Student Leader Survives Rolling By Ex-Colleagues
The Co-president of the New Zealand University Students' Association, Karen Skinner, survived an attempt to remove her from office at last weekend's NZUSA national conference in Auckland.
The motion of no confidence in her was moved by the Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association executive, of which Skinner was a member last year. Skinner survived the motion after Lincoln University withdrew their support for it and nobody else would second the move.
Despite the defeat of VUWSA's motion that Skinner no longer enjoyed the confidence of NZUSA, a subsequent motion, that there were concerns with her conduct, was eventually passed.
VUWSA's move against their ex-colleague will come as no surprise to students. There was considerable tension between the executive and Skinner last year which culminated in some of Skinners' own executive voting against her election to NZUSA.
Skinner said she was "very disappointed" with the way VUWSA chose to voice their concerns. "I thought it was really rude of them," she said. "They had never raised their concerns with me prior to the meeting, which to me constitutes an abuse of process."
Skinner said VUWSA had alerted the other Associations to their plans but had failed to notify her of their intentions. "Instead I had to find out what they were up to through the grapevine," she said.
"There were no grounds for their move which is clearly shown in the failure of the attempt."
Skinner's Co-president Tania Schultz said she too was "really disappointed with the process" VUWSA had taken. "There were a number of other avenues which should have been pursued before it came to this," she said.
"I support Karen. She's proactive and has done a lot to make NZUSA a more progressive organisation. A lot of personal things were raised in the forum that I considered to be inappropriate. I'm really pleased that she has kept her job."
President of VUWSA Hamish Hopkinson is currently in Australia, however Acting President Chris Hipkins defended the actions of the VUWSA executive.
"There was concern among VUWSA about some of the things that were going on at the national office," said Hipkins. He declined to comment further on VUWSA's concerns.
He said some issues were raised with Skinner prior to conference on a personal level but accepted that there could have been more conversation between Skinner and VUWSA. "That is probably a fair criticism," he said.
Hipkins said Skinner's involvement in the APEC protest movement was an issue for a number of people at the conference and a resolution from Otago University was passed stating that 'APEC is not a priority issue for NZUSA'.
At the same conference the Women's Caucus passed a consensus motion saying they had full confidence in Skinner as NZUSA Co-president.
Hipkins said this showed Skinner "had a reasonable level of support among the Women's Rights Officers".
He denied there was any personal motivation behind the attempt to oust Skinner. "It was definitely not personal. It was entirely to do with her current role."
Skinner said she hoped NZUSA could put this behind them and continue to fight a strong campaign for students until the end of the year.