Welcome to the first instalment of the Glass coverage on Guild Student Representative Council (SRC) Meetings of 2023. There was a mix of in-person and Zoom attendance at the meeting at the Grove Bar on 25 January 2023, which ran for over three hours.
We will be bringing 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.
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. These minutes are not yet confirmed.
Secretary Aamna Asif commenced the meeting at 6:21pm and began with an Acknowledgement of Country.
CASUAL VACANCY FOR CHAIR OF THE SRC
The meeting began with an expression of interest for the Chair of the SRC.
Curtis Wenzel put forward the only expression of interest for the position.
In a brief introduction speech, Wenzel said he was in his fifth year of a double degree studying Business and Law, and he was keen to support student voices as he felt he didn’t always have a voice as queer individual, especially during his high school years.
The vote was then put to the floor to accept Wenzel as Chair and the motion passed.
The minutes record that 12 SRC members voted to accept Wenzel as Chair, and one SRC member abstained.
CASUAL VACANCY FOR POST GRADUATE OFFICER
The next order of business was filling the casual vacancy of the Post Graduate Officer.
Aaron Bui was the only person to apply for the position.
Bui has finished his second year of a PhD in Chemistry, and has experience as Vice-President of the SEF HDR Student Society. Bui is keen to be the kind of representative of postgraduate students he feels is lacking at the University.
Here is a link to a summary that Bui submitted prior to the meeting for reasons for applying.
It was then put to a vote. The minutes record that Bui was voted into office ‘unanimously’ as the Postgraduate Officer.
The next agenda item was a report from Student Guild President Zoe Davidson about what the Guild has been up to internally for the past couple of months.
QUT Cyber Security Attack:
Davidson noted the circumstances of the cyber-attack, and that QUT had shut down the student-facing websites to prevent further hacking. She said that she was contacted by hundreds of students in her capacity as President, and fielded many student concerns about grades and their learning. She was also given information by QUT that could be communicated to the rest of students regarding the attack and measures in place.
In January, Davidson also provided comment to media outlets (ABC, Courier Mail and Sydney Morning Herald) in their reports on the matter.
Davidson also wanted it to be formally noted that she came back to work one week earlier than planned due to the circumstances.
Davidson then noted the SRC December induction and that it consisted of presentations from the Guild Governance team, professional staff at the Guild, consultants, and QUT divisions across the university. The aim of the induction was to educate new Guild executives and prepare them for their new roles in the new term.
Davidson then noted that the Queer, Environment, International and Education officers did not attend the December induction but have received a smaller-scale induction. The First Nations officer also did not attend and has not received any induction yet as they are on a leave of absence.
Davidson said the Guild provided assistance to graduation in December through the Guild Graduation Gowns service with a staff of about 30 people. She acknowledged the hard work of staff as well SRC members.
Welcome Week and Guild Week:
Dates for both Welcome Week and Guild week have been announced, and planning is underway.
Davidson noted the Student Guild is going to make Welcome Week evidence-based and activities will be tailored to students — whether they be in-person or online.
MOTION BY GLASS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF REGARDING GLASS BUDGET
Glass Editor-In-Chief Ciaran Greig brought a motion asking for the SRC to endorse a review of the Glass budget by the Guild Board and began by amending the motion to include that any budget amendments would not affect the SSAF fund already set aside for SRC initiatives.
Greig moved that the motion be voted on by secret ballot (where voting members vote secretly to not be identified) once the motion was heard.
Greig explained that SSAF committee both rejected Glass’s proposal for a budget increase and reduced the Glass budget by $20,000 from 2022 in an inappropriate manner and should be reviewed. She stated the reasoning behind the cut was a response to actions taken by the Glass team in the previous term and seemed punitive in nature. She also addressed the other main reasoning (a decrease in an email newsletter opening rate) and stated this was small decrease in nature related to the other operations of Glass.
Glass Editor Celeste Muller seconded the motion. She stated the method used by the SSAF committee to calculate the average weekly hours worked by Glass editors was not a true representation of the hours actually worked in the previous term. Muller said the SSAF committee calculated the average hours from December 2021 to the beginning of September 2022, which is not a full term as it does not include September 2022 to December 2022 – a busy period for Glass.
Muller went on to address the Guild tasking Glass with sourcing advertising to supplement the budget, and how the 2023 Glass Editors is not equipped to make up such a cut from last year.
Guild President Zoe Davidson then spoke against the motion. She started by posing the question: Did the 2022 SSAF committee make an unfair and unjust assessment about the 2023 Glass budget based on the data before them at the time? She felt the answer was no and that it does not justify a significant increase to the budget.
Davidson said the hours of the editors in 2022 allowed for Glass to excel with website visits and gain more subscribers throughout the year with three editors, and the 45 hours calculated by the SSAF committee was based on this with an additional five hours being given to source advertising income for Glass.
