You might have seen us in your lecture today, scrounging around on the floors. I guess the person I address this to the most is the poor person whose origami crane I took to use as a cover photo, after silently walking in behind them like a weird tiger.
After a short search around campus I managed to catch them all; the little slips of red, pink, green and ever-rare yellow paper. We’re reading them so you don’t have to, although, if you want an interpretation other than my own warped, twisted and possibly evil view then you probably should. Here goes.
My critique of Launch doesn’t entirely centre on how bad their puns are but by god they are awful. No discussion of Launch policy can even begin without wading through the swamp of their god-awful memes and puns (what are you Wei Tien for!). I gave STAR a lot of crap for their Harambe memes that seemed unavoidable online a few days ago but only now that campaigning has begun on campus can I see for myself the huge scale on which Launch has employed the Harambe – sorry – Hawambwei (fark) meme. Did they think they would win over voters with these posters? Yes, and look, they probably will. But it’s not the numbers that count it’s the quality of the votes. I end this rant here since I don’t think I can live with myself if I make two whole entirely Harambe-centric elections posts, suffice to say that my previously irrational hatred of the meme has been galvanised by a noble Pelican commenter pointing out the meme’s association with the Alt Right (think Breitbart). I am so far unsure of the size of the meme-historian demographic and whether the loss of their votes will hamper Launch’s electoral chances.
If we look past the memes and puns, which is … admittedly, quite hard, Launch policy is noticeably geared towards winning over business, law, science, and pre-med students. This makes sense given the tendency of Left Action and STAR to take the lion’s share of the arts and design student vote, and as such there’s a plethora of small changes to the Business and Law schools on their policy sheet, as well as a plan to revamp the QEII facilities. Campus-wide changes include a revamp of IT services and Blackboard functionality. The only arts policy on here is to revamp the careers centre, presumably to put those bludgers to work.
There’s a lot of talk on here about STAR’s financial irresponsibility, the main example of which being the conference budget. I’m a little biased since a conference was literally my only on-the-job training but it does seem like an obscure, and relatively small part of the budget to single out for cuts. Now that the Guild is likely to get 50% SSAF it’s unclear how much of this adorable mini-austerity is necessary.
It’s difficult to get a sense of the scale of Launch’s campaigning, simply because their online presence has been pretty minimal:
I’m also increasingly aware that I’m not in Launch’s priority demographic at all, I’d imagine their materials are a lot more omnipresent in lands far to the south in business and science lecture theatres, but I certainly haven’t seen any Launch campaigning in my tiny ALVA lectures. Actually I haven’t seen any people at all, just me and a Dutch guy talking about gender roles in Flemish art. Perhaps this is why Launch has ceded ground in the North.
STAR is playing this election so utterly safe that I fell asleep half way through reading their materials. I guess this is because as the currently reigning sovereigns they’re the ones most keenly aware of which promises are easy to keep. Don’t read these pamphlets expecting anything particularly inspiring nor anything controversial.
The message between the lines here is: “If you agree with the overall lobbyist/service provider direction of the guild so far, vote for us to continue.” There are certainly criticisms to be made of this model, but it’s hard to find much to say about this exhaustive yet dull policy sheet. STAR’s policies seem to centre on continuing the day-to-day functioning of the guild’s finances while granting clubs and departments relative autonomy.
It’s worth mentioning that none of the policies presented in the election materials have much money behind them, and it seems like STAR decided on their policies back when it seemed as if the Guild was heading towards a more dire financial position. As such a lot of the weakest points of STAR policy are the aspects they don’t mention, such as whether substantial financial assistance through the Welfare department will be reinstated. There’s also a rather worrying “food” section, which suggests that STAR will continue to outsource catering to food vans and outside businesses rather than improving the quality and reach of guild catering. It’s hard to imagine how this will help Guild Catering’s financial situation.
The most substantial parts of the policy sheet are the promises to improve mental health, disability support, indigenous student support and a number of other welfare policies, but again it doesn’t seem like STAR is prepared to make the promise to allocate funding to these initiatives. Hopefully, now that it’s clear that funds are available, these policies can have funding to back them up and provide lasting changes.
How pissed-off must Left Action be that Launch took all the red paper. What they were left with was a really calming shade of pink, soothing to the eye and relaxing to the nerves. The words: less so.
Left Action’s pamphlet is the odd one out when compared to the other three in that the very first policy mentioned is the desire to fight the Renewal Project as a whole and oppose any cuts to staff or courses. It’s quite strange that, given this is the biggest change occurring in the university after the elections, none of the other parties have mentioned the Renewal at all.
The other way in which Left Action’s pamphlet differs is that it devotes a whole page to urging students to vote for a National Union of Students Delegate from Left Action. Again this is something not really mentioned in the other election materials, indeed Launch’s policy of cutting the conference budget would actually stop the practice of sending NUS delegates altogether.
The real difference here is that the Left Action leaflet reads more like a manifesto for counteracting right wing shifts in wider society, and affiliating more strongly with the Student Union Movement as a whole. This is also a potential problem for Left Action in that their election materials don’t have a comprehensive policy list specific to on-campus issues, and as far as we know there are no online materials.
The main policy item most specific to the University, apart from opposition to the Renewals, is catering reform, which essentially mirrors the changes Left Action made to the Curtin Guild – lowering the costs of food, and increasing investments in staff and ingredients. Unfortunately there’s not much more in terms of specific on-campus policies to critique, other than a general shift from lobbying to protest as a means of pushing for political change.
I am an awful human being who forgot to bring the ISL leaflet home with me. As I understand it, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that ISL will get the majority of the international student vote. It’s interesting to note they are not actually contesting the position of president, but instead exist to continue the autonomy of the International Students Association.
My main criticism of them centres around their lack of election materials available to Pelican Editors at 8pm on a weeknight. Yes it’s their fault.
Words by Hayden Dalziel
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