Electile dysfunction

Campaigning for the Curtin Student Guild elections are in full swing around campus, with walls and pillars decorated in an array of flyers spruiking the Illuminate and Left Action candidates. 

Campaigning is underway at Curtin University. Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

According to guild president candidate Dylan Botica, only around 1000 students usually turn up to vote.

Curtin University students when asked about their participation in the Guild election. Video: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

However, there are more than 50,000 students enrolled at Curtin University. So why the low voter turnout?

Public policy Professor Alan Fenna thinks students may be disinterested because there’s not a lot at stake.

Professor Alan Fenna. Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

“There’s very little the Guild is going to do that’s going to influence the lives of students,” he says.

“With little at stake, why should students pay that much attention? I think that’s just the reality.”

Listen to more from Professor Alan Fenna. Video: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

“You don’t know how it will affect you until it does,” Dylan Botica says.

“I have a disability and I didn’t like the fact that the late assessment penalty for the first day was 10 per cent. It was working through and with Illuminate that I saw that be reduced to 5 per cent and thought ‘wow, this is actually an area where I can make some change and make things better.’

“That’s what sparked my interest and got me involved,” he says.

Listen to more from Dylan Botica. Video: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

Left Action’s Ordinary Representation Board and National Union of Students candidate Danica Scott thinks the Guild should be doing more to get students involved in political movements. She says engaging with important issues can make students more interested in participating within the Guild.

Listen to more from Danica Scott. Video: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.
Danica Scott and Erin Russell at their campaign stall on campus today.
Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

Left Action’s National Union of Students and Women’s Officer candidate Erin Russell is a social activist who thinks Guild politics have become a popularity contest. 

“Illuminate runs about 40 people or something at the moment,” says Ms Russell. 

“People kind of sense that.” 

Listen to more from Erin Russell. Video: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

“The most significant aspect of student politics is that it is a training ground for political aspirants. People who have successful political careers have started off in student politics,” says Professor Fenna.

One of these people is 2005 Curtin Student Guild president Patrick Gorman. After an extensive career in local politics, he is now the Assistant Minister to Prime Minister Albanese.

Jacquie Bicanic is running in the elections for the first time this year. Photo: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.

Illuminate Guild Councillor candidate Jacquie Bicanic says student should take some time out of their days to learn about student representative candidates.

“At the end of the day, we’re not working for the university, we’re working for the students and we’re here for you guys.”

Listen to more from Jacquie Bicanic. Video: Hojeswinee Kanagarajah.