Major changes made at final Guild Council meeting

Madura McCormack

The final Guild meeting for the year has yielded some major changes for Murdoch students, with the axing of some Guild positions, changes to the Clubs Room and tough financial decisions.

The outgoing guard, helmed by Raeesah Khan, have removed a number of Guild Council positions, including the Rural Regional and Interstate representative and closed the Rockingham Student Association (RSA).

The RSA was considered obsolete in a campus that has less than a dozen students.

No RRI representative had been elected in the recent elections, a position last held by Alex Knoop.

In a move that has been floated for several months, the five Guild Councillor positions of Sports, Clubs and Socs, Events, Sustainability, and Social Justice have been axed to make way for seven ‘Ordinary Guild Councillors’.Screenshot 2015-12-04 14.25.18Screenshot 2015-12-04 14.19.14

These positions, according to the agenda, will be ‘voted by quota to council’, similar to voting in the Australian Senate.

Students seeking election as an Ordinary Guild Councillor will need to attain 12.5 per cent of the vote after preferences, with portfolios allocated to them by Guild Council.

“It means duties can be flexible with the changing times,” says outgoing Education Vice President Roland Belford.

“In 20 years who knows what the important values to the student body will be.”

Guild President Guy McDonald says the changes will need to go through Senate, and will affect the election scheduled for late 2016.

Room swap

A unanimous motion was passed to reallocate the Clubs Room to the Indigenous Collective.

Outgoing Clubs and Socs officer Brodie Skalko says the Guild wants to build up the Indigenous Collective, who before this did not have a room.

“The Indigenous Collective have a hierarchy structure that they can use to ensure the room is looked after,” she says.

Located in the Amenities block, the Queer and Women’s Collectives will also swap rooms, giving the Queer Collective three square metres more room and wheelchair accessibility.

“We’ve got a large number of active members and until now have had a space that was far too small, so it’s great that we’ve finally been able to expand a little,” says outgoing Queer Representative Ash Spring.

Bookshop to stay open

At the meeting held on November 30, the council opted to keep the loss-making Guild Bookshop open after heavy discussion on cost-cutting measures.

Although the closing of the bookshop would have saved almost $50,000 in SSAF money, the risk of losing vital services such as the sale of second-hand books, Guild sticker distribution and Student SmartRiders proved too high.

In order to keep the bookshop open, the positions of Guild Shop manager and assistant manager have been made redundant, while the Tavern assisting manager will be made a casual position.

The operating expenses for the bookshop is budgeted at $230,000 for 2016 but revenue should offset a bulk of the cost.

The Clubs and Socs Room now for the Indigenous Collective. Photo by: Madura McCormack

The Clubs and Socs Room now for the Indigenous Collective.
Photo by: Madura McCormack

Student Hub

Council has also offered guidance to the architects of the planned student hub.

In what is described as an ‘ambitious’ plan, the Student Hub is expected to take over much of the Refectory side of Bush Court and is slated for 2017.

The Guild passed a motion to endorse a dedicated spaces for Indigenous students close to Kulbardi, queer-identifying students and women.

Murdoch’s student representative body also wants “the entire student hub project to utilise best practice in accessible building design” for inclusion of students with disability.

METIOR Policy

In collaboration with the current editor, outgoing Education Vice President Roland Belford wrote a new METIOR policy to reflect the publication’s move to online.

Changes were made to the selection process of future editors; with the new policy ensuring the next person “shall be appointed from among the Murdoch student body by the Guild President and outgoing Editor”.

In the old policy, it was “recommended” that the METIOR editor be a current or previous student of the university.

The magazine is in the process of securing at least one print run, with the edition out by February 22, 2016.

Guildsplainer: The un-official guide to who does what in Murdoch Student Politics.

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There’s less than a week to go until nominations close and #MUpol kicks into high gear. Which means campaigning and sledging and all that fun politics stuff. Onions anyone?

