17 May 2012

Election Soapbox

USU Elections have begun, as you will have noticed from the brightly coloured A-frames and t-shirts dotted around campus. Yesterday was also the Candidates Soapbox – a chance for the public to hear the candidates speak on their policies and take hard-hitting questions from the audience, and a panel made up of Bull Editor Bronte Lambourne, Honi Soit Editor Bebe D’Souza and myself. In case you missed it, here’s a brief wrap-up:

John Harding-Easson was first cab off the rank and spoke about how great the USU is for creating a sense of community on campus, but “under the surface lies great potential” for the USU to engage with more students. He drew on his own experience of coming to uni and finding it quite isolating. His ideas included better utilisation of campus spaces, and more accessible USU benefits. He was asked about his political affiliations with the ALP club, the time commitment of being on Board considering that he is also on the SRC Executive and also how he would fund his universal Access policy.

Sophie Stanton was up next, and also spoke about her desire to engage more students on campus. In particular, she said that she is the candidate that represents students who are not your typical USU member, and promises to speak up on their behalf. She drew on her experience of not seeing the value of buying an access card in her second year, and believes her experience gives her a “fresh perspective”. She was asked about her role as President of SUBSKI and gender equity, as well as what ideas she has for inclusive events for students who don’t drink.

Tom Raue described himself as the left-wing candidate who will fight for fair trade, solar panels on USU buildings, and workplace democracy within the USU. He highlighted his experience in grass-roots activism in setting up the Education Action Group in the SRC. Tom was asked about his policy to improve transparency in the USU, his desire to increase USU-owned outlets, and his time-commitment given that he is currently Vice President of the SRC. Unlike John, he didn’t say that he would resign from his Vice President position, but said that he feels capable of managing the two roles.

Karen Chau listed her love for the USU and club experience as reasons for running for USU Board, particularly her executive roles on the UN Society. She spoke about her ideas for expanding programs such as Kickstart grants and new initiatives such as a USU Music Festival and twilight noodle markets. Questions for Karen included what new ideas she has that the USU Board are not pursuing already, how she can provide cheaper food, and what similarities and differences she sees between the roles of representing students as an SRC Councillor and as a Board Director of the USU.

Hannah Morris spoke about how all her favourite memories and experiences from university have been provided by the USU, and her enthusiasm and excitement to direct the future of the organisation. Her ideas included a Hermann’s Grill, recharge room, and Inauguration Day Party. Hannah was asked about what ideas she has for more off-campus Access partners, how the USU would fund her capital intensive initiatives, and also answered a question about which policies from other candidates she disagreed with by saying that “everyone has put a lot of time into developing their fantastic policies”.

Nick Coffman said he “is proud of his Union”, and spoke off the cuff about his ideas for increasing communication between the USU and students including an iPhone/Android app, and a commemoration day party to engage with a wider variety of students. He was asked about what policies he has for including minority groups on campus and whether he holds sufficient experience outside the college environment to bring to the USU Board. He was also asked about colleges having a separate induction that clashes with USU O-Week, and responded by calling for more integration between the two.

Vale Sloane was the last candidate to take the stage, and also didn’t use a pre-prepared speech. He advocated for free Access cards, pop-up bars, and transforming the USU website. He was asked about his Liberal affiliations and what that meant for voluntary student unionism, to which he replied that universal access, as a form of compulsory student unionism, would allow everyone to experience the great benefits of the USU. He was also asked a question submitted online about the financial viability of universal access.

If you want to join in on the action look out for the twitter hashtag #usudecides and follow @USUAccess and @USUBoard for regular updates. Let us know your thoughts on the Soapbox in the comments below.

See you on the campaign trail!

Sibella Matthews
USU President


  1. I cannot help but feel this gives me no insight into any of the candidates.

    1. Sibella MatthewsMay 24, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      Hi anonymous, you can check out the candidates' policies in further detail by picking up a Candidates Booklet from the access desk in Manning.