The University Chronicles II – Student Politics are Dirty.

Here I am at Manning Bar procrastinating. Yet again. What I should be doing right now is working on my essay for American History. Pfft but who really cares about the 1896 election?

University life continues, and things continue to change. Chronicles II is based on student elections for the board of the Student Union. And what an experience it was. There were chalk, leaflets, posters, policies and smear campaigns. It was all there.

Henry Kissinger once said that student politics is vicious, precisely because the stakes are so small. To quote the host at the election post-party, “If that is true, then our candidates have been fighting for true fuck-all!” Ah words of wisdom indeed.

For 2 and a 1/2 weeks the campus was transformed with colored fliers coming at you in every direction, people in sloganed t-shirts walking up to you with their big smiles and practiced spiels (I soon became one of them), glossy posters and the candidates themselves – charming, friendly and just scheming in general. Drama galore with a hacked twitter account, breach of spending budgets that remain unconfessed, nasty questions raised at the Candidates Soapbox, the first international student to run, and even alleged bribery (involving 5 voters – bottle of Jack Daniels).

This election was a little different from the rest, as this time the University of Sydney Union (USU) faces a threat that hasn’t been faced before. The new Vice-chancellor of Usyd plans to abolish the Union and take over the food and bars that are student run on campus. Thus emerged the slogan “Student life, Student run” and every candidate promised that they would fight to keep students in control. To prove how serious they were, the USU gave every student who voted a $5 food voucher. No exaggeration, they spent over $6000 getting students to vote and prove to the University that they care. Just goes to show the expense of student apathy.

But issues aside, this election was a fantastic experience. Being involved in a campaign makes you feel like a part of a bigger fraction that will eventually change things. I met some great people, the kind who can make up campaign tunes - based on the Mickey Mouse Club March, and Pokémon theme song – and discuss issues in the same hour. I enjoyed going up to random people and I enjoyed the realization that not everyone is apathetic and high school like although a disappointing amount are.

The Students Representative Council (SRC) elections take place next semester and are supposed to be even more intense as you run as part of a party, rather than an individual. And the SRC has more intensity to its organization than the USU. So I’ll watch how it pans out and if I really am capable of handling this and then decide if I want to do more. There is a lot more involved than just wanting to coz I had fun.

Till then, if you have any snappy slogans in mind, it’s never too early. Shara-licious for Union Board (Vote Shara for a Union you can taste the change in) has been shot down so I need a new one. Get those thinking caps on!

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