As voting takes place this week for the 2022 QUT Student Guild Elections, students have the opportunity to vote for their representatives in 2023, with one caveat: only two positions out of 24 are contested.
Only two tickets and a handful of independents nominated for positions within the Guild, with four positions set to be contested by a student vote.
However, a late withdrawal from Jane Hoang (Independent), the incumbent International Students Officer, and the withdrawal of the Left Action nominees for President and CIESJ Councilors have left only President and Engagement Officer up for contention.
Left Action‘s Presidential nominee, Sel Dowd, said the ticket found the requirements for running the campaign to be ‘arduous’ and ‘undemocratic’.
‘We thought the requirements for running a campaign – the briefings and also severe restrictions on who can campaign – were too arduous to compete in what would be an extremely limited election campaign,’ Dowd said.
‘We hope that next year a loosening of campaigning regulations will allow for fuller democratic participation which Left Action would be happy to participate in.’
Left Action did, however, win Environment Officer, which was uncontested.
‘We’re looking forward to using it to revitalise some campus activism,’ Dowd said.
This comes after several notable inconsistencies in election advertising in Guild channels earlier this semester, including incorrect days and inconsistent closing times across Guild social media, and the Guild’s website.
Additionally, no part of the Guild website allowed students to nominate for positions on the board in the same way as other positions, and the nominations form itself incorrectly contained a requirement for a nominator and a seconder, which was removed in late 2021.
Outgoing Student Guild President Oscar Davison (Reach) believes that more participation in Guild elections would be ideal for the health of the union.
‘It’s the dream to have a really hotly contested election,’ Davison said.
‘The Student Representative Council is the student voice, and you want students to exercise their voice and power through the student elections – the more the better.’
Davison also noted a significant number of current executives – including himself – are graduating and therefore not re-contesting their positions.
Presidential candidate for the progressive ticket Grow, Zoe Davidson, is currently serving as the Clubs and Societies officer in the 2022 Student Guild.
If elected, Davidson hopes to ‘build community back’ into QUT.
‘More integration and celebration of student-run clubs at QUT, both online and on-campus,’ Davidson said of how community could be built into the university.
‘I have seen just how important these clubs are to QUT students’ personal and professional growth, and how their executives’ and club’s wellbeing is vital to bringing student life back to campus post COVID-19.’
‘For far too long, students have had their experiences at QUT disrupted and challenged by poor teaching, learning, and culture.’
‘As the Presidential candidate, I find it my duty to fiercely advocate for better community to be formed within QUT.’
‘Beyond ensuring that the Guild is in good hands, our priorities for 2023 include introducing a one-off no-questions-asked, 7-day extension.’
‘We know exactly how important the introduction of the 48-hour extension policy has been for students’ mental and physical wellbeing.’
‘In light of this, we are committed to working towards advocating for this 7-day extension for students to use during their studies – for those times when your situation can’t be considered for a longer extension, like work commitments.’
Grow have also signaled their intention to offer food and microwaves at campus bars, and to re-evaluate spaces and equipment used by clubs.
Despite some 30,000 students participating in the 170 Guild affiliated clubs and societies, student involvement in Guild elections is as low as it has ever been.
‘It’s been really hard to engage students face-to-face, especially when this election is not as politically-aligned like UQ,’ Davidson said.
‘In times like this though, I would like to see the Guild hold more neutral stalls during this week, to not necessarily give a platform to those nominees, but more so, increase awareness of students free vote each year.’
Also running for President is Independent candidate Tu‐Ai Le, who has been campaigning mainly in person and feels that his position at least is highly contested.
‘This is my first semester here as a student, and my competitor is someone who has deep experience with working with the Guild and is well known,’ Le said.
‘I feel that QUT is in a position of great authority and there are many opportunities out there (partnerships and sponsorships) that are an arm’s length away but there isn’t a definitive path for businesses to collaborate with QUT and the clubs.’
Le hopes as President to better onboard students in clubs, improve communication between clubs and the Guild, and to promote collaboration between student organisations and businesses and non-profits.
But Le also acknowledges that even voting itself is difficult for students.
‘I had friends who wanted to participate but found it difficult to because of the sheer hoops you had to go through to cast a simple vote,’ Le said.
Former QUT Student Guild President and current student representative on the Guild board, Olivia Brumm, has retained her position without contest.
‘It’s obviously really disappointing that there isn’t more engagement in the elections,’ Brumm said.
‘The longevity of the Guild depends on people being actively involved, and having robust democracy where elections have many views, candidates, people, and parties represented leads to a better outcome.’
‘Not having a streamlined way to nominate, and general issues and confusion turns small requirements like attending nominations briefings into stumbling blocks blocking participation.’
When asked why Brumm was returning for a fifth term with the Guild, she said she was worried about the direction of the organisation.
‘I am concerned about attrition rates, both in the Guild generally and in the executives, and I am worried that the institutional knowledge of processes and procedures and our governing documents is not being retained,’ Brumm said.
Student executives are limited to three terms, but representatives are unsure whether this applies to board positions too.
Engagement Officer is also being contested, by Shayla Hiu (Independent) and Melina Skidmore (Grow).
Check out the original list of successful nominees, here.
To vote in this week’s election, visit the Guild website.