Disclaimer: UniMelb Adventures prides itself from being a non-affiliated, apolitical publication and this article serves to inform the student population about general elections. This article was written originally for Farrago Magazine and has been abridged.
So its Week 7 and you have an assignment due on Friday. You’re rather tired and you just want to go to that regrettable 9am tute you got into because you forgot about class registration followed by a 2 hour lecture about why you should buy this textbook that the lecturer made and how it’ll teach you real life skills. However, you have a five hour gap between those two classes so you decide to go to the Baillieu to get some study done.
As you head to the Baillieu, you are bombarded by a kaleidoscope of Pink, Red, Orange and Black Shirts telling you to vote for them and how they’ll change your uni experience.
Flustered, you walk away from the Baillieu and feel rather peckish. Union House hasn’t filled up with people yet and you want to grab something eat there. However, as you head toward Union House, you see yet another swarm of Pink, Red, Orange and Black Shirts telling you, well you guessed it, to vote.
Seeing as you have nowhere to go, you watch as each shirt shoves each other telling you why they will once again change your uni experience. The tussle then descends into a melee and you get caught up into the screams, rap battles and backflips and you end up becoming the one screaming.
At this moment, you just want to go home and maybe skip uni all together. For most people, you could just say “no thank you” or “I’ve already voted” and thats the end. But here’s the thing:
Elections actually matter.
Your vote is rather influential in how the Union represents you in the following year.
So listen up, we’re in for a magic tram ride of a trip on what elections are and how to vote.
First Off, What is UMSU and why should I care about them?
UMSU is the University of Melbourne Student Union, which represents all UniMelb students. It is responsible for things like student clubs and activities, as well as student services and advocacy. So think of the ‘free’ student BBQs, carnivals or weird parties that happen throughout the year because your student contribution, the SSAF goes towards the services of the union.
Okay but, why should I vote if I don’t need to?
Voting lies at the heart of-Okay let’s not get dramatic. Voting is important and vote early, vote often like they do in Chicago.
In seriousness, don’t vote often but vote early if you need to.
Voting in student elections is important because you get to choose who represents you, how often you can get more free food or find the help you need. If you’ve got issues about university admin, enrolment, grades and even your commute, UMSU on paper is supposed to represent your concerns about your university life.
You’ll have to vote for many positions. From president, the top dog of the union to the General Secretary to the fun aunt that is the Activities office and so on.
So vote, otherwise you won’t get a say on what matters to you during your years at uni.
So you’ve stopped screaming and actually going to vote, so how do you actually do it?
This is where things actually get messy and weird like your 4am essay due tomorrow. We will try our best to explain to you how to vote as if you were a five year old. The only problem? Five year olds can’t or don’t vote but its good to know.
Go to a Polling Booth
A polling booth is where you vote. Here, you get a piece of paper called a ballot where you put down who you want to vote for. You can find polling booths at the following locations:
- Baillieu Library
- Union House
- FBE Building
- Murrup Barak (open Tuesday, Wednesday)
- Southbank (open Tuesday-Thursday)
- Burnley (open Wednesday, Thursday)
- Stop 1 (open Tuesday-Thursday)
Most polling stations open around 10-11am and close around 5-6pm. We will get back to you when the finalised times are set but show up after 11am and you should be okay on how to vote. If you can’t be at any of these booths to vote, you can submit a postal vote at https://umsu.unimelb.edu.au/getinvolved/elections/
2. How to Actually Vote
You’ll get multiple colorful sheets requiring you to vote on many things and many positions. The first few pages are regarding OB positions such as President or Welfare followed by Committee and Council contests. The premise is the same with those, vote for who you desire but its better to preference all for Committee/Council seats.
You have to preference THE NUMBER ONE for WHO YOU WANT TO WIN. YOU CAN THEN PREFERENCE YOUR 2ND MOST FAVOURITE AND SO ON, depending how many candidates there are. However, the elections are using what is called, Optional Preferential Voting which means you can vote in the following ways:
- Vote for One
- Vote for All
- Vote for Some
Here’s an example of the ways you can vote:
After you’ve chosen who you want to win, you put the ballot inside a cardboard box. You are now a democratic citizen who is exercising their rights as a student. You can now run away from the Color Run and Circus and head back into another one, your classes. Yay!
So When Do I Know Who Won and Stop Caring?
Don’t stop caring but generally you’ll find out late Friday of voting week on who has won President and maybe the other OB position. Usually Farrago, the student magazine will have live tweets and rolling coverage on Facebook. So stay tuned to see how your vote ended up and the joys of democracy will start flowing in?
About the Author:
Alain is a third-year student who still hasn’t gotten his P’s licence. He still spends too much at uni, and rather going to some cafe, he’s lazy and you’ll probably see him in Arts West a lot doing something for Farrago Magazine and more recently, editing this blog.