USP Showdown: Council Meeting On Friday

Thompson: Some people are saying the meeting is on Wednesday, but the only official call of a meeting is on Friday.
16 Jun 2020 09:56
USP Showdown: Council Meeting On Friday
President of Nauru, Lionel Rouwen Aingimea and USP Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the USP Council Winston Thompson.

The University of the South Pacific (USP) council meeting will take place on Friday June 19, 2020.

USP Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the USP Council Winston Thompson confirmed that a notice of the meeting had been sent to all council members.

Those who are not in Suva, will be hooked up virtually.

“As we are required under the university statutes, ordinances and regulations – the university has the capability to do that.”

Last night Minister for Education, Heritage and Arts, Rosy Akbar confirmed she would be attending the Friday meeting.

Mr Thompson acknowledged that some differences in views.

“Some people are saying the meeting is on Wednesday, but the only official call of a meeting is on Friday,” he said.

The meeting is expected to start at 9am and will run through until 4pm.

The concerns raised by the Chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee Mahmood Khan is expected to top the agenda.

Mr Thompson said there were other allegations as well.

Meanwhile, President of Nauru, Lionel Rouwen Ainginea in a letter to Mr Thompson which has been widely circulated on social media, did not back down from a meeting tomorrow.

He said in the letter: “As the Secretariat has failed to organise this meeting, we will undertake to provide an agenda, a Zoom link and any additional papers for the meetings by tomorrow morning (16th June, 2020). I have received confirmation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT New Zealand) that they will host the Zoom meeting on Wednesday 17th June, 2020.”

Yesterday’s communication to Mr Thompson followed letters sent out last Tuesday and Friday.

President Ainginea said he has the support of seven countries including Australia and New Zealand.

Last night New Zealand High Commissioner Jonathan Curr confirmed MFAT was approached.

“MFAT was approached about providing a Zoom code for the upcoming USP Council meeting. We indicated that we would be willing to do so if members agreed it would be useful.”

He said USP is an important institution for the region.

“We are committed to working with other members to find a resolution to the current issues at USP that supports robust governance and ensures that the university is able to deliver for its students.”

Acting VC refutes media article claims

Meanwhile Acting Vice Chancellor Professor Derrick Armstrong refuted recent media articles suggesting that staff at USP could resign if they did not want to work with him.

“I regret to say that the journalists who have written these stories have failed to understand the fine distinction among words and statements,” he said.

“I said that in this difficult period if people felt that they did not want to continue to be part of the senior management team that was ok and I would understand.”

In an email to students and staff yesterday Professor Armstrong said it was sad to see that so many unkind and untrue public statements are being made in the media and social media about different people in relation to the current events.

“The essential characteristics of the community of a university should include the acceptance of different opinions, a culture where debate and even disagreements are valued, where freedom of speech and belief are respected.

“Yet civility and responsibility for the fairness and truthfulness of ones words are necessary conditions for the freedom of expression to be meaningful.

“I hope that this is the climate of debate that the USP community values, supports, and seeks to foster in our students, and not a climate of insult where different voices are denigrated and shouted down whether it be in public forums or on the social media.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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