USU Board Interview Transcripts 2022: Naz Sharifi

HS: I’m gonna open here by acknowledging that we’re on Gadigal land which was stolen and never ceded and thank my ancestors for nurturing this land for tens of thousands of years before we got here. So I’ll just start by asking you to give your name, pronouns, degree, colour and campaign slogan?

NS: So I’d like to acknowledge that I’m actually from, I live in Western Sydney, so I come from Dharug country. So equally unceded and as a first-generation immigrant, I’m an inadvertent beneficiary of the colonial system that continues to actually benefit from the genocide of the Aboriginal people.

My name is Naz Sharifi. I’m in 4th year law. Law and Arts with a major in International relations. My colour is baby blue like the shirt that I’m wearing today, my slogan is ‘Naz is Needed’ and my campaign manager is Thrishank Chintamaneni.

HS: Do you have any factional affiliation? 

NS: No, I don’t. However, I have campaigned or I changed my DP for Lauren’s grassroots presidency campaign.

HS: Are you a current member of any political party? 

NS: No, I’m not.

HS: Are you a previous member of any political party?

NS: No, I’m not.

HS: How would you characterise the role of the USU?

NS: The USU as a student union has a significant role to play in shaping student experiences, making decisions, creating policies that shape the trajectory of the student life involving clubs and societies, funding and events.

HS: What motivated you to run for USU Board? 

NS: Yeah, for sure. I think, uh, the last few years of my university experience, the USU has played such an important role in shaping how I experienced university, the different events that I attended, and it really enriched my experience outside of the classroom.

And I think for me, university coming from a very small school was more than just educating myself. It was about building an entire network of people that I connected with on similar values, similar ideals, and meeting people from different perspectives to really enrich my own experience. And the USU has played such an important role in that.

And for me you know, as a student who started quite early on into that 2018 and seeing the transition that we’ve had over the last few years, pre-COVID, during COVID, and post-COVID for me, it’s really important that those changes that were implemented during COVID remain as an accessible infrastructure to student flexibility and, you know, ensuring that we are maintaining a really important, uh, uh, really beneficial trajectory for the USU.

For me, it’s also important, as an intersectional person from a diverse background. That represents, uh, that the [USU], the student body is represented in student leadership. Unfortunately, over the last few years, this has not been the case. And a lot of, a lot of times the ramifications of that end up in policies being tabled, or being pushed, that impact communities and student communities from diverse backgrounds, more adversely than the general student body, and as someone who has gone through that and understands the ramifications of not having a representative body, it’s important for me to ensure that that representation comes from the students who are really genuine in their approach, uh, and genuine in their, um, you know, change-making and vision to the USU.

HS: Can I ask about your experience with clubs and societies? 

NS: Yeah, for sure. So I’ve been a secretary and president of the Afghan society, which is on the smallest spectrum of the societies. And I’m also currently the vice-president of social justice of the Sydney university law society. I’ve also been a member of a number of smaller societies like Muslims in Health, Sydney University Muslim society, and my experiences on both sides of the spectrum of being member and on the executive of the largest societies and the smallest societies has ensured that I have a, quite a nuanced understanding of how different clubs operate and the different ways that policies are made at a USU level impact different societies differently.

This is really important for me going forward, because I think, um, we need to be mindful of the smaller clubs who might not get as much funding, who might not be able to, you know, meet those quotas. And for me having those experiences in clubs and societies on a range of spectrums is really important. 

HS: I’m going to ask a few questions about your politics now. Um, so how would you describe your politics?

NS: I think, uh, if I had to use a buzzword, it would be progressive.  For me, politics is entrenched in my own identity being from a diverse background. So I would say that I’m diverse in my politics, and progressive, and left-wing.

HS: What’s one political you’re passionate about?

