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Politics and religion square off in senate race

Andrew Bell reports.

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Nominations for the University of Sydney Senate election have officially closed, and the confirmed pool of candidates will likely see traditional political factions pitted against, and cooperate with, certain religious groups on campus.

The Senate is the peak statutory governing body of the University, which means the successful candidates will have a voice at the broadest level over University policy. There is one spot reserved for an undergraduate student, and one reserved for a postgraduate.

Contesting the undergraduate position is a pool of candidates, which seem to span the full gamut of campus groups.

These are George Bishop (Economics/Law), Caitlin Gauci (Media and Communications), Finn Keogh (Arts), Dimitry Palmer (Arts/Law), Alexi Polden (Arts/Law), Andrew Sekhar (Engineering/Science), Francis Tamer (IT), Georg Tamm (Business/Commerce) and finally Colin Whitchurch (Economics).

The candidates sit along a large spread of the political spectrum, presenting a much greater clash between left and right than the average SRC election.

George Bishop seems well-placed to leverage a very strong base of support in evangelical organisations across campus. He is the current President of the Sydney University Evangelical Union (EU).

He told Honi, “I’m running as an independent candidate with broad support from a number of groups at the university.”

Bishop declined to identify these groups by name, beyond “religious groups” other than the EU. The EU proved decisive in the election of previous fellow Simon Hill.

A candidate who will draw support from conservative bases is Liberal student Dimitry Palmer. Palmer is a current SRC Councilor, and is contesting the executive of the Sydney University Liberal Club (SULC).

Palmer told Honi, “Everyone wants to fight and undermine university management, which isn’t a successful approach when working in a Senate atmosphere. The previous Senator [referring to Dalton Fogarty] neglected his opportunity to front up to the SRC, and I think that has caused quite a bit of distrust and frustration on both ends, I’d like to be an active Senate fellow that fulfils this core duty.”

He claimed to have solicited support from “A broad coalition of Labor Right, Liberal-Aligned, Grassroots and any independent students” but said “[m]y attempts to speak with SAlt (Socialist Alternative) haven’t been successful so I won’t be looking for their support, nor would I want their votes,” he said.

Honi has already reported on candidates Alexi Polden, Georg Tamm and Finn Keogh.

It now seems that Polden will be well positioned to gain support from many members of the broad left.

The postgraduate candidate pool, however, seems largely divorced from student politics.

It is composed of Attila Balogh (PhD), Savva Dobrinsky (Juris Doctor), Gemma Dyer (PhD), Ceren Guler (Medicine), Nathan Ide (Master of Business Administration), David Jordan (Master of Business Administration), Alistair Robson (Graduate Diploma of Commerce), Imogen Thomson (Medicine),Tamara Voninski (PhD) and current interim fellow, Joshua Preece (Medicine).

The election will run from Friday 2 September until Thursday 22 September.