The USU Board Elections will be held from 9:00 AM Monday 18 May to 5:00 PM Friday 22 May 2020. To vote you must register as a USU member here before 5:00 PM 15 May, after which you will receive a ballot via email.

CANDIDATE RESPONDED
Nick Rigby
Eitan Harris
Belinda Thomas
Ben Hines
Ruby Lotz
Ada Choi
Amir Jabbari
Prudence Wilkins-Wheat
Jiale Wang
Vikki Kailin Qin

Nick Rigby

1. How do you think clubs and societies, like AUJS, could be better supported on campus?

As a candidate that has extensive experience in Clubs & Societies at Sydney Uni, the program and its effects on the student community are something I hold at the centre of my campaign. If I am lucky enough to be elected to the USU Board, I will ensure that all processes aimed at recreating and reviving student life will prioritise the C&S program. This, of course, includes established societies of political, ethnocultural, international, and religious backgrounds. Making sure that no society is left short-handed is a primary goal of my potential directorship - especially one of such importance to our community as AUJS. I will always represent and work for societies of vulnerable students and make sure that all voices are heard and communicated to the Union as thoroughly as possible.

2. How do you believe antisemitism can be more effectively tackled on campus?

I strongly believe that issues of anti-Semitism are not properly dealt with by the University at the moment. I am personally shocked and horrified at all instances of discrimination towards members of the student community and the occurrences of these attacks is something I intend to eliminate as much as possible. As noted in the ECAJ Report on Antisemitism in Australia 2019, recent circumstances of discrimination regarding death threats (2016) and lecturers spreading extremely harmful information (2018, 2019) are shocking to me and reveal that more needs to be done. If elected, I will keep the Board accountable (such as through the Interfaith Council) to deal with all scenarios of anti-Semitism and work with the University to eradicate such disgraceful behaviour. The Union, as an organisation with 20,000 members, should passionately campaign to make sure these situations are dealt with decisively and commit to ending this toxic culture.

3. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is the internationally recognised definition on antisemitism and has been adopted by 12 campuses across Australia as well as the National Union of Students. Do you accept this definition and its associated examples as best practice?

The IHRA working definition, that "Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews" is certainly best practice and the associated examples provide practical elaboration on the definition. I will keep this definition in mind in the unfortunate event I have to respond to any anti-Semitic rhetoric or behaviour during my potential directorship.

Eitan Harris

1. How do you think clubs and societies, like AUJS, could be better supported on campus?

There needs to be greater and clearer communication with clubs and societies around their ability to make claims for C&S funding for events not held on campus. Given it will likely be some time until physical events can resume we need to make sure that clubs and societies can continue to engage and retain their memberships. Clubs and societies are integral to student life and groups like AUJS represent a safe space to express identity and feel a part of a community. Regardless of the hardships the USU are experiencing over the course of this year and possibly into the next, clubs and societies must be given the resources and advice necessary to endure well into the future.

2. How do you believe antisemitism can be more effectively tackled on campus?

I think antisemitism can only truly be tackled effectively on campus by incorporating a more communicative USU in the fight against racism. This allows for greater input from the Jewish student community on their experiences of antisemitism. This is true for all groups experiencing or at risk of experiencing racism on campus. The means of reporting racist incidents must take into consideration the language and symbols that the USU may have not considered antisemitic under current policies. A lasting reduction in antisemitism at the university is best made possible through cultural change. This can be by improving education of USU Board Directors and staff of the history of antisemitic racism and the way it has taken shape at the University of Sydney as well as making sure clubs and societies engaging in racist behaviour or language are held accountable as is already made clear in the current regulations with little effect.

3. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is the internationally recognised definition on antisemitism and has been adopted by 12 campuses across Australia as well as the National Union of Students. Do you accept this definition and its associated examples as best practice?

I do accept this definition and its associated examples. I think it should be passed by all university bodies without additional amendments. In my opinion, these amendments have historically served to water down definitions of antisemitism and justify antisemitic behaviour as fair political discourse.

Belinda Thomas

1. How do you think clubs and societies, like AUJS, could be better supported on campus?

It is clear that interfaith clubs such as AUJS have at times been neglected by the Union, simply not coming across as a priority. The USU needs to do more in terms of incorporating interfaith clubs and communities, particularly through providing opportunities for them to become more involved and included in campus culture. One of the main focuses of my campaign is to ensure that the USU is consciously amplifying underrepresented voices on campus, as well as providing great support for clubs and societies, particularly in this difficult period.


In the past, the USU has held interfaith events however these have been few and far between in recent years. The Union must reach out to both the executives and members of these societies during the organisation of these significant and important events, as only they have had the experiences which cannot be rewritten by those who haven’t felt the same things first-hand. We cannot let these voices go unheard, and therefore they must be heavily involved in the conceptualisation and innovation which these events require. The full support of the USU must be behind them in facilitating these events and amplifying these stories.

