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Meet the Board Election Candidates

Meet the Board Election Candidates

Get to know your USU board candidates, real students with real ambitions – 6 of which will be elected this May to shape the future of the organisation.  We went beyond the standard political questions and asked them about what really makes them tick – how do they say hello to uni life? Do they prefer Manning or Hermann’s? Here are their answers, word for word as they responded. 

Remember to come and meet the candidates in person at the Election Soapbox on 12 May at Manning Bar!

Read the candidates responses below:

Name: Tiff Alexander

Age: 19
Degree: Arts (majoring in International & Global Studies and Political Economy), III

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
I am running for USU Board because the USU has honestly defined the past 2 years of my life, without it I wouldn't be half the person I am today (which is largely 'more' everything; more confident, more open minded) and I wouldn't have half the relationships I have today. Because of that I can't imagine not taking the opportunity to be in a position to strengthen and highlight the USU's value to other students.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life?
I click 'going' on every USU related facebook event I see, I like to keep my options open!

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
Trying to come up with a consistent answer to this question. I'll be roaming and roaming anywhere on campus hoping I'll bump into someone to spend time with, and if pigs look like they'll fly I might head to the library.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
There are many factors to consider: is it good weather? Which is serving cider on happy hour?

Q5: Best USU related memory?
To do the ‘there are so many!’ start, or not to do the ‘there are so many!’ start? I choose not to do the ‘there are so many!’ start. One of my two best USU related memories would be the Asia Pacific Model United Nations Conference (AMUNC) in 2013, which I went to as a delegate for the Sydney University United Nations Society. The conference was held in Wellington and was my first experience of the independence that getting involved in university life could bring. The second, competitiff (couldn’t resist) memory is of the 90s party that the USU held in 2014, I couldn’t stop dancing and didn’t want to leave despite having an unfinished essay due the next day (I’m out of control, I know).

Name: Marco Avena

Age: 21
Degree: Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts, III

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
I am involved in struggles for social and environmental justice on and off campus. I am a member of Grassroots, a group of like-minded students who feel disenfranchised by the current political landscape and systemic social inequalities, who attempt to push for change from the grassroots level.
The perspective I wish to bring to Board is one based on this concern for environmental and social justice. I want students to have access to sustainably sourced food at low cost, I want to ensure that all students have access to strong, supportive communities on campus, and I’m excited to continue the work of Tom and Bebe D’Souza ensuring the union is as transparent and accountable as possible. Ideally, I will work towards reviewing governance structures to try and democratise the Union beyond an annual election, ensuring students have greater control of their Union.
The University is in the process of developing major campus infrastructure to the cost of $1.3 billion. Some of these new spaces will be acquired by the USU for commercial operations and possibly other purposes. How these spaces get used will be in part determined by the vision of the incoming Board. I want to play a role in ensuring whatever gets built is environmentally and socially responsible and in the students’ interests, not in the interests of profit.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life?
I say hello to uni life by making it to my three 8am lectures every week.
I say hello to uni life by spending my nights and weekends in Fisher.
I say hello to uni life by being an active member of the campus community; through SRC collectives and various USU clubs and societies. To me, being a uni student is about being politically aware and contributing to a radical culture of challenging and questioning the status quo. To me, uni life is more than services and clubs - it’s about standing in solidarity with staff and students when their conditions and rights are compromised by a profit-driven competitive tertiary system.

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
In the library, serving with Vegesoc, in an enviro collective meeting, chilling with friends, table diving, or taking some time out to recover and relax.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
Fisher, but failing that, Hermann's.

Q5: Best USU related memory?
Radical Sex and Consent Day in 2014 was great. I learnt heaps from the information sessions, including a talk by a sexologist and discussion with a member of the sex workers' union (Scarlet Alliance). I also really enjoyed the creative activities on Eastern Ave like pin the clitoris on the vulva and the lube tasting competition.
 
Name: Eden Caceda

Age: 20
Degree: Arts and Social Sciences III

Q1: Why are you running for USU Board?
I am running for Union Board because I believe in making our union more diverse, more inclusive, and more accessible, and with my extensive experience, I know I can make real change within the USU.  I am interested in developing student services and opportunities, ensuring that representation comes before politics in such an important student organisation and keeping the USU student-controlled.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life?
I’ve always said hello to uni life by giving everything a go! Even when I’ve had little or no prior experience, I’ve asked myself “why not?” I’ve been a terrible chaser for the Quidditch team, I’ve volunteered for Verge Festival, I’ve edited BULL Mag, and put up my hand for countless club executives. It’s the best way to learn about the USU and gain a variety of skills!

