I found an alien and asked it about student elections

Tom St John is phoning home

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When Kluk Ancho’feb Aukmang first appeared in the grassy expanse of my backyard, stumbling, squelching, sliming an ominous path toward my hammock, I feel no shame to admit my first reaction was fear – fear for my life, and fear for the world-conquering ambitions of this oozing, pulsating, foreign being.

And yet, after a long period of caring for one another from a distance, we gradually built up the trust to speak. Kluk, from the observation hole I cut in the wooden panelling of my attic, would study passers-by and come to me with questions from the day. Why must some carry devices to shield themselves from the water of which they are primarily constituted? Why do people grow third eyebrows under their noses? Why do, domesticated pets, our obvious overlords, not organise a more centralised structure to their imperious slavery of our species? We had just begun to regard each other as friends when the thought struck – swiftly and unbidden, the way all the best ideas strike.

“Kluk, would you like to join me for a day at University and give your thoughts on the process of electing representatives for the Senate, uni newspaper, and maybe (?) some other thing that I’m not totally confident on right at this moment?”

It responded affirmatively. Initially, I attempted a bike ride to University, but Kluk kept trying to make the fucking thing fly. Kluk ordered an Uber instead, which it already had downloaded on its phone.

“What are theee-ee-eese?” asked Kluk Ancho’feb, pointing to the technicolour stands beside Gadigal. I explained to Kluk that these were sponsored weathervanes, with their owners conveniently able to tell how windy it was by how many had been floored. He asked me to explain the philosophies of the Honi tickets, in a way that makes all of them angry, and doesn’t add too much to my rapidly expanding word count.

I told him this: “This is my understanding: assume the fundamental thesis of Honi is

WE ARE GOING TO YELL AT YOU

Sin want to change how loud we ‘YELL’, Wet wants to change the ‘WE’, and Time want to change the ‘YOU’. Make sense?”

“And you elect the editorial board of the paper? You can’t find some other way to organise a student paper, one that doesn’t necessitate tickets trying to clutch at an intangible cult-of-personality mandate?

“We do, because we know deep down everyone on campus loves election campaigns.”

And so we continued to amble. I had class, but told Kluk to attend the Honi debate in my absence. Unfortunately, it was only there for five minutes before leaving under the assumption it had accidentally walked in on a piece of performance art entitled “Why Everyone Hates Millennials”. Kluk felt this way because nobody was talking about anything related to writing or editing student newspapers, instead bellowing over one another about their demographic constituency, a weird game of telephonic “Guess Who?”, and trying to reach a transcendent level of guilt-appeasement. I did not blame Kluk for its mistake – it is, after all, but a naïve alien…a human familiar with this crap knows better.

“What’s your first impression of the Student Politics world, Aukmang?”

“I am impressed by the zeal with which they distribute paper to strangers who have no desire to hold the paper. I am less impressed with the fact that the only people that vote are the ones running, and when others are asked to vote, they begin running.”

I nodded at Kluk Ancho’feb Aukmang’s interplanetary wisdom.

“One question though,” he continued, “…what’s a faction?”

“A faction,” I began to explain, and then finished the explanation in a very coherent way.

“That makes sense, thanks Tom.”

“You’re welcome!”

“Wait, one more question! Why do seemingly intelligent people allow themselves to be vacuumed into infantile squabbles about petty ideological minutiae that couldn’t possible inform the decisions one makes in student representative governance? Why seek to divide rather than unite? Why seek to alienate rather than educate? Also – why do these tickets feel the exposure they gain by interrupting lectures outweighs the scorn they sow? Oh, and who runs? Oh, and why? Oh and, small thing, but why get this year’s Honi editorial board to ‘objectively’ manage the debate on next year’s ticket? Oh and…”

We crossed the footbridge and took a gentle meander along Eastern Avenue, the street that once a year is transformed into a snarling degustation plate of partisan loathing.

“It’s a funny thing for you to come down and see our planet like this-”

“Tom,” Kluk interrupted, “this isn’t your planet at all.”

I looked about…I saw all those professional advocates and crusaders, emblazoned in their latest primary-colour campaign t-shirt…now aliens in the mould of Kluk, peeling skin and hunched spines…grating lamprey teeth…bellicose growls echoing across Eastern Avenue…skittering little extra-terrestrial freaks…belligerently foisting their unwanted flyers and opinions upon unsuspecting university folk…an interstellar convention of the weird and the gnarly…

“Tell me Tom, who are the real aliens?”