Society accepts new constitution

IAIN SCOTT
Last updated 07:25 20/03/2014

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The beleaguered Massey University Extramural Students' Society has accepted a new constitution aimed at preventing a repeat of the leadership and funding woes of the past year.

However, the society has failed to elect a president, with executive member Joy Green saying at a special general meeting she chaired last night that no-one nominated had been willing to stand.

Interim co-presidents Tiri Porter and Mark Lester, appointed after EXMSS ousted controversial former president Jeannette Chapman last year, would continue in their roles until the next annual meeting in September. A special meeting last October determined the temporary tenure would continue until a new president was elected.

Ms Chapman was ousted at the October meeting after a vote of no-confidence in her presidency.

After being elected unopposed in January, she dismissed vice-president Dave Crampton in April and dissolved the executive before appointing three new members to "pass budgets".

The annual meeting in September had to be cancelled when it did not reach a quorum and she refused to answer questions about allegations that she earned more than $50,000 part-time, among other concerns.

In October, Massey University pulled the plug on $150,000 worth of funding after finding fault in the society's monthly reports and took over services such as advocacy and administration of hardship grants.

Mrs Green said after last night's meeting: "A lot of the problems that arose last year arose because of a lack of clarity in the constitution, particularly around things like how you call a special general meeting when your executive or president is resistant to such a meeting taking place.

"Because of the domino effect of that, we decided the constitution needed to be absolutely clear, and to allow members who are unsatisfied with the performance of any officer or the exec as a whole, to call a special general meeting that would be clearly constitutionally valid."

She said the new constitution was much simpler and less open to misinterpretation.

Although an election of a president could not take place, the continuation of the interm co-presidency was acceptable.

"It's not ideal. We'd much rather have a permanent president but we cannot find someone to take it on."

Until the society's mandate had been settled, it was unlikely that someone would want the role.

"I'm sure that once the state of flux is over and we know our position, we'll have no trouble filling the role at an election, but I think everyone's reluctant to take on a job when they don't actually know what the aegis of that job may be, and at the moment we can't pay anyone. We don't have access to money."

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No member of the executive was now receiving any honorarium.

"This constitution is a huge step in the right direction. We do feel that the society now has clarity that was lacking before."

EXMSS could now also start looking at getting back some of the functions now provided by the Distance Students' Centre.

- Manawatu Standard

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