Mike Anderson is a former Guild Councillor, serving as Access Co-Officer in the 106th and 107th Guild Councils. He is an independent and does not belong to any of the Guild Tickets.
The fourth meeting of the 108th Guild Council took place on the 24th of February. As this was a longer Council meeting than last month (we actually had some debate!) we’ll start with some fast facts.
- Alkasim Ghanim (Pride) was an apology, Vaishnavi RN (RSD) was absent, Constantinos Toufexis (OGC) proxied his vote to Amitabh Jeganathan (Welfare)
- Most reports were received, with the exception of RSD. WASAC gave a verbal report and promised a written report would be uploaded soon after.
- 11 motions were debated and passed at this meeting; one as business from the Executive, five received with notice, and five received without notice.
- All classes will be cancelled on the morning of Prosh (24th March) and resume from 12 p.m. This includes postgraduate classes.
- Major themes of this council were environment, Myanmar, and education cuts.
- Guild is exploring fundraising avenues to help support those impacted by the bushfires.
Tony Goodman (Managing Director) during his report informed Council that all social media accounts must be organised with Caitlyn MacPhail (Marketing and Communication Manager). At the time of Council, the following accounts had not been organised with Caitlyn: Fringe UWA (Instagram), Free Breakfast UWA (Multiple Platforms), Ethnocultural (Facebook Profile). Tony warned Council that breaching social media policy would be considered misconduct and told councillors to rectify these outstanding cases by the 5th of March. Other notable updates include:
- UWA Merchandise is selling very well with roughly $70K in revenue (not sales)
- Cameron Hall needs fixing. The University doesn’t want to pay for an elevator
A single question was asked on student reports. Esa Chrulew (OGC) asked James Haley (Environment) about the Australian Oil and Gas Conference and why no mention of it was made in his report. James replied that no one had spoken to him about it. A brief side conversation developed following this in which Esa asserted that James Fox (Environment Action Network) has spoken to James about this. James Haley repeated he never had a formal sit-down meeting about it.
Motions (on notice)
A motion from the Executive was moved by Emma Mezger (President) and Bre Shanahan (Chair) to ratify interim policy around the bushfires that occurred across WA. Bre spoke to her personal experience coming from the hills. The motion passed unanimously.
Avery Wright (Pride) and Jameson Thompson (Vice President) moved a motion commending the ban on conversion therapy in Victoria. Both speakers talk to their experience as LGBTIQA+ students and the damage conversion therapy has on people. The motion passed unanimously.
Abdul Rahman (ISD) and Ridhima Vinayachandran (Ethnocultural) moved a motion about the coup in Myanmar. Abdul asked Council to give his speaking rights to representatives from UWA’s Union of Myanmar club; Council voted to do so unanimously. Technical difficulties with video chat made their comments difficult to make out, however consensus is the speech was well made and persuasive (not that anyone needed persuading). The movers flagged a sit-in that would occur on the 3rd of March in support of student unions protesting the coup and educating others at UWA. Speeches for the motion were made by April Htun (Education), Esa, and Viknash VM (MASA). April’s speech was particularly moving, speaking to the inability to contact family members from Myanmar. All speakers condemned the coup and called for student action.
Esa Chrulew and April Htun moved the next two motions, one on cuts to units at UWA and opposing a move to online learning, the other on the AOG Conference and Climate Change. The first motion was amended by Emma to stress the opposition is to permanent online learning, as many international students are relying on it currently. The amendment is accepted as friendly with Esa saying this was her intention. A question was asked by Amitabh about the campaign mentioned in the motion and who it is run by; Esa says it is to be run by the Guild’s Education Action Network. Esa was the main speaker, addressing the Vice-Chancellor’s viewpoint that value is economic and generated by churning out degrees. Esa said that students must resist or else nothing would stop the university from making these cuts. Emma also spoke for the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
The AOG and Climate Change motion – notably not proposed by the Environment Officer James Haley – was met with a large number of speakers and two amendments. These amendments named the specific protest they were endorsing (moved by April) and called on the university to forge links with clean energy industries (moved by Avery). Multiple speakers (Joey Chan, Jacob Cerin, Franklin Lou) raised concerns about the impact of cutting ties to fossil fuel industries on research students of UWA. Joey Chan (PSA) noted he represented research students and that many struggled for research funding. Joey and Franklin appeared satisfied following Avery’s amendment.
