The Sydney University Law Society (SULS) is on track for a third contested executive election in a row, with Ben Hines (LLB IV) and Thrishank Chintamaneni (JD II) vying for the SULS presidency.
Both Hines and Chintamaneni unsuccessfully ran in last year’s SULS election on tickets Vibe and Splash respectively.
Hines is the Honorary Treasurer of the University of Sydney Union and the former Vice President of the Sydney University Liberal Club. Within SULS, he has been a member of the Equity and Socials Committees.
Hines wishes to see SULS “engaged and revitalised,” though his vision doesn’t deviate from the organisation’s status quo: “social events and rites-of-passage,” “career-focused opportunities and networking events,” and “in-person competitions.” He notes that “we need a law society that allows us to make the most of our time at university.”
Chintamaneni has previously held positions of General Councillor for the Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association and Campus Representative for SULS. Unlike Hines, Chintameni does not have a history with any political faction and is the first international student to nominate for the SULS presidency in recent memory.
He sees the wellbeing of students as being of “paramount importance,” noting that “everyone should have the same access to the rich opportunities that SULS provides.” Emphasising “inclusivity,” Chintameni wishes to cater to students who feel “disconnected or disengaged” with the organisation.
It appears that both candidates are running on similar platforms to their previous tickets — Hines’ ticket Vibe focused on event offerings while Chintameni’s ticket Splash campaigned on social justice and mental health.
As with previous years, voters can expect largely apolitical campaign promises, given SULS’ typically conservative approach to its charity obligations and long-standing aversion towards partisan politics.
SULS is plagued by a history of uncontested elections. In 2018 and 2019, sole presidential nominees had free reign to choose the rest of the Executive, which led to criticisms of electoral reforms that had introduced an Expression of Interest system. However, the past two years have seen back-to-back contested SULS elections, and a third would be unprecedented.
Presidential Expressions of Interests are non-binding, meaning it is still possible that a candidate will drop out of the race or fail to form a ticket of 15 before nominations are due. Only time will tell if students will have a say in who gets to head one of the University’s largest and most well-funded societies.