Nick Douros’s Activate ANUSA and
Ashish Nagesh’s Stand Apart are the only two tickets in the ANUSA elections made solely of general representative candidates. But that’s about the only thing they have in common.
In recent weeks, the two tickets have clashed on the topic of the National Union of Students (NUS).
Stand Apart has ties to the Liberal Party, with Nagesh serving as the treasurer of the ANU Liberal Club. Activate has ties to the Labor Party, with six of 14 of its candidates being ALP members. Douros is also the 2016 NUS ACT Branch President and said he is a ‘proud member of the Labor party.’
Nagesh criticized Douros’s role in the NUS, saying ‘he’s apart of the swamp of people that embody the unprofessionalism and the mismanagement of the NUS.’ Speaking to Woroni, he said the NUS is a ‘breeding ground for Labor politicians’ and strong factionalism in the NUS prevents delegates from representing students.
He said that if elected NUS delegate, Stand Apart will go to the NUS as independents and not be tied down by an already powerless Liberal faction. But Douros is confident that Activiate’s ties to the ALP won’t affect how they operate on the SRC and said that any suggestions to the contrary are ‘ridiculous.’
‘There are student associations around Australia which have 50 per cent ALP members on the SRC and they still do fantastic work,’ he said.
At the NUS delegate debate last week, Nagesh said Stand Apart supports ‘disaccreditation’ from the NUS. But on Stand Apart’s website, it says they support ‘disaffiliation.’
Disaccreditation refers to withdrawing the membership fee ANUSA pays to the NUS every year, whereas disaffiliation involves taking ANUSA out of the NUS altogether.
‘I actually don’t think [Nagesh] understands the definition of those two words. It shows their lack of understanding of the NUS,’ Douros said. ‘At the end of the day, a lot of them are Liberal Party members. They’re not interested in students and their government isn’t interested in students. The only thing they’re interested in is making sure student unions aren’t that strong.’
Nagesh told Woroni that Stand Apart’s ultimate goal is disaffiliation, but disaccreditation is the first step toward that. ‘I would ask ANU students, do you really think your SSAF money is going to the right place, could it go to somewhere else that could benefit you further, like mental health services or improved parking?’
Douros argued that ANU students need to contribute to a national union that represents students’ interest. ‘What Stand Apart doesn’t understand is that sometimes a national body does better [than university-specific unions],’ he said.
Nagesh wants to see greater transparency in terms of budget allowances, travel reports and financial reports. He also said that footage leaked from the yearly NUS conference has shown delegates engaging in inappropriate and sometimes violent behaviour. Stand Apart supports livestreaming the yearly NUS conference to show how ‘unprofessional and mismanaged it is.’
‘Our ticket asked Nick [Douros] to pledge for video filming in the NUS, but he said he wouldn’t…I’d like to know if he’d vote against his own Labor faction to allow filming at the NUS,’ Nagesh told Woroni. ‘His faction votes against filming every year.’
Douros concedes that some of the behavior at the NUS conference is ‘unacceptable’, but still thinks it’s necessary for ANU students to have a say in NUS decision-making. He did concede at the NUS debate that livestreaming the NUS conference needs to be ‘looked into’, but is concerned that some speakers won’t want their speech to be live streamed around Australia.
Speaking to Woroni, Douros slammed the Stand Apart campaign, saying ‘every candidate that’s criticised the NUS this year hasn’t even bothered to talk to me once. As a member of the governing body, I find that ridiculous.’