HS: Do you mind just giving me your name, pronouns, degree, campaign colour and campaign slogan?
AP: My name is Alexander Poirier, he/him pronouns. And I do a Bachelor of Music, majoring in musicology and minoring in ethnomusicology, with a focus on Chinese and Nigerian music.
HS: Cool. What is your campaign colour and slogan?
AP: My campaign colour is maroon and my slogan is Progress with Poirier.
HS: Who is your campaign manager?
AP: My campaign manager is Kris Sergi.
HS: And which faction are you representing, if any?
AP: I’m not, I’m independent.
HS: Are you a member of any factions?
AP: Uh, it’s a very complicated question. I am part of Unity, but I’m also part of the new Con faction, a performing arts faction called Ignite.
HS: Are you a member of any political parties?
HS: Are you describing yourself as an independent candidate?
AP: Yes, I am running as an independent candidate. Um, previous reports of me being part of Unity are incorrect.
HS: Do you think you’re able to run as an independent candidate given you’re a member of Student Unity and another faction?
AP: I am quite confident that I’ll be able to run as an independent candidate because I am running not for the SRC, anything like that. I’m running solely for the Con and performing arts. Because the USU I believe should not be as factioned as the SRC.
HS: So you think the USU should be less political than it is now?
AP: I definitely do not think it should be less political. I just believe that the USU should focus, the SRC is like, it’s necessary for factions and tickets, for the SRC. Because that’s a crucial part of getting that mass of Councillors and representatives, but within the USU I think they should be people who are running to bring specific ideas to student life rather than factional ideas.
HS: Okay, cool. So Unity will not be supporting your campaign?
AP: As of currently, I doubt it.
HS: Okay. So there is no involvement between the faction that you are a member of and your decision to run for Union Board.
AP: Yes, I am running as a Con candidate.
HS: But there is a Con faction?
AP: The Con faction is Ignite, which started last year for the SRC, but that’s kind of…
HS: Was it organised through Unity?
AP: No Ignite is an independent faction. It’s like, Engineers for SRC, Ignite for SRC, Ignite was never…
HS: It supported Unity? Sorry, I’m just trying to get clarification…
AP: Ignite was never a sub faction of Unity. It was named Ignite to, uh, it was named Ignite just so that it would honestly sound better like, Ignite for Matt and Unite for Matt, but we were never, it was never like a Switch and Grassroots kind of situation. We are just Ignite. We are just representing Con students.
HS: But you’re not representing that faction at this election?
AP: No. I’m representing — well in the extent that I’m representing Con students and Ignite is Con students then yes, like if say, Cole was not in a faction, but he was representing engineers kind of idea. Does that make sense?
HS: How would you characterise the role of the USU?
AP: The USU has, the role of it, has changed significantly over time. Where it started off being just a place to facilitate debates. And then it became a place for staff and students to really express their concerns with what was happening on student life, on campus.
Now the role of the USU has somewhat shifted to facilitating the student life aspect of campus. So facilitating all the clubs and societies, so facilitating the debates, giving the food and stuff so that there is one central hub to organise all of that.
HS: Cool, so you see it is more of a sort of service provider body?
AP: Um, yeah, I’d say the USU would be. It’s an organisation that is dedicated to providing the best student experience, like the extra curriculars. So the things that are external to the learning, which are just as important for university life, the USU is there to facilitate that, so that students are not having to just do it on their own.
HS: How would you describe your politics?
AP: I would describe my politics as quite left-leaning um, yeah, uh, I’m not very good with labels, um, I don’t know all the technical terms. But I would describe myself as quite left-wing. Um, I would, I absolutely hate, like, colonisation and the effects that that’s had on that.
So very anti colonisation, um, very much supporting of, uh, diverse peoples and minorities. Um, I would say that I’m anti-capitalist, whatever that means. I, I hate, um, I hate capitalism. And the effects that it has brought upon our society.
HS: How did those politics impact how you view the role of the USU?
AP: So, because the USU is the thing that facilitates all of the student culture, the USU needs to take a stance on things like, nothing is apolitical. Like you experienced that, particularly in the Arts, nothing is apolitical. Every statement that you make has some sort of, not motivation, but political message that is trying to convey. So the USU being an organisation that facilitates student culture, it needs to make sure it’s doing that in a way that is, supporting as many people as possible and supporting the ideas that students want it to support.
