The 2018 UNSW Council. Note Ian Jacobs and David Gonski (front row, left) and 2018-2020 undergrad rep Ike Schwartz (back row, fourth from left). Image: UNSW.

UNSW Council Election Candidates: Your Questions Answered

By Henry Chen

The elections for UNSW’s 2020 undergraduate student representative on the University Council have been mired in controversy. One prominent candidate, Claudia McDonnell, was forced to withdraw from the race following widespread criticism of her racist social media posts. While these events may have increased voter turnout and attention on the elections, the implosion of McDonnell’s campaign has drawn scrutiny away from other candidates.

The elected undergraduate student representative will sit in Council meetings for the next two years, advocating student interests in front of big names like Chancellor David Gonski and Vice-Chancellor Ian Jacobs. The role is unpaid. The ballot email can be found in your UNSW student inbox, and voting will close at 4pm on Monday 29 June.

Tharunka posed four questions to all 37 remaining candidates in the election. These questions covered the candidates’ political affiliation, their commitment to student diversity, their response to the federal government’s proposed increases to uni course fees, and their principal aim in running for the Council position.

Following McDonnell’s withdrawal, there are five candidates actively campaigning for the undergraduate representative position with public Facebook posts and campaign pages. Alexander Humphreys and Peoly Gunaratne are broadly progressive candidates. Jack Petersen and Jack Campbell are politically unaffiliated, advocating for student support services and mental health services on campus. Stephen Bletsas is a Liberal Party supporter aiming to represent a broad range of interests.


Key Points:

  • The overwhelming majority of candidates cited no political affiliation. No candidate in this election has ever volunteered or worked for a political party. 
  • Two candidates, Hariram Sathavisan and Stephen Bletsas, have been involved with the Liberal Party of Australia. Peoly Gunaratne has joined Young Greens and Young Labor Left. 
  • Alexander Humphreys and Hariram Sathavisan, among others, made strong stands against racism.
  • Many candidates described in broad terms that they would communicate with students and send out surveys. But few could say precisely how they would be able to represent the diversity of students at UNSW. 
  • Commendably, Humphreys and Gunaratne laid out extensive policy platforms to promote equity and diversity for students. Jack Petersen was the only candidate to mention consulting with equity groups on campus like Nura Gili and the SRC collectives. 
  • Most candidates appeared ill-informed about the federal government’s looming increases to fees for humanities courses, and wanted to begin by seeking consultation with students.
  • Peoly Gunaratne and Alexander Humphreys explained detailed plans for providing financial assistance to students once the tertiary fee increases begin. Alexander Humphreys was the only candidate who said he would mobilise the UNSW Council to actively campaign against the fee increases.

Of 37 candidates, 16 provided written responses to Tharunka’s questions. Their unedited responses are below.

Show All Responses
Hide All Responses

Alexander Humphreys

1) What is your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party? 

I am not affiliated with any political party nor have I ever volunteered or worked for a political party. I consider myself to be a progressive candidate who will not only stand up for all students’ basic rights and interests, but also allow students to play an active role in setting the agenda for UNSW’s future. I am proud of the fact that I will work towards making a progressive difference on the lives of all UNSW students without being constrained by any party affiliation. 

2) What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body? 

I have devised a 12-point policy framework to achieve my ambitious goals of protecting students’ interests and allowing students to set the agenda (available on my campaign page). At the core of this framework is protecting and celebrating our diverse and multicultural student community. The diverse nature of our student community is what makes UNSW such a unique and special place to study. I believe that my policy plan is able to make a difference to all students at UNSW. Specifically, I pledge to ensure there is increased diversity on UNSW student boards to give ALL students a voice, make UNSW a more ergonomic and disability friendly campus and ensure financial and accommodation relief remains for International and college students. On top of these initiatives, I will also push for the university to implement anti-racism and discrimination modules for students to complete when they first enter UNSW which emphasises the importance of respecting all students during their time at university. Standing against racism and discrimination of any form should be at the forefront of all students’ minds. Such modules would be in a similar structure to the anti-plagiarism modules which UNSW makes students complete when starting at UNSW. 

