Campaign week well and truly began today. Lecture bashes have begun, the memes are flowing, and we are all wondering just what are both parties standing for this year. We here at Pelican put together our thoughts from the policy provided online on the big tentpole issues affecting us as students. If you have thoughts of your own start the conversation in the comments down below.
Cormac: Lots of stuff about moving things online/incorporating technology, be that for training, bookings or filling out EMPs. Most of these policies are based around making things flow quicker and easier for clubs. Lots of specificity in identifying precisely where the issues are for clubs, so that’s a win for STAR in my books. One policy is to provide a free membership to everyone on O-Day – will clubs be subsidised this lost revenue? Launch have a similar online approach that aims to create an online portal that centralises everything digitally. Setting hard deadlines for making things faster e.g. two week max turnaround for grants. A bit less comprehensive than STAR’s policies but potentially more achievable as policy.
Josh: I echo Cormac’s thoughts, I feel the last few years club and society policy has been very safe, what happened to taking a risk to capture the voter’s imagination. I guess they left that to pop-ups and cheap drinks. All of these approaches are sensible don’t get me wrong, just leaves you wanting more is all.
Josh: In regards to 13 week semesters we have to be clear it is unlikely that it’ll ever change. Certain members of the university higher-up pushed extremely hard to make 12 week semesters a reality. In 2017, the best that could be achieved by the Guild was to push the start date back from first to second semester in 2018. A helpful resource to know more can be found HERE.They can push all they like, they’re not going to get anywhere. Often in decisions like these the student voice is overlooked so while I remain hopeful I wouldn’t be too optimistic for change any time soon.
That being said in regards to Postgraduate students, STAR seem to have a clearer and comprehensive grasp on issues that affect these students. Noteworthy policy positions surrounding government support and services to address welfare of isolated research students should be commended.
Cormac: As Josh said, all the classic STAR hits are here and will likely not come to fruition. Most of the faculty specific stuff relies on working with facsocs who, lets be honest, do most of the hard work in these areas. Working with Engineering and Mathematical Sciences sounds cool, but does mask the tension between the Guild and EMS over the ‘Books not Bombs’ campaign. The team at Launch want a much more detailed exam mark breakdown that I imagine will also be painfully difficult to implement. Reforming special consideration is really good though, the process is currently a shit time for all involved.
Thomas: Launch’s push for a volunteer peer tutor program is particularly interesting. Funnily enough this already exists and runs through the guild. The UWA Volunteer Tutor Exchange Program (VTE) is a service which aims to connect students struggling with their courses with older students willing to volunteer their time to assist them as a tutor. The whole program is managed online through their website www.volunteertutorexchange.com where you can search for tutors by unit and language they speak, and then book a session with them! (This was started by Thomas which adds to the irony we feel here at Pelican)
FOOD & DRINK
Cormac: Loyalty cards for outlets as well as broadly increasing the diversity of food available. As is a consistent theme across STAR policy this year, they want special cultural weeks where a focus will be given to certain foods. More food trucks is cool, but people just really want bubble tea. Refurbishing Guild Village café seems great, but is it going to be out of actions as long as the ref currently has been? These policies do seem quite measured though, I think they reflect the experience of a party who understands what is and isn’t feasible on the food and bev side of things. Who buys middies anyway?
Josh: Let’s get it out of the way $2 Middies just make no sense. Even if they’re legal, I can’t see how much it will improve the experience of going to the Tav. All they do is lose money. It also fails to recognise that the big area in which the tav can grow is in the food market. Food and atmosphere will determine whether the tav is successful, not a small beer at a small price. Having happy hour at lunch time, another Launch policy, is better, if legal, as it brings people in at a major meal time, which will help atmosphere and food sales. Also after doing the maths this isn’t $10 jugs, this is the equivalent of $8 jugs, very crafty indeed.
Cormac: Very similar to STAR’s campus culture policy, lots of festivals and acknowledgement of diversity on campus through running events. Lots of stuff here about working with other organisations which is a bit schmeh, but the stuff on visas and employment rights is great. The section on welfare and wellbeing is quite sparse in areas and overly detailed in others. The contents of the recommended shopping list are not important at this stage. No mention of the Dalai Lama though!
