USU Board candidate interview: Maya Eswaran

The full transcript of Honi's interview with 2018 Union Board candidate, Maya Eswaran

Grassroots | Arts/Law II | Quiz Score: 51%
Interviewed by Janek Drevikovsky

HS: So could you start off by saying your name, degree and the year you’re in?

ME: So my name’s Maya. I’m studying arts/law and I’m in my second year.

HS: And why did you decide to run for USU Board?

ME: So, I decided to run for a few reasons. I think first of all, most people pretty early on… when I started university I benefited from the Union. For me, this was through the debating programme. So especially coming from a comprehensive high school I felt that there was a lot of development in things like wom*n’s training that helped me and funding to go to debating tournaments which I found really important for me but also I think seeing the value in the union has also, and being involved in other student political elections, I’ve realised also it’s quite an imperfect institution. There are a few things that I was looking at. First, I think that increasingly there’s been a trend towards corporatisation in the union and an increasing amount of people elected that are perhaps inherently anti-union. The same people that push for voluntary student unionism are now often elected as board directors. So I think it’s really important we have a left wing voice on the board someone that’s available to dissent and disagree especially when there’s a lot of consensus decision making. So for me it was partly striving for some sort of principled left wing voice on the board but also seeing how it’s quite important for students and wanting to contribute back to that.

HS: So you see the USU more as a traditional activist student union or as I think as it’s commonly seen as a service providing body?

ME: I think there is a clear distinction between the role of the SRC in comparison to the USU. I think traditionally although the USU is a union it is not. Its role now is more about like campus culture and student life in the forms of outlets. And I think it is really important as an employer of students and also because all these amenities are really important to a student’s experience of university. However I think the SRC still holds the really important activist role. And especially with campaigns by collectives and offices I think that it’s a very distinct role and it would be great to have more collaboration especially when USU receives more SSAF funding than the SRC in this sense and there are identity portfolios in the USU so there’s a lot of potential for campaigns of things like Pride Week are inherently somewhat political but I think that the SRC still holds that activist role.

HS: How far do you see that going. I noticed in your policy platform one of the policies was giving money to the SRC for them to run campaigns without that then extend to the USU like supporting say demonstrations marches that the SRC does on and off campus?

ME: Well I think already in the memorandum between the SRC and the USU, they provide free advertising space for the SRC to use perhaps for a protest or campaigns and things. So in some capacity there’s already support. I think that the way that I see this being extended practically is that identity portfolio holders and that collective OBs for a certain identity can collaborate. So I think that there’s a lot of potential there but also I think that the USU can vote on certain issues such as strikes that I think in some ways will complement the work of the SRC. Iin the sense that I think the USU if I was on as a board director, I would always want a vote for unconditionally striking which I think is something that compliments the work of the SRC.

HS: So I guess unlike the SRC, the USU has probably daily interactions with most students on campus and provides food, their basic services, toilets, a lot of buildings are run by the USU, at the same time the clubs and societies program has to extend to a wide array of different ideological positions amongst the student body. Do you risk alienating students from a body that needs to be really a wide, a broad church.

ME: I think that first of all, a majority or at least a significant proportion of students on campus would probably identify as progressive and left wing. So I think that there should be that representation on Board, it just kind of correlates with the demographics of the USU population-

HS: What makes you say the majority would identify as progressive?

ME: I think if you even just look at perhaps the SRC elections and obviously noting the type of people that vote in student political elections such as SRC perhaps are likely to skew to a certain political view. I do think that there is interest by enough students to have a left wing voice even if this is not reflective of the majority of students, I don’t actually know a proper breakdown. I still think that there is a desire for students to have that voice. And I also think because of the way people vote in the USU elections especially when people don’t brand based on perhaps political ideology there is often a quite a diversity of board directors. I think as we’ve seen in the past few years that’s kind of the whole spectrum of politics represented. So I don’t think there’s a risk that this could potentially alienate people because I don’t think they would anyway be the type of people that would perhaps vote for me and then perhaps vote for other candidates.

