UMSU Elections Results Roundup

19 October 2018

Results for the 2018 University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) election have now been finalised after a tense period of vote recounts and appeals. The results, most of which are similar to 2017 with Stand Up! sweeping the office bearer (OB) positions, are the closest in recent years with many being determined by fewer than 50 votes.

Molly Willmott and Reece Moir, both Stand Up! candidates, won the election for president and general secretary. The party also secured the women’s office (Criselda (Aria) Sunga and Hannah Buchan) and both education offices, with the public office going to Cameron Doig and Charlotte Fouhy and the academic office going to Elizabeth Tembo and Ru Bee Chung. On the other hand, More! candidates Ashwin Chhaperia and Natasha Guglielmino gained the position of welfare. Others secured by More! included creative arts (Ellie Hammill and Lucy Holz), activities (Liam O’Brien and Olivia Panjkov), queer (Andie Moore and Will Parker), environment (Will Ross), disabilities (Jocelyn Deane and Lucy Birch), clubs and societies (Christopher Melenhorst and Jordan Tochner) and People of Colour (Mark Yin and Farah Khairat).

More! took all of the coordinator positions on the Victoria College of the Arts (VCA) campus—VCA campus co-ordinator (Hilary Ekins), VCA activities and events co-ordinator (Marcus Peters) and VCA campaigns coordinator (Lachlan Mclean). Meanwhile, candidates from The Biggest Blackest Ticket secured the positions of University Council student representative (Tyson Holloway Clarke) and the Indigenous office (Serena Rae Thompson and Alexandra Hohoi). The office bearer for Burnley campus was retained by independent James Barclay. Katherine Doherty, Stephanie Zhang, Carolyn Huane and Ruby Perryman of Independent Media were elected to the media office.

Results from general committees and students’ council were mixed between Stand Up! and More! with the Melbourne Socialists and its affiliate tickets, International Students Welcome and Extend the Free Tram Zone inserting themselves in between. The 2018–19 students’ council is similar that of 2017–18. Stand Up! will return with seven seats whilst More! has gained one seat to a total of eight. Meanwhile, the Melbourne Socialists and its affiliates also gained three seats.

Turnout was higher than last year with 3619 ballots cast—an 8.9 per cent turnout. What is interesting to note is that the turnout at the Faculty of Business and Economics building seemed to be marginally higher than 2017. However, despite this increase, the area saw little campaigning from both sides, probably due to the nearby construction bonanza.

Most of the election was decided at the gauntlets that were Union House and the Baillieu Library. The journey through Professor’s Walk was particularly intense with campaigners on both sides flocking to students—this contributed to around 2,624 votes or around 83 per cent of casted ballots.

Marred by late drama and delays, this election has been one of the most prolonged in recent times with counts spanning for over a week due to appeals and numerous recounts. On the last day of campaigning, More! was banned from campaigning for a total of one and a half hours, due to a member campaigning inside Union House and a defamatory private message written by an individual with friends in that party.

Even with the ban, the margin on Friday between the two sides seemed to only marginally benefit Stand Up! by 68 votes at both Union House and the Baillieu Library. However, with an election so marginally thin, the ban would have had ramifications for the vote count, prolonging it over the weekend to another week.

Meanwhile in the vote room, two contests were on a knife-edge with the general secretary and welfare positions having margins of fewer than 10 votes. At one point it was one vote apart for the welfare office between More!’s Chhaperia and Guglielmino and Stand Up’s Dominic Roque Ilagan and Noni Bridger. After multiple recounts, the margin extended to over 30 votes for More!. General secretary was not clear cut with the margin staying between three and four votes despite multiple recounts. A challenge to the tribunal was rejected, making Stand Up’s Moir the incoming general secretary for 2019.

The electoral tribunal was held on the Friday after election week, as More!’s women’s and general secretariat candidates lodged an appeal regarding the results of their positions in the elections. This appeal was rejected by the tribunal and Stand Up! still secured both positions. You can find more details surrounding this incident on the next page.

As the votes were going through their rounds of recounts, students seemed to move on. But for the 8.9 per cent who voted, the results appeared to mean little to the student body, reflecting the level of disengagement of previous years and uncertainty over what mandate the elected office bearers have within the campus community.

Correction: Voter turnout figures have been amended according to the Returning Officer’s report.

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