UMSU elections 2016: the tickets
Table of Contents
- Unedited responses
- Left Focus
- Stand Up!
- Independent Media
- The Biggest Blackest Ticket
- Hard Memes
- More Beer
- Cheaper Textbooks
- Halal Snack Pack
- More Pokémon Go on Campus!
- Students Against Hanson
- Arun Bharatula
The University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) is recognised by the University as a representative body for all students. It’s an organisation with an annual budget of over $5mln, it employs about 30 staff members, it’s responsible for an array of campus activities, and a leadership spot in the organisation is a good buff to the résumé in many circles. It’s run by students, and there are a number of spots up for election annually.
Tickets, and the odd independent, will be on the hunt for: paid officebearer positions, positions on the Students’ Council (unpaid; but with responsibility for managing the whole union’s budget, policy and strategy), committee positions (again unpaid; with responsibility for a particular area of interest) and a handful of miscellaneous positions that don’t fit neatly into those categories.
We think you should vote, and that your vote should be an informed one — and to that end, we’ve compiled this guide.
The vast majority of candidates contesting the election are organised into tickets: roughly, the student political equivalent of political parties. This year, there are seventeen tickets contesting the election: the largest is running candidates for 83 positions, the smallest is running just a single candidate for a single position.
As well as candidates running on tickets, there are four candidates not running on any ticket. (There are also a number of such candidates running for positions at Burnley but, well, Parkville is in the name of the paper.)
We’ve compiled this list of the tickets — and the one independent candidate for President — and produced the list below, which is based partly on our thoughts about the tickets and rather more substantially on their responses to our questions. We’re pretty sure everything we’ve written below is either a true fact (as of printing), or our honestly-held opinion, but we welcome corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve categorised the tickets into four groups: those running for multiple contested officebearer positions, other tickets running for officebearer positions, tickets which are running multiple candidates (but none for officebearer positions), and tickets running just one candidate. Otherwise, we’ve listed tickets in alphabetical order, and are looking forward to seeing “111AAA for UMSU” next year.
Note: Parkville Station does not endorse any particular candidate or ticket; opinions below are those of the editors. As you can imagine, the ideas are not endorsed by the Returning Officers in charge of running the election.
Disclosures: Parkville Station co-editor Patrick Clearwater was a candidate on More Activities! in three UMSU elections. No-one involved in the editorial content of this article is a candidate for, involved with, or a member of any ticket in the election.
Tickets’ un-edited responses
Interested in seeing what we were told, unvarnished by our opinions? We’ve compiled a page of tickets’ responses to our questions.
Activate are a “group of independent, grassroots-left student activists committed to creating a student union that is inclusive of all students and provides the best possible services.” Their focus is on positions for specific constituencies — while they have run presidential candidates in the past, their focus this year is on the Creative Arts, Queer, Environment and Disabilities Offices (or so we surmise from their nominations).
Alston Chu, the ticket’s authorising officer, told us that as “Activate’s structure doesn’t really lend itself to being embodied by single people” he could speak only for himself, but “Activate strives to allow people to be included in what the union does, be that student representation, art, activism, or recreation”, particularly through being “conscious of who doesn’t normally get the chance to be included”.
At printing, Activate had not yet made a decision to endorse any particular faction: Chu told us, “[t]here are still collective meetings to be planned and consensuses to be formed”.
Create didn’t respond to our request for comment.
New (or at least, newly-christened) last year, Create managed a respectable volume of campaigners although ultimately had little to show for their efforts, snagging only a small number of committee positions and no officer positions. Nonetheless, they’re back this year, running candidates for a respectable 42 vacancies.
There is always one ticket accused of being “the Liberals”, although none will admit to it (except, of course, the ticket called Liberal). Create have plenty of candidates aligned in various ways to the Liberal Party, but as they have not taken the opportunity yet to provide us with comment, we’re hesitant to brand them the “Liberal ticket”.
Left Focus is “a left-wing activist ticket. We stand for a student union that campaigns for a higher quality of education and student rights, campaigning for instance against university funding cuts and fee deregulation. We also take an openly progressive stance around social justice issues, such as refugee rights, LGBTI rights, Indigenous rights and the environment.”
The ticket is associated particularly with Socialist Alternative, with many of its campaigners associated with Socialist Alternative. Authorising officer Jade Eckhaus told us, though, that the ticket was “open to all students who want to increase the level of progressive activism in the student union” and that “[s]ome of our campaigners are members of Socialist Alternative, some are members of other campaign groups and others are independent activists.”
Left Focus has not yet decided to whom it will direct its committee preferences, but is endorsing Stand Up!’s candidates for Education (Public Affairs): “One of [those candidates], Anneke, ran on our ticket last year, and after talking to Stand Up! we agreed that her and the other candidate, Dom, would be best for the office.”
While the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) has traditionally been a VCA stronghold, this year the ticket is fielding no candidates there.
The Liberals didn’t respond to our request for comment.
Despite contesting a number of positions up and down the ballot, there are only two candidates (Nathan Bachetti and authorising officer Michael Sabljak), and the generally left-wing views one finds as common currency on a campus such as the University of Melbourne’s means that they’re relatively unlikely to poll well.
Previously known as More Activities!, More! is this year rebranded to “reflect our whole-of-UMSU whole-of-issues focus, as well as our new commitment to political change and openness.” They believe that “the student union should be based on collectives and clubs as grassroots organisations, not on what national political party subfaction you’re aligned with”.
