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August 20, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Auckland Students Have Yet Another Reason Not to Vote

To round off a clusterfuck of a year at Auckland University Students’ Association that saw three student execs quit, AUSA has set themselves up beautifully for next year with an election that boasts of nine out of the 13 positions running uncontested.

11 candidates are running as a ticket called “Unf*ck AUSA 2019”. These candidates include the uncontested leadership roles of President, Administrative Vice-President, and Education Vice President. In a press release, Unf*ck AUSA 2019 said they are a “team of candidates’ [sic] sick of the fact that AUSA is out of touch with students and considered altogether irrelevant to the student experience”.
Anna Cusack, president of AUSA, said that she was “surprised” that so many positions were uncontested, but believes that it may have something to do with the fact that “most candidates are running on a single ‘ticket’”.
Anand Rama, leader of the Unf*ck Ausa Campaign and uncontested candidate for AUSA President, said he feels “gutted” that he’s the only presidential candidate. “If it wasn’t for our Unf*ck AUSA 2019 campaign we would have EIGHT roles unfilled in these elections. And for a University with over 40,000 students that’s insane.”
Over the last five years, voter turnout at AUSA has ranged from 700 to a couple of thousand people — under 5% of the student population of over 40,000 students. Cusack said that low voter turnout was a “historical problem”.
The traditional candidate’s forum, where candidates give two minute speeches and answered questions from students, has been cancelled this year. The change was passed at this year’s Annual General Meeting. Cusack said that the forum had been “very unsuccessful”, with “incredibly low turnout by students”. In its place, candidates are now asked to submit videos of themselves, and respond to questions posted on their Facebook page by students. Cusack said she believes this is a “positive step for student democracy”.
However, not all students agree. Felix Poole, currently running for Engagement Vice President, said that the videos are “ten times worse”, and the reason that the forum had low turnout was because it was poorly advertised. He questioned the ethics of holding an AGM in which the change was voted in a crowded student bar, saying “they had to bribe people with drinks in order to make constitutional changes”.
In an unofficial Facebook poll posted to Overheard @ University of Auckland, 55% students said that they were unaware that student body elections were happening.
The Unf*ck AUSA Manifesto stated: “So TLDR, AUSA is shit, but it’s actually pretty important… it actually matters which randoms you vote for.”
Salient would like to posit that it would matter more which “randoms” students vote for if students had a choice of more than one candidate.

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