July Council Meeting: The Guild Blows Up

Updated 11:30am 24 August 2023

Welcome back to the Glass coverage of the Guild Student Representative Council (SRC) Meetings of 2023. This is our coverage of the July Council meeting held on Wednesday 26th July 2023 at E558, Kelvin Grove Campus.

We will be bringing students coverage of these meetings throughout the year, so you have insight into all the goings-on in your Student Representative Council. 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.

You might notice that this Council meeting coverage looks a little different than it usually does. Under normal circumstances, we report only on what was said and the events of the meeting, except in very specific situations.

However, there were numerous allegations, complaints and comments made during this meeting which needed to be fact checked and verified before we published this article. As a student media organisation, we strongly believe in our duty to report accurate information to students, and we would not have been able to do this without including the additional information. 

Additional informational obtained by Glass will be highlighted in GREEN to ensure it is easy for readers to differentiate between this information and the original content of the meeting. 

If you find any errors in our reporting, please get in touch and we will investigate your concerns as soon as possible.

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 Chair, Curtis Wenzel, was not able to attend this meeting due to personal reasons. Current student and President of the QUT Aerospace Society, Andrew Close, volunteered to Chair the meeting. It is important to note that Close has no previous experience Chairing Council meetings.

The meeting was opened at 6:15pm, 45 minutes late, and began with an Acknowledgement of Country. 

No leaves of absence were noted.

There was an automatic motion tabled by the Secretary for the removal of Business and Law Councillor Amay Small as per R3.6 and R3.7, for failure to attend SRC meetings or send apologies. The motion was seconded by Clubs and Societies Officer Madison Shepherd.

The motion was carried.

DISABILITY COLLECTIVE REPORT  

The Disability Collective report was delivered by Convenor Michael Pendergast.

You can read the full report from the Disability Collective here.

The Collective has seen a significant increase in membership this month, with 37 new people joining. There are now 92 members of the Collective, which has been largely attributed to Welcome Week activities and the establishment of a new Discord Server.

The Collective meeting on 7 June was attended by 5 members, including 4 executives. This highlighted the persistent low engagement within the Collective. This concern will be tackled in the next semester with increased in-person events.

Following this meeting, the Events Officer Sharon Juma resigned, leaving a casual vacancy.

A public Google Drive Folder has been set up, to allow members to access Collective documents more easily. This folder contains meeting documents, agendas, minutes, Collective Terms of Reference, and other important files.

At a previous SRC meetings, amendments to the Collective’s Terms of Reference which were passed except for a section relating to reporting procedures. However, after thoroughly reading over the Terms of Reference, it was discovered that this amendment is not required as reporting protocols are already outlined under another section of the Terms of Reference

The Queer and Disabled Games Night on 29 June was successful, with 13 students attending. There are many more events planned for Semester 2. Welcome Week was also really successful, with the majority of new members coming from this event.

Efforts continue towards securing a Disability Room.

QUEER COLLECTIVE REPORT  

The Queer Collective report was delivered by Convenor Julian Trueman via Zoom.

The Queer Collective reported that they had 227 members at the time of the meeting, are proud to have reached over 200 members for this year. They attributed this increase to recent events hosted by the Collective, their Facebook and Discord groups, and Semester 2 Welcome Week.

The Queer Collective’s June meeting was held on June 9 2023 and had seven attendees. They stated that this number of attendees is standard for the end of semester when engagement usually drops off due to assessment. At the meeting, the Queer Collective Executive approved their budget for improvements to their Gardens Point Queer Room.

The Collective has now followed the Disability Collective in implementing a public drive for members to have easier access to minutes of Collective meetings and other information. They have also taken steps to anonymise some aspects of their meeting minutes to protect members who are not ‘out’ yet.

The Collective received feedback about their event schedule for the year which had featured a celebratory event on each calendar pride date for members who shared that identity.

“We’ve received feedback from students this year that these identity focused events aren’t having the impact we want and that they may be making people feel like they must fit a specific identity if they want to join in,” Trueman said.

“In response to this, we have retired these events for the time being, members are still able to host any events they may want to as they always have the ability to win a collective, but they’ll no longer be implemented by the executive in favour of having a wider variety of open events.”

The Collective has also launched a feedback form so that members can give anonymous feedback to the Collective.

They reported that since the previous Council meeting, the Collective had hosted a queen men’s and non-binary people’s games night; a coffee catch-up; book club meeting; and a welcome week stalls. The Collective also reported hosting an event in partnership with the QUT GelBall Society, which was a mixed success due to confusion over ticketing.

Upcoming events planned included trivia, games night, and a Queer Collective x QUT Queer Officer shared event.

WOMENS COLLECTIVE REPORT  

The Womens Collective report was delivered by Convenor Lauren Cuthbert.

You can read the full report from the Womens Collective here.

The Collective’s Executive team were elected on 18 May. Elected as Convenor was Lauren Cuthbert, Deputy Convenor was Denva Butcher, Secretary was Sia Hills, and Engagement Officer was Emily Alexander. As of 13 June, Sia Hills has stepped down from her position.

Cuthbert stated that the Collective did not have access to their Facebook page yet, but would advertise the casual vacancy as soon they could. The Events Officer position is also vacant, and will also be advertised soon. She said they will be need assistance from a Guild Professional Staff member to gain access to their social media accounts.

In addition, the Executive have recently been granted access to their email account.

She closed her report by encouraging anyone who wanted to reach out to email the Collective at womenscollective@qutguild.com

BEFORE WE EVEN START, A WORRYING MOTION IS RAISED… 

Before the first motion on the agenda was discussed, Disability Officer Harley Manley raised a motion to remove all QUT Guild Board of Directors (or Board members) from the room. His reasoning was that the first motion contained a claim about the Secretary of the Board and General Manager of the Guild, and therefore there was a conflict of interest in having any Board members present for the debate.

