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Union Restructure

31 August 2012

The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) and its service provision appendage, Melbourne University Student Union Limited (MUSUL) is set to undergo a restructure. After the restructure, UMSU will manage all student related students services. MUSUL will manage everything back-of-house, such as finances, human resources, and the Union House building.

UMSU General Manager Justin Baré presented a report at the August Students’ Council Meeting outlining the changes to UMSU. The report stated that the restructure “would provide a clearer distinction between UMSU as a student representative and service organisation, and [MUSUL] as the manager of Union House and commercial operations and the provider of administrative and corporate services to UMSU”.

UMSU President Mark Kettle said that the decision came about after UMSU“decided to undertake a strategic review” during which UMSU and MUSULboth re-evaluated their roles. The strategic review was held at the end of 2011, in light of the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF).

It revealed that “it’s not possible for MUSUL to do everything because UMSUis an independent incorporated organisation which focuses on student representation and clubs and activities,” according to Kettle.

Cultural Services Manager and Theatre Administrator Josie Byrt said that she felt the move “just makes sense”. She said UMSU’s role is to represent students and provide activities, a role that includes student theatre and the Rowden White Library. “It just makes sense that they’re all in together with things like entertainment and clubs and societies.”

In regard to the restructure changing her current roles and responsibilities, Byrt said, “I don’t think it’s going to—I would hope it wouldn’t—have any major effect on what we do.”

She also said that the teams working under her would be able to build a stronger relationship with the office bearers. “There’ll be a lot more perhaps interaction with the office bearers, which is a good thing. We’ve already got the theatre, and the gallery has a really good relationship with the arts officers but the potential for us to engage more with other office bearers is, I think, greater, because there’s not so much an ‘us and them’ situation.”

Before the introduction of the SSAF, MUSUL managed essentially everything union-related except for student representation. The restructure will involveMUSUL allocating their management of Rowden White Library, Union House Theatre, Arts Programs (including the George Paton Gallery), and the VCESummer School to UMSU.

UMSU might now appoint a sub-committee to assist with its new responsibilities.

Baré’s report states, “The current Council model is not suited to engagement with issues where time pressures on decision making require quick responses, or where there are issues raised internally or by the University that require immediate attention”. The report suggests that the UMSUStudent Council would benefit from the addition of an “Operations Sub-Committee”, which would help assist the existing Council members with their new roles.

The Union is aiming to complete the entire process of the restructure by O-Week next year.


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