Cormac Power: By way of introduction do you want to just give us your name, the party you’re running for, the position you’re running for, and what you study?
Adhish Kastha: Yeah sure, so my name’s Adhish Kastha, I am running for general secretary with Star, I’m a second year student studying engineering and finance.
CP: Cool, and just by way of clarification are you a member of any political party?
CP: Awesome, cool, just have to check that one. So I guess, why did you involve yourself in Guild in the first place? Paint us a picture of how you got involved in Guild, who got you involved in Guild? How have you come to be running for Star this year?
AK: Yeah so my journey kind of started in first year when I kind of got approached like pretty much everyone else does. Like a coffee chat really. Um obviously I was very reluctant, I was like this seems like a bit of a cult. But then the more and more I got to know both parties, I go to- I came to the decision that- I went with my gut feeling and I went with Star, and I don’t regret a single moment after that. The reason I actually wanted to continue running and actually commit to Star was because I thought, um, that the best way to get most out of university life is to involve yourself in clubs, in societies, and that’s the reason I ran in first year. I was lucky enough to get elected as an OGC and I did exactly what I wanted to do, I ran events to include all kinds of people, um, at different parties. So we ran Fringe festival which is arts, music, and culture. We did Fringe afterparty which was the after thing to that. And you know it was nice to see all sorts of people involved. This year I’m running as general secretary as you guys know because I think there’s a lot of things that can be improved especially in terms of the affordability of food on campus and that’s something I’m really passionate about and something I would like to see improved and hopefully that will bring more people to campus and keep them here rather than you know, scaring them away. They’re like oh food’s expensive, let’s leave.
CP: Exactly, yeah. I guess, what was your perception of sort of Guild, before I mean coming in in first year, I mean getting elected in first year is also like, you know, that’s a big thing- not everyone does that- a lot of people run their first year and they don’t get elected. I guess how has that sort of changed your view of what you thought Guild politics was going to be like and what it’s actually been like as an elected guild councillor?
AK: So I always had the perception that there would be some, um, a bit of toxicity, and like by all means there is, and that sucks but the thing is, we have to sometimes underestand that um you have to kind of get through that barrier to eventually get to the point where you can actually make some sort of change on campus, and although people might not like the things they see in elections, at the end of the day the things that are done behind the scenes is really important and I think I’m coming to appreciate that more and more as i get more involved. I do like to stay out of anything toxic as pretty much everyone does. Um, and most people do. But I also am aware sometimes we have to sometimes go through that barrier and sometimes cop that stuff to get to the point where we can actually make positive change on campus.
CP: Yeah, no absolutely. I guess in terms of that experience you had this year what do you think has- what do you think that’s given you thats made you sort of best suited to jump into a general secretary role, why did you choose that portfolio over all the other ones?
AK: Yeah so um, as an OGC I was actually elected onto VACE which is volunteering and community engagement as well as the corporate services committee. And I think those are two very different uh, communities to be involved in.
CP: Do you want to briefly expand on those?
AK: Yeah of course so volunteering and community engagement, so that deals with things things like volunteering week, national volunteering week, we run like, microvolunteering, things that students see in the forefront- what the guild is um…facing outwards, outwards. Yeah, um co services however, very different. It’s moreso the backend operations of what the Guild needs to do, the things we are able to do on the outside. The things like the Guild website, it’s like you know, really, really not good at the moment. But we’re working on redeveloping that and we’re doing really well at the moment. Things like that, things like the budget that’s something that’s very important we dont really appreciate that as just the average student, but it’s very very important that we have a sustainable budget for not just this year not just next but uh we have to look long term and I think that’s why the General secretary is a role where I can hopefully improve the productivtiy and the effectiveness of what the Guild does.
CP: Yeah absolutely. We’re going to get into kind of the specific policies in a second but I guess by way of a broader introduction of more policy specific stuff, if there was you know one thing you could change about the portfolio obviously since it’s a new portfolio it’s a bit different to other people, but then I guess whats you main thing going into this role like this is what I want to achive like if I could get one thing done this is what i’d want to get down.
AK: As in change the like, description of the portfolio?
CP: Not so much the description of the portfolio but like as a policy going into the position what is the one thing that you’re just like yeah this is what I want to do. Like I really, if I had to pick one thing that I can make happen this is what I’d want to make happen
AK: Yeah so this is moreso like the back end operations of what the Guild does, but I think as a secretary or general secretary I think it’s important that we are managing the OGCs cause i this year wasn’t done very well. I think the OGCs they would they would have to put their hand up themselves to get the project it’s not like they were allocated things and I think there should be both, both things like if they want to do things on their own by all means they should be able to do that. Like myself i wanted to do um, i wanted to implement internships at the Guild and that’s been working through right now and hopefully will be running by next year but some OGCs if they don’t put their hand up they will literally do nothing for the entire 12 months.
CP: Yeah a lot of energy there that maybe isn’t being tapped?
AK: Yeah and i think it comes down to the managerial skills of the secretary or the general secretary of that time I think they should be organising the ogcs and um you know really encouraging them to take on projects on their own or allocating things that the executive team has come to think that we need for the future of the guild
CP: Right cool yeah absolutely, it happens …. ogcs some of the keenest people on your council so that sounds relaly cool. One specific policy that you guys have mentioned is that you guys are kind bringing 9 dollar lunches, you want to refurbish guild cafe, you want to do a whole bunch of stuff with grants for clubs um obviously there is a cost to this and you touched on this a second ago but kind of what do you see as the sort of budgetary state of the guild right now and going forward and ability to kind of feasibly implement these things. Where do you think we are and where do you think we’re going that will allow you to do those policies?
