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AUST: Student leader faces dismissal, bankruptcy over 'transparency'

Vice-president Tom Raue ... acting in the interests of students - not the corporate managers of the university. Image: Altmedia

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Item: 8552

Sean O'Grady

SYDNEY (Altmedia / Pacific Media Watch): The University of Sydney’s student union will decide whether to dismiss its embattled vice-president, Tom Raue, at a special meeting on April 17, the board has confirmed.

The decision to press ahead with a motion for Raue’s removal follows a Supreme Court ruling in March that overturned an injunction preventing his fellow directors expelling him from office.

Raue filed the injunction late last year, after he leaked documents to the student newspaper concerning alleged police collusion with university staff during industrial action.

The information was contained within a human resources report received by Raue in his capacity as a member of the board’s executive. Board members drafted a motion to dismiss him, which was expected to pass with the necessary two-thirds majority had the injunction not been granted.

The court’s decision confirmed that the ability to remove a board director elected by the student body is within the executive powers granted by the USU’s constitution. The court awarded costs against Raue, a ruling which if enforced would bankrupt him.

Despite the ruling Raue said he did not regret his actions.

“I revealed a small amount of information because I thought it was important for students and that is my job,” he said. “I was elected to board to act in the interests of students - not the corporate managers of the university.”

Information withheld
Evidence obtained by student newspaper Honi Soit shows that USU president Hannah Morris withheld from the rest of the board her recommendation that two Sydney University Senate-appointed directors, Emma McDonald and Simone Whetton, whose terms have expired, be re-appointed.

Honi Soit reports that the recommendation has since been withdrawn.

It is widely believed that those appointees would have voted to remove Raue. Furthermore, their continued presence on the board would have increased the number of votes required to retain Raue from four to five.

City Hub understands that Morris had wished to postpone the vote until the two directors were reconfirmed by the Senate, but pressure from other board directors brought the vote forward before this could occur.

The vote is expected to be close but result in Raue’s removal. His term is due to expire in June.

A student group called “Stand With Raue” has provided strong support, including campaigning at the university.

Edward McMahon, a member of the group, praised Raue for his dedication to the student body.

“Each of us admires his commitment to transparency between the USU and its members, and supports his prioritisation of student interests over the interests of corporate university managers,” he said.

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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