Annual General Meeting 2023: The last one of the year!

Welcome back to the Glass coverage of the Guild Student Representative Council (SRC) Meetings of 2023. This is our coverage of the Annual General Meeting held on Thursday 30th November 2023 at E558, Kelvin Grove Campus.   

We brought students coverage of these meetings throughout the year, so you have insight into all the goings-on in your Student Representative Council (SRC). These meetings include the motions that Guild Executives and other students put forward for the SRC to vote on, and which will directly impact your university experience. This is our last council meeting for 2023. 

All current students can attend SRC meetings. If you want to see change on campus, we encourage you to put forward a motion to the SRC.   

COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES    

You can find the minutes of the meeting here once published.    

You can also access the meeting agenda and documents associated with motions raised at the meeting in this folder. 

AND WE’RE OFF! 

The meeting was opened at 5:39pm by Student Guild Board Member Olivia Brumm, acting as Chair, and began with an Acknowledgement of Country.  

The Chair noted the following apologies for the meeting: outgoing President Aamna Asif, Treasurer Usama Shafiq and Chair Curtis Wenzel. 

The only member of the Governance team who attended the AGM was Secretary Deepika Sharma.  

No leaves of absence were noted.  

The Chair asked for the minutes from the previous meeting to be taken as read. The motion was passed. 

STRAIGHT INTO THE HARD STUFF – CONSIDERATION OF ANNUAL REPORT OF THE GUILD, AUDITED BALANCE SHEET & ANNUAL BUDGET FOR THE FINANCIAL YEAR   

The Chair noted that the annual report is still in draft form, and that the Guild Professional Services and SRC reports need to be amalgamated before the document can be uploaded to SharePoint for students to access. She asked if anyone wanted to speak to the annual report of the Guild or if anyone had any questions, and the audience was silent.  

We moved on to the audited balance and annual budget, which was presented by Board Member Jarrod Ward. He noted that two years ago the Guild changed the financial year from a calendar year to an actual financial year, which meant that the first six-months of last year (2022) had a separate audit. During that six-month period, the Guild lost $282,000, which was a significant increase in loss from the previous year, when $16,000 was lost. The current audit (conducted by HLB) is from 1 July 2022 to 30 June 2023. It is ongoing and will be made publicly available on the Guild website early in the new year. 

The Chair asked if there is a draft of the annual budget for the financial year. The room was silent once again. She asked if anyone knew whether the Treasurer had prepared a draft, and the Secretary indicated that he had not.  

The Chair addressed the room and said that she was hopeful there would be a new draft budget, but if there is not a draft provided, the Guild would have to roll over the previous budget.  

ONTO THE GOOD STUFF – REPORTS OF ELECTED OFFICERS & COMMITTEES 

Welfare 

Outgoing Welfare Officer John Longwill (Grow) spoke about the initiatives and activities he has been involved in during his term. He spent time assisting with the manning of the Food Bank, which included testing out a booking system. The Food Bank saw an increase of 200 students per semester to 150 to 200 students per week, which resulted in relocating to a larger space to accommodate for the increased demand.  

Longwill sat on the Student Misconduct Committee, and expressed concerns over changes QUT has made to the Academic Misconduct Policy. These changes will come into effect on 1 January 2024. 

“Throughout the year on the Student Misconduct Committee, the majority of cases were instances of fraudulent medical certificates. And QUT has made the decision that those fraudulent medical certificates will no longer be dealt with under a central committee. They’re going to be distributed to faculty committees.  

“So, they’re all going to be dealt with separately under different faculties, which obviously leads to opportunities for non-standard penalties being applied and discrepancies between punishments in different faculties. Which is very problematic for internal governance.” 

One of the biggest projects he took on this year was the placement voucher support program, which gave $50 food vouchers to eligible students who completed mandatory unpaid placements are part of their studies. The program was implemented in Semester 1 and has received almost 1,000 applications this year. Longwill stated that he plans on working with Glass to publish articles about the information gathered as part of this initiative in 2024, to continue highlighting the financial stress unpaid placements cause students.  

Glass Magazine 

Outgoing Editor in Chief Ciaran Greig spoke on the Glass Magazine report. She gave a detailed overview of Glass’s achievements for 2023; this included a 58% increase in website page views, a 46% increase in Instagram followers, and a 64% increase in contributors compared to the previous term.  

