Liliana Tai is likely to be the next president of the University of Sydney Union (USU), securing the necessary six votes of Adam Torres, Claudia Gulbransen-Diaz, Maya Eswaran, Connor Wherrett and Decheng Sun. Jacob Masina, the other presidential hopeful, is unlikely to contest the ballot in the June 7 election, despite having the support of Hengjie Sun, Zhixian Wang, Zimeng Ye and Lachlan Finch.
Tai’s confirmed ticket for the USU 2018-2019 executive is as follows: Liliana Tai as president, Adam Torres as vice-president, Claudia Gulbransen-Diaz as honorary treasurer and Zhixian Wang as honorary secretary. Projected USU President Tai confirmed with Wang that she would take the secretary position on a phone call late on Sunday night.
However, a senior Board director told Honi that Masina believes he will be offered the honorary secretary position. According to the source, Wang confirmed to Masina that she will reject any secretary offer from Tai because of “trust issues” between the pair and the way “[Tai] handled Zhixian over the past few weeks”. The source went on to claim that Tai had originally offered the role to Masina. If Zhixian doesn’t take the secretary role, then the position will be vacant, which, according to the source, means it will have to go to Masina—unless Tai breaks an implicit agreement not to have a first year on executive.
Last week, Honi reported that Decheng Sun was the swing vote and remained in negotiations with both Tai and Masina.
The senior Board Director told Honi that Masina’s ally and fellow director Hengjie Sun had bungled the negotiations by pushing Decheng so far that he confirmed his allegiance to Tai. According to two sources, Hengjie allegedly suggested that Decheng would be an “outcast” if he refused to vote with the Chinese international student bloc (himself, Zhixian Wang and Zimeng Ye) for Masina. Under Masina’s exec ticket, Hengjie would have been his vice-president.
Decheng refutes this version of events, and told Honi that “Hengjie did not put excessive pressure on me. He tried to persuade me but everything is within reasonableness.”
Decheng added that there was no bad blood between him and Hengjie. “He keeps very good relationships with me personally,” he said. “It does not make sense if he used offensive words in the negotiations. Of course the reaction of Chinese community is a factor, but it is trivial.”
Masina himself washed his hands of the situation, and said “I had no knowledge [of Hengjie’s actions] and that it was “frustrating not to have [the negotiations] under my control”. However, another source told Honi that a major reason for Decheng’s confirmed allegiance to Tai was Masina’s misrepresentation of Gulbransen-Diaz’s support for his presidency bid. When the misinformation was discovered, this may have also contributed to the breakdown in negotiations.
Tai confirmed to Honi that Decheng will vote for her camp. Decheng stayed mum and would not confirm his position either way: “I will vote for the presidential candidate and the executive team who are best suited for the job, based on their capability.” That said, he suggested a Masina presidency would have been at odds with his political views:
“As you know I claimed myself generally left wing in the interview. It does not make sense … I’d support Jacob in the first instance.”
As it stands, the presidency is most likely to be uncontested in the June 7 ballot; however, if Masina does wish to nominate, the Senate-appointed director’s vote may come into play, potentially forcing a tie and subsequent hat-draw.