I also acknowledge it would be naïve to suggest one representative can perfectly understand all of the issues facing our 35,000 strong community. Whilst I truly believe that my 12-point plan can make a difference to the lives of all students, I pledge to actively engage with the undergraduate student community to enable all students the opportunity to raise issues they care about. Every student’s voice is valuable, every student’s concern is important, and no student member can assume they perfectly understand each student’s concerns. Always being there for students is a crucial role the Undergraduate Student Council member plays and I plan to actively engage with students as much as I can if elected. 

3) How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

I will be advocating strongly for UNSW to utilise its position in the Group of 8 University Coalition and its position as a member of Universities Australia to actively campaign against the Federal Governments proposed plan to increase university fee courses.  If elected, I will move a motion on the UNSW Council to ensure that the Council makes a public statement to condemn the changes and make a commitment to persuade the government to reconsider their initiative.  As one of Australia’s leading universities we must use our voice effectively to call out an initiative which will lock out millions of students from pursuing their passion, will have a devastating and disproportionate impact on individuals from low socio-economic backgrounds who want to pursue their dreams without any guarantee that the policy move will achieve the government’s goal of getting more students to study STEM courses. 

If such lobbying does not work, I will then push hard for UNSW to conduct a large philanthropic program to provide fee relief and scholarships for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to ensure they are still able to pursue their passions despite the fee increases. UNSW cannot be allowed to become the university that stopped students from pursuing their passions and must be the university of opportunity for everyone in society. 

4) What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on the UNSW Council? 

For UNSW to adopt a progressive and social justice orientated research agenda which enables undergraduate students to participate on projects in collaboration with Professors. This opportunity will enable students to gain more real-world experience whilst at university rather than simply focusing on learning course materials. UNSW should strive to be a university which provides as much practical and real-world experience for students and I believe that getting students to participate in research which seeks to benefit society is a great way to combine the theory learnt in the classroom with reality outside of it. By ensuring UNSW adopts this research agenda we also ensure our university works hard to do all it can to make a valuable contribution to making a difference in society.

Jack Campbell

Image may contain: 1 person, text

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.

Jack Petersen

1.    What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I’ve never been affiliated with any political party both on or off campus. Nor do I intend to become affiliated in the foreseeable future, as I feel being an outsider helps me think critically about the pressing issues. 

2.    What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

Whenever a proposal involving minority groups comes to the table, I will sound out groups such as Nura Gili, People of Colour Collective, Queer Collective & others for their valuable perspective on these issues. 

3.    How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

I’d like to preface my answer to this question by noting how complicated this proposal is. A number of economic principles need to be considered, especially the elasticity of demand for degrees where fees will be increasing, how successfully graduates of the affected degrees are finding work & whether the extent of the skills shortage justifies action of this scale.

Given this, my truthful answer is that I don’t believe I’m informed enough to make an educated comment at this time. Rest assured though that if I’m elected this will be one of my top priorities given the magnitude of the changes proposed. 

4.    What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

A student with a mental illness faces the prospect of being turned away from CAPS – our on-campus psychology service – if they don’t jump through hoops and follows their procedures perfectly. This is unacceptable to me.

If nothing else, I’m aiming to make sure no student who needs help gets turned away. I’m also looking to improve the presence of Arc’s Wellness Warriors, Student Minds & other mental health groups on campus. And most importantly, I want to ensure UNSW doesn’t cut money from these services in the upcoming budget.

Peoly Gunaratne

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I’m definitely a progressive and align with a lot of socialist principles but have never worked or volunteered for any political party as of yet. I’ve joined Young Greens and Young Labor Left because I support many of their policies on issues such as climate action, justice for asylum seekers, economic justice and Indigenous affairs. In some areas I don’t agree with both of the parties’ policies so I also look into the work Independents and grassroots non-government organisations do. I am a sucker for political activism and believe that regardless of differences in views and opinions, young people should recognise what issues are important to them and educate themselves on the work political parties and politicians are doing within their community/ state.

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

My first and foremost priority for Council is to increase the educational pathways/ opportunities provided for low SES and Indigenous students. UNSW prides itself on being an “international exemplar in equity, diversity and inclusion” (taken directly from the website) yet I see many of the actions UNSW executes as borderline performative – a means to simply “check a box” in the fight toward equal opportunity. I want to reorganise the Council budget and increase funding allocated toward equity scholarships and programs that will open doors of opportunity to many more students. I want UNSW to be more vocal of it’s support toward the Australian Indigenous community and take pride in its current First Nations students whilst normalising discussion and project based action on Indigenous affairs well into the future.

