How to Vote for Student Elections Painlessly

Photo by Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

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.

  1. 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

             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:

The ways in which you can vote for student elections.


  1. Run Away

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. 





What We Wish We’d Known About Uni Before Starting First Year

You may have done everything within your powers to prepare for uni, but there are so many things you only find out later. To save you valuable time, the Unimelb Adventures team have come up with this cheatsheet of things we wish we’d known before we started uni!

  1. You don’t need to know what you’re doing right at the start of first year! You only need to decide on a major towards the end of second year, so experiment and take a wide range of subjects until you find something you really enjoy doing.
  1. Your first tutes might seem really daunting, but everyone’s actually just as uncertain as you. So instead of feeling anxious, get involved in classes and speak up. You’ll quickly become less nervous and tutes will become more enjoyable, plus you might even make a friend into the bargain!

  1. If you want to be social, get out there and get involved! Again, it can be really daunting when you get to the end of Orientation and think ‘hang on, have I actually made friends?’ That all comes with time – people you meet in tutes and lectures, as well as getting involved in clubs and societies, will make it easier for you.
  1. Take a break in the secret garden. It’s always easy to find people around uni, but it’s harder to get away from them all! The System Garden is tucked away behind the Botany Building and can be reached via a path from Babel. The garden is the perfect place to find some peace and quiet. Bring your lunch or a book and enjoy the greenery and sunshine!

  1. Lectures usually start 5 minutes after the advertised time, and end 5 minutes before the advertised time (so don’t worry about having back-to-back classes!)
  1. If you have just moved out of home or need help with money, make sure that you check out Financial Aid.
  1. You don’t have to be in a certain faculty to get involved with clubs and societies (e.g. you don’t have to be an Arts student to join the Arts Students Society). There are also language and cultural clubs you can join even if you don’t study the language at university and just want to learn about the culture!
  1. If you head over to the noticeboards in the Redmond Barry building, there are usually several researchers recruiting participants for their studies. The experiments are always interesting to take part in, and you’re often reimbursed for your time! $$

  1. Make sure you keep an eye on the ‘Notices’ section of the student portal – there are links to free workshops, volunteering applications and more!
  1. Apply for jobs and build your skills on the Unimelb careers website (just log in with your Unimelb student details).
  1. Transitioning to writing university-style essays and reports is tricky at first for all students. A great place to start building your confidence is the Academic Skills AIRport, which has resources designed for undergraduate, graduate and international students.

  1. Academic Skills also has advisers you can book appointments with if you would like additional one-on-one guidance when tackling your essays and assignments. The advisers don’t write your essays for you or edit the content of your essays, but they can provide some valuable advice.

Orientation and SummerFest: What’s On?

Sam is a final year Master of Publishing and Communications student who loves to watch soccer and cycling, read books, bake cakes and knit jumpers.

New to the Uni and wondering what to expect during the next couple of weeks of Orientation before first semester kicks off? Fear not! Here’s a rundown of some of the top events coming up.

Carnival day

Tuesday 21 February

Carnival day marks the start of SummerFest, the University of Melbourne Student Union’s (UMSU) way of not only welcoming you, but also introducing you to university life. South Lawn will be filled with games, giveaways, food and live entertainment put on by your fellow students! To help you familiarise yourself with some of the essentials, there will also be stalls with info about the services that UMSU and the rest of the Uni offer to students.

Host campus tours

Tuesday 21 February

Coinciding with Carnival Day, there will also be campus tours run by volunteer student hosts. This is a great way to learn a bit about the campus itself and get your bearings before semester starts. More importantly, you can meet people and make some friends within your faculty!

Your student host should be in touch with you beforehand, but if you can’t find them on the day just join any group being led by students in purple T-shirts carrying balloons.

Clubs days

Wednesday 22 & Thursday 23 February

Did you know the Uni has more than 200 student clubs and societies? There’s a club for almost every (obscure) interest imaginable, ranging from languages to anime, and from political activism to surfing. Head over to South Lawn for one of the two clubs days and see what takes your fancy! While you’re there, sign up to clubs, score a few freebies and make new friends.

Orientation info sessions

Through its Orientation program, the Uni is currently offering useful sessions on a range of topics including study, living, health, career and student services. Whether you’re an undergrad or a postgrad student, consider heading along to some of these events to stay on top of your life admin and learn some useful strategies for a great start to your academic year!

– Sam

VCE to Uni: The Social Transition

Lucienne has just completed her first year at the University of Melbourne. In this three-part ‘VCE to Uni’ series, she reflects on her experience of university life and shares her tips. Read on for some great advice in terms of settling in and getting involved!