HS: Isn’t this exactly the kind of rhetoric that does alienate a lot of people and turn them off voting for anyone in the first place—the assumption that student politics is just for a narrow left wing band and that the rest of campus is depoliticised or more interested in having services improved, just is never going to be politicised or engaged in any way in the first place. Don’t you risk furthering that myth?

ME: I think that largely that myth is slowly being deconstructed in the sense that there’s been really great mobilisation of international students and a lot of the candidates running in with Panda or other international student factions haven’t been running on political lines they’ve been running on purely student welfare or student interest lines. So I think it’s not mutually exclusive to have those. I think obviously it’s regrettable that often students don’t feel like student politics is something for them it’s just this one group of hack-y kind of people. I do think people generally do want a choice and if there’s not a range of political views represented people would be even more likely to perhaps disengage.

HS: Speaking political views are you in a political faction?

ME: I’ in Grassroots which is an independent and left wing faction but I’m not involved in any political party outside of campus or any federal political party.

HS: In terms of Grassroots does it bind its members to decisions that the caucus takes?

ME: Grassroots is nonbinding. Obviously I was pre-selected to run with grassroots and I will get a lot of support from grassroots. I think though the ideal way it works as a mechanism would be that if you are elected on board you’d want, if the information is not confidential to have some sort of a collaborative process where members of Grassroots can advise on policy or perhaps just give student input. The way I kind of interview any other student for advice on voting or advice on policy areas. So yeah but it’s not binding so –

HS: But if they’re the body that gets you elected in the first place that ends up happening then will you be beholden to the views of caucus on an informal level if not on a formal one.

ME: I think it’s quite hard to say until I’m in that position because I think in the past often candidates elected even within grassroots or other political factions, this mechanism hasn’t been perfect and I think ultimately the votes are not anonymous. They’re independent. And so you are still at the end of the day voting on your own conscious and whether that causes criticism depends on the situation I think.

HS: Coming then I guess to your duties as a board director. I mean there are certain duties of confidentiality and other fiduciary duties which all board directors have – if your faction wanted you to do something which would breach one of those duties would you breach the duty or go along with your faction?

ME: I think this is a really interesting question. I think first and foremost because I value I see value in the Union and student unionism in general I think I wouldn’t want to do anything that would threaten the lack of long term viability of the Union staying alive or anything particularly serious that could cripple the union itself I think I would classify that as not viable. But I do think that if there were something in student interest that were so important that I would be willing to risk personal, financial damages even for it. Like Tom Raue or that kind of path of things if I felt that it was so essential that I needed to, you know, vote a certain way or dissent in a certain way. I think I would. I don’t think that this would necessarily be solely informed by what grassroots think. I also don’t think that anyone in grassroots would expect me to personally put myself on the line for something unless it was really really severe and I don’t think that many things like that have come up in recent years.

HS: I suppose the other body which is going to be relevant for you during the campaign is debating given that you’re active there and in previous years, debaters like Grace Franki or Michael Rees have secured, and Liliana Tai, a large amount of vote just from the debating society itself. Would you, now the board obviously has ultimate oversight over the debating program – do you think that’s a conflict of interest?

ME: I think that in some ways if student politics becomes quite insular that the same types of people that are involved in the USU for example just work their way up to become board directors it can be problematic because it’s hard to see where you need to criticise things like the debating program but at the same time I think having experienced the debating program I can see firsthand a lot of flaws in it and where places where perhaps the board can be more strategic with its funding because I know a lot of years, that’s often something that comes up. Would you cut debating funding and people sometimes run on that platform which is quite hard because of the agreement that the debating society has with the union. So I think that knowing certain ways that perhaps funding could be prioritised better for example instead of having not means tested funding for international flights instead focusing more on things like development in debating is something that I know about simply because of being involved in that. I think it could actually be helpful in informing the USU rather than a detriment.

