Amelia Birnie reports.
SPARK for SULS has won the first contested Sydney University Law Society (SULS) election in three years, extinguishing rival ticket GAME and annihilating protest group Slytherin.
SPARK received 52 per cent of the vote (413 votes), while GAME managed 46 per cent (363 votes). Slytherin grabbed two per cent (16 votes), despite asking voters not to vote for them. Honi understands that these are the provisional figures and are still subject to confirmation by the Returning Officer.
The result will see second year JD student Rohan Barmanray appointed as 2017 SULS President, alongside vice-presidents Elizabeth Sheahan (Education), Tiff Wu (Careers) and Sally Kirk (Social Justice).
They edged out GAME for SULS, headed up by presidential candidate Kieran Hoyle and vice-presidents Maxine Malaney (Education), Beverly Parungao (Careers) and Margery Ai (Social Justice).
The election cropped up its fair share of controversy. A SPARK promotional video which featured the SPARK women’s officer saying “I object” to catcallers was called out by a GAME supporter for trivialising sexual harassment. The video was deleted and a lengthy apology published.
Similarly, GAME caused a stir by suggesting that the international officer position should be held by a student who speaks English as a second language. GAME wrote in an apology post, “we recognise that the lack of support and policy designed for international students by this university disadvantages ALL international students, and we wholeheartedly apologise for any statement, inference or perception that forms of oppression could or should be compared between international students of different backgrounds.”
Several photographs were also provided to Honi of SPARK campaigners wearing shirts and talking to students who were standing just inside the exclusion zone. GAME has not received a ruling from the RO at the time of publication.
Both SPARK and GAME were passionate advocates for electoral reform, an issue that is due to be debated at next week’s SULS annual general meeting.
Both presidential candidates support a new electoral model that would require presidential candidates to publish a prospectus before filling their tickets. They would both retain the ticket model to preserve affirmative action.
“We believe the proposed amendments that have been put forward recently are the ideal model,” SPARK Vice-President candidate Sally Kirk told the SULS Soapbox. “Moving more towards the UNSW system of elections which involves individual students nominating makes it a popularity contest and that is not ideal.”
SPARK for SULS was in favour of keeping the society’s budget in surplus.
“SULS has the largest student budget, but [corporate] sponsorship is going down every year, so we would strongly support the SULS budget remaining in surplus” Barmanray said at the soapbox.
But GAME warned this was not in students’ best interests.
“We don’t see the benefit of being in surplus if the funds are sitting in a bank account and not helping students,” Hoyle said.
“We want to get not-for-profit status so we can save the $60,000 we’re spending in tax and put it back into policies.”