The full launch of the highly anticipated Stand Up! ticket marks a key turning point in the ANUSA election, where factions have aligned across Labor Right, Labor Left, and Socialist Alternative. The ticket will contest the full executive, the Environment Officer, Postgraduate Coursework Officer, and Parents and Carers Officer, each with ambitious policy agendas. The ticket launch also announces the general representative and college representative candidates.
Stand Up! have affirmed themselves as “passionate, strong and fresh students who are ready to advocate for students at the ANU”. The influence of SAlt policies is clear in the general flavour of activism, while some policies remain closely aligned with last year’s joint Labor ticket. The ticket has labelled their conjunction of policies as “exciting and diverse”, and claims that the factions “know how to support one another and build movements together rather than independently”. How this will play out across ANUSA and the NUS is yet to be determined. In the past, these factions have struggled to find consensus which makes the combination on this ticket interesting.
Woroni provides a run down of their three main policies and highlights other important announcements below, but as for the question of whether this alliance will prove effective, the answer will be in the hands of voters.
Policy 1 – Rights for Residents
Stand Up!’s first policy examines the rights for ANU students who live on-campus. They claim that “every student who has ever lived on campus could tell you that this [the lack of tenancy rights] causes significant problems – usually ones that strain the mental health of ANU students to breaking point.”
The policy continues on from similar commitments made by last year’s joint Labor ticket, who also emphasised rights for residents in their policy. The policy seeks to replace current occupancy agreements with tenancy contracts, to align on campus residents with rental tenants across Canberra. It also aims to abolish lockout fees, identifying the potential for SASH and the unaffordability of the expensive rates as key reasons for. Finally, the policy proposes an overhaul of the rights of Senior Residents, using campaigning and unionisation to improve their conditions and pay.
Milli McDonald (she/her), the General Secretary candidate wants to establish a “residential officer to be the students’ voice on residential halls” with their focus to be on an SR Union, improvements in the treatment of rescom, a complaint mechanism for people mistreated by their halls, SASH advocacy, training and education, contract negotiation and lockout fees.
General Representative candidate Sam Gorrie (he/him) wants to provide SRs with a “clearer definition of the role and delineation of responsibilities” and “greater support.”
Presidential candidate Brandon Lee (he/him) claims “Rights for residents are at the very core of what ANUSA should prioritise as a union.”
SRs and on-campus students will likely support the Rights for Residents policy. There is an ongoing appetite for collective action from SRs, around the high expectations and low pay, which the proposed SRAC could work towards improving. Existing SRs have a significant workload managing many student’s issues and their unionisation could provide an achievable way to address such concerns.
The establishment of a new residential officer is also possible, and this position could provide scope to enact real change. Creating a role purely to focus on resident rights would enable more consistent effort and provide a stronger platform for residential rights across the University.
Activism and advocacy is also an achievable target, but whether or not campaigning will lead to any effective outcome is yet to be determined.
One challenge is that overworked SRs may not want to join a union if it means they must run the union. A complaint of this suggestion last year, when it was a key proponent of the Labor ticket, is that it would be unclear who could run it. However, the creation of a residential officer might resolve that problem. Most of the organisational work could fall to this officer, but this could potentially leave them with little scope for actual change. Other students may feel isolated by the elevation of a Residential Officer to the executive, when other positions in ANUSA (i.e. Department Officers, Parents and Carers Officer) do not sit within the executive.
The tenancy rights issue might also be unconcerning for many students, who only live on campus for a short period of time, live off campus, or who don’t pay for their own accommodation. It is also a difficult thing to argue for as change will require the ANU accepting a contract which favours them less than the current occupancy agreement. The viability of the policy enacting real change should therefore be considered by voters.
The policy also highlights campaigning as a key strategy, but advocacy for SR’s has been a long term procedure with minimal current tangible change. How StandUp! might change this is yet to be determined.
Policy 2 – Free Education
Stand Up! is an amalgamation of candidates from across the left wing of the political spectrum. One of the main talking points in this election cycle and a prominent campaign point for better or worse is the idea of a more activist student union. This has permeated into Stand Up! policy through the move to campaigning for free higher education. The ticket states that access to tertiary education is a fundamental human right and should be free for all, including undergraduate, postgraduate, domestic, and international students. Stand Up! is against the current market pressures imposed on universities, believing it has turned them “mere job creating factories” rather than places of learning. They believe the HECS system is fundamentally flawed and should be opposed by student unions. Stand Up!’s policy expresses a desire to actively campaign for, and raise the topic of, free education in the public sphere. They plan to achieve this in close cooperation with other student unions, to create a national voice to convince the government to bring back free tertiary education.
In the recent Universities Accord Interim Report, forecasts estimated up to 55% of the Australia population will hold a university degree by 2050. Economically, the average male will make $790,000 more dollars on average over his lifetime compared with a non university degree holding male and the number is around $600,000 for women. University is more important now than ever before. The case for making it free then is strong from an accessibility point of view, as more students could have access to university and without fees and debt hanging over them they could study for longer, and study what they wish to. There is also a normative argument that education is a fundamental right, and that the corporatisation of universities has not only eroded that right, but also reduced the quality of education by emphasising what is commercialisable over what is worth learning.
Money, money, money – free university for all is going to be expensive for the taxpayer and there exists little to no desire from the current federal government to step up and fund university. Stand Up! cites activism as the mechanism through which to enact this change. However, given the bipartisan opposition to the move it may require an unprecedented audience within politics for this to eventuate. There does exist some appetite from the Greens, however, which may allow Stand Up! to influence some political discourse at a national level.
