A sole delegate will represent University of Canberra students at the National Union of Students National Conference, held this week in Geelong.
Terry Watson, who placed fourth in the election of the five NUS delegates at this year’s USCA elections (now UC SRC), will attend the student meeting, which will run at Deakin University until Friday.
ACT delegate in the house #nusnatcon
— Terry Watson (@TerrenceAWatson) December 12, 2016
— Steve Cronin (@cronin_stephen) December 12, 2016
Despite students aware of their responsibility to attend the convention before the elections, the non-attendance of Martin Strangman, Brooke Hendry, Imogen-Kate Hughes, and Kirrilly McKenzie has left UC with only 7 out of a possible 36 votes.
Some of the elected delegates were unable to afford the cost of this year’s conference, as they were required to pay.
The UC SRC views this a shame, with Welfare Officer Luke Catania saying that in an ideal world all student representatives would be able to attend. A breakdown in communication with the NUS had hampered organisation this year.
“UC SRC does not have the funds to pay to send delegates to the NUS. Their discounted price was $500 per person to stay in student dorms,” Catania said.
“The UC SRC has been trying to contact the executive for the NUS for the last month.
“We still question why we would send more money to an organisation that has shown utter contempt towards the students of UC by ignoring us.”
#nusnatcon continues to not give any information to delegate. Top organisational skills
— Kerrod Gream (@Arcorn9000) December 12, 2016
In worse news for local students, UC is currently the only university in the ACT represented at the conference. No delegates from the Australian National University or Australian Catholic University are in attendance.
The National Conference is held each year as an opportunity for students to debate and pass policy, and elect a new national executive. The conference has been criticised in the past for wayward direction, unnecessary debate, and the restriction of viewpoints.
Just arrived at natcon 2016!! I’ll try not to get angry at any point this week. #nusnatcon
— Harrisoni Stantoni (@Stantoni1000) December 12, 2016
Student politicians have also been accused of using the time to build their own profiles within party ranks, rather than representing the views of their own university student body.
Different political factions at the meeting will be represented by Student Unity (Labor Right), NLS (Labor Left), SAlt (Socialist Alternative, Socialist Alliance and Trots), Libs (Liberal), Grassroots (aligned with Greens), and Indies (Independent and Others).
Terry Watson is aligned with the Student Unity ticket.
Today will see delegates register for the conference before debate gets underway.
EDIT: While they will not attend the conference, Strangman and Hughes have both chosen to proxy their votes to representatives from other universities. Hughes has chosen Nicole Gismondo from Western Sydney University for her involvement with the WSU Women’s Collective, while Strangman has passed his 8 votes to either Terry Watson or Jill Malloy (ANU) due to their involvement with Student Unity.
Curieux will be following any developments at the NUS National Conference across the week. Find more student politics conversation at #NUSNatCon on Twitter.