The Honi Race: an Overview
Do I need a disclaimer for this one? I mean, I'm close with a lot of people on Wet and Sin, so I guess that's your conflict of interest if you want one.
I've mostly talked about the SRC Elections up until now because, let's face it, that's where all the drama is. But a fun and far more intriguing race is happening concurrently, as the student body gets to decide who runs Honi Soit next year.
The last several years have seen pretty poor Honi elections. Scoop won in a landslide in 2015, almost doubling their main rival Strip. 2014 saw no competition as Swag dropped out just after nominations closed, leaving the way clear for Heist to win. Sex v Evil in 2013 was the last close one, but that was only a two-horse race. This year, with three tickets, who knows what will happen? Let's give the tickets a closer look, in ballot order:
Time's policy statement doesn't hold back. It calls our modern Honi a "ceaseless onslaught of moral and pseudo-intellectual elitism". They promise to air all opinions and write a paper that "isn't out to get you". They promise to end the "filtering of ideas and the culture of outrage".
Clearly, they think there's a lot of things wrong with the paper and that students hate it - which is funny, because readership has never been higher. Clearly, it's not Time for Facts.
Another line of argument is that they are more diverse in terms of the faculties they come from - apparently everyone that edits and writes for Honi is an Arts student, so they want to change that by having a team with... a single Engineer and a bunch of Arts/Law, MeCo and a couple of Commerce and Economics students. I mean, it's ~~slightly~~ better than the other tickets (each with a single Visual Arts student and nine variants of Arts/Law), but hardly the diverse ticket they make it out to be.
They make up for that lack of diversity with their political opinions. This has been, directly or indirectly, called the "Liberal/College" ticket multiple times. Well, you can hardly call them that now, with SLS member Michelle Picone on the ticket. Picone rose to, uh... prominence, I guess, at 2015s infamous #RepsElect, when she contested the position of Environment Officer without the support of the Enviro Collective she sought to represent. If she has done much in the role, it's escaped this reporter's notice. She was also a Director of Student Publications until last night, where she officially resigned from the position. after Honi exposed that she had done nothing in the role all year. Yikes.
That's not to say there are no Liberals on the ticket. Shae McLaughlin, a self-described "John Howard Fangirl 1997-2016" (I swear I am not making this up), was a member of the unsuccessful Dom Bondar ticket for the recent SULC AGM. No other candidate states any links to the Liberal Party or Club in their CVs.
So, what to think of Time? Very few have written regularly for Honi (only four list "Honi Soit Reporter" as a CV line) and are very clearly a ticket built in reaction to what they imagine students think of Honi. With circulation increasing and a growing online presence, how long will this "Honi is insular" narrative last? If Time are lucky, at least another two weeks. With no preference deals with the other tickets, Time will find it very difficult to win this off their own bat - unless that silent majority the Libs keep talking about finally finds their voice and/or closest voting booth.
Get your lifejackets ready, because you're about to be thrown into a whirlpool of awful water puns and references. After running a Pirate-themed campaign last semester this is absolutely the last thing I want to do, but here we go!
All the classic Honi promises are here: supporting first-timers and minority groups to write more, expanding online coverage (in previous years it was just through a website, now we get fancy apps like "Periscope" in there!), showcasing more student artwork, etc etc. This all follows in the same vein of not-as-activist left tickets (more on that very loaded term later) like Sex and Scoop - which is just as well, because as Honi pointed out there certainly are similarities in their style choices.
If you're deciding your vote based purely on amount of and experience with writing, then Wet is hard to beat. Every single member of the ticket is a reporter, contributor, or artist for Honi this year, five members study MeCo (which probably counts for something), and some of them have appeared in pretty much every issue. Justine Landis-Hanley boasts more than 27000 words written for student media alone - I very much believe it.
