Broken Promises: Reality Check on Grow 2022 Commitments

The Grow logo, three line drawings of leaves on a cream background. With text reading "Broken Promises" overlaying it.

The majority of Grow elections promises have gone unfulfilled and ignored by the Executives who ran on the ticket in the Guild elections in October 2022.

Grow made 28 unique claims or promises during their campaign, and an investigation by Glass revealed that less than a half of those promises have been implemented or are in the process of being realised.

Students can run as independents or as part of a ticket, and can choose to run on political positions or specific initiatives. The majority of the Student Representative Council who were elected in 2022 ran on the same ticket, with the remaining elected Officers and Councillors elected on the Socialist Alternative ticket or as casual vacancies throughout 2023.

These are the election promises or claims made during the 2022 Guild elections by Grow:

Campus Events Promises made by Grow

“Express Yourself cultural wellbeing workshops” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“QUT x QUT Guild Equity Assist Tents” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“Adulting 101” – Not achieved, mentioned at least one Executive Meeting but no further information was received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“Student expo” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“Peer support program and networking” – One LinkedIn and one housing workshop hosted by SRC and GPS. Moin Rahman, International Officer, organised the housing workshop which was “…Bond Back – Tips and tricks to ending your tenancy with QUT Student Services and TenantsQLD.”

“On-campus tax support”Glass has been informed this was cancelled due to being organised late and not having enough time to arrange student volunteers.

“First years’ tips/tricks orientation” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“Social awareness days” – Wear It Purple day planned. The Guild also participated in collaboration with QUT on Harmony Day and Respect Week events this year.

Glass has confirmed that a social campaign for Wear It Purple Day, an annual LQBTQIAP+ awareness day, has been planned in collaboration with QUT Equity, the Queer Officer, and the Queer Collective.

Student Health, Safety & Wellbeing Promises made by Grow

“Sexual wellness” – In her August Guild Catch-Up, Women’s Officer Sia Hills advised that she has been “working on a project that addresses Sexual Violence on campus. How this looks will be putting together an initiative and working party that focuses on addressing this very serious issue. I want to see action that moves towards addressing the problem and actioning a plan that helps combat it while raising awareness.”

STI testing on campus, provided last year by the Guild, is no longer running on campus.

In January of this year, Glass launched unSEXpected, a series promoting sexual wellness and open conversations about uncomfortable topics. Glass also partnered with QUT during Respect Week to further advocate for sexual wellness.

“More safe, inclusive spaces” – The Disability Officer is in discussion with the University, no space has been finalised at this stage.

Disability Collective Convenor Michael Pendergast told Glass the Disability Officer has regularly been advocating for the creation of a “designated space for disabled students on campus” in meetings with the University. However, movement on this project has been slow and there are currently no definitive plans in place.

“From my knowledge, Harley as Disability Officer has made it a point to bring it up at nearly all meetings he’s been in, both within the Guild and with the University. I’ve been pleased to know that throughout this year the Disability Collective has had such a strong advocate fighting for us to get this room.”

Clubs Promises made by Grow

“Increased storage/promotion for clubs” – Glass has been advised that increased storage was organised by 2022 SRC, but renovations finished early this year. Glass has also been advised that increased promotion has been actioned by GPS on Guild socials.

“More club support and resources” – Glass has been advised that GPS increased support and created policies, including handover documentation. Additional funding of $55,000 was allocated to the Clubs Programme by the SSAF Committee after increased SSAF received from University earlier this year.

“Foster closer relationships with local businesses for student deals and support” – Clubs and Societies Officer Madison Shepard said she has been working on developing relationships with local businesses that clubs could use for event planning purposes.  

“Event costs (particularly venue hire and AV stuff) take up a large chunk of the club funding budget, so this project aims to kill two birds with one stone wherein we’d be partnering with local businesses, they’d get business, the clubs would get discounts and the funding budget would stretch further. Which is a win-win-win.”

Food & Microwaves on Campus Promises made by Grow

“Fixing the microwaves” – Glass understands that Guild Professional Staff have replaced broken microwaves across both the Gardens Point and Kelvin Grove campuses without request or assistance from Execs. The microwaves have also been labelled with Guild-branded stickers. This maintenance by GPS staff has been ongoing since before the 2022 elections.

Clubs and Societies Officer Madison Shepherd has also told Glass that she is “personally investigating the microwave issue” and is “…almost done putting together a proposal for discussion at the next SSAF Committee meeting…” to determine whether “…it would be better to repair or replace [the microwaves].” Shepherd claimed that some microwaves on campus “appear to be broken”.

Glass Editors have personally visited microwaves on both campuses this week and were unable to find any appliances that were not in working order, or had not been serviced recently. GPS have also confirmed that they have only received one recent report of a broken microwave, which has since been fixed.

This article was edited at 2pm on Friday 11 August 2023, after Glass Editors were able to confirm further information about Guild microwaves.

“Food at the bar” – Glass understands there is currently no long-term plan to serve food at the bars but that the GPS are looking into a solution. Clubs’ barbecues are providing temporary food at the Bot Bar on specific days.

“Free breakfasts/dinner in SWOTVAC/exam block” – Not achieved. Glass understands that funding for this has been redirected to the expansion of the Foodbank.

Earlier this semester, the University collaborated with several food outlets on both campuses to provide students with a deal for affordable meals. The Student Brekky program allows current QUT students to purchase a hearty meal, like a breakfast burrito, for just $4. For more information on this service, click here.