So say the USU needs to, if it wants to support feminism, which I very much believe that it should, it should implement sanitary products for free in all the bathrooms, which it has started doing. I would love to see that extended to the Con, and it needs to use the power it has to communicate ideas to society.
So say it needs to, if it wants to support say non-white musicians or something. If it wants to support non-white groups, representation or in its programming of performances, it needs to show off non-white composers, rather than just saying that they support non-white composers and stuff like that. So in every decision that the university needs to make, it needs to be representative of what the students want.
HS: What motivated you to run for USU Board?
AP: Uh, I wanted to run for Board because I saw that there are quite a few things that could be changed and improved upon within the USU, both from my experience as the Welcome Fest Fest Coordinator. As a staff member, but also as a society president and organiser of quite a few different societies.
HS: So we’re going to move into some more policy based questions now. What’s one thing the USU has done well in the past two years?
AP: Done well? The USU has really tried its hardest to keep students engaged with university life, which has been a particularly difficult thing as students have not been at the university. I’s like as soon as restrictions started easing it’s put on events, but then even in lockdown, countless online events were occurring during that time. And there were lots of initiatives such as FoodHub that continued throughout lockdown that were providing support for students who didn’t have the funds because of lost work and whatever to continue it with food.
So I know that there was, particularly at the Con a lot of students particularly appreciated Foodhub just because they did not have, like all our concerts and all that teaching work was cancelled. And that’s a pretty major source of income from music students. So the, just the continuation, it’s been an awfully difficult thing to do, but I think that there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to fully get back to where we were. But I think that’s been a thing that it’s excelled in.
HS: Are you aware of the issues that FoodHub has faced this year?
AP: I am quite aware of the issues that FoodHub has faced this year.
HS: Are there any steps you would take to ensure that that sort of thing doesn’t happen again with the mishaps this year?
AP: Yeah. So I think there needs to be a somewhat, I don’t want to say independent, but there needs to be some sort of group that is dedicated to just ensuring that FoodHub happens every year.
HS: That was sort of existing. I mean, FoodHub was already under a number of people’s responsibility who seemed to just look past it. Do you think that’s just a matter of poor work ethic?
AP: I don’t think that the issues with FoodHub were related to poor work ethic. I think that the issues with FoodHub, it was that it was, I feel like there were just too many, I don’t wanna say too many players involved. But it just relied on a lot of differently run organisations to ensure that it happened.
So the SRC is run by students. The USU is run primarily by full-time employees and having that interaction, I know that when I was working for the USU interacting with societies and interacting with the SRC was quite a difficult process, to try and get things involved. And even when I was working within the USU, I’d have to talk to about seven different people to get things to happen.
HS: What were some lessons that you’ve learned as Welcome Week Coordinator?
AP: Welcome Fest is quite a difficult thing to organise. There are a lot of parties involved, particularly in the era of COVID, where we were not sure whether Welcome Fest would occur in person until about two weeks beforehand.
We were all quite scared that all of our work would have to be trashed and we’d have to furiously try to organise something else. But with Welcome Fest, there are a lot of unnecessary, bureaucratic things that happen within the USU that could be automated. There are a lot of different parties that need to be consulted, I think, somewhat unnecessarily.
My role within the Welcome Fest Coordinator extended into not just organising Welcome Fest. I ended up organising the Con Welcome Day with a USU presence, which has never happened before. And the only reason that happened was because both Welcome Fest Coordinators were from the Con, like Kris Sergi and I, from the Con. She’s the old President, I’m the current Secretary. That was really big. Like we need to get Con happening. So we ended up getting a bus going from the Con to Fisher during the three days of Welcome Fest, which has never happened before. It’s been in countless campaigns. It’s been countless, both like USU and SRC of “bus to the con”.
But the only time it came into fruition was when someone was directly employed and I sent a proposal to security and they organised for the Redfern-Fisher bus to go to the Con.
HS: So I do note that that’s one of your campaign promises, the bus. Have you already spoken to security about ensuring that continues? Just because I’m aware that it’s a campaign promise that’s been made many times, but it’s failed to be delivered on in the long term.
