University of Queensland: Restore democracy in UQ Union elections.
The 'FRESH' UQ Union have abused fair process and subverted elections meant to allow students a voice. The body that is supposed to represent students has breached this trust, and trashed the reputation of UQ and its students. Would a local, state or federal government be allowed to steal an election?
That's just what has been happening at the University of Queensland over recent months. And the group of Young Liberals behind it say they have done nothing wrong.
The University of Queensland Union represents over 30,000 students. It has an operating budget of over $15 million and is supposed to be the voice for students.
That voice has now been taken away.
The UQ Union is run by "Fresh" - a group of Young Liberal members and supporters who've been in charge for the past six years and have never been too serious about student representation.
In August this year, Fresh made secret changes to the election rules through the Union's council. Opposition groups on the council were not given notice of the changes, nor were they given a copy of the new rules. It turns out those rules would have a big impact on how elections for the union would be held.
Fresh used the new rules to call a snap election – opposition groups were given little-to-no notice or time to prepare and were kept in the dark about what the new rules governing the snap election were.
Three opposition groups from the previous year were effectively banned from running, leaving only Fresh, and because of Fresh’s corrupt rules changes, family and friends of Fresh were able to register to fraudulently run in the elections under the banner of “Pulse,” the most successful opposition ticket from the previous year.
Opposition groups have been silenced and the result is a sham - an election for show in which “Fresh” is running against a group of their friends and family, pretending to be the real opposition.
This is not democracy – and this is why opposition groups have chosen not to participate in the process.
It is time for the University to step in and take action!
The University has obligations under legislation to ensure fair, transparent and democratic elections. To date, they have responded with band-aid solutions - asking the Union to publish financial records and union rules.
None of this does anything to stop corrupt rules being made and democracy being trashed.
By not stepping in, the university is shirking its obligations to ensure democracy in student elections.
It's now getting out of hand. It is time for UQ leadership to stand up and show some leadership.
UQ Union has a long and proud history spanning over a century. The University needs to get a clear message:
"Restore democracy now!"
- Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic), University of Queensland
Professor Michael McManus
- Vice Chancellor of the University of Queensland
Professor Peter Hoj
Dear Prof. Hoj,
I am appalled at the lack of democracy and transparency in the 2012 UQ Union elections.
For years, the “Fresh” administration has been subverting the rules and making it increasingly hard for students to participate in their student union. This year, they have gone too far.
As you know, there are serious allegations of corruption and maladministration. Fresh members have acted to secretly and deceptively alter the election rules. This meant that there was little-to-no notice given for the election.
Three opposition groups from the previous year were banned from running, leaving only Fresh, and because of Fresh’s corrupt rules changes, family and friends of Fresh were able to register to fraudulently run in the elections under the banner of “Pulse,” the most successful opposition ticket from the previous year.
The opposition groups in this election have been silenced and the result is a sham – an election for show. This is not democracy. And this is why opposition groups have chosen to withdraw from the process entirely.
For these reasons, we urge you to take action.
The Federal Government’s “National Student Representation Protocols” which you are bound by state:
“A Higher Education Provider must provide enrolled students with the opportunity to participate in a process to democratically elect student representatives.”
They also state:
“In meeting this obligation, a HEP is to meet the necessary and reasonable costs of conducting valid and transparent polls.”
The process undertaken by Fresh is not democratic. It is not valid or transparent. By failing to act, I believe you are failing in your obligations.
There is no process within the Union regulations or constitution that in any way ensure a fair and accountable election, or union process, and Fresh have taken full advantage of this.
Students love, value and cherish their university community. A big part of this is the UQ Union.
Please, Professor Hoj, take action. Restore democracy. The Union elections are the biggest say which students have to shape and influence their university community. Please ensure students get a fair say in this process!
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