Education Advocacy Promises made by Grow

“A one-off, no-questions asked 7-day extension” – Not achieved. Glass understands that instead of a seven-day extension, the Education Subcommittee is now working on implementing a sliding-scale model instead, wherein a student will lose a percentage of marks for each day an assessment is late.

“Push for a biennial renewal-policy for all teaching and learning materials to reduce recycled content impacts” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“Policy to embed First Nations in all faculty curriculum” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“More flexible teaching/learning arrangements” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“Paid WIL experiences” – Not achieved. Glass understand that GPS have been in contact with the University to discuss this issue, no further information available.

Welfare Officer John Longwill created the Placement Support survey to gather data and advocate against unpaid mandatory placements. This was John’s update about the initiative in his August Guild Catch Up:

“To give a brief update on the work being done on our placement initiative; we were able hit our cap of 350 approved submissions towards the end of last semester. This is absolutely incredible. It provides us with valuable information to use to build understanding surrounding this problem. We know that students deserve way more, and we hope those that completed the survey appreciated the small token we were able to give them.”

Glass has published articles this year about the effect of unpaid placements on QUT students.

“Information on equity services” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this by the Grow team. Separately, Guild Academic Advocacy and Glass have been collaborating on a series for students about academic advocacy.

SSAF & QUT Relationship Promises by Grow

“50% SSAF: give it back to students first” – While this has been referenced occasionally in Guild Catch-Ups, Glass have received no information from Grow or the Governance team about this project. In their June Guild Catch Ups, President Aamna Asif said the following, with Treasurer Usama Shafiq making similar comments:

“In line with our dedication to student support, I have been working closely with the Guild Treasurer to strategise a plan to negotiate the renewal of our MOU agreement. Our primary focus this year is securing an increased funding allocation to continue in enabling us to consistently deliver extensive support services, resources, and initiatives tailored to the specific needs of QUT students.”

Glass understands that members of the Board are now handling the SSAF MOU negotiation with the University.

“MOU to reduce confusion of student services” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“Additional support for mature aged and carers” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

“More transparent reporting from QUT” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this.

Accountability Promises made by Grow

“Fortnightly capture of elected officers’ achievements/work” – Not achieved, no information received by Glass about efforts to achieve this. Other than during monthly internal meetings, Officers have not widely shared the projects or initiatives they are working on, or how they are generally spending their time, with the student body.

In an effort to introduce more accountability for Executives, Glass brought back the Guild Catch-Up series earlier this year. This is a monthly series, originally started in 2020, in which Executives (including Glass) share what they had been working on that month.

The Glass team have struggled to get Executives to regularly submit monthly statements voluntarily; just 43% of Execs submitted anything for the most recent article, and the highest submission rate so far this year was 60%.

The Editors have also faced push back from the Executives, with several telling Glass they don’t have the time to write something, don’t have anything new to add because their tasks don’t change from month to month, or they don’t think it’s part of their job.

The submission guidelines provided to Execs asked for less than 350 words summarising the work they have been doing in their role over the past month. Glass have received one request from an Executive for accessibility and we have said we are happy to accommodate that request.

So, what’s up?

There have been numerous problems that have contributed to the lack of progress on these promises, including major changes within the organisation, increased demand for specific services, funding, and other issues out of the control of the SRC.

Many of these goals are long-term projects that require extensive campaigning or collaboration with the University, and could take several years to come to fruition. For example, the Education Subcommittee is in the process of working on a proposal to bring back a sliding scale for grading, instead of focusing on a one-off, no-questions asked seven-day extension.

The current cost-of-living crisis has impacted every student, and the changing economic climate has also played a major role in narrowing the Guild’s focus. Increased demand for the Foodbank has resulted in extra money and time being allocated to this existing initiative, instead of towards providing free breakfasts or dinners during exam block.

Welfare Officer John Longwill said that changes in the internal circumstances from when promises were made had a substantial effect on the ability for Officers to work on new initiatives and generally get their work done. He said he and many Officers were told they would be working (and paid for) around three days per week. However, once they were elected, they discovered the Officers were paid for only seven hours per week.

“Any promises I made, I made under the impression that I would be working three days a week and paid for three days a week. I came into the organisation, and then I wasn’t. You can promise the world, but if you don’t have enough time, which is something everyone has been struggling with, you can’t manage it.”

Glass has confirmed that information informing candidates that Executive positions would be seven-hour per week roles was advertised prior to and during the Guild elections on the Guild website.

Glass is aware that the Executives elected into the only two contested positions (President and Engagement Officer) have both resigned since taking office on 1 December 2022, and several of the goals listed were the personal objectives of those Executives.

However, all students who campaigned on the Grow ticket campaigned on the same election promises. There was no information provided to students to indicate which promises came from which candidates.

The current President, Aamna Asif, was appointed to her position in April. Since that time, Glass has reached out to Asif on several occasions to clarify her vision for the SRC and what goals she has for her team. At the time of publishing, we have not received any information from Asif about this.

Guild Student Executives are elected on the mandates they campaign on and are paid with student money. Not following through on their mandates is an insult to the students they serve. Not just those who fall within their portfolios or those who voted. But the entire student body.

All current members of the SRC who ran on the Grow ticket were given the opportunity to provide comment. All those who chose to comment were included in this article. Glass acknowledges there may be initiatives not cited in this article due to oversight or miscommunication.  

This article does not address the activities of Executives outside of the Grow ticket. We will be publishing further accountability pieces like these soon to ensure all Execs are held accountable to their promises to the student body.

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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