SOLIDARITY WITH THE IRANIAN WOMEN 

By Andrea Bunjamin

On 6 October, a strong crowd of protestors gathered in Keith Burrows Theatre on campus in solidarity with Iranian Women in response to the murder of Mahsa Amini. 

Mahsa Amini was a 22-year-old Kurdish woman who was arrested and fatally beaten by Iran’s Morality Police for not wearing a hijab properly in accordance with government standards.  

Her death was the final straw which resulted in an unprecedented and widespread demand to end a governmental regime that has deprived Iranian women of their basic human rights.  

During the gathering, several Iranian Women bravely spoke out about their own personal experiences of oppression. Naghmah, a university student who formerly studied in Iran, spoke in front of the crowd about her experience being confronted by the Morality Police for not wearing a proper hijab when she started studying. Naghmeh’s excitement over her courses and society activities were dampened by the fear she and her fellow peers shared.  

“The only thing I was thinking about was which gate of the Uni I should get into so the Morality Police don’t report me. And this was every single day,” she said. In her third year, she eventually received a letter from her university’s disciplinary department regarding several incidents and was at risk of expulsion. 

Her experience is one of many stories that Iranian women go through that serve as a reminder that Amini’s tragedy isn’t rare, and neither is the movement for life and freedom.  

This mobilising wave is the result of a young people’s movement that has culminated over the past 40 years. 

Dr Asal Bidarmaghz, Senior Lecturer in Civil and Environmental Engineering, re-emphasized to the crowd that around 40% of Iran’s population is under 25 years of age and the percentage of women in higher education is 60%.  

Thus far, the inspiring revitalisation of hope in mass demonstrations has been met with violent resistance by the Iranian militia. University students are highly targeted and over hundreds have died for standing up against the dictating ideologies in their society.  

In her speech, Dr Elnaz Irranezhad had expressed the necessity to sustain this movement into a revolution for permanent change. She said, Are we going to just chant? And just gather here and move on? No! We must not give up this time. 

Irannezhad called for non-Iranian supporters in Australia to call on local MPs, politicians, and government to stop negotiating with the oppressive regime, so that there is a stronger stance that exceeds verbal condemnation of the human rights violations being done to Iranians.  

The protestors also voiced the need to move away from ‘Death Chants’ and to focus on ones that promote ‘peace’ instead. This proposition was created to ensure a more inclusive and open space for others who would like to join the movement and to sustain hope among supporters.  

General Secretary – Candidate Interview

By Harrisen Leckenby

Tharunka interviewed both candidates for the 2023 SRC General Secretary position. Here’s what they said:* 

*Due to contracting COVID-19, Vihan Roy provided answers in the form of written responses.  

What is your Name and Degree?  

Reid – third-year studying Arts and Law, majoring in Philosophy and minoring in Politics.  

Vihan – studying computer science and commerce.  

Have you been on or run for the SRC before, or have you been a student representative before?  

Reid – Yes, I am very fortunate to serve as this year’s SRC Welfare Officer. 

Vihan –  I have been on the SRC this year as the Education Officer. I am also the Producer and Arc Delegate for Law Revue and have held leadership positions in Med and CSE Revues. 

If yes, what initiatives were you involved in? If not, have you been involved in other aspects of the student community/organising?  

Reid – I am also serving as the treasure and Arc delegate for Save the Children art group. I would like to extend the sense of community I have felt in this role to the SRC.  

Vihan –  As Education Officer this year I convened Education Collective meetings and helped build numbers and support for the midwives strike by handing out leaflets and supporting them with SRC resources. 

I also worked closely with the Paddington campus and helped directly oppose the Arts, Design, and Architecture degree mergers (i.e cuts) from thirteen degree programs to five. I helped start a petition against these with the Paddington Representation Officer, Daniel Mulia, which received over 300 signatures and was presented to the university. 

In addition, I represented the SRC at the Yom Hashoah commemoration hosted by Project HEAR and I worked with B’nai Brith, specifically with their Moving Forward Together program, to help organise their harmony day walk which will be held on the 16th of October. 

What are the biggest issues facing students in 2022?  

Reid – Even though we have started to emerge from lockdown, bridging the gap between online and in-person classes is important, and making sure both spaces are carried forward into the future. I hope to simplify progression checks and implement mandatory health modules for all students and university staff.   

Vihan – The three biggest issues facing students in 2022, and going into 2023, are degree and course cuts, the return to campus following the pandemic, and the trend towards online-uni. 

Course cuts and the worsening teaching staff to student ratio aren’t confined to ADA. Investigations are showing many courses in other faculties are being “rested” which reduces students’ choices and the quality of a UNSW education. The staff to student ratio has significantly worsened as of late too, currently standing at 41 students per teacher. This has worsened from 22 to 1 just a few years ago. 

Additionally, while campus life has begun to return following the pandemic, it hasn’t bounced back completely to pre-COVID levels of activity. A number of clubs have folded, or are struggling from reduced membership and engagement, and the university isn’t doing enough to incentivise students to actually get back on campus. 

Finally, I’m concerned about the shift towards online university and pre-recorded lectures. The ability to talk to your lecturer or tutor and get real time feedback is a core part of the university experience, otherwise what are we paying all this money for! Online university should be an option, but there should always be enough teaching staff and classes for in-person university for anyone who wants it. 

Are you a member of, or affiliated with, any political party?  

Reid – Yes. I am a member of the Labor party and the grievance officer for the Labor party on campus. I am proud of this position because Labor has practical policies that provide benefits to all students. 

Vihan – I am not a member of, or affiliated with any political party. My sole interest is for student life to thrive on this campus. 

Why are you running to be the General Secretary?  

Reid– I want to serve the student community. I have always believed in the student community. As a third year student with over two years of study in lockdown I aim to do my best to serve the 50,000 students of UNSW. The General Secretary position is a great platform because the roles can be quite varied and the scope is quite broad.  

Vihan – As Education Officer this year, I was personally very demotivated by the state of affairs with degree mergers and the lack of effective response from the SRC to oppose these changes which they effectively, in my view, rubber-stamped. My experience with Education Collective members wasn’t fantastic either as, despite my support for them, they had no desire to consider alternative points of view or approaches to activism from me. Due to what I felt was my personal powerlessness to do anything about it, I even considered resigning from my position. 

Instead though, I thought that walking away doesn’t change anything, and thought the better course was to run again but with a much more determined SRC team next time around. As General Secretary, I will have the opportunity to address the concerns I raised about educational cuts, the worrying shift to onlineuni, and transition back to on campus activity. 

Why did you choose to run with your chosen ticket? 

Reid – I am running under the Together ticket. I have chosen to run with them because they have a proven track record of success. Together has successfully campaigned for the introduction of flex week, the introduction of study vacation (StuVac) and college fee refunds over Christmas in 2020.  

Vihan – I had a heavy influence in initially creating the Unite for UNSW ticket, and the concept was to build a team of club and society Presidents and executives who have the experience, commitment, and energy to improve students’ experience because we believe that the recent SRC has been stale and a new team is needed. I’m pleased to say we’ve achieved that goal with a team of 4 club Presidents and 8 club executives standing for election. 

