The write-up: this year’s Union Board Candidates

Bebe D’Souza

 Quiz results – Overall: 61% (=2nd)

C&S: 50%, Outlets: 71%, Board and Administration: 54%, General: 70%, SSAF: 71%, University: 38%

As Bebe D’Souza managed the editorial team’s election campaign last year, Felix Donovan, BULL editor and Honi reporter, profiled her for us.

 In her policy statement, Bebe says she is a fighter. She told us it is a fiction that a Board Director can represent all students. Who she would fight for as a Board Director is no secret. Bebe’s campaign may declare a commitment to ‘inclusion’ and ‘transparency’, but her policy platform is refreshingly absent of the vagaries that often dominate Union Board elections.

We questioned if her policy of introducing an AA quota for queer-identifying board candidates wouldn’t create an electoral incentive for people struggling with their sexuality to make a deeply personal decision before they were ready to. She answered that although this may be problematic, the alternative is worse: an autonomous queer portfolio without a Board Director to fill it.

We wondered if her commitment to Board transparency and openness would endanger the USU’s negotiations with the University. She responded that there was a difference between promoting public discussion of the Union’s programs and undermining the united front of the USU in a strategically harmful way.

We thought it was strange that Bebe, a member of Grassroots, made no mention of the usual ambitious environmental initiatives. But we shouldn’t have: it is precisely the lack of reflexive leftism that makes Bebe one of the best candidates in this year’s election.

Tim Matthews

Quiz results – Overall: 64% (1st)

C&S: 63%, Outlets: 79%, Board and Administration: 43%, General: 72%, SSAF: 57%, University: 75%

In the world of student politics, Tim Matthews has grown from an insurgent David to a seasoned Goliath. In 2011 he came breathtakingly close to severing Labor Left’s iron grip on the SRC Presidency and emerged as the leading figure in the Independent group (who run under the branding ‘Voice’).

Finally turning to Union Board politics, Tim brings immense experience. In his interview he demonstrated an elaborate knowledge of the Union and spoke compellingly about the problems associated with the University’s power to allocate where SSAF money goes. Tim describes himself as progressive, and his promises to give grants to students to help them with one-off expenses (like Arts or Law camp), and to keep affirmative action, seem to validate his self-classification. Hearing him discuss the inverse relationship between involvement in University life and dropping-out of University before completing your degree was particularly impressive, and gave us the sense Tim had a sophisticated understanding of the USU’s importance. Given this, we are a little disappointed by his cutesy Pokemon branding. We were also not entirely convinced by his response to our question about his lack of commitment to a paid position in the SRC last year.

Our major concern with his policies is his promise to establish another bar in Manning; two bars stacked on top of each other seems a little excessive.

William Dawes

Will did not make time to take the quiz.

William Dawes, the ‘blue’ half of Will & Grace, is another Liberal Club endorsed candidate for Board this year. Technically, Grace and Will have the same policy platform, however, the simultaneous distinction and confluence of their policies is a point of confusion. Will wasn’t as confident as Grace during his interview, and gave a poor delivery at the Soapbox, but was eager on building relations between satellite campuses and main campus; on the other hand, he was uninformed about C&S funding reform, which he claims is more of Grace’s policy. He is opposed to SSAF and universal ACCESS, and wants ACCESS to remain a revenue stream for the Union. It is unclear if Will’s campaign is just a booster for Grace’s – all of their joint campaign materials that we have seen put [1] for Grace, and [2] for Will. He does not seem informed about the USU – for example, his first answer to a preferred presidential candidate was Zac Thompson, who is finishing his term in June. Another gaffe came about during the soapbox, when he responded to Bebe D’Souza’s policy of a “Radical Sex & Consent Week” with the accusative “who needs a week of radical sex?” Voters should think before voting for Will, as it is unclear whether his candidacy is at all serious: he has been incommunicable, and did not turn up for the Honi quiz that all the non-SULC candidates attended.

