City Hub

Student leader faces dismissal, bankruptcy

Student union vice-president Tom Raue is under fire from the university. Photo: Chris Peken

By Sean O’Grady

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 Mr Raue’s removal follows a Supreme Court ruling in March that overturned an injunction preventing his fellow directors expelling him from office.

Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr Raue, a ruling which if enforced would bankrupt him.

Despite the ruling Mr 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.”

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 Honi Soit reports that the recommendation has since been withdrawn.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 Mr Raue. Furthermore, their continued presence on the Board would have increased the number of votes required to retain Mr Raue from four to five.

City Hub understands that Ms 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 Mr Raue’s removal. His term is due to expire in June.

A student group called “Stand With Raue” has provided strong support, including campaigning on the university’s Eastern Avenue.

Edward McMahon, a member of the group, praised Mr 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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