Students at the University of Queensland (UQ) are mobilising against the corrupt Liberal National Party (LNP) members running the UQ Union, who have barred opposition tickets from running against them in this semester’s student election.
The LNP’s contempt for democracy has angered the student population. Over 600 students joined a defiant march from UQ’s Great Court to the UQ Union office chanting “What do we want? Democracy! When do we want it? Now!”
Students occupied the area in front of the UQ Union in a sit down that lasted an hour. Inside, two security guards watched on behind locked glass doors. One post graduate described the protest as “the biggest demonstration I’ve seen at the university in a decade.”
A broad left ticket comprising Labor Left and Right, The Greens, socialist and independent leftists was planning to run in the election under the name Pulse. But the LNP students, known as Fresh, changed the electoral rules in a secret meeting. This rule change allowed them to covertly register the name, Pulse, and run it as a fake ticket. The real Pulse was effectively removed from the election.
As word got around, thousands of students liked a Facebook page, Democracy 4 UQU. The number of likes has swollen to over 3500. A groundswell of sentiment against Fresh has taken root across the campus. Students from the democracy campaign have addressed lectures and received claps and cheers while Fresh members have been angrily booed.
Despite the obvious corruption, the university administration has refused to act. They are more committed to managing the university’s corporate image than they are to democracy. The campaign must continue regardless of how the university administration acts. Fresh have no legitimacy and we need to continue to campaign until they resign.
The turmoil at UQ has the potential to feed into anger against Campbell Newman’s LNP state government which has lost popularity after announcing severe cuts (see back page). A democratic student union could play a key role in building the fight against the LNP.