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Student Association Elections Deferral Comes Under Fire

A number of University of the South Pacific (USP) students have demanded that the USP Student Association elections be held urgently. Despite this, the association disregarded calls for elections and
24 Oct 2020 09:46
Student Association Elections Deferral Comes Under Fire

A number of University of the South Pacific (USP) students have demanded that the USP Student Association elections be held urgently.

Despite this, the association disregarded calls for elections and told all students that elections would be held next year.

On October 1, 2020, a petition was sent to Vice-Chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia stated: “Petition to Convene A USPSA Special General Meeting. We refer to the abovementioned subject matter. We, the undersigned, herewith register out (sic) request for the urgent convening of a Special General Meeting (SGM) of the University of the South Pacific Students Association (USPSA) at Laucala Campus in accordance with the Article 41 (1) ( c) of the USPSA Constitution.

“We request the convening of the SGM to address the following urgent matters:

  1. The breach of Part VII Article 25 (1) (2) USPSA Constitution in not calling for the annual elections to elect the USPSA office bearer. COVID-19 as a reason for its deferment is unacceptable as countries like Singapore (had their elections in July), France (June), Burundi (May) and organisations around the world continue with elections while adhering to COVID-19 precautions.
  2. That the SGM resolve a date for the 2020 USPSA Elections and the Fiji (sic) Elections Office be invited to conduct the USPSA election processes.
  3. A motion for a vote of no confidence in the USPSA President and Vice President for not symbolising the unity of the association contrary to Article 10(2) by deferring the annual elections. The results of the annual elections are the voice of unity of the will of the students of USP Laucala Campus. As such, the President and Vice President should recuse themselves from chairing the SGM in accordance with Article 41 (5) of the USPSA Constitution.”

 

This did not materialise.

Instead, on October 20, students were sent an email from the USPSA secretariat.

USPSA secretariat stated: “The USPSA Secretariat is now communicating to all, outcome of the discussions by the USPSA Council on the USPSA Branch General Elections that were scheduled for September 2020. Below is the decision taken by the USPSA Council at its 22nd Meeting held on September 24-25 2020.

“The USPSA Council discussed a proposal for the deferment of all USPSA Branch elections until August 2021 and noted the following reason:

  1. This year has seen several unprecedented events in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  2. The closure and curfews resulted in the changes to the academic calendar of the university as well.

iii. Air travels are currently on halt and several of our member countries borders are closed with no expected opening dates. The Federal office/secretariat begins its elections preparations from June every year so that elections at branch level are completed by/before September.

  1. The office is facing several challenges this year and most important one being the closure of borders.
  2. Additionally, limits on gathering of people, social distancing and the changes in academic year 2020 has severely hindered the usual preparations. This means that the staff and officers will not be able to travel to campuses to conduct elections, hold AGMs and induct new student officers.

 

The USPSA Council resolved to:

  1. To defer all branch elections until August 2021 – meaning that current branch executives/senate will continue as normal until August 2021;
  2. To extend the term of the current USPSA executive officers to the 2nd AGM of council to be held in August 2021;
  3. The condition for extension of term for current USPSA elected student leaders only applies provided that they are eligible to hold office as provided for under the elections by-laws and respective branch constitutions.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

 

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