Eve Radunz

 Quiz results – Overall: 51% (8th)C&S: 56%, Outlets: 79%, Board and Administration: 50%, General: 50%, SSAF: 57%, University: 25%Eve Radunz knows her stuff – she has a durable plan to add ethical and sustainable products in all USU outlets, and she has met with the relevant people in order to accomplish her policy on discounts on Keep Cups.  But there’s no doubt that she comes across as an NLS puppet.  As the first Union Board candidate from the National Labor Students in two years, Eve’s campaign and presence in various media platforms scream classic Labor Left. In both her interview and the Soapbox, Eve responded hesitatingly to a question about disagreeing with her caucus – if there was a majority vote in her caucus that clashed with her own values, or a policy in relation to a group that she was interested in helping, then would she act in her own accord? Her answers in both situations were painfully faithful to her faction: her views would probably not disagree with the rest of her party, and if they did then she would be bound to them.

In saying that, it was virtuous of her to admit that she was receiving support from a political faction on campus.  Candidates like Robby Maygar, who are receiving considerable amounts of help from the Labor Right faction on campus, tiptoed around this fact.

Overall, Eve has a decent chance of getting on Board, and has the skills and confidence to be a good Board member. Whether or not she is capable of independent action without the help of her political party, is another question entirely.

Jordan Smith

Quiz results – Overall: 34% (10th)

C&S: 31%, Outlets: 29%, Board and Administration: 43%, General: 42%, SSAF: 14%, University: 19%

A resident at St Paul’s College, Jordan is also a member of Unity, the Labor right faction on campus, and professes to have strong Labor values. In spite of that, he’s not running with the support of any of the Labor factions and claims he’d vote independently if elected.

Like many college candidates before him, Jordan says he wants the USU to establish more connections between college and non-college students. When asked at the candidates’ soapbox whether the disconnect between colleges and the wider university community was simply a product of disengagement on the part of college students, Jordan insisted that the USU could do more to involve colleges.

Jordan also wants more events on campus at night, and, somewhat counter-intuitively, believes that more campus nightlife would lead to a safer campus.

Perhaps most radically, Jordan would like the Union to lobby on student employment issues, and report to the Fair Work Ombudsman. Whilst such a policy is admirably audacious, one has to question its feasibility when the SRC already provides employment advocacy services to students.

Jordan is one of the better college candidates in recent years, and he’s certainly made an attempt to present a real platform. But his policies lack detail, and it’s unclear whether he’s thought seriously about the practicalities of implementing them.

Grace O’Brien

Grace was unable to attend the quiz due to personal circumstances

 The pink half of the Will & Grace Union campaign, Grace O’Brien isn’t your typical Liberal Club candidate. She claims her association is purely for fun, and that her interest in politics is purely academic. She’s also a vegetarian. Grace seems more clued up on the Will & Grace policies than her other half, but – like Will – is still vague on how to reform C&S funding, despite this being one of their major policies. Likewise, they were both keen on expanding ACCESS off-campus, but weren’t sure where; Grace especially wanted Hoyts Broadway ACCESS discounts, despite them already existing. On satellite campuses, Grace, again like Will, wants to encourage more communication through art and music showcases. As a candidate on the right, Grace is fairly opposed to SSAF and is strangely confident the Union would still run smoothly in a post-SSAF environment. She is conflicted by affirmative action, and is unsure if she would accept a position if she got in through such a system. Despite Grace’s lack of Union experience, due to a long commute and off-campus commitments, she is still a confident speaker and candidate. However, voters should be aware of her affiliations – despite saying she rejected Liberal Club support, her campaign is being supported by Josh Crawford, the non-involved Liberal candidate, and to an extent Kanika, the other Liberal candidate, as well as SULC President Alex Dore.

Robby Magyar

Quiz results – Overall: 56% (5th)

C&S: 44%, Outlets: 71%, Board and Administration: 39%, General: 80%, SSAF: 36%, University: 25%

Desirous to run in 2012, Robby has managed to gather the support he needs to make a serious tilt at Board this year. After failing to win the backing of the left of Labor faction (NLS) then, Robby has turned to the right faction this year (Unity). He confirmed that if elected, he would vote for John Harding-Easson (Unity’s current Board member) for President. We were impressed by Robby’s honesty about this.

