For & Against: Student Elections29 August 2016
by Mindi Suter
What sounds cooler to you: Holding massive fuck-off rallies where you join forces with other university students to oppose deregulation or paying $100,000 for an undergrad degree? Blocking police from getting into Union House while protecting draft dodgers, or innocent people randomly being shipped off to the Vietnam War? Fighting for quality access to legal, welfare and social services, or not being able to afford the basic services needed to enjoy life as a student? If you prefer the second option in each scenario you’re a garbage person and this argument is not for you. But for everyone else, how exciting is the idea that students can shape and change wider politics? That all begins with a politically engaged student body and that needs active and prominent student politics. So I’m arguing for more student politics because if we don’t have it we’re screwed. As a student in 2016 it can be easy to be skeptical of how effective student politics is; our quality of education has been driven down, it costs an arm and a leg to buy text books or live close to uni, we are less likely to get a job (or a house) after study than our parents and that isn’t even tackling further issues like global warming, the further displacement of refugees and the growth of Islamophobia across the globe. Everything can seem a little hopeless, so it’s no wonder that some people may be annoyed with the influx of coloured t-shirts and randoms you’ve never met smiling a lot and telling you how great they’d be in the student union come election week. But student politics actually has the potential to be really powerful, especially when more people are involved. When students take up key political questions they have actively aided in preventing fee hikes and deregulation, contributed to massive anti-war movements and protected the quality of students’ lives in the past. Elections are increasingly based around services (and don’t get me wrong I’m for more snags and bevs all the time) but having strong politics on campus is also important, not to mention very necessary/inspiring. So to all those feeling cynical about upcoming student elections I say soak up every tiny miniscule opportunity of democracy we have, get active and get political because student politics is important not only for the offices in Union House but for every single student.
by Steven Nicolas
Every year for a few weeks in the middle of Semester Two, the campus becomes a battleground. Party lines are drawn, colourful T-shirts are made and best friends become mortal enemies. No, this isn’t a mass Pokemon GO! Meet up (sick 2016 reference), it is in fact the incredibly low-stakes, yet still highly-intrusive world of student politics. And it’s here to make you late for your tute.
I voted once. Once. I thought that by voting, that whenever I said to a campaigner “I’ve already voted” while giving them a smile and a thumbs up, I was doing my bit. They even thanked me for voting, how nice of them. I hadn’t even voted in a Federal Election at this point but if this was what the democratic process was like, then sign me up!
Then it happened next year. Wait, what? I… already voted. I voted for the guy, with the hair. What happened to hair-guy? Was he impeached? Did I miss Hair-Gate? No! None of that happened, we just get to vote again! And again! Student politics is something most of us will never participate in but are regularly nuisanced by, like when there’s a convention on and some cosplayer on the train bumps you with their comically large styrofoam sword. Cosplayers. You see, the worst thing about cosplay is all the yelling. It’s like, you don’t even speak Japane – nevermind I’m getting off topic. My bad.
But really, isn’t student politics just one of the many essential parts of the uni experience? Like really boring classes, losing touch with friends and the ominous spectre that is the reality of life after uni, it’s easy to see the negatives of election season. You just have to make your own fun. Personally, I like to sit on South Lawn with a friend and play a game I call ‘Thanks, But No Thanks’. The rules are simple: you each pick a person handing out fliers or trying to talk to people (they can be from the same party if you want) and watch them for three minutes. For every person that straight up ignores them, you earn a point! Bonus points are awarded if the person appears to say “I’ve already voted” and a Golden Snitch-esque victory occurs if the campaigner tries to talk to a person that is themselves campaigning. My high-score is 57 and I am reigning world champion.