In an official statement issued to Honi, Undergraduate Senate Fellow Patrick Massarani has announced that he will not be recontesting the Senate election result as a candidate.
Instead, Massarani will be supporting fellow candidate Annabel Osborn in any supplementary elections that may follow after the pair challenge the result in the NSW Supreme Court.
In October, the elections declared Dalton Fogarty and Simon Hill as the undergraduate and postgraduate student Senate Fellows for 2015-2016 by means of an electronic secret ballot. Soon after, the pair lodged an appeal to the Returning Officer, which was subsequently refused by the Secretary of Senate, David Pacey.
Osborn is currently deliberating on if and when she will lodge the appeal to the Supreme Court, but says it will likely occur within the next month. “I haven’t had official written legal advice, and I’m yet to receive it, but I’ll be going with it,” she said.
“The anecdote I was given by the person I’m receiving legal advice from is that the Supreme Court is the largest gamble.”
“Unlike your garden variety SRC or USU election, Senate elections are statutory elections pursuant to the University of Sydney Act,” said Massarani.
“Only the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to consider the outcome of the election or in this case the terms on which the election was conducted.”
Massarani told Honi he is convinced that Osborn is a “talented, driven and progressive woman,” who has “proven herself to be a principled, rigorous and effective operator”.
“I think it’s the right decision, there’s a strong agreement within the student body [Massarani] has done a good job. I appreciate his support and I think it’s good on a number of fronts,” said Osborn.
Current Senate Fellow Andrew West said, “Patrick will be missed as a strong voice for the undergraduate student body. It’s very important that we resolve this controversy over the conduct of the elections for student fellows and if it requires an intervention at Law then that is regrettable, but necessary. The students need to be confident that the elections were contested on a level-playing field with every candidate knowing the rules and everyone operating by the same rules”.
“It seems to me that any student coming on to the Senate needs to have a pretty clear position on the biggest issue facing higher education today, which is the deregulation of fees” said West.
When Fogarty was previously asked about his stance on fee deregulation, he characterised it as a “very complex issue”.