ANUSA: A Recent History

Every year, circa election period, people begin to reminisce. “It didn’t used to be this vicious,” they’ll say, or “remember that time a lizardman ran for ANUSA president? Our candidates used to be way weirder”. This article doesn’t really aim to confirm or deny these comparison; instead, it simply aims to present a written account of ANUSA through the ages – or more specifically, over the past five years.

Our story begins in 2011, during the presidential term of Leah Ginnivan. Elected on a ticket emphasising non-political affiliation, Ginnivan’s term was relatively uncontroversial: it is nowadays perhaps best known for being the year the Student Housing Co-Op began housing students, and for having the first year of an independent Woroni. The year’s election was also relatively straightforward: Golden Ticket followed in Ginnivan’s footsteps, emphasising non-political affiliation, and handily demolished the Labor-affiliated Stimulate in a landslide election victory. The tone had been set: people were antagonistic towards party-affiliated tickets.

2012, in contrast to 2011, was perhaps the most colourful year of all of recent ANUSA history. What seemed a strong start to the year quickly took a rogue turn, when halfway through first semester, ANUSA President Fleur Hawes was forcibly removed from her position, due to academic exclusion. Treasurer Dallas Proctor then took over as president, though the controversy did not end there. On a more positive note, however, 2012 ANUSA also featured one of the most obvious and powerful examples of student advocacy, with an enormous campaign lead by CASS representative Yasmin Masri to “save” the School of Music from cuts.

2012 also stands out as having one of the more colourful election seasons of recent history. Three large tickets took part, each with its own brand of eccentricity. Most standard of the three was Front Row, a serious ticket seemingly named after Presidential Candidate Alex Bell-Rowe. Secondly, and perhaps most unusual, was the ticket Naked, which ran on a platform of literally having no pre-set policies, with the plan being for all policies to be formed via consultation following the election (they also ran nude promo photos of themselves). Lastly, there was Common Thread, which notoriously covered Union Court in vivid pink ribbon for the entirety of election week. Common Thread emerged the victor.

As far as the year itself went, 2013 was another relatively standard one. Business went on as usual for the most part, as far as ANUSA itself was concerned. The election itself was another matter: it was quite the opposite of 2012, in that there was literally only one nomination for most executive positions. Lead by infamous lizardman (and fading Big Name On Campus) Cam Wilson, Bounce snatched up the positions with most of the election being focused on the only contested position – the Education Officer. After a fairly intense series of debates, a bit of politicking and some parody Facebook groups, Laura Wey from Bounce! was elected Education Officer.

Which brings us, at last, to the final year in this chronology – 2014. Students’ choice of Laura Wey was validated, when she lead an extremely effective and powerful Anti-Fee Deregulation campaign, and this remained perhaps the most noticeable legacy of the 2014 ANUSA. Of course, there were other points of controversy, including a proposal to change the funding structure for Collectives, and also, a motion of no confidence in Cam Wilson (which was ultimately not passed). This was all concluded by another hotly contested election, largely between tickets Fling, Connect, and Fetch. The 2014 election was noteworthy firstly for being the only instance in recent history where the elected ANUSA executive was comprised of individuals from several different tickets; on top of that, however, the election was also noteworthy for seeing the rise of interest group-based tickets, including Divestman and Student House Party (Fossil Free ANU and the Student Housing Co-Op respectively).

2015 so far looks to be a heavily contested election as well. Who will emerge victorious? Whatever happens, hopefully people will look to the past, in order to learn and plan ahead for the future.