Who are the candidates?
Chido Nyakuengama of the Grassroots ticket;
Blake Iefta from the Do Better! ticket.
On what distinguishes them from other candidates?
Nyakuengama brings her “experience of representing marginalised students in ANUSA through [her] current position as BIPOC Officer”. She states that her “experience in the Department space means [she] know[s] the importance of providing appropriate support and pastoral care to the most marginalised students at the ANU”. Furthermore, she has “experience communicating directly with the University Executive”, and also sits “on the ANU’s Social Inclusion and Diversity Working Group this year”. She states that she “will use these skills in the committee [she] sits on as Vice President and take students’ needs directly to the top”.
Iafeta stated “although I respect and admire the other candidate for Vice-President, I believe that their agenda will very likely result in many voices being silenced. Policies like publishing ANUSA’s political stances will not so much democratically represent the students, but rather the beliefs of big tickets who have a clear agenda”. They continued that the students who remain uninvolved in ANUSA become “merely a subject to what ANUSA’s agenda leads them to”. Iafeta hopes to be a “representative voice and adhere to what the students of ANU want and require, not necessarily what I believe to be right or wrong”.
On what the candidates hope to bring to ANUSA as Vice-President
As the current BIPOC officer, Nyakuengama is looking to reinforce and expand support to ANU’s marginalised communities. To this, the ticket have proposed the creation of the ANUSA Night Cafe, designed to provide a safe space to BIPOC and Queer* students. Nyakuengama also wishes to ‘reinvigorate’ the Brian Kenyon Student Space (BKSS) by focusing on improving the physical and sensory accessibility of the space.
The Do Better! ticket is promising to get rid of the internal politics of ANUSA, while still engaging with student activism. Iefeta hopes to provide ANUSA a ‘voice of objectivity’ to ensure that “ANUSA is not dominated by politically affiliated candidates”. They hope to “bring a genuine interest in the welfare of students and to advocate for change that will directly benefit students”.
On what they want to see change at the ANU
“I want the ANU to take discrimination seriously” said Nyakuengama. “The situation is dire and can no longer be ignored”. She states that “[she] and many other student representatives understand that marginalised students face some of the most atrocious discrimination on our campus”. She hopes to “implement an anti-discrimination policy and pressure the university executive to establish an anti-racism unit”.
Iafeta wants to see ANUSA “focus on problems that directly impact ANU students” and “truly listen to students”. They plan to provide more essential supplies to students in need, collaborate closely with Department Officers, increase scholarship opportunities for current students and expand financial assistance to low SES students.
On how the candidates will continue to advocate for SASH issues on campus
Iafeta will “work closely and effectively with the Treasurer, Welfare Officer, and Women’s Officer to provide … support”, stating that it “is only fair to trust the decisions made by our Women’s Officer and the Women’s Department”. The candidate said that “this is a disgusting issue that needs to be attacked, and I promise to engage in activism in solidarity with our Women’s Department”.
Nyakuengama will “continue to support the Women’s Department and Officer in their phenomenal work in advocating for better action on SASH by the ANU”. She stated that she will “use [her] platforms and communications channels with the University Executive to demand better for survivors on this issue at every opportunity”. She also called the ANU’s action to improve SASH on campus “simply not good enough”, promising to use her platform to demand action on the Broken Promises Report.
On ensuring mental health support for students throughout COVID-19
Iafeta plans to “work with ANUSA to expand the capacity of our mental health services”. They stated that “mental health is something very near and dear to me, and I completely understand how COVID-19 has affected students dramatically”. They “promise to advocate and work towards increasing the funding allocated to ANU Counselling”.
Nyakuengama will “use [her] position to pressure the University executive to better resource ANU Counselling and to provide students with adequate healthcare in the wake of the NHC’s collapse”. She states that mental health support is a “desperately underfunded area of student services” and will “use [her] role to support student-led campaigns for better health care and mental health services on campus”.
Iafeta has admitted that they will be focusing on contesting the roles of President and Welfare Officer.