NS: I think I’m incredibly passionate about youth affairs and refugee rights. Those are issues that impact my community directly, but also, um, coming from a refugee background, myself, seeing the different ways that multiple policies at different levels, institutionals [sic], bureaucracies impact people from diverse backgrounds, but also as a youth ambassador for multiple organizations, young people are often put at the forefront of change-making. However, they’re never given the tools and the spaces to create those change. So as a young person, especially at university, when you want to spearhead these ideas, youth advocacy is really important to me.

And these often correlate to a lot of the issues that we face at university like education cuts, accessible funding, accessible venue hire, and I want young people to be able to make change on their own accord and have the agency to spearhead these ideas without external influence and control.

HS: Many of your policies involve lobbying the university for change. For example, the thing about increasing the number of CAPS sessions provided to students. Why do you think the USU is a good body to do this through 

NS: I think the USU is a peak organization in its space. And the expectation for members is that it liaises with core faculty and core university service providers to ensure that their members and especially the students who might not be members of USU have the full services provided to them.

These are services I think are a necessity. They’re not a luxury that we, you know, take, um, especially the, uh, mental health initiatives. As someone who tried to engage with the mental health services provided by the university, I personally found them to be quite lacking in many fronts. And having, you know, that sense, I think for me, what was really important was that lack of cultural competency from the university service providers that I think the USU can really lobby and advocate for because it impacts students on a very personal level. But also if we don’t change it institutionally and leave it to the students to kind of raise these concerns, time and time again with the university I don’t think that real change will be impacted within the next few years. So the USU in its role, as you know, leading and, uh, being representatives of the students, I think it’s important, so important for them to be in touch and liaise with the university in these regards, because if they don’t then who does? At the end of the day, the students pay the USU to do these kinds of liaising and, you know, advocating and lobbying for them.

HS: Yep. So what would this lobbying look like if you were elected on board? 

NS: I think I’ll kind of do it in a two-step process. Firstly, it would involve consulting and collaborating with students, I think that’s really important.  As a board director, you do not want to be making policies or idea initiatives or, you know, talking to the university without actually knowing what your base wants.

Doing that would involve holding forums, holding open-ended forums and not just forums where you just give information to the students, but actually hearing and listening to them and seeing what they want and creating very concrete, pragmatic actionable items from that rather than giving promises that will not be enacted until the next elections and everyone makes big promises and that actually never falls through [sic]. 

And the second step of that would be to get in touch with the relevant faculty or their relevant service providers, uh, over multiple sessions of ensuring, how can we collaborate on this? How can we bring student voices to these experiences and how do we change, um, in a way that’s practical and benefiting students and also the university.

HS: So loving the university can require a delicate balance between criticism and maintaining working relationships with the uni. So, how do you think the organisation should navigate this?

NS: I think that’s quite simple. Um, you know, we know what our values or our responsibilities are and the university has quite a real understanding of that as well.

Um, ensuring that we are not severing those relationships with the university and ensuring that students are made happier, it is a fine balance. However, we need to make sure that students at the end of the day are getting the best experiences that they can. And that can not only be left to the USU. It’s working together with the university in ensuring that they understand why we’re doing this. It’s not just tabling policies to them saying that this is what we want, but actually providing solutions as to how they can enact that, those changes, those policies. And when it comes to criticism, I think criticism is always welcome in so far as it’s critical to the change that we’re making and receiving those criticisms, I think should be welcomed in so far as allowing people to say that these are the issues that we’re having and your policies have real gaps in it that we need to change. And like I said, that would happen through constant collaboration, constant, constant consultation with the university, but also with the student body, especially clubs and societies.

HS: So your policy statement also refers to increasing representation for marginalised students at all levels. Could you elaborate on what you mean by this and how you plan to achieve this? 

NS: Absolutely. I think very superficially having people who look like you at different levels makes all the difference. And I say this from experience, over the last few years going through the USU elections, going through the SRC elections, going through leadership positions. You don’t really see a diverse range of students. And unfortunately, that’s a criticism of the entire institution that we’re a part of. However, to change that we need real representation, genuine representation of diverse and marginalised communities in positions of decision-making.