AP: Well, I made it happen. Part of my report to the security was looking at what happened, like how many people used it, which weren’t that many, because ultimately it should have been run on the Monday and Tuesday, but for some reason they didn’t want to.
So there are, I think there were about 20 people who used the bus on all three days, but then there were many, many, many people who texted in group chats and texted me personally saying, why don’t we have this. Like, can we continue this? And there was a hope that it would continue to Week One because Welcome Fest was continuing to Week One, but that never came to fruition for whatever reason.
HS: Do you have a plan to ensure that it does occur?
AP: Yeah. I have a plan to, uh, I have the proposal. I know who I need to talk to, to get it started up again and to get a permanently running…
HS: What does that plan entail?
AP: That plan is, so Samantha Trodden, who is the Head of Student Programs, her and I worked together with that. She was emailing the relevant people in a high-up role. And I was writing the proposals to get that running and then she’s been in contact with them and we can get that bus running.
HS: So further on in your policy statement you discussed collaborating with companies to improve student life. Given the sort of nature of a number of companies USU has worked with, how would you vet companies to ensure they align with the values of progressive students?
AP: Um, yeah, quite a few of the companies that were at Welcome Fest I was not overly impressed by, but that was…
HS: Can you give some examples of ones you wouldn’t work with if you had the choice?
AP: I don’t remember specific companies. I just know that I was quite unimpressed with, like, I didn’t realise until the Honi report came out, um, from Fabian about like, here are the companies that we’re having, because I wasn’t privy to that knowledge. That was not within my role. To know which companies were like, that’s a separate partnerships department of the USU, but companies that have anything to do with furthering the climate emergency in a negative way, uh, that we cannot have relations with them in any sort. My main focus with these external companies was more in the vein of performing arts. So Opera Australia, the opera House or Capitol Theatre, those types of things so that students can have external university events at a subsidised cost. Because like when my mum came to the uni, she was getting tickets to ‘Phantom of the Opera’ for $20. Where has that gone, why, why is that no longer a thing.
So I think that needs to be brought back. If we want to give real value to USU membership, we need to organise collaborations with those companies and with the dying arts industry. I don’t know. I don’t wanna say the dying arts industry. With the lack of support that the Arts have been receiving from the Liberal government, there needs to be some sort of initiative that we can directly affect.
HS: In your policy statement, you note that you want to create more opportunities for minorities on campus, what would that include?
AP: So USU has, they’ve partnered with a company for candlelight concerts.
HS: What are candlelight concerts, sorry?
AP: Candlelight concerts, So they’ve got a company, where they perform in the refectory, and they just, it’s just performing by candlelight.
And so they’re playing, Chopin, they’re playing a few other like Eurocentric canon performances of the cis het white men. So there needs to be explicit decisions of, in Verge, which has been quite good, um, or in the companies that they partner with for these performances. It needs to be giving opportunities to the minority groups.
HS: So choosing diverse companies for these performances?
AP: Diverse companies and supporting diverse performances from the societies and stuff like that.
HS: We’re probably going to jump into a few questions about your personal politics now. When did you join Student Unity?
AP: That’s a very rough question to answer because I campaigned for Belinda Thomas in 2020, but I was doing that just cause she asked me in that group chat, like, Hey, you want to campaign? And I did because she was my friend from the Con.And then I didn’t know what factions are, because we don’t have, we don’t really have factions at the Con, because we’ve never really been involved in stupol until when I’ve been at uni.
So 2020 was my first year. Then I didn’t realise that I had joined Student Unity. I’d just been added to a group chat and I was like, okay, this is a fun group of people. Does that make sense?
HS: So I just want to clarify, are you a member of the Unity caucus?
AP: Nationally or like just in USyd?
AP: Yeah. I, I guess I am, but USyd Unity are not in national Unity because we got purged. So does that make sense?
HS: Yeah, that makes sense. So do you consider yourself aligned with the Labor Party?
