The Queensland University of Technology’s student magazine, Glass, has been handed a twenty thousand dollar budget cut by the QUT student union, The Guild, in a move that will significantly threaten the quality of student media at the University.
Honi condemns these cuts as it condemns the ongoing cuts which have devastated student media since the introduction of Voluntary Student Unionism in 2005.
At QUT, The Guild has offered a number of flimsy justifications for the cuts.
The Guild first cites 45 hours of paid work by the editorial team as cause to reduce the editor’s stipend. However, the Guild has as yet failed to provide data to support this assertion, particularly as editors often work in excess of the hours presented by the Guild.
The cuts were also justified by the Guild’s claim that Glass editors could source advertising revenue to make up the near twenty thousand dollar shortfall. As Glass‘ editors said in a submission to the Guild, “the publication has never engaged in advertising activities on the scale that would be needed to make up the shortfall”.
The claim that student editors ought to dedicate significant time to obtaining advertising warps the purpose of student journalism. In a media landscape which incentivises clickbait and advertiser-friendly content, student media is an invaluable opportunity to provide an independent, often radical, youth voice. Turning student editors into marketing experts would see neoliberalism further encroach on student life, at the expense of a genuinely student-led campus culture. Student journalism which seeks profit can never achieve the same standard as a truly independent student voice.
Whereas cuts to student media have sometimes been justified by a student union’s lack of money, or a supposed lack of student interest in a publication, neither could possibly be the case with Glass.
The Guild received a 29% increase in their Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF – funding distributed by the University from fees charged from students). It is unacceptable that Glass has received such a devastating budget cut at a time when the Guild has even more money to spend.
A survey conducted by the Guild in 2022 found that 68% of QUT – approximately 36,000 students – were interested in reading Glass. Cutting funding to such a vital and much loved campus outlet only harms the interests of students, who clearly strongly support a vibrant student print publication.
Student media is critical in platforming young people’s voices in an otherwise homogeneous media landscape which excludes and devalues youth perspectives. In a society which fundamentally devalues young people and issues important to us – from rampant housing unaffordability and an impending climate catastrophe – student media gives young people a voice.
It creates a campus where students know what’s happening, what other students are thinking and feeling, a campus where there is a degree of social cohesion and where people can belong to more than a Zoom class.
The cuts will tangibly impede on Glass‘ ability to perform this role at QUT. Underpaid editors are incapable of dedicating as much time as is required to produce a wide range of quality content. Underpaid editors can only come from privileged backgrounds and will be unrepresentative of the student body they are elected to represent.
A publication without money to conduct launches, make merchandise and reach out to students is one which is deprived of the quality content that the student body is capable of producing cannot reach its full potential and risks becoming ineffectual and irrelevant.
The Guild shouldn’t cut Glass’ funding. They should raise it.