Subeta Vimalarajah and Naaman Zhou report
For the first time since 2011, two Liberal students have been elected to paid positions in the SRC, in an election that saw the balance of power held by a single vote.
Alex Fitton (Soft Right Liberal) has been provisionally elected as General Secretary and Edward McCann (Mod Lib) has been elected as Education Officer.
They will share the position with Dylan Williams (Unity – Labor Right) and Jenna Schroder (NLS – Labor Left) respectively.
Their election comes after Fitton crossed the floor twice this evening, literally holding the balance of power with his movements.
At the outset of the evening, it appeared a breakaway independent bloc of Fitton, Samuel Chu, Amelia Chan (Ignite) and Patrick Ryan (Independent) had granted the POWER team the majority, to the surprise of their Stand Up/Ignite opponents.
More controversy erupted as Fitton and Williams were initially ruled ineligible, due to a new regulation interpretation that required one of the two to identify as a non cis male.
The Returning Officer directed Fitton to sign a letter tonight affirming their identity as a non cis male, and to affirm this with a statutory declaration tomorrow.
Members of council cried “shame” as Fitton has never previously identified as a non cis male publically and claimed it was opportunistic.
Honi understands the new interpretation has not been passed by council.
Fitton declined to comment in person but supporters have argued the interpretation was illegitimate, and that affirmative action does not apply to the position.
As General Secretaries, Fitton and Williams will have significant control over the SRC’s budget, and will represent the organisation in SSAF negotiations.
Williams, Fitton, McCann and Schroder will also be paid $13,000 each over the course of the year for their work.
Despite Fitton crossing the floor, the other independents stuck together.
As a result, Amelia Chan of Team Cumbo (previously Ignite) and Patrick Ryan (Independent) of Twins for Tickets were elected as a members of the General Executive.
Controversy also plagued the election of Wom*n’s Officer, as reported early this week.
Andrea Zephyr (Unity) challenged the election of the two candidates, Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn (both Grassroots), who had been preselected by the Wom*n’s Collective.
Zephyr alleged ongoing transphobia in the Wom*n’s Collective, speaking with rampant applause from Unity and the moderate Liberals and heckling from opponents throughout her speech.
Ultimately however, Grant and Thorburn took the position in a very divisive election.
Fitton’s election to General Secretary is yet to be properly confirmed and the rules about eligibility are effectively in flux until the next Council meeting.
Meanwhile, James Gibson and Ella Bickley of Sydney Labor Students (Labor Left) were elected joint Vice Presidents; Adam Boiden (Unity), Sophia Chung (NLS) and Liam Donohoe (Grassroots) joined Ryan and Chan on the General Executive.
Tonight’s last minute deals represented a huge win for the assorted councilors of the Independent bloc, and a relative loss for Grassroots, who missed out on Gen Sec and left surprisingly empty-handed for their 6 votes.