Labor Right Launches Tharunka Challenge, Recruits Media Students

Perennial SRC election candidate Brendan Byron has thrown his hat into the Tharunka elections for 2012, recruiting a team to run as a media student team.

Byron had last year been involved with the Labor Right “Fresh” ticket for SRC elections, running unsuccessfully for the NUS Delegate and Undergraduate Councillor positions.

He also nominated for the Tharunka editor position under the “Turning Over A New Leaf” ticket alongside Adam Marsters and Sadaf Hakimi, before being disqualified from that vote.

“Fresh” was criticised last year after it was revealed the policies listed on the Facebook campaign page had been lifted directly from those used by the “Voice” ticket in the University of Sydney SRC elections.

According to sources within the media faculty, Byron criticised current Tharunka editors as running the magazine as an oligarchy. He pointed to a lack of sport and the refusal of Tharunka to run photography.

Tharunka editor Kylar Loussikian said he recommended Byron read Tharunka before criticising it. “We’ve run several sports pieces this year, including a longer piece on uni games earlier.”

“I think we’ve broken a series of good stories, including the Arc retail buy-back, the Liberal AGM fiasco and the monorail hoax. It’s been a good year,” he said.

Last week the Student Representative Council passed a motion expressing concern at the involvement of Peter White, senior lecturer in Journalism, in helping organising a ticket with Byron.

White has since responded to these concerns, telling SRC President Tim Kaliyanda it was not his intention to become involved in student politics.

“My intention was just to facilitate communication between students interested in engaging in the on-campus democratic process,” he wrote.

Regardless, the invitation to join a media faculty ticket was not passed onto all in the faculty, instead only sent to a handful of students.

It was not clear whether Byron had indicated his previous political involvement to Professor White.

Tharunka was also informed that Byron had originally approached Media Society for assistance in organising a journalism student ticket for Tharunka, but Media Society’s reluctance to become politically involved saw them walk away from the agreement.

Byron had promised that journalism students could run on the Labor Right ticket, and accused current Tharunka editors of bias toward the SRC.

At the SRC meeting Friday, Tharunka editor Kylar Loussikian was criticised by Michael Rosser, who ran alongside Brendan Byron on last year’s “Fresh” ticket.

Rosser told the SRC that several of the editor’s tweets would discourage media students from becoming involved with Tharunka.

Kylar Loussikian said Tharunka had always encouraged as many students as possible to become involved.

“I’m proud that under this year’s team we’ve increased Tharunka‘s budget, circulation, and readership whilst recruiting the best writers from across the UNSW student community and setting up a partnership with the JMRC to give UNSW media students a chance to contribute to Tharunka and be paid for it.”

Cameron McPhedran & Elizabeth Stern