The motion was seconded by Treasurer Usama Shafiq. He stated that he supported this motion because Board members were privy to information that SRC members are not, and that there was a “power play here”.

When stating his case for removing a Board member from the room, Manley cited R22.1, which reads: “A member of the Board or SRC who has a direct, indirect, or pecuniary interest in a matter being considered, or about to be considered, by the Board or SRC, must as soon as possible, disclose the nature of the interest at a meeting of the Guild as outlined in the Guild Conflict-of-Interest policy.”

Glass Editor in Chief Ciaran Greig quickly pointed out that this Regulation had nothing to do with removing someone from a Council meeting, and is in reference to a register of Board and SRC conflicts of interest. Conflicts of interest usually include information about close personal relationships (like roommates or romantic partnerships) between members of the SRC, the Board or Guild Professional Staff, club memberships, employment, or membership of other organisations.

The Board member in question, Juval Stephens, chose to speak against this motion and defend his rights to participate in a student Council meeting, as a current student and therefore member of the Guild. Stephens stated that he attended the meeting because as a club president who received funding in the most recent round, he was merely interested in the motion being presented.

“Now you might think that I have a conflict of interest here. I had not actually intended to speak. I have no vote either…I am not trying to persuade anyone on this motion. But I will speak about my rights as a student, as a paying student, to be at uni, to be able to be involved in my student union. As I have been involved in this student union in different ways,” Stephens said.

Greig also spoke against the motion and urged the Chair to consider the fact there is nothing in the Guild Constitution or Regulations that allows the SRC to remove a QUT student from the room, except in circumstances where the student is personally insulting someone, using offensive or disorderly language, or obstructing the proceedings of the meeting – and this is only after the Chair has named the individual three times.

“The Executives don’t get to swoop in and decide what the Regulations say for themselves….You cannot remove someone from a meeting just because you feel like it. And setting a precedent for that is incredibly dangerous,” she said.

The Chair ruled that Stephens was allowed to stay in the room, and stated that his decision was made due to the fact that Stephens was present in his capacity as a student and a club president, and not as a Board member.

CLUBS COMDEMN STAFF & ASK FOR SUPPORT FOR FUNDING REFORM 

A club president moved a motion to condemn the actions of Guild Professional Staff by contacting a student who made a complaint regarding club funding, and for the SRC to support the creation of more equitable and clear funding processes.

You can view the complete motion here.    

Due to the sensitive nature of the allegations, Glass has chosen to remove names of the staff involved in the complaint, as well as the names of the students who raised the motion.

Now for some background. After the second club funding round of the year, many clubs were left disappointed and confused by the decisions made by the Clubs and Societies subcommittee. The CSC is a subcommittee of the Board, Chaired by the Clubs and Societies Officer and several elected club executives.

Comments on social media spoke of a lack of communication, general frustration in receiving no feedback from their applications, and confusion as to why some clubs received no funding and others received thousands of dollars.

In response, a group of club executives banded together and sent a letter to the Guild voicing their concerns and asking for reform in clubs processes and for the funding round to be redone. The letter was addressed to the QUT Guild, and emailed to the Clubs and Societies Officer and SRC President.

Now, on to the crux of the complaint and the most significant part of the motion. Within a few hours of the letter being sent to the Guild, the General Manager telephoned the club executive who sent the email to discuss their complaint. The mover stated their discomfort in being contacted by the General Manager (and the other staff member who sat in on the phone call), and said she felt that she was being strong armed into not taking her concerns to Council. She also said that she had no idea who the General Manager was and that she was taken by surprise by the direct communication.

Glass has confirmed that the mover had actually been in contact with the General Manager earlier this year, in relation to booking a venue for a club event. While it is understandable that she may not remember the name of the person she had been in communication with, it is important to note that they had been in contact prior to this complaint.

She also stated that she felt it was not the duty of the General Manager to contact her, and she felt the issue should have been handled by the students, such as the Clubs and Societies Officer.

According to the Guild Complaints Handling Procedure, when a complaint is received, it should be reported to a Member of the QG’s Executive (usually the Secretary) or the General Manager, which is what happened in this case.

Glass understands that the General Manager was forwarded the complaint without context by the President, and General Manager, aware that the President was indisposed at EdCon, took steps to handle the complaint under the procedures set out below.

The Guild Complaints Handling Procedure states:

“Managers have a responsibility to monitor the workplace and to seek to prevent or identify and respond to conflict and to assist individuals to resolve conflict directly. Managers are encouraged to work through a local resolution framework. They should focus on the identification of the cause(s) of the issue identified or the complaint and implementing strategies to address them at the local level.”

And with regard to the investigation of a complaint:

“An appropriate person appointed by the QG Exec or GM will be responsible for conducting an investigation into any formal complaints. How the investigation is to be conducted is at the complete discretion of QG.”

In closing, she said that the SRC President, Clubs and Societies Officer, and Clubs Co-ordinator have been very receptive to the concerns originally raised and that there have been productive conversations and negotiations thus far. This has resulted in the funding round being redone.

Greig spoke against the motion. She said that it was completely inappropriate for staff to be named in a motion at Council and that there are other ways to process and handle complaints of this nature. She said that this motion could result in the named people and other staff leaving the organisation, due to public humiliation and a lack of due process.

“We are elected into these positions, we are student politicians. It’s fair game for us to take aim at each other in Council meetings. It is not fair to subject these people, who are just doing their jobs, to that.”

Clubs and Societies Officer Madison Shepherd responded to Greig and said that it was inappropriate for anyone other than herself and the Clubs Co-ordinator to access private contact information for club executives, and that the General Manager breached this privacy agreement.