We have a clear vision of what we’d like to achieve next year on the SRC, however, we’re willing to work with anybody and any organisation that cares about making UNSW better. 

What do you see the role of the SRC as?  

Reid – SRC must empower students and give them a voice. We take our role as listeners seriously, not only just as activists and talkers, although this is a big part of our work. SRC must have genuine and honest communication with students and take these points to the University through a variety of means.  

Vihan – The role of the SRC is to represent students’ interests to the university and ensure UNSW provides a quality educational and social experience. This may involve working collaboratively with the university, or sometimes pushing back against poor decisions that we believe aren’t in the best interest of either students or the university, such as ADA cuts. 

 If you require assistance, the SRC can help with liaison with university officials, direct you towards assistance, and push for changes to university policy. 

What policies are you running under as General Secretary? 

Reid – I am running under a platform of wide ranging improvements to the student body. These range from academic to environmental to women’s. These policies will be developed by proper consultation with relevant students and stakeholders. Some examples are implementing final exam feedback and mock papers for subjects, continue tackling period poverty and providing free period products in UNSW, alongside an increased awareness of resources to students facing distress.  

Vihan – The Unite! team has four key policy areas that we’ll work to implement if elected; fighting educational cuts, supporting international students, supporting clubs and societies / social life, and making the university experience smoother. 

Specifically, my priorities as General Secretary are to: 

  • Increase the Arc Clubs Attendance Grant to $2 per person for the first 20 attendees, reverting to the normal $1 per person afterwards. This will provide a helpful funding boost to smaller and more niche clubs. 
  • Implement a filter option in the Course Handbook that lets you view only courses you are eligible for. You shouldn’t have to trawl through pages of courses you can’t do to figure out the ones you can. 
  • Host live bands during O-Week and Welcome Week. 

What is your favourite book?  

Reid – Book of 500 poems, passed down from my immigrant dad. It always interested me so I picked it up a few months ago. 

Vihan – My favourite book is probably a tie between Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; I don’t know, they really expand the world and explore the lore quite heavily, which I always love in a book. 

Who is your favourite hero or heroine?  

Reid – Gough Whitlam. I admire this person so much. He ended the White Australia Policy and handed land back to Indigenous communities. He opened Australia up to trade and the 21st Century. His pragmatism and his moral ethics, alongside the way he carried himself, that’s what I really look up to in a hero.  

Vihan Aladdin is probably my favourite hero; he epitomises how kindness wins the world which I think is important. 

SRC President – Candidate Interview

By Alex Neale

One of these people will be your SRC President in 2023. Get to know them first.  

The two prospective SRC Presidents for 2023 sat down with Tharunka and answered questions about university life, their policies, and why you should care about the upcoming election.

Christine Nohra – Unite – Bachelor of Laws and Media Majoring in Communications and Journalism – shared inspirations from their cultural background as well as precariously positioned degree structure. They also voiced Unite’s ambition to restore campus life to pre-pandemic levels of activity.  

Paige Sedgwick – Together – Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Mechanical Engineering; Bachelor of Arts with Politics – spoke about the work she did in women’s and queer spaces, tackling homelessness as part of this year’s SRC, and a number of other proposed changes to campus that her ticket promises to campaign for. 

Have you run for the SRC before or have you been a student representative? 

Nohra: I’ve not run for SRC before, but I am president of the Young Australian Lebanese Association (YALA) here at UNSW.  

Sedgwick: I’m currently a councillor on the SRC.  

What initiatives are you involved in in those capacities? If none, have you been involved in other aspects of the student community?  

Nohra: Being president of YALA you are involved with a lot of intervarsity events. Even last Saturday, we had our cruise that’s being sponsored by the Lebanese union.  

Being involved with a cultural society, it’s very different to an academic society because you need to make sure that you are making a safe space for everyone that has come from a middle Eastern background. It’s not just for Lebanese people. And it has allowed me particularly to really make a difference for those people who feel as if uni has not welcomed them in that way. 

Sedgwick: I’ve been working with the women’s officer over the past year, both with management and with external charities. And then I’ve been supporting Liora [Hoenig], who’s the Queer Officer. I don’t identify as queer myself; I’m always happy to go and help with her events, and same with other officers who are looking for support with their events as they come up.  

Inside the SRC the work that I’ve done has been with the women’s collective. I’ve been looking at how the uni can provide free menstrual products to everyone who menstruates and providing [menstrual products] in both uni spaces and arc spaces. 

I’ve been working with the club space this year to make grants easier to get for clubs on campus. I’ve also been working with students who come to me with issues like homelessness.  

I’m a student executive in college; I’ve faced a lot of issues with the way things were being run at college and at university. Outside of my role as counselor, I work with the colleges to help with SASH (Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment), making sure that those modules are implemented and well run, and people know about that sort of thing. 

What are the biggest issues facing UNSW students in 2022?  

Nohra: I would say uncertainty. I would say uncertainty for educational cuts. I would say uncertainty for how student life is going to improve. And I would also say uncertainty for education.  

Now the biggest thing with this is hybrid learning. We know that our vice chancellor could be pushing towards more of a hybrid learning environment. This is very dangerous because, although hybrid learning is great for students who can’t necessarily come onto campus 24/7, it should not be the only option -it should be an alternative. To think that it’s the only thing that can be available is very tough, because we as university students think of university as an in-person experience.  

The fact that it could be dominated [by] online is not fair because, in that case, you can just go and watch Khan Academy videos and be happy with it, you know, but that’s not what a degree should be about. 

You should be going into campus, learning in person, and seeing your lecturers in person. And that’s [what] we want to implement, and ensure that there are enough staff to cater for at least every course to have an in-person class lecture and tutorial.  

Sedgwick: Obviously one of the big ones is the changes in the ADA faculty. It’s really important to make sure everyone in those faculties is supported and that what they’ve come into uni with is what they will come out of uni with, so they don’t have a delayed degree process. 

Another area which I think is really important at the moment is mental health support. [It] is essential for students when they have come back on campus after so long at home. I think it’s really important that the SRC really promotes those resources and makes sure all students know they can access free mental health support through the uni at all times. Same with special considerations. That’s definitely a big push because there are a lot of things like Fit to Sit which just aren’t accessible to a lot of people.  

The third one is just making sure campus life comes back reinvigorated. Obviously, this year has been the first year back on campus and I think [campus life] will increase from there, but it definitely won’t increase unless clubs have the support needed to do that. 

Are you currently a member of, or are you affiliated with any political parties? 

Nohra: No.  

Sedgwick: I’m a member of Labor. 

Why did you choose to run for SRC president in this year?  

Nohra: When I first started at UNSW I felt very unwelcome. I come from an area very far away from Kensington, and I know for a fact that if I came onto campus and I knew who my student body was, if I knew who the students were that were representing me, I definitely would’ve felt a lot more welcomed into the community. 

I initially went into this because I want to see a real change, but I want to see the faces of who the SRC are. And I know that if I was to get elected, I would want to be on the ground 24/7, letting people know who I am and why I want to help them.  

Half of my degree is journalism, in the arts faculty, and seeing all of these degree mergers and cuts has really upset me because I have a lot of friends that are just doing arts, and the fact that there are some courses being cut that you need to complete a degree is just not fair. 