HS: I guess then had the same question comes up. If this is a society that gets you elected and where a lot of your friends as I think you said in your bio, on campus activity takes place. Wouldn’t it be socially very difficult to gouge money out of exactly the flights that bring people to international tournament or funds party weekends and instead put it into something else boring in the eyes of many senior debaters probably as a development day?

ME: Yes I think that’s very true that the social aspect of things can make can make decision making a bit difficult but I think because I am none of my policies or the platform I’m running on is specifically about debating. The reason that a lot of them are voting for me isn’t specifically because of my attitude towards debating and its funding. I think very often either it’s just friendship circles or it’s people that respect my political views but I think also in the case they would be cause some sort of controversy in the debating society I would prefer this if it if it’s better for students overall. I think that the USU can prioritise things that help the most amount of students especially if you consider that perhaps a lot of debaters are from already privileged backgrounds or perhaps could benefit in other ways. And I think the USU has tried to indirectly target this by limiting social to the sense that that alcohol must be consumed at USU outlets. But I think obviously in reality there’s a lot of debate is unhappy with this but this hasn’t affected our performance as a debating society.

HS: Given you say that your left wing can we expect you then to crack down on privilege in debating is that something which is on the policy horizon?

ME: I think that it’s not one of my priorities because I have a lot of other policies that I was focusing on. I think it just would be in the case that it did come up I would vote in a way that is most reflective of what is left wing and I think that’s really dependent on what I’d be voting on.

HS: Moving on to the rest of the candidate field this year, who are your top three other dream candidates to work?

ME: I think that one person that I feel like I connect with a lot is Clement. I think Clement some of his policies are really good and also just I’ve talked to a lot of the candidates and I felt that he’s very explicit about wanting to have a progressive campaign and policy when he, if he eventually gets on board. I think also his priority for continuing the international student campaign for concession opal cards is something I really identify with especially considering it’s been going on for a long time and we’ve been having an extra push this year in the SRC to get that done and I think additional support from the USU would never harm. That’s why I think that is really good.

I think also Rebecca Miller. She is very competent and seems to have very good political sense and I also liked her policies about sexual assault training oh- sexual assault campaign during OWeek. I am not sure about third, I think that I’m nothing has been finalised yet and I am still talking to people and there’s quite a few candidates so I haven’t completely decided. But I think there’s broadly a few others that I think are very strong.

HS: So can we expect the preference deal between you and Clement and then you and Rebecca.

ME: Well I’ve talked to a lot of people but nothing has been finalized right now. So I think until I saw how the votes are printed I can’t confirm anything.

HS: But on the flipside I guess this year’s candidates who would you not be able to work with.

ME: I think I would least like to work with Lachlan Finch. I think this is for a few reasons as I’ve mentioned earlier. I think that the liberals are inherently antiunion and if we’ve seen historically that they’ve pushed for voluntary student unionism this caused the USU’s funding to drop from 60 million to 3 million.  Additionally we just recently saw at Wollongong uni that the leadership there effectively pushed for less funding for the union itself. I think that this is inherently against student interest. This is not to say that I think Lachlan will perhaps act in this way. I just think that historically the voting record for Libdependents on board isn’t something that I would support.

HS: In terms of more further afield, if you do get elected, who would you support in the presidential election?

ME: Well I think again similar to what I said about not wanting to support people that are anti union. I don’t think we know who exactly is nominating, I think everything hasn’t been finalized. I think whatever ticket has got some left wing people on it is what I would most aligned with.

HS: Onto the board’s policies and your position on its activities in the last few years, can you name a board initiative from recent times that you particularly admire?

ME: I think that I really like Radical Sex and Consent Week, so I think that a lot of the festivals the US runs is often times when they’re the most visible in the sense that people don’t consciously think when they using their ACCESS Card at an outlet that this is part of the USU. When they have these festivals on Eastern Avenue, it’s very eye catching and it’s a great way to engage students. I think specifically Radical Sex and Consent Week had some great panelists. It’s something fun but it’s also really informative and helpful for students.

