Edition Seven Editorial5 September 2018
Here’s how you get someone to vote for you in a student election. You print flyers and wear a brightly coloured t-shirt and stand somewhere on campus reasonably close to one of the voting booths, like the one in the lobby of the Baillieu Library. You try to hand flyers to people walking past. By the end of election week, most people know what’s up, and they refuse even to look at you—but on Monday the game is fresh. Someone takes a flyer. As they take it, you start walking and talking with them. “Have you heard about the student elections?” They give you that look—always the same look of horror and betrayal—as they realise you want something.
“Sorry, I have to get to class,” they say, but you follow them anyway. You’re friendly but firm. You ask their name. You try to make a connection with them. (If it’s raining, you can buy an enormous umbrella and hold it over them, bringing them into your fold like a large, Venus flytrap.) After a connection is made, you shift into asking a favour. “I want you to go vote for me right now.” They don’t want to. They’re on their way somewhere. “It takes literally two or three minutes,” you lie.
The only way you know that you got a vote, everyone agrees, is if you actually see the voter walk into the booth. As a campaigner, it’s a bit like bowling: will the ball go straight into the library, or will it curve to the right, towards the booth? It’s hard to stop yourself waving your hands in the air like a mad telekinetic, willing the ball to curve. And if it does: strike. It feels weirdly good. You manipulated a complete stranger into doing a thing. Over the course of the week, you become addicted to that feeling.
Student elections aren’t about policy. They’re about winning.
Student politicians often go on to become real politicians. Just the other day, a new Australian prime minister was sworn into office. Not because there was a federal election, but because the hands of the Liberal Party’s internal politics have reached up and pulled down the person we elected prime minister (well, maybe not the Farrago editors, but the general Australian public). The last time a prime minister of Australia finished a full term in office was 2007. Ash, the news editor of this magazine, was nine years old.
Despite—no—because of all that, you should still vote in the student election. If you’re a full-time Commonwealth-supported student at the University, you pay $298 each year. This is called the Student Services and Amenities fee. About 35 per cent of this pool of money goes towards your student union. Less than 10 per cent of students vote in the student union’s elections. Your vote is worth so much. More importantly, if you engage in the elections and candidates’ policies, you’ll have a better idea of what the union actually does and how it is run.
It won’t take two minutes. It’ll take longer than that to read through the election explainer by Alain Nguyen (12), read the candidates’ statements (starting at page 17), decide your votes and cast them at one of the voting stations on campus. But it’s worth it. And while you’re in the news section, also check out Wing Kuang and Medha Venekar’s investigation into Turnitin and WriteCheck’s use of student data (9).
In nonfic, Caitlin Kloppenborg’s ‘No More Softdrink’ explores the permanency of grief and the vivacity of memory (69), and Alicia Gadd-Carolan’s ‘Past and Present Tents’ is a piece of memoir about the author’s encounters with various circuses (76).
In creative, check out Kangli Hu’s explosive prose (80) and Hazel Lee’s meme-inspired poem (91), while in graphics we recommend Rachel Morley’s emotional embroidery (96) and James Tapa’s campus landscapes (50).
Ashleigh, Esther, Jesse, Monique