Degree: Bachelor of Arts, II
Factional affiliation: Independent (formerly Penta and I N T E R P O L)
Yang Tu is an Arts student in her second year at the University of Sydney. She currently holds two office bearer positions within the SRC – during last year’s RepsElect, she was elected Global Solidarity Officer with Chinese international students faction Penta, and in August’s council meeting, she was elected Social Justice Officer after self-nominating as an independent on the floor. Most recently, she appeared on the I N T E R P O L for STEM ticket in the SRC elections, which was managed by former USU Board candidate K Philips, a self-described centrist.
Tu pulled out of her scheduled interview with Honi, and therefore her institutional knowledge of the Senate was not assessed in-person. However, it does appear to be lacking; in a follow-up statement, Tu was unable to provide a meaningful explanation of her understanding of the Senate’s role beyond copy-and-pasting the information from the University website.
When describing her suitability for the role, Tu cites her leadership experience as an Undergraduate Student Ambassador, her SRC Office Bearer positions, and her role as the FASS Undergraduate Committee Representative to the Education Committee. She states in her candidate profile that such experiences give her a “broad network and perspective within our cohort” and that she “deeply understands how to effectively collaborate with peers from different social backgrounds”. In the absence of an interview, it is unclear if there is any substance to these claims beyond being buzzwords.
Tu’s policy platform also leaves much to be desired. In her additional statement to Honi, she identifies the volume of backlog cases within the Academic Integrity Unit, an issue that disproportionately affects international students, as a priority. She proposed to dissuade the University from “certain pathways”, “enhance sensitivity to student concerns” and “promote fresh concepts” that will improve the student experience. However, she did not provide any further details as to what this looks like, especially in regards to the impact of the University’s punitive approach to academic integrity. Additionally, given that such issues usually fall within the scope of the Academic Board, it is unclear how Tu plans to address these concerns from within the Senate, if elected.
She also brought up concerns with the University’s budget and finances in her Honi statement, suggesting that the “interannual increase in tuition fees” could be “adjusted”. Honi has doubts as to whether decreasing tuition is achievable (if that is what she is proposing), given that external government policies like the Job Ready Graduates Package have significant influence on fees. Tu is also proposing more “effective management of budget” by “taking out loans to avoid austerity measures and course cuts”. Given that the University returned a surplus of $1.04 billion last year, it is unclear why Tu is proposing that the University take out loans to offset their austerity measures.
Overall, Tu’s policy platform and campaign for Undergraduate Student Fellow of the Senate appears to be riddled with inconsistencies and has very little substance. Her candidate statement provides vague details about the outcomes she wishes to achieve without any plan as to how she intends to implement them.
Honi was unable to scrutinise her leadership experience in the absence of an interview, but her record of involvement with the SRC as both a Global Solidarity and Social Justice Officer is lacking. In addition to not participating in discussions, the portfolios she presides over regularly struggles to provide reports to Honi, and when this occurs, it is almost always her fellow Office Bearers providing them. There has also been minimal Canvas announcements from Tu in her role as a FASS committee representative, a common avenue for FASS student representatives to communicate with their peers. It is therefore concerning that she has decided to nominate for undergraduate student fellow; it is unclear whether she will be able to fulfil her responsibilities as undergraduate student fellow considering her sparse track record in the leadership positions she currently holds.
“I commit to being an enabler embedding ‘efficiency and sustainability’, and happy to make my own contributions in improving teaching and learning conditions and in service of the public good, to make the University of Sydney more democratic and inclusive,” Tu said.
Voting for Student Senate Fellow elections are now open, and will close at 4pm on Tuesday, 18 October.
*Note: A previous version of this article stated that Tu had not used Canvas in her capacity as FASS Committee representative to communicate with her peers. This error has since been corrected.