An important point to note was that Glass saw a 128% increase in email newsletter subscribers and a 10% increase in newsletter open rate. This is significant because newsletter subscription and engagement was the main argument raised to support cutting the Glass budget at the beginning of 2023. You can read more about that here.  

She spoke about the various ways Glass has improved accountability within the Guild; this includes reintroducing Guild Catch-ups, council reports, and regular articles. In addition, earlier in the semester Greig moved a motion, which was passed at council, to require all officers to submit regular reports to council detailing what they had worked on since the last council meeting. 

One of the biggest initiatives Glass worked on this year was bringing back Battle of the Bands. This event ran over seven weeks, with musical acts competing against each other every Tuesday night in the Botanic Bar. The working party for Battle of the Bands decided early on that groups would be paid to perform. Initially there was push back from some members of the SRC about this decision, but the Guild received really positive feedback from the acts. 

“I think a lesson we have taken away from this and that I pass on to future Execs is don’t let someone telling you it isn’t done deter you from doing it,” Greig said. “You have to stick to your values, and our values as a student union is we believe in students being paid fairly.” 

Glass’ new Editor in Chief Celeste Muller spoke about the team’s plans for the new term. This includes creating new types of content (like social media videos and possibly a podcast) to engage with students in different ways, plans to continue the internship program, and (if budget allows) collaborating with the Collectives to create special editions of the print magazine.  

Outgoing Board Member Juval Stephens asked for clarification about an article regarding accountability within the Guild that Greig had recently published and asked whether she had received the documents requested. You can read the article here.  

Greig replied that Glass had received some of the documents that week but that there were a number still missing. These included the Conflict of Interest Register and the Register of Documents. Greig pointed out that it had now been 10 weeks since she originally submitted the request for information and wondered if those documents actually existed.  

In a surprising (but not too surprising, as council meetings go) turn of events, she pointed out the shirt she was wearing, which had the words “fkn bitch” printed on the front, and said she was sad the Treasurer was not present because “he wrote the words on my t-shirt about me”.   

“I just thought they were so beautiful and poignant. They really deserve to be on a t-shirt. I just love them so much – and they are definitely not an example of bulling or misogyny at the Guild.” 

The back of her shirt had the “receipts”, showing a screenshot of a message chain attributing the quote to the Treasurer.  

Once the room calmed down, the Chair asked if Stephens has any more questions. And he did.  

His first question was for the Clubs and Societies Officer regarding the Clubs Grievance policy, but she was not in attendance. 

His next few questions were for the Secretary. Firstly, he asked whether there was a problem with providing the documents Glass had requested. Secretary Deepika Sharma said that it was an extensive list and she had told Greig it would take some time to get everything together. She said she had also been in contact with other people to get them to share the documents with her. 

Stephens said that the Conflict of Interest Register was meant to be held by the Secretary. Sharma said she was not aware of this. The Chair dug a little deeper, and after some back and forth, it was determined that this document did not exist.  

Secondly, Stephens asked how it was possible that there had been two recent SRC meetings cancelled due to not being able to make quorum. For newbies, quorum is more than half of the voting members of the SRC. If every one of the 24 positions in the SRC is filled, this means at least 13 members must be present to make quorum. Without quorum, we cannot conduct business at a council meeting, and the meeting must be cancelled. Her response? Everyone was busy.  

The Chair said that everyone should be aware whether you are going to make quorum before you walk into a meeting, and if you don’t meet quorum, it’s because something unexpected happened. Simply put, the Governance team should be aware who will be attending each council meeting. She stressed that this has not been a historic issue with the Guild, and that scheduling needs to take busy periods (like exam block or mid-semester assignment time) into account. 

Greig returned to the pulpit and explained (in detail) which documents she requested and stated whether she had received them or not. These included subcommittee meeting minutes, supporting documentation for decisions made in the SSAF subcommittee, any matrixes or methodologies used by the subcommittees to make decisions, current balance of SRC initiatives budget, and subcommittee terms of reference.  

