VUWSA General Election Returning Officer Andrea Reeves has accused Clubs Development Officer Brent Hayward of “crossing the line” following an email Hayward sent to clubs expressing his concerns that if a “certain group of students” were to be elected to the VUWSA Executive, club funding would be cut.
In the email, he said: “[it]… has come to my attention that a certain group of students running a campaign based around a $25 dollar student reimbursement… are not only hoping to discontinue funding for clubs but want to eliminate the affiliation process altogether.”
Reeves was informed of the matter by the A-Team and e-mailed VUWSA President Geoff Hayward with her concerns.
“This e-mail was sent by a person employed by the students’ association with his student association e-mail address and position,” Reeves wrote.
“It is my belief that the staff employed to run the management side of VUWSA should and do not have responsibilities with the governance side of the Student Association. I think the e- mail in question is crossing the line and it is not, and should not be up to staff of VUWSA to get involved in the campaigning or elections process”.
“As returning officer I feel this needs to be dealt with urgently and staff need to be seen to remain impartial while they are acting as staff. I… would like to have a response on whether or not this sort of behaviour will continue during the election process.”
A-Team candidate Jordan Williams says Hayward’s email was inappropriate. “I feel that bringing these matters into the open and pointing out how unacceptable they are is the only way to prevent such things happening again… I don’t want this to be a precedent for other staff members to buddy up with politicians during an election campaign,” says Williams.
However, the same email was published on the Team Vic page of <em>Salient</em> last week – and made public to a far larger audience than Hayward’s mailing list. The same issue also contained a letter from Andrew Gibson, Managing Director of The Establishment – VUWSA’s major sponsor – regarding ongoing support for clubs if the A-Team were to be elected.
President Geoff Hayward defends Brent Hayward’s actions. “He is being apolitical because he is talking about his role as Clubs Development Officer. That being said, he is entitled to speak on these matters”.
“Brent is passionate about working for clubs… I wonder what would happen if the A-team won the election, Brent would have forty hours a week doing nothing according to the A-team. Do you think he’s going to sit around and tolerate that?”
“As far as I can tell there is nothing in the Constitution that breaches his situation and, as such, she [Reeves] has not put up a formal complaint in an employment dispute … until then I’m not going to respond to it… I don’t overstep my grounds,” says President Hayward.
In an email sent from Reeves to Williams, she said: “I…spoke to Geoff about revoking the e-mail but I don’t think that will happen”.