Missed the fact that there was AUSA elections on last week? (Honestly, we don’t blame you).
Here the most important parts of the campaign:
Where are all the candidates?
9 out of 12 positions ran uncontested this year. That’s 75% of the executive.
Uncontested positions included: President, Administrative Vice President, Treasurer, Welfare Vice President, Campaigns Officer, Queer Rights Officer, and Satellite Campus Officer, as well as (lol) Craccum Editor.
For the folks following along at home: that’s basically everything.
The exact reason for all this is all a little bit opaque – nominations weren’t particularly well publicised, AUSA has had a number of high profile resignations this year, etc etc (the job is also just generically a miserable underpaid grind)
But the lack of candidates sort of gave the campaign a weird vibe – with so little competition between candidates, there was basically no postering in the Quad, the relevant campaign Facebook groups got little-to-no attention. Students turnout for these elections is usually ridiculously low – it hovers at around 1-1.5% – but it’s hard to not imagine that this year will be even lower.
11 out of the 12 Executive positions – in other words, every position aside from Craccum Editor – were being filled by students under a shared banner, “Unf*ck AUSA”.
“Unf*ck AUSA” ran on a platform of radical reform of AUSA’s internal culture. They opened their “about” section on their Facebook page with a pretty bold “AUSA is shit.” – which, quietly, ruffled some feathers, particular among longtime AUSA members.
One such former longtime AUSA member, who asked not to be named put it to us this way: while it’s true that AUSA has really really struggled over the last few years – that’s the fault of systemic underfunding, not the executive. AUSA gets less money that VUWSA and OUSA, hence the lower level of services.
The last few years in particular (just so it’s clear, I’m still paraphrasing this phantom AUSA member here) have been very much about dealing with that problem, and AUSA has done a really good job – you can see it in the way that O-Week has gotten exponentially bigger recently, for example.
“Unf*ck AUSA” is insulting because it seems to basically shit on all that hard work.
We reached out to Anand Rama – Unf*ck AUSA’s candidate for President – for comment. Through Facebook Messenger he gave us the following quotes:
“If people who’ve worked at AUSA are offended by the wording of our campaign than there’s nothing we can do about that. We’ve had AUSA Alumni come up to us and tell us that our campaign is the most exciting thing they’ve seen for AUSA is years. Students who would otherwise be disengaged with AUSA – and yes, AUSA has done an incredibly poor job with advertising the election – have told us they like our policies, and the fact that we get what AUSA is for them.”
On the one hand, it’s easy to be critical – it is frankly a little bit weird to run a platform with that stance when a number of your candidates are returning AUSA members. But they’re the executive we have now.
This has been the first year that the AUSA General Elections have been conducted entirely online*. It’s been a change that AUSA have pushed for for a number of years now: it makes voting a lot more convenient, it makes it easier to share through social media, and it makes counting votes a lot more straightforward.
But that only works if AUSA is really proactive about promoting the campaign.
After all – taking away physical polling booths removes a big chunk of the physical presence elections have on campus – especially in a year where postering is at an all time low. Dragging unengaged students to the polling booth has been a large component of previous campaigns – it’s a lot harder for candidates running in contested positions to do that now.
There has been at least one formal complaint lodged against AUSA for their weird inaction on this issue.
*This isn’t technically true – students can post a paper ballot in AUSA house. But you get my point.
Talking of big changes to the AUSA election format – this year was the first year without a candidates forum. Admittedly, the candidates forum is a bit shit, but between the lack of postering, the lack of candidates, and the weird non-presence of AUSA in terms of promoting the election – it seems like having at least one obligatory public facing event would have been really beneficial.
We don’t have the full election results yet – we will publish them on our Facebook page, and then in our next issue after the back.