AK: Yeah of course, um so we may all know by now the ref is brand new we’ve got a brand new kitchen, um and that kitchen also serves for the tavern and there’s like amazing woodfried pizza served there and I think the period of time when the tav was not open, um obviously the budget did get the … to run it but now we’ve see nthe budget is improving especially wiht the tav reopening with a brand new menu and I think that’s really good and that does leave us with some room to experiment um next year hopefully and i think the experimentation with $9 lunches is gonna be something really cool and what i have envisioned and what I … lunches to be is kind of like i dont know if you guys have been there but business school cafe has that massive plate of food with um chicken schnitzels and chips, brocolli and cauliflower and cheese and …
yeah it’s amazing right it’s $9 and every 10th one you get one free, and I’ve envisioned that for something to be not just there but, obviously we don’t know business school cafe but I’d like to see that come to Reid cafe, hackett cafe, guild village, and really bring students to these really big areas on campus. Um the feasibility of that obviosuly we hope that obviously it’s cheaper but i think the- the the sheer mass of students goinginto those places hopefully will rise and be able to reach a sustainable point.
CP: yeah absolutely and i guess by way of a quick q, obiously the ref being closed kind of frustrated a lot ofstudents for a while, and obviosuly now that’s coming back and that’s coming back in and that’s gonna be really exciting. with the refurbsihment of guild village if that were the case would that same problem rear it’s head again or could that be managed or is that just something that’s part of the…
AK: I think it’s a bit of part of the process, it’s just like anything it’s like when business school was getting reconstructed and … was getting reconstructed as well it’s something we have to deal with but I think it’s something we can manage better esp with guild village not being the most used space right now so I dont think it will be used that much so I think the 6 outlets before them and I think we will and it will be very good in the ref and itll lead students there and they can eat there in the time being and guild village will be refurbished so i think it will be less impactful thatn the ref suddenly closing down.
CP: So moving off food things a little bit you kind of mentioned a more secretary side between guild and all students quite efficient quite transparent I guess how do you plan to do that what do you see as some of the problems and who do you kind of address them…
AK: Yeah I think in terms of keeping things efficient i think that really comes down to the way the agenda is distributed and handed out and written essentially and obviously writing minutes you want to keep it consistent you want to keep it fair and transparent. I think maybe distributing minutes to, not just guild councillors but also maybe fac soc presidents, sorta thing people that are also being affected by these decisions um just …with them and with… clubs that are affected by these and obviously not every student is affected directly by that but it does follow on eventually but starting someone as fac soc presidents and other …will be a good start I think
CP: Yeah no absolutely I guess by way of conclusion the on on on your opponents in Launch one of the things they’ve alleged is that you guys dont spend money efficiently they said a $11,000 budget for Fringe as one of the things that didnt highlight financial management as one of your strength what do you see as star’s financial track record do you think that is a fair assessment of things or that they actually manage quite well?
AK: I think i think it’s something we can improve on for sure, um but I think, over the long run we have obviously been running the Giuld for what, 20+ years now um and I think this is a testament to what Star as learnt over those years and I think might not have been done perfectly there is always room for improvement from both sides and i think as Star is the only experienced team to come forth and you know readjust those budgets I think if we were to suddenly handover all what we’ve done for the…all the work that we’ve done for the past years it will be obviously it will be fine but I feel that it won’t be…sorta thing yeah there’s definitely room for improvement and I like to see that change obviously
Not that it wasn’t done effectively I think it was it’s very finely allocated I think there’s reasons to why ….we all passed the budget in the first place in Guild council you know issues arising everyone has the right tip bu the obligation to rise your hand up at the time of the budget meetings to raise that issue
CP: And I mean …touch on this but is the way that budgets are passed, is that transparent enough is there enough time to consider these budgets no faults there or is it a more broad issue?
AK: Yeah so the budget meeitng was the second ever Guild council meeting I ever went to apart from the one that I went to that I spectated of the previous Guld council so i was very fresh to it everything was brand new and being someone very fresh to everything guild and as a first year I think i had plenty of time to read through every bit of the budget and you know that just goes to show that someone’s who’s got no experience was able to look into a budget read it, not even with like incredible degree of complexity to it as well, it’s just an excel spreadsheet everythings just like oh look there’s thousand dollars here 10 thousand dollars to PAC blah blah blah whatever
AK: so it’s very clear very transparents, it’s written well on time,
CP: so maybe some of those issues should be erased
AK: In fact they’re encouraged to be raised at that meeting
CP: cool that’s all sort of there, policy specific questions I guess by way of conclusion um you can kind of give students one thing to remember going into polling week yourself or Star what should people have in mind when they go to those voting booths
CP: It’s a hard one
AK: yeah it’s a tough one there’s a lot of reasons why I’ve stuck with Star and I think it’s more than just a team that run the guild I think it’s also a team that is committed to not just doing work and getting actual results but we’re a family of students that really care about each other and they care about the welfare of each other and also the students outside and i think yeah i think star’s been doing that well for so many years and you know as i said before history stands a testament to what we’ve done and we are the most experienced the most progressive and always going to be the independent ticket on campus
CP: Cool thank you very much for taking out the time to talk to us
AK: No worries thank you very much.
CP: No worries at all.