Michael Reschke elected University Council undergraduate representative 2018–19
words by Jenny Nguyen
Economics student — and dark horse — Michael Reschke has defied the odds in his election to University Council.
The newly condensed block of power will see Reschke representing undergraduate students for a term of two years. The Adelaide University Labor Club-backed candidate campaigned on a platform of smaller tutorials, stopping library cuts and saving student study spaces, beat out 5 other candidates to take out the top position but it was never an easy task.
From positioning on the ballot to preference deals, the odds were not designed in Reschke’s favour. According to On Dit’s informal survey, Reschke was never a clear lead in the polls however, his BNOC rating *may* have had something to do with the unexpected victory.
Michael Reschke had 45% of the vote which can be attributed to his quiet online campaign, straightforward policy platform and grassroots support across the student body.
The primary votes for this election were:
Michael RESCHKE: 605
Patrick KENNEWELL: 321
Louis GUGLIETTI: 135
James D’ALLESANDRO: 123
Thomas ROGERSON: 87
Brodie SCOTT: 60
Reschke had smashed the primary vote, almost doubling that of his nearest opponent, but he was not immediately elected. Thanks to Hare Clark preferential voting, the preferences make for a much more interesting On Dit article.
1331 undergraduate students participated in the online election — a huge improvement from last year, too! To be elected, the candidate needed to beat the devil’s number. Interestingly, this also happened to be the quota for this election.
(formula for quota is: 1331+1/2 = 666)
The faculty voting split
Historically, University Council positions have been awarded to students enrolled in the university’s ‘flagship’ degrees. Law and medical undergraduates generally have larger, yet closely knit, social networks.
However, this year, the law and medical school votes were divided between four candidates which resulted in neither medical or law students holding a position on university council. This hasn’t happened in a very, very long time.
Patrick Kennewell more than tripled the primary vote of his colleague, Thomas Rogerson. Meanwhile, president of the law school, James D’Allesandro, was narrowly edged out by his activities representative Louis Guglietti.
Although Brodie Scott is enrolled in law, he is not grouped in with this faculty vote.
The unexpected loss
The incumbent AUU president failed to ‘crack a hundo’ in the primaries and was first to be eliminated from the race. Despite his high-profile position on campus, Brodie Scott only managed to pick up 60 primary votes. It may bring to light speculation of how Scott manages to mobilise 1000+ students to vote him into office in student elections yet, was unable to replicate a similar result in council elections. Still, it was a valiant effort for someone whose actions on the student union board were deemed to be a “failure to stand up with a spine for students”.
The best preference deal
Patrick Kennewell may have trailed Reschke’s primary result, but his preference deals were the best organised and gifted him with a fighting chance all the way to the final round. Kennewell, a familiar face amongst both law and medical circles, second preferenced James D’Allesandro and third preferenced Thomas Rogerson on his how-to-vote ballot. This worked to his advantage as he was able to benefit from two strong preference flows from the elimination of D’Allesandro and Rogerson, placing second on 528 votes.
The best online campaign
Louis Guglietti was all over social media in his quest for council. This was effective in building momentum and interest around his campaign. His usage across social media platforms reached a large audience but this was, unfortunately, not enough to win. The issue with online voting is it removes from the process direct communication with voters. And what’s a democracy without a bit of humanity anyway?
What does 2018–19 look like?
The University has unveiled its multi-million dollar medical school in 2017. However, On Dit understands that medical students are frustrated that the university administration has blocked off half the building from student access. This is often the reason that compels medical students to run for University Council.
The University will be hoping to roll out its new campus masterplan, a departing gift that was initiated by former Vice-Chancellor, Warren Bebbington.
The University Council will also be welcoming a newcomer in a new Vice-Chancellor. Peter Rathjen, an alumni, will be steering the direction of this university.
Universities will be working to address the issues raised by the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report on campus sexual assaults.
The federal government might also want to push through their new education reforms that will impact enrolments, research output and more.
These are the issues that will be on the plate for Michael Reschke over the next two years. He will form part of the small voting bloc that was democratically elected to University Council. While this bloc is significantly less influential than the appointed power-brokers of Adelaide’s business elite, his position on the council to represent undergraduate students is still important nonetheless.
In the past, the government and university may have capitalised on the their belief that undergraduate students are too cool to care to and through this, have inflicted archaic changes to the university experience, further disenfranchising students. However, Michael Reschke’s unexpected and prolific primary result — due to the momentum and optimism from the voting student body — may just prove that we are anything but.
View the results from the election via the Council Election page.