EXCLUSIVE: How AA risks killing the Clubs and Societies Program at Sydney University.
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EXCLUSIVE: How AA risks killing the Clubs and Societies Program at Sydney University.

EXCLUSIVE: How AA risks killing the Clubs and Societies Program at Sydney University.

Club executives could be forced to undergo a massive overhaul under a radical new proposal to force affirmative action on clubs and societies at Sydney University.

An AA Members Forum hosted by the University of Sydney Union (USU) Wom*n’s Portfolio Holder Kate Bullen, will next week consider whether to enforce affirmative action provisions in the Clubs & Societies Model Constitution.

The changes would force clubs to elect women in at least half of all Executive spots, irrespective of the gender balance within their Club membership. It follows an investigation of the 2012 Affirmative Action Review, which found that “nothing has been done” about previous recommendations.

Under the proposal, Clubs or Societies choosing to “opt-out” would be forced to “otherwise demonstrate their commitment to equity for women and women’s representation in other ways”.

In a blow for proponents however, Mon Droit can reveal that the Union’s own figures show that over 47% of C&S executive are currently female – a total of 677 female compared with 728 male and 25 “other” according to figures compiled by the C&S Office.

The proposal comes just weeks after the extraordinary intervention of the USU Board to reject a Club application from the Brotherhood, Recreation and Outreach Society (BroSoc) – a society that sought to mirror the renowned Men’s Shed charity – because of an alleged narrow focus on traditional masculinity.

It also comes just months after the USU introduced reforms to remove the “e” vowel from the word “women” in official documents.

Vice President of the Liberal Club, Jennifer Zin, slammed the changes. “These reforms would force students to elect Executive based on gender rather than merit; they are patronising to women and an insult to the University community,” she said.

Opponents warn that the reforms will simply serve as a catalyst for the rapid decline of the C&S Program at Sydney University, which once bragged the most vibrant program of anywhere in the State.

In fact, the USU continues to falsely advertise a base of “over 200 Clubs and Societies” on its website, despite the real figure now sitting at just 189. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that its competitor, UNSW’s Arc, now boasts well over 200 clubs.

It is anticipated that the reforms would hit a broad range of clubs including the Medical Society, Law Society, and even the Evangelical Union

In the Engineering Faculty for example, just 23 percent of students enrolled in 2014 were female. Even so, the reforms would push female representation on the Society Executive to at least 50 percent.

Smaller societies such as the Gaius Gracchus and Sutekh, and particularly those with uncontested AGMs, might also be in the firing line.

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