Your Guide to The ANUSA Executive Candidates

Content Warning: Mentions of Sexual Assault and Harassment

President

Who are the candidates?

Lachy Day: ‘Turn Over a New Leaf’. Member of Grassroots Independents faction of the National Union of Students. Previous General Representative and current General Secretary of ANUSA.  

Adam Cass: ‘You! for ANUSA.’ President of ANU Liberal Club and a member of the Liberal Party. No previous experience as an ANUSA representative.

Ryan Clough: ‘Ungrouped/ DART.’ No previous experience as an ANUSA representative.

Primary policies:

Cass’s platform includes making the campus more affordable, demanding a data security commitment from the ANU, redirecting SSAF spending towards practical student services.

Day’s policies include developing a five-year plan for ANUSA, decentralising power structures beyond the President, increasing student consultation.

Clough plans on dismantling ANUSA and lifting the smoking ban on campus. 

On executive stipends:

Day believes the stipends should be maintained, as reducing them would make executive positions available only to people who come from a place of economic privilege. He proposes a decentralised power structure that would make executive stipends even more necessary for the extra work to be undertaken. 

Clough vows to donate all of his presidential earnings to cigarette subsidies on campus. He also promises to replace the Australian dollar on campus with his new form of currency.

Cass aims to reduce executive stipends in a bid to spend SSAF money on more practical services for students.

On the National Union of Students:

Clough’s DART party will not be affiliated with NUS.

Cass said that for the amount of money put towards the NUS, it seems like a waste. He believes that while students need to have a union, it is also necessary to keep NUS accountable. You! has delegated handing the NUS to Electrify’s candidates, as they are not putting up any NUS delegate candidates of their own. 

Day’s ticket is putting up their own NUS delegate candidates, and he said that these candidates will not automatically subscribe to a faction and can vote however they wish to ensure that the ANU is adequately represented.

On ANUSA engagement with students:

Day believes that ANUSA should improve consultation with students through more informal channels. He argues that students are unlikely to engage at meetings and are much more likely to have their say at events like universal lunch hour in an informal setting. 

Cass emphasised that ANUSA governance meetings do not effectively engage people and that there needs to be a fundamental change to standing orders so people can attend. He argues that if people can’t come to meetings and feel comfortable and willing to engage, there is little value in consultation.

On paying Department Officers:

Day believes that Department Officers are currently unsustainable for the amount of effort required for the role and the insufficient remuneration received. He said he is willing to commit to paying Officers more for their work as well as ensuring that they are adequately trained.

Cass said that while there should be appropriate base-level remuneration for the work done by Department Officers, he wants to ensure that this remuneration is not excessive so that the provision of ANUSA’s services are well-funded.

Clough maintains that all ANUSA money, under his new currency, will go toward funding cigarettes on campus.

On demanding a data security guarantee:

Cass believes that ANUSA should be campaigning in this area. He contends that ANUSA should have an ongoing discussion with the ANU to provide information to the student population about what is being done and to hold the University accountable.

Clough said, “it is counter-revolutionary to believe that your data is private, it is the property of the state, as are you.”

Day said that he fails to see how ANUSA could make a sustainable difference in this area and that ANUSA’s efforts should be pushed towards more “real issues” that face students. 

On making student accommodation more affordable:

Cass emphasised that ANUSA should be far more invested in ensuring affordable accommodation for students on campus, and should be actively campaigning and voicing its concern regarding high UniLodge fees. 

Day believes that ANUSA has little power over the fee structure of existing residential accommodation and that the association should be more focused on influencing new residences. He maintained that ANUSA should promote cheaper accommodation but should be working with the Interhall Council of Presidents on this issue. 

Clough said that it is “appalling” for students to be charged high residential fees “by an administration that frankly does not care.”

Vice-President

Who are the candidates?

Madhu Janagaraja: Running independently on the ticket ‘Madhu for VP.’ Is a member of the Grassroots Independents faction at the NUS.

