Words by Justine Cerna
With the formalities out of the way, it’s now time to consider the political parties participating. This year there are six parties and one independent (GLOBAL, Launch, Left Action, SPARK, Special Consideration, STAR, and Independent – Jit Singh) running for OB (Office Bearers), OGC (Ordinary Guild Councillor) and NUS (National Union of Students) representative positions.
Party statements are available to read on the Guild website. Here we have provided a bit more context to help students get a better sense of their position in this election. Presidential candidates where they have nominated are included.
With an overall aim of delivering an ‘Inclusive, Diverse, and Empowering UWA community’, GLOBAL is predominantly comprised of international students. GLOBAL policies are grounded in the advocacy and advancement of international students on- and off-campus. In the last few years especially, they have been proactive in pushing the university to address the disadvantages experienced by offshore international students during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also support international students going through crises. For example, this year they provided support for all Sri Lankan students affected by the economic crisis.
GLOBAL does not have a Guild President candidate, but they do have candidates for ISD president, OGCs and NUS reps. In the past, their ISD presidential candidate has been endorsed by STAR, but this year STAR has its own ISD candidate, and it looks like SPARK is supporting GLOBAL. This is not surprising considering the current ISD president (Geemal Jayawickrama) is the SPARK Guild President Candidate for 2023.
Promulgating a Guild that is ‘apolitical, dynamic and innovative,’ the Launch party’s primary focus is the quality of student education and experience. This is motivated by their belief that ‘students come to UWA to prepare for their careers’ and, as such, tend to distance themselves from the world of politics. They also are “committed to ensuring students get the best possible support to start their careers.”
They were formerly known as the Liberty Party but rebranded to what we know as Launch today. In 2012, they won the Guild presidency as Liberty but have not been in power since. Their past policies range from bringing Nandos to campus to selling two-dollar middys at the tav (which presents a challenge with alcohol regulations laws).
This year they don’t have any office bearer roles but have 9 OGCs and 2 NUS representatives.
Cutting a very different shape to Launch is Left Action, a self-professed group of student activists. Sustained by their belief that students have real power, Left Action asserts that the ‘Student Guild should be used to address the pressing issues in society, [namely] the climate crisis, attacks on our education and social oppression.’ In the last year especially, they have been very vocal about the university’s cuts to the Social Sciences, with then party leader Nicole McEwen leading the charge at several student protests concerning the issue. Recent activity of Left Action includes calling on the university to cut ties with fossil fuel corporations and abortion rights awareness.
Alvin Magila – Left Action Guild President & Senate Representative candidate
New(ish) kid on the block, SPARK is the incumbent party, with Amitabh Jeganathan currently presiding as Guild President. Born out of a conflict of ideas within the STAR party, the tensions generated a partition that ultimately gave birth to SPARK. With a vision of a Guild that ‘serves the student body instead of serving self-interest’, they emphasize a healthy, inclusive and functional culture ‘run by real students who make a real impact on campus’.
Theirs is a grassroots approach grounded in closer engagement with the student body and research. This point of difference does appear to be legitimate, with a few projects such as the Student Legal Advice Centre (SLAC) currently in the works, and UDUB Radio recently launched. The current council has other policies pending, but with the end of the year approaching, we remain to see whether this will come to fruition.
Geemal Jayawickrama – SPARK Guild President & NUS candidate
Special Consideration Party
This year’s wildcard. The Special Consideration Party is an issue-focused group running with a major policy on – you guessed it – Special Consideration. There’s really not much more to say for now, but what will be interesting is if they have any more ideas to offer voters in a few weeks. It should be said that Guild Councils have successfully instituted changes of this nature in the past (see STAR below), so it’s not altogether impossible – we’ll see come Policy Check week.
Considering their message speaks to the entire student body, we can’t altogether rule out the possibility of a few SCP members in the 2023 council.
James Ismail – Special Consideration Party Guild President & Senate Representative
Students Toward Active Representation (STAR). This party is constituted of a “diverse team of progressive students passionate about representation and quality education.” Before SPARK’s win in 2021, they were mostly in power for the last ten years, except for 2012 when Liberty (now Launch) won. Holding progressive values to represent all and amplify minority voices, their CV (as per their statement) tends to focus on operational achievements. These are nothing to turn one’s nose up at (they fought for a reduced late penalty rate and brought IGA to Guild Village, to name a few), but with a fair few other parties in the mix, including their arch-nemesis/cousin party SPARK, we wonder what policies they will offer this year to set themselves apart from the rest.
Adam Elyousef – STAR Guild President & Senate Representative candidate
Independent – Jit Singh
Last but not least is Jit Singh, an independent candidate, running for Ordinary Guild Councillor. Taking issue with the “infighting, cronyism and partisan agendas [which] plague student representation”, Jit’s main message is about equality and fairness. Jit envisions a Guild that will “put aside petty politics and come together to do what they were elected to do.”
Earlier, Daj Janneh was also running as an independent candidate but withdrew not long after the personal statements were published.
And there you have it. These are all the people running this year in the Guild Elections. Let’s enjoy these few hours left of peace before the blackout period ends tomorrow!