USU Board Candidate Profile 2023: Victor Zhang

Honi’s profile and interview with 2023 USU Board candidate Victor Zhang.

Slogan: Victor’s Vector

Colour: Blue

Quiz Score: 59%

Faction: Engineers

Favourite USU Outlet: Abercrombie Cafe

Following Cole Scott-Curwood’s success in the 2021 USU election, Victor Zhang is seeking to increase STEM involvement on Board. Zhang’s campaign broadly reflects the policies and stances held by other candidates running on progressive platforms. Despite being involved in the SRC this year as a councillor and a Director of Student Publications, Zhang has minimal experience with clubs and societies, which he admits is a “weak point”.

His policies broadly focus on student welfare, and reflect his experiences with welfare provision. He volunteers at Foodhub “almost every week on Tuesdays” and it is the major initiative for his campaign. Zhang proposed a permanent position for a USU staff member to oversee the operation of Foodhub (not to his discredit, the USU has since begun advertising for this position). However, Zhang has also proposed to expand the service from Tuesday and Thursday to all working days.

He described disability advocacy as “something very close to [his] heart”. For both broader and cultural competency, he has proposed training for clubs and societies executives. Zhang’s campaign involves the USU committing to progressive stances on political issues, and he describes the workings of the USU as “inherently political”. He said that the USU “should absolutely stand in solidarity with the strikes”. Zhang also said that the USU should support preserving hybrid learning, and standing against Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU). 

On transparency and the ethics of the USU practices, Zhang floated an idea about a way for students to communicate their issues through the USU app. “The USU as a whole should be very conscious about who they choose to partner with, there should be adequate research done to make sure that these aren’t firms that are really just against student interests,” said Zhang.

Zhang emphasised the value of having STEM candidates on Board as “vitally important that we actually reach people on that side of campus”. He also named this as the main factor differentiating him with other candidates. He said that this is “important because there are these services…for example, case workers, legal [and] the USU has Foodhub”. 

Despite being well-intentioned, some of Zhang’s policies were quite generic and often lacked specificity. For example, training programs for club executives are well-trodden ground, yet their efficacy remains unclear.

Scoring 59% on the quiz, Zhang’s result showed gaps in knowledge about the USU, such as the Finance Director or the USU’s operating surplus in 2021. However, he did display sound knowledge on campus issues such as the NTEU strikes. 

Although Zhang’s policies do not appear to be sufficiently sophisticated and he lacks some institutional knowledge, he is clear in his views and has a progressive view of what the USU ought to do.