Parkville Station

All motions pass at UMSU week 12 SGM

Today saw the second University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) Special General Meeting (SGM) for the semester, considering changes to the organisation’s Constitution.

Up for a vote were motions drawn mainly from the Women’s Department Constitutional Working Group – votes for strengthened affirmative action for joint Office Bearer positions and in multimember ballots, removing the asterisk from “wom*n” in the Constitution, and updating the definition of “woman”.

The breakdown, motion by motion

# Title Passed?
2.1 Removing the asterisk from “Wom*n” Passed
2.2 Introducing a People of Colour Department Passed
2.3 Correction of MUOSS anachronism Passed
2.4 Updating the definition of “Woman” Passed
2.5 Introduction of a Students of Colour representative on Student’s Council Passed
2.6 Affirmative action for women of colour in the Women’s Department Passed
2.7 Introducing affirmative action for joint OB positions Passed
2.8 Strengthening AA in multi-member ballots Passed

Also up for a vote were motions from the People of Colour collective – to introduce a People of Colour department and to introduce a Students of Colour representative on Students’ Council. At the intersection of both, there was motion to introduce affirmative action for women of colour in the Women’s Department.

Quorum was called close to the 12.30pm start time, and each motion was considered on its own merit, with speeches from the movers and seconders, except for the two concerning a department for and representation for students of colour, which were considered en bloc (together).

All motions passed, with many of the motions carried without dissent and without speakers against. More contentious were the motions on updating the definition of “women”, and on increasing affirmative action requirements for multimember ballots, which both drew students speaking in dissent.

Regarding updating the definition of “women”, one student raised the point that over 50% of students at the University were already women, and that this “would make it even higher”, adding that definitions necessarily exclude people, and this updated definition would still exclude people. They noted also that trans people would be represented by the Queer Department and didn’t need representation within the Women’s Department too.

Current Queer Officer, Lotus Ye, spoke in reply, saying that “one of the really fun things about being at the intersection of these things is that people can be both trans and women”, to great applause. They continued that “people who are against this should stick their heads up their butts”. The motion was carried with little dissent.

A student speaking against a increasing affirmative action requirements for multimember ballots, which would require eight of the 15 general representatives on the Students Council’, and four of seven representatives on each committee to be women, spoke to the fact that this would decrease the power of the voter. Last year’s UMSU Disabilities Officer Sasha Chong argued that “most students are female – this should represent that”. The motion passed 56 for and eight against (presumably with 330 abstentions).

Assuming the changes are approved by Consumer Affairs Victoria, they will apply at this year’s annual student election in September.

Our pick for quote of the SGM came from current UMSU Wom*n’s (now Women’s) Officer Adriana Mells, who noted that at the start of the year in high level meetings between UMSU and the University, “more people named James [attended] than women”.

Click here to read more from Parkville Station newspaper.