Reports of negotiations relating to the USU Board Executive election, taking place this evening, appear to confirm that the next President of the Board will be Connor Wherrett (Labor Right/Unity). Wherrett will apparently be joined by Lachlan Finch (Mod Lib) as Vice President, Maya Eswaran (Switch) as Honorary Treasurer, and Decheng Sun (Advance) as Honorary Secretary.
Wherrett’s ticket appears to have triumphed over the opposing ticket led by Zimeng Ye (Panda) in the final stages of negotiations. Ye sought to run with the backing of incoming directors Di Wang, Zizheng Bai, and Benny Shen, but has apparently failed to secure the additional votes necessary to gain a majority of seven out of the thirteen Board Directors.
Ye reportedly received assistance from recently re-elected SUPRA President Weihong Liang during negotiations, but was unable to find willing Vice President or Honorary Treasurer candidates to join her.
Wherrett’s ticket will likely have the support of fellow student Board Directors Nick Forbutt (NLS), Cady Brown (Liberal), and Ruolin Ma (Independent) as well as the two Senate appointed Directors, Jane Drummond and Marie Leech.
The alliance between Wherrett and Finch marks the first Labor/Liberal USU coalition in recent memory, less than a month after Labor’s federal election loss. The incoming Executive is also the least representative of women in recent memory, with only one woman-identifying candidate. The past three executives have all featured a majority of woman-identifying candidates, with 2017 seeing the first Executive led entirely by women.
In a principled stance, both Eswaran and Forbutt have indicated that they will not be voting for Finch, though he is still likely to be elected with an anticipated seven votes. Eswaran indicated to Honi that she did not intend to work with a Liberal heading into the election, but in light of the circumstances, found that Wherrett’s ticket was the “least conservative” option available to her. Eswaran also indicated that she was previously set to be Wherrett’s Vice President before negotiations with Finch resulted in a change in allegiances.
Sun’s presence on the ticket is potentially attributable to his increasing involvement with the Labor party – both he and Wherrett campaigned for the party federally in May.
If elected, Wherrett will be the first Labor President of the USU since Alisha Aitken-Radburn in 2015.
The outcome will be confirmed at 6pm tonight via secret ballot. Honi will be live tweeting the results as they are announced.
Disclaimer: Honi editors Pranay Jha, Nell O’Grady, and Liam Thorne are not involved in the production of USU Executive Election coverage.