Me running is an example of that. It’s difficult and it’s challenging. And I mulled ot over multiple times. However, having people who look like you run even one, maybe not win, gives you that confidence that you can be part of those decisions that you don’t have to always be on the sidelines. And I think that’s really important.

Moreso I think, like I said, ensuring that these students from diverse backgrounds, marginalised communities, are involved in the decision making processes that impact their life differently. And at times, you know, policies get tabled and initiatives get brought up and there’s not real consultation with communities that might be impacted differently.

And I think for me, that’s really important because a lot of times these students bear the brunt of these policies and they don’t have a mechanism to actually give feedback. So I think representing those voices, creating safe spaces for them to actually come and speak to people who look like them, who have, who share their same experiences as them and who have gone through that kind of period of being on the margin, marginal sides of university.

So for me creating those spaces, creating that agency for them and creating really practical mechanisms that they can provide feedback, engage meaningfully with the USU, but also with the wider student. 

HS: So I also wanted to ask about what you mean by all levels and like, I guess more specific examples about what that entails. Could you talk about that a bit? 

NS: Yeah, absolutely. When I say all levels, I think it’s on a few fronts Uh, first point is leadership. So things like being board director in club and society execs and just increasing the diversity of communities that are often marginalised and diverse within the student body itself.

When I first started in 2018 there wasn’t many at least in my first two years, iI found it really hard to find a really cohesive community that I can share experiences with. And one initiative that we’re kind of running as part of SULS is to engage with us low socioeconomic areas in Western Sydney, where I’m from, where we don’t get a lot of student participation from. This could look like, you know, having information sessions with them and their parents in different languages.

And I know it seems somewhat farfetched. However, we’ve got the resources, we’ve got the ability and we can really enact change that goes beyond tokenistic measures of diversity and inclusion that often don’t lead to real change and real inclusiveness for the student body. 

HS: So many clubs and societies have existing affirmative action provisions. So where these exist, do you believe that they’ve been successful? And how do you think that they can be improved? 

NS: Sorry, can you elaborate on what you mean by affirmative action?

HS: So a lot of clubs and societies in the last few years have put in place affirmative action, provisions to their executives. Many of them have split roles like vice president and secretary, so there can always ensure there’s two roles so that there can always be at least one, um.

NS: Male or female?

HS: Yeah. Where these have been put in place, do you believe there’ve been successful or do you think that there needs to be further action implemented? 

I think how clubs and societies run is by and large, you know, at the discretion of the members and ensuring that we’ve got affirmative action, but also a merit-based system.

Uh, not to say that one is mutually exclusive. I think there is room for reform in this regard. I do think that we do need more diversity in executive roles, especially in positions, like as you said, VP and president. However in, in saying that I’d have to look at Different clubs and societies. It is a case by case basis and it’s important for us to recognise that when there’s someone who doesn’t identify as a female or a woman running for that position, what happens then? So having those provisions in place to ensure that we are going towards real diversity and real inclusion, however, having really practically practical steps as to what we do if that doesn’t happen.

HS: Speaking of marginalised students: Yesterday, Honi published an article about the pretty bad state of disability spaces for disabled students. I think it found that it’s been in the works, it’s been like back and forth for over two years. Like, people have said that it’s gonna happen and then it just hasn’t happened. Do you plan to address this issue? And if so, how would you go about doing that? 

NS: Absolutely. Khanh’s article, you know is heartbreaking as, you know, as someone who is an ally. And I don’t say that tokenistically, I truly feel what it feels like to be, you know, yearning for something and being pushed back by bureaucracy.  You know, at the lowest level, I definitely think that it is really important for us to create more systematic change on that front.

The fact that it’s taken, like you said more than two years to create a safe space for students who identify with disabilities, it’s abhorrent honestly, like, I think that’s really terrible for us as a student body, but also as a union who boasts itself as representing all students when we can’t even make a real change and using bureaucracy as a justification for those, oh, we can’t find a space or we need to move this from here.

