By Helena Burke
The 2020 Clubs Council executive (CCE) was elected on Wednesday amid claims of a “toxic” culture by some outgoing executive members. A policy of reform is on the agenda, which is likely to include improving the processes of executive handovers and club reaffiliation along with addressing low student engagement with the CCE.
The Clubs Council election results were announced on Wednesday afternoon. There are a number of executive positions that did not receive any nominations, leaving the roles vacant. Currently, there are casual vacancies for the Special Interest, Arts and Performance, and Culture and Language Branch Officers, along with three General Officer positions.
All positions that were not left as casual vacancies were contested by Brandon Tan. The positions of Chair, Secretary, Community Officer, Communications Officer, and a number of Branch Officer positions would have been elected unopposed if not for Tan’s nominations.Tan justified these nominations on account of the fact that “we live in a society with uncontested elections” which he believes “cannot continue”. “I used to think that my life was a tragedy,” he went on to state, “but now I realize, it’s a comedy.” Clubs Council regulation 4.3.3 dictates that the Returning Officer must reject any nominations that appear to be false. Tan was elected as CCE Funding Officer for 2020 unopposed.
The CCE has seen a year marred by internal conflict. “It is honestly difficult for me to recommend that anyone involve themselves in the Clubs Council or ANUSA” outgoing Clubs Council Secretary Jason Pover wrote in his final Clubs Council meeting report.
Pover’s sentiments are shared by others on the outgoing executive. Outgoing Chair James Howarth has alleged that the bureaucracy of ANU and the “wilfully obtuse actions of senior officers” on the CCE have caused setbacks and limited the council’s productivity. Pover echoed Howarth’s frustrations with bureaucracy, stating that “The relationship between CCE and certain parts of ANUSA is inherently conflictious [sic], often to no good purpose”. He also accused ANUSA of being “insidiously negative and alienating”.
In response to Observer’s questions regarding his decision to discontinue involvement with the CCE, Howarth said controversies involving the CCE over the past year had “wore [him] down”. In August, Howarth received a vote of no confidence by the CCE as Clubs Council Chair. This was due to what Pover described as Howarth’s “misconduct and repeated failure to uphold his commitments”.
Despite these issues the CCE has documented a number of achievements this year. These include campaigning for students’ free use of Kambri facilities by co-hosting a student forum to draft a motion for ANUSA’s Student Representative Council (SRC) opposing any booking fees. Internally, CCE says it has also seen an increase in club training days along with important amendments to Funding and Affiliation Policies. The CCE also organised the Clubs Council ball, which took place yesterday.
Incoming Chair Ebe Ganon has proposed a number of initiatives to address the Clubs Council’s institutional problems. Ganon has stated that they plan to collaborate with the PARSA executive, and intend to market CCE positions as an opportunity for postgraduate students to build skills for employability. Ganon also believes that first years with “ a lot to offer in terms of enthusiasm” will help fill some of the casual vacancies. A further reform that Ganon supports is the institution of a “broader marketing technique” for CCE that would involve greater engagement with student departments on campus.
Both Ganon and incoming secretary Jordyn Gibson agree that reforms are needed to increase the efficiency and ease of the club reaffiliation process, as well as the handover process between club executives. The lack of support and information provided by the CCE regarding these processes in previous years has meant that incoming club executives often had to start from scratch, and unnecessary club disaffiliations have occurred. Ganon plans to implement “clearer meeting procedures”, enforced consultation, and a flat management structure within the CCE.
The 2020 Clubs Council executive election results are as follows:
Chair: Ebe Ganon
Secretary: Jordyn Gibson
Funding Officer: Brandon Tan
Community Officer: Charlotte Henderson
Communications Officer: Ezabell Kong
Affiliations Officer: Niam Foxcroft
Branch Officer – Discipline: Heather Johnston
Branch Officer – Political: Alex Conneely
Branch Officer – Humanitarian, Advocacy and Social Justice: Josh Yeend
Branch Officer – Faith and Religion: Celeste Sandstrom
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