Speakers for the motion included Esa, Lily Hayward (WASAC), Amitabh, Will Norrish (Access), Avery, and James. They all touched on the importance of tackling climate change and the impacts inaction has on students and the specific communities some of them represent. Esa slammed the Environment Department for not running protests. Lily talked to indigenous history of fighting for environment rights since colonialism, and added economically it made no sense to do nothing. James responded to some of the criticism of cutting ties so quickly by saying a gradual change had been spoken about for decades, and that urgent action was now needed. Jacob Cerin was the main opponent to the motion, stressing his concern at cutting ties so quickly and the impacts this would have on research students. While he did call for ties to be built with clean energy industries he apparently was not fully satisfied by Avery’s amendment and voted against the motion. Lachlan McDonald (although voting for the motion) expressed concern at council doing something for purely symbolic purposes. It should be noted, however, that those speaking in favour of the motion did not intend for this to be symbolic, and genuinely wanted change. They had simply expressed that the University was unlikely to respond with any due haste. The motion passed with one vote against (Jacob Cerin).
Eleanor White (Societies) and James Haley moved a motion allocating funding for Enviro Grants for UWA Clubs. Eleanor and James spoke to it encouraging clubs to be more sustainable. Last year’s Environment Officer Will thanked Eleanor for carrying this work forward from last year and for seeing it implemented. The motion passed unanimously.
Motions (without notice)
Bre and Joey moved an update to the PSA regulations. This brought them into line with current Guild Regulations and updated the election rules. The motion was late due to Governance passing them the day before. The motion passed unanimously.
Amitabh and Abdul moved a motion to address social isolation, planning to run a campaign. It was late due to the movers only meeting to discuss it two days before Council. The movers talked to the impacts of social isolation on students mental health. Abdul noted the significant impact on international students. Lucinda Thai-LeTran (Access) and Marcus Lim (Volunteering) asked about how the movers intend to make the campaign inclusive. The response was essentially that they would welcome working with Autonomous Departments. James asked what the campaign would look like. Amitabh said it would largely be in the form of infographics about recognising social isolation and promoting events to help with reintegration. Will and Emma spoke in favour of the motion, Will noting the impact social isolation has on disabled students – he said he was excited to work with Amitabh and Abdul on it. The motion passed unanimously.
Emma moved a motion addressing the Facebook news ban and solidarity with affected Student Media. It was late because it was a recent event. Pelican was given speaking rights. Millie and Riley noted the good Pelican does to help build community and develop writing skills, and said that because Pelican doesn’t make a profit, it didn’t make sense for the magazine to be banned. Riley joked that if Facebook wanted to pay them, he wouldn’t object. Will and Esa also spoke in favour. The motion passed unanimously.
Emma and Amitabh moved a motion about government cuts to COVID supplements and changes to jobseeker. A number of questions were raised around payments other than youth allowance, resulting in amendments which ultimately landed on the phrasing “government supplement increase” (moved by Joey Chan). Amitabh called for Guild to support the NUS’s Raise the Rate for Good campaign. Esa, Lily, Will, and Lucinda all spoke in favour of the motion. Lucinda and Lily touched on the impacts this has on their communities (Disability and Indigenous respectively). The motion passed unanimously.
A final motion was moved by Emma to remove two former staff members from the bank account signatory list. It was late because the Finance Director only advised Council of the need to on the morning of Council. The motion passed unanimously.
Words by Mike Anderson