Sedgwick: Working on the SRC, I’ve really been shown the way that small things can really scale. And that’s what we want to do, make simple changes that make someone’s life so much easier. I’m a regional student who’s moved away from home to come to uni. I’ve lived on campus, I work on campus, I study on campus, and I’m always in touch with students and the issues that they’re facing.  

This year, a couple [of] people turned to me because their accommodation had fallen through last minute and they didn’t have a place to live. I found it really empowering that I was part of a body that could work together to be like, ‘oh, okay. Someone’s just turned to me because they’re homeless. What are the channels to make sure they have somewhere to go tonight?’ And that’s crucial, that people know that they can turn to us.   

The SRC throughout the last two or three years has implemented heavily subsidized accommodation through the Mulwarree apartments. So that’s one avenue for long term housing for students that struggle with financial support. That’s a really important, key one, but the other one is just, if you call security at any time and you tell them that you are don’t have a place to stay tonight, they will work with the accommodation providers on campus to find you a place to stay as soon as possible. And I don’t think enough people know about that.   

Should you take over as SRC president, what would be your number one priority? 

Nohra: My number one priority is improving all student life on campus. We’ve talked about education, social life, clubs, and societies, but it’s a combination of all of them. Because at the end of the day, you want to come onto campus, feel welcome, feel like your needs and interests are met. And you want to feel like the students that are working for you are delivering those services.  

The first action to take is ensuring that UNSW delivers on what they promised students that are currently affected by the ADA cuts. We would make sure that there are sufficient courses and staff for the students midway through these degrees [whose courses may no longer be offered]. 

 Sedgewick: I really, really want to make sure that O-week is the number one space for SASH to occur. As we’ve seen through the multiple surveys that have been provided and done over multiple universities, I really, really want to push for [sexual harrassment] to be stamped out on campus.   

Why did you choose to run with your chosen ticket?  

Nohra: I chose to run with unite because I met Vihan Roy earlier this year, and he was the only member of the SRC I’d met before. I was expressing my concerns pretty directly about how, one, I don’t see their presence enough; and two, I feel as if [the SRC] is just not getting enough done. And he completely agreed with me. We came up with the idea to have a ticket full of club presidents and executives. We (the Unite ticket) have four club presidents and eight club executive members. We’re all very experienced in how to run something and how to get things done.  

The current SRC is composed of Together and there’s a bit of Left Action in some of the collectives, but Together is the main one that’s been running for a couple years and they have done significant work. 

But when you are running for so many years and when you’ve been in power for so many years, it’s so easy to get tired. I felt a lot more confident to go with a new party that’s energized, refreshed and enthusiastic to get things done that, maybe in the past, people have been a little bit overwhelmed and haven’t had the energy to work as hard for. 

Sedgwick For me, with the current situation with ADA cuts, I want to continue doing Nay’s* work in that space because I think it’s really, really important that we make sure and push for students to be supported. We can’t just give up and be like, ‘it’s done. We can’t change anything now’. We just need to keep pushing through the multiple forms of activism we have on campus, whether that be emails with management, meetings with management or protests. 

*Current SRC President Nayonika Bhattacharya, who ran under Together’s ticket last year. 

What do you see the role of the SRC as? 

Nohra: When I think of the SRC, I think working for students. I see it as protecting and promoting their rights on campus. It’s a group of 28 students who all need to be led by a president who has the charisma and the approachability to tackle very serious concerns.  

I think with the nine collectives as well, you need to have a very empathetic background. You need to understand that you’re gonna be dealing with some very heavy issues. And when students are coming to you, you need to be strong and unified, and you can’t let anything divide you guys. 

Sedgwick was not asked this question in the interest of time. 

And what policies are you running under as, as SRC president, as a member of Unite/Together?  

Nohra: So we have some four key ones and they’re under the sectors of education, social life, clubs and societies, and international students. For education in particular, it’s obviously in regards to the ADA cuts. We would have a lot of solutions to this, but it’d be very different to Left Action’s approach thus far, because they’ve been really successful in the info and the policies that they’ve put forward but in terms of protests, we will take an alternative solution and instead implement an awareness campaign for newcomers coming into the university. [Students] should all feel like this is affecting them, because who knows? their faculty could be next. 

Other Policies Nohra listed included: 

  • Revitalising social and campus life by extending the Roundhouse’s Happy Hour 
  • Investing in more gym equipment 
  • Codifying club and society AGMs and EGs to take place online, rather than in person. 
  • Extend the opening hours of the Arc storeroom later than 4:00 pm. 

Policies Sedgewick listed included: 

  • Ensuring students in all courses have free access to textbooks. 
  • Reducing single assessment weightings to 50% or less. 
  • Removing minimum 80% attendance to classes. 
  • Mandatory health modules for all student facing staff members. 
  • Special Consideration granted by tutors. 
  • Giving students who travel to campus from outside of Sydney i.e. Newcastle, Blue Mountains, priority access to class registration. 
  • Mandatory sexual assault and consent training for first year students during O-Week, improving accessibility to reporting processes for sexual assault on campus. 
  • Free menstrual products on campus. 
  • An extra bus stop on lower campus. 

Do you think UNSW cares about its students? 

Nohra: I think UNSW has the potential to care about students more. I think that UNSW is not doing enough as it is, and that’s why the SRC needs a revamp; with sufficient pressure on uni executives, they can understand where exactly they’re going wrong.  

Sedgewick: I think that depends on the issue. I’d say things like the ADA cuts didn’t provide enough student support and that’s why a lot of the groups on campus are very opposed to the way those courses have been rested, because there’s not enough student consultation around those things. Other stuff, like setting up the food bank during COVID when people were experiencing significant financial hardship: that’s an area where management did listen to us, and that’s why Together was able to enact that food bank on campus. 

There are a lot of areas where they do listen and they are really cooperative, and they do want to hear how they can do better; like in the queer space, there’s a lot of stuff going on at the moment to trial unisex bathrooms and those sort of things. Same with free parking, and trialling different parking methods on campus. The uni is listening to students’ needs, but then there are obviously areas where the uni is not listening to students’ needs and not following up. I think it’s probably not a yes or no answer to that question. 

What’s your favourite book?  

Nohra: The Power of One by Bryce Courtney.  

Sedgewick: I don’t know if I have a direct favourite book. I read so many. My probably guilty pleasure is that I really love reading cheesy romance books. Other than that, I love reading political biographies of everyone across all political spectrums and lots of different countries. 

What’s your favourite hero?  

Nohra: Spiderman. 

Sedgewick: I feel like everyone has flaws and everyone has good intentions. I think the work Michelle Obama does is really cool. 

*Responses have been edited for grammar, brevity and clarity. 

Women’s Officer – Candidate Interview

By Ellie Ng

 As part of Tharunka’s coverage of the 2022 SRC elections, we had the opportunity to sit down and get to know the three candidates running for the position of Women’s Officer: 

  • Emma Terry – Left Action 
  • Estell Mathew – Together 
  • Hannahbeth Marchant – Unite 

Emerging from a broad range of perspectives and areas of study, each candidate brought different perspectives on concerns for UNSW, and the policies they proposed to combat this.   

