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. 





How to Get Involved at Uni

Alain Nguyen is a second year student who spends too much time at Uni and has called it home. When he’s not at Uni, he’s a wannabe photographer and is still trying to get his Ps.

So you’re sitting down having a coffee and you have a five hour gap until your next lecture. You wonder to yourself, ‘How do I kill time without studying?’ as is the life of a university student. There are many opportunities for you to get involved with Uni and boost that resume of yours for when you go out into the real world to look for a job.

Clubs and Societies

This one is probably no stranger to anyone. There are over 200 clubs at the University of Melbourne that run a variety of academic, cultural and social events to suit everyone’s needs. Many events will give you free food for your troubles and you’ll never go hungry! From clubs that appreciate dogs to volunteering groups, there is surely something for everyone.


If you want to take a step further and be behind the scenes running operations, you can always run for a position at an annual general meeting (AGM) or special general meeting (SGM). Alternatively, just email the club and see if they have anything available.

The University of Melbourne Student Union

The Student Union (UMSU) not only offers cheap movie tickets and free BBQs, but also has many programs that you can get involved with: Host Program, VCE Summer School, Destination Melbourne and the Union House Theatre, to name just a few. Departments also host their own collectives, so it’s worth emailing the office bearers for more info. The student magazine, Farrago, also welcomes writers pitching their work or ideas to them. Finally, if it’s something you would consider, you can even run for student politics in September.


The University

UniMelb is a large place and there are many paid and unpaid opportunities available to students. One of the most popular is Open Day, where current students inform prospective students and their parents about what life at the University is like. There are also faculty specific programs such as demonstrators in the Faculty of Science. Careers Online is a great resource. The UniMelb-only directory lists opportunities from internships to volunteering placements. It even has a calendar for events that can help you find a career, such as resume boosting and how to network. Also, a program called Students@Work provides on-campus opportunities. If you’re at the point where you’re doing a postgraduate degree, you can even apply to be a tutor!


Beyond the University

Melbourne is a big city! There are many places to volunteer or work. You just have to look!

– Alain

Your Guide to Finding the Perfect Club

Josh is a fourth year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in Politics and Literature whose idea of a perfect night involves The Sims, a cup of tea, and One Direction blaring from his speakers.

With so many clubs on campus, it can be intimidating trying to find the right one for you. I remember attending Clubs Days during my first O’Week and being overwhelmed with all the different clubs I could join. Thankfully I’ve learnt from my mistakes, and I’m excited to share a few handy tips to help you find the perfect club for you.

Do your research online

Source: UMSU

The UMSU website has a handy list of all the affiliated clubs, which can be sorted either alphabetically or by club category. On this website you can read about each of the different clubs on campus. You can also access their social media pages and contact details so you can learn more about them.

There are nine different categories of clubs available on campus, ranging from Community Service to Food & Beverage, and from Course Related to Sports & Games. Visiting this website is a great first step to get a basic understanding of the variety of clubs on offer – and to see the sort of ones you might be interested in.


Talk to ALL THE CLUBS during O’Week

Source: Supplied

There are so many clubs on campus that there are two Clubs Days happening during O’Week. The first is on Thursday the 25th and the second on Friday the 26th of February, each with completely different clubs. Clubs will be setting up stalls, holding little games, offering freebies, and waiting to tell you why their club is the best.

To me, one of the best things about the Clubs Days is the opportunity to talk to people who are actually part of the club. These people are volunteering their time to represent their clubs at O’Week, so they are clearly passionate about their club and what their club offers. They’re the best people to talk to so you can gain an understanding of what happens in each of the clubs.

Many clubs offer freebies if you sign up to be a member then and there! I stocked up on everything from vouchers to kiwi fruits when I signed up for club memberships in my first O’Week. Uni life is hectic, so Clubs Days provide you with the easiest opportunity to sign up to become a member. Membership normally costs anywhere from a gold coin to $10+ depending on the type of clubs you’re looking at joining. You can definitely make that money back through free food and cheap access to events. There’s no limit to the number of clubs you can join!


Attend club events

If Clubs Days don’t give you a good enough indication of what clubs you want to join, events are the next best thing! Clubs hold a huge variety of events throughout semester. These are often open to non-members as well as members (although members normally get cheaper tickets to ticketed events). You can attend things like club BBQs to meet some people from the clubs and learn more about their other events.


Don’t be scared to get involved, even if none of your friends are!

Source: Supplied

Clubs are an amazing way to meet new friends at university. It can sometimes be awkward making friends in classes, particularly if you only see them once a week. With Clubs though, you’re already halfway there to meeting a new friend. Whenever you talk to someone in the same club as you, you already know you have a shared interest, since that’s why they’re in that club in the first place! From there, I’ve found it easier to make great friends from across different faculties.

Clubs often recruit for their committees early in the year. It can be daunting applying to be a part of a committee, particularly if you feel you’re not good enough for the role. The great thing about clubs is that they look for passion over skills, and enthusiasm over experience. If you’re willing to learn and passionate to get involved, then you’re a perfect fit for a committee. I joined my first committee at the start of first year, and it opened up opportunities for me to meet people from across the university, and gain so many new skills. I went on to become Vice-President of that club and also got involved with other clubs. Later, I put these skills into practice in work for not-for-profits.

None of that would’ve happened for me if I hadn’t given it a go, so my biggest tip for you is to get as involved as possible. The best way to find out which club is right for you is just to experience a bit of them all and give it a shot!