The Tumultuous Hellscape that Was the 2020 UNSW Council Election Is Over – Results Released

the UNSW crest, with a gold lion and the southern cross. It reads 'Scientia' at the top, and 'Manu Et Mente' at the bottom.

by Axel-Nathaniel Rose and Henry Chen

The UNSW Council election has potentially never been so well publicised, with many students admitting to having not known the Council existed, let alone what it does. 

(Spoiler warning: it’s a big deal. All of the core executive decisions go through the Council, including setting mission statements and goals, electing Chancellor, funding allocation, and property rights. See our primer here.)

Unfortunately, all eyes weren’t on the Council because of the tumultuous times for all Australian universities, with profits and budgets slashed and staff asked to take the fall, modes of operation seismically shifted, and ideological battles on the worth of various vocations being battled at a volume that’s been building for years – not to mention that UNSW has already been facing big changes with due to Trimesters. 

Instead it was undergraduate nominee, Claudia McDonnell, being outed as having made multiple racist comments on social media, as recently as May this year. The UNSW Discussion Group exploded, UNSW itself got involved with a statement of support for McDonnell in light of alleged mass-cyberbullying, and that was met with, well, mixed response.

While the circumstances weren’t the best, it’s possible no other Council election has ever had so much attention. Voting closed at 4pm on the 29th of June, and we can officially announce that the Undergraduate representative is Jack Campbell, and the post-graduate representative is Constantine Tsounis.

They will be joining Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs, several government representatives, internally elected figures, and the three other voted positions: two academic staff, (Professor Kristy Muir, and Associate Professor Louise Lutze-Mann), and one non-academic staff member (James Rogers [yes, his profile’s blank. We’ll get back to you.]). 

Jack Campbell will be representing tens of thousands of undergraduate students. Here’s what he has said over the course of his campaign and what we can expect in the year ahead!

First, his candidate statement:

“As a second year Medicinal Chemistry student who spent a gap year in the military I am passionate about improving the UNSW experience for students. It is my firm belief that the university is capable of promoting a culture that focuses on putting students and staff first. I will bring this about by ensuring a student-focused bounce-back plan as university life returns from COVID-19. This will be in conjunction with overseeing a more equitable funding distribution of the Student Services and Amenities Fee. Improving mental health services is vital in maintaining a strong supportive culture amongst undergraduate students. Furthermore, I will aim to develop connections between undergraduates and industry partners so that students have greater direction into their professional lives. Through my experience as a Yellow Shirt and a member of Enactus I am certain we can forge a more transparent relationship between the UNSW administration and students.”

Secondly, Campbell’s responses to Tharunka‘s questions:

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?
I have no political affiliation and I have never volunteered or worked for a political party.

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?
My policies are concerned with funding services that are used by all students on campus. After this election I want to remain an accessible candidate for all undergraduate students. I will remain contactable through clearly advertised contact details and I will urge students to get in touch so that I can represent their concerns.

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees?
It would be very difficult to prevent these measures from being implemented due to them coming from the federal government, however I will continue to do everything I can to ensure all students who may be affected by this are properly supported in the courses they want to undertake.

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?
I would love to see our student support services and organisations receive a greater allocation of funding from the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). The current SSAF allocation falls short of properly funding key student services, with a significant amount being directed away from our students. I believe this change will ultimately benefit all undergraduates at UNSW with greater funding towards ARC, clubs and societies, the SRC, CAPS, and the on campus medical centre.

(You can find all the nominee Q+As by Tharunka’s Managing Editor, Henry, here.)

And finally, here is Campbell’s ‘Bounce Back With Jack’ Policy Statement and plan.