Stephens had one last question, directed at the Secretary once more. He asked her, as a member of the Finance subcommittee, whether they had actually started creating the annual budget. Sharma said she did not know because she did not sit on this committee. However, Stephens pointed out that according to the Regulations, the Secretary is meant to be a member of this committee.  

Longwill said he was a member of the Finance subcommittee and confirmed that they had not met since July.  

The Chair was almost shocked into silence. “Can I just say, the Treasurer is not here. There is no budget and the Finance Subcommittee that he chairs has not met since July. Does anyone have any information different to that? Because that is insane. Juval, that’s your answer.” 

Stephens was also left flabbergasted.  

“It doesn’t seem like a lot of people have read the Regulations or the Constitution, and they’re the governing documents,” the Chair said. “And the roles and responsibilities for people are in those documents. It’s really hard to run [an organisation] without people understanding or having read those documents.” 

FINALLY! International Students  

After a lengthy detour into some uncharted territory, we are back at the Elected Officer Reports.  

International Students Officer Moin Rahman (Reform) spoke last. During his term, he hosted a rental accommodation workshop in collaboration with Student Services and was involved in a misconduct committee as part of the QUT International College. As part of this committee, he was able to point out key areas that needed to be focused on at the university level.  

He has spent a significant amount of time working on a visa support initiative, which plans to provide international students with a dedicated support person within the Guild.  

“We are currently strongly working on the background for that, to be able to set up a solicited intermittent visa assistance service for all cohorts of international students. We will be having workshops as well as a consistent visa accredited officer to be able to provide solicitor services.” 

This project is currently underway, and there are tentative plans to host a visa support workshop in Semester 1, 2024. 

WE BRIEFLY SWAP CHAIRS… 

The Chair Olivia Brumm had a prior engagement, informed the room she will need to leave and asked for someone to take over the Chair duties. Board Member Jarrod Ward stepped up. 

CIESJ Councillor Ella O’Brien had a question. Referring to the July council meeting, she asked if the Treasurer was ever given access to the accounting software he said he needed.  At that meeting, he moved a motion to be granted access to Xero, which is the accounting software the Guild uses. The motion was passed. In his motion, the Treasurer stated that he cannot do his job without this access and that previous Treasurers have had access to the accounting software. 

You can read more about that motion here.  

Ward responded. He said that the Audit and Risk subcommittee made the decision not to grant access due to the risk it imposes (this program contains personal banking information of all employees and elected officers of the Guild). He also confirmed that Shafiq had the same level of access to the reports he needed as any previous Treasurer has had. It’s important to note that Ward served as Treasurer before taking a position on the Board in November 2022.  

Brumm’s prior engagement was cancelled, and she returned as Chair. 

QUT STUDENTS DEMAND A DISABILITY ROOM AT EACH CAMPUS 

Disability Collective Convenor Michael Pendergast moved a motion that the Guild makes good on their promise to make substantive progress towards securing a Disability Room on each campus by April 2024. Harmony Hughes seconded the motion.  

You can view the whole motion here

“It’s been seven months since the Student Guild Representative Council promised disabled students they would make substantive action toward a disability room within a year,” Pendergast said. 

“That deadline is now just five months away. The 2023 term is ending, and it appears no effort has been made. And we remain in the same position we have been for years.” 

You can read more about the original motion here

“A disability room would ensure disabled students have a space to relax, socialise and study, guaranteed to be accessible. It’s our responsibility as students and members of this union to hold the Guild to account and to ensure they follow through on their promises. We must loudly say that this isn’t good enough.” 

The Chair took a vote; the vote was unanimous. The motion passed.   

CALLS FOR GUILD TREASURER TO RESIGN IMMEDIATELY  

Ciaran Greig moved a motion calling for students to request that the current Student Guild Treasurer, Usama Shafiq, resign from this role and forfeit his role for 2024. Shafiq was the Treasurer for 2023 and had been re-elected for 2024. New Womens Officer Lauren Cuthbert (Reform) seconded the motion. 

Greig said that this motion was not planned and came out of the “gross incompetence” that had come out during the meeting.  

“It’s not good enough that we don’t have a budget, it’s not good enough that we don’t have the reports that we need here tonight. We can’t have a functioning student union if we don’t have a Governance team who are willing to do their jobs meticulously and put their money where their mouth is.” 

