USU Board candidate profile 2022: Alexander Poirier

Honi’s profile and interview with 2022 USU Board candidate Alexander Poirier.

Slogan: Progress with Poirier

Colour: Maroon 

Quiz score: 44%

Faction: Independent (remains a member of Ignite) 

Alexander Poirier is one of three candidates who failed Honi’s Election Quiz. He follows a trend of students from the Conservatorium of Music running for student leadership positions on a platform of promoting the apparently under-represented interests of the Con. As one of the USU’s Welcome Fest Coordinators and President of Sydney University Chinese Orchestra (SUCO), Poirier boasts a substantive level of engagement with the USU, taking credit in his interview for ensuring that the Con received its own Welcome Week events in 2022. 

Poirier was at pains to distinguish himself from Student Unity (the Labor Right faction he was a member of) stating that he is representing the Conservatorium’s interests in this election.  However, he was also keen to assert that he was not representing Ignite (a Conservatorium students faction, of which he is also a member). When Honi asked if Unity would support his campaign, he said “I doubt it”. He also struggled to articulate his political views, putting himself broadly as “quite left-leaning”, citing the importance of de-colonisation, commitment to “diverse peoples and minorities”, and a broad opposition to capitalism. 

He was unable to justify a link between his self-described progressive politics and his former membership of Student Unity, saying he would likely align himself more with NLS (Labor Left) or Grassroots (Left-independents).

On the question of freedom of speech and USU club registration for right-wing groups such as LifeChoice, Poirier struggled to find an answer, ultimately concluding that “it’s best if they [LifeChoice] have a club within the USU system because that means they are bound to the rules”. 

“Here are the guidelines, if you break the guidelines, then you don’t get to be [registered], in conclusion, they [pro-life clubs] shouldn’t be registered. So if they are going to make people feel uncomfortable, then they obviously cannot do that,” Poirier said, further muddling his position. Although he named CathSoc’s ableist A-frame last year as an example of unacceptable behaviour, he did not elaborate on where he drew the line of politicised clubs more broadly, commenting that episodes such as student activists’ occupation of F23 in 2020 fall outside the USU’s jurisdiction. This is in contrast to sentiments of previous leftwing candidates, who have suggested that the USU’s jurisdiction should be expanded to cover such activist causes.

In interpreting these politics within the USU, Poirier appears to lean towards a view of the USU as a service provider, rather than as an activist institution that holds university management accountable. 

Despite having experience in USU bureaucracy as Welcome Fest Coordinator, his knowledge on the companies that the USU engages with is minimal. When quizzed about the types of companies he would not work with, Poirier was not able to name any, aside from pointing to those “that have anything to do with furthering the climate emergency”. He pinned this lack of awareness on the fact that he did not interact with any companies outside “the vein of [the] performing arts” during his Welcome Fest Coordinator role. 

Overall, Poirier’s candidacy is almost exclusively confined to the Con’s interests, while a laudable aim, questions remains on whether he can meaningfully represent those on the main campus and beyond. Being a multi-million dollar organisation presiding over the welfare and life of more than 65,000 students, Poirier’s dearth of policies outside the Conservatorium suggests that he will be less equipped to advocate for other students outside of his circles. 

Listen to Alexander Poirier’ interview and read the transcript here.