After the excitement of the 2016 double dissolution election, I decided to sit down with Ordinary Guild Councillor Jess Porter-Langson (JPL) to shoot the breeze about the much more #lowkey world of UWA Student Guild politics and her personal political brand.
SK: JPL, what is your personal brand?
JPL: I think my personal brand is somewhat relaxed, I’d say very nonchalant. I’d say that’s my brand. I don’t give too many shits about most things. I think that’s a good brand to be. People really gravitate towards me because of it. Not giving a shit is what makes me such a natural leader.
SK: That is a good brand. What was it about STAR and Guild politics that appealed to you and your brand?
JPL: Do you want the honest truth? I think people should know the honest truth. The reason I joined guild politics was thanks to Megan Lee, who is now the PAC president, we met up for coffee and I’m pretty sure I knew I was being recruited but I was actually really interested. I kinda knew what was going on, she invited me along to a few PAC meetings and I was like “hey, this is really cool, the Guild does some cool things.” And I really wanted to, honestly, just make heaps of friends at uni. I want to be Charlie Viska, except with my shitty jawline. So I decided to run in the Guild elections and surprise, surprise, I was elected and I have friends which is very nice.
SK: So I guess this is part of your brand as well – what are your political leanings?
JPL: I like to think of myself as a very neutral person. When it comes to elections I usually vote for whoever is most popular so I can fit in.
SK: Like the most popular to you personally or like how you see the country?
JPL: I think – do you mean on a federal level or on a Guild politics level?
SK: Umm I don’t know – do you think Guild and federal politics are separate? Why or why not? Should they be?
JPL: There’s some kind of overlap, if the Federal Government comes out with some kind of policy that was going to negatively impact students the Guild should definitely make some hell witty signs and block off walkways and stuff because we are representing the student body, but I think political interests should never overlap with the interests of the students when it won’t get a lot of attention on Facebook.
SK: What do you think is STAR’s brand, representing students?
JPL: Their brand is “Independent, progressive and experienced.” I think they’re doing a good job because have you had those fucking alco-shakes in the Tav? God-damn!
SK: You feel like their brand matched with your brand?
JPL: Sometimes I find in council meetings I often do disagree with motions put forward by the same party, you could say. But that’s what happens when you get so many big names in a room together you know? Not everyone is meant to agree so you’re all entitled to your own opinion and that’s just me. It’s just I stick to what I believe in.
SK: What are your plans for this year, politically?
JPL: I’ve really been considering joining Socialist Alternative this year, on the grounds that they learn to be able to teach people what socialism really is. Yeah I really just enjoy their coverage of campus. When I leave uni I really miss Red Flag being outside the Reid Library. I really think the Reid Library renovations have killed Red Flag and it’s really saddening, they should bring it back.
SK: Bring back Red Flag? Bring back old Reid?
JPL: Yep. Or renovate the rest of Reid so it’s not like you’ve entered the future, then you’ve entered twenty years in the past. Hashtag grunge Reid. Socialist Alternative should include halal snack packs in their campaign this year – I think that will get them the votes that they need.
SK: Do you think the next successful Guild party will have a policy platform based around halal snack packs? Are halal snack packs the new Subway on campus?
JPL: Halal snack packs could be the new Subway on campus. But I really think what the next party should do is take the volunteering hub and turn it into a Culture Kings store. I really think that’s the direction this university should go in. You’ve got to cater to everyone but this university is made up of GT people, and they need that sick street wear. Isn’t that what the Guild is there for? Students need clothes. I don’t know why we’re so far behind, I bet Melbourne Uni has one.
SK: One more question – as an elected representative, you definitely know a lot of people, some may describe you as a “big name” on campus. Do you feel like you represent a large section of students?
JPL: I think, because I’m on the Guild I represent students, technically I represent 24,000 people, so by those standards I think yes, I am a BNOC. I expect people to know who I am when I walk past. The greatest feeling is coming to uni, sitting on Oak Lawn and just saying hi to all your friends and making normal students feel inadequate because they don’t have as many friends as you. It’s a really good feeling.
SK: Thanks very much, I think this was a good interview.
Jess then returned to the music school, a trip presumably made significantly longer by numerous friends and acquaintances stopping her for small talk along the way.
Pelican understands that since this interview, Jess has decided to run for Guild with Launch.
Interview by Skevos Karpathakis
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