On the 15th of December, the outgoing 2023 UQU executive team uploaded a press release onto the UQU website. It read: ‘Notice of Successful Referendum: Proposal to Incorporate the University of Queensland Union’. Well, it seems at least one referendum passed in 2023.
Satire aside, the media release explains the reason for incorporating, revealing how for decades elected students were entering contracts in their personal name at their own personal risk whilst acting on behalf of the the UQ Union.
Joshua Marsh, the Treasurer of UQ Union would comment: “The decision for the Union to incorporate was both necessary and long overdue. As one of the only unincorporated associations left in Australia of our scale, the new company limited by guarantee model will serve the Union and its student members far better into the future.”
The media release also reveals that countless attempts to incorporate the UQ Union dating back to 1967 and that for the last thirty years, John Payne, and his firm Hall Payne Lawyers has advised the union on the matter which only finally gained traction this year.
So now its official: the UQ students have collectively voted to incorporate the University of Queensland Union after 111 years. But let’s rewind for a moment and recap on the events that finally got here.
On the 13th of September, at the 8th Ordinary Council Meeting, a special resolution called for a Referendum to UQ students to vote yes or no on the following question:
“That the unincorporated association, the University of Queensland Union, incorporate using its current structures.”
The general pitch for voting was to ensure:
- become a continuing legal entity which does not alter as its office bearers alter;
- benefit from greater, more transparent, oversight;
- benefit from easier access to insurance for both it and its affiliated organisations (clubs and societies);
- own property in its own name; and
- greater protect its officers and student members from liability.
Those of you who engaged in the 2023 election this year may recall an additional voting form to respond to this very question and this pitch. The response was an overwhelming yes with almost 95% voting for incorporating, and a little less than 5% voting no. We didn’t think it was necessary to ask around why roughly 1 in 20 students voted no on this referendum. Maybe it was because they thought ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it?’, maybe some students got confused and thought they were voting on a different referendum.
If you did vote no, feel free to comment below to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear why.
So where to from here and what to expect in 2024?
The Notice of the Successful Referendum is is only the beginning. As we roll into 2024 the duty of incorporation falls on the incoming 113th UQU President Angus McRae and his executive team. At Semper Floreat we wish him and his team all the best in 2024, and look forward to working with them in the new year.
As for some of the outgoing 2023 executives for the UQ Union and Association of Postgraduate Students (APS) that you may know and love have moved on, others have just moved around. Co-President of APS, Saumya Jain very recently graduated and earned her freedom from student representation. We thank her for her energy and engaging with postgraduate students at postgraduate events. Jeryn Chang, our other Co-President at APS this year moves on to becoming a VP of Student Rights at the UQ Union. We hope to see her continue with her compassionate approach to student advocacy in her new role.
As our outgoing UQ Union President Richard Lee, he will returns in 2024 as a co-President at APS and retains his position as a postgraduate representative on the University Senate. Joining him on senate as the undergraduate student representative is the aforementioned outgoing UQ Union Treasurer Joshua Marsh. Sadly this also means our UQ President from 2021, Emily Scott will no longer continue on the University Senate in 2024. Nevertheless we thank her years of service to our community as the voice of UQ students but we are sure she will continue to do great things in the future.