HS: In terms of clubs and societies, do you have a favourite club or society or a program you think is particularly important.

ME: I don’t know if I could say I have a favourite club or society. I think because they are for such a broad range of interests, there’s something kind of for everyone. But I would say I do think it’s actually just the fact that faculties have there in society is really good. I think often they have the capacity to engage students really well and mobilize students to go attend events together things that I think is a really nice way to bring people together.

HS: It’s interesting you say that because faculty societies in fact weren’t part of the USU until voluntary student unionism came into existence. So it goes to show how much changing circumstances can force innovation the most you know different way. I guess on the flipside to other things in the way that the union has done in the last few years particularly disagree with policies that you’d come down hard on?

ME: I think for me, the not supporting the workers striking unconditionally was something that I felt uncomfortable with. I think that there are ways for the even if like unconditional striked and wouldn’t pass in the board realistically people wouldn’t vote for that, there are ways to show solidarity as a union without completely stopping all financial flows. For example closing all  main outlets on campus where the picket lines are and allocating staff to fringe outlets. This is a way to keep financial flows, some sort of vendors are open while still having the majority of staff off. I just think that there are ways that most people on board would likely support and practical things that the board could do to support staff striking which [affects] student learning conditions.

HS: On the specifics of a couple of policies, I presume you support AA for the board. Would you support a similar policy for international students.

ME: I think that first of all the affirmative action for non cis men actually hasn’t even needed to be action for a long time which is something really positive. But I think it’s just a really good safety net to have. So I think that in the same way it’s been only in recent years that we’ve had such good mobilization of international students and I think that that has had such positive effects that if we want to ensure that that continues and I don’t think it would ever need to be action in the same way as the non-cis men one is an action. If we want a proportional representation of international students on board that I don’t think this would necessarily be principally wrong. I think it’s kind of in line with the same idea as non-cis men AA, but how much that would be and the practicals of it I don’t really know. But I think broadly it’s great that there is representation for international students on board.

HS: What do you think of international student representation on board that’s different from domestic student representation.

ME: Well I think one thing is that often international students previously wouldn’t feel as engaged with the events hosted by the USU for domestic students. I think that often these are like the Oweek parties and those kind of things weren’t marketed to that crowd and also just weren’t as welcoming. So I think that specific things like international festival, the volunteering tours to welcome students have been really really effective. Additionally having a Wechat platform I think engages students much more but I think broadly speaking the same way anyone from a marginalized background on board can advocate probably better for those interests than another student could I think it works in the same way. And also because a lot of the policies that any international student candidate would put forward benefits all  students. I think if they’re competent candidate then they’re a competent candidate.

HS: So you’re all for engaging international students with events that reach out to them but at the same time you’d get around the USU you being active in protest or supporting the SRC in protests which often issues that  domestic students face more so or then deal in the type of rhetoric that is endemic to the Australian political system rather necessarily modes of discourse that international students might be used to in their home country. Do you think that that has the risk of alienating international students?

ME: I think that there’s always a risk with any sort of radical activist campaign that it can alienate a certain group. But I think that a lot of the focus of the SRC is actually in the best interests of a lot of international students. Things like the International Student concession opal card campaign I think is quite uncontroversial. Additionally things around student housing, they benefit everyone. And I think that perhaps there is disagreement on any side of the political spectrum about how you go about achieving those kinds of things but I think that realistically things that support the majority of students are also in international students interests. I don’t think these are necessarily going to be alienating. I can’t really think of a specific example of anything that’s particularly against the interests of international students.

HS: Speaking of another USU policy that concerns international students, you might have heard that there are recent changes made to polling station locations for the elections in particular the ISL station will be closed on the election day itself and Merewether will be shut for the rest for the duration of the election. What do you think of these changes do you think they’re likely to lock international students out?

