Disruption - 10th Annual Honi Soit Writing Competition

USU Board candidates 2020: Nick Rigby

Honi's profile and full interview with USU board candidate Nick Rigby.

Slogan: ‘Rigby’s ready’.

Colour: Light blue.

Faction: Independent (Liberal).

Quiz score: 71%.

Housewives tagline: ‘People may call me a Liberal, but they just want what I have (factional backing).’

Just like Michael Buble rears his ugly head every Christmas, it seems like all elections at USyd are plagued by at least one frustratingly unexciting libdependent candidate. Following in the footsteps of current board director Lachlan Finch, Rigby’s Moderate Liberal credentials and SASS-spearheaded resume strike us as an uncanny case of déjà vu. Instead of owning his political background openly and modestly, Rigby seemed embarrassed to admit his personal leanings, dodging our very simple question of which political party he was in three times during our interview, and asserting that he was a centrist.

While Rigby’s level of institutional knowledge is decent — coming  fourth place in our quiz — he appeared fairly shaky when asked to take stances on financial decisions. Rigby consistently deferred to the excuse of “not being privy to the exact financial numbers” throughout our interview in order to avoid addressing fairly principled questions, such as whether there were any alternatives to the recent round of USU layoffs, or where he would cut $1million from the USU’s budget.

Moreover, though Rigby’s policies are on-the-whole inoffensive, they do come off as a little tone-deaf during this time of COVID-19. Some of his proposed ideas include more festivals, social gatherings and large-scale events, which seems both legally questionable and unlikely in the foreseeable future of social distancing. Given that Australia is unexpected to fully emerge from the coronavirus crisis by the start of next semester, it is unclear what Rigby intends to do to help the USU recover to the point where the rest of his ideas are actually practicable. 

The remainder of Rigby’s policy statement comprises vague platitudes without concrete and actionable steps. How does he intend to reconnect “international and postgraduate students?” How will he “secure a greener and eco-friendly future for the USU?” In what ways will he “prioritise Clubs and Societies in matters of future funding?” It’s a mystery to us, as we suspect it is to him as well.

Ultimately, we can’t help but feel like we’ve seen it all before. Rigby’s campaign will undoubtedly be popular, backed by the hollow social media frenzy of DP changes and SASS-adjacent fire emojis. But coming into this election without any innovative ideas, detailed policies or firm political stances, it’s unclear Rigby will do much of anything, even if he does successfully make it to Board.

The link to the full interview transcript can be found here.