“As part of annual club compliance, club executives…sign what is essentially a basic contract in which only the Clubs and Societies Co-ordinator and Officer, so myself and Kenyshia, are allowed to access private contact information.”

Glass has confirmed that the General Manager did not access the mover’s contact information through any private records, and that she already had her phone number in her emails due to being in communication with her for venue bookings earlier in the year.

From our research, Glass believes that the “contract” Shepherd is referring to is actually the Executive Contact Details Form which contains the line “I give authority to QUT Student Guild Clubs and Societies office to contact me as required”. The administration of the Guild Clubs and Societies programme is managed jointly by the Clubs and Societies Officer as well as GPS staff (under the supervision of the General Manager).

The discussion soon moved away from the actual content of the motion and devolved into an argument against the Board due to the General Manager also sitting on the Board and acting as Secretary. The actions alleged in this motion had nothing to do with the General Manager’s duties as the Secretary of the Board and were related to her duties as the manager of the organisation. However, the very fact that she is also a Board member evoked zealous discussion about the point of the Board.

Science Faculty Councillor and member of SAlt Declan Kerr said they felt that issues like these are why the SRC should get rid of the Board entirely. “Its entire existence has actually dampened and made more difficult for the student union to function. It seems to be a constant barrier to the student union actually doing what it is meant to do.”

Environment Officer Isabella Foley said that under the Board, QUT has become one of the most restricted places in the country for student activism. “Our university is an incredibly hostile place for student unionists to try to use the union for student control over student issues…[The Board] are the biggest blocker of that to date.”

Conversation and arguments about the Board continued for quite some time. Glass will be publishing several articles about the allegations made against the Board, what the Board actually does, and why it was implemented in the first place.

The Chair took a vote; 12 for, 1 against, 1 abstained. The votes were as follows:

For: Isabella Foley, Aaron Bui, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Madison Shepherd, Usama Shafiq, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, Tegan O’Connor, Veronica Palk

Against: John Longwill

Abstained: Emme Muggleton

The motion was carried.  

TREASURER WANTS ACCESS TO XERO 

Treasurer Usama Shafiq moved a motion for the Guild Board of Directors to grant the Treasurer access to the financial software, Xero, and provide adequate training to ensure that the Treasurer has a solid understanding of the systems in place.

You can view the complete motion here.    

Shafiq said that he had previously asked the Board for access to the system but was denied.

“Despite reaching out to the Board directly, I received no response. Instead, I was informed through an email from the General Manager that the Audit and Risk Committee had made a decision to not grant me access, based on the phrasing of R32.1A.”

The specific rule in the Regulations he is referring to is within the role description of the Treasurer and says, “causing the preparation and keeping of such accounting and associated reports by staff as may be required by the Guild and QUT Council”. This is due to the wording of “causing the preparation” and not “preparing”.

In addition, Shafiq said he was also denied access due to the short-term nature of the Treasurer role (12-month term). Shafiq confirmed he did not have access to the previous finance system either.

Glass understands that on 7 July the General Manager received an email requesting for the Treasurer to access Xero “to track SSAF expenditure and update the SSAF budget”. Another email was sent to the Board on 11 July asking for access to the system, not asking for any reports. Later that same day, the Audit and Risk subcommittee made a decision to deny access to the system as the Treasurer’s role is not to prepare reports, due to the accounting risks and the short-term nature of the position.

Shafiq said that without access to the Xero, he has been severely hindered in his ability to carry out his duties. “Without access to finances, I can no longer track student money, access budgets, address financial queries from stakeholders and SRC members, approve invoices, sight expenses, efficiently prepare the SSAF budget in conjunction with relevant committees, members or effectively Chair the SSAF or Finance committee.” 

The SSAF subcommittee has met at least once since the date of this Council meeting and Shafiq himself admitted that he did not have access to the previous finance system at any time during his term. Glass reached out to him to clarify how he has been able to perform his job duties or make decisions regarding expenditure since he started in his role in October 2022, without access to a finance system.

Shafiq has not responded to request for clarification at the time of publication.

He also said that, to his knowledge, previous Treasurers have had access to the accounting software.

Glass has spoken to several previous Treasurers going back to 2020, and they have confirmed that they never prepared their own financial reports for the Guild, and never accessed MicroPower (the previous accounting software) directly.  Reports have always been provided by Guild Professional Staff.

Foley spoke in support of the motion and said that she believed the financial independence of the student union was key to the ability of the union to function as an independent body.

“I think we have seen this year that the control of finances from sections of this union, corporation, whatever the hell anyone wants to call it – it’s a union. But the control of finances outside of the SRC has actually been used for political repression thus far this year, which I think is absolutely disgraceful.”

Shafiq said that he wants to be able to see where the money in the union is going and what it is being spent on.

Shepherd said it was troubling that the members of the SRC couldn’t find out how much money were in their budgets and that they are accountable for those budgets “on paper”.

The Council heard that the organisation has a recently resigned Finance Manager, so at this stage all requests for financial information have been redirected to the General Manager and are taking longer to process than they would normally.

Kerr spoke in support of the motion and said that they had seen officers, like the Environment Officer, denied access to funding.

Greig asked Shafiq if he had requested access to reports from Xero. Shafiq said that he had requested access to reports the day of Council via an email to the General Manager.

Stephens said, “If you haven’t actually requested a document or requested a report, how is that not having access?… Because so far, you haven’t actually said you have been denied the information in the system. You have just been denied access to the system, which contains confidential information.”

Glass understands that the Treasurer’s request on the day of Council asking for financial reports was for reports that only started after 31 August. Glass reached out to Shafiq to ask why he only requested reports starting from 31 August while publicly admonishing the Board for not providing reports earlier, but we have not received a response at the time of publication.

