The University of Sydney Union (USU) has officially announced the results of this year’s Board elections. Prudence Wilkins-Wheat (Switchroots), Vikki Qin (independent), Ruby Lotz (NLS), Belinda Thomas (Unity) and Benjamin Hines (SULC/independent) have been provisionally elected to serve as Directors.
The candidates will join current Board Directors Cady Brown (Moderate Liberals), Nick Forbutt (NLS), Ruolin Irene Ma (independent), Yinfeng Benny Shen (independent) and Di Eve Wang (Panda).
4,536 USU members voted with quota at 757 votes. This is markedly lower than last year’s turnout of 6,454 votes, but higher than turnout in 2017 and 2018 respectively, indicating that an online election did not contribute to a particularly high or low turnout.
Tonight’s result comes during a particularly difficult period for the USU. In April the USU laid off many of its staff following the COVID-19 induced campus closure. Following, the USU implemented 40% wage cuts across the organisation.
A week ago, Alexis Roitman resigned as USU CEO — a decision which came as a shock during the coronavirus crisis. On Tuesday, the USU also announced the immediate removal of first year Board Director Oscar Bai following revelations he was ineligible for directorship given he didn’t currently hold USU membership.
In addition to successful candidates having to reckon with the USU’s precarious financial situation, those elected tonight will soon have to vote for the Board’s next Executive. Honi understands that both Benny Shen and Nick Forbutt are vying for the position of President. At this stage, it looks like Shen has the better chance, given that Ruby Lotz (NLS, backed by Forbutt) was locked out of a preference deal, only receiving fourth preferences for Wilkins-Wheat.
Before the results were announced, it was confirmed that the candidate who places sixth in the election would be offered a one-year spot on the Board, in order to fill the vacant position created by the recent removal of Oscar Bai. The sixth candidate elected is Nick Rigby, who has accepted the one year term.