SUPRA Council Election sees influx of International students
WORDS BY SANDRA BUOL
Friday night, 7pm, the polls are closed. Only seconds after, the first announcement is made on Facebook: “Voting for Elections 2018 is now closed. Thank you for a record-breaking turnout.” Followed by happy smileys.
The turnout was indeed record-breaking. 1449 postgraduate SUPRA members have voted for their new Council. That’s more than double from last year’s election and more than 7 times as many as 2016 – the year that admittedly had an embarrassingly low turnout.
There are several factors that might have lead so many postgrads to the polling booths. Was it the more left-wing, activist part of the current Council that was fed up being outvoted and managed to mobilise more people than in previous years? Was it a sign that the direction the Council took under the leadership of Co-Presidents Mariam Mohammed and Kiriti Mortha was more attractive to a broader student body? Or does SUPRA now experiences the same as SRC last year: an influx of International students into student organisations and politics.
Now, the unofficial results have been out and published since Monday morning. Today they were supposed to be confirmed by the Returning Officer. However, there was a delay on the behalf of the administration. Co-President Mohammed confirmed that no disputes were lodged and that the results were final.
Looking at them, the last assumption seems to be the most accurate one: the tickets “Jihang for Change”, “Team for Continuous Improvement”, “Jarkz” and “Weihang for International” – all lead by and comprising many International students. If they work together, they’ll have 15 votes – 17 are needed for a majority.
On the far left, “Postgrad Action” and “Postgrad Action for Health” managed to get three votes each. The two progressive tickets are known to stand and vote together. Under those who got re-elected are Oliver Moore, this term’s secretary, and Nicholas Avery, well-known for his activist actions against various issues.
Towards the centre, “Impact” and “HD Reform” as well managed to get three votes each. On top of that, “Impact” also occupies two equity offices: their candidates won the International and the Satellite Campus positions. The positions of Wom*n’s Officer and Disability Officer were won by two independent candidates, however, it’s understood that they will stand and vote with their “Impact” colleagues on critical issues. Mohammed and Mortha did not stand for election and will leave the Council by the end of this term.
The Equity Positions for Queer Officer and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Officer have not yet been finalised.
The situation that now presents itself is rather interesting. In the ongoing term, the Council was more or less divided in two fractions with emotions running high on both sides. It was internal disputes between those two fractions – and the affiliated staff – that led the Co-Presidents to ask the Senate for an investigation into the governance structure of SUPRA. A third major force on the Council will hopefully loosen up the gridlocked situation.
It will be interesting to see how the executive will be constituted – and which direction the Council will take once the dust has settled.