Stephens also addressed the claim made by Kerr that the Board had stymied any political persuasion of the SRC. He said that as far as he was aware, that had not occurred, and it was the former President who had actually been involved in the event in question.

Foley has since confirmed to Glass that this was regarding a former President’s opposition to Foley’s plans for ‘Eat the Rich’ t-shirts in a circular vote of the Executive. Foley believes that because the President was a member of the Board at the time, the Board should be held accountable for this.

The previous President was one of several members of the SRC who voted against this motion, with the opposition to the t-shirts being political in nature. Glass understands was done in her capacity as a member of the SRC, and not in her capacity as a member of the Board, which would have needed a majority vote of the nine members of the Board to oppose the t-shirts. Glass understands the matter was never brought before the Board.

The Chair took a vote; unanimous votes for.

For: Isabella Foley, Aaron Bui, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Madison Shepherd, Usama Shafiq, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, Tegan O’Connor, John Longwill, Emme Muggleton, Veronica Palk

The motion was carried. 

CONDEMNING THE BOARD FOR FAILURE TO REMUNERATE EXECS PROPERLY   

Clubs and Societies Officer Madison Shepherd moved a motion to condemn the Board for failing to remunerate the SRC Officers appropriately and for actively ignoring the financial needs of students in a cost-of-living crisis.

She stated that when the Executives were elected, they were told they would be paid for more than seven hours per week, which is the rate they have been paid since their term started on 1 December 2022. She said that the Queer, First Nations, Womens, Disability and Environment Officers were told they would be paid for 11 hours per week; the Clubs and Societies, Welfare, Education and Engagement Officers were told they would be paid for 20 hours per week; and the Governance team (President, Secretary and Treasurer) were told they would be paid for full time hours.

Several Executives have reported similar complaints regarding hours. It is our understanding that a previous member of the SRC who led a ticket at the 2022 election told Executives they would have increased hours prior to elections. However, 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.

She spoke about the heavy workload that she and other the other Executives have, and how difficult it is to manage their responsibilities with the amount of hours allocated to them. She also stated that, “Together, as an SRC, we are expected to sit on over 40 regularly scheduled committees.”

This statement is inaccurate and misleading. Many Executives are required to sit on Board Subcommittees within the Guild. These subcommittees include SSAF, Education, Clubs and Societies, and Finance.

It is not mandatory for Executives to sit on QUT Committees, which this statement is also referring to. Many Executives choose to do so, however the guidelines clearly state that many of these committees merely require students who have been nominated by the QUT Student Guild. This means that basically any QUT student can sit on these committees, as long as they have been nominated by the Guild.

In the past, previous SRCs have adopted the process of nominating students rather than sitting on these committees themselves.

Shepherd said that the SRC had been in contact with the Board since January to discuss increasing their remuneration, but the Remuneration Committee had denied their request for discussion.

Glass has confirmed that the Board announced they would increase Executive hours to 11 hours per week in March. When this was announced, Glass was surprised to hear collective push back from the Executives. When the issue was discussed in an internal meeting, Execs were unable to articulate why they were unhappy with the decision, other than saying they didn’t feel like they were part of the decision-making process. However, the Executives had been asking for an increase in hours for several months at this point. It is still unclear why, after asking for an increase in hours and then getting an increase, Execs were still unhappy.

One of the reasons given to Glass was that the President and Secretary had their hours reduced from 35 hours per week (plus overtime) to 28 hours per week. While this is less than some historic teams have worked, the hours are still in line with that of many previous teams.

The Exec hours were increased from the first pay cycle in July, which is two pay cycles before this Council meeting occurred. All Officer Bearers are now being paid for 11 hours per week and the President, Secretary and Treasurer are being paid for 28 hours per week.

Shepherd stressed how difficult it was for her in her role as Clubs and Societies Officer to “manage and safeguard” almost 200 student clubs, which include thousands of QUT students across the University. She said that the hours allocated towards clubs had been drastically decreased.

“Compared to two years ago, when there were to my knowledge, at least 80 paid hours allocated to the clubs department per week, across three separate individuals. There are now 47 allocated hours per week – 40 for a staff member and seven for myself.”

Glass has confirmed that this number is incorrect – previous teams have had no more than 68 hours allocated towards clubs; 40 hours per week for the Clubs Co-ordinator and 28 hours per week for the Campus Culture Officers, shared between two students.

However, the Campus Culture portfolio included both a clubs and societies role and an engagement role. Therefore, the 28 hours allocated to the Executives were intended to be put towards clubs AND engagement. The SRC still has a Clubs Co-ordinator, a Clubs and Societies Officer and an Engagement Officer.

Shepherd was emotional when she was recounting the effort she said the Executives have gone through to attempt to increase their paid hours, and she repeatedly made comments about the Board telling the SRC that they “cannot see any evidence of [their] hard work” and that they were refusing to increase their hours, even after the SRC submitted their timesheets as proof of their work.

“After sharing our timesheets with the Board, they determined that we just need to work more, log our hours, and so that in the future next years’ SRC can be paid what we are owed. To be clear, they flat out refused to pay us for the work we have done at the rate we were promised when we ran for election.”

Shepherd added, “It’s a shame to say that the Guild Board of Directors, especially the Remuneration Committee, doesn’t actually care about the rights of the students in their organisation. How can we preach fair work for fair pay when the Board doesn’t put the money where their mouth is?”

It’s important to note that the reduction of officer bearer’s hours was a decision made by the 2022 SSAF Committee (which included current President Aamna Asif) where only Guild Executives (students) hold votes. In 2022, most Executives were on between 14 and 21 hours per week. Glass has heard that the reason the Exec hours were reduced was because some said they felt overworked.

