By Eliza Croft

The Clubs Council Executive (CCE) has passed a motion of no confidence in Clubs Council Chair James Howarth. The motion was moved by Secretary Jason Pover, who cited Howarth’s “misconduct and repeated failure to uphold his commitments”.

Pover was supported in moving the motion by Funding Officer Jacob Howland and Community Officer Ebe Ganon. Speaking after the meeting, Pover described the motion as “unfortunate but necessary”.

In an explanatory statement, Pover claimed that the matter had been “building up for some time”. He alleged that at the end of Semester 1, Howarth sent Pover “abusive messages” and “failed to consult with Clubs Council about significant changes”. Comment from Ganon after the meeting suggests these changes related to payment. “It is unfortunate that what was initially an issue of a lack of consultation regarding the process by which we might explore the idea of getting some kind of compensation for the work of Clubs Council executive members has turned into a full-blown conflict,” they said.

Pover said that after the issues arose with Howarth, members of the CCE agreed to create a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which would require them to uphold various conditions, including “compliance with the CoC [Code of Conduct], appropriate levels of consultation, flatness of decision making [collective leadership]”, and “professional communications”. Pover claimed that after ANUSA Vice President Campbell Clapp agreed to help draft an MoU, Howarth said he would not sign it.

At the CCE meeting, Howarth said that he did not guarantee he would sign the MoU. “You are taught as a law student not to agree to sign things sight unseen, and to not sign things under coercion,” he said. Howarth expressed that he would be open to signing an MoU, but that this should come out of mediation. Pover responded that this was a change in Howarth’s earlier position, alleging he had said he “wouldn’t sign an MoU in any circumstances”.

Howarth also said that he felt “bullied” by Pover, Ganon, and Howland, describing feeling like the situation was three on one. Speaking to Observer after the meeting, Pover countered that “accountability is not bullying”.

Pover, Ganon, and Howarth all expressed that the conflict had affected them emotionally. Howarth described crying for multiple weeks. “We have all been deeply affected by this,” Ganon told Observer.

The motion was voted on by secret ballot. Two CCE members left the room for the vote. The motion ultimately passed, with the number of votes for and against not revealed.

The motion has no practical effect, as the Clubs Council Executive cannot remove the Chair from office. Neither ANUSA nor the Clubs Council have released an official statement on the matter at time of publication. “My view is that it’s a fairly astounding situation that a motion of no confidence has passed and nothing has yet happened as a result,” Howland told Observer.

James Howarth declined to comment.

Jason Pover was an Observer News Editor in 2018 and Secretary in Semester 1 2019. Ebe Ganon and James Howarth have previously been part of the Observer team.

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