There’s no doubt Robby has the C&S experience needed to be on Board and he boasts a résumé that a less trusting newspaper might be tempted to describe as stacked out. His detailed answers to our questions revealed that his experiences with C&S, as well as directing O-Week, have left him with a solid knowledge of how this branch of the Union functions. He has obviously thought his policies through; internships in the USU could work, rewarding people for using their ACCESS card is a good idea, and a frozen yoghurt stall in Wentworth would probably be popular. His dedication to the organisation is also clear. It may have been irritating, but we ultimately believed him when he talked about how much he loved the USU.

Although it would have been nice to see Robby present a more audacious vision of the Union and a stronger commitment to Board transparency, he came across as a serious candidate with the necessary credentials.

Kade Denton

Quiz results – Overall: 55% (=6th)

C&S: 81%, Outlets: 57%, Board and Administration: 32%, General: 56%, SSAF: 57%, University: 63%

Kade Denton is a confident and articulate candidate. He’s also the only one in recent times we can remember to study Agriculture, so make of that what you will. Kade is a member of the Young Nationals, but claimed that this aspect of his politics stayed “off-campus” during his interview, and proclaimed to be independent. Indeed, he is associated with the Independent faction (Voice) on campus and ran with them in last year’s SRC elections, resulting in his acquisition of a spot as a councillor. As President of SHADES, he certainly knows his way around C&S, and claimed to have helped the society become more inclusive.Kade seems to lack a detailed vision for some of his policies. For example, when asked how he would go about implementing ACCESS discounts on satellite campuses with no USU retailers, he stated that if elected he would “work with” these retailers to implement these discounts. When pressed, he was unable to provide a detailed plan to address this potential change of operations. Nevertheless, he seems like a practical guy with good, if not inspired, ideas.

At the time of his interview, Kade stated that he wasn’t supporting any other candidate for Board, and asserted that he was running because he felt he was the best person for the job.

Tara Waniganayaka

Quiz results – Overall: 59% (4th)

C&S: 69%, Outlets: 64%, Board and Administration: 43%, General: 72%, SSAF: 57%, University: 38%

Tara answered our questions during her interview deftly and quickly, as she did during last week’s Soapbox. She was proud of her alleged ability to separate the Union and her personal politics. “I don’t think the Union is a political body,” she said, “I think politics is completely out of it.” She believes, instead, that it exists to cater primarily to students and their extracurricular experience. Her policies reflect this (reviving Manning as a hub of student life), as does her performance in the quiz.

When questioned on her ability to implement these, however, her responses were less impressive. It was unclear, for example, how she intended to secure cheaper printing. Tara often justified  policy choices by referencing her conversations with CEO Andrew Woodward: a USU cinema, for example, which has been a recurring USU theme since 2009; and an online employment hub superior to the one that already exists.

Tara is being run by current Board Director Hannah Morris, who has aspirations for the USU Presidency. Morris was run last year by Rhys Pogonoski, who correspondingly was gunning for the top job.

Ostensibly, Tara is on top – she seems to be one of the more popular of the 16 candidates. Whether this translates into votes come election day, we’ll have to see.

Georg Tamm

Quiz results – Overall: 21% (=11th)

C&S: 31%, Outlets: 36%, Board and Administration: 14%, General: 26%, SSAF: 14%, University: 0%

By the date of the election Georg Tamm will have been at uni for ten and a half weeks. To nominate yourself for Board just weeks into your first year is an audacious move. It was certainly admirable to watch Georg stand behind his policies and credentials in the face of some tough questions. Georg argued that, in spite of his age, he had the experience needed to be a Board Director and that, as a representative body, the USU should have a first year on Board.

