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UniGate Week 3 – SRC & Honi candidates, NU$, a drugs bust, and a pizza heist

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

Hacktalk: Honi and SRC

Inspired by our good friends over at the NSA, the Gate has spent the last few weeks spying, prying, and unscrupulously stealing the secrets of USYD’s student politicians. We’ve bugged Alex Dore’s car, stolen Hannah Morris’ diary, hacked Tom Raue’s Facebook, and hired plumbers to break into David Pink’s filing cabinet. Here’s what we found.

The factions have been playing hard to get with each other as alliances are forged for the upcoming SRC elections. There’s a lot of speculation flying around and at this stage all that’s really clear is that things will be an absolute mess. What we know is that two strong presidential candidates have emerged. The first is Hannah Smith of NLS (a Labor Left faction). Smith looks likely to win the support of the Indies (those who last year would have run under the ‘Voice’ branding). The second is Amelie Vanderstock of Grassroots. If Grassroots can win over SLS (another Labor Left faction), Unity (Labor Right), and/or smaller left wing groups (Socialist Alternative and Solidarity) she will have a good chance of becoming the first non-Labor President of the SRC in 15 years.

[Edit: Just after Honi went to print it emerged Unity and SLS had signed off on a deal to back Unity member Jennifer Light for President. So much for the chances of a non-Labor President]  

Honi: After weeks of coalition making and coalition breaking, two tickets are shaping up to contest the election of next year’s Honi Soit editors. Each year tickets of up to ten compete with the victorious team elected in full. The first ticket is spearheaded by MECO student, BULL editor, and SHADES president Lane Sainty, along with fellow BULL ed. Felix Donovan. According to a source on the ticket it also includes Georgia Kriz, Georgia Behrens, John Gooding, Andrew Passarello, Justin Pen, Harry Stratton, and Michael Rees. Here’s the big one though: Astha Rajvanshi, USU President until just months ago, is also confirmed. When Rajvanshi was a Board Director last year and an Honi Director of Student Publications (which meant she saw the paper before it went to print) she informed then President Sibella Matthews that Honi was about to publish a leaked USU email, leading the USU to threaten to sue the paper and forcing the editors to literally guillotine a section from four thousand hard copies of the edition. This year saw a similar incident after Honi again leaked a USU email. Rajvanshi told the Gate she would recuse herself from writing or even discussing USU coverage with the other editors should she be elected. Rajvanshi will be continuing her role as Immediate Past President of the USU if she is elected to Honi, which means that she will still be a Board Director with active fiduciary duties to the organisation. Her dual Honi/USU ambitions aren’t unprecedented, though: Alice Dixon (USU Vice President 2008-2009) was an Honi editor in 2008 after being elected to Board in mid-2007, and Pat Bateman made an unsuccessful tilt at editorship in 2011 when he was Immediate Past President.

The second ticket appears to be at an earlier stage of development. So far it includes Miranda Smith (who recently helped manage Bebe D’Souza’s USU campaign and co-campaign managed the current Honi team’s election campaign), Jeremy Elphick (who recently ran against Bebe D’Souza during the same campaign), Edward McMahon, Stella Ktenas, and Nina Hallas. It looks likely to be managed by current Honi editor Nick Rowbotham.* The current ticket has a notably activist flavour and would be likely to work with Grassroots during the elections. After preference deals with SRC tickets proved crucial during last year’s Honi race, both sides will now be carefully considering which SRC group it will be most profitable to form an alliance with.

*Because of his potential involvement in the election, Nick will not be contributing to the Gate’s coverage of the election.

NUSty put some clothes on

The many, many eyes of the Gate’s spies have gathered more than just hack gossip. We have acquired a copy of the National Union of Students’ (NUS) federal election campaign strategy, developed by marketing company Essential Media Communications. In addition to an enrol to vote campaign that has already been launched, NUS is planning, amongst other things, an ‘Instagram action’ – as if we needed to combine the dual vices of Instagram vapidity and Labor upstarts in campaign mode.

Also of note in the strategy document is the $15,000 NUS is spending on its election campaign website. To put that in perspective, we recently spent $69 (and admittedly a few hours in our dungeon of an office) on our new website. Overall, it appears that NUS is spending close to $60,000 on the election, which is a similar amount to its typical entire annual expenditure on activist campaigns. Given NUS has consistently spent less than 10% of its annual  budget on activism in recent years, allocating $60,000 to an electoral slush fund invites a degree of cynicism, especially as NUS is controlled by Labor students, some of whom presumably have career aspirations in the party. This extra $60,000 may well be better spent on organising on-the-ground campaigns than implementing a social media strategy and building a new website, but perhaps we just don’t get it…

Kids: don’t do drugs, urinate, and go to campus bars

A naughty student with a bad habit has been permanently banned from Manning and Hermann’s. Let’s call him Derek.* Derek was already on shaky ground with the staff at Hermann’s after deciding a few months ago that his bursting bladder needed relieving just when the bar was closing. Ignoring staff’s pleas to stop, he made his way to the bathroom and…well, you can guess what he did there.

Derek received a red card last Tuesday night after smoking pot with some fellow students, again at Hermann’s. Like a grown-up game of pass-the-parcel, the joint was in his hand when the bar staff came over, and he had no choice but to confess. Now Derek’s only options for on-campus beverages are drinks at Taste Baguette or Parma. We hope he likes wankiness served with his wine.

*Names have been changed because drugs are illegal.

Pizza heist

It’s the delicious mystery that has all of campus scratching their stomachs and their heads. Who stole History Soc’s pizza? The society was hosting its fortnightly trivia night and awaiting their oven baked delivery. But when it failed to materialise they realised someone had made off with $210 worth of margheritas and meat lovers. The brazen thief appears to have collected the society’s order fresh from the Domino’s delivery car and made off with it into the night. When the announcement was made that the pizzas had been pinched a score of dejected guests reportedly abandoned the event. Last words to History Soc VP Eda Gunaydin: “As I tweeted through a combination of rage and hunger to Domino’s Australia later that night: I hope the cat I glimpsed outside Manning House on my way out that evening finds our thieves’ leftovers, so at least one deserving creature got fed that evening. Whoever you are you owe the History Society over $200. Thanks.”