The ANU postgraduate and research students’ association (PARSA) recently held its annual elections which saw a largely new cohort of postgraduate students join the council that represents over eight thousand postgraduate students. Of the new executive team of ten members (pictured above, excluding equity officer Ben Niles) seven are international students, which is perhaps reflective of the growing number of international postgraduate students enrolling at ANU.

For the first time the elections for the twenty-nine positions on the PRC (postgraduate representative council) were conducted online. A source said that aside from the usual glitches that come with the introduction of any new election process, which brought criticism from some candidates, the process was “surprisingly smooth” and voter turnout exceeded expectations. Credit was given to Dale Brosnahan, general manager of Residential and Campus Communities, who oversaw the process as returning officer.

Results of the online election were announced at an annual general meeting on 31 May, and immediately after the PRC elected its executive team, starting with new president and former treasurer Arjuna Mohottala, who comfortably defeated his only opponent, former vice president Imogen Mathew.

The new vice president, Belynda Akello, is also president of the African Students’ Association and is widely regarded among postgraduate students as a future president of the association. Louisa Trang, a Juris Doctor student in the College of Law, joins the team as treasurer.

Two new positions were approved in the last term by the PRC as additions to the executive team, one being education officer, filled by diplomacy student George Carter, who some insiders considered a presidential possibility, and the other a communications officer, filled by Khusbu Agrawal of the Crawford School.

Mr Mohottala, whose wife is also a PhD student at ANU, delivered a strong speech focusing on a vision that sees postgraduate students given the best services and support in Australia and the world. A former senior economist in the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Mr Mohottala also stressed his desire to see student money well spent across the ANU.

Outgoing president, Julie Melrose expressed her thanks to colleagues for the support given to her during a ‘time of growth’ for PARSA. Ms Melrose will be contesting the seat of Canberra in the upcoming federal election for the Greens and continuing in her role as Associate Director of the Conservation Council.

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