Presidential Candidate Profile: Daisy Norfolk

27 August 2021

Meet Daisy Norfolk (she/her), the presidential candidate for Independents for Student Democracy (ISD). While Norfolk isn’t super confident of her small ticket’s chances of taking the President’s office next year, she believes it’s important for students to have a wider variety of candidates to choose from. Norfolk is passionate about fostering a sense of community amongst students, particularly during the pandemic, and believes better support clubs and collectives is the way to achieve this. 

Farrago sat down with Norfolk to find out more about her presidential campaign in the upcoming UMSU Elections and her vision for the Union in 2022.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Farrago:

What is the first thing you intend to do if you get into office?

Daisy Norfolk: 

Well, I think one, it’s quite unlikely, probably, as we’re a minor ticket, but if a miracle occurred and I got into office, I would think about the federal election happening, maybe at the end of this year, maybe at the start of next year. And last year, I was really upset and devastated about the Job Ready Graduates Package—the increase of the humanities hike. So, I feel like I’d fight very hard, whatever new government came in, trying to reverse that. The Arts are really important, the humanities are really important. There are some terrible things in that bill that I think, not just like in terms of the actual fees and things like that, but you know, in general, for what it says about what we value. Do we value the Arts and things? 

Farrago:

Either as yourself or as a ticket, what are your three main goals for the student union in 2022?

Daisy Norfolk:  

So as a ticket, I would say that the name independence means that we don’t have a necessarily overarching one set of values that we sort of prescribe to. It means that each individual person has their own set of interests or their own ideas, and they can kind of be in their little bubble of interests. But we do probably have some things that all kind of flow throughout what all of us care about, which I’d say are sort of more support for clubs and funding, which I know a lot of the other tickets have too, so I’m not saying we’re unique in that. Sustainability and climate advocacy—quite a lot of the people in our team feel that quite strongly. And then, democracy is sort of another one. All of us have come together, because we think it’s good to sort of have democratic participation and to challenge, you know, other tickets and sort of have more diversity. So, people will have more options to vote for, more people who could represent them better.

Farrago:  

You’ve got the word ‘independence’ in your name, but for students who don’t know much about ISD, how would you describe yourselves to them?

Daisy Norfolk:  

So, I would say that what independence refers to is that we’re not neutral, all of us will have our own, like strong political beliefs and things about stuff like I certainly do. But overall, we don’t necessarily, you know, exclude anyone based on a particular sort of alignment with political affiliation or they don’t have to have a specific set of ideas or ideologies, they can just sort of have their own ideas and put those forward, so they can be completely independent. We don’t dictate to them what they should say or believe or have ideologies in.

Farrago:  

So, I guess you’d say, you’ve got members from across the political spectrum in your ticket?

Daisy Norfolk:  

I’d have to say, I don’t actually know for everyone. I can use terms like left and right. I’d say all the people I know, I would characterise absolutely on the left, but I can’t actually say that I know that, like sort of the depths of everyone’s political beliefs across the board. 

Farrago:  

Particularly this year in the Union, we’ve seen a lot of really toxic factional conflict. If you get elected, how do you plan to unite the Union again, and create a less hostile working environment for people?

Daisy Norfolk:  

I think that’s really important when talking about hostility and things, because we’re not one of the major tickets,, we don’t have that sort of history, that kind of bad blood, so we could maybe be a bit of an intermediary if you do get a lot of people on different sides coming in from different major tickets. And I feel like that would mean that we can be a bit more impartial, you know, not necessarily favouring one side or another, possibly, or just judging people based on the merit of their arguments that they put forth and things which I think is very important. As for tensions between people that are not involved with us [ISD], I would say just trying to bring some calm. I can’t think of any specific example that I would give, but just trying to hear both sides out, and not immediately jump to accusations and things like that. But, you know, I’m sure the other major tickets would also not want division and things too. 

Farrago: 

You’ve said a lot during this interview that you don’t have a super high chance of winning because it tends to be one of the major factions who hold the President’s office. If you don’t think that you’re going to win, why is it that you’re still running?

