“Give it a crack”: Max Fox on running in the Guild elections 

Max Fox (he/him) was Vice-President of the Guild for three years, under various portfolios such as Gender and Sexuality, Queer Officer, and Campus Culture. He is a recent QUT graduate and is a delegate of the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union at his workplace.  

I first ran for the Guild elections with the ticket ‘Reach’ in September 2017. We lost. But disheartened we were not, and we gave it another crack in 2018.  

Each of these campaigns were majorly unpleasant. There was a lot of personal vitriol and anger, which manifested itself in awful personal attacks. There was also a waste of student money when an election was called without informing opponents, which was overturned at a cost of around $20k, from memory. It was after this shemozzle that Reach was elected by QUT students.  

We were elected on a broad mandate of organisational reform, the results of which you see within the QUT Guild today. These reforms were a multi-year project, and each person in the ticket had their piece to contribute. Collaboration was and is key, but the most important collaboration will happen as an elected team, which should include diverse voices including quality independent candidates. So, if you’re considering running a ticket—simply filling all available positions for the sake of it is not mandatory nor conducive to long-term success.  

On passion projects & election promises 

If you have a passion project, build it into your campaign.  

My passion project, when running for Vice-President (Gender and Sexuality) was to re-launch the Queer Collective, provide free pads and tampons in bathrooms, and to run regular queer events on campus. The ticket had broader ideas, which also included free childcare during exams. While the latter never eventuated, (because as it turns out, that’s really hard), we did give it a red-hot crack.  

So, your policies don’t need to be fully formed when you create your ticket, but have some details together and a strategy to articulate to voters why they should place their trust in you to achieve your big idea. As I just evidenced, for a multitude of reasons, election promises may sometimes go unfulfilled, but hopefully your campaign will touch on a mixture of stretch goals and short-term achievable actions or policies to take. If those goals align with those of others, you may decide to form a ticket, an alliance of sorts. You can still run as an independent, something which was virtually impossible previously. An independent could use their policy agenda within the SRC, remembering that the Council is democratic and compromise will sometimes be necessary. And that’s before we involve the beast that is the university. 

To help with this, you may seek to look at earlier election campaign promises and their statuses, and maybe even do some research to enquire why they ended up the way they did. Some policies were successful—my project ‘Little Emergencies’ was originally rejected by the University, but now you can find Share the Dignity vending machines across campus. Others are less clear—when the 48-hour extension was introduced, that was following extensive consultation with students, but was never an option pursued by the Guild and seemed to pop up out of nowhere. I’m still bitter about that. 

On keeping an eye on the details 

Deadlines matter, as non-compliance with rules can mean you miss the chance to nominate, or someone else nominates in error, or a whole election is invalid. Mistakes are human, but governance is extremely important, so put dates and eligibility requirements in high regard, and keep an eye on the same for any of your opponents in case someone is doing a dodgy.  

On being held accountable 

Get ready for accountability like you’ve never seen before. Your independent media team, Glass, will keep an eye on goings on. Expect to be pressed by voters, Glass, and following your hopeful election, by the SRC and Board more generally. Don’t be discouraged—maintain composure and stay focused.  

Remember as well that each of you are trying your best to effect change for the betterment of students in your own way, so keep it positive, and navigate your campaign with empathy. Accountability isn’t taking a dump on someone’s best effort, but can still be biting. The intent should be to improve.

On mudslinging

In your upcoming campaigns, think about how you want your campaigning to be remembered—a positive campaign can leave a lasting impression. As well, from personal experience, mere mudslinging is unlikely to land well with voters who don’t understand why you care so deeply about a particular issue, so highlight your personal journey in your campaign.  

On “doing something about it” 

While I’m thankful I’m no longer a student here, I’m excited by what organisations like the QUT Guild can do for their members, and I encourage you to pursue active involvement in unionism outside of university as well.  

The Guild has been running some socials recently: “do something about it then”—which I absolutely love. Students are the best people to understand the impacts of decisions made by the university, the best people to positively influence the culture on campus, and it’s your place to step up, make connections, analyse an issue and take your unique approach to solve the problem.  

Student unionism positively impacts student lives. QUT Guild Advocacy delivers incredible rates of success in helping students raise grievances, appeal outcomes, and navigate the University’s rules. And student politics, too, deserves to be engaging, honest and pleasant—dear students, despite best intentions it will not always be these things—you will face challenges in your campaigning and in your role, but the immense satisfaction you will gain in the success of your projects and the things you learn from their failures will help you grow as a person, as a team, and as a union.  

So, to recap, stay on top of the details, come up with your manifesto, stay positive, and join together or run by yourself. You’ll end up part of a team either way, so have fun, and good luck. 

Articles: 108

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