In the same meeting, that the SSAF committee slashed their officer’s hours, they unilaterally made significant increases to their own remuneration for the coming year – which they continued to benefit from until the Board’s Remuneration Committee stepped in this year.

Glass has attempted to access anonymised timesheets of all members of the SRC, in order to confirm the claims made by Shepherd. Executives claim to have logged more than their allocated hours on a regular basis. However, Glass is aware that many Execs do not clock their hours regularly and some do not clock their hours at all. This means that there is no way to track how many hours the SRC are actually working, making their case for an increase in remuneration very shaky.

Shepherd also said that after the previous President resigned in April, the Secretary and Treasurer shared her duties between the two of them. She claimed that they were clocking “well over 60 hours a week, and paid for 26 [hours]”.

Glass has confirmed that up until the recent change in hours, the current President was paid for 32 hours per week and the Treasurer was paid for 25 hours per week. On average, the Executives did not clock in excess of their hours.

As she came to the close of her argument, Shepherd became increasingly emotional. Through tears, she said, “You are led to believe that when you pay SSAF you are paying our wages. You are not…You’re paying for birthday cakes in the staff room, the staff that you don’t get to elect.”

This is a serious allegation and Glass has investigated this claim to the best of our ability. At this stage, we can find no proof that staff have used SSAF to purchase birthday cakes or other personal items. In fact, when we questioned the staff about the alleged “Cheesecake Shop birthday cakes”, we were informed that one staff member routinely brings home made cakes for office celebrations.

Glass reached out to Shepherd to ask for evidence of this claim. She has not responded to request for clarification at this stage.

Queer Officer Eli Spencer seconded the motion and said he works around 20 hours a week answering emails, doing projects, and fixing internal things that he promised he would do when he filled the casual vacancy for the role at the April Council meeting. He said that he receives around 300 emails per week.

He said he wants to make big change at QUT and wants to make uni life better for students, but finds it difficult to get work done when he is only paid for seven hours per week. He said he has two jobs just to make ends meet.

Shafiq said that it’s not a question of having enough money to pay the hours they are asking for, and that the SRC has the budget to “remunerate ourselves”.

Shepherd added, “I don’t know the money in that budget specifically, but at the current expenditure, we are projected to spend less than half of that money. And that’s at full capacity, if every single role was filled all year, we are projected to spend around 42% of that allocated budget.”

The budget that Shepherd is referring to is the entire SSAF budget for the Guild this year.

It is inaccurate and misleading to say that the Guild will only spend 42% of the SSAF budget this year. The more accurate statement would be that we HAVE spent 42% of our budget at this stage, but a large amount of the remaining funds have already been allocated.

A large portion of these funds have been allocated towards the Guild’s various initiatives budgets, which include Wellness, Diversity and Inclusion, and SRC initiatives, and the Events budget. The funds from these budgets are not intended to be spent on wages, and are intended to be spent on initiatives for the general student body. This year there have been very few initiatives or events organised by Executives, which is why there is still a substantial amount of money left in these budgets.

Previous initiatives created by Execs include free STI testing on campus (2020 to 2022), Binder Drive for trans and gender diverse students (2021), workshops like Adulting 101 (2020), and events like Battle of the Bands (2019, 2021, and 2023).

In addition, this figure also includes other unused but allocated funds like the Collectives budgets, and money already earmarked to be spent in the future (for example, print budget for Advocacy and the merchandise budget for Marketing).

Foley spoke for the motion and said that the issue is really about the ability of the student union to make decisions democratically through the SRC, and that decisions about budgets, hours and pay should be made by the Student Executives.

“Because in reality, this isn’t a job. This is a student union. The roles are actually not like ordinary jobs. It’s something Left Action has been saying for years. You don’t come to work and sit in the office. That’s not what being a student unionist is. Being a student unionist is about fighting.

“But I do think, how can you fight when you have this undemocratic body that is actually determining the abilities of the SRC to do what they want, and carry out their electoral mandate to do things.”

Please note that the Board are made up of majority elected students and is a part of the student union.

“We shouldn’t have closed doors between the peak decision-making body of the union, that is the elected representatives of the union,” Foley said.

After more discussion from Spencer and Shepherd, a student from the audience asked to speak. We will not be including their comments in this reporting, because they made a dangerous and defamatory remark about a previous member of the SRC and barely tried to hide their identity. All we will say is that the student did not like what they were hearing from the Executives, they felt that the Board seemed to be hampering the progress of the student union, and they were concerned about “where the money was going”.

Shepherd also made a claim that, “The Board is not supposed to be paid. Obviously because we don’t have access to Xero, we cannot confirm that statement… I have heard rumours, I believe many of us have.”

Glass can confirm that Board members do not get paid to be Directors. These are unpaid, volunteer positions. However, Board members can be remunerated for work outside of their roles as Directors.

Glass reached out to Shepherd to ask for evidence of this claim or where she heard this “rumour”. She has not responded to request for clarification at this stage.

The Chair took a vote; unanimous votes for.

For: Isabella Foley, Aaron Bui, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Madison Shepherd, Usama Shafiq, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, Tegan O’Connor, John Longwill, Emme Muggleton,  Veronica Palk

The motion was carried. 

CONDEMNING THE BOARD (AGAIN?). BUT WAIT! LET’S GET RID OF THE BOARD INSTEAD 

Next up, Disability Officer Harley Manley raised a motion to condemn the Board for their lack of action to support student representation and for also creating an unsafe and toxic work environment.

You can view the complete motion here.

Manley stated that he believed the Board’s actions and decisions are not aligned with the best interests of the students and the organisation, and that he felt the Board did not have enough accountability measures in place, particularly regarding Board meetings.

“They don’t actually record the Board meetings anymore, they decided they that they didn’t actually want that accountability measure, allegedly. And there actually is no accountability measure in regards to meeting minutes. So, the meeting minutes you receive, are the same ones we receive.” 

