Who are the candidates?
Christian Flynn from the ‘Grassroots ANUSA’ ticket
Blake Iefeta from ‘Do Better! With Blake Iafeta’
What distinguishes you from other candidates?
Flynn cites his experience and policies as defining features of his candidacy. He believes that his experience has “given [him] insight into a lot of different perspective[s]”, having been an off-campus student, Senior Resident and President at Wamburun Hall, Chair of the Interhall Council of President, and 2021 ANUSA Vice President. He describes his policy as part of ‘Grassroots ANUSA’ as including a “range of high-quality policies that are well-informed by a range of perspectives.”
Iafeta’s main defining objective is to “get rid of internal politics”. Whilst Iefeta is “very much involved in human rights activism”, they believe ANUSA should “not be the place for activism that is not directly related to students”. They will use the role as president to eliminate “the cliquishness and division that largely stems from ideologues” by being apolitical.
What do you hope to bring to ANUSA if you are elected as President?
Flynn aims to elevate “members of the SRC and… the wider student body to be able to achieve their own platforms” as President. This will be done by implementing a “grassroot approach of putting students first” and making decisions based off “listening to their concerns”. According to Flynn, “[u]ltimately, students being engaged in our activism, in our business plans, and in our departments and clubs is what will drive our association forward.”
Iafeta “hope[s] to bring a genuine interest in the welfare of students” as President. They intend to emphasise issues that directly impact students rather than “large scale issues”. This will be done through “expanding community programs, ensuring that ANUSA funding provides students with tangible benefits, and maintaining [their] moral integrity to not fall prey to partisanship”. They aim to be a “representative voice” of the students without a “political agenda behind [them]”.
What would you like to see change at the ANU?
Flynn believes that “ANU’s engagement with students is consistently disappointing”, and the university is most likely to respond when students “unite in opposition to university decisions”. As such, he trusts that “[l]inking to [their] ticket’s major policies, engaging the student body and building an activist union is how [they] change things at the ANU”, all of which rely on the “growth and success of grassroots initiatives”. Flynn maintains that ANUSA can act as a “coordinating activist and advocacy body” to achieve such aims.
The main changes Iafeta would like to see include “[r]ebuil[ing] a sense of community at ANU, focus[ed] on student engagement, and [to] address the current issue of division between students”. Additionally, they would like to see change in regards to services provided to students, such as “[m]ore financial assistance”, provision of “essential supplies” for eligible students”, and “[b]etter access to disability and mental health services”. Finally, the candidate proposes change by “[c]ollaborat[ing] closely with Department Officers to ensure fair representation of members of each department”, such as “[a]ddress[ing] and attack[ing] sexual assault/sexual harassment [by] advocat[ing] for and support[ing] the demands of the Women’s Department”.
How will you continue to advocate for SASH issues on campus?
As a contributor to the Broken Promises Report detailing SASH issues on campus, Flynn’s advocacy next year will be “centred around the major challenge of ensuring the ANU follows through on what has been laid out in the Broken Promises Report”. Furthermore, he intends to “prioritise the goals of the Women’s Department and other departments in this space”, and plan the August 1st events earlier to “build… upon the momentum created this year”.
Iafeta is “very much in favour of advocating and supporting all demands and recommendations offered by the Women’s Department”, citing the “upsetting 2017 National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities” and their understanding that “many students feel that their plights are being ignored”. Although they haven’t personally experienced SASH issues on campus, they seeks to “wholeheartedly support” and “trust the decisions made by our Women’s Officer and the Women’s Department”.
How will you ensure mental health services are available for students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Flynn aims to continue the work done by current Clubs Officer, Phoenix O’Neill, in urging the University to “take back control of the services provided by the National Health Co-op”. He states that he will fight for the ANU to “meet their obligations under previous reviews into mental health” by providing adequate numbers of ANU counsellors. He will also seek to “create partnerships with overseas mental health providers” to assist overseas students.
Iafeta told Woroni that “[a]s someone who grew up quite isolated and with very little access to much-needed mental health services, [I] can personally relate to what many students are feeling right now”. Thus, they intend to partner with the “Treasurer and Welfare Officer to expand the capacity of our mental health services”. They expressed frustration over the fact that the University is unable to provide adequate mental health assistance regardless of the mandatory SSAF funds, highlighting the need to also “help students afford psychiatric treatment, which can become quite pricey”.
What do you hope to achieve in the role of Undergraduate Member on ANU Council (UMAC)?
Flynn intends to push the University “on a variety of key decisions”, “particularly surrounding their finances”. Flynn told Woroni that “[i]nstitutional financial stress has caused a huge number of problems at the ANU, and how those decisions are made needs close scrutiny from students.” Hence, he believes he “can bring attention to detail for that work” to UMAC and through the role as President.
“As UMAC, [Iafeta] hope[s] to represent the voices of ANU students to the best of my ability”. They cites the role as a “ non-partisan, impartial, and apolitical student” as being the best candidate “to listen to what the students believe, even if it may not align with my beliefs” and bring such concerns to the University. They trust that the most effective change comes from “democratic leadership, not from ideological ignorance”.
How will you balance confidentiality with ensuring that students remain informed as UMAC?
Flynn seeks to “consistently push for greater transparency in Council documents”, which aligns with his past experience on the Respectful Relationships Working Group. Additionally, he aims to “push to ensure that Council minutes are regularly published on their website and, where relevant, unclassified sections disseminated to students” by working with the Council to “reconsider what is genuinely confidential and what can be released.”
Iafeta said “I believe that I can reach a point where the level of confidentiality at Council meetings is not a problem”. They states that their “input at Council meetings will not be mine, but rather the students”, and aims to build a level of trust with students so that students “realise that [their] only concern is them and their welfare.”