Admirable though this courage may be, Georg sometimes struggled to come up with incisive answers to questions. We were left unclear on Georg’s stance on affirmative action, for instance, after he said he supported it but that it was unfair for someone with less votes to get on Board ahead of someone of the opposite gender with more votes (which is what AA does). Similarly, Georg emphasised his commitment to keeping the Board transparent by using PR, which seems oxymoronic. Other policies, such as providing bursaries, are well intentioned but seem lacking in detail.

The confidence of this plucky first-year Science student is impressive and plain to see, and he’s probably the most independent candidate. Still, we worry that he lacks the experience and knowledge that would make for a competent Board Director.

Patrick Ward

Quiz results – Overall: 55% (=6th)

C&S: 63%, Outlets: 57%, Board and Administration: 29%, General: 68%, SSAF: 57%, University: 50%

The only thing better than the surname ‘Ward’ for a Board candidate would be one that rhymes with ‘USU’, but we could be waiting for that a while. In the meantime, we have Pat Ward, an earnest and likeable left-wing candidate with support from Grassroots and a campaign manager in controversial first year Board Director Tom Raue.

Pat’s issues are the environment and equity for international students, and he supports ethical investment and food products. Like Bebe D’Souza, Pat is advocating for an extension of the USU’s affirmative action policy, so that one of the eleven Board Director spots will always be reserved for an international student. He also wants to give international students free ACCESS cards. And he is President of Unimates. He really loves international students.

Although these are decent ideas, Pat betrayed naïveté when he insisted that no part of any Board meeting should ever be confidential. He favours transparency over commercial confidence, and thinks even discussions about relationships with particular employees should be on the record. His concession at the Soapbox that “there might be ramifications” was probably an understatement – but points for consistency, we guess.

While Pat is obviously sincere and passionate, his tendency to ramble and lack of charisma leave him uninspiring. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, but whether he’s up to the challenges of Board remains to be seen.

Sarah Louise Marriott

Quiz results – Overall: 61% (=2nd)

C&S: 31%, Outlets: 79%, Board and Administration: 46%, General: 78%, SSAF: 71%, University: 38%

Sarah Marriott knows the USU. Whether or not she was schooled by her nominator, current Board Director, Jacqui Munro, is irrelevant: the fact is, she knows what she’s getting herself into. She aced the quiz and handled her interview incredibly well, answering almost every question strongly. However, when asked what the current Board’s greatest achievement was, she answered “Sibella Matthews’ ability to negotiate with the University.” While this answer demonstrates knowledge of the Board (Matthews, as Immediate Past President, is still a Board member), her inability to think of something from the last two years demonstrates a stinging lack of respect for the current Board. Ouch!

Sarah also declared that the USU Board is not a representative body – despite seeking the position via democratic vote. She clarifies that Board Directors should be “making decisions that are in the best interests of the USU and the student body.” That sounds pretty ‘representative’ to us.

At the Soapbox, USU President Astha Rajvanshi asked Sarah a curveball question, stating that many of her policies are already on the USU’s strategic plan, and asking her what makes them unique. Sarah claimed that this just made her policies more feasible, though to us it reeks a little of jumping on the bandwagon. This isn’t necessarily an awful thing. Sarah knows what’s up, and her self-described “business savvy” may just make her a good candidate.

Jeremy Elphick

Quiz results – Overall: 36% (9th)

C&S: 63%, Outlets: 50%, Board and Administration: 14%, General: 44%, SSAF: 14%, University: 25%

Jeremy Elphick is the Chosen One of Sydney Labor Students (SLS): he is being run by SRC SLS stalwarts Julia Robins and James Leeder, and he was nominated by SRC President David Pink. His slogan, ‘Pelphick Thrust’, is the most suggestive since last year’s nauseating ‘Get Your John On’.

Jeremy was charismatic and articulate, with a good appreciation of the need to reconcile the different personalities that will direct next year’s Board. His approach to using ethical products while also supplying cheaper food to students was markedly better than that of fellow left candidate Pat Ward, with Jeremy arguing that the trade-off could be managed by offering meals that were naturally less cost-intensive. He also gave the whimsical policy of a puppy room some credibility by linking it to proven improvements in students’ mental health.