Unlike our brethren in UWA, Curtin and everyone else who actually rank in some chart somewhere, Murdoch tends to not give a shit. Last year, 73 per cent of student representatives were elected unopposed. That is a Distinction for the unit of zero fucks given.

But what is stopping Murkids from being MurPollies and running for office? Probably because no one knows it’s bloody happening and what the positions entail.

So here’s a breakdown of who does what, and where they stand in the hierarchy of things.

The Big 4

There are four major divisions in the Murdoch StuPol [Student Politics] world; Academic Council, Senate, Guild Council and the Murdoch Uni Post Graduate Student Association [MUPSA].

In total there are 46 positions that need to be filled this year [including student reps on School Boards], and like a game of chess, certain people will wield more power than others.

One kickass Venn diagram explaining the MUpol universe, made by MS Word whiz kid Madura McCormack

One kickass Venn diagram explaining the MUpol universe, made by MS Word whiz kid Madura McCormack

Senate

“If the University were a company, the Senate would be its board,” says Returning Officer, Trudi McGlade.

Basically the Senate is the Big Boss, the Supreme Overlord of decision-making that takes advice from Academic Council.

Two students are elected to this role, and their main task is to make sure shit doesn’t hit the fan when people with power make all encompassing decisions.

When asked what Senate members achieved last year, outgoing Education Vice President and 2014 Senate rep Roland Belford says, “Uhhh… we sacked the VC?”

Damn straight. Senate members are involved in the appointment and performance management of the Vice-Chancellor. Murdoch is currently looking for one after the last guy was reported to the Corruption and Crime Commission.

catvoteAcademic Council

The Senate governs, but the Academic Council is where all the action is. These guys deal with academic matters, which in a University, is basically what makes it function.

Kind of like the butter on Vegemite toast, student representation is spread thick on Academic Council because it’s needed.

Apart from the one undergrad and one regional student that is elected straight into Academic Council, Murkids can get on it by being:

  • Guild President
  • Education Vice President
  • General Secretary
  • MUPSA Pres
  • MUPSA Vice Pres 1
  • MUPSA Vice Pres 2

Which brings us to the next lot in the mob, who juggle the never-ending list of students needs and 50 per cent of the entire SSAF budget. [Note: The Guild has a whole fleet of permanent staffers who deal with those touchy corporate things, Student Politicians don’t actually move money around, they allocate.]

Guild Council

Within Guild Council live its slightly more powerful head-honchos called the Guild Executive.

By and large these positions are the most sought after and are arguably the most visible MurPollies on campus. Fun fact: Federal MP for Melbourne, Adam Bandt was Murdoch Guild President in 1994.

The Guild President, Education Vice President and General Secretary are the only 3 paid positions in the whole Murdoch StuPol universe.

Belford, who was Guild President in 2014, says the pay rate is equivalent to the “people cleaning toilets in Parliament House”.

Student positions in The Guild. Graphics: Made in Inforgram by Madura McCormack

Students who are elected into these positions need not do any units, but that’s not a rule or anything. Basically it’s hard work that takes up a lot of time outside of the maximum hours you can actually get paid for each week.

METIOR understands there is no such thing as a ‘Guild Executive Pension’.

Joining them is a motley crew of student representatives and officers, each with their own portfolio.

There’s the Guild Officers;

  • Social Justice
  • Events
  • Clubs and Societies
  • Sports
  • Sustainability

Together, they form SECSS. But don’t forget the Reps;

  • Queer
  • Disability
  • Indigenous
  • Women’s
  • Rural, Remote and Interstate
  • External

BUT WAIT, there’s more. The Murdoch International Students Association President, currently Ferhan Siddiqi, also sits on Guild Council. As does the MUPSA President we previously met on Academic Council and their not-at-South Street friends Rockingham Student Association President and Mandurah Student Association President.

Due to the dwindling student numbers at Rockingham Campus — student Population: 7– there is talk of removing the position altogether.

