SRC Constitution Potentially Hinders Debate

Macquarie SRC

Words || Angela Heathcote

A pervasive topic of discussion at the most recent SRC meeting was the ongoing criticism the governing body has received from the university publication, Grapeshot.

In Grapeshot’s most recent issue – Cacti, Yehuda Aharon, the magazine’s Features Editor reported on events that had occurred during the SRC’s last meeting which saw the Grapeshot editorial team attempt to gain access to SRC meetings for the purpose of transparency and accountability – a motion that failed to pass.

Tensions ran high when the article on the matter was subsequently posted online prior to the meeting on Thursday night. An anonymous source has informed Grapeshot that some members in particular were “furious” at the article.

It was alleged that all deliberations in the meeting were confidential and that this meant SRC members could not speak to Grapeshot – or anyone – in regards to motions that had not been released in the minutes. As previously reported that minutes take on average two months to be released.

In the article, Grapeshot made it clear that not all members of the Macquarie SRC supported the idea of closed and confidential meetings.

Ellie Sanderson, the SRC’s Women’s Representative, was not present at the meeting and shared the article to her personal Facebook profile which our source says elicited unfavourable reactions amongst certain SRC members.

In the post Sanderson stated, “The SRC is meant to represent students and by keeping its doors shut it is failing to maintain, or even create, the connection with students that is crucial to achieving that. The fact that certain members of the SRC will get angry at me for even sharing this says something in and of itself.”

Grapeshot’s source said that in response to Sanderson’s sharing of the Grapeshot article, a member then argued she had breached the the SRC code of conduct by speaking out against resolutions made by the SRC and should be immediately dismissed.

After some confusion over the correct course of action the same member requested that the general counsel be contacted to make a determination on the constitutionality of Sanderson’s behaviour.

When asked for a statement in regards to the procession of the meeting, Lachlan McGrath, SRC treasurer said, “During the most recent meeting of the SRC a discussion took place amongst the members regarding alleged breaches of the SRC code of conduct and responses to these allegations, these allegations were not solely in regard to our mandate of publicly supporting decisions made by the SRC. This discussion was tabled pending recommendations from University Legal Counsel. ”

Whilst it may seem easy to condemn the actions of members of the SRC in what may be interpreted as the silencing of oppositional views, this sequence of events is in fact prescribed by the SRC constitution.

The Constitution states that, “The SRC members have a duty of loyalty to the University and the SRC, and outside SRC meetings they must support the letter and the spirit of SRC decisions when dealing with other parties” as well as, “The powers of the SRC are to be exercised by the SRC as a whole. Decisions must be made collectively and members are bound by the SRC’s decisions.”

This democratic centralist structure is designed to quell discussion in favour of the majority vote, regardless of each individuals view.

Given that many members of the SRC openly do not support the decision to keep meetings closed, as well as the negative reaction that this has received from Macquarie University students, to simply shut down debate on the proposition of open meetings is  not beneficial to the student body and shines a light on the inherent flaws of the SRC constitution.

This article has been re-posted after being removed due to temporary online protocols.