President comes under fire
Outrage over leader's conductLUCY TOWNEND
Members of Massey University's Extramural Students' Society have investigated taking a case to the High Court to oust their president.
But they say they do not have the money to force out president Jeannette "JV" Chapman.
Emotions boiled over at the society's annual meeting when it was called short yesterday after a lack of members meant a quorum could not be formed - 25 were required and only 12 turned up.
Ms Chapman was to report back to the society's membership on annual meeting matters, including a statement of accounts, setting the fees and four proposed constitutional changes.
But, under the advice of society-contracted business adviser Alan Millar, she disbanded the meeting after seven minutes and faced a barrage of questions about her recent actions - which include allegations she earns more than $50,000 part-time thanks to an executive that was self-appointed.
Outrage was also aimed at Mr Millar's pay, after members heard he was on a $100-per-hour rate for his advice, a bill also footed by the student-funded society.
After the meeting, Ms Chapman told the Manawatu Standard a lack of student engagement and failure to form a quorum raised no concerns for her.
"Why should it? I've been here many years and there's often been a lack of quorum."
She later issued a written statement, through the society's greater Manawatu area representative, Anne Palmer, saying Ms Chapman was "disappointed" the meeting could not take place given she had printed 50 annual reports, organised lunch and advertised extensively.
"I was taken aback by the way today's meeting failed and regret that it could not take place as planned."
She would not state a new meeting date, saying "options are being explored".
After the meeting, society members asked Ms Chapman for a list of the society's executive panel, co-opted and elected, to be made publicly available. They also queried why a raft of requests for a special general meeting had been ignored and why an open-floor discussion was not held in place of the canned annual meeting.
"I think you're being deliberately obtuse . . . your representation of the extramural students is so unbelievably poor; you're the president and you owe us an explanation," society member Hannah Pratt said.
Ms Chapman left the room, responding to Ms Pratt: "You've got a hostile attitude and I don't want to speak to you . . . I'm not willing to have an argument with you; I will speak with intelligent people [only]."
Associate society member Joy Green said there had been a large amount of interest in the meeting being streamed live due to the nature of extramural students often living some distance from campus but requests for that had been turned down.
Ms Pratt said the annual meeting was only the tip of the iceberg with ongoing issues with Ms Chapman and the executive panel.
Because the society is an incorporated society, members could write to the Companies Office registrar and have her removed as president through a High Court judgment.
"The thing that sticks out for me the most is that this is a society, there is no need for consultants and there's really no need for lawyers," Ms Pratt said.
"It should be about discourse, dialogues, needs and advocacy for the members. It should be a social transaction where people can say: You're not up to scratch, get out; but it's not."
Ms Chapman did not respond to criticism from members when approached again by the Manawatu Standard yesterday.
January: Jeannette "JV" Chapman was elected unopposed.
April: Ms Chapman dismissed vice-president Dave Crampton.
May: Ms Chapman dissolved the Extramural Students' Society (EXMSS) executive.
June: She appointed three new members – Sophia Lu, Ruby Nguyen and Shane Field – to "pass budgets".
August: Ms Chapman proposed a constitutional change to make her salary fortnightly, rather than quarterly, and to scrap four executive positions, which she said were overdue changes her predecessors had wanted.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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