OUSA general meeting promises controversy

An Otago University Students Association student general meeting next week could turn into a marathon - or descend into chaos.

Instead of the usual four or five items up for debate, there are 25.

They range from the serious - the organisation's 2009 budget and student levies - to the ridiculous - that cannabis law reform activist and student Abe Gray's status be upgraded "from irritating to annoying".

Mr Gray comes in for further attention, with another motion requesting the OUSA buy him an outsized novelty hat which he is required to wear at all times on campus.

The OUSA must hold at least two student general meetings each year but has scheduled a third for Thursday at 1pm after the second meeting was abruptly terminated.

A quorum of 198 members (1% of the membership) must be present for a meeting to continue, and numbers at the second meeting dwindled to less than that after about an hour.

OUSA president Simon Wilson said yesterday general meetings were a chance for members to raise any issues on their mind and all motions had to be put on the agenda.

The budget would be debated first, then the proposals in the order in which they were submitted.

A series of motions from Abe Gray seeking further support for cannabis law reform protests on campus would come immediately after the budget debate, followed later by motions requesting the OUSA repeal past support for cannabis law reform and on-campus protests.

Five motions had also been lodged supporting Jo Moore's challenge to a finding she broke election campaign rules.

Miss Moore was the OUSA's 2009 president-elect until she was disqualified almost two weeks ago by an independent arbitrator who upheld a complaint against her.

Among the motions is one that the OUSA executive invalidate her disqualification as "manifestly unjust" and appoint a new independent arbitrator.

Mr Wilson said he would be surprised if the meeting could get through the agenda.

If it could not, the executive had the option to call a further meeting on another date.

Students could also call for another meeting by gathering a petition signed by more than 198 members.

It was possible some of the motions would be ruled out of order by the meeting chairman, former OUSA executive member Prabal Mishra, he said.

"Some of the motions are frivolous. For example, Abe Gray currently does not have a status of irritating, so the motion that his status be upgraded to annoying doesn't mean anything."



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