The faction has traditionally run and gained support on the back of fighting for more activities and clubs and societies, to the purposeful exception of other areas of the union. Before this year the only Officebearer positions they had run for were President, Activities, and Clubs and Societies. Their open-slather attitude towards this year’s election reflects a departure from this base, but More! told us that they haven’t abandoned their roots. “It’s about making sure that every part of the union is based on those roots, while addressing every part of the university”. They added that they think “every part of the union should be based around engaging with clubs as grassroots organisations”.
For committee positions, they will be directing their preferences towards “other progressive independent people/groups first”. They “won’t be directing preferences to candidates from the Liberal Club-dominated Create ticket or Socialist Alternative-dominated Left Focus ticket – or their candidates running on Stand Up!”.
Stand Up! are a “group of left wing, progressive students who aim to ensure an inclusive and accessible UMSU”. They are running to continue the fight against deregulation and the University’s attempts to restructure courses to the detriment of students, and to create a safer and more inclusive campus and union. They are committed to “ensuring that UMSU is for everyone”, demonstrated this year by the constitutional changes moved by their members.
Based on past performance, Stand Up! are are likely to be the strongest or second-strongest ticket in terms of number of campaigners during election week. They intend to use those campaigners not only to win the election but to “listen to the issues and concerns” of students. They have not decided where their preferences will flow.
Rightly or wrongly, Stand Up! are traditionally associated with the Left faction within the Australian Labor Party. We put this to ticket authorising officer (and presidential candidate) Adriana Mells, who told us the ticket “does not require any of [their] candidates to have any particular political affiliation”, and this year “more of [their] candidates are…independents from various collectives”, than from Labor.
Core Whig policies include, among others, reintroduction of the pound-sterling, converting Union House’s rooms into “alehouses” and are “extremely serious about both maintaining the monarchy to ensure the stability and continuity of the state, but we do feel strongly about the supremacy of parliament. We are in this election because we see the absolutist, monarchist French circling above us and we fear for the future of our parliamentary system.” As always, we’ll let you judge the policies for yourself.
Although, as “the natural party of Government from 1688-1773 [they] do expect to win by an overwhelming majority”, their authorising officer Lee Ellison told us they’d consider preferencing “tickets that will take up the mantle of implementing our welfare policies. These policies are primarily of free cheese and wine, the creation of a Whig choir in the English choral tradition and saturnalias for all.”
Our judgement is that their optimism of overwhelming victory is probably misplaced, but a ticket with suitably funny policies can nevertheless attract enough votes that their preferences might be seen as valuable.
Independent Media have already achieved what is probably their main goal: retaining the Media office, which they’ve done without opposition. Their goal now is to get “one or two councillors elected to the student council”. In keeping with previous years, the ticket is running around the triad of Farrago, Radio Fodder and Farrago Video.
This year they’ve been sure to stress the importance of “keeping student media free from political alignment or bias”. In relation to directing preferences: “While no official decisions have been made, it is unlikely that we will be preferencing any other tickets”
The Biggest, Blackest Ticket
The BBT didn’t respond to our request for comment.
It focuses almost exclusively on indigenous representative positions (the only exception is Tyson Holloway-Clarke contesting a byelection for the position of 2016 President, a position he currently holds on a temporary basis). By all accounts they’ve been successful at this, with the vast majority of their candidates provisionally elected unopposed.
Hard Memes didn’t respond to our request for comment. They have only two candidates, both running for a variety of committee positions.
Depending on exactly how hard their memes are — particularly if they’re vote-grabbing ones — the ticket’s preferences might prove valuable.
More Beer didn’t respond to our request for comment.
The ticket is much smaller this year, contesting just Students’ Council and Activities Committee; unlike last year’s much wider-ranging (if not terribly successful) attempt.
Cheaper Textbooks were not able to respond to our questions in time for our print deadline.
The ticket’s only candidate, Anna Morrison, was elected as Education (Academic Affairs) Officer and MU Student Union Ltd Board for the 2012 term, on the 2011 Stand Up! ticket.
Halal Snack Pack
Halal Snack Pack did not respond to our request for comment.
The ticket’s only candidate, Jamiel Sabbagh, was implicated in last year’s printing incident, in which Left Focus fliers were found to have been printed on an UMSU-owned printer – a breach of election regulations.
More Pokémon Go On Campus!
More Pokémon Go On Campus! were not able to respond to our questions in time for our print deadline. That’s all we know.
Smore! did not respond to our request for comment.
Their sole candidate, Akira Boardman, is one of UMSU’s current Education (Public Affairs) officers, elected on last year’s Stand Up! Ticket. (In that election she achieved the rare feat of also being elected an NUS Delegate on a different ticket — More Activities!) Nonetheless, the ticket has been active in the elections already, filing a complaint against the ticket More! on the basis that the latter’s name was confusingly similar. The Returning Officer dismissed the complaint.
Students Against Hanson
Students Against Hanson did not respond to our request for comment.
As best we can tell, the ticket’s only candidate, Alastair James, has not appeared in the minutes of any previous UMSU meeting.
Universal did not respond to our request for comment.
The ticket’s only candidate, Ezgi Bridger, was elected as the Disabilities Representative on the Students’ Council, and to the Disabilities Committee, for 2015, on the 2014 ignite ticket.
Although not running a ticket, Arun Bharatula is running for President as well as a number of positions further down the ballot.
He told us that he has “no strong preferences for one position over another”, but was running to “offer students an alternative to the clubs/societies and political party tickets”. His policy promises were mostly procedural — committing to “review the evidence and carefully formulat[ing] policy positions while sharing his “conclusions for feedback and to be personally accountable”, but not providing any specific policies.