Two tickets are running in this year’s Sydney University Law Society (SULS) Executive election: Bloom for SULS and Groove for SULS. Bloom is managed by Kaela Goldsmith (LLB II), and Groove is managed by Alex De Araujo (LLB V).
As the only USU-registered club to host public elections instead of a simple AGM, SULS is unique among faculty societies. Some call it self-importance, some chalk it up to the society’s juggernaut status. Whatever the reason, as the biggest and most well-funded club on campus, law students will undoubtedly be tuning in for this year’s election.
The 2021 and 2022 SULS elections saw uncontested victories for Ben Hines and Naz Sharifi, respectively — both assumably the product of negotiations in which presidential hopefuls withdrew to join the Executive. In 2020, a three-way election between Flare for SULS, Splash for SULS, and Vibe for SULS saw a victory for the establishment in Flare.
The Presidential candidates this year are Danielle Tweedale (LLB IV) heading Groove for SULS, and Christine Aung (LLB III) heading Bloom for SULS. Both Aung and Tweedale have held office in this year’s Executive under Sharifi as joint-Competition Directors.
|Groove for SULS||Bloom for SULS|
|President||Danielle Tweedale||Christine Aung|
|Vice-President (Education)||Ellie Mangharam||Ryan Wu|
|Vice-President (Careers)||Priya Mehra||Juan Facundo Majul|
|Vice-President (Social Justice)||Jessica Xu||Nishta Gupta|
|Secretary||John Mentzines||Annika Lee|
|Treasurer||Amante Abela||Stephen Marinos|
|Sponsorship Director||Antonia Odegbaro||Heather Whelahan|
|Social Director||Mounica Akula||Vanessa Zhang|
|Social Director||Zara Paleologos||Jessica Mackay|
|Competitions Director||Kiana Asgari||Jack Wang|
|Competitions Director||Daniel Kim||Sean Yalcinkaya|
|Sports Director||Charlie Hua||Victoria Yan|
|Campus Director||Ben Cullen||Kierem Usta|
|Publications Director||Kate Sinchilo||Natassia Minhtri|
|International Student Officer||Phan Vu||Vu Yen Nhi (Nikki) Bui|
Groove displays considerable involvement with SULS, with most members having held positions in the society or participated in competitions. Two of Groove’s members sat on this year’s executive with Tweedale serving as Competitions Director and Priya Mehra as Social Director. Zara Paleologos — Groove’s pick for Social Director — previously ran on the unsuccessful Vibe for SULS in 2020, and managed Libdependent David Zhu’s 2021 campaign for USU Board.
Bloom shows consistent engagement in SULS positions and competitions and has marginally more experience behind the scenes than Groove, particularly with a strong level of engagement in SULS committees across the ticket. Bloom boasts considerable SULS Executive experience with Annika Lee serving as Marketing Director this year alongside Presidential candidate Christine Aung, who was Competitions Director, and Nishta Gupta serving as Ethnocultural Officer in 2022.
Possessing a broad policy platform, Groove’s candidate statement identifies two major flaws that SULS “has increasingly been suffering from,” bringing specific and tangible policies to address these issues. The first, they say, is an oversaturation of events which leads to low attendance and turns off engagement overall. Groove hopes to implement “more intentional planning” to encourage students to engage.
Groove says they also find SULS to be “increasingly less transparent and accountable.” Their remedy is to solicit student feedback during the decision-making process, and to publish detailed audits of their spending and resource allocation.
Groove’s platform also identifies a number of other goals, including academic support through “staff-student coffee catch-ups, pre-emptive exam seminars, and earlier UoS surveys.” They are also proposing a reimplementation of Peer-Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) through a pilot program next year. Groove hopes to increase support for international students by hosting an “ESL Moot and ESL Competitors Panel” and providing “self-help legal fact sheets in the SULS office.”
Postgraduate students are also targeted in Groove’s policy suite, with the ticket promising a “JDI retreat, to provide JDs with an opportunity to bond as a cohort.”
In their policy statement, Bloom for SULS claims its candidates for each portfolio have “specific policies that they want to execute next year,” but that “they are all strongly bound together by our core philosophies.”
Bloom pledges to “focus on less, but higher quality formal events” that will “work in tandem with intentional informal events throughout the year.” The ticket hopes to achieve this “through stronger cross-portfolio collaboration” and “diversifying our range of available sponsorships.”
Similarly to Groove, Bloom identifies issues with transparency in SULS’ governance, promising to “create a positive feedback loop between the Executive and the members — because when that trust is created, we are more likely to get input on events.”
Bloom offers concrete policies for their vision, promising to “advocate strongly for important initiatives such as the re-implementation of PASS programs, or more student support for the return of in-person — potentially closed book — exams.” Their JD specific policies include a student-academic mentorship program, and other initiatives to help students ease into clerkships and graduate pathways.
This year, voting will be conducted online from 9am Thursday 23 November to 9am Saturday 25 November 2023. SULS members will receive a voting link prior to the opening of polls.
If you have any questions, please contact the 2023 SULS Electoral Officer, Cole Scott-Curwood, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SULS will host a Presidential debate today at 6:30pm in the Law Lounge, Level 1 New Law Annex and over Zoom.
Note: This article has been amended to better reflect the tickets’ experience and policies.