Student politicians: busted

Samuel Chu on stupol’s false promises to Cumbo

MetroBus

Karpaty Credit Union in Lidcombe provides many important services to the local community, including personal banking and insurance. Another, less-celebrated service it provides is sheltering the hordes of USyd students who wait in line for the M92 bus.

“The M92? I never see that bus name around City Road!”, the casual reader might exclaim. That casual reader would be correct, as this bus is only found near USyd’s Cumberland campus. It is the only full-day operational service linking “Cumbo” to the outside world. But it wasn’t always like this.

As the Sydney University Physiotherapy Society’s orientation guide explains, “previously, a dedicated shuttle bus ferried students to and from Lidcombe Station every 10-15 minutes, all day long. This shuttle bus ran in conjunction with the M92 service… Then Transport NSW ceased operation of the dedicated shuttle bus, presumably because it was not cost-effective”.

Cost-effectiveness. Understandable, but unsurprising.

“But nothing new for Cumbo, which, in the eyes of student politicians, is viewed as a dispensable pawn.”

In response, waves of prospective SRC councillors have pledged to reinstate the shuttle. In 2012, Isabelle King promised to “stand up” for the return of a free shuttle bus, going so far as to propose a 30-minute shuttle between Cumberland and Camperdown. In 2014, another ticket, #CumboRepresent, campaigned with a mandate to improve Cumbo’s general availability of services, including the provision of “FREE regular Lidcombe station shuttle buses”.

One of the ticket members, Elizabeth Li, outlines their success: “We were able to push to get the [late-night] shuttle buses to start at 5:30pm”, instead of their prior starting time of 6:30pm.

A lofty election promise. A paltry outcome. But nothing new for Cumbo, which, in the eyes of student politicians, is viewed as a dispensable political pawn. A Zoe Barnes to their Frank Underwood. If harnessed correctly, the campus represents hundreds of uncontested votes. As an added bonus, Cumbo’s students are geographically removed and overwhelmingly uninitiated in stupol. More often than not, they do not understand the positions being contested, or even what different student organisations do. All this naivety means there is no holding to account on the pipe-dreams sold to them during elections.

Cumberland deserves better. Candidates should take a genuine, not tokenistic view of this satellite campus, which comprises 10 per cent of the student population. They wouldn’t spin such abject lies to stupol-savvy main campus folk, why should they be allowed to get away with it at Cumbo? This is not just another case of student politicians making promises they can’t keep. It’s a chronic, concerted attack on the uninitiated that needs to be addressed, with regulations if necessary.