RepsElect is the Super Bowl of student politics. That is if nobody other than those involved watched the superbowl. Too bad Honi is involved (it is our job).
The products of backroom deals between left-wing factions played out in an over-stimulating night deep in the Quad’s Professorial Board Room — a famous venue in the halls of RepsElect history, with 2018’s meeting being dispersed by police. There were few surprises as to who was appointed to the coveted paid Office Bearer (OB) positions, with the campus Liberals unable to pick up a single executive position.
Outgoing president Lia Perkins (Grassroots) opened the meeting with a chant of “Free Palestine!” before incoming president Harrison Brennan (Grassroots) gave an Acknowledgement of Country. He spoke first about how USyd — as the first University on stolen land — has a lot to answer for in terms of Indigenous justice, and outlined the role of the SRC in achieving this. He then condemned Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which was met by heckling from SAlt, who asked “what have you done?”
This was to be a common theme of the night, as the SAlt caucus heckled almost all speakers. SAlt also characteristically nominated for election to almost all positions, only to withdraw their nomination after speaking. Upon taking the microphone, most SAlt speakers turned face — and then yell — at Grassroots, who they extensively collaborate with in activist organising and preferenced in the 2023 Presidential election. The purpose of this remains unclear.
The first election was for Vice President. Deaglan Godwin (SAlt) and Annabelle Jones (NLS) were first to speak, jointly nominating in line with pre-negotiated selections. Godwin spoke about the many crises facing the world, from the genocide of Palestinians to the climate crisis, and asked “Where is our student union?” Annabelle Jones (NLS), then gave her speech, thanking Dan and Rose for their vice presidency. Liberal Councillors Shahmeer Hossain and Will Nicholas jointly nominated, but waived their right to speak. Unsurprisingly, Deaglan Godwin and Annabelle Jones were elected to the position. SAlt’s decision to go for the Vice-President position, where office holders are paid an annual $10,000+ stipend and typically manage FoodHub, among other mostly administrative duties, is a change from recent elections, where they have declined to use their considerable bargaining power for such a purpose.
Five tickets nominated for General Secretary: Jacklyn Scanlan (NLS) and Dan O’Shea (Unity) were the pre-negotiated ticket, Yasmine Johnson (SAlt) gave a speech and then resigned, and Liberals Thomas Thorpe and Aryan Ilkhani nominated but were invalid due to affirmative action requirements. (Every campus Liberal in attendance at RepsElect this year was a man.) Jacklyn Scanlan began her speech by coming out, a rare wholesome moment in the chaos of RepsElect: she spoke about the importance of avoiding austerity, saying “austerity kills unions”.
Things heated up as the General Executive was elected. Jordan Anderson (Switch) kicked off the speeches by addressing the questions previously directed to Grassroots by SAlt, denying that no one was present at pro-Palestine rallies. Rising above the chaos, Riki Scalan, the Returning Officer, donned noise-cancelling headphones and blew a whistle. All for naught, as the yelling continued. Eventually, Jordan Anderson (Switch), Shovan Bhattarai (SAlt), Rose Donnelly (NLS), Angus Fisher (NLS), Sofia Flipovic (Switch) were all elected as general executives.
For the Education Officer position Shovan Bhattarai (SAlt) and Grace Street (Grassroots) jointly nominated. Bhattarai said “the forces on the left are not where they need to be. We need to get real with activist organising”. Street said “We are out and angry, we blame the liberal government for the job ready graduates package. It will be another big year fighting for the rights of students and staff.” Following Street’s speech for the activist position, SAlt yelled at Grassroots saying that they did not sufficiently invest in activism.
Rand Khatib (Grassroots) and Eliza Crossley (Switch) were pre-selected by the Women’s Collective for the Women’s Officer positions. They were thus elected, with rules introduced in 2022 preventing other candidates from running. In other autonomous portfolios where the same rules apply, Rav Grewal (Grassroots), Sidra Ghanawi were elected as Ethnocultural Officers; Cianna Walker, Taylah Cooper, Ethan Floyd were elected as First Nation’s Officers — their three-person joint nomination a significant development for the largely dormant portfolio; Esther Whitehead (SLA), Jamie Bridge (SLA), Tim Duff (SLA) were elected as Queer Officers; and Nguyen Khanh Tran, Yi Fan [Victor] Zhang (Engineers) elected as Disabilities Officer’s — with Tran returning for a second-straight year in the position.
Grewal (Grassroots), spoke to his nomination saying, “As we exist in a settler colony, our struggle must be decolonial.” Cooper said, in speaking to the need for First Nations activism in the wake of the Voice referendum, “We are always living in a No vote.” Duff spoke to their preferred approach to activism, saying “We do not want a conciliatory response to Queer liberation. We will not work with the police or with management. Community comes first, workers come first.” SAlt’s heckles increased during the speeches of each nominated Queer Officer. It is unclear why. Tran spoke to DisCo’s work this year — opposing the dismissal of disabled USyd academic Dr Niko Tiliopoulos and creating Disabled Honi. Zhang held a copy of the Disabilities Royal Commission report, asking “What is to be done [for disability rights]? This is what needs to be done”.
Gerard Buttigieg (NLS), Jasmine Al-Rawi (SAlt), Julius Wittfoth (SAlt), Ellie Robertson (Switch) were elected as Welfare Officers. Robertson criticised the University’s closure of International House, speaking on the need to put pressure on the federal Labor government for their “meagre” response to the housing crisis, saying there is “a need for safe and affordable accommodation for students, both domestic and international”. Wittfoth followed the leader (Godwin) in talking about the Grassroots student politics faction. Al-Rawi and Buttigieg dedicated their speeches primarily to advocating for justice for Palestine.
