You might have noticed that there are a lot of terms, acronyms and names thrown around in discussions about the Guild. There are many moving parts and unless you are in the organisation, it can be difficult to decipher. We know it can be hard to keep up, so this explainer should help you understand who is who, and what is what in your student union.
There are four main parts of the Guild you need to understand to be Guild-literate:
- The Student Representative Council (SRC) (including the Media Team)
- The Guild Professional Services
- The Board
- The Collectives
First of all, what is the Guild?
The QUT Student Guild is a student union. Student unions are independent from the university, and take on the role of advocating for student rights, welfare, quality of education and campus life.
Student unions in Australia can be traced back to the 19th century and were primarily focused on expanding the social opportunities of their members. In the 1930s, Australian Labor party clubs started to become popular on campuses and members used these platforms to get involved in student associations. In the middle of the 20th century, student unionism had become radicalised and lead to significant political movements like opposition to the Vietnam War and campaigns against issues like censorship and women’s rights.
Student unionism at QUT has a long history; the first union was established in 1966 when the University was called the Queensland Institute of Technology or QIT. The union was founded on the principles of ensuring student interests are fostered and student opinions are advanced, and to expand and co-ordinate student activities.
The QUT Student Guild is a not-for-profit organisation that oversees student focused initiatives, provides support to students through the Advocacy team, and funds many clubs and societies on campus. It has also been the publisher of student media, like Glass, since 1966!
The Student Representative Council
SRC stands for ‘Student Representative Council’. It’s a team of students who have been elected to represent the student body within the Guild. The only requirement you must meet to run for an SRC position at election time, or when filling a vacancy throughout the year if a position becomes available, is to be enrolled as a QUT student. As per the Guild Constitution (C15.4), the SRC must also, as a minimum, represent the following communities from within the student body:
- Queer students,
- Women students,
- First Nations students,
- Students with disabilities, including serious ill health and mental health issues; and
- International students.
Within the SRC are the Executive Committee members or ‘Execs’. These positions include the President, Secretary, Treasurer, Officers, and Media Team. Executive Committee members are paid for a set number of hours each fortnight, and their primary job is to advocate for student rights, devise and implement student-focused initiatives, and focus on policy to improve student life.
SRC campaign on election mandates and political positions. This doesn’t mean you have to be a member of a political party to get involved in student politics, but you do need to have a passion for student advocacy. Some students campaign on specific promises like providing free breakfast during exam block or implementing on campus tax support. Others campaign on political positions like declaring a climate emergency or lobbying for legislative change at a Federal or State level.
“As a student executive and Council member, I will be the first to admit it’s a weird workspace. You are constantly going into very different work environments that each present a challenge of their own. I could start my morning receiving donations for the food bank, then go on to a QUT committee meeting, then end with a heated Council meeting at night.
But I usually have a mix of committee and working party meetings throughout my week. Then I also have to balance project work and council preparation alongside that. But it’s hard not to keep an interest in it, because you have the capacity to provide help to so many students.” – John Longwill, Welfare Officer.
Councillors make up the remaining voting members of the SRC, and are a link between faculty and the Guild. These positions are not paid, but members are able to vote on motions in Council.
As per the Guild Constitution, the Student Representative Council must meet at least once per month during teaching periods (C15.5). As per the Guild Regulations, the Secretary (or Vice President) must provide at least seven days’ notice to all members of the SRC and the student body via reasonably accessible publication (R16.4). Any student can attend council, ask questions and raise motions.
The Executive Committee usually also meets once a month also, but this is an internal meeting. The main difference between SRC or Council meetings and an Executive meeting is that the SRC meetings are public, whereas the Executive meetings are not. Exec meetings do not include Councillors, and tend to be less political and more about Execs sharing what they have been working on, discussing potential initiatives, or addressing internal concerns.
The Media Team
Glass is the current Media Team, and its Editors are non-voting members of the SRC. As per the Media Team Regulations (R7.7), we are responsible for:
- overseeing the production of the Guild magazine;
- managing and being responsible for the content published within the Guild magazine, printed, digital or otherwise;
- liaising with relevant members of Executive;
- acting in accordance with the Constitution and Regulations;
- reporting on the actions, campaigns and performance of elected representatives so that the members are well informed; and
- the production of publications that promote the Guild and increase the readership of the Guild media.
As stated by our name, Glass stands for transparency. We are committed to accurate and fair Guild reporting, publishing student voices, and showcasing student opinion.
As a team, we try our best to report impartially and honestly about the performance of the Guild and the elected officers in serving the needs of its members (students – you!). We also provide coverage of the annual Guild election in October, and where possible, we try to educate students about student unionism at QUT as much as we can.
While the Guild Media Team’s independence is entrenched in the Media Team Regulations (R4), we still form part of the organisation and are paid with SSAF, and thus governed by the Board and the Guild’s governing documents. We provide updates about our work to the Executive and Student Representative Council where required, but we do not take instructions from them about our reporting or other activities.
The Guild Professional Services
GPS stands for ‘Guild Professional Services’. This is a team of mostly full-time professional staff who help run the Guild all year round, year after year. The SRC relies on GPS for a lot of the day-to-day running of the organisation, advice about getting initiatives off the ground, and administrative assistance. Unlike SRC members, GPS have the benefit of longevity, and they often come to the Guild with extensive experience in their fields. Along with advice and experience, they provide the Guild with continuity by keeping projects going and ensuring the business side of the Guild runs smoothly.
