Design by Stephanie Ung

Education Officer at the SRC Elections 2021: meet your candidates

by Nadia Maunsell

The hotly contested Education Officer position has four candidates in the running. Issues like university fees, the climate crisis and student unionism are at the forefront of their campaigns. 

The candidates in their own words: 

  • Vihan Roy (Spice Up) “I want to be the people’s voice, independent of party politics.” 
  • Luc Velez (Grassroots Resistance) “I will work towards strengthening student unionism and build towards mass student democracy.” 
  • Cherish Kuehlmann (Left Action) “I have consistently opposed the federal fee hikes, staff and course cuts when the university insisted it was necessary.” 
  • Ahona Dutta did not respond to Tharunka’s request for comment 

Keypoints:

  • Vihan Roy is a member of Spice Up, Luc Velez is a member of Grassroots Resistance and Cherish Kuehlmann is a member of Left Action. 
  • Vihan Roy places a strong emphasis on improving online testing and reducing the SSAF fee, while Luc Velez and Cherish Kuehlmann prioritise student activism to address student concerns through campaigning and fighting social injustice. 
  • None of the candidates have experience as former members of the SRC, however Vihan Roy contributes to Law Revue, and Luc Velez and Cherish Kuehlmann are active members of the Education Collective. 

Get to know your nominees! 

Vihan Roy  

Ticket: Spice Up  

What would you like to achieve as part of the SRC? 

I want to be the people’s voice, independent of party politics. 

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

I have never been directly involved in the SRC but I have helped in contributing to Revue society events, heading Promotions for Law Revue this term. 

What are the biggest issues facing UNSW students in 2021? 

Online testing is highly unreliable and temperamental. Just in T1 MATH1A students, over 70% of them were right out of high school, forced to be under great pressure when the online MapleTA platform crashed. And similar stories can be found in all faculties in UNSW. 
 
I think the SRC should take a strong role in lobbying for better platforms and more online servers to reduce the impact of this unreliability. 
 
The SSAF is overly expensive ($300 p.a.) and should be reduced. More importantly, students choosing to study at home should not have to pay for something that doesn’t affect them at all. We are committed to reducing the SSAF and ending it all together for remote students.  
 
Being under lockdown for so long, student engagement has also significantly decreased in lectures and tutorials. I want to change this by revamping how we look at lectures altogether, to make it more useful for students. 

Luc Velez  

Ticket: Grassroots Resistance  

What would you like to achieve as part of the SRC? 

I will work towards strengthening student unionism and build towards mass student democracy.  
 
Currently, the SRC’s collectives are the most open facets of the student union which allow for collective decision making and non-hierarchical organizing. I strongly encourage students to get involved with collectives to shape student-led campaigns. Engagement with your student union doesn’t need to be limited to voting in elections. I will continue to fight for strong collectives at UNSW, advocating for increased funding, autonomy and power.  
 
I am focused on strengthening the Education Collective. I want to see the collective’s membership and reach grow, so we can strengthen staff-student solidarity and run strong radical campaigns for free and liberatory education.  
 

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

I have been actively involved in both the Education Collective and the Environment Collective this year. In the Education Collective, we have developed poster/social media campaigns addressing issues like increasing class sizes, staff casualisation and the problems with quantitative benchmarking (like myExperience). We also collaborated with a group of academic staff to organise online forums looking at these issues.  
 

What are the biggest issues facing UNSW students in 2021? 
 
UNSW Grassroots is focused on organizing for climate justice and liberatory education. To build a better world, we need to strengthen worker power so we can combat the interests of the capitalist class. There is no solution to the climate crisis that maintains the current economic and political power dynamics. Likewise, we must build towards free education and the abolition of previous student debt. University fees and debt only exacerbate inequality and class divides.  
 

Cherish Kuehlmann  

Ticket: Left Action  

What would you like to achieve as part of the SRC? 

Left Action are a group of left-wing, anti-capitalist activists who are dedicated all year round, not just during SRC elections, to organising a fighting response to every social injustice under capitalism.  
 
As the candidate for Education Officer, I have consistently opposed the federal fee hikes, staff and course cuts when the university insisted it was necessary. 

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

I’ve attended many SRC meetings to argue for the SRC to take a left wing stand on social issues or take up the fight for students’ interests. As a socialist at UNSW, I’ve also been involved in many campaigns. I’ve been a part of building some of the biggest Palestine solidarity demonstrations in years, a campaign against cuts to university courses and staff that saw hundreds of students face down the NSW police, the Liberals and university management, mass climate rallies during the Black Summer bushfires, protests against Latham and the Liberals anti-LGBTI ‘religious discrimination’ bills, and many more.  

What are the biggest issues facing UNSW students in 2021? 

For the second year in a row, capitalism has caused millions of people to die from a global pandemic because the profits of businesses came before the necessary health measures proven to save lives and reduce cases. The climate crisis is raging across the Northern Hemisphere, as fires and record heat waves stretch from North America to Europe. These crises and more I think have a significant impact and concern students. Left Action is about both pointing out these horrors that capitalism produces, but also about celebrating the power of ordinary people to resist and fight for a different vision of society.  
 

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Elections will be held online in Week 4, from October 5th to October 8th. From Weeks 1-4, Tharunka will be covering the lead-up to the elections, including hosting debates with individual candidates in Week 3. If you are interested in watching the debate for Education Officer, check out our event here.To keep up with the action, follow us on Facebook or check our website

 

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