The biggest social change that occurs in first year is that you are no longer in the same classes as the people you went to high school with for years. This means that most of you will be stepping into a new environment and thus may not know anyone. Although this can be daunting, the university provides various ways for you to get to know people in your course and across other faculties.


social feature

At the beginning of each semester, there is an Orientation Week. This is when all the newbies have a chance to meet each other at various events and also mix with the returning students. Different clubs run different events and everything is voluntary. There is a huge range of activities on offer that include everything from pub nights to Luna Park outings, so there is something for everyone. Throughout O-Week, you will also have the chance to become familiar with social clubs on campus, the music groups and the sporting teams.

For more details on what O-Week entails, visit: the orientation website and the the student union (UMSU) website (The site will be uploaded with some information on O-WEEK closer to the beginning of Semester 1, 2016). Speaking of UMSU…

UMSU – The Student Union

social 2

UMSU run programs across campus (including O-WEEK and Destination Melbourne to name a couple), social events (such as trivia nights, comedy nights, gigs and cocktail parties), assist with student services (legal, health, counselling) and much more! The student union is always looking for volunteers and participants so if you are struggling on how to be a part of the university, UMSU is a great place to start.


social 3

At the beginning of the year, many of the major clubs on campus host camps so that students can meet new people and settle into university life with ease. As these camps are designed for you to make friends, they are the perfect way to get to know people before classes start. I attended Arts Camp in 2015 and I believe this has what really helped me settle into university as I immediately had something in common with 100 other students. Camp activities are all team-building and aim to encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zones and meet new people. As most of the camps are held before classes start, it is a great way to make friends in your lectures, tutes and faculty. If you are interested in attending any of the camps, the information is released in O-WEEK and on the club Facebook pages.


social 4

Although I was not a part of college, many of my friends were, and they believe it’s a great way to step out of your comfort zone, build a network of friends and also explore co-curricular activities. Colleges encourage you to get involved with their music groups, sporting teams, theatre productions – this way you are able to explore areas you may not have previously had an interest in. Also, colleges run extra tute groups for your subjects, so if you need extra academic assistance, this can be very beneficial. Although most colleges focus on residential students (students who live at the college), there are also some colleges that offer places for non-residential students so that they can be a part of college life without actually living there.

If this is something you are interested in doing for your first year – there are applications and interviews that are done the year before so make sure you are well informed.

Thinking of applying for a college? For more information on Colleges, visit the college website and check out sub-editor Jacky’s post for some tips on nailing the application process here.


social 5

If I could offer one tip, it would be to get involved with the clubs on campus! This is a great way to meet like-minded people with similar interests. The biggest clubs on campus are UMSU (the student union) and the faculty societies, which include SSS (Science Students Society), M-ASS (Arts Students Society), ENVI (Environments Students Society), CSS (Commerce Students Society) and BSS (Biomedicine Students Society). If you are looking to make a start at getting to know people, I would highly recommend becoming members of these clubs at the beginning of the year. Many of the events they hold draw big crowds of university students (such as paint parties, foam parties, trivias, balls). This can give you a great start in terms of getting to know people from different faculties. Also, search the clubs on Facebook and like their page for information on any upcoming events, and to view the photos afterwards.

Although there are other larger clubs, the university also has specialised clubs which also run a variety of events throughout the semester. The smaller clubs provide a way for people with more specific interests to bond, participate and be amongst like-minded people. There are drama clubs, music clubs, debating clubs, sporting teams, religious clubs, social clubs and much more. My recommendation would be to have a look at the UMSU clubs list and the Melbourne University Sport web page to see which clubs/sporting teams interest you, as they are all always looking for new members. The clubs are all very welcoming, so go ahead and join as many as you want!


social 6

Another big social event where it can be easy to make friends is in Week 9, Semester 2: Prosh Week! Prosh Week is where a variety of big and small teams of students compete in a variety of challenges. This includes everything from a pub crawl to billy cart racing and a 24-hour scavenger hunt. I participated in Prosh this year and I found it incredibly exciting and fun so I would highly recommend getting involved. As hundreds of people participate, you are bound to make friends, work on your team-work skills and get to know people of all different year levels and classes. Nothing is compulsory, and if you do not feel comfortable getting involved with the teams – you can always just watch the crazy events taking place.

Although university can be a big change for many of us, if you choose to get involved with the social side of university, it can really enrich your entire experience. My first year would not have been as great as it was without my new friends, so I highly encourage having an open mind and putting yourself out there so you can create positive memories for yourselves.  

