Hana Arai has been elected, by default, as Curtin Student Guild’s 51st president.
“It’s a bit of a double-edged sword,” she says of being elected unopposed. “Of course I’m delighted to have the closure and know that I’ll be the Guild’s 2020 president. I’m extremely excited. However, it almost feels a little undeserved.”
Recognising healthy competition as a good thing, Hana believes that universities are supposed to be places of debate and discussion and welcomes robust opposition.
“In the past it’s almost been a choice between two quite left-wing groups, so it will be interesting to see what portion of the student body will reveal themselves as right-leaning in these elections.”
Hana is currently finishing off her Bachelor of Science (Chemistry), and plans to take a leave of absence next year to focus on her duties as President.
Arai’s first encounter with the Guild was in 2017: initially wanting to run for Guild Councillor, she was convinced to run for Science and Engineering Representative by former-Guild Secretary Dylan Heywood. In 2018 she ran for a second term in the same position, as well as for NUS delegate—she was elected to both. Earlier this year, in light of the resignation of Lydia Berhan, Hana was elected as Education Vice President by the Representative Board.
When asked why she made the decision to run for President, Hana talks of her desire to give back to the Guild and the student community.
“[The Guild] is such a valuable organisation with huge potential to unite students and foster a community around the university experience,” she explains. “I’ve come to care so much about empowering young people and ensuring they have a voice and a seat at the table. Being given the opportunity to have a platform to make real, tangible positive change is a huge privilege.”
As the Science and Engineering Rep this year, Hana has worked to establish Curtin’s first ever Course Representative system. It is still in the planning stages, however, if all goes accordingly it will be rolled out to the rest of the university in 2020. More broadly, Hana has been part of the Guild’s efforts to make our campus more sustainable, helping to champion biodegradable and compostable products in our cafes and outlets and joining the RTRNA cup network. Other achievements for this year’s Guild include establishing a First Year committee, helping to organise a large climate rally on 9 August and undertaking the process of reviewing the current Unit Outline structure.
As President, Hana wants students to know that they have a say; she wants to know what the student community wants and needs from their Guild.
“I would hate for the Guild to feel like an inaccessible organisation that’s locked away from students … I want to open more communication with students and allow for real dialogue.”
Next year, Hana plans to prioritise the implementation of a Course Representative system across the university, empower the Guild’s equity departments and student representatives, and bring bigger and better events and parties to campus—including (hopefully) the return of Grasslands festival.
She believes that the Student Guild is an organisation with real, tangible power and can be instrumental in improving experiences and outcomes for students.
“Our efforts have done things like reduce late penalties for assessments, made parking during exams free, and are the reason Curtin does not currently have a trimester system. We provide O-Day every semester, support over 120 student clubs, randomly give you free food, and operate almost all of the cafes on campus. Yes, Guild election time is annoying—we know this more than most—but a vote in the Guild elections is a vote for what you want your university experience to be like.”
Note: Election campaigning has now commenced and the deadline for postal vote applications has passed. The polls will open on 16 September at 10am. For more information on Guild Candidates visit the Guild website.