Stu­dent elec­tion squab­ble stalls

Manawatu Standard - - Front Page - Ge­orge Heag­ney ge­orge.heag­[email protected]

The man elected to be the next Massey Uni­ver­sity stu­dent pres­i­dent may be forced to re­sign and stand again in a by-elec­tion.

The Massey Uni­ver­sity Stu­dents’ As­so­ci­a­tion held a spe­cial gen­eral meet­ing yes­ter­day to vote on whether pres­i­dent elect, Ste­fan Biber­stein, should re­sign be­cause he only got the job by de­fault.

Mo­tions were put for­ward to re­quest and ac­cept his res­ig­na­tion, forc­ing a by-elec­tion, but the meet­ing had to be ad­journed be­cause there wasn’t a quo­rum of 30 stu­dents.

Ro­hit Mo­han, who came to New Zealand from In­dian seven months ago, won this year’s stu­dent pres­i­dent elec­tion in Septem­ber, but was later dis­qual­i­fied be­cause he was on a stu­dent visa.

His only op­po­nent, Biber­stein, who had lost the elec­tion 313 votes to 234, was in­stead named to take over from sit­ting pres­i­dent Michael Salmon at the end of the year.

If Biber­stein re­signs there will be a by-elec­tion, which he can stand in.

Yes­ter­day’s meet­ing started with a quo­rum of 35 stu­dents, but the first part of the meet­ing took too long be­fore a vote could be held and some stu­dents had to leave for an exam.

De­spite a break to try and rally more stu­dents to at­tend, they could only muster 26 el­i­gi­ble vot­ers, so the meet­ing was ad­journed. The date of the next meet­ing is to be con­firmed.

Stu­dent Sa­muel Frost put for­ward the mo­tions which led to the meet­ing.

He said he wanted a fresh elec­tion be­cause Biber­stein had won the seat by de­fault. Had Biber­stein been the sole can­di­date, vot­ers would have had an op­tion of cast­ing a vote of no­con­fi­dence.

Frost said they didn’t know whether the 60 per cent of vot­ers who voted for Mo­han would have cast a vote of no con­fi­dence in Biber­stein.

Deputy pro vice-chan­cel­lor Chris Gallavin, who chaired the meet­ing, said be­cause there were two can­di­dates, there was no op­tion for vot­ers to ex­press whether they had con­fi­dence in Biber­stein.

‘‘That didn’t hap­pen be­cause on the face of it there ap­peared to be two can­di­dates."

Biber­stein de­clined to com­ment to Stuff af­ter the meet­ing.

Mo­han was in­el­i­gi­ble for the pres­i­dency be­cause it is es­sen­tially a paid full­time role with an hon­o­rar­ium of just un­der $35,000

There is a po­si­tion on the as­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive for an in­ter­na­tional stu­dent and all other ex­ec­u­tive roles can be filled by in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

Im­mi­gra­tion rules state peo­ple on stu­dent visas can not un­der­take vol­un­teer work for gain or re­ward, and paid work can­not be for more than 20 hours per week.

Stu­dent pol­i­tics in Palmer­ston North is no stranger to dis­cord. In 2014, Daniel Good­man stepped down in dis­grace as UCOL stu­dent as­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent af­ter ad­mit­ting he fab­ri­cated an elab­o­rate story about his past.

In 2013 the Massey Uni­ver­sity Ex­tra­mu­ral Stu­dents’ So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Jeanette JV Chap­man was ousted fol­low­ing a vote of no-con­fi­dence amid al­le­ga­tions she had acted un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally, with­out trans­parency, and earned more than $50,000 for the part-time role. The uni­ver­sity had also sev­ered fund­ing to the so­ci­ety dur­ing her lead­er­ship.

Pres­i­dent elect Ste­fan Biber­stein, cen­tre, only won be­cause the ac­tual win­ning can­di­date was deemed in­el­i­gi­ble.

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