Get to Know Your 2022/2023 Candidates 

CANDIDATE 1. EMMA TERRY – LEFT ACTION 

First question, what is your name, year, and degree? 

My name is Emma Terry, my degree is Social Science, and I am in second year. 

Have you been on or run for the SRC before? 

Yep, I have run for a Councillor position, Councillor A, as an NUS delegate with Left Action last year. 

What do you think are the biggest issues facing students in 2022? 

I think at the moment it’s the blatant inequality that exists in the world more broadly, but really affects students with things like the cost-of-living crisis; affording housing and affording food at the moment, as inflation is up by 6%. On top of that, increasing fees to our education, which I think is part of the broader world system which allows a small minority on the top to take the wealth from everyone else at the bottom, and that’s reflected in how students get to live and interact with their education. I think the only way to make lives better for students is to fight that system more broadly and take on the inequality and injustices that exist in the world. 

So you’re running with Left Action. Why did you choose to join them and how do you think they address those issues that you mentioned? 

Left Action is an activist ticket. I think we’re the only activist ticket currently running, and we want to take on the social injustices in the world, confront them directly, and push for change in a way that looks to mobilise people and students, and fight injustices. We think the SRC should play a role in mobilising students to fight for their demands as well as on broader issues. 

As a Women’s Officer how do you think you would contribute to that? 

I’m not officially on the SRC but I’ve been to most of the meetings in the past year to push the SRC and to show support and solidarity with a range of issues. Specifically for women, I’ve been in a campaign group, Community Action for Rainbow Rights, that have fought the Religious Discrimination Bill and mobilised hundreds of people out on the street against both the Religious Discrimination Bill and also Mark Latham’s Parental Freedoms Bill which were an attack on both trans rights and also women’s rights as it looked to limit their access to the pill and abortion through doctors expressing their religious beliefs as a reason not to provide services. In terms of the SRC, I’ve gone to SRC meetings, put up motions and argued for the SRC to show solidarity with that campaign. I was also a part of both building and running the first massive abortion rights rally which drew out thousands of people onto the street in solidarity with the US abortion rights. I also chaired the second rally and was a part of building that as well. I think to push women’s rights forwards more broadly in society and on campus, you have to confront where this inequality stems from which is a system we live under, a system that puts women second. As a student you have to be a part of mobilising and fighting against that on the street and the SRC needs to play a role in doing that.  

So what do you think that would look like on campus? How do you see mobilisation manifesting in taking place in the context of the UNSW student body? 

The Left Action candidates will, for most rallies, build a student contingent to it. Getting the word out, using the platform and resources of the SRC because they are paid Office Bearers, not just sharing events on social media but getting out there. Leaflets, engaging with students on a political level for the issues they care about, and encouraging people to come out for protests as the only way we’ll get anywhere is if there are more people coming out on the streets.  

How would you respond to the notion that much of the student population is either unaware, disinterested, or apathetic to much of the activism that takes place on campus? What more could you do to engage students?  

I think a lot of it is met with apathy because of the political climate we’re operating in where most political parties actually do nothing to stand up for people, let alone students, and sign off to a bunch of horrible things that happen. And it matters when institutions like the SRC take a stand against these injustices or if they become a barrier to fighting it. So the current SRC has actually been a barrier to fighting things like the education cuts campaign, which Left Action activists have been running, and actually sat in on a meeting and signed off on the cuts with Claire Annesley. And so when you demoralise people because you don’t give them any sort of outlet in which they can express their anger and try to fight it. I think that apathy stems from how both political parties on a more broad level and the SRC here at UNSW act. And its worth saying that most of the people in the SRC want to be a part of these political parties that do nothing to stand up for people, and therefore have no interest in confronting the reality that we live in and fighting against it. They want to be a part of the parties that actually manage all the terrible things have happened to students. 

Was there anything else you that you wanted to say on behalf of Left Action or yourself?  

I think that if students agree with this sentiment that we’re putting out there, it’s not enough to sit isolated and agree with it in your head, you have to be a part of building an alternative to what’s currently in place, which means getting involved and helping Left Action in these elections and also more generally in building activism. If students are interested in actually fighting for a better world, they should join our ticket and help us out.  

CANDIDATE 2. ESTELL MATHEW – TOGETHER  

Introduce yourself with your name, your year and your degree? 

My name is Estel Mathew, I am currently a second-year student and I’m studying law and criminology.  

Have you been on or run for the SRC before? 

I haven’t exactly run for the SRC, but I have spent pretty much this whole year working alongside the current Women’s Officer through my role as the 2022 secretary of the Women’s Collective.  

Could you talk more about working with the Women’s Officer this year?  

One of the main reasons I am running for Women’s Officer next year is due to all the opportunities I’ve been given as the secretary, especially with the aim of advocating for women’s rights. My role as secretary has really enriched my view on the world and also my place in it, especially by working alongside some of the most hardworking women. It has definitely inspired me to not just say I want to advocate, but to put my words into action. And I believe the best way to do that is to become Women’s Officer for next year. Within a year, myself, and the other girls in the Women’s Collective have been able to push for policies and hold events that are all about expressing your femininity and empowering yourself.  

I also just wanted to make a side note: for clarification, when I mention the word woman or female, I mean females and students of gender minorities.  

Continuing on, within only a year, we’ve started up the Women’s Collective, as it did die down a bit in the past few years. Our main goal was to start some of the policies and also get the Women’s Collective known by all the students, which I think we have accomplished. Policy wise, we started our goal of achieving free menstrual products on campus for women to access. So far, we’ve written up a research paper – I’ve been the editor of that. We’re about to hand it into the university. We also aim to create more awareness of reporting and support services as well for any incidents such as sexual harassment and assault on campus. It was quite difficult just simply searching for it and finding it online, so we created a website for us to have resources available and ready for anyone to use. I’ve also attended rallies as the Women’s Collective representative in response to the really devastating results that came from the National Students’ Safety Survey and I was able to network with other Women’s Collectives from other universities, and that was really good. I’ve also been a part of the Gendered Violence Action Plan, so I am in a working group that aims to start a conversation on what gendered violence really is, how to identify it, and what your options are. One of the main things I noticed, and this is pretty much an underlying purpose through all my policies, is that issues such as sexual assault and gendered violence, pretty much any issue relating to women, they’re rarely talked about, and I really want this to change over the next year if elected.  

Why do you feel like Women’s Officer role is important and what do you think are the biggest issues facing women or minority gendered students at UNSW. 

I definitely think that this role has a lot of power, especially as it is a part of the SRC, who are ultimately the student representatives. They are the front end of who communicates with the uni officials as well. It’s easier and more efficient for someone in the SRC to communicate with the uni rather than a student, that’s a longer process I believe. And also just having the support of everyone in the Together ticket, they have been so supportive. This is actually my first time running in the SRC, so I feel a bit nervous and am not sure what’s happening sometimes, and they are always there, always supportive and I think having such a good team really makes a difference in how your policies end up in the end, whether they are successful or not. So I think the SRC hold a lot of power to make change in the uni, and I feel so privileged to even have a chance to have a go at one of the roles, especially Women’s Officer as it’s something I’ve had a passion about for a really long time.  

