It’s not over yet
This year’s USU Board election may have ended, but speculation about who will be the USU’s next President remains rife. The contenders for the top job are John Harding-Easson (Labor Right), Hannah Morris (Independents) and, with an outside chance, Tom Raue (Grassroots Left). In most years, it transpires that the Presidential race is a separate contest within the overall Board election, with current Board Directors running a candidate to shore up a vote in the Presidential ballot. Last year, Rhys Pogonoski ran Hannah Morris in an unsuccessful attempt to secure the Presidency. This time around, Morris ran Tara Waniganayaka, Harding-Easson backed Robby Magyar, and Raue supported Pat Ward, who failed to get up.
Currently, the Presidential frontrunner appears to be Harding-Easson, whom the Gate believes will have the support of current Board Directors Tom Raue and Sophie Stanton, as well as newly elected Directors Robby Magyar, Bebe D’Souza and Eve Radunz – taking him to the six votes required to be elected President. Morris, on the other hand, will have the vote of Karen Chau, from the current Board, in addition to Tara Waniganayaka, Tim Matthews and Kade Denton, of those elected this year.
The Gate suspects that Eve Radunz’s vote will prove to be the decisive one. Radunz’s faction National Labor Students (Labor Left) controls the National Union of Students (NUS) in coalition with Mr Harding-Easson’s faction, Student Unity (Labor Right). If history is anything to go by, Harding-Easson should be a shoo-in: NLS will not want to damage its relationship with Unity at NUS. But these are strange times, and the SLS/NLS split on campus this year, coupled with Radunz’s bizarre preference deal with Indies Tim Matthews and Tara Waniganayaka may mean that Radunz breaks with tradition and votes for Hannah Morris.
Another factor in the Presidential race will be whether Senate-appointed Board Director Emma McDonald decides to cast a vote. This is without precedent in recent years, which is just as well, given the Senate-appointed representative is not elected by students. But Ms McDonald is constitutionally entitled to vote on Board, and the Gate understands that at least one Board Director has been attempting to petition her vote in recent months. The Presidential ballot will take place late next month.
Perhaps the biggest surprise to come out of the 2013 Board election was the failure of Sydney Labor Students (SLS), who broke from the national Labor Left faction NLS earlier this year, to get their candidate Jeremy Elphick elected. Elphick was beaten to sixth place by Indie and former SHADES President Kade Denton, who, as the Gate reported last week, was shunned as part of a three way preference deal by fellow Indies Tara Waniganayaka and Tim Matthews in favour of NLS candidate Eve Radunz. It has been speculated that a condition of the preference deal was that Radunz vote for Hannah Morris in the Presidential ballot, but it is also possible that the Indies and NLS plan to combine forces in next semester’s SRC election. One of the founding mythologies of Matthews’ 2011 ‘Voice’ Indie block was to oppose NLS’ dominance of the SRC. Were the Indies to team up with NLS this year, the Gate imagines that USYD student politics would implode in a vortex of hypocrisy, deceit and electoral opportunism.
As for SLS, Elphick’s below par showing in the Board election – garnering just 421 primary votes – is a concern for the faction looking forward to SRC elections. It appears unlikely that SLS will be able to win the election without the assistance of Grassroots, whose two candidates Bebe D’Souza and Pat Ward collected a combined 820 primary votes, and possibly also Unity, whose candidate Robby Magyar polled second with 753 primaries. How the various factions will work together come September, particularly if NLS and the Indies collaborate, will be very interesting indeed.
A petition has been started by a group of unhappy postgraduate students in the Arts faculty. The group is claiming the University has not sufficiently consulted with them on a range of matters, especially in relation to the use of the postgraduate spaces put aside for Arts students in the Woolley, Wallace, and Old Teachers College Buildings. On a side note, holy shit, there are designated spaces for postgraduate Arts students Woolley, Wallace, and Old Teachers College Buildings! Georgiana Toma, who has been helping drive the petition, told the Gate that changes to these spaces would hurt the research abilities of postgrads and break the University’s own commitment to provide them with appropriate facilities on campus, as outlined in the saucily titled “Essential Resources for Postgraduate Research Students Policy 2012”. Particular criticism has be levelled at the decision to change over the computers in the Old Teachers College building in early June, evicting students during one of their busiest weeks of the year. Adding insult to new computers, once the computers are installed postgrads will no longer be given access to unlimited free printing. Though the first 1 000 pages per year will still be cost free, Toma told the Gate that this was a relatively small number given the massive amount of reading and printing postgrad Arts students need to undertake.