He stated that the SRC just had to trust that the Secretary’s interpretation of the meeting was accurate and that there was no way to actually verify this.

This statement is not only grossly inaccurate but also fails to mention several crucial details. Firstly, the Secretary prepares the meeting minutes and then the Chair (who is an elected student) confirms the minutes before they are published on the Guild website.

Secondly, the President of the SRC is a member of the Board and attends Board meetings. One of the duties of the President is to share what happens at these meetings with the rest of the Student Executives. Therefore, if there was something inaccurate or missing from the meeting minutes, the President would be able to pick up on this. On occasion the President will bring up something relevant at monthly internal Exec meetings, but Glass can confirm that as members of the Executive we have not received any detailed account or written communication from the President about any Board meetings this year.

In addition, it is not standard practice within the Guild to record meetings, either internal executive meetings or Board subcommittee meetings.

One of the main concerns he discussed to show that the Board was acting in an inappropriate way was the management of the Audit and Risk Board subcommittee and the Board’s decision to now run the Audit and Risk subcommittee themselves.

Manley’s motion stated that: “[The Board] decided to change their mind without any formal discussion with the SRC being on the Audit and Risk subcommittee. They initially had approved that SRC members would be allowed to be non-voting members of the subcommittee. They then changed their mind to have the Board only invite [SRC members to meetings].”

The Regulations state: 

“The Audit and Risk subcommittee will comprise;  
(a) Vice President (Treasurer) – Chair  
(b) General Manager  
(c) Finance Manager  
(d) President  
(e) Vice President (Secretary)  
(f) Member (1) of the SRC selected by the subcommittee following expressions of interest” 

Glass understands that under the Guild Constitution, all power exercised within the Guild is delegated by the Board, and the Board can continue to exercise that power even after it has been delegated (C9 – C14). Claims of the Board acting “inappropriately” in this instance are therefore unlikely to be substantiated, although the SRC is clearly aggrieved by the alleged lack of consultation regarding the Audit and Risk subcommittee.

Further, Glass understands that the Audit and Risk Subcommittee only met twice in 2022, and only twice this year.

Manley said that the SRC have made numerous attempts to communicate with the Board, and have asked to be invited to meetings but have not been able to attend any at this stage.

Shepherd made a point of information and said, “I recently had the privilege of speaking to one of the NUS Executives and they informed me that we are the only university in Australia where the Board has power over the student representatives.”

A quick Google search of other university student union Boards easily shows that this statement is incorrect. For example, the UQ Union Board (which is also made up of a mix of students and non-students) is responsible for “governing the organisation and formulating strategic objectives” and “directing the President, Secretary and Treasurer in their duties in so far as they fall within the scope of the Board’s responsibilities.”

When discussing how busy he was with his duties as Disability Officer, Manley announced that there would soon be a shuttle bus going up the hill from Z block at Kelvin Grove campus. He made a point to say that he did not have enough time to share what he was doing with students. “I would love to announce these updates. I genuinely do not have enough time and it’s not a justified cost for me to be able to provide that information, which I really do want to provide for the student body.”

Manley felt that the members of the Board did not have students at the forefront of their minds, and did not actually contribute in a significant way to the support of students.

“The current way that the Board is inside the Guild is not viable for our university union…This level of responsibility to students needs to be at the forefront of our minds. It needs to be the main thing you are focusing on. It should be where our time is actually going towards. But up to this point, it’s not been.”

In a curious shift away from the discussion, Manley said that he believed the University wants the union to succeed. “I’ve spoken to so many QUT staff, and they have our best interests in their mind because they want students to also have an amazing time at university. Because also for them, that means more money.”

Manley went on to say that there are no internal measures to hold Board members accountable, but there are provisions in our governing documents that allow the Board to punish the SRC President for speaking out against the Board.

“Weirdly enough there is a provision in our governing documents that means they can get rid of the President for bringing up concerns that they have about the inner workings and conduct of the Board. No other Board member is held accountable to the same level.”

Shepherd stated this was 22.3, “if anyone wants to look it up”. She did not state whether it could be found in the Regulations or Constitution.

Glass looked it up, so you don’t have to. Here are R22.3 and C22.3: 

“R22.3 Information contained in the register, concerning past members of the Board and SRC, shall be kept by the Guild for six years from the date that the member concerned last held office.” 

“C22.3 If the President of the Student Representative Council resigns from that role, they will be deemed to have resigned from the Board with effect from the time of their resignation from their resignation from the Student Representative Council.” 

There is nothing in either of these sections of the Constitution or Regulations that states that a President may be removed from the SRC for speaking against the Board or the internal workings of the organisation. There is also nothing that differentiates the removal process of the President from other Board members. All Board members are held to the same standards. In fact, we could not find anything in either of the governing documents that supports Manley’s statement.

Glass reached out to Manley to ask for evidence of this claim or where he found this information in the Guild governing documents. He has not responded to request for clarification at this stage.

He then said that there is meant to be a “disciplinary function that the Board can go through as individuals” but that attempts by the SRC to utilise this function have not resulted in anything. “We have attempted, without going into detail. It’s not happened. It was immediately disregarded. Even though all the complaints we raised were substantiated. And actually substantial.”

Glass has been unable to verify this claim. No members of the SRC have been willing to go on the record to speak about these alleged serious allegations and Manley has not responded to request for comment.

Kerr said that they would be abstaining from voting in this motion because they believed that the problem with the Board is not the people on it, but the structure of the student union itself. 

“Having a Board that sits above the student union is in direct contravention of this because it’s a body that exists to manage the student union, not as an activist body that stands up for student rights but as a body that is corporate, that has funds and control taken away from the elected student representatives and given to unelected people. So that body becomes less of a body that stands and fights and becomes like one that actually just manages service provision and that sort of thing.”