Daisy Norfolk: 

Yes, we get that one a lot haha. In fact, to all the people who we’ve got to come along and put their name forward for various positions, we did a disclaimer being like, by the way, I’m sorry, but you’re probably not gonna win anything. And that’s essentially just because it is good to put different people out there so that [students] have a better wider variety to vote for. I’m sure a lot of people feel massively disenfranchised with our country’s governments, you know, state governments, the federal government and things like that. That’s because there’s not nearly as much of a diversity of representatives and so you don’t feel a lot of the time that there are people necessarily representing you as well as they could be. So then, if we get all of our candidates together, and they put out their ideas and things, chances are that there will be other people in the student body who might relate to them, and then they will have a vote and they will have a voice. And they’ll feel good about that. They will feel empowered by that. Then, they might follow student politics more and they might become more involved in university things and hopefully, that will snowball. And that all starts with just putting your name forward so that you have a wide variety of representatives and not just the one or two same parties.

Farrago:  

Obviously a big issue this year has been COVID-19 and the impacts of the pandemic on students. There’s been a lot of focus on domestic students, but a real lack of focus on international students. So, what are your plans to support international students in 2022—both those who are abroad and can’t come back, and international students who remain in Australia?

Daisy Norfolk:  

Well, I think we have some points that I think I also saw for the other major tickets. I’m raising what has been a continuous idea throughout this whole year which is reducing the fees. If they (international students) can’t come back, the very, very least you could possibly do is give them a reduction of the really exorbitant fees that they pay. So that could be one thing. And then this online model [of learning], there needs to be a much more rigorous process of making sure that what we’ve had in person can be transitioned to online. So, you can’t have a chat with someone after class nowadays, which is what you could do when you were in person. Actually, a tutor in one of my classes just recently was told by their faculty that they should do this idea where they have just a Zoom Room once a week that’s open to all of the students just to go into for that subject with no tutors there. I can just go and chat. I think that’s an example of how you can definitely implement that as a policy university-wide—give the last 10 minutes of a tutorial, where the tutor goes away, and you just get to chat with your peers without the pressure of feeling like the tutors are listening to you. There’s lots of little things you could do to replicate that on-campus experience to better help international students and things like that. So, I think yeah, one, reduction of fees and, two, try to recreate some of those good things you got on campus online.

Farrago:  

Leading on from this, because students aren’t allowed back on campus at the moment because of various lockdowns, we’ve seen a lot of activities and events be cancelled. Often many of these don’t even end up as online events either. On top of your previous ideas about classroom learning, how else do you plan to cater for international students, and the student population more broadly, if they aren’t allowed back on campus? How do you intend to replicate those experiences that the Union normally provides to students in an online setting?

Daisy Norfolk:  

I feel it’s a strong point for clubs. So as a union, we could support clubs more. Give them more funding, perhaps more flexibility in dates to get grants and things in by. Especially when we’re in and out of crises, it could be good to be a bit more lenient. And maybe you could put together more training for clubs to go and learn about the different types of sort of online events and things they could run. Like, you can have really amazing, interactive events online. I was talking to the club I’m part of recently, and I was talking about when I did VCESS as part of the events team, they did this great scavenger hunt. Yes, normally scavenger hunts are an on-campus thing, but they did it so well, jumping in and out of little break rooms, solving puzzles etc. It was so interactive that it just felt like it was made to be online. And I think things like that can be made more immersive. So, I feel like a focus on clubs is how you would bring those experiences to international students.

Farrago: 

Many students feel isolated and disconnected from campus life right now. Are there any other ways that you think the Union could foster a sense of community amongst students again? Particularly if the current trends continue and they’re unable to return to campus or even to Australia next year.

Daisy Norfolk:  

The first thing that comes to my mind would be all the different collectives. I feel like they already do such a good job of fostering community, they just are so welcoming. So, I feel like we could try and expand those and really make them a more international student friendly thing. I’m not saying that any of the collectives in any way are excluding international students; however, from an advertising perspective you could frame it as “We really want more international students to come! Have your say come to our collectives!” and things like that because maybe international students might feel that if it’s not an international student collective, then maybe it’s not for them. But they are absolutely welcome! 

Farrago:  

Before we wrap up, is there anything else that you’d like to add or say to the voters?

Daisy Norfolk:  

One thing that did strike me as quite good was that three out of five [presidential candidates] are women! I just put down ‘Women in Leadership’ by Julia Gillard and it’s just so good to see. There can be many things that put women off running, so I think it made me feel good to see so many women being a part of this. Not only just for president, there’s a lot of women running in a lot of positions, which is absolutely just fantastic because we are 51 or something percent of the population haha. 

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If you want to know more about who is running for YOUR student union in 2022, Farrago is hosting a presidential candidate debate on Wednesday 1 September at 5:30pm AEST. More details here. All students welcome!


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