University of Sydney Union (USU) President Michael Rees has announced candidate Zhixian Wang has been excluded from the 2017 USU Board election, at this afternoon’s Candidate’s Soapbox.
The USU Returning Officer found Wang was posting on WeChat and offering a large group of University students money, through WeChat’s ‘Red Packets’ functionality, to encourage students to vote for her.
She was found in breach of USU Regulations t 8.10.1(1) and r 8.10.1(p)(ii), which prohibit candidates from bribing students for votes, and publishing material “that is, or is likely to be, misleading or deceptive”, respectfully.
This ban also follows accusations from a fellow board candidate, who prefers to be anonymous, that Wang had chalked campaign slogans on the bridge connecting Wentworth Building and Eastern avenue that allegedly bribed students for votes.
The phrases (““办证”, “迷药), when translated, are alleged to mean she would “provide you with fake ID and drugs that make you sleep if elected”, according to the complaint submitted to the Returning Officer.
The written complaint continued: “We believe that Zhixian should be immediately banned from running and furthermore, should face consequences for the illegality of her bribery suggestions.”
The complainant told Honi, “we are appalled because this should be fair process. Someone who is so willing to act immorally should not be a representative of the student body.”
But before her exclusion, Zhixian had told Honi the phrase ““办证”, “迷药”, appears on city walls of city buildings regularly in China and can be classified as ‘Graffiti Art’.
“[The phrase] carries with it cultural connotations that are deeply rooted in Chinese people’s memories,” she told Honi.
“There is no intention to sell anything or induce onlookers to buy anything from us. You can’t understand the meaning of this content easily if you simply translate it literally. For us, the cultural and cynical symbolism is more important.”
“We were hoping this would resonate with overseas Chinese students, therefore gaining attention for our campaign… We are not trading anything or making any deal with anyone for profit or interest – this is not the meaning behind these sayings.”
Zhixian told Honi she realises “it was inappropriate and may lead to misunderstanding for people who are unaware of the cultural background behind these Chinese sayings.’ The chalking has since been removed.
Rees said an official statement will be available on the USU website shortly.