UniGate Week 5 – Hacks fight over shirts, Liberals meet a picket, SULS elections, and Ed Officer moves on

All the rumours, hearsay, and downright slander from the world of student politics and culture

The Colour Purple

Following the grand bargains and betrayals of the last few weeks, negotiations between factions leading up to the SRC election have taken a turn for the petty. With Sydney Labor Students’ (SLS) split from the national Labor Left faction, there has been a significant amount of squabbling over branding and colours during the nomination period. NLS has for the last two years run under the ‘Stand Up’ brand and the colour purple, but the vast majority of last year’s NLS caucus is now in SLS, who, given they are running alongside Unity (Labor Right) as they did last year, felt they had a claim over the brand. To complicate matters, NLS ran Eve Radunz for Union Board earlier this year with purple branding. As it turns out, in the rainbow of student politics there are only so many colours to choose from. A maelstrom over use of both the ‘Stand Up’ brand and purple therefore broke out, with SLS reserving ‘Stand Up’ tickets at the SRC office the on the day nominations opened. There were even rumours that one of the groups staged an overnight sleep-out at the SRC, though the Gate could not confirm their veracity, nor whether tents were involved. But NLS were certainly peeved, and appealed their right to run under ‘Stand Up’. After a protracted stand off (or was it a stand up?) between the two groups, a settlement was reached, and the Returning Officer ruled that NLS be allowed to run with purple so long as they withdraw their objection to SLS/Unity’s use of ‘Stand Up’. Interestingly, members of both NLS and SLS confirmed that the Returning Officer accepted NLS’ argument that the faction had a right to purple, given its association with Radunz’s Union Board campaign. SLS will go with red.

Frankly, we’re unsure what the moral of the story is, except that this saga appears to have given us yet another reason to think that the election will be, to put it mildly, one hell of an unrelenting shitfight.

Liberals Join Picket, Make a Splash

Last week’s NTEU strike was a fairly placid affair by recent standards but one incident did catch the Gate’s beady eyes. By late morning the picket on the Eastern Avenue footbridge over City Road had become the sternest and most insistent obstacle to any students wishing to enter the university. It was, needless to say, not the kind of place you would want to find yourself if you were wearing a Liberal Party shirt. But that’s exactly what happened when Celeste Arenas and Josh Crawford attempted to cross. Wait, Crawford? Why does that name sound familiar? The three of you who had actually picked up a copy of Honi before last week’s little cover incident will remember that Crawford was originally on the ballot as one of the Liberal candidates at the USU elections, but like the glorious Achilles his career was short-lived and he pulled out before punters went to the poll. When our two little Libs reached the picket things got rowdy and one of the women in the picket ended up emptying half a bottle of water onto the unsuspecting Arenas.

A photo from after the splash shows Arenas laughing the incident off (29 likes on Sydney University Liberal Club’s facebook page, not a bad effort Arenas). But the picketers on the scene had less to laugh about. Police rushed the picket after the incident in the day’s most violent intervention. Multiple witnesses reported seeing the woman who threw the water slammed against the concrete walls of the footbridge by police. As the rest of the crowd burst into an enraged chant, police threatened them with capsicum spray. There have also been reports that one officer pulled a taser on the students. Police barged out from the fracas, arresting one student in the process (not the one responsible for Arenas’ surprise shower, however).

Though the NTEU and the University are perilously close to a deal on the EBA, the Union will still be picketing the annual open day on Saturday August 31.

SULS elections

The SRC election will only just have ended when another group of coloured-shirt-wearing students flood Eastern Avenue and the Law Lawns. The offenders will be candidates for the election of the 2014 Sydney University Law Society (SULS) executive. Nominations for tickets of sixteen people close in just under a month but the wheels of at least two tickets are already in motion.

Current SULS Queer Officer Matthew Yeldham has confirmed that he is a candidate for President. At this stage, he is running with Callum Forbes (JD I), Jess Xiao (LLB I), Nicky Bevitt (LLB III) and Sophie Sauerman (LLB I).

Another person rumoured to be running for President is third-year BA/LLB student and current VP (Social Justice) James Higgins. When asked, Higgins was coy about his intentions: he wouldn’t confirm that he was putting his hat in the ring, but did say he was thinking about it. He declined to let the Gate know who he might be running with.

However, it should be noted that it’s early days: nominations close on September 21, and it’s possible that the two tickets may work together and avoid the messy business of an election altogether. The 2013 team ended up being the only ticket and was therefore ‘elected’ without competition. While that probably isn’t the best example of democracy in action, law students would have to agree that it was better than the three-way race of late 2010, when it seemed that most of the Law School was a candidate for one position or another.

Meanwhile, one of SULS’ executive, Competitions Director Rachel Williams, has resigned from her position, resulting in a special run-off election, to be held on Monday September 9.

SRC Education Officer to Step Down

The Gate understands that Casey Thompson is likely to resign as Education Officer in the coming weeks. Thompson, who is juggling a job with the ALP on the side, told the Gate she was too sick to comment on the issue.Goodbye Casey, we hardly knew ye.

Honi Soit
Honi Soit is the largest and oldest weekly student newspaper in Australia. Our articles, like this one, are made possible by our dedicated student reporters and contributors.
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