By Jessica Whiting
ANUSA’s Student Representative Council (SRC) will debate whether to accredit with the National Union of Students (NUS) on Tuesday. In recent years, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been a prominent part of this debate, and this year appears to be no exception. ANUSA President Eden Lim is putting forward a motion to accredit on condition of KPIs which are very similar to last year’s. What do these involve? What KPIs has ANUSA set in the past? What is the likelihood of the NUS meeting them? Observer explains.
Accreditation, Affiliation…What Does It All Mean?
ANUSA is affiliated with the NUS, and has been since 1998. The only way to stop being affiliated is through a referendum of the student body. Affiliation essentially means that the two bodies can collaborate on events and protests, such as National Days of Action. Up for debate on Tuesday is accreditation. Accrediting essentially means sending money to the NUS to help fund its operation. In exchange, ANU would be able to send delegates to this year’s National Conference. If ANUSA does not accredit, it would still be able to send representatives to the Conference, but these would be ‘observers’ only – they would not be able to vote.
Why the KPIs in the First Place?
Up until 2016, ANUSA generally accredited with the NUS. However, even in this time, ANUSA representatives expressed concerns about the NUS – especially its governance. In 2013, the NUS executive commissioned an audit in the face of deficits in the tens of thousands of dollars. The report, released in 2014, showed significant issues with the governance and finance of the NUS.
In 2015, ANUSA re-accredited despite grievances from then-President Ben Gill. However, the motion to accredit also requested that the NUS “provide the Association with a implementation plan [sic] and progress update for the recommendations” made by one of that year’s NUS delegates. ANUSA gave the NUS $5,000 despite the NUS Executive requesting $90,000.
In 2016, ANUSA did not accredit. One speaker against accreditation said the NUS had shown “blatant disregard to implement the motion put by the 2015 SRC”. ANUSA started to set formal KPIs in 2017. In that year, ANUSA set a small list of standards NUS had to meet for reaccreditation. They mainly related to transparency, such as publishing meeting minutes. These conditions were ultimately not met, as the Executive failed to appoint a Returning Officer (RO) for that year’s elections that was not a member of a political faction. ANUSA did not pay fees to NUS, but sent delegates to NatCon as observers.
In 2018, other campuses across Australia became interested in the idea of KPIs. Then-ANUSA President Eleanor Kay moved a motion in SRC 2 that contained a series of KPIs which she said had been developed in conjunction with the presidents of various other campus’ student associations. The motion also included a letter to the NUS from the campus presidents involved. After the motion was passed by the SRC, there was some confusion about whether the letter and KPIs were in draft form or not, with the then-President of the University of Sydney SRC saying she did not support the KPIs despite her name being on the letter. Despite this issue, ANUSA stuck by the KPIs as passed, which included both “exit” and “assessable” KPIs. The former set hard deadlines for their fulfillment, such as a requirement that the Audited Financial Statements be published by 30 June. ANUSA would not accredit if these deadlines were not met. The latter indicators assessed the NUS and its Executive as a whole throughout the year, with a view to informing the amount of money that ANUSA would send for its accreditation. ANUSA again did not accredit, due to the Audited Financial Statements not being published and the high likelihood of a factional RO being appointed.
So What’s Different About This Year’s KPIs?
Content warning: this section contains strong language and mentions homophobia.
Not that much. The KPIs are the same as last year’s, with dates changed to reflect the new year. Lim has put forward two accreditation motions: firstly, that ANUSA accredit with the NUS if the “exit” KPIs are met, and secondly that the value of this reaccreditation be $10 000 if the “assessable” KPIs are met.
When Education Officer Tanika Sibal went through the KPIs in ANUSA’s Education Committee Meeting this week, the RO KPI was contentious amongst students present. One Labor-aligned student said he believed the likelihood of getting an independent RO is low, making affiliation doomed to fail. A motion was put forward to move the RO KPI from “exit” to “assessable”, but this failed.
Also of note is a proposed amendment to the second motion. Queer* Officer Sam Neave is proposing that an additional “assessable” KPI be added, saying that the NUS must seek permission to use member organisations’ departments’ logos or imply endorsement from a member organisation’s departments in any material. Neave was bound by the Queer* Department to present the amendment, with their report saying this “arose out of the misrepresentative and distasteful promotional material produced by the NUS Queer* Officers in previous years”. Particularly mentioned are the “Fuck Queerphobia” posters organised by the NUS in the wake of a homophobic bullying incident at an ANU residential hall.
All ANU undergraduate students are able to attend and speak at SRC 3 where the KPIs will be discussed, although only elected SRC members can vote. The meeting is at the Haydon Allen Tank on 30 April. Observer will have rolling coverage via livestream and liveblog.
Eliza Croft contributed to the writing of this article. She is a member of the ALP but not in a faction or a student political group.
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