Words || Angus Dalton
If you made it to campus at any point during election week, you might’ve had a flyer shoved in your face by an overly-hype student in a branded t-shirt. Perhaps an SRC hopeful beguiled you with promises of a parking palace with a 30,000 car capacity, or that Indi candidate with the pastel aesthetic lured you in with a vegan brownie. Lord forbid, you might’ve even cracked open your dusty student emails and VOTED in the darn thing.
But regardless of whether you got active this election or embraced sweet, sweet apathy, a bunch of students got elected who will have a sway over your university experience over the next two years. And while the word on the wind is that it was the most fiery election in recent MQ history, if you paid any attention to Grapeshot’s tireless reportage (*tosses monocle and weeps into an empty venti latte cup*), you’ll know that things also were a little fucked. So here, presented in a numerated list for your poor lil late-in-semester brain, is a quick roundup of all the shady shit that went down.
NUMERO UNO: The Uni had Candidates on a Leash so Tight it was Almost Erotic
If you had the misfortune of having an SRC hopeful on Facebook, chances are your newsfeed was flooded with pleas for votes and endearingly tacky election graphics. But if you look closely, every image and paragraph posted by a candidate had to be checked and approved by a uni official prior to publication. This includes posters, personal Facebook posts, and even ya bloody 10-second Snapchats if they had anything to do with the election. And don’t get me wrong, I’m all for election-themed memes, but when a form of internet counter-culture has to get slapped with an approval code by a corporate body, it kinda defeats the purpose.
Physical posters were restricted to the cave-like overhang on the edge of the courtyard near Bassline, which had more zubats than students genuinely interested in the SRC. In a 17-page, 52-subsectioned Code of Conduct document, candidates are also banned from ‘negative campaigning’, aka, shit-talking their opposition. Where’s the fun in that?
DOS: Y’All Made Enough Dodgy Election Promises to make Trump Blush
It seems many SRC candidates watched the current leader of the free world’s rise to power through punchy-yet-impossible promises and thought, “huh, I could do that too”.
Save Ubar? It’s a sexy slogan. But as the majority of SRC candidates scrambled to assure the student body that their beloved watering hole would remain, bulldozers were firing up their engines anyway. A replacement bar is being built opposite the library, but construction starts in May – see also, NOW – and after a Grapeshot investigation that included an interview with the Vice Chancellor and the Operations Manager of Ubar, it seems no one knows what the fuck is going on. We did our homework, but it seems none of the candidates bothered.
Other nominees made various proposals about the library, promising to kick out high school students and bring in phone reception. We all want gross 16-year-olds out of our sight at exam time, and not being able to document your slow-death-by-study via Snapchat story is a bit of a bitch, but isn’t promising to block people from a public space while REALIGNING A FREAKIN TELECOMMUNICATIONS SATELLITE just a tad, I don’t know, brash?
So much claptrap was flying around this election that an independent candidate, Sarah McCabe, ran on a fucking platform of calling other candidates out on their outlandish shit. She told Grapeshot: “Making unrealistic promises is unlikely to be malicious, but it’s problematic. When the SRC is probably unable to fulfil these claims, students are inevitably disappointed. Candidates make these claims every election, and yet fees, parking and Wi-Fi remain unchanged”.
TRES: The Entire Exercise Was Demo-Crazy
Sorry for the shitty pun. But seriously, the fact that 12 out of 25 SRC positions are appointed by a mysterious-as-fuck panel of four, rather than elected by the student body, is nothing short of insane. Especially as these appointed positions include the Equity & Diversity representatives – including Women’s Officer and representatives for Indigenous, queer and disabled students – who historically make the most radical change on campus.
A small win came when Grapeshot pressured the University into releasing the biographical details of the selection panel for the first time. One panellist is a past president of Macquarie University Sport and Recreation Ltd., and another is an Elder at Epping Presbyterian Church – make of that what you will. But apparently, the combined deductive power of these four randoms is far greater than the total 37,646 students eligible to vote, so I’d like to know how they take their coffee in the morning.
Additionally, the two frontrunners for the University Council position (the student who gets to sit alongside the top dogs and millionaires who call all the shots), both work for the University. It’s against the SRC Constitution to run for SRC or Council if you’re a full-time employee of the University, for obvious conflict-of-interest reasons. But those working part time or casually are still allowed to run, meaning that our Council member may be receiving a sweet pay packet every fortnight from the University they’re supposed to be holding to account. Further, Alistair Booth, who has already served on the SRC for two years AND is a casual employee at Campus Engagement, has looped through some fucking hole and had a huge chance of scoring the top seat, which would have given him a four year term of student representation. Such a potentially long term is reminiscent of Victor Ma. When Grapeshot enquired about whether or not this meant that someone could serve an unlimited amount of time on the SRC, just without the ability to vote, Governance Officer, Zoe Williams fell symbolically silent.
And just to make this all a little more North Korea-esque, a clause in the SRC’s Constitution states that the entire body can be disbanded, deleted, or nuked into oblivion whenever the Vice Chancellor sees fit.
With all that said, it should be emphasised that the system is fucked, not the candidates caught up in it. Congratulations to the successful nominees, and good luck. For those reading, stay woke and keep your successful candidates accountable – they work for you now.