Students and staff gathered today to discuss the proposed scheme for booking spaces in Kambri. The meeting was a collaboration between the Clubs Council and the Environment Collective in response to leaked documents showing plans to charge students hundreds of dollars in venue hire fees.
An external company, Wiltshire+Dimas, is in charge of managing the spaces in Kambri. The draft plan for venue hire involves sorting bookings into different categories. “ANU Priority Academic” events, student group events in the teaching rooms in Marie Reay, and events by “Anchor Users” (Film Group for the cinema and NUTS for the Drama Theatre) can be booked free of charge, with the organising group to pay equipment and cleaning fees if needed. However, events by student groups outside of the designated teaching spaces would require the same fee as for “ANU affiliated” organisations: a 20% discount on the commercial rate.
By way of example, ANUSA sometimes held meetings in the Union Court amphitheatre. To hire the new amphitheatre (when it is completed) for a half day would cost ANUSA $800. Hiring University Avenue for a full day event like Market Day would cost $2400. If the organisers of the Forum were charged for use of ‘The Lawn,’ they would have had to have paid $800 to hire the space for the day, as The Lawn has no half-day hire option. The same space would cost groups not recognised as student groups $1000 to hire.
Organisers of today’s meeting circulated an agenda document which outlined the details of the proposed plan, and possible “next steps”. Various student leaders spoke about the situation. Environment Officer Nick Blood recounted his experience running the ANU Farmer’s Market, saying the event’s modest profit would not cover the fee amount as it stands. Clubs Council Community Officer Ebe Ganon said the proposed plan would particularly impact clubs, as the current Ordinary Events Grant funding levels would only be “a drop in the ocean” in covering costs for venue hire. Speaking in her capacity as Socials Officer of the Biology Society, Ganon told Observer the club “would not have the liquidity” to pay for the proposed fees, labelling them “unreasonable”.
ANUSA Social Officer Matthew Mottola has a student chair in the consultation, and attended the Forum today. He confirmed that ANU would be hosting its own feedback forum after the final policy is released. According to the document circulated at the forum, this final policy will be released next week. It is unclear what role the ANU-organised consultation will play given it will occur after the “final” policy is released.
The forum discussed a motion which will be put to next week’s ANUSA SRC meeting. The motion calls for ANUSA to support the efforts of the Environment Collective and Clubs Council in “opposing the changes” and escalate the matter to chancelry “at the next possible opportunity”. The motion was agreed to by the Forum with minor amendments.
During yesterday’s Education Committee Meeting, ANUSA Vice-President Campbell Clapp briefed the room about his experience of the consultation process with the University. Clapp said that ANUSA has lobbied to maintain Old Union Court fees for Kambri facilities since the process began last year. Such a policy would mean that all Kambri venues except the Cultural Centre would be free for students to hire. The Committee passed a motion calling for ANUSA to “oppose any venue hire fees that Kambri will charge students and student groups”.
The Education Committee’s discussions and the forum’s motion will be considered by ANUSA at next week’s Student Representative Council meeting.
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