After a week of red, green and blue T-shirts filling campus halls, the 2015 RMIT University Student Union (RUSU) representatives have been announced. Yara Murray-Atfield reports.
Connect has won another landslide victory in the RMIT student elections for the fourth year in a row.
Nearly 3500 ballots were cast across RMIT’s City, Brunswick and Bundoora campuses—more than 1000 votes than last year. Connect claiming the vast majority of votes, with around six per cent of total votes cast informal.
The Connect ticket won all 18 officer and coordinator positions, including general secretary and representatives for TAFE, postgraduate and international students.
The ticket also picked up four of five general representative positions and six of the seven National Union of Students (NUS) delegate positions. Two of the general representatives will be voted in as president and media officer and the next two alternative representatives, also from Connect, will fill their spots.
Connect campaigned to have lectures recorded, more student events and a greater range of vegan, halal and kosher foods on campus. Many candidates are members of Young Labor, with the remainder of the members unaligned.
Of the three tickets in the election, StandUp! received the second-largest amount of votes. StandUp! consisted of several members of last year’s Progressive Focus ticket and campaigned on similar issues as last year—protesting cuts to education and having a pro-Palestine agenda. Candidates are largely affiliated with the Socialist Alternative, with a small portion of candidates members of the RMIT Greens.
StandUp! contested more positions than Progressive Focus did last year. This year, six positions went uncontested to Connect compared to the nine positions in 2013. One StandUp! candidate has been elected as a general representative and one will be an NUS delegate.
Interesting to note of the 16 Gen Rep candidates, only three women. At this stage only one (Mather from Connect) likely to get up #RMITvotes
This was the first year the RMIT University Liberal Club (campaigning under the ticket name RULC) had candidates in the election. Their first year saw eight of their members campaigning for spots. Of these, only two were for non-general representative positions: general secretary and city representative. RULC campaigned for smoker’s rights and more club funding and free events. One RULC candidate was elected as an alternative general representative. Should a general representative resign this year, this means their spot will be filled by Benjamin Jenkins (RULC) who was elected eighth place.
Connect’s win will place Himasha Fonseka, the only general representative elected in the first count without the distribution of preferences, as the new president of the student union.
“One of our biggest challenges will be the education cuts,” Fonseka said. “But we’re also campaigning for things like 24-hour study spaces, getting recorded lectures throughout the university, fair assessment policies and industry engagement.
“I’d like to say thanks to everyone who supported us, and we won’t let you down.”
The Connect ticket also won the Catalyst editorship, with editorial committee members Rushani Epa, Finbar O’Mallon and Richard Ferguson taking the reins of this publication next year. The three won the highest number of votes of any candidate in this year’s election.
Here is a list of the numbers as they came through:
RMIT TAFE Officer: Carl Melkonan (Connect) 409, Henri Eberhad (StandUp!) 90, informal 18
RMIT Postgraduate Officer Paul Hoac (Connect) 336, Shoukat Shah 139 (StandUp!), informal 18
RMIT International Officer Jing Yi Rong (Connect) 817, Sentosa Mam (StandUp!) 171, informal 22
RMIT Womyn’s Officer Abena Dove (Connect) 1009, Emma Slater (StandUp!) 274, informal 24
City Coordinator Aman Choudhry (Connect) 2146, Aran Mylvaganam (StandUp!) 631, informal 197
RMIT City Representative: Paul Sangha (Connect) 1928, Shailesh Shrestha (StandUp!) 602, Anthony D’Angelo (RULC) 269, informal 192
RMIT General Secretary: Ariel Zohar (Connect) 2374, Mohammad Shatai (StandUp!) 583, Benjamin Jenkins (RULC) 225, informal 170
RMIT Education Officer Laura McMahon (Connect) 2478, Luke Hocking (StandUp!) 745, informal 21