AP: Not really like, if I had a chat with the, big names within Unity, about six months after Belinda’s election being like, what is happening, and they kind of described to me, like Unity is a very diverse group of left-left to centre-left. I was like, oh great. Okay. I’ll be in left-left of Unity because that’s what I am. I would consider myself a socialist. I kind of just say that because they were my friends. Then we’ve had like, I’ve had chats with people and it was like, I’d probably be in Grassroots or in NLS, if I just knew those people.
Yeah, like I would consider myself very far left of the Labor Party if not just Greens, yeah.
HS: When it comes to factional allegiances, you say your politics are more aligned with Grassroots or Switch on campus. Would you have allegiances to those factions or Student Unity? We’re just trying to understand the loyalties here.
AP: I have allegiances to the Con, so I will do what I need to do to get the Con represented. When I helped support Belinda, I was supporting Belinda for the Con. I was supporting Matt in his first run for Council. That was because it was supporting the Con within Unity.
Like that was just, I didn’t really know what a faction was. They were my friends and we were representing the Con. Does that make sense?
HS: It sounds very different to Unity when I was in first year. Always had to be a member of the party to join the faction then?
AP: No, I, I’m not a member of the Labor Party.
HS:You have no intention of campaigning for them with the Federal Election or anything like that?
AP: Not really. Mainly because I don’t have time and, I have no intention of going further up in the chain of command. I don’t want to be in politics when I graduate.
HS: What is a political issue you said would support the Board taking a stand on?
AP: Supporting Indigenous rights? That is a very big thing that I think the USU has capacity to improve rights and representation. So theUSU has the capacity to use the facilities that they have to show off the First Nations people of where we live. So the Gadigal people, they have the capacity to chat with the proper Elders and say, get a dual name for the USU. They have the capacity to put up Indigenous artwork and representation around campus in their buildings. That’s something that’s very direct that can be done. Then that links in with the diverse experiences for students, where they can go to a concert of Indigenous music, cause it’s quite difficult to find those types of concerts unless you’re within that group. So I’m able to find it. Okay. I do a lot of work at the Con within Indigenous representation and stuff like that. So I’d love to see that expanded.
HS: So during the marriage plebiscite, there were conversations about whether the USU took a political stance. On what political issues do you think that USU should take a political stance?
AP: Like in general or in regards to the election?
HS: In regards to the issues as they come up, for instance, the Religious Discrimination Bill. Do you think the USU should have taken a lobbying stance on that?
AP: I think the USU should have like, that they should have an opinion about what it is and then they should do what they can to support those groups. So, with the Ukraine crisis and war, they should do what they can to show off Ukrainian culture and stuff like that.
HS: In a direct political, lobbying way?
AP: The SRC is, I think it’s useful having a distinction between the SRC and the USU, because that’s been something that’s taken me a while to understand because of the Con people would kind of just assume that that they’re the same thing, so the USU is providing the services that directly happen on campus for students to see and like stuff like that.
The SRC is the activist group, so they are the students who go out and they campaign and they go to protests and activism, stuff like that, for fighting for it, on a larger scale. But the USU is focusing on a USyd scale, so, they should have opinions that relate to the national scale, but they should be able to directly affect what’s happening right here.
HS: What restrictions do you think should be on the expression of political opinions with clubs on campus?
AS: If a club is going to do something outrageous, um, say with the stunt that the Catholic society pulled last year with the ableism, that should be that, like that’s absolutely appalling. And the USU should have very clear restrictions on these basic rights of people. If you have a different opinion, you can have that opinion, but you cannot force it upon other people. A
HS: So obviously you would say the Catholic society have like an outrageous stunt, but would the same go for if, I don’t know, like in 2020, when student activists occupied the F23 Building and prevented staff from management from leaving their offices, would you consider that outrageous in the same vein and something that should not occur?
AP: That’s outside of the USU’s jurisdiction. So,
HS: Well, in theory, if left-wing activists were protesting against, say, a pro-life group in the USU, maybe getting quite aggravated, a very intense protest. Would you say then that the pro-life group has the right to not have that kind of outrageous behavior towards them?
AP: Everyone has the right to express their opinion until their opinion negatively affects other people. So. I think if there will be a pro-life society, they will be a group of people who believe in anti-abortion.
HS: Should they be allowed to have a club at USU?