However, while Jeremy was generally able to justify his policies, he seemed confused by the term in camera, despite it being explained in the question. While not knowing Latin is fine for us mere mortals, it would be common knowledge for anyone who had attended a Board meeting. This lack of knowledge of the Union’s structure and functions was reflected in Jeremy’s surprisingly poor showing in the quiz.

Jeremy is an affable candidate who could bring some constructive debate to the Board, but who will have to learn a lot on the job.

Thomas Francis Russell

Quiz results – Overall: 21% (=11th)

C&S: 13%, Outlets: 43%, Board and Administration: 14%, General: 20%, SSAF: 21%, University: 25%

Oh, Tom Russell. Tom, notorious as Facebook antagonist Edgar Allen Poe, somehow garnered over 48 000 views of his interview on YouTube – most of which come from Romania. It was one of the longest despite his minimalist policies: removing affirmative action (“by whatever means necessary”, forebodingly), expansion of cultural programs, and “for people to get their fucking money’s worth”.

On culture, he wants to remove the USU’s “black armband” approach to indigenous history. Tom feels that we should learn about the history of indigenous people’s mistreatment of women and slaves, because “they were real people like us”. Tom has opined on indigenous history before, writing to the SMH in 2011: ‘so if a few hundred Aborigines had to die in skirmishes and maybe 20 000 more inadvertently from disease to expand the British empire and eventually create all that we have in this country today, so be it’. When asked at the candidates’ soapbox why indigenous students should have any confidence that he shares their interests, he asked the audience to point out the indigenous students in the room, and then explained they are “clearly not major stakeholders in the USU”.

Tom’s quiz revealed that he knows next to nothing about the USU, the organisation he wants to run. He also compared himself to a Nazi in the first minute of his interview. Great guy!

Kanika Batra

Kanika did not make time to take the quiz.
Kanika claims to be the primary candidate of the Sydney University Liberal Club. She opposes affirmative action, claiming that she would not take up her role if elected under AA. She also spoke in favour of VSU, although, worryingly, looked a little lost when asked how the USU would pay for things without the SSAF, promising to email us (we’re still waiting). Despite this lapse, she stuck by her guns in the interview and performed well under pressure.

Notably, Kanika insisted that Board was not a political body, and when asked which other candidates she admired named Sarah Marriott and Robby Magyar first. This is odd, considering her official campaign material exhorts voters to preference fellow Libs Grace O’Brien second and William Dawes third.

While she’s said she wouldn’t actively campaign against AA, Kanika is likely to fight for your right to party. In her interview she mentioned ACCESS discounts at World Bar – woop woop! (Although this already exists.) She also promised fortnightly on-campus parties. Kanika’s other passion is multicultural involvement in the Union, proposing a Multicultural Officer role.

Kanika’s proposed phone-charging facilities at Manning, Wentworth and Footbridge bear an uncanny(-ka) resemblance to Josh’s and Will’s policies, although she claimed it was mere coincidence. Coincidentally, they all confused Footbridge, a bridge the USU doesn’t control, with Holme, a building the USU does control. Hmm.

Joshua CrawfordThe first thing you notice about Josh Crawford is that he’s not here. Where’d he go? Oh, God. I’ve lost him. Crawford – the Missing Sixteenth – didn’t have much to say during his interview with Honi. Nor the Candidate’s Soapbox. Nor the quiz. I know a guy who once heard his voice. I know a guy who knows a guy who swears that he owns a lock of his hair. Here are some facts: Crawford did not claim his $500 grant; he has not made any overt attempt to get elected; his name is still on the ballot. “What’s the deal with Josh?” is the question on everyone’s lips and the title of my new sitcom. Sources indicate that he’s campaigning for famous tag-team Will Dawes and Grace O’Brien. Sources also indicate that two’s company but three’s a crowd. Can this relationship last? Find out in the next episode of Will & Grace & Josh Crawford.

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