<p>There is pressure on Jasmine Duff, one of the two queer/LGBTI officers at the National Union of Students (NUS), to resign, after a motion of no confidence in her was passed at the Queer Collaborations conference last month.</p>
There is pressure on Jasmine Duff, one of the two queer/LGBTI officers at the National Union of Students (NUS), to resign, after a motion of no confidence in her was passed at the Queer Collaborations conference last month.
The motion claimed that Duff had shown “an established pattern of behaviour” that has been “intimidatory, and transphobic in nature”.
The conference, a five-day, annual conference bringing together delegates from universities and TAFEs from across Australia, is the largest annual gathering of queer students in the country.
This is the second year in a row that the conference floor at Queer Collaborations has been critical of a national queer officer.
At the conference last year, Chris di Pasquale was the national queer officer who was criticised on the conference floor. Di Pasquale was, like Duff, a member of the Socialist Alternative faction.
The conference last year endorsed Dylan Lloyd from Grassroots to be elected to the office at the NUS National Conference (NatCon) later that year.
Lloyd, however, was not elected. In their speech, they cited the impossibility of their attaining the office due to their factional affiliation.
The motion at this year’s Queer Collaborations about Duff references her “misgendering, and verbal abuse of a queer student during the proceedings of the 2017 NUS National Conference”.
The student who was misgendered at NatCon last year spoke to Farrago. They did not wish to be identified by name.
“I got up and I spoke against the NUS,” they said. “I spoke about the concerns of students, across not just my university but other universities. Chris di Pasquale particularly did not support the queer community effectively during his term.”
“Afterwards, speakers from Socialist Alternative got up, and Jasmine Duff was one of those speakers … The direct quote I remember was, ‘Because of this man…’ I literally just screamed from the back, ‘I am not a man.’ ”
The student also said, “I think it’s important to note that Jasmine Duff and Kim Stern, the two people elected, weren’t the endorsed candidate from the previous year by Queer Collaborations.”
“Both them personally, and their faction, have repeatedly mentioned that Queer Collaborations is unrepresentative … I think as the largest gathering of queer students in Australia, Queer Collaborations should be able to instruct not only NatCon but also the queer officers.”
“At the end of the day, the LGBTI/queer officers are meant to be advocating for queer students. They have done so ineffectively for their entire term this year. And if the candidates that were nominated and endorsed by QC—if they were elected—I’m 100 per cent sure they would have done a better job.”
The motion also accuses Duff of a “failure to comply with, or complete a number of her responsibilities as listed under clause B77 of the NUS’ constitution, including, but not limited to, subclauses B77 (b), (c), (e), and (i)”.
The mentioned subclauses outline the national queer officers’ responsibilities, which include “initiating and organising the national queer/LGBTI student conference” and “convening a phone linkup at least two times a semester of campus queer/LGBTI officers as well as campus activists to direct the national queer/LGBTI officers on campaigns and priorities”.
When reached out to for comment, Jasmine Duff said: “This stuff is bizarre—I’ve never heard of these unattributed accusations or had them raised with me by anyone, and I have a history of fighting against transphobia in a very serious way.”
“I have made constant efforts to reach out to campus queer and LGBTI officers all year to discuss campaigns with them, including emailing every single campus queer officer, messaging them on Facebook, and posting campaign materials to 19 different campuses.”
“I don’t consider the Queer Collaborations conference as being relevant to judging my record on this at all,” she said.
The NUS president, Mark Pace, declined to comment.
The queer officers at the University of Melbourne Student Union, Milly Reeves and Elinor Mills, talked to Farrago about their experiences with Duff.
“We haven’t had much direct experience with the NUS LGBTI officers this year, unfortunately. Sadly, neither attended the national queer students conference, Queer Collaborations,” they said.
“We support this motion. We have friends and colleagues who have directly experienced Duff’s behaviour and we wholeheartedly agree that someone who will intimidate and misgender transgender students isn’t suited to represent them on a national level.”