Disclaimer: Honi Editor Michael Sun is not involved in any decisions or contributions to USU Board Election coverage.
Ten students will be vying for six board director positions in this year’s University of Sydney Union (USU) elections.
The USU is responsible for the majority of University life outside of the classroom, taking care of everything from your favourite drinking holes — like Courtyard and Hermann’s — to the running of OWeek and management of clubs and societies. The major difference between the USU and the Student Representative Council (SRC) — who have their elections in semester two — is that the USU is a corporate entity, therefore allowing for their widespread influence on campus. A board of directors, featuring eleven student directors, oversees the organisation. For their troubles, each student board director is paid $4410 each year of their two-year term.
The ten candidates are Claudia Gulbransen-Diaz, Jacob Masina, Caitlin McMenamin, Erika Salmon, Alexander Shu, Hengjie Sun, Liliana Tai, Adam Torres, Sally Yang, and Zhixian Wang.
Claudia Gulbransen-Diaz is the Unity (Labor Right) candidate and will be managed by fellow Unity members Connor Wherrett, Luke Gallagher, and Adam Boidin, who currently run negotiations on behalf of the faction. To prove their allegiance to their beloved Labor Party, Unity will run Gulbransen-Diaz’s campaign on the colour red. Classic.
Jacob Masina, who is the current Sydney Arts Students’ Society President, will be running as an independent as previously reported by Honi. Masina is member of the moderate liberal faction on campus, and is being managed by other members of this faction. These managers are Tim Berney-Gibson and Brendan Ma. Ed McCann — who was previously named by Honi as a third manager — is no longer involved. Masina will be running on white, meaning he can save a couple of cents when printing his flyers on white paper at Officeworks. Masina managed the campaign of current board director Esther Shim in 2016.
Caitlin McMenamin, who currently holds the position of Welfare Officer at the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), will be representing the Sydney Labor Students (SLS — Labor Left) faction following a last minute pre-selection process. She is likely to be managed by current board director and SLS member James Gibson. She will be running on orange.
Erika Salmon, who campaigned for Liberal board candidate Dom Bondar in last year’s USU elections and TIME for Honi in the SRC elections, will be running as an independent candidate; she will be managed by Morgan Qasabian and Anthony Bigg. Salmon, who originally wanted to run on hot pink, has settled on light pink as her campaign colour; why she didn’t opt for salmon pink we will never understand. Her slogan is ‘Upstream with Salmon’. Salmon has told Honi she is excited for some “serious trolling” and to “expect extreme meme usage”.
Alexander Shu, who was the 2016 SRC International Students’ Officer, is running as an independent. He will be managed by Anisha Gunawardhana and Zhou Fang, a domestic and international student respectively. Shu has chosen royal blue and the slogan ‘We Want Shu’ for his campaign.
Hengjie Sun, an international student running as an independent candidate, had originally been hoping to run on the colour white; he has since decided on ‘snow marle’, which is like white, but different.
Liliana Tai, another independent candidate, will be running on sky-blue tie-dye. We anticipate plenty of ‘Tai-dye’ puns to come in the following weeks. Tai has three managers, Kevin Lee, Kartik Shastri and Gina Tran, and will campaign under the slogan ‘Don’t Be Silly, Vote for Lili’. Current board director Grace Franki has thrown her support behind Tai, with the expectation that Tai will draw on a similar base of law students and debaters to fill out her campaigners.
Adam Torres, of National Labor Students (NLS), another Labor Left faction on campus, will be managed by Lamya Rahman and Will Edwards. Rahman was an SRC Ethnocultural Officer with Torres in 2016, and Edwards was part of the SIN for Honi ticket managed by Torres in last year’s SRC elections. Torres, whose slogan is ‘Up and Adam’, will be running on hot pink — a colour choice determined by coin toss after he and Salmon both expressed a desire for the colour.
Sally Yang, the dark horse of the race, is running on green. This is all we know. For now.
Lastly, international student and independent candidate Zhixian Wang will be managed by Michael Man and will run on “light yellow”. It is likely she will be endorsed by current board candidate Yifan Kong who topped the election with a record number of votes last year.
Grassroots, the closest analogue to the Greens on campus, are absent from the race; this marks a departure from previous years where they have traditionally run a candidate.
With seven out of ten candidates running as independents and three international students contesting the elections, this year’s candidature is an unconventional one. The international students are likely to be hoping to ride on the wave of Kong’s overwhelming victory last year. A number of the independents, however, will be drawing on support from politically-aligned bases on campus even while running independently.
Voting will take place across campus between May 15 and May 17.