Reinstate Save Our Union candidate Chloe Rafferty to WUSA President

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To the University of Wollongong University Council,

We the undersigned are calling on the UOW University Council to reinstate Chloe Rafferty the Save Our Union candidate for President of the Wollongong Undergraduate Students Association. The decision to disqualify Chloe is an undemocratic attack on students right to free speech and independent representation.

The 2017 elections for the Wollongong Undergraduate Students Association (WUSA) was the largest in many years with 1,543 students participating. The broad-left coalition Save Our Union won the Presidency, with candidate Chloe Rafferty receiving 765 votes with a clear majority of students endorsing her campaign. Despite this, the University of Wollongong has overturned the result disqualifying Chloe from the elections and appointing a candidate who received only 6% of votes.

UOW has disqualified Chloe for making a before-lecture announcement about the election campaign, despite this being standard practice in student elections across the country and despite being given no warning or penalty during polling.

National Union of Students President Sophie Johnston has criticised the decision to overturn the WUSA elections, saying,

 “it has always been common practice on university campuses right across Australia to make announcements before lectures. NUS has always stood for democracy within any process of student unionism and this decision undermines the many students at the University of Wollongong who overwhelmingly supported the ‘Save Our Union’ group and Chloe Rafferty as the 2018 WUSA President.

Save Our Union activists have been campaigning all year to stop any moves to shut down, restructure or defund their student union and believe the move to disqualify their candidate amounts to an act of political suppression.

Education Officer & Assistant Secretary Isabelle Liddy says,

 “We’ve been fighting for a fair, open and democratically run student union all year and we’ve seen UOW management respond by giving the Liberals free reign to ban left-wing people from the union, break constitutional rules, bribe and coerce students. Now they’ve overturned an election on the grounds that a candidate announced the election to students rather than getting appointed with no votes like last years President.”

“The University wants us to shut up about student representation, shut up about fee increases, shut up about their donations to the Liberal Party and shut up about Vice Chancellor Wellings’ refusal to fly the rainbow flag. We’re not going to shut up, we’re going to fight to bring back student democracy at Wollongong Uni.”

We the undersigned call on the University Council of UOW to respect student democracy and reinstate Chloe Rafferty to the position of WUSA President.

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