Pop has won the first contested Sydney University Law Society (SULS) election in three years, racking up 54% of the votes and narrowly surpassing rival prospects Zest.
These are provisional numbers and still subject to confirmation from Returning Officer and 2018 SULS President Ann Wen.
The result sees first year JD student Amer Nasr defeat former SULS Sports Officer Isaac Morgan to take the presidency alongside Natalie Leung (VP Education), Deaundre Espejo (VP Social Justice) and Derek James (VP careers).
Nasr comes to the presidency with a rare background. He is the second JD student to become president in the last fifteen years, joining the ranks with 2017 President Rohan Barmanray.
Nasr’s contender, Morgan, was joined by Wendy Hu (VP Education), Sophia Semmler (VP Social Justice) and Emma Kench (VP Careers) alongside a three word slogan spanning fun, experience and inclusivity.
With 690 votes cast in this year’s election, turnout fell short of the near 800 voters who came out in 2016. Less than one in ten law students went to the ballot box.
This was also the first year that SULS’ embattled expressions of interest (EOI) system, first introduced in 2017, triggered an actual election.
The EOI system worked imperfectly — four male-identifying candidates nominated for president — and expressions of interest played host to a limited field which only included nine nominees, five of which came from a single cohort — LLB III, and many of whom were members of the SULS executive or committees.
The election was at times steeped in controversy. Pop’s International Student Officer candidate and incoming SRC General Secretary Abbey Shi (Advance) came under fire for removing members of Zest from a WeChat group comprising international students.
Zest presidential candidate Isaac Morgan’s ticket was criticised by Pop as part of a “clique” with questions raised over his inclusion of personal friends and previous members of the SULS executive and committees on the ticket.
Numerous past members of the SULS executive came out in support of Morgan during the election.
Both tickets also included Liberal-aligned candidates. Honi revealed that Pop presidential candidate Amer Nasr currently works as an Assistant Adviser for the President of the New South Wales Legislative Council, John Ajaka. He told Honi that role was “administrative, not political.”
Zest’s Publications Officer Dane Luo served as SRC co-Vice President this year as part of a coalition which involved Moderate Liberal grouping, Shake Up.
Throughout the election, Pop led Zest with a more prominent social media presence, using multimedia and unique branding to engage students, partially attributable to the electoral experience of its campaign manager, current Publications Director Jeffrey Khoo.
Having voted to incorporate this year, next year’s executive will take charge of the coffers of campus’ largest society, which totalled $340,000 after it became a charity in 2018.
Of that sum, close to $16,000 came from the Law Faculty and $130,000 came through the nation’s top law firms and professional services organisations which continue to sponsor SULS year to year.
Nasr and Pop have promised more student grants, job opportunities and an expansion of student scholarships.
Correction: The first version of this article said that Nasr was the first JD student to hold the presidency. Nasr is actually the second in the last fifteen years.
Editor’s note: An original version of this article stated that Pop won with 55% of the vote. That has been corrected to 54% after the count was finalised.