04 December 2011

The Senate Votes Tomorrow

Dear Members,

The last week has seen some significant developments occur in the continued negotiations between the University of Sydney and the University of Sydney Union. By this point, you are probably aware of the challenges that the USU faces in attempting to maintain control of its commercial operations, and by extension, the student-run student experience.

We suspect that this Monday (December 5th), the University Senate will vote on a motion that details the University's intentions for a USU commercial takeover, presented by the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Derrick Armstrong. The confidential nature of this motion and discussion means that no USU representation at the meeting is allowed, and with no voice to speak against the motion we run the very big risk that it will pass.

Tomorrow the Senate is likely to endorse a plan that supports a purchase of the USU's commercial operations for the price of $3 million or less - a far cry from what they’re worth in independent financial support for the growth of the USU’s student programs. Further, if the USU doesn't accept such an offer, the University has made it clear that they will refuse to fund the USU at all in 2012, cutting off all support until a form of their offer is accepted. These conditions are unacceptable, and fly in the face of the steady "good faith" negotiation tactics that the University had agreed to abide by.

To add further to this distrust is the fact that this motion was not brought to the attention of the USU or any stakeholders of the University community; the board is only aware of these developments because it was leaked to them late last week. The University administration did not go to any effort to consult its students on such a significant proposal. Such a shift could represent a colossal change to the USU's ability to provide events, clubs, food, bars and festivals at the high quality that Sydney students are accustomed to and deserve.

The Senate meets this Monday, the 5th of December, at 3:30pm. Show your support for the USU and demand better from a University that should not have to resort to deception and bullying in order to reach its desired outcome. Please show your support and write to the Chancellor by emailing Mrs. Liz Cartwright (The Chancellor's Assistant) and ask that the student voice is heard tomorrow. We’ve suggested an email to send below:
Dear Chancellor, 
As a member of the USU I’m concerned about the proposal going to Senate this Monday outlining a transfer of the commercial operations – the most important element ensuring the USU’s independence. I’m particularly disappointed that the University has not consulted students in regards to this proposal, and that the USU Board only learnt of the motion due to a leak. Please defer the Senate’s decision until after the USU is afforded the opportunity to address the Senate and ensure our concerns are heard.

Yours sincerely, 
Concerned USU Member
Thank you for all your help and encouragement. We’re really glad you’re with us.

Yours sincerely,

USU Board of Directors


  1. Ben Veness is your student rep on the Senate http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=502261596 and here is his Senate profile http://sydney.edu.au/senate/Veness.shtml (he was Producer of the Med Revue in 2010)

    See also for details about your concerns http://yourunionboard.blogspot.com/2011/12/senate-votes-tomorrow.html and for Senate members with photos - http://sydney.edu.au/senate/Fellows_biogs.shtml .

    Meering of Senate tomorrow at 3.30pm at the Conference Room, Darlington Centre. http://sydney.edu.au/senate/senate_meetings_2011.shtml

    Agenda for tomorrow's Senate meeting at http://sydney.edu.au/senate/documents/Agendas/2011/8Dec11Agenda.pdf

    The Senate rep on the Union is Dr Barry Catchlove http://sydney.edu.au/senate/Catchlove.shtml email barry.padua@yahoo.com.au Minutes on 19 September2011 state "6.5 Appointment to University of Sydney Union Board of Directors
    Resolution 133/11
    Senate appointed Dr Barry Catchlove to fill the vacancy on the University of Sydney Union Board of Directors for the balance of the term of office, i.e. until 31 December 2011." (see http://sydney.edu.au/senate/documents/Minutes/2011/6_Sept11MinsSum.pdf)

  2. In the event of the Senate passing this,
    Do not give up. We must refuse the administration's offer, even if this means the funding dropping from under our feet.
    The alternative is to let the Uni admin have its way, take over the services, give them to some corporate fat cats, and turn our University into an expensive high school run by suits. I don’t want to have Cadbury in association with the University of Sydney running my student life. Life wouldn’t be nice, it’d suck.
    Funding will come - the SSAF is rightfully ours (actually, it's literally our money), and it will only require sufficient pressure and enlightenment to deliver it back into our hands.
    As an option of last-resort, my cousins and I will make up the funding shortfall by cleaning the toilets and scrubbing the windows ourselves. It's always satisfying to work visibly for your own good and that of your friends anyway.

  3. P.S. (someone needs to get an urgent message out to students letting them know where a good portion of THEIR MONEY will soon be channelled)

  4. The Union has the option to close everything before the University takes over.

    Make sure thats visible as an option on the table. Watch them scramble after.