The University of Queensland Union is the largest student representative body in Australia and the Southern Hemisphere, representing some fifty thousand students. Each year, twenty-three student representatives are elected to the UQ Union Council to help govern the affairs of the student union.
In October 2019, I was lucky enough to be elected to sit on the UQU Council during its 2020 term. It was kind of a fluke – my friend Tinks needed someone to take over Rocket as he was graduating and he came to me for help. I ran with the ticket, and despite campaigning for a grand total of forty-five minutes and not posting online about the election even once, we got up! I would like to think this was the product of my stable genius, but we were also extremely lucky in that we were drawn to appear at the top of the ballot paper, meaning we captured a substantial majority of the disengaged, apathetic draw-penis-on-ballot-paper crowd who vote only to obtain vouchers. I’m not complaining, though, alhamdūillah.
A little background to the election: Rocket has historically existed as the UQU Council’s independent, non-aligned ticket, its raison d’être simple – to get a seat on the table to keep the bastards and hacks in the major student politics factions honest. I was only too happy to get involved, since blowing up the hacks is a key tenet of Pavlou-Lyonist Thought. This is necessary for a number of various reasons. Both Empower and REAL are unfortunately extremely boring and out of touch with students and don’t know how to lean in at all. They are focus group tested, bland and so apolitical that it is at times profoundly difficult to tell the difference between them (read up on cartel party theory mate). In fact, from 2017-2019 a cursed ALP right – LNP mod coalition ruled the union (I supported it at the time because this was a cringe neoliberal cursed phase of my life).
Hacks of both major parties generally exist in an incestuous student politics cesspit – an interconnected fluid chart of the sexual relations and sexual assaults committed between them is revealing – and generally simply want to take control of the student union to a) gain another notch on their resumes before running for preselection in safe seat in 15 years or b) to transform the union offices into their personal sex dungeons. It is a pretty awesome and rational status quo. It’s epic because hacks wonder why students hate them so much and wonder why election turnout is at like 5 per cent, yet do not have the ability to engage in even a crumb of self reflection. Self reflection could possibly allow them to see that no one cares about student unionism when it is hollowed out by psychotic Patrick Bateman-esque social climbers more concerned about maintaining their 2032 Maiwar preselection chances than actually fighting for the democratic rights of students against a vicious university administration. Who knows mate. Anyway, for these hacks, basically the overriding goal of student unionism is to deliver shit toga parties to increase the rates of sexual assault on campus. Accordingly, Pavlou-Lyonist Thought holds that the students must rise up in a hurricane against these hacks, reactionaries, landlords and feudalists, sweeping aside the parasites in one swift blow so as to birth a new era of justice and freedom. This is why I aim to transform UQ Union Council meetings in 2020 into Maoist struggle sessions that ideally at least moderately annoy Landy and Ethan (operator blokes currently in charge of union).
UQ Union Council February Report
In the interests of transparency, I will be trying to keep a short blog explaining my votes and any motions moved by myself on council. The following is an account of the February Council meeting, which I regard as a great success given I made Landy and Ethan raise their voices at least three or four times.
Firstly, I lent critical support to Landy, seconding his motion that all SSAF money be directed to the student union. It is true that if this actually eventuated under the current status quo, the money would likely be used simply to renovate the union sex dungeons for hacks. However, if there is anything I hate more than the hacks, it is the university administration – ideally these corporate vampires and leeches should obtain absolutely none of our SSAF contributions. I helped Landy learn how to Lean In by encouraging him to reword the original motion, which called for the union to receive just 30% of SSAF funds. After I taught Landy the very basics of Lean In theory, the motion called for the union to receive 100% of SSAF funds. I am proud that Landy is learning how to be slightly better. The motion passed almost unanimously, with only Socialist Alternative voting against it. Priya argued that SSAF should not exist, which is true, but perhaps not the most productive argument given the limited powers of the UQ Union Council. Unfortunately, we are not in charge of federal education policy.
Moving on from this, I voted against a motion to remove Barclay McGain from Council. This vote surprised some people, so I will try to explain it in detail. Like everyone else, I thought Barclay’s now infamous Schoolies video stupid and racist. However, I reasoned that democratically elected council members should only be removed by students at a democratic election. In general, I am uncomfortable about giving the Union (in other words, hacks) the power to remove individual members from Council. This could conceivably allow a faction with a majority on the body to simply purge opposition members and obtain a super-majority to rubber stamp their own policies. This would be disastrous for the Union.
Following on from this, I started having second thoughts about my original vote. Barclay started being annoying on the Council, yelling about the Ramsay Centre and school strikes. He was getting a bit too confident and learning how to speak up for himself, which was actually just really irritating. Plus, Socialist Alternative yelled “Shame!” at me for voting against Barclay’s removal, and I didn’t want to be cancelled myself. So I introduced a new motion: “Barclay is double cancelled for lending critical support to Ramsay, and the Union should recognize that Drew has changed his mind about Barclay.” I mainly did this because I thought that the look on Barclay’s face would be funny when I read it out, and it was, so I stand by my decision. I am pretty sure the Council voted against it, but me and Rowan laughed a lot about it, so it was arguably worth it.