UNSW is an internationally renowned university but our uni has so much more to do! It is important that Council stops participating in merely symbolic actions in the name of ‘diversity’ and instead commits to the creation of new programs that will financially support the education of Indigenous and low SES students better. This is a crucial first step to ensuring that our multicultural student body is well looked after and that student needs are prioritised within Council.

I want every student to be well supported by the University during their time at UNSW.

I want every student (no matter what) to feel included and to recognise that they are deserving of their place within our student body.

I want to see our student body more united and stronger than ever – and this begins with EQUITY and equal opportunity.

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees?

The increase in University course fees will result in many students having to rethink their University course options – more specifically, students that are thinking of studying Arts and Law subjects. This hike in students fees ultimately bars many low SES students from even having a University degree as an educational path they can feasibly take. It angers me deeply that the lowering of fees for STEM (and related) courses comes at the sacrifice of other University courses. The prioritisation of producing “job ready graduates” and providing greater support and incentive for students studying STEM (and related courses) should not economically disadvantage an entire demographic of students.

The UNSW Council response should be a plan of action that works to support low SES students first both within University and applying to UNSW. There needs to be a reshuffling of budget where equitable learning support is increased in the form of more scholarships being created and awarded that cover not only large degrees like law and medicine but also support students wishing to study degrees and subjects

that are directly impacted by the fee hikes. With the fee hikes – current scholarships (for e.g law) will be a lot less valuable to students so there needs to be an altering of scholarship funding for the current awards as well. For our current UNSW students, Council should increase funding for the on campus and online equitable learning service that – having discussed with fellow peers – is incredibly helpful and supportive as it is. More students need to be made aware of the opportunity and with the allocation of greater funding made toward bettering the resources the service provides – students will feel better financed and cared for by UNSW under the fee increases.

I also believe Council can find ways to better support students by including FASS (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), the Law Faculty and other faculties impacted by the fee hikes into the conversation about what actions should be prioritised and what means are most effective in battling the fee increase. I believe the Council working in unity rather than independently when it comes to this issue – is what will ensure tangible assistance for students.

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on the UNSW Council?

Working in Council amongst many other high ranking individuals will be difficult. Working in any group that has a variety of different and sometimes clashing opinions and perspectives results in progress being slower than usual – but I don’t want the student body to feel disheartened about this. In Council I want to ensure that the other members I work with – truly understand how different REAL student issues and priorities are compared to what the University thinks the student body requires and wants. I want to achieve and BE a clear line of communication between the student body and a top notch bureaucratic committee. I want to speak to Council on a range of issues from my policy ideas on equity and climate justice to the justice as important issues other candidates are pushing for – e.g improvement of mental health services, increasing transport services and bettering the support for international students (to name a few). I want more of the student body to care about what is discussed and planned in Council and show that although students are working with a bunch of adults (mostly seeming detached from the issues us students care about), it is still very possible for tangible change to occur and for Council to work FOR the students rather than for the profit of the University.

The one thing I want to achieve within the UNSW Council is strengthening the line of communication and conversation between STUDENTS and ESTABLISHMENT and for that to be ongoing as other Council operates for many years to come.

Stephen Bletsas

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I am a proud supporter of the Liberal Party of Australia, and I haven’t volunteered or worked for the Liberal party before.

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

I want an open two-way relationship with all my fellow undergrad students. I will reach out and listen to each and every concern I receive, no matter how big or small, the student is always first. I aim to actively participate in various university events to immerse myself with my cohort and be able to directly interact with students.

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees?

The recent plan is being used to coerce students into choosing degrees that will boost Australia’s future economy, removing the student’s satisfaction of choosing what they enjoy doing. Students should be free to study whatever they want and not be pressured by financial implications. If elected, I will express my feelings, as well as the feelings of my cohort, in council meetings to find a solution for this issue and impose change to the proposed plan laid out by the government. 

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on the UNSW Council?

I want to have made a positive difference as a result to being a member on the UNSW council. Any adjustments to the way the university is run because of my actions and your voices will be seen as victory for me. This is our university and we should enforce change to make it a better and safer environment for all students.