Jack Lockhart (NLS), Maddie Clark (SAlt), Thomas Williams (SAlt), Jordan Anderson (Switch) were elected as Environmental Officers. Clark described Lockhart’s speech as “a joke”, alluding to NLS’ position as the Labor Left faction on campus. “The Labor Party is in power and is overseeing the largest expansion of coal seam gas,” she said. Anderson agreed, speaking on Tanya Plibersek’s role in accelerating the climate crisis. Williams turned his attention to USyd, saying “They [management] have the power to give millions to weapons companies. They do have power, but they have interest in fucking over students.” Upitis spoke about Grassroots (the faction).
Speeches for the remaining positions were filled with the miscellanea one would expect, given how the meeting proceeded thus far. Most speeches did not discuss the OB position the speaker had nominated for, except for those of the Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment Officers, Student Accomodation Officers, and International Student Officers. The elected OBs in all positions can be found at the bottom of this article.
With half an hour left, the academic suspension of Godwin and Maddie Clark (SAlt) earlier this year made its return to the spotlight, with both Godwin and Clark interrogating Grassroots’ role in the academic probation process. For context, both then-SRC President Lauren Lancaster and outgoing President Lia Perkins were present at the protest — and whose actions “also warranted suspension,” claimed Godwin.
Godwin and Clark presented quotes from Lancaster, seemingly demonstrating that the latter “threw us [Clark and Godwin] under the bus.” Clark then targeted Perkins directly, asking “do you regret attending that protest? Because I fucking don’t!” amidst cheers from SAlt.
Tiger Perkins (Grassroots) challenged the allegations, pointing out that Godwin refuses to back up his claims with evidence whenever pressed.
“I have asked so many times for the transcript that Deaglan has read, which he claims is restricted under a gag order, yet freely talks about in a room full of hundreds of people,” Perkins said.
“If it is true, then of course we condemn snitching on student activism. That is abhorrent behaviour that we all totally disagree with and would like to publicly distance ourselves from.”
The meeting finished just after midnight, when werewolves customarily enter the quad. Attendees were encouraged to disperse quickly.
Here is the full list of SRC OBs for 2024
|Office Bearer Position||Elected Representatives|
|Vice-Presidents||Deaglan Godwin (SAlt), Annabelle Jones (NLS)|
|General Secretaries||Daniel O’Shea (Unity), Jacklyn Scanlan (NLS)|
|General Executive||Jordan Anderson (Switch), Shovan Bhattarai (SAlt), Rose Donnelly (NLS), Angus Fisher (NLS), Sofia Filipovic (Switch)|
|Education Officers||Shovan Bhattarai (SAlt), Grace Street (Grassroots)|
|Women’s Officers||Eliza Crossley (Switch), Rand Khatib (Grassroots)|
|Welfare Officers||Gerard Buttigieg (NLS), Jasmine Al-Rawi (SAlt), Julius Wittforth (SAlt), Ellie Robertson (Switch)|
|Ethnocultural Officers||Rav Grewal (Grassroots), Sidra Ghanawi|
|First Nations Officers||Cianna Walker (Artistry), Taylah Cooper, Ethan Floyd|
|International Students’ Officers||Kejun Liu (Penta), Zhongxuan Jiang (Penta), Fengxuan Liu (Penta), Astrid Xue|
|Environment Officers||Jack Lockhart (NLS), Madeleine Clark (SAlt), Thomas Williams (SAlt), Jordan Anderson (Switch)|
|Global Solidarity Officers||Nabilah Chowdhury (Grassroots), Gabriel Crowe (SAlt), Tamsyn Smith (SAlt), Lia Perkins (Grassroots)|
|Intercampus Officers||Lydia Elias (SAlt), Alexander Poirer (Artistry), Zijun Shan (Penta), Zifan Xie (Penta)|
|Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment Officers||Ellie Robertson (Switch), Martha Barlow (Switch), Georgia Zhang (Switch), Olivia Lee (Unity)|
|Queer Officers||Esther Whitehead (SLA), Jamie Bridge (SLA), Tim Duff (SLA)|
|Disabilities Officers||Nguyen Khanh Tran, Yi Fan [Victor] Zhang (Engineers)|
|Mature Age Students’ Officers||No candidates nominated for this election.|
|Interfaith Officers||Yuchen Li (Penta), Nguyen Khanh Tran|
|Social Justice Officers||Tahlia Arnold (NLS), Lauren Finlayson (SAlt), Reeyaa Agrawal (Switch), Simon Uptis (SAlt)|
|Refugee Rights Officers||Daniel Holland (NLS), Keira Garland (SAlt), Reeyaa Agrawal (Switch), Lucas Pierce (SAlt)|
|Student Accomodation Officers||Sofija Filipovic (Switch), Ishbel Dunsmore (Grassroots), Will Jubb (NLS), Patrick Jacombs (Unity)|
|Chair of the Standing Legal Committee||Martha Barlow (Switch)|
|Standing Legal Committee||Ned Graham (NLS), James Dwyer (Unity)|
|Director of Student Publications (DSPs)||Ziying Zheng (Penta), Tiger Perkins (Grassroots), Lia Perkins (Grassroots), Jasmine Donnelly (NLS), Yi Fan [Victor] Zhang (Engineers), Dustin Dao (Unity)|
|Intercampus Committee||Grace Porter (Unity), Cara Eggleston (Artistry)|