The USU has seen the highest number of women ever elected to its student board, with all five of the winners in tonight’s USU Board Director Election identifying as women.
International student Koko Kong received the highest number of votes with 1451 ballots lodged in her favour. She will become the first international student elected to the Board since Ruchir Punjabi in 2007.
She was elected alongside independent Esther Shim (who had a primary vote of 678), Vanessa Song of Student Unity (456), Courtney Thompson of Grassroots (587), and independent Grace Franki (382).
Of the five, Franki benefited most from preference deals. Her arrangement with Kong and Cameron Hawkins saw Franki receive a significant boost after Kong exceeded quota in the first count while Hawkins was excluded after only receiving 153 primary votes.
Missing out on a spot on Board were SLS’s James Gibson (484), NLS’s Sam Kwon (427), independent Cam Hawkins and Liberal Dom Bondar (93).
Kong ran as a single-issue candidate under the branding “Can do, Koko”. Her policies, which are solely for the advancement of international students on campus, include reserving an International Student Officer position on the Board, as well as initiatives to educate international students about their rights in the workplace and how to be more involved in the USU’s C&S program.
Kong was identified as the favourite by Honi in our pre-poll exit poll released on Monday, however the real surprise of the night was Thompson who polled 3rd last on Monday but managed to come in 4th potentially after her faction managed to pull in some of their big names from elections past to campaign today.
The dominance of female candidates is a far cry from last year when the Affirmative Action policy was triggered after the ballot box failed to ensure three of the six candidates elected were woman-identifying, pushing Unity candidate Georg Tamm out of sixth place and replacing him with SLS’s Shannen Potter.
The results of the USU Board Director Election were announced at Manning Bar on Wednesday night, after candidates had campaigned on the Camperdown-Darlington campus since 7:30am for the election’s main voting day.
Pre-poll voting had previously been held at Manning and International Students Lounge, as well as at satellite campuses, from Thursday to Tuesday.