OurANU is one of two major tickets formed for the PARSA elections on August 15. It has launched its campaign on a platform of creating a PARSA “that will represent the biggest number of students of any organisation in 2017,” according to presidential candidate, and current Social Officer, Isobel Smith.
The ticket is running a full executive, representatives in each college except for Physical & Mathematical Sciences, and three general representatives. Outlining the ticket, Smith mentioned that her teammates have leadership experience from residential colleges, clubs and societies, and professional experience from private and public sectors around the globe.
Woroni corresponded with Smith via email to talk about the ticket’s policies.
Smith told Woroni that her institutional and community experiences as PARSA Social Officer encouraged her to step up to a larger role within the organisation. She also emphasised her desire for advocacy developed in the Law School and as Environment and Charity Secretary at her residential college in University of Sydney.
One of OurANU’s focuses is on the postgraduate community’s diversity. “We represent the diversity of that ANU postgraduate community in terms of gender, nationality, program structure, residential/non-residential students and of course the University’s various colleges,” Smith said.
Regarding policy, she stated that a main goal – and their first policy to implement if they were successful – would be to update ANU’s Reconciliation Action Plan “to best-practice standard.”
“OurANU believes we are obligated to be on the forefront of Reconciliation, and committed to becoming a model student organisation for best-practice reconciliation standards,” she said.
Additionally, OurANU pledges to “oppose all cuts to research schools” and promises to provide greater consultation mechanisms to affected postgraduate students, particularly by creating a new HDR (Higher-Degree Research) Officer position to increase engagement with research students. This comes at a critical time of dissatisfaction surrounding the restructuring of the School of Culture, History, and Language, angering many research students.
PARSA’s Education committee would also be reformed “to foster leadership pathways for PARSA students,” and a representative corresponding to each ANUSA Department would be appointed. She told Woroni that her ticket would begin the procedures to implement these changes from “[their] first day in office.”
Furthermore, Smith promised to “advocate for ANU to divest all its fossil fuel investments, and for all future development to be carbon-neutral, including the planned new residential accommodation and the Union Court development.”
She also stated her ticket would work towards lowering “the currently unacceptable waiting periods” at ANU’s medical and counseling services, and improving them in general.
Ultimately, Smith felt that the greatest challenge to the postgraduate community was handling its diversity. For many postgraduates, university commitments can clash with the need to support families and find paid work to support themselves, especially if they are from overseas and have relocated on limited resources.
Smith concluded, “Our team is committed to making representation, conversation and community available to any and all postgraduate students who want it, and with our diverse and enthusiastic team we are prepared to overcome the full range of obstacles between postgraduates and the engagement they want.”