in camera item that was raised in an ex camera part of the minutes.
The Board went in camera quickly again.
Director Patrick Kennewell raised some concerns that he previously raised on the phone with Ong. He approved of the marketing of the election but wanted more information regarding campaigning within the Hub for students who are studying.
Wauchope said that exclusion zones are necessary for student elections, but probably not for student media, commenting that it would be strange to have them for student media elections, but not for University Council elections.
Sutton stated: “We can’t change the rules regarding University Council, but we can change these rules. We don’t want people to be harassed in the Hub for votes.”
Anspach added: “I did see a candidate in the Hub going up to tables and interrupting them.”
Heaton also added: “I saw the same thing in Nexus.”
Wauchope pitched in saying: “In terms of student media elections I have no issue with people approaching them and showing them Mock Dits and what they have done.”
Ong suggested allowing the Returning Officer to declare areas as exclusion zones at their discretion.
Sutton disagreed, saying: “We shouldn’t give the RO the power to arbitrarily declare certain areas exclusion zones”
Anspach suggested declaring every building an exclusion zone except for certain ‘campaigning hubs’.
The Board then discussed at length what constituted an ‘exclusion zone’.
Ong said: “At the end of the day, we want students to vote.”
Kennewell responded by saying: “I would rather people have informed votes rather than just being asked randomly to vote when they are trying to study.” He then moved a motion to ban all campaigning in university buildings except areas designated as voting areas by the Returning Officer.
There was then a discussion regarding whether this proposed clause is a ‘substantial change’, therefore warranting more debate and a further meeting to approve, or not. The Board resolved to move the rules and the amendment together and then combine and debate them at the next meeting to ensure that the rules are established in the first place. Both motions were passed.
Ong stated: “Welcome to the new era of online elections for student media.”
He then recommended that Board Directors raise major concerns about motions through memos so that Directors can respond to each individual complaint in turn.
Ong then moved to his Presidential Report. In it he thanked the University for changing the absentee procedures for Muslim students seeking to leave classes to pray, he noted the 2000 responses from the RCC survey, which has now been closed. He also provided a brief update about the AUU run ‘Breakfast Club’ program, where a Student Care booth will be established to address concerns by students while they wait for food.
Wauchope asked Ong about the process to raise concerns about vending machines. Ong said that the issue is being monitored by AUU staff.
When asked about the last Student Media meeting, Heaton informed the Board that after discussions with the SRC President, On Dit was encouraged to increase its distribution because too many copies remained in storage after the distribution points were emptied.
Heaton also asked if the AUU could reduce the amount of printed editions of On Dit but was reminded by Ong that the Union had to reach a quota of printed editions per year and it could not cut costs any further. Kennewell discussed potentially expanding distribution to medical area common rooms such as hospitals for the benefit of medical students on placements. He also discussed potentially giving individual clubs copies to distribute among their members.
The meeting finished at 7.38pm
Disclaimer: Felix ran as a ‘Unite’ candidate in the 2018 student elections