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
Lining up for my daily pide at Uni Bros, drowning exam sorrows at Manning or reading BULL at Brennan MacCallum.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
I would live at Manning if legal. From its on-point playlist, to Theatresports, to beer-battered chips, there’s nothing like a relaxing afternoon perched above Manning Road with a cider in hand.

Q5: Best USU related memory?
Easily Arts Camp in my first year. Like all uni newcomers, it was hard to make friends and navigate campus life in a place full of unfamiliar faces. At Arts Camp, it was so easy to find new friends and get advice on how to get involved more with campus life. To this day, people I met at Arts Camp are among some of my best friends, and are part of the reason I’m running to represent students on USU board.

Name: Big J [Jermaine Craig]

Degree: Arts (majoring in archeology, and Asian studies), III

Q1: Why are you running for USU Board?
1)    To ensure that the USU is investing member's money in ways that truly enhance student life. The USU Clubs and societies (C&S) program is a good example of where spending funds gets a student-cultural return. I want to see more investment in C&S, and similar programs.
2)    Attempt to implement more events/programs that foster a student-base that is proud to be at USYD not just because of the brand name, but also because of the student culture. UTS, UNSW have both stepped up their game, it's time for USYD to as well!

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life? 
The first thing I do every morning after waking up is give a hello kiss to the little picture of me on my ACCESS card. Seriously though, I've been fortunate enough to have a life at uni that includes making friends to literally say hello to thanks to the ACCESS program.

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you'll find me...
By texting me and asking where I'm at.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
Once upon a time it was Manning, but in today's university landscape, Hermann's is King and/or Queen.

Q5: Best USU related memory? 
Would have to be the time that a mate and I formed a two person team at a Filmsoc trivia night.... We did so poorly that we were bestowed with a copy of Sharknado, a film that reflected the quality of our answers.
 
Name: Kerrod Gream

Age: 22
Degree: Bachelor of Economics, III

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
I'm running for the USU board because I believe that we can turn the focus back to providing services for students. This after all, is the sole purpose of the union.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life? 
I say hello with a few beers after class with mates at either Hermann's or Manning

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
Most likely in one of the study spaces on campus organising club events, or studying.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
Originally preferred Manning, but I'm finding myself more at Hermann's this year

Q5: Best USU related memory?
My best USU related memory is my first year at uni, and finding a large number of friends through the Clubs and Societies program as it enabled me to find friends with similar interests as me.

Name: Lamisse Hamouda

Age: 26
Degree: Bachelor of Arts, major in Government and International Relations, Final year

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
I am committed to genuine representation – students who care about students and are committed to working toward answering their needs and wants on campus. The USU is a great place to implement new ideas, expand students services and elect a board that reflects the diversity of the student body. As a Sydney University student, a Muslim womn and a womn of colour, I want to be part of creating, innovating and increasing the scope and reach of the USU. Some excellent headway has been made within the USU already, particularly within the Ethnocultural portfolio and I want to work in continuing this effort.
And, who doesn't want to see delicious Lebanese bread and pastries at a breakfast bar?

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life? 
I pretend I'm back in Egypt and yell "AHLAN WA SAHLAN*" at unsuspecting first year students.
But in reality I actually grab a coffee from the nearest caffeine dispensary and roll into class to listen to the pure words of Professor Peter Chen, who is probably one of the best lecturers on campus.
*welcome, in Arabic

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
Chowing down lunch while taking notes at meetings for ACAR (Autonomous Collective Against Racism) and MWC (Muslim Wom*n's Collective) and imagining a world without racism, discrimination, sexism and all those other nasty "-isms".

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
RALPHS.

Q5: Best USU related memory?
When I realised you got Kewpie doll wasabi mayonnaise in the ACCESS showbags for O-Week this year. So good.

Name: Shannen Potter

Age: 21
Degree: Arts IV

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
I’m running for union board because the USU is too important to take for granted. Our union provides students with places to study, awesome venues and cafes, exciting parties as well as the opportunity to be an activist for student welfare on campus.  As USU Wom*n’s Events Coordinator last semester I know how much a strong Union can achieve and how far our influence can reach to engage and provide for students. I strongly believe we need committed and experienced members of the student body on the USU board to ensure that the Union continues to become bigger, better and brighter than ever. I know I can be the student to shake things up and make this possible.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life? 
Clubs and societies! This year I am President of DarcySoc, which is the period drama appreciation society on campus, and so far we have said hello to uni life through running book clubs, picnics and even a high tea. I also love attending events from the other fantastic societies on campus and I will always say hello to a cold drink at Hermann's at the end of a long day.

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
Drinking tea with my DarcySoc pals, finishing up an assignment in Fisher or organising events for wom*n on campus.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
Hermann’s - the close proximity to Uni Bros is unbeatable.