I think it’s really important for us to make real change on that and efficient change. It’s high time that we don’t pass it onto the next executive without a proper rollover and really look at what we’ve been doing over the last few years and why that’s not happened yet. 

HS: Can you think of any, like, specific examples of how you might go about fixing that at this stage? 

NS: Absolutely. I think consulting with the members, board directors and finding a suitable space. USyd is not short on space. I think just walking around the university, there are so many spaces that we can make more accessible, first of all, but also having a safe space for students to come together.

I know how important it is. I know how important those spaces are to students who do identify with those communities. So I think working practically with the university to find a venue that’s accessible, I think that’s the first step and ensuring that that’s in collaboration with the student bodies that are relevant to that decision, ensuring that we are taking them into consideration.

If it’s accessible, if it’s flexible to their needs, if it’s at a place that they can actually reach within walking distance – knowing how big the university is. So I think being practical and speaking to the relevant people. I think one of the article’s criticism was that people were passing this responsibility around.

I think it’s high time that we take responsibility as a university union and really making these lasting decisions that will impact the students’ lives more concretely and more meaningfully.

HS: So your policy statement also involves some proposals to enlarge the C&S funding pool, to increase club funding and create additional event-based grants.

You also talked about making the Seymour centre more affordable to performers. So do you envision this being a significant cost? 

NS: I think over the last few years provided COVID really disturbed the way the USU operated.

We’ve seen quite an immensely large operating budget for the USU and as a non-for-profit it doesn’t need to have a significant amount of surplus. So we, the money is there and it’s important for the USU to actually utilize that money for one of its core purposes, which is to ensure that and facilitate that the clubs and societies are well catered for especially clubs and societies who might not be able to, you know, have access to external sponsorships, like the big societies.

So, I think it’s really important that taking costs and practical steps into consideration that we move into a model of enlarging, the CNS point and creating event-based grants, where students are able to get the semester-wide grant, but also event based grants based on the number of people attending and ensuring that, for example, the Seymour Centre is made free or at the very least that it’s made incredibly affordable so that executives and student performers, so incentivizing student performance, to continue expressing that especially after COVID 

HS: I just want to ask a follow-up question on Seymour. So, making Seymour centre cheaper or more accessible to revues and clubs and societies has been a policy a lot in Union board and SRC campaigns in the last few years. And I know that the sort of, uh… 

NS: Stagnation? 

HS: Yeah. Um, with Seymour being quite unwilling to work with the uni given the private nature of their contracting. How do you propose to actually make Seymour cheaper? 

NS: I think it’s really important when we look at these modules when the university union or the university outsources, some of its partnerships, I think a lot of these partnerships are transactional and they are business-based modules.

So creating a way that the university can subsidize. Um, you know, like I said, the USU has quite a, quite large budget and I think there is room for us to be able to subsidize these spaces so that, to ensure that it’s like you said, it’s not stagnant and it’s not just an election promise that doesn’t get enacted upon when people get elected.

I think it’s important that we take practical steps, like actually bringing these partners to the table, talking about how we can make it more accessible and also being mindful of the fact that students are often bearing the brunt of a lot of these higher costs. As someone who tried to organise an event recently, the cost of venues, even one by the USU is somewhat ridiculous for smaller societies.

So ensuring that where we’re taking a practical approach. I think the most practical, I would say is being able to subsidise these spaces by the USU’s budget and making it cheap of students at the end of. 

HS: So you also state that you want to revitalize campus nightlife and incentivise campus events. So, first question for that is how do you propose to do this? 

NS: I think from what I hear, the Manning party went really off a few weeks ago, so campus nightlife is much needed. I think, especially after COVID, after students being cooped up in their own spaces for the last two years, nightlife provides an opportunity for you to kind of make up for lost time outside of class hours.

A lot of the daytime events are often not able to be attended by students who have class who work and revitalizing nightlife can look like more parties, better food and drink deals, but also creating a more culturally safe and sensitive, [where students]* are able to attend and still get home in time safely.