Are you affiliated with any political party? And also, why did you choose to run with Together? 

I’m not very strict on what I am, but my overall personal values have been reflected through the Together ticket. Just by hearing them talk in meetings, hearing how they support each other, hearing about what they want is ultimately what’s best for the students. It’s nothing selfish, nothing about winning, it’s about doing the best for the students, creating the best team that will work alongside each other for a whole year. A very strong group full of integrity which I really admire. We’re not about attacking or fighting anyone, we’re more about accepting and creating an inclusive environment.  

For anyone who’s not familiar with the Together ticket, can you summarise their main values quickly? Like I said, integrity is one of our main values. We will fight endlessly for the students and we understand that these issues, specifically in my area, so the women’s issues are something that extend outside of uni as well, though ultimately the best place to address these types of issues is within the uni, where students are getting their first taste of life. And this group is incredibly committed to that, texting all the time trying make change happen, we’ve all discussed our policies with each other. It’s not just one person making the policies, it’s more like someone makes policies, and then everyone else goes through them, sees how we can make them successful- it’s just a really lovely group of people.  

Another question, what do you think the role of the SRC is, and how do you see their presence on campus playout on a day to day basis? 

I think the SRC are the middle ground between the students and the uni, so if the students need a specific change in the uni or if they need some help, the SRC are probably the best people to go to because they are so knowledgeable in what to do and who to talk to. Especially when obviously there are issues of trust between staff members, lecturers and students. The Together ticket, the students, and the SRC, we’re the same. You can come to us, we can come to you, and that’s a really good thing about the SRC, especially in the Together ticket, there’s no hierarchy with us. They also do campaigning, lobbying, talk to uni officials about issues, they never minimise your problems. No matter how small your problem is, you can feel comfortable to go to these people to talk to them.  

If elected, what policies are you planning on running as Women’s Officer? And in addition to that, we’ve had a chat with other candidates pushing for a more activism based SRC style of leadership. where do you sit on that? What do you hope to do in the role of Women’s Officer?  

I’ll just start off with the activism question. I’ve seen and heard of people accusing Together of being non-activists, however we want to make it clear that that is not our position. We want to take a more balanced approach to getting things done. Of course, we understand that strong activism is a main part of politics, it’s a main part of getting things changed, and we also on the other end understand that we ultimately have to work with the uni management because they are the ones who have the final say. But regardless of that, we are also comfortable with putting pressure on the uni when needed, so we try to take a more balanced approach because at the end we need everyone on our side. That’s what uni is about, its not about splitting the uni management versus the students, its about bringing everyone together and making the area something special and comfortable and inclusive for everyone.  

I’ll talk about my policies now. I have come up with a few policies that I wanted to implement with the Together ticket. The team has been so supportive and like I said, everyone has read through the policies, gone through it thoroughly and we believe that these changes are very practical to achieve and also very reasonable requests that the uni should uphold. So I have my policies split into themes: first we have the welfare and health policies -These include getting more lights on campus, especially at night time both on the main campus and Paddington campus, just for increased measures for women’s safety on campus, especially these days, its been so dark even just at 6pm, so I feel like that would make uni a more comfortable space for women. We also are going to continue our fight for period poverty. So as I said before, this year we have been working on getting period products onto the campus. That fight is still ongoing and I will be carrying that over next year if elected. I definitely want to include a change of policy that is based on educating women on health issues that they may experience. This is something that is rarely talked about. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone talk about it at uni publicly and like I said before. Most of these issues are hushed and kept on the down low and it’s time to start talking about them. Another thing is that I want to work with the uni and hire more paid counsellors, and also have counsellors that are specifically specialised in women’s experiences, including survivors and victims of sexual assault, domestic assault, family violence and so on. I also plan on extending this policy to queer mental health, and definitely improving reporting platforms, making it more accessible for everyone. I want to implement yearly mandatory sexual assault and consent training, making it available in different languages as well because UNSW is very diverse, there are many international students, and these changes should tend to their needs as well, not just the majority, but also the minorities. I also want to ensure that everyone knows that sexual assault recovery is an option in special consideration. I myself only found only found out a few weeks ago. It’s not known at all, so definitely making sure that people know that. I also have some policies that relate more to the education character building and student connections area. A lot of these ideas have actually been taken as ideas from female students that I’ve spoken to over the past year, so firstly I would like a new university run mentor scheme for women as over a few months ago, the Women’s Collective conducted a survey and we found that one of the main topics that women want to learn about is career skills and how to develop assertiveness, wage negotiations, work-life balance, public speaking, and things like that this scheme could really help them. It will be run through the Women’s Collective as well, so we have direct connection to the SRC and the uni, so that is something I really wish to implement. Also, having trigger warnings for readings that discuss sexual assault. I was shocked when I heard this from a student but apparently that is the case in some courses, so definitely working on that. Getting confidential leave for harassment experiences with the reduction of paperwork, obviously asking someone to prove that they were harassed is a traumatic experience. I want the uni and SRC to acknowledge that this issue is traumatic and we should be more considerate of that. And also encouraging courses to use more female authors, not only during weeks where students look at the feminist experience but also include it, integrate it where possible throughout a lot of the weeks because that is something we’re lacking. Not just the feminist experience but female authors being appreciated for their work. We also wanted to introduce a policy for increased stability about class attendance especially where periods are a hindrance to coming to class, as I know a lot of people have severe issues during their periods. I don’t want people to feel forced or that that they have to go to class because of mandatory course attendance, so definitely looking into that as well.  

That was quite a long list of policies you’ve clearly been thinking about. How would you go about actioning these if elected? 

The way that I would work throughout the next three terms if elected would be firstly, tackling period poverty, increased measures for women’s safety on campus, hiring more counsellors, and also the university run mentoring schemes. But I do understand that it will take a while corresponding between the uni management and us, so my plan is to have one main policy change a term at least, and under it, I will keep working towards the small ones such as ensuring people know about sexual assault and encourage courses to use more female authors. Obviously I will have the Women’s Collective and the Together ticket behind me as well, so it’s not like I’m doing it all on my own.  

Was there anything else you wanted to say on behalf of yourself or your ticket? 

Just that I have had this passion since a young age. My future goals are woman-related. As you know, I’m studying law and criminology. My aspiration, if I want to call it that, is to start my own firm that targets female victims. I’m currently working in a family law firm that has also had a really big impact on me. Listening to female clients talking about their experiences is honesty really heartbreaking and it’s had a really big impact on me. I know that this will take incredible time and commitment, but I believe that I want this opportunity to make the change.  

CANDIDATE 3. HANNAHBETH MARCHANT – UNITE 

Let’s begin with your name, your year and your degree. 

I’m Hannahbeth, I’m in my second year studying a double degree in Mechatronics and Biomedical Engineering.  

Have you been on or run for the SRC before? Or have you been a student representative in any way? 

I haven’t been a part of the SRC, but I’ve been a student representative in quite a range of clubs and societies in UNSW. I have the technical side like Engineering Society, Mechatronic Society, all the way up to business such as UCC which is a UNSW consulting one. 

