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Bid to withhold $15,000 back pay from UTS student magazine editors fails

Victoria Zerbst reports.

Victoria Zerbst reports.

The UTS Students Association has blocked a bid to withhold $15,000 owed to the editors of student magazine Vertigo, after a motion to not pay the yearly stipend failed to garner enough votes.

The decision came after a heated stoush that emerged last week between the UTSSA and Vertigo, following claims the 2015 editors did not meet all their obligations under their charter.

The original motion, put forward by members of the National Labor Students (Labor left) faction, claimed the editors had broken a by-law requiring copies of the magazine be delivered to “eligible spaces, inclusive but not limited to, all campuses”, in this case inadequately distributed to the university’s Kuring-gai campus.

However, the Vertigo editors hit back at the proposal in the lead up to the Monday evening meeting, claiming they were unreasonable grounds for pay to be withheld, partly because the by-law was only introduced in semester two.

“How can they turn around and say we didn’t hand out enough issues from February to July when the by-laws only came into effect in August 2015?” said outgoing editor James Wilson. Some present also argued the distribution of print copies shouldn’t be the responsibility of the elected editors. 


Others present at the meeting distanced themselves from the National Labor Students-backed motion, including members of the Labor right faction Student Unity. Some labelled the proposal “anti-student”.


However, the controversial motion lapsed when it was finally put to a vote on Monday evening, during what was the first UTSSA meeting of the year, after no one present volunteered to support it.

A final motion was moved by Student Unity member Taylor Ficarra for the editors to be paid in keeping with the original by-laws.

In a joint statement provided to Honi, the 2015 Vertigo editors said the rules “state nowhere a required quantity or frequency of distribution however all stands were distributed to at least once a week by a member of the team.”

“The only exception was Kuring-gai Campus where the magazines were delivered less frequently to match a lower demand.”

UTSSA treasurer and president of the UTS Liberal Club, Mohamed Rumman, told Honi the stoush was the continuation of a dispute that “carried over from last year”.

For reference, your humble Honi Soit editors receive a total stipend of $44,000 paid by the SRC, typically divided between 10 each year.

Further in their statement, the 2015 Vertigo editors said even though their individual stipend was only $1,250 each for a year’s work, it was important it was paid.

“‘This [is an] incredibly low stipend, which fails to account for the personal, financial, and educational cost of undertaking a student magazine.”

The statement also argued that refusal to pay the editors for their work set a bad precedent for student media at large.

2015 was the first year Vertigo editors were paid a stipend.