ME: Well I think first of all I’m not particularly familiar with the reasoning behind why they were closed but what I will say is that I think that ISL and Merewether have both been really great places to mobilize international students and have had a high proportion of international students voting in those places. So I think to some degree it could hamper how many international students get involved and vote in this election. At the same time though I think because of the strength of the international student candidates this year and I think generally greater awareness about what the USU is, it will hopefully … the votes can still be spread to other polling booths. But I think it is a bit unfortunate that they’re closed.

HS: In terms of one final policy the change in alcohol funding for clubs and societies is controversial. What’s your take on that policy?

ME: I think my main criticism I guess of the policy would just be that I felt that what I heard was that there wasn’t enough perhaps consultation with a lot of clubs and societies when this decision was made. So I think that perhaps if there was greater consultation with a lot of clubs and societies it could have been more effective but at the same time I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad policy I think that it’s great to have USU outlets having more events hosted at them. I think that also because the money then goes back into making sure campus culture is vibrant, making sure students feel like they can go to these spaces and use them. And often the people employed by these spaces are the students so I think that in that sense it’s not necessarily a bad thing but I think it should have had more consultation with clubs and societies.

HS: I guess the contrary view that a lot of C&S execs would put is this actually stymies student culture and the trade is not that you go to Manning now, it’s just that you don’t go at all. Clearly there is diversity of opinions. What would you do when consultation is in question where there are different opinions to balance or competing considerations. How do you balance finding answers to our question of what is best for the student body?

ME: Yeah I think that’s quite difficult. And in saying what I just said I don’t know how I would have particularly voted on this specific policy but I do think that, I guess it just comes down to priorities at the end of the day and if the USU who felt that it was in the best interests of students after this consultative process perhaps that is the best option. But also I think that a lot of clubs and societies have gotten around this in the sense that like there’s still host events outside of the uni but just only have a tab for food or have some sort of provision that there is a discount for students but it’s not completely funded. So I think it’s not too disarming right now to cut and societies.

HS: Let’s talk a bit more about you and your campaign policies, all of that. The first thing to bring up is experience. Compared to a lot of the other candidates in the field you list on your CV I guess two points of experience which is really four months as a SRC Councilor, and four months on general exec. Do you think that’s enough experience to qualify you for running a $28 million organisation.

ME: I think what I’ve found very helpful about my experience in the executive of the SRC is that it’s quite similar to how the board run. I’m happy to acknowledge that a lot of other candidates or people in the past have had a lot more experience but I think that what’s unique about the executive in the SRC is it’s also a multimillion dollar organization and it runs very smoothly and that you get informed about things and then you vote on them and that kind of process I’m quite familiar with and I think also with the SRC you learn that if you want to get something done you kind of have to take the initiative yourself. And I think that this is often distinct to people that have experience perhaps as an executive in a club or society where it kind of runs in a different way which I’m sure is also a valuable experience but I don’t think that necessarily you need to have a certain skill set to qualify for board director. I think as long as you put in the effort to be informed on what you’re voting on and somewhat have some sort of platform that you’re running on. I think that that’s sufficient.

HS: It it’s interesting that you say learning that you have to do things yourself will be important and will be useful experience for the board. Seems that a lot of what board directors do is overseeing the operations of several tens or hundreds of staff on campus so themselves not doing much apart from voting, thinking, considering… and management getting things done through management process being more of a focus. Do you think you have the skills to deal with people within your organization?

ME: Yeah well I think that again this kind of comes back to the SRC where if we want to have some sort of campaign we collaborate by coordinating with different office bearers especially when we have limited SSAF funding. So I’m think I’m quite used to doing this sort of coordination and additionally especially in the USU and the SRC you have these permanent staff that are much more experienced that work for their organisation and I think that we’ve worked together when I’ve been on the SRC and this is something that I’d be happy to continue to do in the USU.

HS: I guess is a question of scale as well, as the SRC has an $1.8 million budget, you’re increasing that of something up to 20 times for the USU. At the same time you have a lot more staff to deal with, as the complexity of the issues increase probably you also have a number of special highly specialised staff who have professional backgrounds in the USU. How would you as somebody with limited experience as you admitted but also a policy platform that you want to implement, a certain way of doing things that you want to take to the USU. How will you ensure you can achieve that while at the same time working with staff who in some circumstances may well just think that they know better.

