It’s official: Liliana Tai has been elected USU president for 2018-19. She will be joined on the executive by Adam Torres (NLS) as vice-president, Claudia Gulbransen-Diaz (Unity) as honorary treasurer and Zhixian Wang as honorary secretary.
All four positions were elected unopposed and Tai’s main contender, Jacob Masina, did not nominate for any roles. As late as Sunday night, Masina was reported to be eyeing off the secretaryship.
The anticlimactic vote came after weeks of backroom dealing, which saw Tai secure the support of Torres, Gulbransen-Diaz, Wang, Maya Eswaran, Decheng Sun and Connor Wherrett.
With seven out of 12 directors pledged to Tai, the result was all but a foregone conclusion.
The Thursday night meeting was the first to involve 2018’s newly-elected directors, several of whom nominated for non-executive positions. Decheng Sun and Zimeng Ye were elected unopposed as directors of student publications, and Lachlan Finch was elected as chair of the finance committee.
In the evening’s only contested ballot, Maya Eswaran and Connor Wherrett both nominated for director of the remunerations committee, with Wherrett eventually taking the role. As her consolation, Eswaran was elected unopposed as director of the elections committee, director of the awards committee and as wom*n’s portfolio holder.
Of the positions that remained, Wherrett was elected to the queer portfolio, Finch took the environment portfolio, Sun the ethnocultural portfolio and Zimeng Ye took the international student portfolio.
Twice during the night’s proceedings, the lights went out, leaving the meeting room in darkness amid whispers about the ghosts of Reps Elect 2015.
Tai’s nomination speech praised the 2017 executive, saying outgoing president Courtney Thompson’s “Gorman sandals” would be hard to fill. Tai also acknowledged Masina’s frustrated ambitions, but lauded his passion for USU, saying it might be the “only union he is passionate about”. Masina is a young Liberal.
Though the night went Tai’s way, it was not always clear this would be the outcome. In fact, Torres, who is one of Tai’s backers, said he had at one point been encouraged to run against Tai—by none other than a “very drunk Alisha Aitken-Radburn”. Aitken-Radburn was USU President in 2015-16 and is a contestant on this year’s season of Channel 10’s The Bachelor.