Donherra Walmsley: Open letter to UQ

We are writing as leaders of student unions and representative organisations from around Australia.

We have watched as the UQ Union has abused due process and the principles of free and fair elections to maintain control by the incumbents.

We have watched as student unions are again in the media not for doing the right thing, but for being the forum for the grubbiest forms of politics. We have learned that you have recently refused to hold a referendum requisitioned by thousands of students, under a binding process in your own constitution, apparently to maintain your control of this union.

This behaviour is completely unethical. It is an affront to the purpose of student representation, and it tarnishes all those student organisations that do seek to advocate for students and attempt to make life at their universities more student focused.

Your actions, like those of several comparable student organisations in the past, weaken the voice of students and lessen students legitimacy to speak as stakeholders in the tertiary education sector.

Because of your actions, and the disrepute they bring to all students who seek to have a voice through student organisations, we believe there is one option left open to you.

We are calling on the 2012 UQ Union Council and Executive, as well as the students elected for 2013 to resign, and call new elections to allow the students of UQ to have a democratic choice over their student organisation, and to repair the damage done to the legitimacy of student organisations that your actions have caused.

Donherra Walmsley is the President of the National Union of Students.