So... what now in the Honi race?
Disclaimer: Today I wore a Sin for Honi shirt, and will be supporting the Sin team. This was a personal decision for me, so I would absolutely recommend voters check out all three tickets before deciding who you think deserves your vote. Well, maybe not all three...
Today saw a seismic shift in the #StuPol scene - we have a real Honi race, and it's getting ugly. I mean really, really ugly. The "Debate" today (re-watch it live if you really really want to) could be summarised as a verbal bare-knuckles brawl, with each ticket using their policies and experience to (again, I stress, verbally) bludgeon their opposition.
Let's back up and set the scene. Ever since Friday the news has been doing the rounds that Wet and Time will come to some sort of deal - Honi beat me to it only because I allowed them to, of course. Even if they don't deal, the fact that they refused to rule it out is already hurting Wet. Once the deal is confirmed, expect even more people to walk from the campaign, or for people stuck between Sin and Wet to choose Sin.
This is a huge pivot in what was a mostly friendly race (at least compared to SRC). In the past I characterised this as two left-wing tickets with a slightly different focus (experience v activism) against a more right-leaning Time ticket. I had heard that Wet and Sin would preference each other, as their views of Honi were largely aligned and many of them were quite close friends. Boy, was I wrong.
Time has consistently resisted the moniker of a Liberal/College Honi ticket, but their policy of writing an Honi that "doesn't hate you" panders almost exclusively to those audiences. They may not claim to be a Liberal (they have at least one) or College (they have at least three) ticket, but it's undeniable that those kind of groups stand to benefit from a Time election.
Compare this with Sin - where one of the claims to fame of candidate Aparna Balakumar is the breaking of the story around slut-shaming in Wesley College. Wet has its own claim to this scrutinising-Colleges narrative too, with Justine Landis-Hanley has been an incredible advocate for College cultural change. So... it makes sense for those two groups to say the other is the second-best option, right?
So with this swirling in the background, dozens of people packed out Hermann's to watch the three tickets debate about who would be best to run Honi. Nobody could have expected the mess that followed.
Sin's opening monologue, from Nina Dillon Britton, was as incendiary as you'd expect from a ticket spurned for a preference deal. Time and Wet responded with fire of their own, and the debate spiralled into chaos. The structure of the debate may have looked good on paper, but the decision to allow each of the tickets to submit questions to other tickets just exacerbated the vitriol. It was extremely not good.
One of the many low-points was a discussion of preference dealings, with Time alleging that Sin had come to them to discuss a preference deal. This was a surprise to everyone in the audience, particularly members of Sin. The story seems to be that USU Board Director Vanessa Song called Time, stating that she represented Sin and was interested in some sort of deal. At the time of writing, Sin had not determined why Song had done this.
While that may have made Sin look bad, Time came out looking far worse - particularly JP Asimakis. I don't need to report on it, I'll let these tweets do it for me.
Yes, all of these tweets are about things said by Time founder John Patrick Asimakis. The very last one was said while defending a comment allegedly made by a member of the ticket, Nicholas Dai, during Engineering Revue. He also threatened Sin with defamation proceedings (I added the word "allegedly" to the previous sentence so I don't cop the same threat, tbh).
What in the world is going on??????? Many (myself included) have probably been a bit harsh to Time, but this completely confirms all of our criticisms around the politics of the ticket?? Hooo boy.
On a lighter note, shout out to Wet's Evie Woodforde and Justine Landis-Hanley who both spoke very well. Wet escaped most of the trash talk and actually answered their questions (Time sidestepped most of them). Sin's Nina Dillon Britton and Swetha Das also did well, but at times found it difficult to contend with the claims from Time and were forced into corners with some of the questions - Nina was forced to defend a controversial article from earlier this year, with some clear division in the room over it.
If you really care about a "winner" (there were no undecided voters in the room), it's probably Wet by default - the whole thing was largely terrible - but Time were very clear losers. If Wet are still considering working with time after JP Asimakis' multiple instances of controversial behaviour... well, let's see what the rest of the week brings.
I'll leave you with the tweet of the day from former Honi Editor, Dominic Ellis.