The inclusion of international students in Stand Up!’s free education policy is an interesting extension of previous calls to make tertiary education free. International students currently form a large source of revenue for universities, and Australian students studying abroad in a majority of cases pay international fees, which are higher than domestic fees and evidently not free. Making education free for international students may therefore increase substantially the number of international students wishing to study at Australian institutions, greatly increasing the demand on institutions while reducing a current source of revenue. It is relevant to note, however, that Stand Up!’s calls for free education imply a redirection of current government spending towards education, which may provide a new source of income for institutions.
Policy 3 – A More Activist Union
A recurring theme in the ticket in general, as well as a core policy, is the proposal of a more activist union. Presidential candidate Brandon Lee (he/him) believes “ANUSA is in vital need of a refresh to how it fundamentally approaches student unionism,” and has tagged the activist policies of the ticket as “common sense items”. The policy plans for engagement in movements on national issues, to create an ability to “deliver on promises and be a stronger voice for students”. A key theme throughout the ticket is the need for “student unions to be fighting unions” in order to achieve outcomes.
Stand Up! have also indicated their stance that the previous Executive acted “shamefully” in their failure to march in a protest against ANU ties with fossil fuels, and continued that sentiment in shaming left-wing tickets that have failed to publicly advocate for the Voice to Parliament.
This policy stance is a reflection of previous SAlt campaigns, and seeks to connect an element of activism in the core function of many of the Executive. The ticket itself labels many of the Executive roles as being fundamentally “activist” or “advocacy” roles. Some of the key objectives of the core policy include the fight against fossil fuels, ending student poverty, fighting against the housing and cost of living crisis and the need for free education and abolishment of student debt. These are only some of the many strong activist stances held throughout the ticket.
Majority of the policies within the plan for a more activist union are dealing with key issues that impact students and their lives. The decision to allocate funding to actionable items such as the BIPOC Department’s Racism Report provide specific avenues for monitoring progress and creating change, and the general core focus on BIPOC research and activism is a positive shift from policies of previous years. This focus on advocacy is reflected in the released statement from Stand Up! aligning publicly with a ‘Yes’ vote on the Voice referendum, which will likely be a well accepted stance by many students.
Both the Vice President and Welfare Officer candidates have also proposed booklets and guides on activism and key ANUSA information. The shifted focus on transparency in fulfilling commitments and increased funding for areas such as mental health support and Department functions are likely to be supported by students, and hope to achieve a more inclusive activist environment at ANU. Greater transparency with students seems to be a running theme in the overall objectives of the candidate roles, with tangible ideas such as the advocacy and activism calendar and expanded content of weekly emails likely to be achievable and positive.
The ticket promises participation in campaigns with NUS and NTEU, and various other organisations in promoting activist policy. Many of the roles will have a particular objective to work comprehensively with other unions as part of the activist campaign. The proposition to collaborate with national organisations and student unions, and form working groups to engage with the ACT government seems positive, in order to form useful connections to action policies.
It seems that the ticket’s specific plans for activism cover a broad scope of areas, from being on the forefront of LGBTQIA+ activism, to subsidised food markets and anti-war movements. Students may be turned away by the fact that the ticket seems to cover many vague promises, without key details as to how they will be achieved. Many of the key roles within the Executive are combining activism with their policy development, namely the Welfare, Education and Environment Officers. This may raise concerns about diverting substantive aspects of the role to a more lofty activist policy approach.
Some of the more divisive policies on the ticket include the fight to cut war related degrees and courses, which may adversely impact the lives of many voting students who undertake those degrees. This also seemingly contradicts the policies of the Vice President candidate that indicate the need for more informed and considered university management in areas such as course cuts.
In this amalgamation of factions bringing forward a wide range of new and previous policies, students may wonder whether some of the proposed goals are realistic. Many policies put forward are likely beyond the reach of the ANUSA Executive. The ticket advocates for a fight against issues like the cost of living crisis, the use of nuclear power, and climate change. While these issues are important to students, there may be criticism on the use of time and resources allocated to massive activist agendas rather than achievable goals that more directly impact campus issues. The policy on increasing transparency and accessibility of activism may increase the amount of information students have about activism at the ANU, but may not change the culture of activism itself, which is often considered intimidating and exclusionary to uninitiated students.
New Executive Position: Residential Officer
The ticket also plans for the General Secretary candidate, Milli McDonald (she/her), to advocate for the creation of a new position in the ANUSA Executive. The position would be a Residential Officer, described as “a liaison between ANUSA and residential halls”.
The new position will also be a part of the review of the SRC and Departments following the merge with PARSA. This position seemingly aligns with the focus of the residential rights policy and more specifically the rights of Senior Residents.
The hard launch also reveals a large number of additional policies, including:
- The return of the ‘Save our Social Scene’ policy brought forward by Action! last election
- Free parking on campus
- Fresh veggies at BKSS
- Free sanitary products in every bathroom
- Oppose the introduction of the nuclear major
- Live streamed ANUSA meetings to be available on the website
- Written explanations for procurements over 10k
This wide range of policies is a clear reflection on the alliance between factions, and may be either a beneficial cooperation or a lofty, unrealistic campaign. There seems to be a packed agenda for the candidates of the Stand Up! ticket, with plans across a diverse range of areas.
Ashlyn Horton – Undergraduate College of Science
Georgia Siorokos – Undergraduate College of Asia and Pacific
Jem Rule – Undergraduate College of Arts and Social Science
John Dummett – Undergraduate College of Health Medicine
Mitha Mall – Undergraduate College of Law
Jaz Brandson – Undergraduate College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics
Rishik Reddy Maram – Postgraduate Coursework Officer and Postgraduate College of Business and Economics
Sree Vaishnavi Gangarapu – Undergraduate College of Business and Economics
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