Manley stated that his original motion was to call for the removal of the Board, but he was told that would be not voted in. Therefore, he changed his motion to condemn the Board instead.

Before any further debate, Glass Editor Celeste Muller asked Manley whether he thought that any member of the SRC should have access to recordings, if they exist, of any Board subcommittee.

He said, “yes, I do believe that” and that “accountability is a key aspect to the student union”. In the same breath he said that there are some situations which require privacy and that there are good reasons for in-camera sessions to be used.

While trying to clarify this point, Muller was interrupted by members of SAlt who wanted to get on with amending the motion.

Muller explained that this question related directly to Manley’s claims of wanting more accountability for the Board, and that the reason the question was asked is because Glass has repeatedly requested access to a recording of the Clubs and Societies subcommittee meeting where funding decisions were made but have been denied each time.

Shepherd piped up and said she had no issue with Glass having access to this recording but that the Board was getting in the way of the Editors getting it.

Stephens said this was not true.

Glass can confirm this statement from Shepherd is incorrect. This is a decision which is up to the discretion of the Secretary of the SRC. The reason we have been given from them is that sharing the information could negatively impact the Guild’s interests.

We have still not received access. 

After a quick discussion, with SAlt taking the lead, the motion was amended. The updated motion read, “the Guild SRC supports the abolition of the Board of Directors. The action point for this is members of the SRC need to take steps to implement this abolition of the Board.”

The Chair took a vote; 13 for, none against, 2 abstained. The votes were as follows: 

For: Isabella Foley, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Madison Shepherd, Usama Shafiq, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, Tegan O’Connor, John Longwill, Emme Muggleton, Veronica Palk

Against: none 

Abstained: Aaron Bui, Gaurav Vithalani 

The motion was carried. 

After the motion passed, the room erupted into raucous applause and whoops of happiness, followed by laughter and excited talking. Meanwhile, your Glass Editors were sitting in silence, shocked by the wilful misinformation being spread, and trying to figure out what the passing of this motion actually meant for the future of the Guild.

The supporting documentation for this motion also included the following statement as an example of the Board acting in an unethical manner: “In the May 2023 Board Meeting Minutes (Section 2D, External Feedback System), they even removed the anonymity from external feedback that the GPS may want to provide. It’s understood already that anonymity is key for accurate feedback.”

This claim is misleading and does not accurately reflect the situation. The external feedback system is not for the GPS – it is for anyone outside of the organisation to make a complaint, comment or suggestion to the Guild. The Board did not make this decision, it was merely noted in the minutes. The GPS made this decision after the organisation received several aggressive complaints about the Glass team. All the complaints received were investigated and it was found that there was nothing of substance in any of the claims.

The comment that anonymity is key for accurate feedback is irrelevant, and wilfully ignores or misunderstands the situation at hand. Anonymity might be beneficial when discussing workplace feedback among peers or bosses, but this feedback system was designed for EXTRERNAL feedback. This means feedback from the general public. Anonymity in this situation allows people to leave abusive comments, does not encourage helpful discussion, and opens the door for online trolls.

The anonymous complaints were all received within a short time period, and contained suspiciously similar claims. This, in addition to similar abusive anonymous comments posted on social media around the same time, led us to believe the complaints were part of a targeted, organised attack against student media by a member of the SRC.

The Glass team is always happy to discuss concerns with students or Executives, but we will not tolerate slanderous and abusive comments. No one should.

MAINTENANCE OFFICER FOR QUEER COLLECTIVE 

Queer Collective Convenor Julian Trueman moved a motion to amend the Terms of Reference to create a sixth Executive role within the Collective as a Room Maintenance Officer. The duties of this student would include monitoring the physical space, maintaining stock levels of supplies, and keeping Collective owned property organised.

You can view the complete motion here.    

Shafiq asked if this was a job that could be given to GPS. “I think it would be a good approach to this situation…I think this is definitely something that could be passed on to GPS to ensure it’s done properly. Is that something the Collective has thought about?”, he said.

Trueman stated that they would prefer these responsibilities remain within the Collective for various reasons. These include keeping access to Collective funds in-house, and ensuring only members of the Collective are regularly accessing the space.

“We would rather [these responsibilities] stay within the Queer Collective, rather than having responsibilities for our belongings to be with a group that isn’t us. Just because when we have had that sort of arrangement in the past, things have gone missing.”

Spencer spoke in support of the motion, and agreed that having people who are not part of the queer community accessing the space is intrusive.

The Chair took a vote; unanimous votes for. The votes were as follows: 

For: Isabella Foley, Aaron Bui, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Madison Shepherd, Usama Shafiq, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, Tegan O’Connor, John Longwill, Emme Muggleton, Veronica Palk 

The motion was carried. 

WELFARE NOT WARFARE, NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION 

In her usual intensity and passion, Environment Officer Isabella Foley moved a motion for the Guild to endorse the NUS National Day of Action. Foley called for students to oppose any increases to defence spending. She said the growth of Australia’s military and weapons industry only draws the country more into the crossfire of an upcoming war. Putting a target on Australia’s back will mean workers and students will be the ones manufacturing these weapons, and also the ones that will be sent to war.

You can view this motion, as well as the following two motions by SAlt, here.

“I think it’s egregious that the government wants to spend half a trillion dollars on nuclear submarines, while people starve, while people are homeless. In the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, this is a slap in the face to workers,” Foley said.

She spoke about the seriousness of a potential war and the lasting impact and destruction it would have on the human race.

The motion was seconded by Welfare Officer John Longwill, who has also spoken in support of a similar motion at a previous Council meeting.

He spoke about the importance of appropriately funding our welfare system, and started by reading an excerpt from the recent Robo-debt Royal Commission.