Alternatively from Launch multilingual health services on campus sounds great! A question of cost does loom but definitely a good idea. Peer mentoring programs seem like a good idea on the surface but there’s not much detail to go off. There’s a comprehensive policy waiting to happen but it’s hard to see it here. Internet accessibility issues for students while they are back home is definitely a new issue to be raised and one that’s definitely worth dealing with. Again, no mention of the Dalai Lama!
Cormac’s hot take is that students who are a solid way through studying a language major like Mandarin or Korean be paired up with incoming international students to help them out.
Ishita: STAR’s women’s policies are highly comprehensive, detailed, and show the experience that the party and its chosen candidate Bre Shanahan have. As an intersectional feminist, it is very gratifying to see non-binary students be taken as a priority and not as an afterthought, with their own list of useful policies distinct to those aimed at cisgender women. The focus on sexual assault on harassment prevention is continued from previous years, and seeing specific ideas such as “PAM at Parties” is really refreshing to generic feel-good promises. This policy sector is extremely promising.
LAUNCH: These policies are seriously lacking in comparison to STAR’s. The focus here is partially on preventing sexual assault (although less comprehensive), and partially on professional development. The latter is interesting because it is a sphere that STAR does not really have policy on. The idea of Female Empowerment Grants to incentivise professional development by clubs and FacSocs is interesting, although I do wonder where exactly the Guild is getting these funds from.
Bridget: STAR appears to have an extensive policy backing their Women’s Officer in 2019. As they openly note, they have an ‘extensive track record of providing representation for women-identifying and non-binary students on campus’. Not only is their track record extensive, but so is their list of Women’s policies. Everything and the kitchen sink has been considered here, with most policies aimed at continuing the work STAR have done in office over the past few years. Continuing to push for better lighting on campus is a big one, as well as further holding UWA accountable for their commitment to the Respect Now Always investigation into campus sexual assault and harassment. It’s fantastic to see that STAR has put so much consideration into a multitude of policies regarding the safety and experience of female-identifying students on campus. But this makes me wonder- how many of these goals will actually be achieved? Guild bureaucracy would surely mean that only the most impactful of policies would be pushed through, leaving those vaguer and less broad considerations to the wayside. Just saying that you’ll ‘increase student knowledge of security services and safe spaces on campus’ or ‘create more awareness around common women’s health issues’ isn’t enough meat of a policy to run a campaign on. It’s like saying we’ll ‘increase awareness about how bad parking is at 9am on a Wednesday morning’, as opposed to ‘we’ll commit to building ten new carparks and reducing parking permit access. Less filler please.
In complete contrast, you’ve got Launch’s Women’s policies- according to their website, there’s only four, compared to STAR’s twenty. Simplicity is good, love simplicity – but not this simple. If only we’d hit somewhere around ten policies a piece, and we’d be golden. Two of Launch’s policies are focused on providing female-identifying students with professional development, whether this be connections with ‘industry professionals’ or providing ‘Female Empowerment Grants to incentivise clubs and Faculty Societies to engage women.’ This is reflective of Launch’s background and appeal to the Business/Science side of campus, where students are stereotypically encouraged to create professional or research relationships as part of their degree. However, there are bigger issues on campus than a lack of mentoring opportunities, eg sexual harassment within clubs and colleges. Launch’s other two policies sort of touch on this – upping the presence of female security guards at events and, again, lobbying for improved campus lighting. It would have been nice to see some more specific policies and promises regarding what can be done, as opposed to what vaguely could be done. Again, less filler.
Ishita: STAR’s idea of an ethnocultural department isn’t bad, but what exactly would it seek to do? This goes back to the idea that people of colour aren’t a monolith – can a single department offer services to the wide range of students who are culturally and linguistically diverse? This policy section needs more details although it is well-intentioned.