Following on from this, I moved a number of sincere motions. I moved that the UQU express its condolences to the family and friends of Wilson Gavin in the wake of his tragic death. This passed unanimously, though the five Socialist Alternative members present shamefully abstained on the motion. It is disappointing that they could not put aside their petty student politics vendettas even in the wake of a student’s tragic suicide.
I then moved a motion that the UQU express its opinion that UQ Life exists as an attempt by the university administration to hollow out the UQ Union and as such should be defunded and eliminated. It is true that the university administration controlled UQ Life represents a really toxic presence on our campus, trying to take over the functions typically delegated to the student union so as to destroy student democratic control over university life. This motion passed almost unanimously.
Following on from this, I managed to narrowly pass two motions I cared deeply for. I moved that the UQU adopt as its official position the following statement: “Given the brutality of Hong Kong’s CCP backed police, the UQU recognizes that the One Country, Two Systems model has failed, and representing the UQ student body, the UQU stands in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong in their struggle for freedom from the imperialists in Beijing, by any means necessary.” To see this quite radical statement of support for the people of Hong Kong pass with a large majority was very heartening.
I then moved that the UQU rename the UQU Conference Centre the Liu Xiaobo Conference Center in recognition of Liu Xiaobo’s decades of peaceful human rights activism in China for which he was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. This one was more controversial. Sadly, the cringe hacks on the REAL ticket either voted against the motion or abstained so as not to lose the WeChat vote this October. Georgina Quayle argued it was “too political,” which was just so cringe (God forbid we be political and recognize people fighting a dictatorship that executes dissidents for their organs). Perhaps most disappointingly, former Transparency 4 UQ leader Maddy Taylor, formerly committed to the fight against the tyrannical CCP, abstained on the motion. I do not know why. Ultimately, the motion passed only with the support of all five Socialist Alternative members, to whom I am extremely grateful. From here, I will work with Ethan and Landy to obtain the funds necessary to unveil the new name plaque on the building. It is extremely exciting that the UQU will be recognizing such a brave Chinese resistance figure like Liu Xiaobo in this way – it sends a loud and clear signal that the UQU stands on the side of democracy and human rights in the fight against the Chinese government, which is based.
Following these motions, I introduced a number of controversial ones designed to annoy the LNP members of Council. I moved that the UQU condemn Generation Liberty for seeking to propagate a hateful Ayn Rand fascist ideology that has directly caused the deaths of hundreds of millions of people through poverty, slavery and hunger in the Global South. To my surprise, the motion passed with flying colours, making the LNP types on Council shid and piss themselves, which was funny and entertaining for me personally. Sadly for them, we were just getting started, though. I then moved that the UQU condemn Darcy Creighton for attempting to create a new LNP Club on the day of Wilson Gavin’s funeral. There was general outrage from the LNP benches and a lot of yelling, before the motion was ultimately tabled in advance of the next UQU Council meeting. I look forward to the meeting in March!
I saved my two most annoying and extreme motions for last. To the outrage of Ethan and Landy, I moved that the UQU ban all Liberal-National, Liberal, Liberty or any clubs or societies associated with members of the LNP from being affiliated by the C&S committee. I did this not because I am animated by a partisan hatred for the LNP (though I am), but because in the wake of Wilson’s tragedy it seemed like a recipe for disaster to allow more LNP infighting on campus. Ideally, we have to ensure what happened to Wilson never happens again to any other student, and if that means no more LNP clubs on campus for the time being, that is a price we should be prepared to pay as a student union. As I expected, the motion was voted down by a huge margin and I was condemned as a extremist, but it was funny annoying Ethan and Landy, and I still maintain that there should be no LNP club on campus considering the fact that the most recent UQ LNP Club President committed suicide after vicious factional warfare.
For my last and perhaps most annoying motion, I moved that the UQU provide an accurate and true financial statement of all donations received by the 2019 REAL student election campaign for independent assessment; That the financial statement must include; 2.1 Donating party (including ABN where relevant); 2.2 Date of donation recieved; and 2.3 Amount donated; and 3. That the UQU Treasurer will table this statement at the next Union Council meeting for viewing by members of the UQU. Ethan and Landy got very annoyed and defensive, which is the behavior you would expect of people with nothing crook to hide. The UQU Council Chair Mitchell Ablett-Nelson ruled the motion inadmissable after Ethan and Landy pissed and shidded a bit, which was disappointing. But I know we will be back!
Ultimately, it was a very successful first UQU Council meeting. We managed to pass a number of motions, including the motions regarding Hong Kong and Liu Xiaobo that I was particularly passionate about. We also managed to make the hacks at least moderately annoyed and angry, which always represents a tremendous success in my books. Towards the end, we were actually subjecting Ethan and Landy to a kind of Maoist struggle session, which is funny for various reasons. I’m really looking forward to more of this in the future, and just in general crashing the plane with no survivors.