AP: I think it’s best if they have a club within the USU system, because that means that they are bound to the rules of the USU. They should stay registered as a club only so that the USU has jurisdiction over them because there are a fair few random clubs that just exist, that we’re pulling quite a few random things at Welcome Fest that we had the, like, we didn’t have that much control over. So if they are, if they want to be, they have no obligation to be registered with the USU, say like the Con Christian group. They are just a society. They are not registered with the USU but that means that they get absolutely no support from USU whatsoever, with AGMs, with funding, anything like that. So if they want to get funding from the USU, they need to follow the rules that the USU has put in place. So if they are going to make people feel uncomfortable, then they obviously cannot do that.
And so if they think that that is incompatible with their views, then they need to not be registered with the USU.
HS: So given the issues last year, that saw members of the pro-life club on campus, kind of intimidating student activists. Do you believe they should still stay registered?
AP: If they’ve broken their rules, then they shouldn’t get funding if that, if they broke that rule then they should not get the benefits of being a USU member or a registered club. So if here are the guidelines, if you break the guidelines, then you don’t get to be. You don’t get all support. So in conclusion they shouldn’t be registered. Yes.
HS: It seems there’s this parallel track of registered and unregistered clubs that can co-exist on campus. Would you allow unregistered clubs to still use USU facilities or for instance, appear at Welcome Week?
AP: No, uh, at Welcome Week, there was a very large wait list of clubs that were allocated a stall. It’s unfair. The registered clubs who have done all of the rules. Like you have followed all the rules, have done their registration, have abided by the guidelines, have done their financial acquittals and stuff like that.They’ve done all, the proper procedures of being a club, it’s unfair on them. If a random club that has not decided to follow those rules gets to have a spot instead of them. Yeah. So then they shouldn’t be able to use the facilities. They shouldn’t get the benefits of a USU registration.
HS: We just have a few questions about why you think you would be a good USU board director, basically. So being USU Board Director is a very large time commitment. Obviously you’re studying and have had various commitments, like Welcome Week Coordinator and stuff. This year you’ve committed to writing three articles for Honi Soit. Of those, you requested for two to be removed from the paper last minute and the other one did not come to fruition. Given these difficulties with time commitments, do you have any concerns about your ability to perform your role as a Union Board Director?
AP: I don’t think that statement with what I did with Honi is correct. I wrote an article, uh, the future of art music that I never requested to be pulled out at the last minute. There has never been discussion of that. The review for SUSO I’ve written nothing, happened with it. So I was never given a due date. I was given a due date, but then I was told it wasn’t going to be in the paper. And so I was quite unsure as to what it was, what, what was happening with it. And then the most recent one, the controversies of the Con that was an article that required over 700 pages of research, just from books that hadn’t never, that hadn’t been touched at the Con library for quite a few years.
This was something that had never been written before. And so it was a really hard thing to do and I take my commitments incredibly seriously. And so I would not even entertain the idea that I would not be able to write an article unless I thought it would absolutely be impossible for me to do it.
It happened. I did get it done. I just sat down and just got it finished. But I believe that if something isn’t going to be up to the standard worthy of Honi Soit then it shouldn’t be published. Like I don’t want to rush through something just to get it done. People can see with my track record of, like I’ve been, I’m the President of two societies. I’m the Secretary of a third. Um, I ran the largest student event in the country. Lke I’m Secretary of the faculty society. I’m running the first Chinese orchestra in the Southern Hemisphere. I’m running piano society. They are all very different groups and they are still running.
They are still happening. I still am able to get my commitments finished. I’m able to get my assignments finished. I’m able to finish it. I’ve been dancing since I was two. And as a dancer, you learn time management, you learn time commitments and you’re part of a team, you kind of don’t pull out easily.
And so for me to even propose that idea in my head, that was quite a hard decision for me to do. And I did not particularly want to do it. And if it needs to get done, I will do it. I would not sleep. I will, I would just get it done and it did get done.
HS: So just in terms of the SUSO review, you did receive a media ticket for that, provided to you by Honi. So using student money. Just for the purpose of transparency. I think it’s important that we characterise the situation correctly. We didn’t receive that review for a long time, do you think that indicates how you view the importance of student money? You received a free media ticket, and then we didn’t receive a review and you’re going into an organisation where a whole student body is going to be relying on you to use the fees correctly. Do you view that as an incredibly important thing to be representing all those people?
