ANUSA condemns NUS Queer/LGBTI Officer

Celeste Sandstrom and Isabel Moss

By Jason Pover and Tasneem Hudson

The ANUSA SRC has tonight affirmed a vote of no confidence in NUS Queer/LGBTI Co-Officer Jasmine Duff. The vote comes after numerous student associations affirmed the motion originally made at Australia’s peak queer* student forum, Queer Collaborations.

The motion was moved by ANUSA Deputy Queer* Officer Isabel Moss, who was proxying for Queer* Officer Matthew Mottola who was unable to attend. It was seconded by Celeste Sandstrom. Moss said in moving the motion that “The sentiment on the Queer Collaborations conference floor was very much one of disgust at [Duff’s] behaviour”. Speaking to the motion, Sandstrom said that “the blatancy of Duff’s transphobia at NatCon should have delegitimised her nomination for [Queer/]LGBTI officer in the first place”.

The motion of no confidence was initially passed at the Queer Collaborations conference in June this year, following transphobic comments allegedly made by Duff at the NUS National Conference (NatCon). Sandstrom said the path at the conference was taken because the NUS has “no reliable complaints mechanism”. The motion was passed by the students present, which included delegates from ANU, Melbourne University, and the University of Queensland.

Neither NUS Queer/LGBTI Officer delegate attended Queer Collaborations, according to Celeste Sandstrom, who seconded the motion at the SRC tonight. When questioned about the motion, Duff told Farrago, “I don’t consider the Queer Collaborations conference as being relevant to judging my record on this at all.”  Duff and her co-officer Kim Stern are both aligned with the Socialist Alternative (SAlt) faction.

Sandstrom says the reason for the motion are “multifaceted”. Duff is alleged to have “harassed and bullied queer* students at monash [University]” as well as her alleged transphobic comments at NatCon. The motion put forward alleges that Duff has been incompetent in her role, which Sandstrom says is highlighted in her failure to attend the Queer Collaborations Conference.

Sandstrom told Observer that queer* students are “done with factional dealing” and the use of the LGBTI officer position “as a political football”. They also said that NUS factions, SAlt in particular, use the position to “pursue their own agenda”.

Queer Collaborations’ preferred candidate Dylan Lloyd has been endorsed as the Queer/LGBTI officer at both the 2017 and 2015 NatCon. Lloyd is affiliated with the Grassroots faction at NUS, whereas the National Conference has elected a SAlt-aligned candidate in the past two years. At the 2017 NatCon, Lloyd expressed their disappointment that they had no chance of being elected despite this endorsement, as the position had already been decided through factional dealing. Elected positions at NatCon are generally decided by factional deals before voting begins. At the 2017 NatCon, only the Queer/LGBTI Officer and Presidential positions were contested.

The election of NUS Department Officers is not autonomous, meaning the whole of NUS NatCon conference floor can vote, not just the group represented by the department. When asked at Observer’s NUS Delegate debate whether they support autonomous voting, SAlt-aligned candidate Wren Somerville from Left Action, as well as Student Unity (Labor Right) aligned candidate Niall Cummins, said that they support the status quo. Cummins was elected; Somerville was not. ANUSA’s remaining 4 delegates from Refresh and Reform support autonomous voting.

The motion was amended, by a friendly amendment, to include a passage informing the NUS of the motion by the ANUSA SRC. This was moved by ANUSA President, Eleanor Kay. The motion passed unanimously.

 

Photo Credit: Adam Cass

 

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