Q5: Best USU related memory?
This definitely would be organising an art and performance night to showcase the work of female students in my role as USU Wom*ns Events Coordinator. It was inspiring to see the talents of so many amazing women being celebrated by our community.
 
Name: Atia Rahim

Age: 20
Degree: Arts III

Q1:  Why are you running for USU board?
I’ve been immersed and involved in the USU since my first year, and while I absolutely adore it, I know we’re yet to reach the USU’s full potential. We need to make the already vibrant fabric of the USU thicker.
As a Board Director, I want to ensure the USU is the centre of student life -and relevant to each and every student. I believe I have the skills and experience to make sure the USU is making the right decisions to see every student participating – from parties that people actually want to hit up, to sustainable and healthy food options that don’t taste like cardboard.

Q2:  How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life? 
Sometimes I 'say hello' through the mics in the SURG studios. Other times, I'll 'say hello' at the beginning of my speech for a political debate. But most of the time, you'll see me 'say hello' to the amazing clubs and societies on campus or to the awesome programs such as FUNCH and Radical Sex and Consent Week, through a stuffed mouth full of wholemeal muffins from Laneway.

Q3:  Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
Hermann's.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
Again, Hermann's - you can't beat its vibe.

Q5:  Best USU related memory?
It’s hard to sift through all the memories to come out with just one. I’ve loved working on the USU’s weekly FUNCH events as Campus Culture Director, where we've had amazing drag performances through to free organic markets. I've also had such a blast hosting weekly shows on SURG for the past few years. But I think the memory that I'll keep closest to my heart is when I went to Arts Camp as a First Aid Officer and had first aid given on me.
 
Name: Michael Rees

Age: 21
Degree: Arts, IV

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
Put simply, I am running for board because I think that the USU could be better. Working last year as an Honi Soit editor, I gained insight into the many successes of the USU, as well as its shortcomings. Most of all, however, I was struck by the enormous potential of the largest and oldest student Union in Australia.
In 2016, the USU will develop a strategic plan to define its vision up until 2020. I want to be part of that conversation. I want to ensure that the USU has the concerns of a wider variety of students at the forefront of its agenda. The USU needs to improve its relationship with International Students, students whose faculties are moving from Cumberland to main campus, and students who can’t currently see the point in buying an ACCESS card. All students deserve a Union which represents their interests and provides the services which they want.
I also want to ensure that the USU develops its recent commitment to accountability and transparency. Students deserve to know how student organisations make decisions on their behalf and spend their money (Cabcharges and all). I am committed to ensuring that they do.
My major policy commitments include: (i) providing bike hire on campus our ever-growing campus; (ii) revamping the international student program to ensure maximal engagement and representation with the USU; (iii) expanding the ‘buy 6, get one free’ coffee discounting program to meals and stationery, (iv) allowing greater student involvement in the redesign of USU spaces, and (v) using the USU alumni network to get more paid internships and jobs for students.
The USU has a long and proud history. I hope that it can have a more inclusive and accountable future.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life?
With a Unibros Kebab in one hand, and a copy of Honi in the other.

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
Looking for a desk in Fisher accompanied by 5,000,000 other students.

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
Angud Chawla usually makes this decision for me and it’s always Hermann’s.

Q5: Best USU related memory?
Watching four ingenious members of the Sydney Uni Engineering Undergraduates Association (SUEUA) skull beers through a homemade four-way beer bong. So many brain cells used to destroy so many brain cells.

Name: Georg Tamm

Degree:  Commerce III

Q1: Why are you running for USU Board?
I actually ran for Union Board in my first year of Uni – keen bean I know! Although I wasn’t successful and probably a little quick off the starting blocks, I formed a passion for the Union and what the organisation does that has never wavered. Through that campaign I formed amazing friendships on campus and those networks rallied around me through some of the most difficult times in my life.
That’s the magic of the Union – the community and support it offers.
This year I’m running for Board because I want to make sure every student at the University of Sydney views the Union as a source of support to them. I want to refocus the Union on student welfare, grow the presence of the Union on campus and push towards free access membership to ensure student life remains accessible to all regardless of financial ability.

Q2: How do I say hello to Uni life?
Student life is more than just tutes, lectures and endless essays. I say hello to Uni life by embracing and taking part in any events that come my way whether that be organising events for the History Society or supporting my friends performing in Revues or SUDS productions.
But more than anything Uni life is the family here at Sydney University, of which I believe the University of Sydney Union is at the heart of. I am committed to working to enrich that community and make sure every student is aware of what the Union can offer them.

