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The UMSU Elections Round Up

13 September 2017

Stand Up! has taken back the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU), after presidential candidate, Desiree Cai, defeated More!’s Lizzie Nicholson. 

Cai will work alongside More!’s Daniel Beratis, who is now General Secretary-elect.

Cai received 1585 votes (51 per cent) to Nicholson’s 1369 (44 per cent). They were followed by Choice’s Themi Kritikakos with 116 votes (3 per cent).  

The victory comes in contrast to last year’s election, in which More! took control of the Union by a landslide. 

Whilst More! retained some of its offices such as Activities, People of Colour, Queer, Disabilities and Environment, many of its previous offices have been lost to Stand Up!. 

Several contests were decided on preferences with narrow victories on both sides. Only 47 votes separated Stand Up! and More! candidates for the Education (Academic) Office. More!’s Daniel Beratis claimed a dramatic victory after receiving approximately 52 per cent of the votes to Stand Up’s Sonia Lim who received 48 per cent. 

Stand Up!’s success did not just stop at Office Bearer positions. It extended with their near clean-sweep of restricted constituency representative positions in the Students’ Council. 

The makeup of Students’ Council looks to be divided with both major parties having a presence – Stand Up! has nine positions, and More! has seven. Left Focus took one spot, giving them a decisive role (two other spots went to tickets associated with the faction). Independent Media and The Biggest Blackest Ticket managed to get up one representative each.

In a largely uncontroversial election week, Stand Up! campaigned as a progressive, left-wing ticket. The ticket has promised to create an “accessible, inclusive and diverse” union and believes in “active and passionate student activism and representation.”

Other election promises included establishing a support service for Centrelink-related inquiries such as housing and rental rights, campaigning for concession cards for all students and more 24-hour study spaces.

Cai’s first priorities in office are to address education on a federal and campus level, and work toward better policy surrounding on-campus sexual assault from the University. 

“I want to ensure UMSU is a part of the broader fight against increased fees and the move to the deregulation of our education,” she said. 

“And of course, since the release of the sexual assault survey earlier this year, now is the time to be pushing the University to implement real change within their policy and procedures to make this campus a safer place,” she said. 

What is interesting however, is the high amount of More! Officers that Cai and her team must face coming into the 2018, especially with the election of Daniel Beratis to the role of General Secretary and More!’s retention of many Office Bearer positions. 

Both elected Office Bearers have pledged to work together to ensure a stable and productive union.

“Open communication is key within any office or workplace, and I want to ensure that everyone in the office is communicating and working together, regardless of which ticket they were elected on,” she said. 

“UMSU works most effectively when we are all working together as a team, and no matter what ticket they’ve run on, all Office Bearers ultimately do have the same goals – to be working to improve the lives and uni experiences of students,” Cai said.

Beratis agreed with Cai believing there is room to come together.

 “There are fantastic candidates from both tickets elected across the Student Union and it’s awesome to have so many passionate people driven to make a difference in the same place. Coming together after a contested election always takes a little bit of work, just because of that awesome passion,” he said.

Cai attributed the success of Stand Up!’s campaign to her team of organisers and campaigners.

“I think perhaps students were able to see the importance of the Union being run by people who are already activists, and who have the values to be able to fight for students,” she said. 

Voter turnout this year was slightly lower than last year with around 3400-3500 students casting votes. 

New Office Bearers and Councillors will be inducted in December.