THE (NOT SO) AMAZING RACE
Hide yo kids, hide yo wife – the SRC election campaign period commences this Friday at midnight. Get excited for the forthcoming flurry of Facebook profile picture changing, late night chalking on Eastern Avenue, and empty promises.
The Presidential Race: BLAKENEY vs. KNOX
Grassroots presidential candidate Kyol Blakeney (Education III) says that he really believes in “direct action”. With a wealth of experience in campus activism, including the portfolio of the SRC Indigenous Officer and co-founding the Wirriga Indigenous Students Society, Blakeney receives support from a broad coalition of Grassroots, Independent and several former members of Sydney Labor Students (SLS). His campaign team is heavily stacked out by University of Sydney Union (USU) Board Directors, including President Tara Waniganayaka, Vice President Bebe D’Souza and Directors Edwards McMahon and Liam Carrigan.
On the other side of the presidential race is National Labor Students (NLS) candidate Amy Knox (Arts/Law III). Knox says that she is all about striking “a balance between activism and engaging all students” with the SRC. Knox has been active in various SRC campaigns, including the recent lobbying of the closure of wom*n’s-only services. She is hoping to join a long list of Labor heavyweights who have dominated the SRC presidency for years. Knox is being supported by the two current Labor left factions, NLS and SLS, as well as Labor right faction Student Unity, and, bizarrely, Socialist Alternative (SAlt).
When it comes to policies, Blakeney’s focus is on “lifting the transparency of the university and making sure that students have more opportunity to participate in the decision making processes”. To this end, Blakeney says he would like to allow SRC Office Bearers to have a say in the University’s Senior Executive Group (SEG). He would also like to provide students greater access to more textbooks.
Knox believes in fighting for a “fair education for all,” giving somewhat unoriginal policy suggestions such as providing more lecture recordings, more study spaces and once again, more textbooks. She also speaks of improving student services like free tax help service, a rental appliance scheme for students living out of home, and an emergency food bank.
When asked why he was better than his opponent, Blakeney said that his direct action activist strategies are more important and effective than what he sees as Labor’s tokenistic focus on creating awareness and symbolism. “While it’s a really good idea to have stickers that promote equality and gender, the fact is that it is still going to happen. One of the best things I’ve seen with direct action is the idea of starting self-defence classes because that empowers people to stand up for themselves,” he explained.
However, Knox believes that this strongly activist approach needs to be balanced with a focus on broader student engagement. “I think activism is a huge part of the SRC…but I also understand that a lot of students don’t engage in the activism. … I can’t see how students will defend the SRC if they don’t know about it. We need all students behind it,” she says.
Both candidates refused to indulge us with the details of where support from their factions would go in the Council’s Representative Election (during which SRC Office Bearer positions are divvied up between factions) and at the National Union of Students (NUS) conference later this year, mutually deferring the question to their campaign managers. According to them, “the faction decides” on these matters.
As for NUS, Blakeney said that he wasn’t for “a bunch of NUS national office bearers flying around the country for symbolic campaigns funded by Sydney Uni students”. Knox, a strong unionist, admits that NUS is “not as effective as it could be,” but blames the shortcomings of funding and structures, not the people.
“I guess having people who are putting things on their resume is part of general student politics,” she responded to the suggestion of Labor students filling up NUS positions for future political ambitions. (At least she’s upfront about that one.)
The only thing both presidential candidates agreed on was that neither Grassroots nor NLS would deal with the Liberals in this election. We won’t protest.
THE LIBERALS: WHODUNIT?
A third presidential candidate, Sydney University Liberal Club (SULC) member Damian Kelly, originally joined Knox and Blakeney on the presidential ballot paper. However, both he and the Liberal-backed “Mon Droit for Honi Soit” ticket have since mysteriously disappeared from the elections. Rumour has it that their exclusion was due to an administrative fuck-up by Liberal party head-kickers with their candidates’ application forms. SULC Vice President (and Liberal party head-kicker) Dean Shachar declined to comment when asked if this was the case. He also declined to disclose which tickets the Liberals would be supporting now that their own candidates are out of the race.
Returning Officer Paulene Graham has ruled that people on SRC tickets may not campaign for Honi Soit tickets as part of the new regulation brought in last year that prevent Honi and SRC tickets from swapping preferences.
While we offer our sincere condolences to the many hacks who have been upset by this news, here at The Manning Files we welcome a wedge of any kind between students running for political office and those running to edit a paper.
And, as promised, we bring you a long-awaited update on the t-shirt colour dispute of yester-week. (Drum roll, please). Heist’s appeal to allow them to campaign on the colour orange was successful. Swag will be running on the colour pink.
A SOCIALIST DILEMMA
Tensions were raised in the Education Action Group’s Facebook group this week, as Education Officers Ridah Hassan and Eleanor Morley (both of Socialist Alternative, or SAlt) were accused of kicking members of Solidarity – SAlt’s rival socialist faction on campus – out of the group. A post on the group’s wall slowly descended into angry EAG members and supporters protesting against Socialist Alternative’s occupation of the group. Hassan wrote, “this space is for constructive organising of the education campaign not for people who’ve never been to an EAG meeting all year to snipe,” to which several responded with “SAlt give no shits about this group unless it functions as theirs”, and “a lot of people don’t attend the EAG because of the authoritarian, bureaucratic and sectarian behaviour of SAlt”. We have nothing to add to this discussion.
SENATE ELECTIONS: WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
As reported in recent weeks, voting to elect one Undergraduate and one Postgraduate Fellow of Senate will commence on September 10. The candidates for each position have been released and are as follow:
Undergraduate: Nicholas Fahy, Dalton Fogarty, Patrick Massarani, Denise Ong, Annabel Osborn, Dean Shachar and Aryan Shahabi-Sirjani.
Postgraduate: Lee Coulson, Alex Dore, Simon Hill, Christian Jones, Robby Magyar, Benjamin Marsh, Mark Newcombe, Michael O’Donnell, Arunan Siravindrarajah, and Zachary Benjamin Thompson.
The Manning Files team was disappointed to learn only two women would contest the Senate elections among a field of 17.