Culturally sensitive events in the fact that a lot of people don’t drink alcohol and having events that are not centred around alcohol, but around socialising and food and different interests. It’s really important in the sense of accessibility. And I think ensuring that clubs and societies have the budget and have the ability to actually host these events and definitely having more USU run events, which can involve largescale parties, smaller get-togethers and ensuring that everyone, as many people as is involved, but being mindful of the fact that we do a safely in a COVID-safe way and take into consideration that a lot of students, for many reasons, be they international students, being immunocompromised, living too far away from campus are still involved in these in one way or another.

HS: So, you did mention a lot about the safety stuff there. So can you think of any specific examples at the moment of some of those safety considerations that you would look to implement for these night events? 

NS: Absolutely. I think providing at least for the foreseeable future, free RAT tests to students to ensure prior to their events, if they register whether that if it’s a ticketed event or a free event, providing them prior to the events so that they can maintain, a safe, so between 48 hours, 24 hours. So we know who is coming and who is unsafe to come. But also during these events, ensuring that we’ve got COVID marshals at the least to ensure that students feel safe and although the restrictions are easing as we head towards a federal election, it’s important for us to keep in mind that a lot of students are still, you immunocompromised.

A lot of students are still living with people who are immunocompromised or feel unsafe to be out and about. So I think taking those considerations into mind, planning events with that at the forefront of our mind, not as a second thought is really important and where possible providing masks to students if they feel safe or unsafe to wear it would depend on where they’re going.

And I don’t think I’ll go as far as they would mandate masks, unless it’s mandated by the health orders, however, providing the mechanism so that students don’t feel like they have to go out of their way to be safe. 

HS: So you also have reviewing the USU’s investment strategy in your policy. What do you know of the USU’s investment strategy at the moment? 

NS: Yeah. So I think Honi Soit did a fantastic article yesterday kind of reviewing and going through that and how we, although not directly investing in these companies that have been notoriously known to do quite a lot of unethical things, especially in different parts of the world that we are not impacted by within Australian borders.

For me, it’s really important that we review those decisions. And although, while we’re not funding them directly in the way the investment module works, it’s not that we’re paying them our money. However, at the end of the day, we have a stake and we have an interest. And those interests often is at odds with the wider societal expectations of us but also as a student body, a lot of our students as you know, mentioned in the article are mindful of the ramifications of these investment portfolios, that adversely impact communities on many levels. So I think having a real review, a genuine review, and when I say genuine, I don’t mean just tokenistically doing it because there’s a hype around it.

And, but taking into consideration, working with management, especially for event sponsorships and as to who is investing in our events, who are we investing in, even on a, like on an investment level in terms of, if we’re not directly investing the people who are investing on our behalf, who are they investing in and how is that impacting us and our trajectory?

HS: So that article also found that a lot of the current board members weren’t aware about all of those investments. So, if you were elected on board, what would you do to, I guess, stay abreast of those developments?

NS: Look, it’s totally fair that some of the board directors, we’re not privy to all the information. I understand that some of the information that was on the, on the Honi Soit article, it is quite nebulous and it is quite technical as to how these systems work.

And if you’ve not got a keen eye for investing, it can remiss. However, it’s the role of the board directors to understand how the USU money is being used, where we’re investing and the way you can do this is have constant, at least bringing up in constant, in different meetings and ensuring that we are trained to understand the different terms, the technical terms.

And training can be once or twice a year to just refresh board directors’ minds as to what we mean when we talk about these modules, how our money is being spent, how the investment portfolio works. I think that’s really important as well as for accountability reasons, ensuring that all board directors are in these meetings, in these training sessions so that they can not use the justification of, ‘oh, I didn’t know, I wasn’t aware of that’ because I think it is your duty to the members, but also to the USU to know where the investments are going and where they do not align with the student’s interest and with the USU’s interests to ensure that we are taking practical steps to ensure that we are rectifying those investments in the most practical way forward that’s not adverse to the USU and to the students

HS: So if you were given the opportunity to vote to divest if you were elected on board, how would you vote?