Aaron Taplin

  1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I am not politically affiliated, however, during the 3 years that I have volunteered for Gold Coast City Council as a Secondary High School Student, I have worked with many members of the community that are Liberal, Labor and Greens politically affiliated (just to name a few).

  1. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

I will ensure that I represent myself with respect, responsibleness and resilience in our diverse and multicultural student body. Being respectful, responsible and resilient is a motto I have carried from my secondary education. It is known as the 3 Rs and are easy to remember; it brings positivity to the students and staff of the UNSW community because of the message that it inspires.

  1. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees?

I understand that the increase in university course fees may upset many students, however, together in the UNSW council we can arrange an argument that may change the Federal Government’s decision. On the other hand, if we are not able to achieve this, we can continue supporting the students and staff in the UNSW community via helpful financial services.

  1. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

I plan to inspire the ADFA UNSW community through the UNSW Council. I love motivational speaking, and  I hope in the future I will receive this opportunity and make our learning environment more comfortable for both military and civilian students.

Arsham Emad

1) What is your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

Having not officially volunteered or worked for a political party, I have volunteered as a member of my city’s Youth Advisory Council in Tasmania. This offered me the opportunity to better understand the structure and processes set in place when dealing with council’s who represent a body of people. Among other actions, I, among the other council members, helped to vote on delegating funds to local school initiatives and advocated for the Youth Advisory Council by hosting a pop-up shop in my town during National Youth Week. I believe these experiences put me in a better position to serve as a UNSW Council undergrad student representative.

2) What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body? 

The diversity and multiculturality of our student body gives it its strength as varying perspectives lend themselves to bringing out the best in each other. I have had first hand experience taking part in UNSW’s equity programs for disadvantaged students. I believe there is room to ensuring the student body is aware of the programs available to it, but also room to facilitate conversations to discovery what would support the student body from its perspective.

3) How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

During this tumultuous time, finances are set to be stretched in all sectors of society, including education, which we have seen first hand in the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees. I believe having proper knowledge of the issue at hand provides clarity on the possible actions to take which will provide desirable outcomes. UNSW’s reputation puts it in good standings within the international scene. This is an advantaged to be leverage while dealing with this period.

4) What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on the UNSW Council? 

Upon leaving the representative position, my goal is to ensure that the student body knows that it has been heard on issues it raises on the matters which are profound to it. Insuring the student body is heard requires acknowledgeable action to be taken in response to their comments and sentiments. This leads to the instatement of faith in effectiveness of the council system.

Ashlee James

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

* I believe I hold a liberal stance, as many of my world views and perspectives on social issues regard the importance of equality and autonomy which I affiliate to be with Liberalism. 

* I haven’t volunteered nor worked for a particular political party. However, regarding the support of social issues that relate to a liberal view, for example signing petitions relative to pertaining issues, I do my best to support. 

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

* This may be weird to say but I hope students can view me as a bridge. I really want people to be comfortable to express their views, proposals, and issues to me, so that I can use that information to create positive change within the Council position. 

* As UNSW’s student body is diverse and multicultural, I understand that there will be many views pertaining to similar issues but hold differing perspectives. In this case, it would be my role to ensure that all voices are heard and considered, and that a balance is struck to support all students in the best way achievable. 

* As I am just one student, it is difficult to know of all the proposals, changes, and feedback, that the  student body holds. So I hope to foster meaningful connections that aim to break down the barriers that may limit students from expressing their views to me. 

* I’m quite outspoken, and will not hesitate to speak up. 

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

* The increase in university fees is a really difficult time, and will have a significant impact on many students. As one of the council’s duties is to establish and direct the annual budget, my response to the increase in fees would be to establish more placements for financial assistance. Supporting students in ways other than financially is also very important, and the mental health of students during this change especially, is extremely important to consider and provide support. 

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

* I really want to achieve a stronger sense of community. Unless an individual is highly involved in extra- curricular activities or societies, it can be difficult to socialise and create long lasting friendships that continue after the term you in which you shared the same class. 

* Although there are issues that require change and discussion on a more specific level which I aim to address. The change I really want to instigate is University life outside of the classroom. 

* I’m sure many students have a thriving social life, but I really want to support students who may not encompass this, and provide the opportunity to improve and build upon student connection and university experience. 

