OPINION: Jennifer Li’s Reign of Incompetence Ends — But That’s Still Not Good Enough

Words by Ethan Penglase

Jennifer (Yunhan) Li was elected president of the Adelaide University Union (AUU) late last year after the sweeping victory of her student political party, Progress, in the 2017 student elections. She resigned today — after “earning” roughly $9,000 for doing nothing.

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Former AUU President Jennifer Li

Li’s resignation will be welcomed by many directors of the AUU Board. During her term as president, many directors complained that she was almost uncontactable.

Board Director Olivia Savvas (Unite) told On Dit that Li often failed to distribute minutes and agendas of Board meetings. Savvas said that the University Administration had no confidence in Li and described her as “not always being able to meet the demands of the job”.

Li also reportedly failed to attend her weekly meetings with the Union’s General Manager Gary Sutherland and never submitted her president’s column to On Dit.

Students will no doubt be pleased to hear that the woman who ripped them of $9,000 won’t be receiving her entire honorarium of roughly $31,000. But students should be concerned by Progress’ dirty attempts to hold onto the presidency.

Last night, the AUU Board held a special general meeting closed to the public. Sources on the Board tell On Dit that at that meeting Oscar Ong, de facto head of Progress, attempted to hold an unconstitutional election to make himself president.

Ong sought to have Li declare “an intention to resign” so that she could have the deciding vote in the attempted election and make Ong president (along with the presumed support of the other Progress member Siqi Yang).

Standard, and constitutional, procedure would have been for Li to resign, the Board to declare a casual vacancy and then elect a new president without Li’s vote.

Sutherland refused to legitimise the dodgy election and refused to be the returning officer. The Left bloc (Jack Crawford — Left Action; Patrick Stewart, Iacavos Digenis, Tamsin Anspach — Activate) and Independent Brodie Scott pulled quorum to stop the election.

Savvas did not help pull quorum but she did say she thought the election would be unconstitutional.

When asked if he would have partaken in the election, Swipe Right’s Hugh Sutton said that he would not “speculate on a hypothetical situation”.

Ong then attempted to convene a meeting of the Board’s Executive to allegedly hold another unconstitutional election.

Savvas said that there is an issue on the Board with directors not respecting Sutherland’s expertise and experience.

Li probably isn’t a manipulative person (perhaps she was thrown into the presidency by circumstance), and Ong might not have been as lazy as Li (hardly a high bar). But we have to question whether Progress has students’ best interests at heart when they’re willing to employ such dirty tactics to get what they want.

It is concerning how close the Union came to allowing Ong to potentially continue Li’s legacy of laziness and snatch up the remaining $21,000 of the president’s honorarium.

Regardless, with the resignation of Li, it is unlikely that Ong will be able to become president in a fair election.

Should the Board declare a casual vacancy, Li will most likely be replaced by Unite’s Aidan Johnson.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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