Home / Archive 2011-12 / No change to voting as women’s officer remains open to all students

No change to voting as women’s officer remains open to all students

A motion calling for the restriction of voting for the Women’s Officer position to the Women’s Collective was voted down by the Student Representative Council last week.

Moved by Michael Rosser and supported by Women’s Officer Amber Karanikolas, the motion would have required attendance at Collective meetings in return for voting rights.

Karanikolas said the Collective had been relatively weak, and this would be one way of strengthening it, and providing it with autonomy.

Welfare Officer Orrie Johan said the motion would disenfranchise women around the campus.

“There are plenty of women on campus, that for whatever reason, don’t attend the Women’s Collectives,” he said.

“They should still have the right to elect an officer.”

Several compromises were suggested.

Queer Officer Sally Cotton suggested meeting attendance could be a prerequisite for nomination for the Women’s Officer position.

Ed Kearney, President of the Postgraduate Council, said the Collective could consider electing a chairperson separate to the Women’s Officer.

Karanikolas said the change would ensure continuity for the Collective, meaning it would be able to plan further into the future, and remove politics from the election.

Tim Kaliyanda, President of the SRC, told the meeting that moving the election outside student politics wouldn’t work. He said the Women’s Officer position was very political.

Kaliyanda asked how many regularly attended Women’s Collective meetings, to which Karanikolas said there were about 15.

Michael Rosser criticised both tickets running in the last student election, and said neither ticket had any women’s initiatives listed on their how-to-vote handouts.

Liz Brooking, from the campus Socialist Alternative, said she didn’t see how disenfranchising the majority of women would strengthen women’s voice on the SRC.

She said if Rosser had felt strongly about this change, “Stand Up!” should have taken it to the election so students could vote for it.

The motion was voted down.

Lily Ray
[twitname]lilydray[/twitname]

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2 comments

  1. Hi Lily,
    I feel I have to reply to several points of information in this article.
    Firstly, there are two types of motions that may be brought forward in an SRC meeting. The first is an 'issue of determination' whereby a motion is put forward and is either voted down or up depending on the will of the SRC members present. The second type of motion is an 'issue of consideration' where the members discuss a concept of possible contention.
    In the case of an 'issue of consideration', no issue is voted up or down, it is simply discussed. As the motion I put forward was an 'issue for consideration', submitted upon the urging of SRC President Tim Kaliyanda who sought wider discussion of the topic than within the Women's Collective, the assertion at the end of the article that declares the motion was voted down is incorrect.
    Furthermore as this motion was simply a discussion topic the assertion that "the motion would have required attendance at Collective meetings in return for voting rights" is also incorrect, although this was one of the models put forward by the current Women’s Officer Amber Karanikolas.
    The motion was not about "disenfranchising the majority of women" as put so by the Socialist Alternative member Liz Brooking in your article. It was simply bringing a discussion topic to the SRC on what in my understanding has been a recurrent point of conversation in the UNSW Women's Collective throughout the year.
    Lastly and in partial reply to Liz Brooking, I do feel strongly about this, and Stand Up! did take this issue to the election. I must note that although as a Stand Up! candidate I took this issue to the election, no one model (including the model below) was proposed for discussion by SRC members, rather a range of potential avenues were discussed.
    From the policy document on our Facebook page:

    "STAND UP! for Women Leading Women.
    Women's representation on campus is too important an issue to be politicised. That's why Stand Up! is seeking to reform the election of the Women's Officer positions on the SRC to be elected directly by the Women's Collective, the peak representative body of women on campus. We believe that Women should speak for Women, and that's why we'll fight to ensure women are heard at UNSW."

    I still feel passionate about this issue and I believe that issues affecting women should be given a greater focus in the SRC's operations. That's why I helped Women’s Officer Amber Karanikolas raise this motion for discussion at the SRC meeting. Rather than being voted down as is impossible for an 'issue for consideration', a motion put forward by SRC President Tim Kaliyanda reaffirmed the SRC's commitment to the current voting structure at this time. This was passed with the unanimous consensus of the voting members present at the meeting – including myself, Women’s Officer Amber Karanikolas and Queer Officer Sally Cotton.
    The nature and content of the discussions surrounding the 'issue for consideration', with many compromises put forward by members, demonstrated that were such an eventual vote to occur on the voting process for the election of the Women's Officer a robust election model with greater consensus among SRC voting members would be needed. I am sure that there will be more discussions about how to enhance the grassroots organising strength and the continuity of the Women's Collective and their campaigns. This was just one of those discussions and I look forward to discussing potential compromise solutions with other SRC members should this issue continue to persist for the members of the Women's Collective.
    Kind Regards,
    Michael Rosser.

  2. Well said

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