The two words “ANUSA Elections” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To some, it can mean the pinnacle of student involvement, providing a forum for us everyday students to have a say by voting for our favourite party, comprised of people just like us with an idea of how to make things better. It can mean an opportunity to unleash your political motivations and outspokenness, and be a part of policy development that will benefit the university community, which you are so passionate to look after. Or it can mean a few weeks of dodging over-friendly strangers in bright shirts, by whipping out your phone to appear lost in a very important fake conversation, or rushing through union court, because you simply cannot be late for this essential lecture in which you’ll spend the majority of the time scrolling through your Facebook feed and wishing you had stopped at Degree to pick up a large Chai Latte to just get you through the day. But the important thing to remember about issues of how this university is run, and student involvement, is that this is the environment where future leaders are born, and even though we may not realise it now, the decisions we make today will most likely define us and influence the person we end up being.
The people we see today, actively participating in university politics and those leading committees and initiatives are the people learning that their merits deserve to be recognised, learning how to drive themselves and how to be ambitious and hungry enough to strive for what they want. The outcomes of these lessons, whether we as individuals learn them or not, will have significant effects on the roads we take as life goes on, as those people you avoid on the way to class will most likely take those annoying skills of relentless advertising and blind ambition into their careers of choice. Therefore, if you want a future where everyone has a chance to pursue their goals, and a future free of nonsensical social stigma, you need to act, and live your life now, accordingly.
In the world around us today, we see that in total, in our parliaments across both houses and our federal and state governments, only 30% of the representatives are women. We live in a world where statistically, your life expectancy is predicted to be 10.6 years lower than someone else, because of the colour of your skin. We also live in a country currently led by a man who thought it appropriate to be photographed alongside political slogans of “Ditch the Witch” and “Juliar is Bob Brown’s Bitch” (sic), when running against a fellow politician, who often didn’t deserve praise for her own leadership decisions, but certainly bore the brunt of misogynistic challenges, not only from her opposition, but from the society who elected her.
We are going to be the generation with the chance to change what we see now. As we grow up, we will have the choice to shift directions from the past, into the future we want. But to do that then, we need to take the steps forward to becoming those people who can do it, now. We won’t do that by sitting back, and pretending that we can’t do anything about the issues that enrage us. It is always worthwhile to participate in things that will, to whatever extent, affect you, so if you want a brighter future, you need to take the small steps today, to benefit our community, within the ANU and beyond.