Nb. The author of this week’s UniGate is not a member of any campus faction and does not have ties to either Honi ticket.
SRC elections: who’s Left?
SRC President David Pink made headlines (in Honi Soit) earlier this year when he led a secession from NLS to start Sydney Labor Students (SLS), which promised to be “more left-wing”, and became the first non-NLS SRC President in thirteen years. Now SLS has signed a deal to support Jennifer Light, the Presidential candidate from Unity (the Labor Right faction), running under the ‘StandUp’ branding which NLS and Unity have previously used jointly. Light, an SRC Exec member in 2013, is set to compete against Grassroots’ Amelie Vanderstock and Hannah Smith from NLS, another Labor Left faction.
NLS and Unity have campaigned together for the past few years, and the addition of SLS has set the cat amongst the pigeons. SLS’s deal with Unity has been controversial: an anonymous sign reading ‘Left traitor’ was stuck to David Pink’s office door (members of both NLS and Grassroots have denied that their factions are responsible). SLS’ decision not to field a candidate is also a bad sign for its future on campus, indicating a belief that it could not win, especially in light of its failure to get its candidate for Union Board up earlier this year.
Meanwhile NLS has confirmed it will support current Women’s Officer Hannah Smith and run under ‘Action’ branding, and Grassroots have signed on with Socialist Alternative and Solidarity to form a Broad Left coalition.
There’s almost certainly going to be a fourth presidential candidate running under ‘Refresh’ branding with a group of self-described small-I independents. Mooted names include ex-Queer Officer Josh Sprake and Education Society President Matthew Woolaston, both of whom declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the Honi race is turning into quite the shitfight. After weeks of planning and ship-jumping, we finally have two full tickets (and then some). Until late on Sunday night, twelve names were associated with Sex for Honi, which last we reported was being run by Felix Donovan and Lane Sainty. Christina White and Judy Zhu are now in the Sex mix as well, but Harry Stratton is out (see below). Before Stratton’s departure, Andrew Passarello was not to appear on the ballot, but will now do so. Judy Zhu is being promoted as a ‘designer-in-chief’ and won’t be on the ballot. Sex will be managed by USU Board Director and Unity member Robby Magyar.
The other ticket (let’s call them No. 2) has this week confirmed Phoebe Moloney, Pat Horton, Subeta Vimalarajah, Tim Sullivan, and Blythe Worthy have joined those reported last week. Their campaign manager is Honi editor, Nick Rowbotham.
Both tickets have already been accused of mischief and there is clearly no love lost between them. About a week ago, Sex found that the handle “sexforhoni” had been shotgunned on all the social media platforms, and No. 2 is suspected of foul play. A No. 2 rep told us that “as a ticket we didn’t decide to do that, but I suspect that somebody on the ticket or associated with it would have done it.” A Sex representative described it as a “cheap, nasty trick – it just seems like something really petty to do.”
More dramatically, ex-Sex candidate and SLS member Harry Stratton went seriously rogue, resulting in his exit from the ticket. In a message to SLS members petitioning their support, he claimed that he would use Honi as a recruiting tool for SLS. Unfortunately for Stratton, the Gate got its hands on a copy of his message. Describing his ticket as “the Labor ticket” (and his opponents as “the Grassroots ticket”), he claimed that “none of the [other people on the ticket] are really interested in student politics, so Unigate will largely be my vanity project over the year and I’ll sway every argument on the subject, and I won’t use it to push a pro-Groots [slang for Grassroots] agenda but rather push ours.”
He also promised to try to recruit fellow editors and reporters to SLS, arguing that this year’s Honi team recruited around 40 people, including every editor except one.* “If elected with your preferences, Georgia K and I will have coffee with EVERY ONE of our 150 reporters and drag EVERY ONE of our editors to Labor drinks,” he wrote.
In a text message, the very same Harry Stratton told us that he was committed to objectivity and had offered to leave SLS and Young Labor for that reason. He also said he would be recused from reporting about student politics. When we asked him if he told his caucus that he would use Honi to recruit for SLS, Stratton told us it was “totally untrue”. When he acknowledged he was no longer on the ticket, he referred to it as “the Indie ticket”, not the “Labor” ticket. We’re not sure how he can hear with all the cognitive dissonance ringing in his ears.
When the message went public, Stratton’s teammates quickly distanced themselves from him. Donovan said “obviously Harry wasn’t speaking on behalf of the ticket.” A few hours later, Donovan told the Gate that Stratton was a goner. “We felt quite strongly that this ticket is based on not being partisan and being independent of the factions and that his behaviour had called that into question,” Donovan said. It was a unanimous decision (minus Stratton). It seems that Stratton, who is also rumoured to be involved in organising a SULS ticket, was trying to revive SLS’s fortunes and secure his spot on the Honi editorial team next year, but he appears only to have dug his own political grave.
* On Honi 2013 and Grassroots: seven out of ten editors are members of Grassroots. Three of the seven are active members. One of the active members joined this year, and all up three editors joined Grassroots since our election. There have been no recruitment coffee dates with reporters.
Bob Carr comes to speak
Bob Carr was on campus last Friday to talk about the future of Australia’s foreign policy, hosted by the Sydney Centre of International Law. Dozens of activists protesting against Labor’s PNG solution gathered outside the quad, and a woman was arrested for breaching the peace after making her way up to Maclaurin Hall, where the speech was taking place, and shouting “free, free the refugees”. After about half an hour she was de-arrested, only to be indefinitely banned from campus. She is a student at a different university.
No more coeliac outciders
The USU held another (unfortunately, less-than-popular) Members’ Forum last week. The meeting covered some very important topics, including a request from a very concerned (and, The Gate can reveal, very attractive) member regarding cider’s inclusion as a house beer at USU events, for the gluten intolerant among us. President Hannah Morris can confirm there is progress on this issue, stating that she will be following it up this week. Stay tuned, lovers of fermented apples!
On a more serious note, the USU is working to address its unfortunate casual racism issues. In a statement, Morris told the Gate, “the USU is constitutionally obliged to work at all times towards creating an environment free from all forms of discrimination and harassment. A recently convened party themed around the Mexican Day of the Dead raised serious questions…as to whether or not the USU was fulfilling this objective.” In a bid to address these concerns, the USU will be hosting a panel discussion on cultural appropriation and sensitivity. A member’s discussion will follow the panel, to be held on August 27.
Useless Scab Union?
The University of Sydney Union (USU) is to hand out $1000 worth of meal vouchers to staff and students on strike this Tuesday. The USU Board passed a motion tabled by Board Director Bebe D’Souza at its last meeting to distribute the vouchers to NTEU, CPSU and USU members on picket lines. In addition, posters promoting the strike have been displayed at USU outlets, and an email with information about the unions’ enterprise bargaining campaign was sent to ACCESS members. Ms D’Souza’s original motion also proposed shutting down the USU’s commercial operations on the day of the strike, however, this aspect of the motion was defeated. But the fact that the Union will this semester offer tangible material support to the staff unions, after the attempts of Vice President Tom Raue to pass similar motions in the support of the strike last semester, seems indicative of a progressive turn for the Board since the intake of six new Board Directors after the May election.