Annabelle Nshuti: Vice-Presidential (VP) candidate on the ticket ‘Turn Over a New Leaf.’ Annabelle has no political affiliations.

Georga Nonnenmacher: VP candidate on the ticket ‘You! For ANUSA.’ Ticket is affiliated with the ANU Liberal Club, but Georga is not affiliated with any political party.

Key Objectives:

Madhu’s key objectives centre around mental health, combating sexual assault and harassment on campus, the creation of flexible learning environments and academic advocacy, student employment, and a campus master plan.

Annabelle centres her policy around reforming the role of General Representatives and building social communities both on and off-campus.

Georga focuses her policy around stronger action on mental health, improving institutional and cultural responses to sexual assault and harassment on campus, acknowledging and supporting working students, and ensuring that ANUSA is doing everything within its power to make the university an affordable place for all students.

On How They Plan To Combat Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on Campus:

Georga describes her plan to consult chancellery and demand answers for why student requests for action have not been fulfilled. She described the reality that some of the recommendations outlined in the change the course report have not been implemented as “reprehensible.” 

Annabelle highlights that “ANUSA is already in a place to support bodies on campus,” and as VP, she aims to support these bodies, particularly the Women’s department.

Madhu outlines that she supports the demands laid out in the one step forward, two steps back report. She further advocated for the establishment of a revised timeline and KPIs on the demands that have not been met by the university, mainly the promised online reporting tool.

On Their Greatest Piece of Student Advocacy:

Annabelle stated that her most fulfilling piece of advocacy was the starting of the off-campus student collective facebook group.

Georga outlines that as a person with type 1 diabetes, she has done a lot of advocacy in that space. She further describes the advocacy work that she has done in the women’s collective regarding SASH.

Madhu asserts that her most significant piece of advocacy was getting the University to commit to an internal shuttle bus. Additionally, she outlines her role in the August 1 sit-in, which marked two years since the release of the Change the Course report.

Education Officer

Who are the candidates?

Henri VickersEmpower:’ He is a member of the Australian Labor Party. 

Skanda PanditharatneTurn Over a New Leaf:’ He is a member of the ANU Greens. 

Kim SternClimate Action for ANUSA:’ A member of Socialist Alternative and the Victorian Socialists. 

On First-Year Camps:

Both Vickers and Panditharatne believe that first-year camps are not worth the time of the Education Officer, as it holds up campaigns and activism for semester one. Both also agreed that an event such as the beach trip at the start of this year was preferable to first-year camps. Panditharatne said that if any general representatives or college representatives wanted to take on organising the camps, he would help them.

Stern, on the other hand, criticised first-year events, claiming that they took valuable time away from refugee activism and the climate emergency. 

On Executive Retreats:

Stern – No

Panditharatne – Yes

Vickers – Less

On Reforming and Revitalising the Education Committee:

Vickers believes that the Education Committee itself doesn’t need structural reform as it’s already in the constitution. Instead, the committee needs to bring proactive campaigns to the campus, with an active organiser to reach out to people and encourage them to get involved.

Panditharatne said that the committee needs structural reform in terms of references and having a clear purpose. He wanted to formalise the deputy education officer role, as well as bringing another one into the fold with portfolios for each. He also criticised the ‘highly factionalised’ environment of the education committee for making people feel bullied.

Stern criticised the ‘Get Enrolled, Get Informed, Get Voting’ campaign run by current Education Officer Tanika Sibal during the 2019 federal election. He emphasised that he would run better campaigns that focus on letting students know what benefits them.

On the Diploma of Languages Working Group:

Stern emphasised that he wants to see the working group continue, as well as organising students to fight back against specific on-campus cuts. He wants to campaign with students, as opposed to just having meetings with management. 

Vickers said that the diploma was being run in a ‘complicated’ way, but encouraged interested individuals to talk to current College of Asia and the Pacific Representatives.

Panditharatne challenged Stern’s assumption that you can protest on every single issue to force change and said that his approach would be to support the College Representative Council and to lobby against cuts.

