Eleanor Kay has been elected as 2018 ANUSA President. Kay ran with the ticket LIFT ANUSA on a platform of experience, continuity, and consultation.
Kay won the election ahead of Cameron Allan and Natasha Kumar, although returning officers are yet to release voting data. There was a record turnout with over 2600 votes cast. Kay has also been separately elected to the University Council.
Observer spoke to Kay immediately after the election, telling us ‘it’s really exciting and we’ve got a big year ahead of us”. She said she was also “really disappointed for members of [her] team who were not elected”.
The President has a key role in setting the direction of the Association, and students can expect to see ANUSA follow much of Lift’s vision next year. Lift has committed to a continuation of the policies of the 2016 executive, including its media policy, which requires ANUSA representatives to obtain presidential permission to make public comments on any issues relating to ANUSA.
Kay will preside over a split Executive, with Shake Up’s Anya Bonan and Mariah Chang elected to Social Officer and Treasurer respectively. Perhaps more significantly, Shake Up holds more of SRC than Lift: 7 of the 14 General Representative positions, and 7 of the 12 College Rep positions. Shake Up therefore has 16 positions overall on SRC, and while Lift holds the majority of the Executive, they have only 14 positions overall.
The coming months will show how Kay manages this division. While the electoral division is stark, it’s notable that the tickets do not differ greatly on policy – far less than a Stand Apart and Activate SRC might have, for example. Key areas of difference may involve the professionalisation of ANUSA. Shake Up advocated for College Reps to be paid project-based honoraria, and for communications work to be done by students rather than solely by professional staff; Lift opposes this. Lift’s planned Governance Review – hiring an external consultant to make recommendation about ANUSA’s structure – may also prove controversial, as Shake Up have expressed their skepticism of the idea. When Observer asked Kay how she will approach the division between tickets, Kay simply said, “we’ll message everyone tonight…[and] come back together when we need to.”
Kay has also been elected to the University Council. As a member of the Council, Kay will represent student interests on the most powerful governing body at ANU. The body has more power in directing University policy than Vice Chancellor Brian Schmidt, who is accountable to it.
Kay’s election means 2018 will be the first year with a female-identifying president since 2013. Kay intentionally did not make gender an issue in the election, but it was a frequent discussion in ANUSA circles, with ANUSA President James Connolly planning a diversity review for the ANUSA executive later this year.
Kay will now spend the remainder of the year learning from current President James Connolly and preparing for the job, as well as doing advocacy and support work in her current role as Vice President. Kay will formally take over the positions on December 1st, the end of the academic year.