In the lead up to last year’s ANUSA elections I created a Facebook page called Adjective for ANUSA. Unbeknownst to me at the time, this would not be my brightest moment and would lead to the regrettable running of future joke tickets in the current 2015 ANU Union election.
I created the page for two reasons. Firstly, as a vessel for grammatically focused puns and secondly to encourage other tickets to publicly announce and satiate my curiosity. After several days of jokes and politics on ANU Stalkerspace (ANU’s second favourite news source) the page was passed on to a group which would go on to run a 29 candidate comedy ticket.
I subsequently joined a ticket with a platform I was passionate about. We nominated, we campaigned and, by a slim margin, we lost. The preferences directed towards Adjective could have made the crucial difference for us. I hold no animosity for their ticket – there was no ill will nor harm done that I did not bring upon myself.
It seems in the current Union election (it’s hard to spot and is happening now) two of the three tickets are joke tickets related to Adjective and each other. These are “The Serviette Union” and “The Starist Empire” and are partly a response to genuine concerns about the state of the ANU Union. The running of these joke tickets combined with the unlikelihood of them accepting office if elected could turn this election into a $13,000 performance art installation.
If the joke tickets had not run, the single remaining ticket – who have intentions of actually managing the union – would have been elected uncontested; saving us the cost of even running the election. There is also the possibility that a candidate from one of the joke tickets will be elected and subsequently resign, pointlessly creating a casual vacancy that would need to be filled.
The fact that only a single legitimate ticket ran in the election is a serious concern. It is possible that the joke tickets didn’t know this would be the case and that I am unfairly laying blame, but I don’t think their efforts to satirise the election have helped address the concerns of students or themselves. They have only served to throw a spanner in the works and amuse their members.
Given the recent debate surrounding an ANU Sports merger and the disclosure of documents questioning the Union’s credibility, why is it that we failed to provide any legitimate alternatives in this election? It sure is easier to throw accusations and counter accusations, or run nonsense election campaigns, than it is to actually improve the system. Student politics is only a joke when we take the easy road instead of contributing to these organisations; organisations responsible for large sums of student contributions and a variety of services and clubs we sometimes take for granted. Maybe it’s time for us to take the game a bit more seriously.
Image courtesy of The Serviette Union Facebook page