LAUNCH’s idea to have more halal, vegan and vegetarian food is nothing new. For the record, a limited amount of halal food is available at Guild Café, Hackett Café and Quobba Gnarning, along with halal microwaves. More options are always a positive idea but this isn’t any different to STAR who also promise more food options. As a suggestion of a new and original idea for both parties, it would be great to have kosher food! The most interesting idea I have seen so far is ensuring all religious and cultural ceremonies are included as significant circumstances when applying for special consideration. This would genuinely life so much easier! God knows how much I’ve struggled right before and during Diwali. I’m sure other people have too with their respective religious and cultural ceremonies. Big tick to Launch on this one.
Ishita: It seems that STAR has left no stone unturned. Most of the policies surround accessibility and inclusivity, however the standout is the idea to develop short term crisis accommodation for LGBT+ youth which is sorely needed. This is an issue that affects a large proportion of LGBT+ youth. Hopefully STAR can see this policy become a reality next year if they are re-elected. LAUNCH on the other hand have no policy listed here. Seems like an oversight.
Ishita: STAR: Most of these policies involve working with WASAC. This will allow for more authentic representation so it’s understandable. The biggest tick for STAR here is even having an Indigenous section on policy, although the policies themselves are pretty stock standard and uninspiring. The Acknowledgement of Country Policy for academic lectures seems like a no-brainer though. Can’t quite believe it’s not already a part of our education system.
LAUNCH: Once again, no policy. Boo!
Josh: I was surprised at how little mention the AHRC report and actions to address safety on campus there was in the Launch college section. Claims such as “Improve communication channels between Colleges and the Guild to ensure that resident’s voices are heard and acted upon.” Aren’t nearly tangible enough given the existence of bodies such as the Residential Students Department. More clarity on what measures could be improved on are sorely needed.
Josh: As you’d potentially expect from a party who has been in charge for 6 years STAR’s policy is a lot more comprehensive. Whether many of these things are actionable is hard to know at this stage, but is becoming an all too familiar problem of promising and then struggling to deliver. Launch could have been more bold in some of the directions to go in policy and while they try to distinguish themselves, personally I feel things like $2 middies undermine your seriousness and bike shares just feels like a well travelled path in 2018. Finally STAR’s policy is very safe and doesn’t really offer anything exciting or new and maybe it doesn’t give their position as incumbents – safe doesn’t hurt. A little more creativity from both parties would have been nice.
Cormac: I think both parties have some genuinely unrealistic ideas in parts. STAR’s more wild ideas are hidden underneath a wave of very safe, thought out action items on other issues, whereas Launch’s ones are more prominently on display. To me, STAR have rhetorically grounded themselves in the activist camp, but haven’t necessarily made it clear enough in their policies that they plan to be an activist Guild. It’s certainly a more comprehensive list of policies than Launch has, but I think the better policies on the Launch side really cut through in a way that only a challenger can. To be honest, there just aren’t many areas where they are actively against each other here. If we were to do a blind test of whose policies were whose, I would put money on both STAR and Launch hacks mistaking each other’s better ideas for their own.
Thomas: STAR continues their tradition of keeping the course with very detailed policy that is sensible and uncontroversial, but not particularly inspiring. However, uncharacteristically their education portfolio seems to be lacking the most, with nothing on the scale of the class representatives initiative they began this year. Their real areas of strength seem to be in their extensive, targeted and bold policy platforms in Welfare, Womens and Sport portfolios. Considering that traditionally these departments have been down the priority list in terms of policy development in previous years, it is here where the party provides a fresh new look and focus.
Conversely with very little policy to scan through, Launch’s policy platform is clearly a small target approach with a few surprises surely to come. They also have some really great initiatives in Welfare and Womens, and their Transport policy is quite sensible. Unfortunately, the few policies they have in other areas are generally uninspiring or downright head-scratching. The fact they continue to pursue alcohol at prices which would contravene the Tav’s liquor licence demonstrates that they are struggling to maintain an image as a credible alternative, rather than a populist party.
Thomas’s LAUNCH Policy to watch: Online Voting.
Thomas’s STAR Policy to watch: PAM for Parties
Contributors – Joshua Cahill, Cormac Power, Ishita Mathur, Bridget Rumball & Thomas Coltrona
If you’re looking to find more coverage of guild elections check it all out here.
Declaration: Thomas Coltrona ran with STAR in 2014 & 2015