USU Board candidate profile 2022: Onor Nottle

Honi’s profile and interview with 2022 USU Board candidate Onor Nottle

Slogan: On Board with Onor

Colour: Yellow

Quiz score: 67%

Faction: Switch

Nottle cinched the top score in the Election Quiz this year, however, given the broadly low scores among candidates, this isn’t as much of a claim as it may have been in previous years. She boasts C&S experience, being SULS’ Social Director in 2021 and Campus Director this year. She has also been involved with Law Revue, the USU’s Debating Society, on the SRC as a Councillor, and sits on the Academic Board.

Her quiz results show concerning gaps in knowledge around student activism and campus unionism, despite her factional involvement in Switch. Nottle failed to identify bread-and-butter knowledge about staff conditions, such as the 40/40/20 model and USyd’s NTEU branch leadership. Unlike the current crop of Switch Board Directors, Nottle appears to bear minimal experience in activist organising. 

Her policies feature a strong focus on increasing communication and consultation between the USU and students across a number of issues. She cited a lack of clear communication between the USU and C&S for information about the grants system and training modules as an area for improvement, as well as the need for better marketing and publicity about USU events and initiatives. The improvement of USU marketing has been a policy feature of most candidates in recent years.

Nottle also stressed the need for greater accessibility on campus, criticising the drawn-out back-and-forth over the last few years in the University’s failure to provide dedicated disability spaces, although was unable to explain how she would go about implementing this beyond consultation with C&S disabilities officers, and “taking responsibility for this policy”. Equity tickets were also a point of focus, proposing an increase to advertising and the number available.

She is also running on a feminist platform, with policies that aim to make campus a safer place for women and non-cis men. However, her commitment to working with feminist campus groups like WoCo to implement such policies remains unclear. In addressing the campaign to dismantle the colleges, Nottle prioritised reformist strategies that would improve the safety of college students in the immediate term, over the abolition of the college system altogether. 

“Regardless of what the final destination is in terms of burning down the Colleges, in terms of affordable housing… the most important thing is ensuring that students and women are protected right now”, she explained. Nottle is also proposing a security presence at all C&S drinking events; when asked about USyd Campus Security’s history of homophobia and collaboration with police, she was equivocal, bordering on walking back the policy. 

Nottle’s interview and her policy claimed a focus on decolonisation, citing the campaign to rename Wentworth and better consultation with the Gadigal Centre. When pressed on how she plans to better support Indigenous students, she suggested “following in the Law School’s lead” who recently hired Indigenous Practitioner-in-Residence Teela Reid (although it is unclear how this might translate into her role as a USU Board Director), as well as “more consultation” with Indigenous students. 

In an odd turn, aside from raising “multilingual content” and “platforming Indigenous voices”, Nottle suggested that the USU “restart Foodhub” as a decolonisation measure, despite the fact that FoodHub specifically caters to international (rather than Indigenous) students. Further, the contribution of these specific measures to the vast, society-wide project of decolonisation could be conceived as tokenistic, or at the very least incomplete. 

When given the opportunity to address allegations regarding use of racist language, Nottle was adamant that they were “unequivocally false”. She also noted that those allegations “provided an opportunity to start the conversation about how the USU and the University needs to be decolonised”, although Honi is unsure how such “rumours” would actually advance anti-racism and anti-colonial causes. Nottle also argued that she has been supportive of “the anti-racist agenda”, citing her involvement with refugee legal clinics, Aboriginal legal services, Native Title research, attending Invasion Day protests, and her current Service Learning in Indigenous Communities unit in the Torres Strait Island. It is unclear, at this stage, whether Nottle’s response is enough to dispel concerns from BIPOC students about her alleged racist behaviour, especially considering she has spent the past two weeks posting images of Indigenous children on social media.

On USyd and the USU’s fossil fuel-riddled investment portfolio, Nottle called it “abhorrent”, also taking aim at the USU’s current Board Directors for not being aware of the USU’s own ties to the fossil fuel industry. She expressed a commitment to staying abreast of such investments if elected, and clearly stated that she would vote in favour of divestment if given the opportunity.

Although Nottle said that though she had not finalised any preference deals at the time of her interview, she expressed a desire to work with fellow Switch candidate Madhullikaa Singh and fellow SULS exec Naz Sharifi. She also expressed an aversion towards Liberal and Libdependent candidates (seemingly in reference to Liberal-backed Nicholas Dower and Independent K Philips). When asked who she would support as USU President in the Executive elections, she stressed the need for a left-wing Board as opposed to backing any person in particular.

Listen to Onor Nottle’s interview and read the transcript here.