Let’s Open, Ready? (An Open Letter)

Dear First Years Running for ANUSA,

Back in 2012 I was like you: young, fresh and fancy free, integrating myself as much as I could in the ANU community. ANUSA elections are coming up and soon you will be pouring your hearts out and campaigning for a position on next year’s committee. Here are some things I want to you to know.

1. The most important person this week is you.

This means you need to take care of yourself. Don’t sacrifice your friendships by constant badgering for voting. Voting is important and I’m sure your friends are aware of what’s going on. Drink plenty of water, eat plenty of food. Make sure you carry around an umbrella as well as a jumper and please, I beg of you, attend classes. You’re paying for those classes and first and foremost you are at university to learn. Get lots of sleep and make sure the more senior members of your ticket know about and are supporting you through any issues you have. I fear that first years can be seen as easy to discard, and although I doubt the current tickets see you this way, I want you to know you can stand up for yourself.

2. Report misconduct when you see it.

Elections can bring out the worst in people. Please be aware of all the election bylaws, and be aware when someone does something to you that violates them. If someone from another ticket says something awful to you please tell those in your ticket in places of seniority. Make sure they follow it up with the election adjudicator.

3. Try to be as compassionate to people as possible.

There will be students who consider themselves smug know-it-alls, who will ask you questions about your tickets policy. A lot of times people will do this because they want to see first years from different tickets bicker with each other. The reality is, lots of fist years run for General Representative positions, and you may have to share the ANUSA committee with that poor guy who you argued against for twenty minutes because some later year student thought it would be funny. Remember that other people are also running for ANUSA and may not have the patience they are normally blessed with.

4. If you think your load is bad now, imagine being elected.

If you are finding this a difficult time I want you to know that being on ANUSA is a year-long commitment. The election is practice: the despondency and ignorance of your peers will be similar to your dealings with the ANU, the tiredness and sluggishness you feel at the end of this week will be similar to those weeks with ANUSA meetings and thousands of assignments. You are in training.

5. This may be your first lesson in disappointment.

The ANU accepts many talented, aspiring and compassionate individuals. Many of the people running for ANUSA have held positions in High School that demonstrate they have excellent leadership qualities. For some of you this will be your first lesson in disappointment. Please don’t let it get you down; there are many extracurricular activities as this university for you to shine in, ANUSA is not the only opportunity for leadership at this university.

6. You will make some great friends.

Looking at the profiles of who is running for ANUSA this year, I see three people I became friends with while running in 2012. Not only have they not stopped trying three years later, they have slowly moved in positions they are running for and some who have not been elected the first time around have tried again. Campaigning sounds terrifying because you are all competing for similar positions, however you will also make friends with first years in other tickets. The friends you make will surprise you: you will go to house parties where you will be introduced to the Queer Representative, where you will learn a lot about issues facing the LGBTIQPA+ community. You might run for ANUSA again with better understanding of these issues. Don’t take the campaigning opportunity for its face value, and grab as much as you can from this experience.

Finally, I hope you all have an excellent week next week. Good luck with the election.

Sincerely,
Gone Girl