* I hope to facilitate more events that cater to students facing these challenges. As well as hold more events that challenge important social issues. This point relates with my response to question 2, I hope these students can feel comfortable to express their concerns to me, so I can do whatever I can in my power to create a positive change regarding university experience.

Calista Kusuma

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I have never worked or volunteered for a political party both in and off campus.

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

I believe the best way to understand and be a fair voice for a diverse student body is to keep talking. I want to be someone that people can talk to about their experiences, feelings, opinions and concerns. An example of a way I would engage with different students is by engaging with different student societies as a way to get to know more people in the community, and their backgrounds and interests— I’ve been involved in societies and love how they give people a comfortable place where they can be authentic and grow, so I’d love to meet people through those spaces and hear their stories. I would also love to introduce new initiatives or events to promote multiculturalism on campus , and work with my council members and student groups in doing so.

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

Through the position I would like to work with others in the council, and use my platform as an advocate for the student body to listen to current and potential future student concerns. I would bring these to the table in discussions regarding the plan, and work together with the postgrad and staff representatives to create a practical plan of action and recommendations to tackle the issue. 

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

Overall I would love to see the board’s recommendations come into effect in consideration to critical issues like university fee increases. Being a voice for a student body is about advocating for and enacting positive change- I hope that by listening to my peers, my reccomendations will do that. I am particularly passionate about promoting diversity on campus- so I would like to introduce new and improve our current diversity initiatives.

Calvin Li

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I personally don’t have any political affiliation and I have not volunteered for a political party no matter in Australia or in China.

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

I respect and advocate our diverse and multicultural student body. I love travelling (Greece, Hongkong, Singapore, United States, Taiwan. Etc.). Through travelling, I not only enjoyed the common convenience brought by modern tech, but saw and discovered those special local cultures which contributed the flourishing world. That’s why I will help and support international student groups, on and off campus, to bring us their cultures. For example, Hold an fashion show of traditional costumes of different countries and periods like Hanfu, Kimono, Cheongsam,  Jellaba and Kaftan.

Also, some special groups should also be noticed. I would work to provide people with disabilities, LGBTs, etc. to have a way to share their stories to other students, promote their belief, and stand equally to express their opinions.

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

As for the recent decision, which I personally opposed to, I think the government wants to increase the proportion of local students and promote the development of STEM subjects. However, there’s a downside that should be really reconsidered: Many highly regarded universities not only depend on domestic scholars but also scholars all over the world, such decision would put education quality at risk. Also, some universities would even trying to make more money by spinning courses such as business, law and humanities. These subjects should not be discouraged, because the world needs not only work force but also opinion leaders, communicators and justice creators.  I would start a poll to see everyone’s suggestion and start a petition to guard our deserved right. At the meantime, I would gather up members to figure out a more effective way to increase domestic student proportion.

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

I want to devote myself in boosting our teaching quality to a new level. With the help of UNSW Council, I hope to form an academic visiting team to learn from and work with top universities in the world like Harvard university and university of Cambridge. I believe that learning the details of these top universities such as developing students’ leadership vision, soft skills in teaching, and rich extracurricular activities can help UNSW to the next level.

Hannah Loh

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I do not have a fixed political affiliation, and have not volunteered or worked for a political party. However, I stand against extremist political views.

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

I have been blessed to have grown up in a community that strongly supports diversity and equality. I am also thankful for the multicultural student body within UNSW, and the strong friendships I have made with both domestic and international students. I believe it is my responsibility to pay this forward. If given the opportunity to represent you, our student body, I will seek to represent your ideas honestly and fairly by seeking your opinion (through media channels, surveys and the like) on key decisions that the UNSW Council will need to make.

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

Currently, the government plans to increase university course fees for humanities courses in particular, while decreasing fees for other courses that lead to jobs deemed to be necessary as we emerge from this COVID-19 crisis. I can understand the government’s position, but I recognise how important the humanities will continue to be. I believe that we need the humanities to guide us as we seek out maturity and wisdom in this strange new future. I would like to hear your opinion on this issue, and will be a voice for your ideas on the UNSW Council.

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

I would like to be an honest and straightforward representative of the student body, helping to guide our university to innovate and advance in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Hariram Sathavisan

1.    What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I have never directly worked for any political party however, I have recently become a member of the UNSW Liberal Society.

