Panda’s Jacky He will be 2019 SRC president

He stormed the polls with 1789 of the vote.

Jacky (Yisheng) He will be the SRC president for 2019, dominating at the polls with 1789 of the primary vote.

He beat out Grassroots’ Lara Sonnenschein (997) to become the 91st president of the SRC. Labor’s Adriana Malavisi (740), who ran on ‘Reboot branding’, and Advance’s Alex Yang (559) were also defeated.

After Yang and Malavisi were excluded, He only needed 117 additional votes from Adriana Malavisi’s second preferences to win. Given Malavisi’s preferenced He second, this was all but certain: our exit polls showed 60 per cent of her second preferences flowing to He, which, if replicated in the result, would give him 432 extra votes—more than enough to win. You can see charts of the official SRC results here.

This is the first time a president has won with mainly international student support: Panda, He’s faction, saw strong backing from Chinese international students, and has ties to the on-campus China Development Society. He himself is not an international student, having immigrated from China as a teenager.

Panda can already boast three USU Board directors among its members, and the president of SUPRA, the postgrad students’ organisation, was heavily involved in the faction’s founding.

He is promising a raft of student life-focused measures, like subsidising MoBikes and buying charging stations for every campus building. This is a dramatic shift away from the SRC’s traditional activist and case service priorities. He’s policies will prove expensive, and he has so far failed to explain how the SRC, which had a $250 budgetary surplus in 2018, will pay for it.

This was also the first SRC election contested by two fully fledged international student campaigns. Panda, which made its debut in 2017, was joined by Advance, a faction put together by USU Board director and international student, Decheng Sun.

As the election wore on, the two groupings emerged as bitter rivals: both made multiple allegations of electoral rules violations against the other, alongside general insults and attacks on credibility. Yang suggested Jacky He had only volunteered as 2018 SRC housing officer to direct customers to the real estate agency he worked for at the start of the year. He has since resigned from his real estate job.

Some Panda campaigners, in return, seem to have spread the rumour that neither Yang nor Decheng Sun are really Chinese citizens. Both Yang and Sun contested these claims, and accused Panda of physical harassment on the campaign trail.

Both Advance and Panda threatened legal action against the other, before ultimately being banned from campaigning for the final, crucial hour of the election.

He also beat two domestic students, Lara Sonnenschein and Adriana Malavisi. Grassroots, Sonnenschein’s far-left faction, has therefore lost its control of the presidency a year after seizing it in 2017, and Malavisi’s Labor has failed to regain the office it once held for 15 years uninterrupted.