NS: By divest do you mean from the companies listed?

HS: Divesting from those companies with fossil fuel links.

NS: I think it’s really important for us to take a holistic approach. I would like to know how that divesting will go about in terms of the long-term ramifications. I am by principle against these companies. I’d like to just make that clear, however, in relevance of the USU I will be voting against it in so far as if there is a practical solution that’s counter to that so that we are not being adversely impacted by that And our staff is not being adversely impacted by that. So I think that’s, it. That’s really important for me to take a holistic approach, but also a practical approach. However, to answer your question shortly: Yes, I will be voting against it.

HS: Just to clarify voting against divesting? 

NS: Voting in favour of divesting, sorry, yeah.

HS: No, that’s all right. Just thought to clarify that.

NS: So I will be voting in favour of divesting in, in more, uh, ethical investment funds and there are many, and we can, uh, find reasonable and practical solutions to those. However, like I said, it’s important for us to take into consideration the long-term, the short-term and the real human ramifications of that. 

HS: Yeah. I wanted to ask about this point you have in your policy statement about reforming institutional sexual harassment reporting and response mechanisms given that the NSSS report found that… 

NS: One in six students

HS: Yeah. And a lot of that happens in clubs and societies context. So how would you go about doing that? 

NS: I think this comes back down to who. You know, who are these reports going to in terms of clubs and societies. If members are reporting these incidences to executive, who are volunteer students at the end of the day, while quite young, and who might not have the level of experience and training to actually deal with these matters.

And at times there might be conflicts of interest where the person who’s giving the report to an executive, or to a member who is friends with the perpetrator and vice versa. So I think it’s really important for us to kind of contextualize a view of how the C&S model works. And while there are clubs, like big clubs that do have quite a step-by-step approach to this, where it is quite well-working, there are clubs that do not have those apparatuses in place, and it’s important for us for the sake of consistency and for the sake of doing students justice in this regard, to ensure that the USU implements a very consistent and even at times, independent reporting mechanisms.

So that clubs and societies, especially clubs and societies executives who might not be trained, who might not have the capacity to actually deal with these issues, don’t have to bear the brunt. And we are in a position to ensure that we are being objective and we are not tainted by different views, especially within smaller clubs, where everyone knows everyone.

So I think reforming that to ensure that we are changing institutionally rather than directing case by case basis on terms of club, which can be time-consuming, but it also can put our clubs and societies in a very vulnerable position when they do not know what their role is, when they do not know how they should react to this.

I think instituting it through the USU maybe through an independent mechanism, maybe through an internal mechanism that’s external to the clubs and societies, I think that’s really important. 

HS: I want to ask you some questions about your campaign experience and then I’ll hand over back to Roi. So, you only registered to be a candidate after the deadline was extended. So I wanted to ask, why did you hesitate to apply? And then what convinced you to apply? 

NS: Yeah, for sure. I think when nominations went up there was somewhat of a reluctance for me to put my name forward, just because I’ve seen the way that elections go and I’ve seen how much unfortunate events through that campaigning period happens, how disillusioned people can become, how disenfranchising it is.

So for me, the reluctance really came from that and not wanting to run with the faction made it more, made me more hesitant because I was like, okay where can I draw my experiences from? However, once I reconsidered my thoughts, I recognise that if I really want change at a systematic level, I want change for students for better, for better student service provision for better representation for better diversity, then I can’t just, you know, hope for those things to happen without taking meaningful action myself. I’m a real believer in that if you are complaining about issues, then in whatever capacity you can, you should really try to push for change in those spaces. And this was my way of kind of battling my own self and challenging my own views as to what is required to be to nominate myself, you know, and facing the challenges that as it comes.

And although I did nominate myself late, I don’t think that precludes me from being any less of a candidate and also having less of an experience or forethought about it.  