How do I nomz- (1)Good lord, are we done?

No. Sit down and be still. There are also 16 positions to be filled on the 8 School Boards.

These are the positions that go unfilled year after year after year. Apart from the School of Law, who actually has its shit together, no one nominates themselves for the 1 undergrad, 1 postgrad position.

School Board Student Representatives, or SchoBoStuReps as they are now called, are the ones responsible for recommending units and courses to be offered within the School and have academic oversight of the units.

They are the ones who can actually do something about the shithouse unit that has three essays with no actual direction and a lecture at 8:30am.

Damn son, I better do something

Hells yeah you should. Nominations close 4pm September 23 and campaigning will begin at 10am the same day.

To nominate yourself, grab the forms online or in person and hand them in with a 400 word bio and a snazzy headshot of your gorgeous face.

If being in a leadership position does not sound enticing at all, remember that voting is still muy bueno.

Source: University Secretary's Office. www.murdoch.edu.au

Source: University Secretary’s Office. http://www.murdoch.edu.au

In order to vote or nominate, you must be a Murdoch University student and cannot be an employee of the University. Anyone going for a spot on Guild Council must be a Guild member.

Congrats you made it to the bottom of the post, go grab a cookie.

Guild Council votes for free sausages

As part of a new series, METIOR will be attending every Guild Council meeting, pre-digesting what your student politicians discuss, then filling you in. 

Think of Murdoch Guild Council Meetings like a sitting of parliament; just a bunch of democratically elected politicians discussing stuff in an attempt to get things done. This is what they talked about in August.

Voicing out

Held on Wednesday, August 12, the council meeting opened with Guild President Raeesah Khan mentioning that she ‘didn’t expect so much sexism this semester’, presumably directed at her.

Whether the sexism she is experiencing comes from other members of Guild Council or the general student population remains unclear.

Khan also mentioned the ongoing ‘Save Our Voice’ campaign.

The movement aims to ‘stop the WA Liberal Government from changing the laws to do with WA universities in a way that will silence the voice of staff and students’, according to the campaign’s website.

Posters have been put around campus with details of the campaign and how you can join in.

Education Vice President, Roland Belford, reminded Council about the upcoming ‘National Day of Action’ that was held Wednesday, August 19.

Save Our Voice campaign posters are up around Uni. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Save Our Voice campaign posters are up around Uni. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Guild Council Retreat

The idea of a ‘Guild Retreat’ on campus was introduced, with Khan suggesting it would bring members of Guild Council together.

UPDATE: The Guild Retreat is ‘not as a bonding exercise but to discuss the direction of the organisation’, Khan says.

In an email to the editor, Clubs and Societies Officer Brodie Skalko clarified that this event is far from a ‘fun day out’ and is intended to provide a platform for deep discussion and improvement within the Guild council.

Brodie Skalko proposed that $250 from the SSAF (Student Service and Amenities Fees) be used to fund food and drink at the retreat.

Sports Officer, Daniel McLerie, stepped in to oppose the idea, suggesting instead that everyone bring in their own food to save budget money.

Mystery man in the Clubs Room

The Clubs and Socs Room. Mystery man not pictured. Photo by: Madura McCormack

The Clubs and Socs Room. Mystery man not pictured.
Photo by: Madura McCormack

After much discussion, a motion was passed to lock the Clubs Room after 4pm after Clubs and Society’s officer Brodie Skalko reported that an unknown man has allegedly been using the recently renovated room as a place to live, with shavers and old jeans rumoured to have been found in the drawers.

She also reported that the room was constantly messy and trashed, despite the Guild having spent $1000 per annum refurbishing the room over the past four years.

Skalko also spoke of getting rid of certain ads on noticeboards around campus including those for cars and accommodation.

She reasoned that the boards were always cluttered and she was tired of having to clean them up.