2.    What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

I will talk to people from diverse backgrounds and develop a solid understanding of their cultural values as I have been doing all this time and encourage other students to do the same, to achieve this I think it would be necessary to acknowledge the various festivals originating from the diverse cultures that UNSW students belong to. Also, what needs to be done is to call out any instances of racism immediately and to raise awareness about these issues, as it needs to be made clear that racism is never okay on or off campus(including social media).

3.    How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

Even though responding to this can be quite challenging, I think what needs to be done is to create a stronger voice and not limiting this to UNSW students, we should collaborate with other universities and make this our biggest issue. This is an issue which needs to be addressed as soon as possible before it worsens. We can make a living off our education, but we should not allow others to make a living off our education.

4.    What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

The main motivation I had to become the student representative for the UNSW Council was to make amendments to the current trimester system (considering the current situation changing back to semesters does not seem too achievable). I was willing to include a midterm break(quite similar to the flexibility week that some schools have) after the occurrence of their midterm  exams, so that students have time to catch up with topics that they may have neglected while they were studying for their midterm exams, or they could use it to give themselves a break. If such a plan does not happen to work, I will at least extend the flexibility week to other schools as currently there are still some schools which have not implemented this yet.

Jennifer Lin

1.    What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I barely have any political affiliation which means I remain neutral on this issue. I have never volunteered for a political party.

2.    What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

If I am elected as a representative for undergraduate students, I will utilize my own time to have more knowledge of different cultures among the students, and bring more communication between me and students, which will prompt them to voice their thoughts to me and then I can have a better knowledge of them. This means I am capable of representing them and delivering their thoughts to public.

3.    How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

Firstly, I’ll be positive to respond to any changes done by federal government. As I know, there are many students have difficulty in the increased payment of course fee. Hence I will build up a volunteering group to help them solve their issues by comforting them and finding official financial support for them. I’ll try my best to make everything unexpected smooth to our life.

4.    What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council?

I want to achieve an aim of truly helping and bringing benefits to student through my own efforts. Since I have never been an representative of such an amount of students, there are a lot of challenges waiting for me , I’m forward to the hardships with full passion.

Jia Song

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party? 

    I have not made preference to any political party.

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body? 

    I think I should work with all of colleagues in the undergraduate council and other students who are not participant in the council. Although it is a big issue, I can do some parts of it and have some small advices.

    The first thing that I may usually chat with students who comes from different background and who has studied on a variety of majors. I will consider all the different elements of and levels of the composition of the student group, which ensures me get a multicultural perspective from a large range of students.

     Secondly, I should sort out all the information into several category with similar responses that I can apply the valid data to analyse the issue and attempt design initiatives to solve it. Subsequently, I can make several approaches practicing these initiatives whether can work out and receive feedbacks and write down into the protocols.

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees? 

    I have not considered much on course fees, actually the university course fees has increased each year, I think it may because of currency inflation. This time, thing seems different, the pandemic situation lets us consider the question on absorbing more medical and nursing and related major students. That is the macro control of governmental level and the financial control may be the best direct way of doing that. However, not all the students may have gifts to study such these courses, there are still a number of students who love arts and social science courses. The tuition fee is the reason for students and their families to consider, but it is not the main one, the basic reason for students to choose courses is the course preference and the professional development in the future.

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on UNSW Council? 

    The most important thing that I’d like to achieve is to practice my skills including communication skills, research skills and the skills to work with different departments and agencies. This is a chance for me to make acquaintance with different groups, I can know how to work with a variety of groups with different personalities and backgrounds. It is also a chance for me to open my mind that I can critically think and consider like a mediate, between the perspective of government and students. I can comprehensively consider an issue and give the response from a corresponding party.

Timothy Morsanuto

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

I don’t have a political affiliation per se. I don’t agree entirely with any of the major parties and I think categorising people as either “left wing” or “right wing” is asinine and divisive. I haven’t volunteered or worked for any political parties or organisations. 

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

I consider myself to be quite a straight-talker (though this sometimes gets me into trouble). If I see inequality, unfair treatment, harassment or prejudice based on any factor I deem unimportant, I’ll call that person out respectfully. This undoubtedly includes race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation and many other components of a person’s identity. I try to hold myself to a high standard and focus on my individual motivations, paying careful attention to my views and internally supporting/justifying them to the hilt. This is to ensure that I act respectfully and justifiably at all times. I hope that would be a fair representation of our community, but I also understand that my perspectives are unique and I welcome discussion to change my opinions. 

