USU Board Candidate Profile 2023: Syed Ahmad Sabaat

Honi’s profile and interview with 2023 USU Board candidate Syed Ahmad Sabaat.

Slogan: Sabaat for Change: Your Voice, Your Union, Your Choice!

Colour: Black

Quiz Score: 16%

Faction: Independent 

Favourite USU Outlet: UniBros

Syed Ahmad Sabaat is running for USU as an independent candidate, with no past or current connections with campus factions or political parties. He says that this is a strength, saying that no ties to factions meaning he is “bringing something new to the table,” and that political factions “bring their own agenda” to the Board. However, his institutional knowledge is almost non-existent.

Sabaat, as an international student, positions himself as a candidate bringing cultural diversity to Board, saying he “understands the challenges international students face.” Increasing the USU’s accessibility, and its profile among less-engaged students, shapes his policy platform.

Sabaat divides his campaign promises into three parts: Empowerment and Inclusivity, Student Engagement and Well-Being, and Sustainability. His plans in the first section include “making clubs and societies more accessible for international and Indigenous students.” In his interview with Honi, he also supported making campus life, particularly parties at Manning, more accessible to students with disabilities. 

Sabaat was most enthusiastic about the student wellbeing aspect of his platform. He wants the USU to provide more jobs for students on campus (he supported paying V-team volunteers), and he envisages the USU hosting sessions on how students, particularly international, can navigate getting casual jobs in Sydney.

Sabaat thinks it is important for the USU to treat its staff as well as possible. He does not clearly provide for this other than promising to increase their rate of pay, and when faced with financial issues, endeavouring to avoid staff cuts. He says social issues “affect us either directly or indirectly,” and thus it is the USU’s role to publicly comment on them and take activist stances. This extends to the National Tertiary Education Union’s (NTEU) strikes.

He has policies to increase the functionality of the USU app, including an integrated payment system. He thinks the USU’s website does not befit a 21st century entity. Sabaat, a worker in the tech industry with a clear passion for these sorts of reforms, would clearly be eager to push for these changes if elected.

This said, students will naturally question whether Sabaat, who scored sixteen per cent on the quiz, actually has the knowledge required to be an effective director. His quiz scores were particularly weak in his knowledge of broader issues in the University, including at the Students’ Representative Council, and details of the NTEU’s strike campaign.

Sabaat’s ability to demonstrate how he would implement his policies was seriously lacking. While his emphasis on lobbying the University and increasing the USU’s outreach to students is admirable, it does suggest Sabaat has not yet come to grips with the role of the USU Board, and understood its ability to affect change within the organisation. 

Ultimately, this leaves students with a choice: to vote for Sabaat because of his care for students and lack of factional affiliation, or look to more experienced and knowledgeable candidates, who are likely better able to implement their visions for the USU.