Cluttered noticeboards, the ire of Brodie Skalko. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Cluttered noticeboards, the ire of Brodie Skalko. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Free barbeque

On a more edible note, the Guild Council passed a motion to have a free sausage sizzle for all students on campus every Wednesday for the next 15 weeks.

Khan said that this would cost about $2625, with the funds coming from the SSAF budget. This figure came from the approximate price of $100 a week for the food and $75 for staffing from the Tavern.

It was decided that staff from the Tavern would run the event while Guild Council members would help out if available in order to try and increase student engagement with the Guild and its members.

Cylindrical mystery meats being grilled during MarketDaze. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Cylindrical mystery meats being grilled during MarketDaze.           Photo by: Madura McCormack

Political changes

In political news, a motion was passed to propose a change in Guild election rules, which General Secretary Guy McDonald described as ‘draconian’.

This proposal will ask the University, who controls election guidelines, to allow political materials such as posters to be placed in all outdoor areas on campus and not just on the walls of Bush Court.

The draft motion included allowing potential Council members to campaign in lecture rooms and classrooms, however there was concern of ‘lecture-bashing’ amongst the Council where excess campaigning could turn students off from voting.

Mandurah campus improvements

More SSAF money will potentially be dedicated to improve Mandurah campus’ food and drink facilities after the Guild President received a petition with over 300 signatures demanding better amenities for students.

Guild Ball discount

A motion put forward by Khan proposed giving all Guild Council members up to 30 per cent off the price of Guild Ball tickets.

This will bring the price of a ticket down to around $84 for Guild Council members with all other students paying $120.

This motion was largely uncontested but no definitive action has been taken yet.

Some really expensive Guild event with alcohol and stuff

Some really expensive Guild event with alcohol and stuff                                         Source: The Guild

Collective Shout controversy

One of the last items discussed was the Collective Shout controversy that occurred recently.

To recap, the Guild planned for a speaker from Collective Shout, an controversial organisation, to speak at an event for SHAG Week [Sexual Health Awareness Guidance Week].

The speaker, Caitlin Roper, had reportedly already been paid, but this was found to be false.

The event was cancelled after student uproar regarding Collective Shout’s largely conservative views include the anti-abortion stance of its founder.

It was suggested that this classified as using SSAF fees as a political donation which is strongly discouraged and possibly illegal under the Higher Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Act.

With numerous statements being made by previous Women’s Representative Rebecca Leighton on the Women’s Collective Facebook page, it was suggested during the meeting that all Guild-affiliated Facebook pages should have someone from Guild Council as co-admin.

No definitive action has been taken yet but this does stoke fears of censorship and the ability for Guild Council members to remove posts.

The meeting then started to get heated, as Skalko demanded an official statement on what exactly had happened.

McLerie then asked what other things the Guild Executive had voted on without consulting the other Council members, as the decision to cancel the event was done by Khan, Belford and McDonald without the other members’ knowledge.

On the agenda for the September meeting is the upcoming student elections as well as feedback from the Guild Retreat.

Your Murdoch Guild General Secretary, Guy McDonald. What a guy. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Your Murdoch Guild General Secretary, Guy McDonald. Photo by: Madura McCormack

Sustainability Report

Murdoch University – An analysis of its environmental awareness and implementation

Murdoch University publicises its sustainability objectives, which warrants an examination of how they are being achieved, as well as a comparison with other universities in WA, nationally and globally. Murdoch has listed sustainability as one of its four core values, alongside equity, social justice and global responsibility. I’m going to look at where Murdoch is meeting, falling behind and exceeding other universities in the area of sustainability.

A few things Murdoch is doing (that other universities in wa are also doing)

• Murdoch is buying green power.

Murdoch has been vocal in advertising its Greenpower program. As of 1st August 2010, Murdoch is purchasing 16% of its electricity needs from Greenpower, the only Government accredited renewable energy reporting organisation. Curtin is also doing this, purchasing 15% greenpower (ok, one percent less). Continue reading