Cuthbert also spoke for the motion. She said she has heard a lot of excuses about why things hadn’t been done this year and to hear that a lot of that reasoning was not legitimate is really disheartening. 

“I personally think it’s disgusting that we don’t have a prepared budget or a Treasurer [present] at the AGM to speak for himself about that budget.” 

New President Aaron Bui (Reform) spoke against the motion and said that he thought it wasn’t fair to bring this motion to council when the Treasurer was not there to tell his side of the story.  

There was some confusion from CIESJ Councillor Ella O’Brien who asked to speak against the motion, and then asked to amend the motion. After some back and forth with the Chair, it was clear that O’Brien did not realise or understand what position Shafiq was currently in or what his role in the Guild would be in 2024.  

New Disability Officer Ethan Johnstone (Reform) spoke for the motion. He said he supported the motion because he didn’t think it was appropriate for an officer or staff member of the Guild to hold the kind of values that Greig had brought up earlier (in reference to the words on her t-shirt), and that it undermines the values of Guild. 

Outgoing Health Faculty Councillor Tegan O’Connor (Reform) spoke for the motion. She had been elected into the Welfare Officer position for 2024, and said that she withdrew from that position because she knew that she would not be able to perform to the best of her abilities. She said that if she knew that she needed to step back for the better of the Guild, Shafiq also needed to make that decision as he had shown that he was not able to do his job this year.  

Engagement Officer and outgoing Secretary Deepika Sharma spoke against the motion. She also said that it wasn’t fair to have this discussion without the relevant person present as we were not able to hear the other person’s side of the story.  

After a brief pause due to some technical issues (dead microphone), we resumed our discussion.  

Ethan Johnstone raised a point of information, in reference to people bringing up the fact that the Treasurer was not present. He asked whether it was standard practice in the Guild to delay the AGM or business about someone if they are unable to attend a council meeting, which was advertised with ample notice. The Chair said it was not common practice but that this was a very unusual event, and she doesn’t believe it has happened before.  

Ella O’Brien raised a point of information. She said that she believed a similar motion was raised at another council meeting earlier in the year and it was decided the issue would be brought to the Disputes Committee.  

The Chair explained that the difference was this motion was essentially condemning the officer and calling for them to voluntarily resign, whereas the other motion was calling for removal from their position. You can find out more about that here

There were no more students who wished to speak against the motion, however there was another student who wanted to speak for the motion. Juval Stephens moved a motion to extend speaking time, the motion was seconded, and passed.  

Harmony Hughes spoke for the motion. She said that at the July council meeting, there were motions raised about the Board and they were not there to defend themselves. Therefore, it’s not fair to say that we shouldn’t vote on this motion because the Treasurer was not here.  

 “When it comes down to it, if you haven’t taken action and you aren’t committed to your role, then why should we have faith in you and your ability to do your job? … If he felt that he couldn’t adhere to certain aspect of his role, then he could have said something. He could have spoken to people, and he didn’t.” 

She said that this motion is clarifying that the Guild will not tolerate this type of behaviour and work ethic, and she believed if we voted against this motion then that would show an acceptance of this kind of behaviour within the organisation.  

As the mover, Greig gave her right of reply. She reiterated some of the issues that were raised during the meeting and other issues that have been raised throughout the year.  

“…He hasn’t prepared a budget. He hasn’t chaired a Finance meeting since July…There has been a huge kerfuffle with Collective funding which, after reviewing relevant documents, I can see comes down to mismanagement from the Treasurer level. He hasn’t provided a matrix for the SSAF committee, which he also chairs… Normally I would agree that when something is being discussed, like this, that the person should be present. I think that is usually fair. But in this case, the incompetence of this person in their role is so great that it becomes irrelevant that he is not here.” 

She closed by saying that she believed we would be putting the Guild at risk if we allowed him to continue in his position.  

The Chair took a vote; 12 voted for, 2 voted against, 3 abstained. The motion passed.   

As there was no more general business, the Chair closed the meeting at 7:28pm.

Celeste Muller
Celeste Muller

Celeste (she/her) is a Meanjin/Brisbane based writer and Editor at Glass Media. She has a Bachelor's degree in Design (Interior Design) and is currently studying Journalism and Economics at QUT.

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