We were all tired, sunburnt, soaking wet and sick of the sound of our own voices, but somehow it felt genuinely worth it. As the clock hit four-thirty and the polls closed, there was a bittersweet sense in the air. A mixture of anticipation and exhaustion amongst all the candidates and campaigners, it was definitely a roller coaster of a week with this year’s ANUSA elections.
Despite being labelled a hack on several occasions throughout, “Hack Week” was my first foray as a candidate into student politics. Though it seems to many to be a glorified popularity contest, you only need think of the amount of money these organisations control. Every student contributes to the over one million dollars of operating income ANUSA has in the bank and through this money, every student in the country contributes to the National Union of Students. Further, the amount of representation ANUSA makes to the university on our behalf would make it easy for any student to realise why representatives often have to drop courses along the way.
However, all seriousness considering, there is definitely an element of ridiculousness to these elections. This became evident when a probity officer came storming up Union Court, beer in hand, after one candidate complained of another pushing him. It was disturbingly reminiscent of a father lashing out at a couple of five year old kids. Furthermore, the odd obsession with ensuring no-one crosses the thick, yellow chalk line continued the primary school flashbacks; not to mention the smirking faces whenever you walked a voter across the line.
And that’s not even considering the upfront persona that every campaigner must adopt. One might think O-Week would have prepared you in being somewhat forward in approaching strangers. However, this is not the case. Nothing could prepare you for the chirpy forwardness and aggressive interruption of other candidates to ensure your side is heard. Though my conscience may have been loudly dissenting, the flood of campaigners upon innocent students was as fear inducing as the seagull scene from Finding Nemo. Regardless, the look of sheer dread in their eyes was not enough to dissuade.
There was an element of sophistication in the bickering however. Tempers flew over budget scrutinising and there were several arguments over the intricacies of policy implementation. However, this intellectualisation failed to present itself to the voters. Depressingly, the only erudite debate to be had was between the actual campaigners themselves. Although there were a few glimmers of hope with the odd voter endeavouring to be properly informed, it slowly became clear that all that was needed were colourful shirts to capture potential voters.
All things considered however, there was not a single insincere candidate in the field. Though a superficial argument was put to voters as they passed through Union Court, there was a genuine sense that every person was doing it in a belief that they could do something for students and the student’s association. That should at least provide some form of comfort to the minority of students, the mere 1,350 of you, who actually voted in this year’s election.
So next year when you’re passing through Union Court, don’t just vote for the team with thebrightest colours and the best looking Facebook photos. Take the time and consider, even for a minute, which of the tickets for whom you want to vote. Though they may seem like school children bickering and bantering in the pouring rain, I’ll personally vouch for the goodwill of the students standing out there working for your vote. After all, with my newfound title of ‘hack’, I’ll probably be one of them.