Davidson then raised thinking points around the independence of Glass to the Guild as per the relevant regulations. She noted that the 2022 Glass team did not follow regulations by not attending Guild executive meetings and that this is not conducive to an increase of budget.
She noted the Guild Regulations more generally, specifically the regulated independence of Glass to provide accountability on the Guild while financially depending on it. She asked how is this possible and said she cannot make the two work. Davidson then provided that the reduction in Glass budget would allow for more support from the Guild professional staff to supplement the Glass budget.
Guild Secretary Aamna Asif also spoke against the motion. Asif said that any successful organisation reflects on the past achievements and shortcomings for decisions regarding the future. She felt the data presented regarding the 2022 Glass team justified a decreased in funding.
She stated it would be only fair if the 2023 Glass team performed well, that the SSAF Committee would have no choice but to increase their funding. Asif went on to discuss the Glass AGM Report and how the 2022 SSAF Committee came to a decision based on this. She noted a decrease in the rate of people opening the Glass newsletter and the increase in the print runs. Asif when on to say that although there was an increased print run, the SSAF Committee couldn’t account for how many people actually read the magazines.
QUT student Rory Hawkins spoke for the motion. Hawkins spoke about the value he sees in Glass as a student who has their work published in online and in print, and his concerns about the budget cut.
Guild Environment Officer Isabella Foley also spoke for the motion. She felt that student media is crucial to student unions, and touched on a budget structure that she felt is undemocratic. Foley said that basing budget decisions on the previous team is a flaw in the system. The outgoing student representatives and their action and intentions do not necessarily reflect the actions of the incoming representatives. Foley also felt that Glass is one of the few tangible things the students can see the SSAF money going towards.
Greig used her right of reply to address the commercial and investment resources that the Guild can draw money from rather than SSAF, and the Guild’s methods of redress for misbehaving executives outside cutting budgets set out in the regulations and how they were not pursued in 2022 against Glass. In regards to questions about the Glass print magazine distribution, Greig said a detailed spreadsheet regarding magazine distribution is maintained.
Greig then said the high performance of Glass in the previous term was mentioned across both sides of the motion and that should at least be an argument that last year’s budget be reinstated.
The motion for a secret ballot was then successful and the votes were counted.
The SRC vote was split 7-7, and the motion was not carried.
MOTION TO FOR SRC TO ENDORSE NUS DAY OF ACTION BY ENVIRONMENT OFFICER
Isabella Foley, Environment Officer and member of Socialist Alternative, put forward a motion for the SRC to endorse the NUS National Day of Action on the climate march to be held on 17 March 2023 and provide material support to promote the event.
Foley spoke about the importance of the Guild taking action and participating in the initiative to mobilise student support of the fight for climate action. Foley posited that the Guild has a responsibility to take a stance on this issue for students.
President Zoe Davidson seconded the motion.
Discussion about funding the initiative occurred, and Foley asked that this be discussed at the Executive Committee level.
The motion was carried. The minutes do not record the details of the vote.
MOTION FOR DISMISSAL OF ENGAGEMENT OFFICER
Guild President Zoe Davidson brought the last motion of the meeting. The motion was regarding the dismissal of the Guild Engagement Officer.
Davidson moved to have the motion heard in camera (meaning privately with only Guild executives present) but this was not carried and the motion was then heard publicly.
Davidson spoke for the motion, bringing forward alleged claims of disruptive behaviour by the Engagement Officer. Davidson noted she had been conducting an ‘investigation’ but said she had not been able to substantiate all of the claims made against the Engagement Officer. Asif seconded the motion.
The Engagement Officer spoke against the motion responding to the claims brought by Davidson. She also stated that she was only told about the motion against her right before the meeting was about to start, and was not given any information about the allegations or provided any documentation relating to the allegations during the meeting or when the motion was put forward.
Multiple motions (ultimately not carried) were raised by other SRC members during the discussion. There was confusion over the governing documents and policies relating to accountability of SRC members, and complaints processes for one and a half hours.
Notably, it was revealed that SRC members had been provided with the wrong Accountability Policy when inducted. Davidson and Asif insisted that the Accountability Policy that many Executives believed they were operating under had never passed through Council when it had been brought in September 2022. Glass Editor-in-Chief stated that the September 2022 Council meeting minutes had never been circulated and were still, at the time of the discussion, not available on the Guild website.
The ultimate outcome of the debate was to refer the claims to a relevant committee equipped to handle the investigation into Davidson’s claims.
Further discussion by the parties about the allegations were shut down by Olivia Brumm, at that point re-joining via Zoom not unlike the voice of God.
The Engagement Officer is still in office and strenuously denies all allegations raised at the Council meeting.
The meeting was closed by Wenzel at 9:53pm.
The next SRC meeting will be 6pm Monday 6 March 2023, at the Grove Bar.
These meetings are open for all students to attend and make motions for the SRC to vote on. If you want to attend the next meeting, the details will be posted on the Guild Noticeboard.