News // SUSF

SUSF gets first new president in 26 years

Former USyd student James Flynn was elected, taking over from Bruce Ross who has held the position since 1991.

Former USyd student James Flynn has been elected President of Sydney University Sport and Fitness (SUSF), bringing past President Bruce Ross’s 26-year reign to an end.

SUSF is one of six student organisations that bids for a share of the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF), and consistently receives the largest portion of funding of any organisation, including the University of Sydney Union (USU).

In 2016, it received $4,268,232 while the USU received $3,600,000 and the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) received $1,689,174.

Flynn said he was “thankful to those who supported me, with a final result of 487 to 55” in his election against former SUSF Vice President David Jordan.

This puts the voter turnout at just over 500; in comparison, the SRC elections last year boasted a voter turnouts of 4544, yet the SRC receives over $2.5 million less SSAF funding than SUSF.

Flynn, a former member of the Young Liberals, was elected as a University of Sydney Union (USU) Board Director in 2010 and Postgraduate Fellow of Senate in 2012, both for two-year terms.

He told Honi he first joined SUSF in 2007, and that “since then I’ve had the privilege of being involved in a number of sports, from touch footy through to squash … More recently I’ve been a part of the SUSF Management Committee for a bit over a year, which oversees the strategy and operations of the whole organisation”.

He was involved in controversy surrounding the Undergraduate Fellow of Senate elections, as reported by Honi last year.

SUSF and Ross have previously come under scrutiny from Honi, as investigations by Alexi Polden raised questions about conflicts of interest and revealed Ross paid rent significantly below market value to live in a cottage on campus.

When Honi asked if Flynn would get Ross’s cottage, he responded, “I’m happy where I’m living right now!”

The last time Ross’s position was legitimately threatened since his election in 1991 was in 2015, when then-SRC Vice President Daniel Ergas led a student-run ticket against him promising greater accountability and transparency, in an election marred with controversy.

With Flynn having already been on SUSF’s management committee, it seems unlikely his election will mark a significant departure from the norm for SUSF.

He also thanked Ross “for his amazing commitment to sport at Sydney University for the last 26 years. … In particular his championing of women’s sport, among a number of causes, has paid dividends not just for Sydney University, but sport across Australia”.

When Honi asked what his priorities for the future of SUSF are, Flynn said, “My commitment is to continuing our tradition of sporting excellence at all levels, and ensuring every member of our University community gets the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of sport and improving their fitness”.