What sorts of roles have you occupied within these clubs? Have you been on executive teams as well as a member?  

I’ve been a member for a lot of those, but this year I am exec for a lot of the roles as well, so I do a lot of initiatives for a lot of those societies. 

What do you think are the most important initiatives you’ve been involved in throughout any of those leadership positions? 

I’m very passionate about education and bringing awareness. So one of those initiatives was basically teaching people how to present and storytell and consult. Also, I’m currently in the process of helping to organise an event for Pride in engineering. So anything about awareness and bringing light to people that usually are overlooked or don’t feel supported – I’m very passionate about things like that.  

You’ve clearly been involved with a lot of different societies in the university, why did you decide to run for the SRC and why specifically Women’s Officer? 

I’m running for the SRC because you can actually make a lot change, especially as a student and especially myself, as woman running Women’s Officer. I know the challenges you face as a woman doing a stem degree, so that’s a reason I want to be part of SRC. To actually embody and reflect what the student life is like, and to tell that to people and actually make a change, a holistic change, across the university. In terms of Women’s Officer, I’m passionate especially about women in stem, having women feel united and supported and heard.  

You kind of touched on your concerns on issues surrounding women in stem, what then would you say are the biggest issues that female identifying students face at university?  

I feel like women feeling supported and heard is something that goes beyond just stem degrees, its just that stem degrees are very male dominated. I feel like females need to be heard more and supported more. Also, unfortunately there is a lot of assault that women experience within universities that aren’t touched upon and they don’t get enough help or awareness when it comes to that. 

Why did you choose to run with Unite? 

I chose to run with Unite because [of] a lot of their policies. They have a really big emphasis on the students. You know how they have cut a lot of arts degrees and shoved them all into one degree? They show and talk about what students actually want on a very holistic level, so we cover everything. I also think that the team is really good: we’re all executives of clubs so we’ve actually worked very closely with a range of different people, so I feel like our experience really helps with our actual policies and campaigns. 

How long have you been working with Unite? 
Since around 2 months ago. 

And was that in preparation for running for the position? Or was it something you wanted to do regardless. 

It was something I wanted to do regardless, and the opportunity popped up so it was perfect timing. 

What do you think the role of the SRC is? 

I think the role of the SRC is to actually reflect what a typical student feels. Their trials and tribulations, and so on and so forth. To be very transparent, and to be a vessel to show what students are feeling, what they want, what they’re happy with, what they’re not happy with; and to talk about that, bring awareness to that, and then ultimately make change.  

What policies are you planning to potentially run as Women’s Officer? 

I have a few policies. One of them I kind of said before, is trying to help and support women more.  A peer mentoring program with Arc, so it’s more a holistic (approach), rather than each individual club trying to help women feel supported and heard. And it will unite women as well, as they get to meet people from different areas. I think that’s one of the biggest things I’m hoping to implement.  

Talking to other candidates, we’ve heard a range of approaches when it comes to the role of Women’s Officer for the next year. Why do you think yours is going to benefit students the most?  

I think our approach is beneficial just because we aren’t neglecting anyone. We represent everyone and we communicate with them without any pre-judgement or bias. I would say we’re just very transparent, very holistic, very real. We’re students ourselves, and we understand that we’re just students trying to help other students.   

 *Responses have been edited for grammar, brevity and clarity. 

Ethno-Cultural Officer – Candidate Interview

By Alejo Pintos-Lopez

Name, ticket, and Degree? 
 
Grisha: Grisha Chawla, Unite, B.Arts (Politics and IR, minor in psychology) 

Harrison: Harrison Zheng, Together, 4th Year B.Comm/Law 
 
Shovan: Shovan Bhattarai, LeftAction, B.Science/Arts 
 
Have you been part of (or run for) anything student government before, and if so, what were some things you were involved in? If not, have you been involved in other aspects of the student community or organising? 
 
Grisha: Not been part of SRC before, but in terms of society and other ways I’ve been involved in the community: I was the EDI officer for UNSW Women in Science; I was in the external subcommittee for the careers portfolio for UNSW Women in Consulting, and also on the relations subcommittee for PsychSoc. I’m now coordinator of Volunteers United, after having been a Volunteer Lead for 2 years. I was also a UNSW Wellness Warrior for a year, and I’ve been published in a few student journals before. 
 
Harrison: Never been involved in anything student gov related before, but I’m currently serving as Co-President of Law Soc, and I’ve previously served as Treasurer of UNSW’s Save The Children Australia society, as well as finance and sponsorship officer of UNSW Illuminate (an AV and engineering society to help set up light-based artistic projects). 

 
Shovan: I’ve been part of the education collective for a number of years as part of the activist group fighting attacks on education, most recently the ADA restructures set to cut 13 degrees in the ADA faculty down to 5, cut dozens of courses and move lectures to online-only. I was also the SRC Education Officer in 2020, where I organised activism around staff cuts. UNSW sacked more (staff) than any uni in Australia, nominally because of COVID but really it was just to protect their bottom line. Also, (I’m) a committed campaigner outside of campus, taking up the fight around racism, climate change and all other injustices. 
What are the biggest issues facing students in 2022-23? 
 
Grisha: First of all, obviously the course cuts. They’re cutting so many degrees, courses, and even staff. It really shows that Arts students aren’t really valued. There’s a lot of history and culture around the arts. We need to put out an awareness campaign to warn future students that this is the reality of the situation and we’ll be fighting to change it, but the awareness is important.  

Hybrid learning is also a problem. UNSW Staffing has been cut over the years, and because of COVID and stuff, hybrid learning is a good option for international or rural students or people who otherwise can’t come in, but obviously people need to be able to access in-person learning. Speaking from personal experience as someone with ADHD, I had to drop down to one course a term during lockdown because I just could not focus online. Having the in-person option for every single course, even if it’s just one class stream, is extremely important.  

Not really a UNSW specific issue either, but after COVID people have kind of just moved on, but the aftermath has  just been ignored. Mental illness and trauma as a result has kind of just been ignored. Psychology and Wellness got defunded – it used to be free for any UNSW Student to book an appointment and that’s what the service was meant to be, but now you need a doctor’s referral. That’s a big issue as well. 
 
 

Harrison: I think the biggest issue currently is that you have communities coming out of the covid era who are eager to intermingle with other communities but also are still in the COVID-mode bubble. As LawSoc co-president, I’ve seen a desire to intermingle, but people are still reluctant to leave their bubbles. In an ethnocultural context, people are obviously very comfortable with people from their background and obviously that means that there are clashes when people attempt to expand. Obviously, academics as well; international students are going to face huge difficulties re-integrating to in-person learning style, and the social consequences of that as well like reduced free time. 

 
Shovan: Attacks from uni management, government, and the general state of the world. Right now, UNSW students are facing massive cutbacks to education quality. Uni management are going on a rampage, trying to cut degrees, courses and staff for the sake of their profits, while the government slashes funding and increases fees. Students and working-class people are at the pointy end of a Cost-of-Living crisis. The new Labor Government isn’t doing anything on the abysmal state of welfare to actually give students, jobseekers and pensioners a livable wage; or on the age of independence. Students also are clearly invested in climate change, – we’re set for more bushfires, heatwaves and flooding while Labor commits to opening 114 new coal and gas projects, clearly showing that they’re willing to side with fossil fuel companies over ordinary students concerned about their future. Issues of structural racism, such as police brutality and deaths in custody, also feature prominently alongside attacks on our quality of learning and only left action is willing to do something to fight around these issues. 
 
