Hundreds rally for democracy at University of Queensland

UQ students protested for fair student union elections on August 29. Photo: Liam Flenady

Up to 1000 students rallied on August 29 at the University of Queensland (UQ) to demand fair student elections at the university.

Recently UQ has been the site of a scandal involving incumbent Liberal-aligned "Fresh" ticket, which has been accused of perverting electoral procedures and misusing union funds for their own election promotional material.

Most other tickets have been unfairly disqualified or withdrawn in protest. "Fresh" is in effect the only choice on the election ballot.

Democracy 4 UQU has been set up as a campaign “To restore a democratic and transparent voting system at UQ for Student Elections.”

In the past few years there has been a low level of political activity on UQ. But first year journalism and arts student Laura Howden made it clear in her address to the crowd that students were not going to lie down and take it: “We are not apathetic. We support peaceful protest.” Several other speakers reiterated the same theme

The final speaker at the rally, third year student Abraham O'Neill, called the election a "sham" and said it “needs to be stopped right now”.

The students then marched from the Great Court to the union office where they called upon student union president Colin Finke to come out and address the crowd.

When Finke refused, the students staged an impromptu sit-in in front of the building chanting “Shame Fresh Shame” and “What do we want? Democracy!”

Despite the protests, the university has decided to allow the elections to go ahead. A general audit of the union has been announced.

A rally has been called for September 4 at 12pm on the Grassy Knoll at UQ to protest the announcement of the election results.