USU Election Day: LIVEBLOG
WORDS BY SANDRA BUOL, BIANKA FARMAKIS & NOAH VAZ
The signs are up, the shirts are on, and USU Election Day is well and truly underway. Students walk begrudgingly over the footbridge and into the Redfern run with familiar sighs in spotting the sea of coloured shirts.
We’re keeping our ear to the ground, and hearing murmurs of campaigner anomalies.
Following a few campaigners this morning, and overhearing their walk and talks, it was interesting to see the new policies that had been formed since the candidates’ policy statements.
“Yeh Connor wants to reduce the access discount from 15% to 20%” — well that’s new?
Hengjie Sun has been reported campaigning to international students in ISL for Zimeng, with the platform of making the Chicken better there (???).
Mike Mao was seen yelling at some prospective voters, but this was later confirmed to be friends of him.
11:04 – Manning House:
The exclusion zone is empty. No coloured shirts around. The two Polling Officers behind the desk look bored. I’ve been here 20 minutes and no one has walked in to vote.
The Student Programs and Clubs & Societies office opposite has USU staff coming and going. People walk into Manning House for food and drinks and chats, but not for the election. No campaigners are outside the exclusion zone. Manning House is a dead zone so far.
Update: 11.23. Someone just walked in.
Update: 11.27. Another person just voted too. Wow, I can feel a pulse.
Will be back later. I am lured away by the smell of food.
This election is literally so boring. I have not seen any beef, there’s been barely any yelling and no drama. I haven’t even heard Lachlan Finch being dragged that much for being a Liberal. Gone were the days when the “dirty lib” would be thrown around all over Eastern Ave.
On to campaigner goss… little has happened. I’ve heard rumours from a lot of campaigners that some Bec Miller campaigners have been beginning their spiels with:
“Did you know Debating gets $300,000 in funding?”
Maya Eswaran confirmed that some campaigns had been ‘ID pol’ing her into the “debater” box, but largely to the response of “so what..?”. Interestingly, I’ve heard a few Maya campaigners say “feel free to put Lachlan Finch second”, which I can only imagine is causing Liam Donohue to flinch a bit.
Bec campaigners have also complained that the Maya camp has stolen some of Bec’s policies, such as consent training during O’Week.
On other news, Pulp has been sussing out which candidates would support Masina or Tai for USU President. Liliana’s response to this inquiry was “saves me asking the awkward questions”.
12:46 – Eastern Avenue
There is a bit of a line here. Otherwise: All is quiet on the Eastern front.
1:25 – PNR Building
I have walked all across campus, deliberately slowing down when approaching campaigners, with empty hands, no earplugs, an innocent smile on my face – and still I haven’t been approached once.
Am I too much of a “mature student” to be approached? Or have campaigners simply lost their bite? Is this why there are people whispering that voter turnout seems to be low – even lower than in previous years?
Student engagement is disheartening all around. Compared to the amount of students enrolled at this University, election turnouts are a joke. We put so much money into this place but somehow don’t care what’s happening with it. And yes, sometimes it’s hard to change things. But the USU Board, the SRC, SUPRA – they actually can make a difference. And so can you.
Rant over. I will now vote.
2:15 - UPDATE
Pulp has spoken to the Maya Eswaran campaign regarding a complaint they have lodged about the Connor Wherrett campaign. Pulp spoke to three Eswaran campaigners and this was the story they all reported:
Some first year students allegedly received calls from a Wherrett supporter asking them to vote for Connor. When the students questioned whether they should vote for Maya, the response they received was that Maya was anti-Semitic. It is unclear whether the figure on the phone was a campaigner or what the basis for this alleged anti-Semitism was.
To be clear, this story is a second-hand characterisation. When I approached Connor for comment, he had not heard anything about it, and sought to investigate further. The Eswaran campaign is yet to hear a verdict from the returning officer.
It should be interesting if both these campaigns get up – would love to see how these two work together in future !
2.21 - Eastern Ave
Daniel Lee has definitely received far more financial support for his professional A-Frames than the emotional support he’ll be giving to the queer student population if elected.
4:00 – Somewhere else
Meanwhile, even the Physics / Nanoscience building gets more "hot action" than most polling stations today.
6:12 – Eastern Avenue
It’s shortly after 6pm. All polling stations are closed except the one on Eastern Avenue. It’s dark and most people still out either want to go home or are heading for a 6pm class (yes, I had a few of them, they are the worst).
The fighting for last votes is concentrating on that small patch. People are still lining up, so that’s good. Campaigners give their last cheerful smile, trying to convince a few more. There is something energetic in those last few minutes. “I will do this…”, “I will do that…” – it’s probably no longer about policies now, because the ones who want to convince people to vote now need to be quick and friendly. Why else would you stop at this time of the hour?
Soon it’s time for the Election party at Manning Bar – though if this year’s elections are worth a party, I don’t know. I’ve missed convincing candidates. Most tried to be appealing and ended up being very similar. I usually know where my loyalties are, but in the end I thought it doesn’t really matter (except the one who seemed to be against same-sex marriage – you definitely didn’t get my vote). Where are the ideas that are not just grand, but also justified. Where are the bold moves? For fuck’s sake, making ACCESS cheaper should be the least of our problems, considering we’re all paying a shitload of money to be here and sip at least one coffee every day. Focus people.
And yes, the bold moves won’t come through in the end. But you can give them a voice at least. And keep trying.
Still waiting for results. Esther Shim, Courtney Thompson, Andrew Rickert and Nick Harriott host a series of gameshows for stupol hacks. The latest of which quizzes hacks about facts regarding the hosts??? Random, but fun??
Stupol hacks of past and present have descended upon Manning. Bachelorette contestant, and former USU President Alisha Aitken-Radburn is here. NSW Young Liberals President, Harry Stutchbury has also been spotted at the bar - Mary Ward is back??