Prove your humanity

For the first time, undergraduate and postgraduate the election results for the Curtin University Council have been overturned.

The Council, which exists to regulate the university, has power over what they choose to promote as important to Curtin. Before their annulment, this year’s election results were the first time in which the Curtin Student Guild had zero representation on the governing body. Independent barrister Scott Ellis determined that Curtin’s electoral standards had not been upheld by the university after several students lodged court appeals of the results.

This year’s election, held between the 14th of February and the 21st of March, was found to have failed to comply with the standards of its own legislation. Voting began without three days lapsing from the distribution of the online ballot link.

Furthermore, the results were founded upon minute disparities between votes. Undergraduate candidate Lapo Bigazzi won his election by a three-vote margin, and postgraduate victor Ayomide Ogundipe won based on a one vote lead. Given that the outcome of the election was determined by very few deciding votes, Mr. Ellis agreed that the lack of the grace period likely had a determining effect on the result.

“Even on the basis that only a small number of eligible students did not get the opportunity to vote…the initial roll may well have had the effect of altering the outcome of such a close election,” he said. “I feel the university should listen to students, listen to the Guild, and fix its broken election system to bring a fair voice to the university council.”

The successful appeal of the results was lodged by Dylan Botica, Hameed Mohammad, Salwa Kilzi, Rey Nairn, and Jasmyne Tweed. Mr. Botica said he felt, “unrepresented and disappointed” by the electoral process, and suggested that in-person voting may have been more successful. In saying this, Mr. Botica said the outcome of their appeal was a “massive relief”, though he “feel[s] the university should listen to students, listen to the Guild, and fix its broken election system to bring a fair voice to the university council.”

Dylan Botica was one of Curtin’s students who appealed the results. Image credit: Curtin Student Guild

Guild president Theodora Rohl felt the election process “undermined the Guild”, especially given their lack of representation in the body.

“The Council is the highest decision-making body at Curtin, and being locked out of representing students to this level means we cannot achieve our chief function.”

A spokesperson for the university issued a statement regarding the election.

“Curtin University respects the determination of the independent barrister that the elections of the undergraduate and postgraduate student Council members that occurred in March of this year, did not meet two of the technical requirements of Statute No. 5 – Election of Council Members. It also welcomes the determinations that no conflicts of interest were found and that online voting encourages higher participation in elections. The previous election results have been annulled in line with the finding and fresh elections for the positions will be held as soon as practicable. Curtin regrets any inconvenience that this has caused and would like to thank the two students who have been serving on Council since the election was held.”