By Anthony Lotric
ANUSA will hold a Special General Meeting (SGM) tomorrow afternoon, after a petition to do so gained over 80 signatures. The meeting will vote on whether to amend the Clubs Regulations to allow clubs to make a profit from events.
Section 13(17) of the ANUSA Constitution provides that the General Secretary must convene an SGM within seven days of receiving a petition that has been signed by 80 members (undergraduate students). This is an unusual event – indeed, it appears that no SGMs have been called as a result of a student petition since at least 2011. Last term’s Ordinary General Meeting did not reach its quorum of 40 students. Observer understand that the petition calling for tomorrow’s meeting was handed around during a recent ANU Board Game Society event to get signatures.
The motion to be voted on at tomorrow’s meeting amends the Clubs Council Regulations to allow clubs to receive “funding for profit-making events where to do so is otherwise compliant with the terms of the Constitution, Regulations, Policy, any bona fide agreements entered into by the Association that relate to Clubs funding, and any relevant legislation”. If the motion passes, then clubs will be able to receive funding for profit-making events, and the Clubs Council can create policies relating to profit-making.
These events follows the implementation of a new clubs funding policy, passed by the Council in March, and interpretations by ANUSA General Secretary Lachy Day and Clubs Council Secretary Jason Pover.
Previously, clubs could make a small profit on events they held, up to a ‘profit cap’. The March policy changes put forward by the Clubs Council Executive would have reduced the profit cap to $0 for most events. This prompted a proposal by the ANU Dining Society to bring the cap up to $100.
After these initial discussions, but before the Clubs Council met to vote on the proposed changes, ANUSA General Secretary Lachy Day ruled that clubs keeping profits was against Clubs Council Regulation 6.1.5. This provides that clubs “will not receive funding for profit-making ventures”. The General Secretary has the power to interpret the ANUSA Constitution, Regulations, and Policies, and in doing so can overrule the Clubs Council Secretary. Due to this ruling, the Clubs Council Executive removed all ability to profit from events from the proposed new Funding Policy.
At Clubs Council Meeting 1 last term, ANU Board Game Society President Brendan Tonson brought forward the amendment to allow profit, stating that the topic of clubs making a profit from events had attracted “a lot of discussion”. He argued that the amendment was worth passing despite the fact that it would be ruled invalid due to Day’s interpretation of the Regulations, because then a policy would be in place when the Clubs Regulation was amended or repealed.
Funding Officer Jacob Howland spoke against the motion, explaining that in light of the clubs now being able to receive ‘liquid reserve grants’ and also receive funding to cover the entirety of their event costs, they should be less reliant on profit from events. Howland also argued that in light of Day’s interpretation of the Regulations, further amendment of the policy before the next ANUSA Ordinary General Meeting would be “irresponsible”. Pover argued against the motion on the same grounds, stating that passing it could expose Clubs Council to “legal risk”.
Day was then asked by a student to clarify the reason for his standing interpretation. Day stated that ANUSA’s lawyer had advised him that it was the “most legally sound and least risky” interpretation. Further, Day stated that the Regulations obliged him to rule against the Clubs Council policy change, and these could be altered at an ANUSA Ordinary General Meeting in Term 2. After further discussion of the amendment, the Clubs Council voted to pass it. Pover subsequently ruled that, in order to comply with the Regulations as Day interpreted them, the relevant section of the funding policy had to read “if an event makes a profit, the grant will be reduced by the amount of profit, until the sum of the grant is $0.”
The proposed amendment would change the contentious section of the ANUSA Regulations currently causing the debate, and allow the Funding Policy to allow clubs to make a profit. The SGM will be held in the RN Robertson lecture theatre at 5:30pm, and is open to all undergraduate students. In order for the meeting to reach quorum and actually be held, forty students must attend.
Jason Pover is the Secretary of Observer as well as Clubs Council Secretary. In his role with Observer, he has no involvement in the selecting, writing, or editing of articles.
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