10 things I wish someone told first year me about SWOTVAC & the exam period…

Shannon, a UniMelb Adventures sub-editor, is a third year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Criminology and International Politics with a Diploma in French. When she’s not busy with university and work she likes to relax by getting brunch & coffee, doing some yoga and watching Law and Order SVU.



So, you’ve chosen a topic for your essay/take-home and you just think to yourself… “Where do I EVEN start? This dude has written a million articles and 87 books?!?!” And then you slowly start the journey of looking for anything useful to steal and turn into a relevant paragraph, but you feel like you’re never going to find ‘the answer’…
Just breathe and KEEP READING. I cannot stress this enough. Even though you feel like you’re walking through the desert with no water and with each passing minute you are dying a little more, somewhere in there, everything will start to makes sense.

2. Get your food sorted!


Stressful times warrant chocolate, ice cream and noodles but you do need some form of sustenance. Pre-plan your food or even just snacks so that you don’t have another thing to feel bad about. Nuts, cut up veggies to nibble on, fruit and snack bars are all great. Brain food is important!

3: All-nighters

source: twitter
source: twitter

All-nighters sometimes seem like the only option, but I assure you, your body will catch up and punish you later. Organise yourself so that you can stay up late or wake up early, but try to avoid pulling an all-nighter where you sit and watch the sun rise and wonder if you’re even human anymore. I’ve foolishly done this and each time my body shuts down & I am sick for days… #thehumanbodyalwayswins



DO what works for you. If you can only study away from home – do that. If your brain isn’t functioning until midday – all good. If you need to sit away from your bed because it is too tempting (this is me), move your study space to another room. Leave your phone somewhere it won’t distract you and perhaps even block your Facebook for a while (been there, done that). Everyone works in different ways and that’s okay.

5. “I have no time at all” is sometimes a little fib


So you have no time you say? But you did just stalk your tutor on LinkedIn and people from high school on Facebook and know who just went on holiday, what they’ve been eating and what colour they dyed their hair yesterday… Don’t trick, YOU DO have the time, so why not do something beneficial for yourself & DE-STRESS. Meditate, stretch yourself out on the floor, breathe deeply for a few minutes, go to a quick yoga class or have a nice relaxing shower. A couple minutes of zoning out can make you feel a whole lot better and ready to take on the next hours of studying! Recommendation: Download ‘1 Giant Mind’ mind from the App Store – it’s a free daily meditation app, 15 minutes is all you need and it’s definitely worth it! You are welcome.



You got through year 12, didn’t you? Yes. You got accepted into Melbourne Uni? Yes. You know what hard work is… even if it is sometimes annoying? Well, yeah. When you’re loosing hope and faith real quick remember why you’re here. You’re talented and full of enormous potential, never let yourself forget that. Just keeping going and when exams are over and the biggest decision you need to make is where to go for brunch, it will feel amazing! You can do it.

7. Knowing where to go for professional help is important


A lot of students don’t know what is available to help when things get a little too overwhelming.
Tutors/Lecturers: Unless specified, they are still there to answer general questions (not for take-home essays though) throughout SWOTVAC and usually the exam period.
The Melbourne University Health Service: Still in operation for health checks, counselling, mental health care and the usual other stuff.
The Academic Drop-in service (Mon-Fri 12-2pm Baillieu): Still running & where you can see someone for a quick read over your paper or to ask any questions!
Library Chat (library website): Where you can ask questions from home that may save you the trip to campus.

8. Write a list of treats


Give yourself something to look forward to when you’ve made it out of the grips of hell. Plan to get a massage, buy yourself those new shoes you’ve been eyeing off, spend a the weekend doing your favourite things, treat to yourself to a nice dinner & movie, go out with your friends and forget everything you just learnt. You’ve earnt it!

9. Everyone is also wandering helplessly for a little while; it’s not just you…


You’re not ‘an idiot’ or the ‘only one not getting this’… I can guarantee EVERYONE on your Facebook feed is struggling with something. Just because they aren’t all writing Facebook statuses about it, don’t think it is only you. Don’t feel bad for not knowing what is happening, part of the reason some students end up getting down on themselves is because it is hard to accept not being in the know all of the time. Don’t start this cycle of un-healthy thinking.

10. Get some feedback from the people around you


Throughout my first year I didn’t want to burden anyone with checking my drafts because I knew everyone was busy, but then I thought well actually, how about I help you in return? So I began to ask if my friends wanted to swap essay drafts, notes or study together. A different perspective or someone picking up on a dodgy sentence can make all the difference. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your peers, we’re all just trying to get out this in one piece!

GOOD LUCK everyone & CONGRATS to all graduating! 

– Shannon