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees?

In all honesty, I don’t intend to run for this position anymore after all of the drama surrounding StuPol. I don’t think it’s worth being cast into the fray of public opinion, just in the hope of having a relatively small impact. I wish the elected representative all the best of luck, and I will support them in whatever way I can. As for the university course fees, times are tough for Australia. We’re in a recession, and the future generation (us) will -once again- be faced with the consequences of the current caretakers of our society. As such, I think it’s worth guiding students towards crucial, in-demand fields of education and employment. I do not believe that this means fielding a huge price-hike for undesirable courses, while camouflaging a smaller price-hike under the guise of increased positions for other courses. I think the in-demand courses should have been incentivised, though I understand that this money has to come from somewhere and that government revenue is not unlimited. It’s a very heated discussion that nobody wants to have, but that we all need to have. 

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on the UNSW Council?

Again, I’m disillusioned and disappointed by the drama in this year’s “election campaign”. I don’t want a part of the pettiness accompanying this position, since I know my opinions and comments would be relentlessly challenged and scrutinised by thousands. I don’t think that I want to dedicate so much time and effort to a position that I’m not passionate or excited about anymore. Again, I wish the future undergraduate student representative all the best. If they are able to truly perform their duty and represent our cohort, they have a very important role to play indeed.

Vishaal Darshan Somaiya

1. What’s your political affiliation? Have you ever volunteered or worked for a political party?

Political affiliations are for those who are privileged, a common uni student (who I consider myself to be) is just worried about when his or her next assignment is due and when’s the next party so they can get laid . You might think that I am insulting them but that is not true it’s actually a compliment . The common person has uni figured out , politics is just too dirty and mind boggling for many people who have families and addictions to support . Someone has to do the dirty work though right ? Maybe that someone could be me . Who knows ? The only reason I’m doing this as I mentioned in my candidacy statement is , I want to ask questions and create some drama hopefully leading to some truths . Hopefully the voters and me are in search of those same truths. 

2. What will you do to ensure you can represent all students in our diverse and multicultural student body?

See I do not think that at the end of the day representing different people should be that great a task for any competent fool (myself included) . We’re all people at the end of the day and obviously there will be communities that might need more help and being an international student I have faced some of those challenges but at the end of the day even if I haven’t faced them it shouldn’t be hard to empathise to true , raw pain of some of these communities and at least try to bring change on their behalf . Especially at the student level where corruption and politics is supposed to be at its least toxic . 

3. How will you respond to the federal government’s plan to increase university course fees?

See asking a student body to respond to a federal policy might be stretching it a bit . They’re a student body at the end of the day but that doesn’t mean they can’t do anything . They can ask for accountability and transparency on the universities side . Transparency as to where the student fees are going and how it’s being spent exactly . And I’m not talking about just some balance sheet which has a bunch of miscellaneous or jargon written on it . It should be as simple to understand as it is to understand where a kid spends their pocket money . If the student body unites as a whole then I don’t see why we cannot get some of these answers . 

4. What is the one thing you want to achieve in your time on the UNSW Council?

As mentioned in my candidacy statement – I want to be known as the guy who was basically google to all the students queries about UNSW which they cannot find on the actual google . I will give anyone an answer straight up and I will make sure that at least from my side I will do all I can to get the answers any student wants .

Alexander Crawford, Haonan Zhong, Princy Thakkar, Weiming Ma, Fiamma Kitching, Ahad-Anhiang Zafar, John Economides, Avreet Kaur, Yujiao Jin, Isaac Gresham, Yiran Zheng, Chris Li, Gracia Yu, Dongfang Qu, Lisa Tarantino, Dominique Djaidiguna, Harikrishna Manogaran, Charles Lowe, Daniel Garfinkel, Sung Go and Shuyao Wang did not reply.

If you are a candidate and you would like to make a correction to this article, please email tharunka@arc.unsw.edu.au.

Check Also

From the Homeland to the Diaspora: An Assyrian Outlook

Ethno-cultural associations like Assyrian Students' Association provide a means of celebrating culture within a multicultural environment at UNSW.