Come one, come all to the Macquarie University student elections! There will be tears, triumphs and most importantly student politicians trying to talk you into voting for them! A lot of them too! Don’t you worry though, good ole Aunt Grapey is here to hold your hand through these elections and get you up to speed on what you need to know. And if there’s one only piece of advice you take away from us, let it be this: vote.
What’s Up for Grabs?
First things first, here’s the low-down on what positions are up for election this year and the dates you need to know. The shiny new offices ready for occupation are:
- A student member for the University Council, elected for a two-year term. The Council is the main governing body of the University, its members include the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and various other key academics.
- One undergraduate member from the Faculty of Business and Economics to fill a casual vacancy on the Academic Senate (from 17 April 2019 to 31 May 2020).
- 15 elected and nine appointed positions on the Student Representative Committee, for terms of 2 years. This one is the main event. The SRC decides how our Student Amenities Fees are used and as we don’t (can’t) have a student union, they also act as advocates for student concerns. The main achievements of the SRC have been putting fairy lights on Wally’s Walk, creating MUSE, implementing charge bars and bringing back Conception Day (but in its current/crapper form Re:Conception Day).
Nominations opened on the 5th of March and closed on the 19th of March. Voting and the campaign period gets cracking on the 1st of April and wraps up on the 15th of the April. And selection interviews for the appointed SRC positions take place between the 4th and 11th of April. All voting shuts up shop on the 15th of April.
You can expect the campaign to look a lot like posters of various quality popping up around on any spare section of wall around uni, and students thrusting flyers into the faces of passer-by’s on Wally’s Walk, trying to harass them into conversation. There may even be candidates trying to lure you in with vegan brownies and pastel aesthetics (however, according to the university, candidates are advised to not hand out free food as this has previously been interpreted by other candidates as a bribe…go figure).
Nothing is off the cards and branded t-shirts are guaranteed.
Tripping Down Memory Lane
Now let Aunt Grapey take you on a little journey through student election history, rules and general idiocy.
Historically, there have been two main options for SRC elections in particular. The “Hard Right” Liberals (the Alliance ticket) or independent runners. There have previously been a few other options (Voice, Impact and Liberate), however this year it seems that it is everyone against the Hard Right with moderate liberals and labor students teaming up on the “Spark Up” ticket. At the last election it was the Alliance ticket who brought home the bacon.
Candidates run according to a strict set of rules. And under Schedule 1, Part 3 ‘Election Material’ of the SRC campaigning rules, the university must approve any election material prior to its use in the election.
This includes every social media post created by candidates that has anything to do with the elections. Facebook posts, Snapchat stories, Instas. You name it. It needs approval. Now we’re all for some sensible campaign controls, but this one is honestly stricter than a keto diet. Too few carbs and too many North Korea vibes for our taste.
There are also time limits on when people can report dodgy candidates! Amazing! Loop hole galore! So, if you’re a candidate planning on coercing or bribing students into voting for you or distributing unapproved campaign material, don’t worry! There’s a 24 hour time limit running from the time of ‘the alleged breach’ during which other candidates and students can make a complaint about you. Winner winner, chicken dinner.
However, the university has stated that this rule might not be so strictly applied this year, telling Grapeshot that “Although candidates and campaigners will be recommended to submit complaints within 24 hours of the alleged breach, all complaints received regardless of the timeframe are dealt with seriously”.
So use your dodgy freedom with caution, young corrupt students.
But the fun’s not over yet! The SRC positions appointed by the uni are chosen under circumstances cloudier than surface of the MQ lake. Key positions, particularly the Equity & Diversity representatives (including the Women’s officer and representatives for Indigenous, queer and disabled students) are chosen by a mysterious panel of four. This year, Grapeshot has been informed that panel includes the Assistant Chair of the SRC, James Cummins (also a student member of SRC) and two former members of the SAB/SRC, Dr Alisha Sial and Timonthy Zhang.
The almighty wisdom of that panel of four must be something spectacular, because they’re apparently more qualified to elect these positions than the marginalised students they represent.
Now you may think we’re being dramatic, but in 2017 when Grapeshot reported on an applicant for Women’s Rep Georgie Slater. After being told she wouldn’t be shortlisted for the position, university governance told her to apply for LGBT Rep. Despite being a bisexual who was not publicly ‘out’, and who had never made known to the university that she identified as queer.
But the university was happy for her to represent LGBTI+ students on the SRC, even encouraged her to. Despite not knowing she was one.
Like we said. Cloudier than the muddy, toxic water of the lake.
When asked to provide comment for this article, the university noted that “the Equity and Diversity unit and Walanga Muru have been invited to provide feedback on the E&D candidates’ involvement and commitment to the relevant equity group which will be provided to the Selection Panel”.
So maybe hope is on the horizon.
The implementation of two-year terms has also sparked concern, as students who undertake three-year degrees run the risk of not being a viable candidate for either of the elections which will take place during their degree. So, we may have had the potential for a new-age MQ Gough Whitlam to be on the SRC. But they can’t run because of the years they decided to bless our campus during their undergrad three-year degree. We’ll never know.
Check Your Emails, Just This Once
On the 1st of April at 3pm there should be an email in your student account inbox. Treasure it. Savour the press of your finger on your screen as you open it. Because there lies the accumulation of your student power at Macquarie University, your voting link. Your ability to elect the students that will represent your concerns to the university, make changes that will viscerally affect your experience at university, and of course spent your student amenity dollar doos.
While you might not feel it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to place an informed vote, the students that are elected will have the power to make significant changes at MQ (if the system works as it’s designed to…). We’ve been caught out by poor representation in the past, and the election process itself isn’t a sure bet. So, doing our bit to make sure we get the best outcome possible is important.
Now visualise Aunt Grapey saying that with a glass of Chardy in hand at the Christmas dinner table. Listen to her, and she’ll sneak you some gin later.
You have until 3pm on the 15th of April.
So, whether you exercise your sweet, sweet democratic rights, or lay down in the comforting couch of apathy, we hope you’re now a tad more informed about the political shit-show about to dominate Semester 1 at MQ. Happy voting!