Student Elections and DUSA: What’s up with that?

Have you ever been trapped by a random student on campus in a coloured shirt asking for your vote? Or have you ever received a random message through Facebook asking you the same thing? Well, that’s the Deakin University Student Association (DUSA) student council elections.

So, the DUSA Student Council Elections for 2021 have been announced. If you don’t have a clue about what that is: don’t worry, I’m here to help you out! Simply put, it’s the election that determines who will run the Deakin University Student Association for the year. 

So … What is DUSA?

DUSA is a student union/association that is meant to protect students’ rights and their interests—it is a separate entity from Deakin University for this reason. DUSA is run by a group of Deakin University students with the goal to provide a wide range of services that are meant to create an active and inclusive student community.

The student governance of DUSA.

What is the National Union of Students: (NUS)?

The NUS is the peak representative and advocacy body for higher education students across Australia. Many student unions and associations from Australian campuses (like DUSA) are affiliated with the NUS. DUSA’s affiliation involves paying union fees to the NUS depending on the number of full-time students enrolled.

Their operations are dominated by several organised factions of the following:

  • Student Unity (Labor Right faction)
  • National Labor Students (Labor Left faction)
  • Grassroots Independents or ‘Grindies’ (a culmination of former factions of the National Independents and Grassroots left)
  • Socialist Alternative (SALT or Trots)
  • Australian Liberal Students’ Federation (the Liberal Party faction)

[Wikipedia, National Union of Students (Australia), (2021) para 2 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Union_of_Students_(Australia)>%5D

How do elections work?

So, here’s where things get a little complicated. Let’s start with the basics.

The simple answer is that student representatives are elected through an instant-runoff voting method, through a secret ballot and preference voting. The Student Council is elected through an electoral college system similar to the US.

Let me explain further!

Instant runoff means if the person you’re voting for doesn’t have enough votes to win, then your second preference gets your vote—and you must vote in ascending order.

Look at each campus like a state—depending on how many DUSA members are enrolled, they have different numbers of electoral delegates. These electoral delegates get voted through a quota preferential proportional method, and the candidate needs more than 50% of the vote to get voted in.

Then these electoral delegates have a meeting to elect who will be your student council for the year.

Only an electoral delegate can nominate themselves for the top positions such as President, General Secretary, and so forth. Electoral delegates vote using the instant runoff system.

In order to be eligible to vote for the electoral delegates and student representatives, you need to have a DUSA membership before the electoral roll closes, which closes on Tuesday 3 August at 12pm sharp.

However, there is a ballot that every student can apply for, no matter if you’re a DUSA member or not, which is the National Union of Students delegate ballot. What you’re voting for here is the delegates that will head to NUS’s National conference where they’ll vote on policies that decide the direction of the union for next year.

Below are some mock examples of ballots:

Above the voting line.
Below the voting line.

The term ‘ticket’ used in the visual is another word for a student party.

In these mock ballots, students have a choice to vote above the line or below the line. Above the line means you vote for the whole ticket, while below the line is for voting for the individual candidates. The ungrouped section is for you to vote for the independent candidates. Last year there were two tickets, Engage (incumbents) and Stand Up (opposition), with a few independent candidates.

You’ll find that there will be a separate ballot for the student representatives, electoral delegates, women’s representative (only students that identify as a woman will get this ballot) and NUS delegate ballot.

Queer representatives get the luxury of voting online. To register for your right to vote for Queer representatives, click here.

This year, it’s a postal election for all campuses—the second year that every cloud student has to vote through the post. Before 2020, it was conducted online.

If you are interested in postal voting, applications are open from Monday 2 August to Friday 13 August and can be done through this application. If you have a Deakin friend living overseas, let them know you’re applying and can get a proxy vote for them. Please remember that there’s only one proxy vote per person.

Something to note is that societies and clubs are not allowed to be seen endorsing a ticket. However, the individual executives of those societies and clubs are allowed to do this in their private lives.

If you have any questions about this election, contact the returning officer Bastian Simrajh via mobile at 0478 254 450, or via email at dusa@omegaconsultinggroup.com.au.

I hope you decide to have your voice heard and join in on the democracy–and if you do, remember to get your DUSA membership before Tuesday the 3rd of August at 12PM!

References:

Wikipedia, National Union of Students (Australia), (2021) para 2 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Union_of_Students_(Australia)&gt;

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