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
If I have a break between classes you’ll find me in Laneway, battling between getting avo on toast or a waffle with chocolate sauce – the waffle wins every time let’s be honest. 

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
While I have the tendency to drink one too many ciders at both of our wonderful establishments, I’ve got to go with Hermann’s, purely for its proximity to Unibros meatboxes. Don’t judge me.

Q5: Best USU related memory:
My best USU memory has to be hosting History Society trivia at Manning Bar just a few weeks ago. Nothing brings me more joy than giving out free drink vouchers and it was a tough contest between  “My Drinking Team has a Trivia Problem” and “the FUNdergraduates” - we’re a creative bunch at Sydney Uni. 
 
Chris Waugh did not respond to our interview request.

Name: Jack Whitney

Age: 21
Degree: Bachelor of Arts/Social Work, IV

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
I am running for the University of Sydney Union Board because I want to see students get the most out of their Union. This can be through clubs and societies where they can develop interests, skills and friendships; it can be through programs like Kickstart and Incubate where they can turn their passion into a reality; or it can be through initiatives like the V-Team, where students engage with the broader community. More than this however, I want a USU Board that is compassionate and caring, that prioritises students’ welfare and wellbeing.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life? 
I started uni not knowing many people and not really sure what to expect from uni life. But through joining the USU I’ve said hello to life long friends and countless opportunities that aren’t offered at any other universities. I say hello to uni life by getting involved in a variety of clubs and societies such as SHADES and the Epicurean Society; and through executive positions in Amnesty International and St Vinnies I’ve said hello to valuable leadership experience that will help me beyond my uni years. Your time at University can be fun or rewarding. But though the USU, I made it both. 

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me…
Most likely at Courtyard catching up on some work over an ice tea, or having a sneaky cider at Manning with friends. 

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
I’ll have to say Manning. Nothing beats a Manning Burger except for Manning parties and its convenient location right next to the Education building

Q5: Best USU related memory?
Besides all the Manning parties, it would have to be last year’s USU elections. Nothing better than working as a team, meeting new friends, developing your ideas and policy, situating yourself in them, and trying to achieve them. That would be my best memory.
 
Name: Jennifer Zin

Age: 20
Degree:  Bachelor of Political, Economic and Social Sciences, III

Q1: Why are you running for USU board?
The USYD campus culture is something I think we should all be proud of. I’m running for union board because I have a vision for a more inclusive, developing and representative university union and I'm excited by the possibility to bring that to you.
The union is the engine behind what happens on campus. It does almost everything from orchestrating your OWeek, making your campus coffee, and organising your club and society pub crawl.  It is the duty of the board director to make sure that you have the services that you want. 
Here are some of my policies:
I want more transparency in HOW the union spends your money and WHAT on. You as a student, and union member, should make the most out of what you pay for.
I want to see more STUDENT LOUNGES on campus, Since the Holme lounge was shut down last year, the ISL lounge has been left a battleground for between-period naps. More student lounges on campus means more places for you to relax.
I want to have a SCIENCE WEEK in the USU Calendar. This week is a solution to directly engage with and celebrate all things science. Whether you’re a science student, science society, science lover or just want to learn, there would be stalls, demonstrations and more!
I want to commit to a sustainable campus. We need practicable environmentalism, This involves implementing forms of renewable energy on campus and continuing to commit to recyclable waste systems wherever we can afford to have them.
I want to engage in INTER-CAMPUS events, because we should extend our campus culture beyond Camperdown. By uniting with our artistic, musical and health-science peers, we can expand and enrich our union (and extend the fun).
This is just a taste of what I want to do on board. I'm running because I think I can enrich your university experience, and a vote for me is a win for you.

Q2: How do you ‘say hello’ to uni life?
The best way to 'say hello' to uni is to have an open mind, and maintain determination. The university experience is something we are lucky to part of particularly at USYD. Love what you are studying and make the most of your opportunity to learn and continuously expand your knowledge.  Apply for exchange, and inquire about internships.  Have fun in between. Join clubs and societies, go to events and take risks. Have long-term plans so that you remember why you are doing what you are, and never be afraid to try something new.
And remember! whatever you are struggling with, there is always help and support available. Ask someone or seek and you will find,

Q3: Finish this sentence: If I have a break between classes, you will find me...
If I have a break between classes, you will find me... cramming to get an essay done in Fisher, eating Salt & Pepper Squid at Mint, or reading a book at ISL haha

Q4: Manning Bar or Hermann’s?
Manning

Q5: Best USU related memory?
I don't think I have a single one, I really enjoy OWeek every year! I was part of a Liberal vs. Labor debate in the 2014 OWeek and had lots of fun in that.

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