ME: Yeah I think that’s very true. But I think that also that’s perhaps not unique to what I will experience on board I think that often people run, everyone on board runs up and there’ll be about 30 policies that different members want to enact in the same two years or whatever. So I think that this is just inherent to the position itself. I don’t necessarily think perhaps certain experience would change this collaboration process. I think of course I would probably be very grateful to have much more experienced and specialised staff advising on things but I also think the organisation is set up in a way that there is provision for students to contribute and learn. I think a lot of the working committees or being involved in electing PULP editors, being involved with the HR remuneration committee. You can kind of have some sort of a say in what’s going on and also the USU does have an incentive to continue to have new festivals new ideas and new policy. I think also a lot of my policies is kind of a continuation or improvement of things that have started to already come out by current board directors so I’m sure that there’s some ability to coordinate with them and have that kind of strength in numbers I guess.

HS: I think we’ve discussed at length collaboration with the SRC. You do also mention collaboration with SUPRA, on the policy platform all you mention is wine and cheese nights which understand the USU already cohosts with SUPRA, so what’s the what’s the substance of this policy.

ME: So I think essentially how it works now to my understanding was that the USU doesn’t have a formal agreement to cohost this, its just kind of been an initiative that’s put in place.  So I think ideally it would be the USU chooses to fund these wine cheese nights and I think the reason this is important although it may seem like a kind of a frivolous policy, I think one, lots of postgraduate students are access members and deserve to be represented by the union but also secondly a lot of USU events currently are geared towards undergraduate students and often for people for example with children, they can’t go to a  party at night but these events that Supra has often initiated a much more accessible. So I think that the USU should be supporting that and I think that formalizing some sort of agreement like that and continuing to host. I think I also suggested a monthly barbecue and things like that, I’m just kind of continues that relationship.

HS: Would you collaborate with SUPRA in the same way you suggest collaborating with the SRC in funding campaigns?

ME: I think obviously I’ve only had experience with the SRC so I know more intimately what the SRC does and why I think it’s really valuable. I think obviously if SUPRA had some sort of major campaign that I felt was important to all student or student interest generally, I don’t think it would be wrong for the USU to want to support that but at the same time I don’t know how many campaigns per se SUPRA has run in recent years.

HS: To take an example SUPRA’S education officer last year was active in the National Days of Action against fee deregulation. Is that something you’d be willing to support monetarily both for SRC and SUPRA’s involvement?

ME: Yeah well I think also part of this policy is just having a bit more collaboration in the sense that there doesn’t need to be a separation. SUPRA would get funding for that National Day of Action which the SRC is also sending a contingent to and organising. I think that there’s very easy ways for the USU, SRC and SUPRA to kind of have a common goal in this sense.

HS: Do you worry about where the money will come from though given that this is an organization where operational costs effectively ensure its survival. If you don’t want to run up a huge deficit which I think as you mentioned earlier in the interview, you are concerned with the long term longevity of the organisation. So presumably running up a huge deficit isn’t a great thing. If you are going to be spending more on things like campaigns where will the money come from?

ME: Well I think in the sense that I say we’re going to be supporting campaigns monetarily, I think that this included things like I mentioned my policy statement, for having hosting collective’s events at USU outlets without making them pay for it. So I think in this sense it’s not necessarily the USU paying for something additionally it’s simply not charging which I don’t think would be a huge financial burden. But I also think that if there was some sort of ability for the USU to fund campaigns for example, I know that the president of the USU has the capacity to give $2000 in grant money at certain points in the year, and previously given that to the SRC for certain projects and I think that this has felt legitimate and viable for past few years I think that’s something that should continue and perhaps even be formalized.

HS: In terms of your SUSF partnership proposal, do you think that’s achievable. What would SUSF get out of a partnership with the USU that would entice them into a deal.

