WUSA saga boils over with two students disqualified from student elections

Former WUSA president Jasper Brewer
Former WUSA president Jasper Brewer

The WUSA Appeals Panel has found that two Young Liberals at the University of Wollongong tried to influence and broker deals with other student politicians in an effort to ‘’roll’’ the popularly elected student union president.

The panel found that Jasper Brewer and Zachary Fitzpatrick allegedly tried to convince candidates to help overturn the Wollongong Undergraduate Student Association election results in exchange for positions on the WUSA council.

The three-member appeals panel is constituted under the WUSA Electoral Regulations with ‘’the power to investigate appeals and make specific remedies provided for in the regulations’’.

Chloe Rafferty

Chloe Rafferty

The WUSA Appeals Panel relied on written and recorded evidence  to find that the Revolution presidential candidate [Fitzpatrick] and Save Our Union group candidate Joshua Bell entered in a MoU which ‘’could prejudice the election and compromise its outcome by seeking to subvert the determination of elected candidates and their participation as members of the 2018 WUSA Council’’.

The appeals panel also noted that incumbent WUSA president [Brewer] was in a meeting arranged by Fitzpatrick, where ‘’he stated that he would compromise the integrity of the WUSA Appeals Panel and attempt to assert an influence over the appeals outcome by authorising a biased party as his representative’’.

In its written findings the appeals panel disqualified Fitzpatrick and Bell from the election. Brewer did not seek re-election so escaped punishment.

WUSA president-elect Chloe Rafferty, who was ousted from the WUSA top job for in part campaigning in classrooms before and during the election period, was disappointed with the appeal process.

The Save Our Union group leader, who won the largest presidential vote with a primary of 765, said the decision to dump her was ‘’grossly undemocratic’’.

Rafferty said more than 1500 students voted in the WUSA elections, the biggest vote in a decade.

''We were never told at any point or given any warning that this behaviour was going to be interpreted as against the rules,'' she said.

''....At no point were we warned that the before lecture announcements which are standard practise on every campus around the country were interpreted as against the rules.''

The Mercury asked the university for a response to Rafferty’s claims.

UOW did not respond specifically to her assertions but a spokesperson said ‘’appeals were submitted from both major campaign groups and some of the allegations from each group were upheld with remedies imposed consistent with the WUSA Electoral Regulations. Breaches of the Electoral Regulations and Code of Conduct were found to have occurred and action was taken to safeguard the integrity of the election’’.

Independent candidate Timothy Piert, who won only six per cent of the vote, is the new WUSA president-elect.

The newly elected WUSA Council takes effect from December 1. 

Save Our Union activists plan to appeal to the University Council and Senate to reinstate Chloe Rafferty as president.