It takes a special kind of thick myopia to think that we are not invested in student politics.
Universities are places less and less accommodating of unions. As the sheer pressure of getting by grows, more students are taking ruthlessly pragmatic degrees and second jobs just to justify the rigmarole of tertiary education.
The reality is that most students don’t care about elections, don’t appreciate the value of the union, and don’t read Honi. Most students can’t afford to. The days of an easy degree are dead, and to make the most of university without significant support is almost impossible. This mainstream skin-and-bones university experience is both a symptom and weapon of neo-liberal education policy.
13 people have stepped forward to embroil themselves in the fight—wittingly or otherwise.
Some are utterly naïve about board process and the Union. Some are opportunists who would seek to partisanally co-opt ideas like passion and enthusiasm. Some have the means to run a race without reason, leveraging enough social capital to replace a faction.
But leisure hours, party backing, and good intentions do not a leader make.
Successful applicants will be paid a significant sum of money, and all the discounted coffees they can carry, to represent us.
They will control one thirteenth of a board that is far less potent than it wants to be, managing one of the last, even notionally, student-run unions (that has still been forced to turn profit), at a university bent on industrialising degrees, that is beholden to governments at war with the inherent value of anything other than dollars in education.
To elect the shit ones is to add to mounting external (and sometimes internal) pressure to collapse the USU into a lucrative, amorphous, black and yellow blob that dispenses to each of its members 1 (One) Student Experience with a pencil case, a beer, and a Game of Thrones trivia night.
The USU, for its many flaws, is a foot in the door against it all, and several of these candidates are diamonds in a devastatingly vast and oppressive rough.
You can rail against the void at polling stations across campus on the 19th of May.