“Culture is set from the top down. Politicians need to lead a change in social attitude to people receiving welfare payments. The evidence before the commission was that fraud in the welfare system was miniscule, basically non-existent. But that is not the impression that one would get from the what the ministers responsible would have said.”

Foley encouraged all students who were interested to come and speak at the protest, and said that the best way to promote a NUS event was for Officers to “throw themselves into it”.

The Chair took a vote; 10 voted for, none against, 3 abstained. The votes were as follows:

For: Isabella Foley, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, Tegan O’Connor, John Longwill, Veronica Palk

Against: none 

Abstained: Emme Muggleton, Aaron Bui, Usama Shafiq 

The motion was carried.  

BUILD PUBLIC HOUSING, NOT TANKS   

The next motion was moved by Science Faculty Councilor Declan Kerr. They called for the Guild to condemn the sale of armoured vehicles to Germany and to oppose the development of the domestic military industry.

“The heart of this motion is about opposing the military build-up that is happening around the world. It’s about this increasing drive to war. I think the more Australia is involved in building weapons and selling weapons to other countries, the more dangerous we make this world.”

They said that student unions should oppose plans by the government to restore Australia to being a top ten arms manufacturer in the world, and that it was disgraceful to hear the Premier say they want to make Queensland the “Khaki state”.

“That means being brave and standing up against an increasing drive to war, standing up against our governing Queensland, standing up against the national government, and opposing the military build-up.”

The motion was seconded by SAlt member and QUT student Georgie Dobbs. She said this deal with Germany was one in a long line of upcoming military deals that we will be seeing in Australia and across the world.

“It’s egregious that Labor has decided that this is the kind of government that they want to run when there is a cost-of-living crisis that is plaguing Australia, and they haven’t done squat about it.”

A QUT student asked if the motive of SAlt was to have the Guild in complete objection to any military spending, and how they feft about the idea of Australia being left defenceless against countries with more power than us.

A member of SAlt replied that Australia is not a threat to China but our alliance with the US and UK are the actual threat, and that the Labor government put workers and students in this position.

“It does not make us any safer if we have nuclear powered submarines floating off the coast of China. That is not a defensive measure.”

The Chair took a vote; 9 voted for, 1 against, 5 abstained. The votes were as follows:

For: Isabella Foley, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, John Longwill, Veronica Palk

Against: Aaron Bui 

Abstained: Emme Muggleton, Guarav Vithlani, Madison Shepherd, Usama Shafiq, Tegan O’Connor

The motion was carried. 

QUT GUILD CALLS ON LABOUR TO RAISE THE RATE   

The last motion of the night was moved by SAlt member and QUT student Erin Milne. The motion asked for the Guild to call for Labor to raise income support payments and for Scott Morrison to resign.

“I think there is a very simple and clear strategy to address this that would immediately improve a large portion of people’s living conditions right now. And that would be to raise all income support payments to a living wage.” 

She said that spending money on weapons is not actually helping people, and that the most recent increase to Centrelink payments was “totally unacceptable”.

“You should not ever have to suffer or languish in poverty just because you need income support. That’s ridiculous. This is something that impacts students across the country, and I think it’s really important that this union takes a stand on this and calls for the government to do something.”

The motion was seconded by Science Faculty Councillor Veronica Palk. They said that the state of welfare in Australia is abysmal and was set up as a punitive system.

“We live in a country that has millions and millions of dollars to spare on massive amounts of weapons spending, massive tax cuts for the rich… But people are still living below the poverty line despite the abundance of wealth in our society.”

Shepherd commented about how medical practitioners are leaving the field because they cannot afford to run their practices, and how difficult access to affordable medical care is for people on income support payments.

Multiple students spoke in support of the motion, and about their own experiences struggling with finances and navigating the welfare system. 

As often happens with SAlt motions, Kerr called for students who support Labor to speak up and comment on how they felt about this motion and if they oppose their party not having already raised the rate to a liveable level. No Labor supporters took up this challenge.

The Chair took a vote; 14 voted for, none against, 1 abstained. The votes were as follows:

For: Isabella Foley, Harley Manely, Moin Rahman, Eli Spencer, Deepika Sharma, Declan Kerr, Zara Vaz, Zac Hyde, Tegan O’Connor, John Longwill, Emme Muggleton, Guarav Vithlani, Madison Shepherd, Aaron Bui, Veronica Palk

Against: none 

Abstained: Usama Shafiq 

The motion was carried. 

GENERAL BUSINESS 

The Chair opened the floor for general business.  

A student asked a question via Zoom, directed to Clubs and Societies Officer Madison Shepherd. He said, “Whilst taking into account what has been said tonight regarding workload, I have been emailing to try and obtain a document from you way back in April and after some unproductive backwards and forwards through to July, it appears you have decided to abandon the request. Can you speak to why you abandoned a simple request for information?”

Shepherd said, “I believe this is for a club constitution…This is about, I believe, a complaint that was handled last year by the previous SRC. The procedure for obtaining the document requested is to actually speak to the [club] executive. To my knowledge, there is no reason for us to actually provide those documents. The way you access them is through the club executive. To my knowledge, the matter has been closed. But I am more than happy to make contact with you and figure something out.”

The student clarified that it was regarding current concerns, and that they would contact the Clubs and Societies Officer again.

Before the meeting closed, Pendergast stated that according to R14.1 the date, time and location of the next meeting had to be announced at the closured of the Council meeting.

Secretary Deepika Sharma said that she was in the process of working out when the most members of the SRC were available to try and arrange the best meeting time, and would inform the SRC as soon as the next meeting was arranged.

And that’s it for the night!

The Chair closed the meeting at 8:48pm.

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.

Articles: 50

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