HS: So yeah, speaking of, I guess you running as an independent. So, a lot of the other candidates are obviously running with factions and I guess for them it comes natural that there’ll be drawing their support from their factions. So where do you intend to be, I guess, be drawing your support?

NS: I think one of the rationales for me to run as an independent provided that I do align quite well with the progressive side of campus, I have campaigned, at least here very minimally with Grassroots and Switch was to ensure that I’m representing all students, students who might not be part of factions, students who might not feel represented, and students who might not be part of the stupol apparatus as it is.  For me, I’ve been involved in student politics outside of campaigning, outside of elections and I know how disillusioned you can become in that process. And running as an independent, I want to be able to draw my basis from all student levels, you know, uh, factions are fantastic. And I a hundred per cent think that it’s a fantastic space to meet like-minded people to run these elections.

However, as an independent, I’d like to at least allude to all students in some capacity being not beholden to any factional ideologies or conditioned on where I go in terms of that. 

HS: Are you confident in your campaign’s ability to get enough votes to be elected without that factional support?

NS: Absolutely. I think factional support is paramount to any good election. However, you don’t, it’s not a necessity, and people have won, candidates have won running as an independent. And I am confident in my ability to garner enough support from the student body as a whole, rather than a faction, in particular, to ensure that, like I said, the rationale to really, and genuinely represent the views and the interests and the needs of all students.

HS: So a lot of the current board directors and the candidates who are running in this election are coming from that, from, from those factional backgrounds and if you were elected, you’d have to work with a lot of those people as well. Do you think you’ll be able to navigate the complexities of board working with people from those backgrounds without that much factional, institutional knowledge or experience?

NS: Absolutely. I think while institutional knowledge and factional support is important to being on board, however, there is not to say that you cannot learn those skills or learn those abilities after you get elected. And this is not to say that I don’t actually have those, my work outside of the university, working with multiple communities, multiple different stakeholders, who at times I disagree with on multiple levels has showcased and has enabled me to understand that you do not have to agree with people to work with them for better change for a wider course.

While I may disagree with a lot of the campaign policies or ideas that some of the candidates might run, I haven’t seen them yet. Even if, if I were elected, you know, with their policies and their ideas, that does not mean that I will not be able to work with them. I think having an open mind, a critical mind, and a compassionate heart is really important; and understanding where people are coming from no matter what their background is, how they come up with those decisions, how come, how did they come up with those policies, contextualising that, and then seeing it on its merits and not who is saying it, but what is being said.

HS: So I’m just going to ask a few questions about the board itself. Who are two candidates you would most like to work with on board? 

NS: In all fairness, I haven’t seen anyone’s policy statements. I do not know how their campaign vision and their vision for the USU is I can’t give a conclusive answer to that.

However, I think we can infer where my politics is and you know, how I am politically aligned to a certain degree to the progressive sites. I think I would love to work with anyone who shares those values. 

HS: Who would you like to work with the least? 

NS: Like I said, I haven’t actually seen anyone’s policies. I’ve not known how anyone would want to campaign or what policies they have or vision and strategy they have for the board.

However, this again comes down to my politics and my values. I’m very value-driven. So in so far as someone’s campaign and policies do not align with those values, it’s important for me to recognise that. And not to say that I will not work effectively with them on board, however, it would be difficult to kind of liaise with them on certain matters when we disagree on an existential basis. 

HS: Who would you vote for to be board president in the executive elections if you do get elected? 

NS: I don’t know who’s running for board elections. We’re not privy to that yet. However, I am of the keen belief that I want to be judging people based on merit, based on strategy, and vision aligned with my own values and ideals of what a good USU looks like. And whoever presents their case in a way that’s really beneficial to the student body, but also to the USU.

I also want to let it be known that I do not want to give an answer in so far as their support being conditional on me being on board. I think I want to remain independent in my decision until I know where they’re coming from, their policies, their vision for the USU. So until then, I can’t give a conclusive answer.

* Honi apologises for losing the footage and audio that captured this text

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