 
Why are you running for ethnocultural officer? 
 
Grisha: I’m running because I’ve not really seen much cultural awareness on campus outside of Arc stuff. Having ongoing awareness is really important. As a young kid, I didn’t realise, but having moved from India I experienced a lot of racism and that was obviously really awful. When it comes to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, we have so much diversity at UNSW including from international students, but that diversity doesn’t feel as celebrated as it should be. I know a lot of students at UNSW who have faced disappointment and microaggressions from UNSW with regards to how their culture is celebrated, and I want to help prevent that from happening because it really sucks. I want to make sure every person of colour feels represented at UNSW, and their cultures are celebrated. I want people to be able to celebrate who they are and have that feel okay. 
 
Harrison: Like a lot of people running for SRC, I share a huge passion for the community which to an extent we all care about, such as student wellbeing. Ethnocultural officer is something I care about as someone with an ethnically diverse background, having faced challenges as a first-generation immigrant, and therefore I have a strong desire to work on solving these problems and removing those barriers. My family faced a lot of natural hardships, which I had to navigate while I was growing up. When I was 6, an old white man actually went up to my father and told him “go back to where you f***ing came from”, and my father needed to ask me to translate that because he couldn’t understand what the man was saying. In high school, I was part of the SRC and cultural diversity committee, and currently at work I’m part of the cultural diversity working group. I’m dedicated to trying to remove some of these barriers and hardships that ethnically diverse people face. 
 
Shovan: I’m running for Ethnocultural and SRC this year because I’m part of the LeftAction ticket which is committed to taking up the fight around all of the previously mentioned issues. We want a left-wing activist SRC, and the kind of politics that we need to see in the SRC is one that doesn’t cozy up to uni management with closed door management and lobbying. Students have power when we mobilise and get out on the streets, and LeftAction in particular has a history with being effective mobilisers on Black Lives Matter. I’ve been an active part on organising the campaign against black deaths in custody which takes up the issue of the racist Australian state where police are allowed to shoot aboriginal people dead in the street and walk away . In particular, I was a part of protesting the acquittal of Zachary Rolfe, who committed the murder of Kumanjayi Walker. Other left action candidates and I have also been part of organising in the campaign for a free Palestine, against our governments support for the genocidal policies of the Israeli state. This is the kind of political response our SRC should be part of mobilising students for. 
 
What policies are you running on? 
Grisha: First of all, I want to work with Arc to create financial incentives for club to participate in cultural events and cross-cultural promotion, working closely with the religious and cultural societies to try and help them get events going. Things like ticketing, raffles, and other things that societies use like that I think could use more funding given how many people these societies represent and how important they are. I want to create particular Arc grants for cultural and religious societies, which I think would really help these societies. I want to promote international night markets and culture-fests, those are the really big kinds of cultural events that arc holds that societies participate in, so I want to help those be more successful. I’d also love some live cultural bands to be playing during things like O-Week and Welcome Week. I love Bollywood music that is from my own culture, and Kpop is awesome and has a really big following and appreciation here too; and I’d love to have that present on campus and see that celebrated, particularly when we’re seeing an influx of new students who can see the diversity and the inclusion. I’m also really passionate about, when there’s a cultural event being celebrated, that the people of that culture have creative control. I’m Indian: if someone who wasn’t Indian was in charge of organising an event to celebrate Diwali I would be pretty offended, and I don’t want that to happen to anyone else. People of that culture having the biggest say in how it’s celebrated also just means more authentic events and a better quality of events. 
 
Harrison: As Ethnocultural Officer, I would have two main focuses. The first is that I want to create a more diverse community – so that means supporting new course options to promote greater cultural understanding, Arabic Studies is a highly requested course opportunity with many students interested. Pushing for things like that would allow people to get in touch with their culture, or other cultures, far more easily. I also want to help cultural clubs by using SRC social media outreach to kind of spotlight clubs, running parallel to existing SpArc efforts. In my experience, int students and ED students don’t know where to go to find clubs that might be supportive communities for them, for example Taiwanese students finding the TSA on campus. It’s important that we help people find the relevant communities and help promote these clubs which have a hard time getting the profile that’s necessary for them to be effective. The second focus is supporting people who identify as ethnically diverse and ensuring their safety and wellbeing. So, for a lot of ethnically and culturally diverse people, and me personally as well, our families require additional sources of income. This means that not everyone can study full-time for all terms, and Transport NSW will cut off your concession opal card the moment you drop to part-time. I’ve actually experienced this, and so I’d want to work with the uni to try and get more flexibility for part-time students who are only taking a term off, particularly around promoting concession opal cards to help people support their families. I also believe that a racial incidents reporting portal, similar to the ones currently existing for bullying or sexual incidents, would be really helpful as well. 
 
Shovan: LeftAction is running on a policy of having an SRC that takes up an active, organised fight against racism, organising protests in solidarity to fight racial injustice and ending racial violence. The SRC should stridently be an anti-racist voice, committing its resources and capacity to mobilise students to fight for Black Lives Matter, Invasion Day, oppose imperialism and the drive to war and stand up for Palestine. They should stand firm on this stance even when they come under fire from the right and the rich and the powerful, like recent political attacks on campuses around the country on Pro-Palestinian activists for championing this cause.  
 
 
What are the key things you’d want to see changed/achieved as a result of those policies? 
Grisha: I want to have had a lot of cultural festivities and celebrations. If you look at Sydney as a whole, Christmas and Chinese New Year, that’s massively celebrated and I’d like to see other celebrations like Diwali have a larger and broader presence, because Diwali doesn’t get much reach outside of Western Sydney. That’s also what I want for UNSW – I want UNSW to be more vibrant and more celebratory that is inclusive and diverse. 
 
Harrison: I want to see a community where people are actively wanting to learn about people’s cultures and immersing themselves in that, and I want people from diverse backgrounds to feel safe and supported as well. 
 
Shovan: Throughout history, campuses have been a place and students have been a layer which has been a venue for fighting for progressive causes and against racism. UNSW for example was part of the fight against Apartheid, where students organised against the Springbok (rugby) team alongside militant trade unionists, sawing down rugby posts to prevent them from playing. It’s been students as a layer at the forefront of fighting for civil rights across the world, organising to fight segregation in NSW, and organising against war and imperialism in the Vietnam War. We students forced the hand of the government in actually ending Australia’s involvement in the war – which shows how real change can be made. LeftAction wants students to once again be a fighting activist section of society pushing to make the world a better place. That’s what my ticket is trying to help build at UNSW. In 2019, a LeftAction member was ethnocultural officer during the Christchurch shootings. Immediately, we organised a speak out on campus which drew out dozens of both muslims and supportive allies to rally against rank islamophobic, far-right politics, and that’s the kind of thing we need more of. 

