ANU students walking through Union Court expecting to be harangued by aspiring leaders are in for a welcome surprise. After months of policy reform discussions, ANUSA Probity Officers have dreamed up what they call a ‘moonshot’ plan to make Union Court a more relaxing place to be this election season.
As was widely anticipated, officers have declared a bigger campaign-free zone than ever before. All of Union Court, the bridge, much of Sullivan’s Creek and many surrounding buildings are now off-limits to candidates wanting to pitch their policies to unsuspecting passers-by.
Noting the difficulty of enforcing such an ambitious exclusion zone, the Probity Office announced to a packed press room yesterday that a large fence had been placed around the no-go area to keep student politics out once and for all.
The Probity Office spokesman, Logan Wemyss, explained that the radical new tactic was designed to stop the Union Court ‘student politics pandemonium’ at the very root of the problem: ANU’s student population. Guards at the perimeter will turn away anyone who even remotely looks like a student before they can utter the words ‘consultation, representation and diversity’. Wemyss observed that while an unsightly eight-foot fence – severely restricting use of facilities and likely causing the death of the many small businesses in the zone – may seem like a bit much, Union Court is ‘already calmer and quieter than ever before at this time of year.’
Citing perennial enforcement difficulties such as candidates ‘pretending to be merely over-interested and remarkably chipper regular students in colourful clothing’ and ‘distracting probity officers with fluffy dogs’, the officers felt a new approach was warranted. ‘We feel very strongly about protecting the student experience from being interrupted by opinions about the student experience,’ a statement issued to the press reads. ‘If this is what will work, we are prepared to do it.’
Senior officials within the major political parties were cautiously optimistic about the changes, though some raised concerns about the fence hindering their ability to reach the mysterious student population that attends classes on the ‘sciencey’ side of campus. ‘We don’t traditionally see a lot of engagement from those people in chemistry or whatever’, said one Gen Rep candidate, who went on to express grave concern about representing their views in student government.
Another candidate claimed that she had long anticipated the news, and was entirely prepared. The ‘ANUSA elections are all about making use of the bottlenecks on campus’, she said, standing ominously in the middle of the 6-metre-wide path at the connection of Marcus Clarke St and what is left of University Avenue.
There remain difficult questions about how effective the fence will be. Some postgraduate students walking through the safe zone late yesterday afternoon and early this morning reported being confronted by oddly familiar figures wearing high-vis green and orange clothing, and talking loudly about the unions. ‘They’re bigger and much scarier than last year,’ said one, who resigned himself to taking the scenic route around Chifley Library as in years past.