The Education Vice-President is a crucial role within the Guild’s executive team. Responsible for everything related to education, representation, welfare and equity, the EVP is initially responsible for the concerns of mature age, online, external, regional and rural students. Additionally, they are also the line manager for the Equity and Faculty Representatives, the International Student Committee and the Postgraduate Student Committee.
Our two candidates for EVP in this election—in no specific order—are Caitlin Egloff-Barr from Left Action and Chris Hall from Illuminate. Caitlin has been at Curtin since 2016, studying an Environmental Biology Degree. Chris, on the other hand, took a while to find his feet: starting at Curtin in 2016, he has been both a Humanities and a Science and Engineering Student. It wasn’t until 2018 that he found his discipline, and is now specialising in Environmental Biology and Fashion.
Caitlin and Chris have been involved in student affairs for a long time, with each having served as Ordinary Guild Councillors (Caitlin in 2016 and 2018, and Chris in 2018). Chris has also spent time as an NUS Delegate and Queer Officer in 2018, and as Guild Secretary, NUS Delegate, Undergraduate Representative and NUS WA State Branch President in 2019.
When asked about their motivations for running as EVP, both Caitlin and Chris site their passion for advocating for student rights.
“Education is under attack from both the university, and government,” says Caitlin.
“We need activists in the guild who are prepared to fight for the rights of students. This year the university has cut staff from both the science and humanities faculties. The response from Illuminate has been very weak, and they haven’t even been informing students about the cuts. Instead they have been helping the university set up online lectures, which actually helps the university get away with [it].”
She talks about the period in which Left Action ran the Guild, pointing to protests and sit-ins as a way to fight back against University cuts.
Image of Caitlin at a protest on behalf of Socialist Alternative.
Chris discusses his own long-term goals and personal experience as his reason for running.
“This past year has shown me that my dedication, strength, organisation skills and my passion for representing students exceeded my own expectations. [I have] used my roles to improve the lives of students on a campus and state level, involving myself in initiatives to do with student working rights, the environment, queer policy, representation and student welfare,” says Chris.
“I have long term goals to improve the university experience for all students with the collaboration between the Guild and the Curtin community. Through activism, protest, lobbying and representation I want to use every avenue to advocate for the students of Curtin.”
As EVP, Caitlin says she would prioritise building campaigns on education and social justice issues, fighting for education at a federal level and involving as many students as possible.
“[The Liberals] are trying to cut funding to education based on grades, and drop-out rates,” she says.
“This will disproportionately affect universities attended by students from working class or poorer backgrounds. I will be part of building a protest campaign around this issue, and in addition, anytime the university cuts staff, units and degrees, I will inform students about the cuts and mobilise students against them.”
Chris agrees that the current state of the education system is turbulent, pointing to consistent cuts to higher education funding.
“There should be no boundaries to getting your education,” he says.
“So I want to ensure that I run an education campaign based around student welfare, ensuring that students aren’t having to drop out of university because they’re on the edge of poverty, that parking is accessible and we see an end to the university treating students as cash cows. The quality of our education [should ensure] that we are industry as well as world ready.”
Image of Chris as part of the Pride Contingent in the Melbourne climate protest.
Both candidates plan to put pressure on the university to move their investments away from controversial industries.
While Caitlin wants to call on the university to cut ties with fossil fuel companies, Chris promises to investigate a pro-vestment campaign which he hopes will urge the university to move their investments away from industries that aren’t bettering our future.
When asked about her final message to students, Caitlin points to the current state of world affairs.
“There’s a lot of crap going on in the world, the amazon rainforest is on fire, the climate is changing, there are constant cuts to education, the far right is on the rise around the world,” she says.
“Now more than ever we need Left Action activists in the guild who genuinely want to fight for your education, and the rights of the oppressed.”
“We oppose the other factions who choose to use the guild as a resume builder and would much prefer to sit in university meetings and be chummy with the university management, then to talk to students. Left Action believe students are a force in society, they played a really important role in the campaign for marriage equality, historically they were vital in the campaign against the Vietnam war, and when they have fought for their education they have won. The role of the guild should be to fight for education and social justice, and to involve as many students as possible in that fight.”
Answering the same question, Chris affirms that he plans to work hard and listen hard.
“I want to ensure that every student can achieve everything they desire. I know that not every student is political, not every student wants to protest and not every student needs change made for them, but I would like students to know that, hand in hand, working together to ensure the injustices in our society are fought with diversity, respect and determination will come in 2020,” he says.
While both candidates display a clear, fierce passion for student outcomes, ultimately, it’s up to students to decide who they want and trust to represent their interests.
Note: Caitlin Egloff-Barr (Left Action) has no affiliations with any Australian political party, however, she is a current member of Socialist Alternative, which is a nation-wide political organisation. Chris Hall (Illuminate) was a member of the Greens in 2016, but has no current political affiliations.
Election campaigning has now commenced and the deadline for postal vote applications has passed. The polls will open on 16 September 2019 at 10am. For more information on Guild Candidates visit the Guild website.