In the month since UC called the SRC election as well as changes to the voting process, a portion of the student community have made their criticisms clear.
The new process meant that instead of students nominating one another or self-nominating, a student must be endorsed by faculty deans, the director of the UC College or the Ngunnawal Centre. This is because the uni implemented faculty electorates to ‘ensure greater transparency’ and so each faculty will have a representative. The new system also opened positions for a representative of the College and the Ngunnawal centre.
However, not everyone is happy with the changes. Recent graduate and 2015 Student Association Welfare Officer, Martin Strangman, said that while he agrees with greater representation from the Ngunnawal Centre, the endorsement removes any resemblance of independence from the SRC.
“The idea of a student’s association is to stand up for the students. While in my experience in the UCSA, we mostly do agree with the University, there are many instances when the SRC must speak out against the University,” he said.
Strangman said that the new system removes crucial checks and balances and gives the uni veto power.
“The University could deny a candidate from running because they are seen as too controversial or too likely to speak out against the university or faculty,” he said.
A statement by the university given prior to the election, stated that the new process would ensure that all positions would be filled, unlike the old system which would often result in vacant positions not receiving nominations.
Despite this, as of March 30, when the elections were announced, the Faculty of Education still remains unrepresented as it did not receive any nominations.
Current student and former Welfare Officer and Vice President, Will Redmond, also takes issue with the new process taking power away from the students.
“The significant change, that ensures the university gets to decide if a student is allowed to run, is a bloody joke. The students should be the only people who elect who sits on their representative council,” he said.
“From being a solely independent body three years ago, the university has slowly but surely ensured that they control the student voice. No other university body in the county would allow such overreach by the faculty,” said Redmond.
Other students took to social media to voice concerns when Curieux posted two articles following up with the election, mentioning concerns such as the absence of a queer or women’s officer, the fact that the vote count was not disclosed, and the lack of power the SRC has.
This is the first election of the year with another one set to occur in October to fill positions for the 2019 tenure.
“Students will lose a strong independent SRC that is able to criticise the University on certain issues, whether that be through the various boards that the SRC sit on or criticising the University via the Canberra Times on issues like street lighting or parking,” said Strangman.
“There is nothing more important than having a strong student body that is willing to represent students. Too often you see universities introduce bad policy when you have weak representation. It is vital that this New SRC be given the best opportunity to make sure that the SRC is strong and independent,” said Redmond.