Words by Justine Cerna

As winter rolls into spring and ducklings grace the Great Court South lawn once more, UWA students brace themselves for an altogether different type of season. The un-initiated need not quiver in their boots, but some good speed-walking shoes would probably be a good idea. Small armies of candidates will be walking up and down these streets. No passageway or lecture hall will be safe from them! We are, of course, talking about the Guild Elections.  

Conducted by West Australian Electoral Commission (it’s legit!), the election is an important moment in the university calendar for two reasons. Firstly, it is a longstanding tradition that had its beginning over a century ago (1913, to be precise). Operating within the niche area of student politics, it is an opportunity where budding would-be representatives get to put their advocacy and debate muscles to the test. Indeed, elected officials of the past have gone on to be prime ministers, Supreme Court Justices, and high-ranking diplomats – la di da! 

Perhaps more importantly though, the election is a chance for the student body to engage directly with the happenings of the university – operationally and otherwise. UWA’s robust political culture has produced several parties, each with its own ideas on how to improve the student experience. This year there are six major parties and one independent to choose from.  

Over the coming weeks, these parties will become more vocal about what they will do for students in 2023, and if the last few years are anything to go by, this election is going to get hot! The good thing is that the Pelican loves a cuppa, and we are here to fan the heat. From ballot draw to the presidential debate, our guild election reporting team will provide coverage through a suite of reports and interviews to ensure that you – the student body – are clued in by the time polling week rolls around. As Thomas Edison once said, the key to a healthy democracy is a well-informed public.  

Time to put the kettle on.  

 

The Guild Council 

Let’s quickly talk about the Guild. As the student representative body on campus, the Guild is there to ensure you have “the best university experience possible”, meaning they run activities, support services, and events alongside giving students a voice. 

 The Guild is responsible for delivering activities like O-Day, Club Carnivals, and services like Student Assist, as well as events more specific to each of the fourteen departments. These fourteen departments are: 

  • Education Council 
  • Public Affairs Council 
  • Societies Council 
  • Environment 
  • Access 
  • Ethnocultural 
  • International Students’ 
  • Residential Students’ 
  • Sports 
  • Pride 
  • Western Australian Student Aboriginal Corporation 
  • Women’s 
  • Welfare 
  • Postgraduate Students Association  

You are voting to elect a Guild president, who oversees all these departments, official Office Bearers (OBs), and Ordinary Guild Councillors (OGCs) for 2022, as well as the National Union of Students representatives for the NUS National Conference.  

Your OBs are officer bearers representing certain Guild departments or holding executive positions (e.g., General Secretary). Alongside other roles/projects, OGCs attend Council meetings and help make decisions that affect the Guild. Finally, the NUS is the national equivalent of the UWA Student Guild, making decisions for universities across Australia. 

[Some words contained in this article were taken from ELECTIONS 2021: Hacks for a Smooth Polling Week by Maddi Broad] 

 

The low-down 

To get started, we have summarized a few notable changes in the UWA Guild Election Regulations made by this year’s Council and information on how to vote.  

New Policies (Guild Voting Regulations) 

Changes have been made to the election regulations! 

There is now a cap on the number of people that can nominate for positions per party. The upper limit of 13 people per party for OGCs has been imposed. Each party and candidate must also submit one 100–150-word statement, setting out their vision, values, and reasons for nominating. The following is an announcement from the Guild Council, a little earlier in the year. 

“We’ve listened! Say no more to 300-person ballots, mass recruiting, and “coffee-catch ups.” Ok, maybe not that last one. After over a decade of ballot flooding, we’ve finally capped the ballot at 13 OGC candidates per party (no more running candidates against each other), along with bringing a host of other quality of life improvements, including public vision statements, so voters can get informed.

The Guild’s new Elections Regulations were successfully passed through UWA Senate on May 23rd, 2022, in effect immediately.

We hope that these changes lead to cleaner, fairer elections for everyone – whether running or voting, or trying to avoid eye contact with anyone during polling week. As always, we’re open to feedback to improve our processes and improve your experience.” 

Candidates must also sign the Guild code of conduct created this year that clearly defines what misconduct is and what the consequences of that would be. 

Voting remains not compulsory.   

 

How to vote? 

Physical voting this year will run from the 19th – 22nd of September, at the following locations around UWA: 

  • Oak Lawn (Near Guild Village) 
  • Reid Library (Lawn area near Reid Library stairs) 
  • Nedlands Café (Foyer) 
  • UWA Business School (Foyer) 
  • Q.E. II Medical Centre – FJ Clarke Lecture Theatre (Foyer) 
  • Oral Health Centre of WA (Medical-Dental Library) – OHCWA 

 

The booths will be open for voting at these times:  

Monday 19th: 

10am – 5pm: Oak Lawn. 

10am – 5pm: Reid Library Lawn. 

11am – 3pm: Nedlands Café. 

 

Tuesday 20th: 

10am – 5pm: Oak Lawn. 

10am – 5pm: Reid Library Lawn. 

11am – 3pm: Business School. 

 

Wednesday 21st: 

10am – 5pm: Oak Lawn. 

10am – 5pm: Reid Library Lawn. 

11am – 3pm: Q.E. II Medical Centre 

 

Thursday 22nd: 

10am – 5pm: Oak Lawn. 

10am – 5pm: Reid Library Lawn. 

11am – 3pm: Medical-Dental Library. 

 

You can apply for a postal vote until the 16th of September at 4 pm here. If you do apply for a postal vote, they must be received by 5pm Thursday 22nd of September.  

The voting system at UWA is preferential, which means you get to number the candidates from who you want to see win the most to the one you least prefer.  

To give you an example (this is made up, FYI), let’s say there are three parties with three presidential candidates. The candidates are Harry Styles, Louis Tomlison, and Niall Horan (Sorry, not sorry, Liam and Zayn). If your favourite candidate is Louis, then you place a number 1 in the empty box next to his name. After that, you can choose to continue with your second choice, which is Niall, so then you would place a number 2 next to his name, and so on.  

You can just number your first preference if you wish to or number as many candidates as you want. 

Other things to know: 

  • Throughout voting week, there will be a campaigning break for lunch from 12:30-1:30 pm. You can still vote, but there will be no candidates there campaigning. At all times, candidates are not allowed to campaign within the library or within 5m of the Polling Places. 
  • Candidates can also receive a ‘booth ban’ if there is any misconduct or breach of regulations (e.g., if a candidate breaks the lunchtime blackout or crosses the 5m line). If this occurs, Mary Petrou (the Returning Officer) can ban them from campaigning for a period of time at her discretion. The ban applies to both the candidate who has breached regulations and the Presidential candidate – with Mary even having the power to ban a whole ticket! 

Where are we now? 

For those interested, the ballot has been drawn, and thus the ballot order for voting has been established. It can be viewed here. Official group statements and more can be found on the Guild’s website. 

Here is the calendar of what’s to come soon:  

 

 

Hopefully, you now understand the basics of Guild Elections and can do some more investigation of your own before casting your vote. 

Make sure to keep your eyes out for all of Pelican’s election coverage. 

For any more information, head to the UWA Student Guild elections page, and if you have any specific election questions, email [email protected]. 

 

By Pelican Magazine

Pelican is one of the oldest student publications in Australia and the only independent paper at UWA. If you enjoy writing, then Pelican is the place for you! We print six themed issues a year, and run a stream of online content.

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