Disclaimer: Honi Editors Lamya Rahman and Liam Donohoe are not involved in any decisions or contributions to SRC coverage.
The SRC’s Repselect has been cancelled, after fire sprinklers were triggered, flooding parts of USyd’s Quadrangle building. There are concerns artefacts belonging to the Nicholson Museum, held in a storage room next door to the meeting, may have been damaged by the water.
Repselect is the first meeting of newly elected SRC councillors, and serves to elect the organisation’s executive and office bearers for the coming year. Tonight’s meeting took place in the Refectory Room, directly below MacLaurin Hall on the south-western side of USyd’s Quadrangle building.
The meeting opened at 6:32 pm, and saw heated—at times almost violent—debate: far-left faction Grassroots and Socialist Alternative spent the evening attacking a bloc made up of campus Liberals, Liberal-aligned independents and international student group Panda. Anger was also directed against Labor Left faction, NLS, for refusing to vote with the far left.
Around 8:15 pm, a fire alarm sounded, interrupting the ballot for the SRC Wom*n’s Officers. Councillors and observers were evacuated to lawns outside the Brennan MacCallum Building. Water began flooding a hallway opposite the Refectory Room entrance.
According to Fire and Rescue NSW’s report, an automatic fire alarm was set off, though circumstances remain unclear. They confirmed 150 people were evacuated, with the last fire truck leaving shortly before 11pm.
The water quickly inundated the hallway, before spilling into the Refectory Room itself. There are reports the water also reached the Nicholson Museum’s nearby store rooms. The museum, which holds the largest collection of classical antiquities in the southern hemisphere, stores the bulk of its artefacts in these rooms.
Museum staff are said to be distressed at the prospect of severe water damage. Campus Security refused to comment on tonight’s events, saying they were awaiting instructions from the vice chancellor’s office.
Honi understands Campus Security concluded the person responsible for triggering the sprinklers would have been drenched in water. After the evacuation, security officers ordered all attendees to line up in single file to be checked. Everyone still present was dry. However, some attendees may not have been accounted for.
The sprinklers were triggered during the election of the SRC Wom*n’s Officer.
The SRC has traditionally elected candidates preselected by the Wom*n’s Collective (WoCo). This year, the preselected nominees were Layla Mkh (Grassroots-aligned) and Jazz Breen (Grassroots).
But controversially, the majority bloc moved to violate the autonomy of the collective. This bloc nominated Zifan (Crystal) Xu (Panda) and Gabi Stricker-Phelps (independent) for the position. Stricker-Phelps, a first year student, is the daughter of recently elected Wentworth MP, Kerryn Phelps.
During their nomination speeches, Stricker-Phelps and Xu were interrupted by angry chants from Grassroots, SAlt and the broad far-left. At other points in the night, the lights in the room were switched off.
Repselect this year coincided with the annual Chaser Lecture, held upstairs in MacLaurin Hall. The event was evacuated during a speech by Nigerian social media star and satirist, Adeola Fayehun. It was later cancelled as it ran overtime due to the fire alarm interruption.
cooked uni students may have possibly turned the power off for #repselect2018 during an incredible speech by @AdeolaFayehun … here is the audience turning on all their phone lights to keep the night going pic.twitter.com/5mJDznSygd
— vic zerbst (@VZerbst) November 1, 2018
With tonight’s meeting cancelled, a replacement Repselect will be scheduled for the second week of exams.
More to come.
The article has been slightly edited from its initial version to reflect new confirmed information.