By the time you pick up this week’s Honi, it’s already election day. If you haven’t already voted, think about this before you fill in the ballot.
Don’t vote for people based on policy. Don’t judge a candidate by how much you want their policies to be fulfilled; vote for them based on the principles they stand for, and their vision for the University of Sydney Union. There are two main reasons you shouldn’t judge a candidate by their policy.
Firstly: They don’t yet know enough about the company they will be working for to have full faith in their policies. As outgoing Director James Flynn said, fledgling candidates just “don’t understand the organisation they make promises for.”
In 2010, many candidates ran on promises to replace the Vittoria coffee Union outlets serve with Fair Trade brand coffee, which sponsors coffee plantations in developing countries. This policy sounded great on paper, but upon becoming Board Directors, they realised that switching coffee suppliers involved paying millions of dollars in early termination fees to Vittoria. Ultimately it wasn’t the Fair Trade policy that counted. It was the principle – making a more ethical Union.
Secondly: Don’t vote for candidates on policy, because the Board doesn’t handle policy – they hire expert staff to do that. Instead, the Board determine the Union’s overall goals and vision. The Union hires professionals to run its catering and marketing for a reason. “You’ve got to leave some details up to their expertise,” said USU President Sibella Matthews.Every year people campaign for better food or specific caterers (Thai La-Ong 3, McDonalds, etc). But the Board aren’t in charge of choosing caterers.
Instead they set out what students are looking for in caterers, like having a healthier food option (Raw) or more Kosher/Halal products. Then staff find tenants to suit those needs. Promises for specific Access partners or programs suffer from the same issue.
Director Nai Brooks stressed that being a Board Director is more about “high-level strategic vision.” The Union is bigger than any one Board Director’s promises, and trying to push your pet project can mean “stepping on someone else’s toes.”
At the end of the day, cast your vote based on principles. Vote for someone because when five caterers are fighting for one spot, or Michael Spence offers to buy out commercial operations – you think they’ll make the right choice.As Ms Matthews said, “[Being a good director] means sacrificing the pursuit of an election promise for bigger and more significant priorities.” I’m not voting for candidates who can keep their promises; I’m voting for candidates who know when not to keep them.