UMSU International Election Results

11 June 2019

On 13th May 2019, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) International elected a new committee with Archit Agrawal as president, leading the committee for the upcoming term. The new term commences on 1st August 2019.

In his policy speech, Agrawal placed a strong emphasis on making the union more diverse.

“I strongly believe in the power of diversity. One of my goals is to be able to establish UMSU [International] as a more diverse organisation than it already is,” he said.

This year’s elections has had alarming similarities to previous years. Firstly, this will be the fifth consecutive year that UMSU International will have a male president. Secondly, just like in 2016 and 2018 elections, the position for president was left uncontested. Thirdly, the incoming committee is heavily South East Asian-dominated.

For the first time in three years, the Education and Welfare Vice President position was contested, with Siobhan Dominique Lim getting elected with 430 votes. The position of Secretary was also contested, and Vincent Immanuel Chaidir won with 356 votes. Conversely, the positions for Cultural and Social vice president, Treasurer and Human Resources Director were left uncontested. This is the first time these positions have been left uncontested.

Zill-E Rahim, the new Cultural and Social Vice President, and Christabella Alicia Mahendra, the new Human Resources Director, both told Farrago that they were “relieved” to be uncontested.

“Although campaigning would have been a lot of fun … I am especially blessed and excited to have the comfort of gaining the title of HR Director and will do my best in accomplishing my duties for this year,” said Mahendra.

There has been a decrease in the gender disparity within the committee where 18 out of 25 positions are held by women compared to 14 out of 25 last year. This increase of women in the committee has ceased the male domination that existed previous years.

The number of candidates running in this year’s election has decreased from 41 to 29. This decrease was also present in voter turnout, with only 999 people coming out to vote this year compared to 1,699 last year.

The 700 vote drop would be disappointing after last year’s election, which reportedly saw 500 more votes than previous years. This year’s voters make up just five per cent of the total number of international students at the University of Melbourne as compared to 8.5 per cent in 2018.

An appeal of the election results for the officer positions delayed the release of results by four hours.

Few specific policies or plans were discussed during the May 6 policy speech session, though a dissatisfaction with event turnout was a common thread in both the speeches and the questions from the audience.

The newly elected committee appear keen to address this issue. They are looking to improve numbers at events through increasing advertisements and collaborations with University clubs, this collaboration also forming part of their plan to increase cultural diversity within UMSU International.

Treasurer Xingling Lu and Secretary Vincent Immanuel Chaidir are both looking to expand their roles within the committee, with Lu championing increased transparency about UMSU International spending and Chaidir wanting to act as a mediator between the UMSU International departments.

Education and Welfare Vice President Siobhan Dominique Lim wants to focus on welfare during her term, prioritising the mental health of international students above all else. She spoke of increasing awareness of support services and prioritising events based on their potential outreach.

Rahim is also prioritising hosting more “smaller scale events” over the next year to increase student participation, but did not mention how he would fulfill his responsibility to promote cross-cultural understanding.

This focus on increasing exposure between students, both international and local, is also reflected in Agrawal’s goals for his upcoming term.

“I shall also look forward to working with other UMSU departments to come up with activities that help in bridging the gap between local and international students,” he said.

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