Social Officer

Who are the Candidates:

Nick Pagonis, for the ticket ‘Electrify ANUSA.’ Nick is a Member of the Australian Labor Party.

Sophie Jaggar for ‘Turn Over a New Leaf.’ Sophie has no political affiliations.

Main Concerns:

Sophie’s focus is on accessibility to events for the whole student population, stating “I believe that accessibility should be more of a priority and that all students should be able to participate.” She is focusing on building from the bottom up to increase the success of events, explicitly citing collaborations between ANUSA and Department events. She also aims to revitalise the “under-utilised” Social Committee. Sophie hopes this will “really unite and create an ANU social and overall identity.”

Sophie additionally proposes to engage more with students through the establishment of surveys following ANUSA events such as Friday Night Party and Bush Week, intending to gather feedback and collect ideas for future events.

Nick plans to “focus on issues that students actually care about,” to change the social climate of the ANU, and return to the party/social days of previous generations – ‘less bullshit more parties.’ He wants to make things more student-focused and engage students in events and student associations. As well as “deliver accessible and affordable live music.”

On Creating an ANU Social Identity:

Nick aims to create “a vibrant campus culture that bridges gaps between… on-campus, domestic or international (students),” by engaging different sections of the ANU community “in the planning of events to make them more culturally relevant.”

Sophie is focused on accessibility, supporting the work of current Social Officer Matthew Mottola and highlighting that she is “looking to build on this and hit the ground running with accessibility as my priority.” 

Sophie on the Delay on Her Policy:

Sophie claimed that she doesn’t like extended Facebook profile picture captions and that her policy is in consultation with current social officers. She said that it is essential to finalise the policy before sharing it with the student population.

Nick on His Slogan:

Pagonis responded to criticisms that claimed that his slogan was undermining the work of the previous social officers, stating “they don’t like me very much.” He criticised the ANUSA executive, stating that they have been working in the wrong direction. He claims that his involvement will introduce a different point of view to the executive body, and point them in the right direction. 

Sophie has not been involved in the executive before. However, she credits previous social officers with their positive work. She plans to increase accessibility through the establishment of event coordinators that are “in charge of making sure that they are considering maximising accessibility in the planning of events.”

On How to Fund Events:

According to Pagonis, money for events will come from a reduction in the size of two Friday Night Parties to find inefficiencies in the ANUSA budget and to push for more funding from SSAF. 

Sophie, however, argues that this is a financial risk. She claims that other events that don’t include drinking and music can be just as exciting as those that do, such as multicultural festivals. 

Treasurer

Who are the candidates?

The Treasurer candidate for ‘You! For ANUSA’ is Ethan Gardiner. Ethan has no political affiliations.

The other Treasurer candidate is Maddy Wang, who is part of ‘Turn Over A New Leaf.’ Maddy has no political affiliations.

What are their main concerns? 

Ethan is mainly concerned with ensuring that ANUSA is held accountable for spending, using SSAF on practical services, and keeping campus affordable.

Gardiner says that he will ensure that the ANU provides better support to students who financially support themselves, referring specifically to the undergraduate population, promising that the party will “improve ANU life for its undergraduate body.”

Maddy is concerned with diversifying the ANUSA revenue stream through external sponsorship of events such as O-Week, zero net cost events, the establishment of on-campus markets, and as a last resort, fining the magpies. 

She’s also concerned with limiting ANUSA spending on single-use plastics, creating financial literacy and planning workshops, and creating “easy to digest reports on ANUSA’s spending.” 

Where will the funding come from/go?

Maddy outlined that she plans to pay for her proposals through alternate revenue streams, outlining that she aims to reduce the proportion that SSAF comprises in the ANUSA budget from 90.86 per cent in 2018 to 75 per cent in the next five years.

Funding for all of You!’s proposed reforms would be taken from the “significant sum,” which is awarded to ANUSA each year in the form of SSAF. Instead of the money being spent on “multiple retreats” for the ANUSA committee, it is proposed that this money will instead be “funnelled towards other practical services.” 

Grace Sixsmith is a member of the Australian Labor Party.