What do you see the role of the SRC as? 
Grisha: I think it’s there to represent the students and their interests to the decision-making authorities in UNSW and Arc as well. It’s meant to fight for student rights and their best interests, and it’s meant to tell those authorities what we actually want on campus. It’s about doing our best to achieve student interests 

 
Harrison: I think the role of the SRC is to be a voice and funnel for the many issues the student community faces. We’ve got so many issues that we want to focus on and get change on, and I think the SRC is an arm for the student community to attempt that change. The SRC can’t save the world. I’d love to be able to say that it could, but change is slow and small and our power isn’t global, so I think we need to be focused on student issues, and trying to start the conversation on the issues that the student community needs help with and that we can realistically provide. 
 
 
Shovan: I think there’s a key debate among the tickets as the SRC’s role, from an advisory body that nudges the powers that be from time to time, to my position where I think that the SRC represents a student body that can mobilise thousands and thousands of students and can use its immense resource to get the word out. Not just another lobbying group or another service provider, but an organising and mobilising body. 
 
 

Are you a member of, or affiliated with, any political party or movement? 
Grisha: I’m a member of The Greens.  
 
Harrison: No Affiliations.  
 
Shovan: I’m a member of Socialist Alternative, and I’m a socialist because I believe we need a radically alternative version of society. It’s been socialists historically who have been the most effective fighters against all of the horrors capitalism brings on the world. It’s been socialists who have been key to all of the victories that progressive politics has won. And if anyone reading this is serious about fighting for a better world, they should consider joining Socialist Alternative too! 
 
 

Why did you choose to run with your SRC ticket? 
Grisha: The biggest reason I chose to run with Unite is that it’s made up of society experience and executive members. We’ve got 4 presidents and 7 executives from memory, so we have first-hand experience dealing with Arc and UNSW in terms of how students are represented through societies. We know what works, what doesn’t, and what can be improved. That’s why I chose to run with Unite, because we have the society experience and a kind of unified worldview from our on-the-ground experience about what we need to fight for. 
 
Harrison: I chose Together because it has a practical and long term focus, and being a student who’s voted in previous elections I’ve been pleased with how they’ve performed, particularly introducing FlexWeek which was great for me and improving access to recorded online lectures. It has years and years of experience running as a ticket and therefore you have generational experience with student government and student government work. It also means that what predecessors do can, if they’re not fully successful, be continued on because they’ll have gotten a foot in the door and started the conversation. That’s why I was really excited when I was offered to join Together this election. 
 
Shovan: Left Action is the only ticket this year that’s committed to principled left wing activist approach to the SRC. Our education officer candidate Cherish Kuehlmann has led the fight against ADA restructures all year. We’ve been leafletting, organising, getting the word out, and we’re out here every day (regardless of getting elected) fighting on these questions, not trying to get onto the SRC to stack our resumes for a political future in say, the Labor party in the case of Together. Our approach is to fight for real change and a better world. 
 
 

What is your favourite book? 
Grisha: I’m a very big reader so a single answer is hard. I’ll go with two, one because I love children’s books: (JK Rowling) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and another because I love a good murder mystery with a complex female protagonist: The Girl On the Train (Paula Hawkins). 
 
Harrison: Easy, there’s one I recommend to everyone. Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. Written by a Jewish Holocaust Survivor, he writes from a psychologist’s perspective. He provides a lot of interesting insights about his survival and what that survival means. If I had to pick a book that’s changed my life the most, it’s this one. 
 
Shovan: Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel’s The Communist Manifesto, a guide for how to fight for human liberation 

What person do you most admire? Might be a fictional character or a real person… 
Grisha: Mirabelle from Encanto, I loved how that movie explored intergenerational trauma and how that movie explored Latin American culture despite being a children’s movie. Also, I actually kind of look like her despite not being Latin American myself, like we’ve got the same hair and round face. Mehreen Faruqi as well is a Greens NSW Senator and a Pakistani woman who has been fighting for the things that I wanna fight for, and I’m very proud of the fact that there’s someone who looks like me in politics being able to do that, so she’s a real hero to me. She’s also a former UNSW student, she managed to secure free childcare for students who are also mothers, and while that got sadly removed, I think it’s still really cool that she managed to accomplish that and I want to follow in her footsteps and create a similar kind of lasting legacy through SRC. 

Harrison: As a kid, Louis Pasteur. Ironic for a commerce/law student to pick a scientist, but Louis Pasteur was the guy who invented the process of pasteurisation. He was someone who worked his ass off to accomplish that, but this achievement wasn’t something he monetised, he did it without patenting it simply to do it for the good of society. He was born poor, and died poor despite that opportunity to make money, because was more interested in the common good and in saving people. 
 
Shovan: Rosa Luxemburg, a German revolutionary committed to fighting for the liberation of all, played a leading role in the German Revolution that ended German participation in World War 1. 

Disclaimer: Alejo Pintos-Lopez is a member of the ALP and has attended events hosted by the UNSW Labor Party. 

*Responses have been edited for grammar, brevity and clarity. 

UNSW Return and Earn facility closes in response to alleged “punch-ons”

By Harrisen Leckenby

The UNSW Return and Earn collection facility, a place where students and members of the public can go to return their bottles and cans for 10cents each, closed yesterday due to ongoing security incidents involving the site. 

A University spokesperson confirmed that there had been “several” incidents involved with the Return and Earn facility. Tharunka heard from numerous sources but was unable to confirm if an alleged incident that occurred with the facility a month ago triggered the decision from UNSW senior management. 

In response to questions from Tharunka about the decision to close the facility, an anonymous UNSW employee alleged “punch-ons” were occurring at the facility. Another claimed fights had occurred regularly and shattered glass was left around the facility. 

Sources close to the decision making process told Tharunka that UNSW senior management made the call to close the facility in response to ongoing security issues associated with general members of the public accessing the site.  

With the closure of the Return and Earn facility, students will now need to visit Eastgardens or Bondi Junction to claim the 10c for each can and bottle recycled. 

Arifa Sarfraz, Manager of the Environmental Sustainability department at UNSW and the staff member responsible for implementing the Return and Earn facility, said she was sad to see the facility go, but said she understood the reasoning behind and supports the decision.  

A press release in early July brought attention to the closure, whilst also stating that UNSW has “other measures in place for recycling bottles and cans”, referring to the three bin system currently in place at UNSW.  

The Return and Earn facility was installed in 2018 and since then has recycled over 21 million bottles, according to Arifa Sarfraz.  

No replacement facilities have been installed.  

A UNSW Spokesperson provided the following statement to Tharunka: 

The Return & Earn reverse vending machine located near the entrance of the Old Main Building [was] decommissioned on 31 July 2022 due to several security incidents and ongoing maintenance issues at the facility. The safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community is the University’s priority. We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. The University recognises the contribution the bottle return facility has made to reducing waste on campus and diverting bottles and cans from landfill. UNSW has other measures in place for recycling bottles and cans, including its outdoor three bin system. Alternative locations for the reverse vending machines can be found on the NSW Government Return and Earn website.” 

This article was amended on Tuesday 2 August to state that the Return and Earn facility had recycled 21 million instead of the originally incorrect published figure of 200 million.