ME: Well I think with SUSF, it’s quite easy for students if they’re signing up for that access card, to get information and the ability to sign up for access to their facilities at the same time. So I think in some sense it’s just greater membership. Greater sales is probably some sort of incentive for SUSF. But I also think at the same time SUSF gets more SSAF funding then both the USU and the SRC. Even if the USU can’t demand certain things from them and wouldn’t want to, it’s important that in negotiations with the USU can outline this is our priority, we do want students to have access to those facilities and perhaps some sort of discounted membership rate and try and negotiate that.

HS: It’s the discount which makes me pause for thought. Given that SUSF, to my understanding is already very replete with membership, if you go down there on a Monday afternoon after five o’clock it tends to be full to overflowing at either of the two gyms. Do they really want more members particularly if those members are going to be paying less.

ME: I think that’s something I’m not completely sure of.  I think obviously I’d have to look more to their relationship between SUSF and the USU but I think just again even if realistically we can’t get a significant discount for access members, I’m sure that the USU you can just prioritize in negotiations as something that they want.

HS: What would the ideal outcome of the negotiations be?

ME: I think ideally we could negotiate some sort of discount.

HS: If the discount is impossible, what’s the point of prioritizing the issue.

ME: I don’t know. I think it’s hard to say the discount’s impossible at this point so I can’t comment but I think if in some case we’ve tried to negotiate for this and it’s impossible. I think there are other ways that the USU and SUSF could be closer for example the USU clubs and societies should be able to access perhaps the sporting facilities without having to pay an additional fee. Things like that are helpful to most students.

HS: On your building renovations policy, you mention that you would make a commitment to non racist naming of all new buildings or refurbish buildings that the USU puts up or would you also commit to rename existing buildings like Wentworth.

ME: Well I think that under the current occupational licence Wentworth is supposed to be knocked down and so will likely be rebuilt. I think in that sense then when the USU and the university are negotiating, I think the USU can declare that they would support and it’s not in line with the USU values to have naming that reflects perhaps racist connotations or people. So I think that that’s just something that the USU should openly declare that they wouldn’t support.

HS: I guess the word on the grapevine is that it’s going to be a long time before Wentworth gets knocked down. So I guess why not push for the name to be changed now.

ME: I think in the current…they’ve changed the occupational licence just now, it’s starting this new affiliation agreement and in that it’s supposed to be knocked down quite soon. Obviously again I don’t know the specifics. So I think on that premise it’s likely going to be within the next few years that this will happen. So I think that it’s probably going to be changed soon.

HS: If it emerged that other buildings on campus had racist names, buildings that weren’t slated for demolition would you also consider renaming them currently.

ME: I think the USU you shouldn’t support if it’s own buildings are named after perhaps historical figures or have any racist naming. So I think that that just should be what the USU stands against. I think I personally probably won’t be actively going about finding these buildings and you know campaigning against them but I think if it did come up I would support renaming them. But I also think that these priorities will change if I did get on, or depending how my policies develop, so but I just generally wouldn’t support racist naming.

HS: Finally your last policy is to revive Manning. That’s kind of a darling in the crown of a lot of board candidates. I think Adam Torres had it as part of his policy platform last year. Do you think the USU has changed Manning in any way since Adam’s election?

ME: Well I’ve talked to some of the current board directors and it seems that the sales at Manning and Hermann’s have actually increased quite significantly in the past year after all these renovations and some sort of rebranding. I think that’s obviously probably not to the extent that would be ideal. I think one way that this could be changed practically was that looking at the company that books venues for Manning Bar, they’re the same company the books venues for the Metro and the Enmore all these other great theatres. So I think that there is some sort of capacity for the USU to perhaps negotiate with them to get a lot more local music. I think that this has increased there has been a few more gigs and things. But I also think that now that there’s this alcohol policy perhaps the USU can incentivize clubs and societies to use Manning Bar more.

HS: I think that’s all we have.

Note: this is a full transcript of an Honi Soit candidate interview. Some words have been edited for clarity.