AP: Yeah, I think if people look, I have done countless, countless hours within the CSA, within SUCO, within PianoSoc uh, within SRC campaigns, looking at, um, like volunteer time. Where I’m unpaid. The first time I ever got paid for anything related just to stupol and societies was Welcome Fest, and I wouldn’t have received that role if they did not believe that I was capable of running those events, because that had quite a significantly large budget and everything that I wanted to do was, was put to fruition.
I would show up at 8:00 AM and I would leave around 6:00 PM every day for the last three weeks to get things done. That SUSO review was, I had no idea what was supposed to be happening. because I was told that it would be put on the press, like in print, it’s not in print anymore. Uh, it’s going to be published online. That might happen next week. So I had no idea what was happening with due dates and stuff like that. I’ve got the review.
HS: Would you ever break a fiduciary duty as a USU board director?
AP: Like go to the press?
HS: So you have a legal duty to do something to the best interests of the finances of the USU, would you ever break your legal duty?
AP: No, it’s a legal duty. I will go through and I’ll do fiduciary duties required to me.
HS: So there have been a lot of criticisms about the transparency of the USU. A lot of Board Directors do run on policies to increase the transparency of the USU. We haven’t seen much progress in that space, what do you hope to do to improve transparency with the USU particularly with meetings and decision-making?
AP: People have said many times before about getting agendas published and minutes published and in camera sessions. Now the USU has an executive assistant whose job it is explicitly to get agendas and minutes from. So they should be published in an explicit, like on a specific part of the website. The website’s a bit, hang on, but there should be a specific place where they publish it on their social media, publish it very like here’s our agenda for the meeting. Here are our minutes from the meeting that they shouldn’t rely on Honi Soit having to report on things like students should be able to find out.
The in camera sessions should ultimately only be things that are like, legally can be quite problematic if a lot of people find out. I believe that like a lot of the reason why students are not involved in student politics very often anymore, they’re not involved in student culture, is because they don’t know what’s happening.
So there should be quite transparent, like uses of money and stuff like that. There should be, like I know the budget of Welcome Fest. I am not legally allowed to disclose that information. That is all I am allowed to say, but if students heard about it, there may be some interesting opinions.
HS: So with regard to in camera discussions, it seems to be that you’re saying that there should be a default for transparent discussions, except the instances where there are legally sensitive matters.
AP: Yes, that’s correct.
HS: Just as some final questions, who are two candidates you’d most like to work with on Board.
AP: I would absolutely love to work with Madhu, her and I have had a very good working relationship, from Welcome Fest, continuing on from that, like now that I’m no longer employed, like continuing that with performing arts societies and using our different experiences.
So, me with music and here with acting, I would really love to work with her to continue reinvigorating the nightlife, as you said, and getting performing arts on campus and stuff like that. And then working with Isla as well. I’m intrigued by some of the other candidates, as I’m not entirely sure what their policies are and what they want to do on Board. Because like we’re obviously not allowed to campaign, so I’d need to have a better chat with some of them. We’ll need to see their policy statements to make a decision.
HS: Do you have any preference deals lined up to the election?
HS: And you intend on organising a preference deal?
AP: With preference deals, I’m honestly not going to get too involved in those. I’m leaving that up to my campaign manager, Kris, but I’ll be involved with the people that I want to work with on ethical grounds and political grounds. So I may be less inclined to work with people who are well, I’m not going to work with the people who are linked with the Liberal Party, obviously, like I’m not pulling a Matt Carter.
HS: So what instructions have you given your campaign manager with regard to preference deals? Is it electability or an alignment with your politics?
AP: Alignment with politics. We have had many, many discussions about the issues with Matt. We didn’t know about his preference deals with the Libs until very close to the election. We are not doing anything like that. Bcause her and I were heavily involved in that whole drama. I’m not going to sacrifice my morals and my beliefs to get higher up in the world. That is something that I very much dislike.
HS: And who would you vote for to be Board President in the executive elections?
