Photo: Siobhan Ryan.
NLS, Grassroots, and SAlt were the big winners at last night’s #RepsElect, as they claimed the majority of executive positions and with it, control of next year’s SRC. A summary of the deal that saw NLS break from its fellow Labor factions can be seen here. Going further back, a summary of the broken deal, which saw Labor and the Liberals unite can be seen here.
The night was not without controversy, however, starting two hours late after a coordinated attempt by SLS and Unity to pull quorum, the arrival of the police, the arrival of campus security, and a sustained blackout that cut the lights—and was eventually revealed to be the result of someone deliberately tampering with the fusebox. Paper was also thrown and insults hurled, as the night threatened to move from verbal and emotional abuse to physical at any point. An in-depth summary of these shenanigans can be seen below. It also saw USyd stupol (alienating, insular as it is) revealed warts and all to everyone as #repselect became the number one trending topic on twitter in Australia, with interested parties from the SMH, Junkee, and the ABC descending to cover it.
The evening turned particularly hostile during the elections for the Environment and Refugee portfolios. The Environmental Officer, which is traditionally selected autonomously by the Enviro Collective, saw its autonomy breached with the election of SLS’s Michelle Picone, who went on to decry “the exclusionary norms” that define collective organising on campus. Picone, who spoke in favour of nuclear power, will be the first pro-nuclear Environment Officer in living memory. Subsequently, SLS’s Harry Stratton briefly nominated for Refugee Officer, concluding his speech and withdrawing his nomination on claiming “offshore processing saves lives” to the boos of the crowd. What followed was a protracted argument between Unity/SLS and Grassroots/SAlt, with the majority of SAlt members removed from the chambers by the returning officer while Stratton gleamed on.
In terms of positions, the deal as previously reported to Honi mostly stood up, with some slight deviations. General Secretary, previously split between Grassroots and NLS, was now divided between Georgia Mantle (Grassroots) and Lachlan Ward, the SLS splitter who left his faction in protest of their dealing with Liberals. Ward has since been accepted into NLS. Similarly, Education—which was promised wholly to Grassroots—was divided between Liam Carrigan (Grassroots) and Dylan Griffiths (Solidarity). Wom*n’s officer, which was originally rumoured to have its autonomy threatened by SLS, was elected without a hitch to autonomously pre-selected candidates: Vanessa Song and Anna Hush. The majority of the remaining results can be seen here.
The meeting finally concluded at midnight, with returning officer Paulene Grahame upholding the election of all candidates, pending legal arbitration. SLS and Unity departed singing Solidarity Forever, leaving their corner of the room festooned with garbage, which the remaining members of Grassroots cleaned up.
The Fracas, Summarised:
- Unity and SLS councillors arrived in defaced Chloe Smith for President shirts, having replaced Chloe’s name with “Rat”. Those who didn’t have them wore a variety of Stand Up attire, and circulated how to votes and screencaps of Facebook conversations that alleges Liam Carrigan and Tahlia Chloe, negotiators from Grassroots, had also attempted to negotiate with Liberals. However, sources indicate that Grassroots were not aware of the factional allegiances of the Ayy Lmao ticket, and would not knowingly negotiate with Liberals.
- Before the meeting could be opened, SLS councillor Oliver Plunkett demanded a quorum count, prompting the departure of all SLS and Unity councillors in an attempt to force the meeting to lapse. Outgoing President Kyol Blakeney instead argued for a delay, allowing quorum to be met by the arrival of councillor Siobhan Ryan. Honi understands a legal challenge has been lodged by SLS/Unity, demanding Reps Elect be declared invalid due to a regulations dispute over whether Blakeney was allowed to delay rather than lapse the meeting. Returning Officer Paulene Graham upheld the election of all candidates on the night, pending further legal arbitration.
- Unity councillor Michael Elliott’s phone disappeared, and the Returning Officer demanded everyone be quiet so the phone could be rung and located. The phone was found in the bin.
- After this attempt to pull quorum, a number of arguments erupted in the audience, with members from both sides interchangeably attempting to bar the door to keep the others out. The police were called, and arrived saying they had been called “maybe six times” but “were not sure why [they] were here.”
- After the police departed, campus security arrived, claiming a number of individuals had felt threatened, and subsequently threatened closing the meeting themselves.
- After campus security departed, and just before the 7:54 PM quorum count, the lights in the Professorial Board Room turned off. Quorum count proceeded in the dark—and yes, we did now have quorum—and further inspection revealed that an unidentified person had tampered with the fusebox.
- By this point, a reporter from the SMH and an editor of Junkee had arrived to cover the event. A motion was then moved to have them removed, for fear they would “make the SRC look bad.”