Who are the candidates?
James Eveille: ‘Refocus Your ANUSA’. ANUSA CASS Representative.
Ben Wicks: ‘Proud! of our ANUSA’. ANUSA General Representative.
Madhumitha Janagaraja: ‘Brighter Together ANUSA’. Current ANUSA Vice-President and previous ANUSA Disabilities Officer.
Brad Saines: ‘A New Way Forward’.
Skanda Panditharatne: ‘Go the Distance with ANUSA’. ANUSA Education Officer.
On the biggest issue facing undergraduate students at ANU:
Eveille points to the recently announced policy that failing students will lose access to HEC along with fee hikes as the crucial issues facing undergrads at ANU.
Wicks emphasises that the community on campus has died during the COVID-19 lockdown period and that it falls on ANUSA to rebuild it.
Janagaraja focuses on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and ANU’s response, including the subsequent funding cuts.
Saines highlights that 2020 has been difficult for ANU students, following the bushfires, hail and the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasises that student wellbeing is the most pressing issue.
Panditharatne stresses that all issues facing undergraduate students are incredibly pressing, with students uncertain of their future on campus. He promises to fight against fee hikes and funding cuts.
On managing the relationship, if successful for the Presidential role but not the Undergraduate Member on ANU Council:
Eveille emphasises that the President must sit down with the UMAC to discuss issues and provide support, as well as work with the General-Secretary to ensure that they can report back to the SRC.
Wicks wants to give the President observer status on the Council, and establish a strong conversation with the University.
Janagaraja believes that it is important to set up a review or agreement that will discuss where information goes. She also stresses that setting up a strong relationship with the Interhall Committee and other departments is necessary.
Saines says that he would set up two separate groups to establish liaison with the Council and the UMAC and debrief sessions.
Panditharatne focuses on the importance of ensuring that a full picture is given to students if separate people occupy the two roles.
On low student engagement with ANUSA:
Eveille believes that “ANUSA needs to bridge the gap”, as students are concerned that ANUSA is out of touch.
Wicks emphasises the decline of the social community at ANU this year, highlighting the importance of ANUSA working to create a holistic student experience and to make the campus one that people enjoy being on.
Janagaraja characterises ANUSA as inaccessible, arguing that ANUSA should bridge gaps in communication.
Saines wants to focus on creating an ANUSA that is more reflective of student values and student issues, specifically through the SRC.
Panditharatne highlights that low student engagement is not a problem that the President can solve alone. Instead, he believes an ANUSA-wide effort is required, focused on genuine and real consultation with students.
On selecting their executive candidates:
Eveille argues that ANUSA needs to be more diverse and reflective of the student body, emphasising the issues with ‘shoulder tapping’ at ANU and arguing that tickets launch far too early in the year. He also highlights the importance of the National Union of Students (NUS) in the national campaign this year, and sees it as important to choose someone with the relevant experience.
Wicks stresses that the best ANUSA representatives are the ones who want to be there and who understand ANUSA. He highlights that candidates shouldn’t be chasing clout and that ‘shoulder tapping’ culture is too common at ANU.
Janagaraja emphasises that she is running for her 3rd role in ANUSA and this is the first time she has been on a ticket. She also underscores the issues with diversity in ANUSA tickets, where people of colour and women rarely applied to the Expression of Interest form.
Saines is interested in a broad perspective of the people on his ticket and has tried to draft a couple of policies that encourage “ordinary” students to get involved.
Panditharatne said that he prioritises cultural change and those with ANUSA experience for his ticket, though it was not about locking out those who do not know about ANUSA. He also highlighted that his ticket is very diverse, with 5/11 candidates filled by women.
On Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment advocacy:
Eveille argues that ANU has failed its students, as too many have suffered and are survivors. He wants to work with the wide variety of people elected to ANUSA in order to enact policies that make genuine change.
Wicks highlights that the SASH space has been “exhausting” and that change has been happening at an infuriatingly slow pace, with ANU still failing to meet the standard required. He highlights that the ANUSA executive needs to empower student voices and pressure the university to make meaningful change.
Janagaraja argues that the future of SASH at ANU needs to change, particularly with the resourcing of the RRU. She implores that people need to turn up and continuously support this issue throughout the year and emphasises the importance of disclosure training for ANUSA representatives.
Saines emphasises that his ticket understands that the Code of Conduct does not go far enough and shouldn’t be used as a weapon against students. He wants to add to the code of conduct that students have the right to be free from sexual violence. He wants to establish an independent monitoring committee that will ensure accountability and transparency between residential halls and the University.
Panditharatne highlights that the university has betrayed students in this frustrating and appalling area. He argues that the ANUSA President must elevate student voices in order to implement tangible policies to be implemented.
When questioned on key policies, these were the candidate’s responses:
Eveille emphasises the importance of educational access to be extended for working students so that students working long hours are taken care of.
“Fierce, fun and focused”, with reduction of SSAF
Wicks believes that this election comes down to making an organisation that students are proud of, through providing a fantastic student experience and a diversified ANUSA. He would do this through being strong in SSAF meetings and ensuring that ANUSA will get the money it needs.
Janagaraja highlights that she lived off-campus for most of her years at ANU and that ANUSA events have to better cater to off-campus student needs. She believes that residential halls are a focus of her ticket due to ongoing SASH issues and rising costs, but that ANUSA should also represent those who live off-campus.
Saines was questioned on the feasibility of his plan for a bike lane down University Avenue, saying that he would lobby the University to make this change. He also underscored that the Vice Chancellor has pledged to commit to cut fossil fuels and this would be to his advantage.
3-Year Plan for the Association
Panditharatne emphasises the importance of continuity and consulting students on the core parts of ANUSA to determine what they value and prioritise for the future. He noted that his 3 year plan was a continuation of Lachy Day’s from last year’s election.