Anttoni Numminen | Mon, 11 Feb 2019
During the last sitting of the Student Council on 22 January, a motion was put forward to change the date of the AUSA Annual General Meeting (AGM). The motion was rejected on the grounds that Student Council did not have the authority to change the date of the AGM as it had already been decided on by the Trustee Board, but this decision has now been called into question.
“It seems strange to me that we can’t change the date of the AGM if we want to, after all, it’s a student matter. To be honest, I’m not even sure what the Trustee Board is”.
The motion, which had over 20 proposers to begin with, was put forward because the date of the AGM clashed with several other events, including the visit of Malala Yousafzai’s father and the annual Charity Ball, thus reducing attendance at the AGM.
The Chair of Student Council informed the proposers that “the date of the AGM is set and confirmed by the Trustee Board and Council unfortunately has no competency over this matter”. These remarks were later echoed by Sabbatical Officer Lina Nass, who said the date had “already been agreed on by the Trustee Board and could not be changed, and that it is not something a Student Council motion can change.”
"it’s worrying that the Trustee Board should wield such power.”
Israr Khan, who is not a member of Student Council but wrote the motion and attended the meeting, said “the AGM is a student event so I don’t see why the Trustee Board should have a say in it, and more importantly, why can’t student council change the date if it wants to. In my opinion, it’s worrying that the Trustee Board should wield such power.”
The Trustee Board is one of AUSA’s most powerful bodies and is responsible for overseeing the “management and administration of the Association”. It has a wide range of powers as outlined in AUSA’s constitution such as the ability to “override any decision or policy made by the […] student council which the Trustees consider to have significant financial implications for the association, is or may be in breach of, contrary to or otherwise inconsistent with charity or education law or any other legal requirements, is not or may not be in the best interests of the Association or all or any of its charitable objects”.
The fact that the motion was rejected on these grounds surprised many, including student council member Martin Le Brecht: “It seems strange to me that we can’t change the date of the AGM if we want to, after all, it’s a student matter. To be honest, I’m not even sure what the Trustee Board is”.
At the end of the meeting, councilors voted on whether they wanted to hear the motion, but it was rejected by 18 – 26 votes and 11 abstentions. However, this was after Student Council had been told they had no jurisdiction over the issue.
Awareness about the Trustee Board, what it does and who sits on it does not seem to be common among students. The fact that an obscure administrative body can override policy passed by student representatives “at its discretion” may indeed seem problematic to some.