For example, services like the Foodbank and Little Emergencies were initiatives started by previous Executives which are now mostly managed by GPS. This allows the incoming SRC to focus on creating new initiatives and working on the projects they are passionate about, instead of spending their time running the existing programs.
“The Guild Professional Staff work to support the Student Representative Council by doing our best to bring their ideas to life, whether that be farm animals on campus during exams, or collaborating with QUT for Respect Week. We also help deliver and operate SSAF-funded initiatives like the Food Bank and Share the Dignity, meaning if you’ve ever come down to C Block Level 2, it is most likely one of us who greeted you at the door!” – Emily Warbrook, Marketing and Engagement Manager.
One of the Guild’s longest running and most successful initiatives, Academic Advocacy, is run by Guild Professional Staff. The Academic Advocacy team describes themselves as:
“…a professional service of QUT Guild committed to supporting and representing the interests and needs of students in academic matters, navigating university policies and advocating for better quality of education.”
Accessing the Guild’s Academic Advocacy service is free to all students. They can assist you with any of the following issues: Academic and Student Misconduct, Assessment Adjustments for Health Conditions, Assignment and Exam Rights, Complaints Against The University, Course Enrolment, Exclusion and Show Cause, Grade Review, Leave of Absence, Low Completion Rate – FEE-HELP, Probationary Enrolment, Return to Study After Exclusion, Special Circumstances, Timetabling.
The Board of Directors
The Board is a team of individuals who have been elected or appointed to govern the business and operations of the Guild. As per the Guild Constitution (C9.2), membership of the board is comprised of six elected students (including the President & former President), the Guild General Manager, and two independent board members (one alumnus of the university, and one business, community or educational representative) who are appointed by the Board.
The Board was implemented at the end of 2021. The Directors oversee the Guild and are responsible for the overall direction and strategy. It’s important to note that there has recently been active discussion within the SRC around the need for a board, whether a different system should be considered or if the board should exist at all. Expect more reporting about this soon from Glass.
Board members are elected on two-year rotating terms, ostensibly to provide more stability within the organisation as Executives are elected on 12-month terms only. Board members are volunteers and do not get paid, but can be paid for work that falls outside of their roles as Directors.
Each board member undertakes AICD training, which is professional development specifically designed for company directors. Board members may be renumerated at minimum wage for their time spent away from their jobs to complete this training. This training takes approximately one week for each Board member to complete. It only needs to be completed once in their term.
The Guild currently funds and supports four Collectives. These Collectives provide social support on campuses and run campaigns and initiatives to advocate for specific issues faced by marginalised students. If you would like to get involved behind the scenes, there are a number of volunteer leadership positions available each year within these groups.
The QUT Guild Queer Collective is an autonomous, free to join group, by and for LGBTQIA+ people at QUT. The Collective provides a valuable support network for queer students, with both online and in person spaces available to seek advice, form friendships and hang out with people that have similar lived experiences to you.
“We hold many exciting events throughout the year, often held in our on campus Queer Rooms. In the past this has included trivia nights, craft days, movie nights and game nights, allowing LGBTQIA+ students to meet others who share their experiences. The Queer Collective also regularly represents our queer student cohort at many external events, both on campus and within the community. These events include protests, awareness events and Brisbane Pride.”
Students can get in touch with the Collective via email at email@example.com, or find them in the on-campus spaces, C Block Level 2 at Kelvin Grove, and X Block Level 2 at Gardens Point.
The recently re-launched QUT Guild Women’s Collective exists to advocate for women and non-binary students on campus. The goal of the Collective is to work to make QUT a safe place, facilitate feminist activism, run campaigns, and host fun events. In addition, the Collective aims to create a safe space for members to “grow, develop and inspire.”
You can get in touch with the Collective via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can access the Womens Rooms spaces at X Block Level 2 at Gardens Point and C Block Level 2 at Kelvin Grove.
The Disability Collective is a group that supports and advocates students with disability, chronic illness, mental health conditions and/or neurodivergence at QUT. It exists with the purpose to uplift disabled voices at QUT and provide a safe space for disabled students to interact and share experiences.
“Being a disabled student can often feel isolating, feeling as if you’re the only one. But that is simply not the case. Being a member of the Disability Collective, you’ll have a large support group of students with similar experiences and an Executive who will fearlessly advocate on your behalf if you ever need it. We also host many events, both online and in person, giving you a chance to connect with fellow disabled students and forget about the stress of your studies, even if it’s just for a little bit.”
You can follow the Collective on Facebook and Instagram (@disabilitycollectivequt) and join their private Facebook group.
QUT Environment Collective is a Guild associated student-based volunteer group that focuses on campus sustainability through engagement and education. They promote innovation and engage with a wide range of community members to support on-campus growth and development.
The Collective runs regular Eco Hubs at both Kelvin Grove and Gardens Point campuses where they sell affordable, fresh, local produce and second-hand clothes donated by students. They also organise environmental activism on campus through various events, such as clean-up days and zero-waste workshops.
Follow the Collective on socials @qutenvironmentcollective to follow along and join in on their events!
We encourage all students to engage in student politics and to familiarise themselves with the organisation. After all, it’s your student money. If you would like to find out more about the internal mechanisms of the Guild or you are interested in running in the next election, you can read the governing documents below: