Bridget Rumball: Basundhara! Bas – do you want to start off with explaining how long of a – what you’ve studied at university, at the moment what you are studying, and just disclosing if you’re a member of any political parties so Young Lib, Young Labor, anything to do with that.
Basundhara Dutta: Alright, yeah. Cool. I’m a second year student studying environmental science and I don’t have any affiliations to any political parties.
BR: Beautiful! Alright, well do you want to explain what brought you to running on a ticket with STAR?
BD: Yeah, sure thing. So last year I was a fresher and I was always super keen to get involved with campus life because I just feel like there’s more than just hitting the books every day. And I’ve always been super keen for enviro stuff so I studied environmental science obviously. I’m into the trees and everything.
BD: Yeah, so I got into that. Then obviously I was approached to join STAR and I was like, “Yeah, why not?” And then I saw what STAR had done in the past because I knew of Nevin beforehand through other people. You know, brown to brown connections.
BR: And Nevin was 2016 President?
BD: 2017. So I saw what he has done and I thought, “Shit! That’s so cool.” And I was like just into STAR. And then later that year, I was approached to be the Enviro OB and I was like, “Fuuuuck, what is this?” And then I signed up, got elected, and then from then I just got really into the Guild, started doing the environmental stuff on campus, promoting sustainability. So I ran Enviro Fest, Enviro Week, keep cup events with like crazy ass traction, not enough keep cups.
BR: Yeah! [laughs] Every one loves a keep cup.
BD: Oh, I love me some keep cups. I just got really involved and I saw – we just need more, we’ve got so much happening on campus. Students are super time poor. I didn’t think I’d be running for another year. I was like, “Cool, done with Enviro! Did a few little cute pop up events, done. Changed some stuff with the uni regarding sustainability, done for the year.” And then Conrad’s like, ready for round 2? And I was like, “Oh shit, alright! Cool.” So, signed up for PAC with STAR.
BR: Okay so why the switch? Why the switch from Enviro to PAC?
BD: So I’m always super passionate about enviro stuff. Still am, despite running for PAC, I’ll still do sustainable stuff with PAC. I did a lot of events with Enviro hat hasn’t been done with Enviro in the past and I think Conrad was like, “We can definitely make that bigger with a bigger budget,” because Enviro is kind of underrepresented and we’re still growing, as a whole. I hope to do more pop up events on campus and Conrad heard that. He was like, “We can do that with PAC 2019.” I was like, “Sounds good.” And then I guess, also expanding the cultural side of PAC. And He was like, “Yep, that’s something you can do.” So I was like, “Cool! I can do that.”
BR: Very cool. So PAC, for everyone listening, is the Public Affairs Council. It’s arguably one of the least well known areas of the Guild to most people. Can you just give us a brief explanation about what PAC does?
BD: Sure, maybe people know about Societies Council. So, Societies Council manages all the clubs. It kinda gives a support system for clubs. If you want to be a new club, SOC’s there. Public Affairs Council is – no one really knows about it because it’s pretty much the council that represent different clubs like arts and culture clubs as well as, I think, more volunteering clubs, politically aligned clubs, stuff like that. Well, not politically aligned, you know, Students for Refugees, more of those activist clubs.
BR: So clubs with a public presence I guess?
BD: Yeah. I guess like that.
BD: So kind of like taking care of that. A lot of the events that Public Affairs Council does falls into Guild events. So Fringe Festival is not really advertised as a Public Affairs Council event properly. It’s more of a Guild event, so hence why it’s not really known I guess.
BR: And that was one of your policies, looking at STAR’s policy page, focusing on some specific further weeks to be implemented like Faith Week and also the development of this new Ethnocultural Collective that I guess PAC’s kind of involved with. Do you want to give a brief rundown of what an Ethnocultural Collective could look like and why I guess we need one on top of things like Women’s Collective, Pride Collective, that kind of thing.
BD: Yep. So the Ethnocultural Collective was developed a few years back but it’s kind of been under work. Not much has happened. This year we finally appointed an Ethnocultural Convenor for the Collective which is super exciting and we’re hoping it will grow into a Department once we have everything sorted out. So with Ethnocultural, we have the Women’s Collective and all that in the Women’s Department, and we do have international students being represented but there’s also the students like me who are from an ethnic background but are born in Australia. And we’re in the middle. We can’t really fit in with international students because we don’t really have the same – we’re not on the same wavelength. And we don’t really fit in with domestic white students, right?
BD: So this is a collective that represents students like us who are from ethnic backgrounds but are brought up in Australia. There are a few Ethnocultural Collectives around Australia. ANU just developed an Ethnocultural Department and they’re doing pretty well so far.
BR: So that differentiates it, I guess, from the Indigenous or International portfolio.
BD: Oh yeah.
BR: Because like you were saying, it is its own separate little niche which is being developed.
BD: And to really get ethnocultural voices involved.
BR: And so, I guess the STAR team thinks, and of course it is extremely valuable to have all particular voices heard on campus, but do you reckon within the Guild we’re going to reach a point where there’s a too many cooks in the kitchen scenario? So having too many collectives representing too many different niche things, and we kind of lose quality over quantity? Do you think that’s going to be an issue at all?
BD: Well, ethnocultural doesn’t have to be a big thing. It’s a good platform to get students like us involved. It doesn’t have to grow into PAC or a huge Women’s Department size. It can be something small.
BR: As long as it’s representative.
BD: Yeah. As long as there’s something happening and representing students like us, I think it’s quite necessary to have it on board.
BR: And so you plan to incorporate it into, like you were saying, Faith Week and different types of weeks throughout the semester? Do you want to explain more about how you’re going to integrate it into what the university already does?
BD: Yeah sure. So with incorporating ethno with different events? So with the Ethnocultural Convenor, we’ll be collaborating with her next year, touchwood if everything goes well, to run – so we’re changing Faith Week to Faith Festival because students are time poor, they can’t really commit to events throughout the whole week. So you know having a festival is a day or two of getting them involved. So Ethnocultural will come and collaborate so we can work with different cultural clubs. We’ve got a lot of cultural clubs on campus. It will be good to have the support of Ethnocultural to really boost up the cultural aspects. I feel like we have a lot of clubs that consider themselves cultural but don’t really promote themselves in many cultural events and it’d be good to have the Ethnocultural Collective on board.
BR: I mean, and you look no further than events like Spring Feast, where you’ve got massive groups, you know cultural groups coming together. Ethnocultural Collective would be emphasising those kind of events further.
BR: Cool. Another one of STAR’s major policies that I saw was including the QE2 and ALVA campuses. Kind of, incorporating them more into the wider UWA body. Why hasn’t STAR emphasised this already? It feels like those campuses have been around for a while. It’s only just now that STAR is focusing on them or has there been a previous focus and this is only when it’s coming to the forefront?
BD: Uh huh. So I feel like with the QE2 – See, I’m like second year so I don’t really know what has happened beforehand but from what I know of is that QE2, I think, has a larger presence now because a lot of the biomed students are studying there. A lot of the undergrad students are studying there.
BR: And changes in course degrees.
BD: Exactly right. So like those students still want to get involved in campus life. There’s not really a dominated post grad culture there so a lot of postgrad students don’t really have time for other events, generally speaking so with the growing undergrad culture happening on other campuses, it’s going to be good to expand campus life on those campuses.
BR: And are you aware of anything, I mean this year, that Megan Lee’s Guild has done to start to bring that into line? Like with QE2 and ALVA, to bring them into the conversation that, I assume, Conrad and your team are going to continue next year if you’re elected in.
BD: Yeah, so I think they’ve been working a lot with ALVA this year and incorporate them into campus life. And I’ve tried to also work with Enviro with ALVA to do like different events and stuff like that.
BR: So there has been I guess engagement in the past and you’re just continuing that relationship. Wonderful! I guess in conclusion, have a think about, is there one thing that people should remember when they’re going to the voting booth whether that’s about you, why you should vote for STAR, why you should vote for yourself going in to the PAC portfolio? What’s the one thing or couple things people should keep in mind?
BD: Oh, that’s a lot. [Laughs] I guess, just like, I think it’s super important to vote, because – even if you don’ – I think it’s really important to have a say. A lot of people complain about Guild elections but then they don’t really vote so they don’t really create the change.
BD: So, to vote for STAR – I think it’s just super important. We know what’s happened beforehand and we want to continue implementing change. You know, most of us have been on Council beforehand or have been on subcommittees and stuff and a change doesn’t occur in a year. You still need to continue that change. You need more time.
BR: Do you think that’s an issue with Guild elections? That you’re only really elected for a year period and then there’s another President that gets moved in?
BD: Yeah, I guess it is but at the same time, it’s quite exhausting to be on Council for years, and you know, it’s good to have new ideas on board, for sure.
BR: Cool. Alright Bas, thank you so much for coming in.
BD: Thank you.
BR: Well done.