With three Directors of Student Publications on the ticket (Michael Sun, Siobhan Ryan, and Landis-Hanley), there's a lot of experience proofreading and seeing Honi get put together there as well. Interesting fact: the Quidditch Society printed shirts at the start of the year, and not a single person noticed the typo until Landis-Hanley saw the shirt up close six months later and mentioned it (cheers mate).
Sure, the policy isn't exactly inspiring to old hacks like me that have seen variations on the same stuff for years, but it's pretty easy to run on "more of the same but better!!!" when the current mob are doing such a good job (shoutout to Scoop). It's pretty clear Wet is a ticket with very strong writing credentials, but may find it difficult to keep up with a Sin ticket with better political connections. Appearing as the more "moderate" of the two left-wing Honi tickets might help if they outpoll Time though.
I'm just going to take a second to appreciate this. Say whatever you like about Sin, but their design is seriously incredible.
Not since... Sex for Honi two whole years ago have we had a ticket that's ready to be so hated on by conservatives. Seriously, on day one there were instances of homophobic abuse hurled at them (not by other candidates, to be clear). Lovely.
Voters old enough to remember Jam and Evil will immediately find a home with Sin - a ticket that doesn't just accept an "activist" label, it seems to revel in it. Its very first policy is about championing the fight against University management, another is to give International Students an entire edition of Honi, another is explicitly saying cis white dudes won't write more than half of any paper. It almost reads like a Grassroots SRC wishlist - meaning you'll either love it or hate it.
Sin's team, on the surface, isn't as experienced as Wet, but that doesn't mean the team hasn't been put together intelligently. Bonan Xia has no CV lines about writing for Honi, but as an International Student he and campaign authoriser Yifan "Koko" Kong (remember how she smashed the Union elections?) will be able to bring them a lot of writers (and votes!) for next year. Jack Crossing also has very little Honi-specific experience, but as one of the top campaigners for Esther Shim (who... also smashed the Union elections), bringing her and and her significant support base to team Sin is a huge boost at the ballot box. Christie New similarly has no Honi CV Lines, but her fantastic work in MUSE, SUDS, and Revue productions will see plenty of performing arts types jump on the Sin bandwagon (if they weren't already on thanks to Will Edwards or Swetha Das).
Note: This isn't to say any candidate's ability as a writer or editor is intrinsically linked to how many words they put in Honi, and there are obviously some barriers to contributing regularly that Sin is attempting to draw attention to - but if you're running to edit Honi then I think it's fair to at least bring up just how much experience a candidate has with that particular paper. Several of Sin's other candidates have a huge amount of writing and editing experience. Eden Faithfull has been amongst the more prolific writers for Honi this year, while Aparna Balakumar and Swetha Das have edited the brand new Pulp Media venture - so this is by no means an inexperienced ticket either.
Oh, did I mention this team has five current Board Directors campaigning for them? Koko and Esther are joined by Grace Franki, Tiffany Alexander, and Atia Rahim - so plenty of experienced campaigners. This ticket and campaigner team has been put together excellently from an electoral standpoint. If the overwhelmingly left-wing voter base of USyd resonates with Sin and their policies, they'll be hard to beat.
Obviously, all of these tickets are terrible because none of them asked me to jump on.
Seriously though, they all offer something different, which is a fantastic way to have a proper conversation on where we want to take Honi in the coming year. For those still deciding on who to vote for, next week's soapbox will be a fantastic way to see their ideological differences play out.
Sin and Wet have agreed to swap preferences on their How-To-Votes - meaning that Sin's main path to victory is to simply outpoll Wet (if Time wins on primaries) or hope Time voters don't preference Wet (if Time comes third). Wet just need to avoid coming last - they should pick up a decent preference flow from whoever comes third (I'm guessing a lot of Time voters will just vote down the ballot, which is a 2 for Wet...), while Time has the difficult task of trying to win this on primary vote alone. How many college students are there again?
If this election gets really close between all three tickets, expect some real fireworks on election night.