By Riley Faulds
It was a wild, wet winter this year. Overcast skies, flooded streets, and short days giving way to long nights. But now it’s September – the past week has given us, on and off, a taste of the summer around the corner. The great rains mean everything is green, the flowers are profuse, and the river is looking magnificent.
But September sun also means the exorbitant flowering of other things, things that have been biding their time in the dark of winter, planning and scheming and graphic-designing. I speak, of course, of GUILD ELECTION PARTIES. Those in-crowds of all in-crowds, the behemoths of excitement and energy and promises and conflicts and unsolicited DMs, which rise for a short two-week period every year, before disappearing again for the long wait until the next September.
They’re a full-on, passionate bunch with ideas ranging from the thoughtful and workable, to the absolutely outlandish. All (or at least most of them) reckon their policies and approaches will be best for the student experience at UWA, and it’s up to all of us, those aforementioned students, to decide who we want to represent us, to the university and the wider higher education sector across the country.
We at Pelican are here to do our best to help guide you through that process. We’ll have all kinds of content for you over the next couple of weeks: interviews with candidates, policy fact-checking, information on how to vote or avoid, light-hearted memes, and more. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for this content.
Now, a little preview of this iteration of Guild Elections, electing the 109th Guild Council for 2022. We’ll be following up on these points (and many more) in more detail throughout our election coverage (so please don’t go after us too hard in the comments for not deep-diving into your particular issue of interest), but here are some of the key talking points at this stage!
First, Some Basic Info:
The 2021 Guild Election will see five parties contesting the various positions.
Ever-green STAR will likely hope to continue their long presence as a major party, with a diverse policy platform addressing various new and continuing issues under the Guild purview.
Lightning-yellow Spark will likely aim to build on their shock (haha, get it?) arrival on the electoral scene last year by pursuing a wide and ambitious policy platform with a mildly anti-establishment bent.
Socialist-pink Left Action will, as always, advocate for an array of activist policies, this year focused around the University’s wide-ranging cuts and the referendum opposing those cuts that is part of this election.
Ocean-blue GLOBAL will continue to advocate in particular for international and offshore students, who are facing especially difficult conditions at this moment due to COVID-19.
And lavender-purple newcomer ticket COSTA will, it seems, straddle the line between serious policy and wacky but undeniably entertaining ideas.
At this election, we have the following numbers of candidates, for the positions of Guild President and the various Office Bearers (OBs), as well as NUS Delegates and Ordinary Guild Councillors (OGCs). Tickets are listed in the order in which they will appear on the ballot paper:
President: three candidates (Left Action, COSTA, Spark).
International Student Department: one candidate (GLOBAL, unopposed).
General Secretary: four candidates (Left Action, Spark, COSTA, STAR).
President of Societies Council: four candidates (Left Action, STAR, COSTA, Spark).
President of Education Council: three candidates (Spark, STAR, COSTA).
President of Public Affairs Council: four candidates (Left Action, STAR, Spark, COSTA).
Environment Officer: four candidates (Spark, STAR, COSTA, Left Action).
Sports Representative: four candidates (Spark, Left Action, STAR, COSTA).
Welfare Officer: four candidates (COSTA, Spark, Left Action, STAR).
Women’s Officer: four candidates (STAR, Left Action, COSTA, Spark).
NUS Delegates: sixteen candidates (I ain’t typing out ticket names here).
Ordinary Guild Councillors: 277 candidates (ditto).
It’s nice to see that the Ballot Paper will be a bit shorter than last year, with fewer than 300 OGC candidates! Let us be grateful for small mercies.
STAR: No Presidential Candidate?!?
Yes, as those paying attention will certainly have noticed, the most successful Guild party of the past quarter-century will not hold the Presidency in 2022; this is only the third-ish time in this period that the Guild President will not be from STAR. The ticket’s Presidential candidate withdrew from the race prior to the Ballot Draw. This has really thrown a spanner in the works for this election; a Presidential candidate is the most visible and notable candidate for a ticket, and STAR may be at a disadvantage more broadly. However, it may also push them to fight harder than ever for the other Offices they are running for.
Another key consideration here is where STAR will direct their preferences for President. To estranged twin Spark? To activist Left Action, who are less of a direct rival for votes in other OB positions than Spark? Or to newcomer ticket COSTA, the wildcard here? Perhaps they’ll elect to preference nobody in this race and leave it up to the voter – a radical move indeed.
No Red Rocket?!
Another notable absence from this year’s election is LAUNCH, the ticket of more right-wing-leaning students and aspiring astronauts everywhere. LAUNCH were STAR’s biggest rival for the first few years of their existence (from 2017) until the appearance of Spark in 2020. This year, it seems LAUNCH’s take-off has either been aborted, or been so successful that they’re out there at the edges of the galaxy, leaving Guild politics far behind. The question here is where their sizeable vote share will shift to. It’s difficult to imagine them heading to their old nemesis STAR, or to Left Action, so it seems likely that they will jump rocket ship to the lightning bolt of Spark or the moustache of COSTA, as both tickets share somewhat of the anti-establishment bent of the defunct LAUNCH. Or, perhaps, their usual voters will boycott the election entirely, and wait for the probably inevitable return of a LAUNCH-like party in future years. At least we can wear red this year!
Do You Know the Moustache Man, The Moustache Man, The Moustache Man?
We welcome the COSTA ticket to the fray this year, a party led by Constantinos (Costa) Toufexis and his moustache, the ticket’s emblem. Costa initially entered Guild politics as a STAR Sports Rep, before being elected as OGC for Spark last year. Continuing the pattern of ‘New Year, New Party’, Costa is heading in his own direction this year, running for President at the head of a ticket that is contesting every OB position, with his name as its own. Some may see this unconventional bunch as a joke party, fuelled by the “massive ego” of one man (his words, not mine). Others may acknowledge the genuine chance that a candidate with broad name recognition among Guild-interested people has, in this unusual election year.
As a brand-new ticket, we thought we’d share a few selected COSTA policies; in-depth coverage of the policies of this and other tickets’ policy platforms, including fact-checking, will follow later this week. COSTA’s announced policies range from “Lobby to convert council bays to student parking bays”, to “Ensure 70% of UWA is run entirely by coal, and the other 30% will be the product of all Cancer and Libra male UWA students being forcibly moved to business school (which will be renamed “Gaslight Gym”) where they will be made to cycle on energy generating exercise bikes 24 hours a day in order to create a sustainable energy source for the university” (yep!), to “Cut Pelican Magazine and make UWA Shitposting the official student news outlet”. Personally, I’m not sure about the first one, but the second and especially third have our wholehearted support! What certainly does not, is the choice of purple as their colour. I was really keen to wear my purple t-shirt this year. Alas.
Plenty more has occurred already in the past few weeks of tickets slowly showing their faces after their long winter slumber. The Spark Presidential candidate broke the strict social media blackout, Left Action landed in top ballot position for a full fifty percent of the Office Bearer positions in the random ballot draw, and some candidates got grumpy with Pelican for trying to keep Councillors active and accountable in responding to the University’s cuts.
It’s been a rollicking ride already, and we’ll do our best to keep you updated on important events, as far as our energy for it all allows. Keep safe, keep groovy, and Keep In Touch xoxo