AP: Cole Scott-Curwood, I believe that he has the passion and the drive, and he has the experience running SUEUA, which is in the same position as the CSA where the Uni kind of don’t really do that much with engineering. Like you’ve seen the state of PNR and he really knows how to wrangle something out of that. And it’s the same with the CSA where we’re kind of just left to our own devices. Lots of volunteer time, very minimal, minimal budget. He has that experience with running that and he has the experience and the ethics and the morals of doing what is best.
HS: In one sentence, why should students vote for you over any of the other candidates?
AP: Students should vote for me, if they want someone who has experience working in the USU, I have a very specific plan. And actionable policy statements to get student life re-invigorated and get clubs and societies more like run more efficiently,and do the most, like have the most benefit for their experiences at the university and their money.
HS: If you were voting on emotion to divest from fossil fuels, would you vote yes?
AP: A hundred percent. I am appalled by the amount of money that the USU was putting into companies that directly affect climate change in a negative way.Like we shouldn’t be even considering the thought of putting our money into that. And the fact that the union is doing it is just appalling. The fact that the USU is also putting forward itself as a student run organisation, it’s eco-friendly and stuff like that. It’s one thing for the Uni to do it because we all know the Uni is rubbish. We’re not, we don’t like the PR campaigns, but the USU to be investing… And its capacity, like divesting from fossil fuels, is an easy thing to do. It’s an explicit choice to invest in companies that will do good.
HS: Is there anything that you want to add before we wrap up the interview?
AP: Uh, I would absolutely love to see more Con discussions and involvement just in general, because as a candidate, I have felt incredibly, not isolated, that I’ve received a lot of support from a lot of different groups of people to run for Board because they all believe that I’m incredibly experienced and know what to do. But I have like just in the front line, it’s been a lot of work so that people can understand, like I’m a Con student who knows what I’m doing. I’m a Con student running for the Con. Um, even with the quiz, there were questions that were incredibly difficult.
Like I have to do a lot more work to find out the info, like the information for all that, because the Con is not directly part of all of this culture. So it might be an easy question for a normal, stupol hack to answer. But as someone who’s from the Con has to deal with so many other different parties and is isolated. That was incredibly hard. And then there were absolutely no questions that would be, like for other candidates from main campus, that would be difficult for them to answer from a Con perspective. So who’s the Dean of the Con, what are the concerts that they put on the Con, what are the ensembles, stuff like that?
HS: So do you view the Con community as marginalised in terms of their representation?
AP: This is the con idpol question. Um, yes. We have so many things running. Even like the Vice-Chancellor, the Chancellor, when I had discussions with them, they did not realise that ethnomusicology was a subject that is on offer here, or is that is a minor on offer at this University.
There are a lot of these questions of like, how do we bring back student culture? Like at night, um, the Con’s been doing that for years. We have nightly concerts weekly, but no one knows about them because it’s not reported anywhere. I’ve been pushing many times for Honi to report in their gig guide. What’s on at the Con, it’s a website easily identifiable of here are the tickets. Every USyd student gets a free ticket to a Con concert. We like, we have the experience with that where just chugging along doing our own thing, because we don’t get support from anywhere else.
HS: Do you not view it as a sort of incongruent belief that the Con must be urgently supported in student culture, given access to a high level of music education usually comes along with a certain class status, so privileged to have access to that kind of music education. And perhaps student activists and student media are quite preoccupied supporting, you know, low SES, indigenous diverse students?
AP: I’m from Western Sydney, from Penrith, the far reaches of Western Sydney. I am not from a privileged background. Um, yeah, you see me pushing for minority musics again, with my Chinese Orchestra, you see me pushing for Indigenous representation at the Con and the Con is at the forefront of pushing for those things within its musical landscape.
We can only do so much, like since the Con was founded, it was founded to be a place where anyone could have musical education. When the Con was founded in 1915, but in 1920, there were students from a hundred suburbs who all had lessons at the Con.
And ever since then, it’s been part of trying to detach itself from the idea that elitism is associated with learning music. It’s been really pushing for that distinction like that, it’s been really pushing to bring more people into music. Classical music doesn’t have to be an elitist thing.
And if we want to break the barrier, if we want to break the musical canon, we need to take experiences from everyone. And the Con is doing a really good job at that at the moment with the resources that’s given.