2. How do you believe antisemitism can be more effectively tackled on campus?

There is no doubt that Antisemitism is extremely present on campus, and permeates deeply within all aspects of campus culture. Antisemitism must be actively combated on campus and stamped out wherever it arises, and no matter what form it takes. The USU, as a body that represents all students, has a critical role to play in fighting to combat antisemitism. Just last year it was uncovered that an online neo-nazi network is operating at the University of Sydney. The University, along with the USU, needs to leave no stone unturned in investigating this, however, antisemitism is not just limited to explicit examples such as this. Antisemitism is incredibly pervasive on campus and often rears its head in much more subtle and insidious ways. Antisemitism is not just a nebulous thing that exists in neo-nazi online forums, it often also comes from people you might not otherwise expect, arising in day to day interactions and even in student politics. Whilst the University has a responsibility to investigate all instances of antisemitism, this must be done in conjunction with an active effort by student bodies like the USU to challenge the culture that allows antisemitism to exist at all. It has no place on our campus, or anywhere in society, and the USU, and it’s representatives, have a massive role to play in calling it out and supporting affected students.

No student should have to live with the day to day fear in the back of their head that someone is out to get them because of who they are.

3. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is the internationally recognised definition on antisemitism and has been adopted by 12 campuses across Australia as well as the National Union of Students. Do you accept this definition and its associated examples as best practice?

Yes - I wholeheartedly support and accept IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism and its associated examples.

Ben Hines

1. How do you think clubs and societies, like AUJS, could be better supported on campus?

I think that whilst obviously all clubs and societies can be better supported in more general ways, clubs such as AUJS have their own specific requirements that institutions such as the USU can play a role in facilitating. First, I think that such clubs should be supported in their fight against discrimination and marginalisation, however that may arise. In the case of AUJS, I think this looks like taking firm stances against any behaviour or rhetoric that could be considered anti-Semitic and making sure there are appropriate ramifications. Second, I believe that cultural or identity based clubs, defined broadly and encompassing clubs such as AUJS for the purposes of this discussion, should have greater opportunities to share their heritage with the University, be it through things such as festivals or even cultural competence-based events to build positive relationships and impressions. Third, I think wider appreciation for the issues facing certain student groups, such as the members of AUJS, could be promoted in a number of ways, including campaigns, information spreading, or general awareness raising. Whilst this isn’t an exhaustive list, and I have more ideas I’d love to discuss with anyone interested, in the interests of keeping this from becoming too long I’ll leave it there.

2. How do you believe antisemitism can be more effectively tackled on campus?

Much in line with my response to the first question, I believe bodies such as the USU working harder to identify behaviour that might be anti-Semitic, particularly in the context of the Uni and its organisations and bodies, and taking a stand against the behaviour would go a long way. This is true both in the specific instances and in deterring future anti-Semitism. I also think that by building greater relationships, respect, and appreciation for the Jewish heritage, possible in a number of ways and endeavours such as those I mentioned, the ignorance that fuels anti-Semitism can pre-emptively be dealt with to some extent.

3. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is the internationally recognised definition on antisemitism and has been adopted by 12 campuses across Australia as well as the National Union of Students. Do you accept this definition and its associated examples as best practice?

Yes, I agree that the working definition provided by the IHRA is an appropriate and effective definition of anti-Semitism. I also believe that the associated examples enable the efficacious combatting of any anti-Semitic behaviour by providing a clear, more concrete list of the notion that can dispel uncertainty and enable the everyday person to more clearly understand and paradigmatically define the concept. Insofar as these are of critical importance, I accept the definition.

Ruby Lotz

1. How do you think clubs and societies, like AUJS, could be better supported on campus?

Rebuild with Ruby believes that solidarity is important to fighting discrimination. With increasing attacks on religious minorities across the world, the USU should bring together different communities of faith to challenge racism and bigotry and support each other. In the aftermath of the Christchurch massacre at a mosque and the Pittsburgh massacre at a synagogue within the last two years we need to stand together more than ever. The USU should facilitate and support this activism through the clubs and societies program and through frequent interfaith events.

2. How do you believe antisemitism can be more effectively tackled on campus?

The recent growth of racist movements has developed hand in hand with increased antisemitism, including on university campuses. Student unions like the USU should be relentlessly and explicitly anti-racist, sending a clear message that antisemitic activity on campus will be met with fierce student resistance. Rebuild with Ruby’s stance is to fight back against an emboldened far-right whilst also challenging antisemitism wherever it occurs, including in the left. Students can expect Ruby will challenge antisemitic arguments and condemn antisemitism in her role as a Board Director.

3. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism is the internationally recognised definition on antisemitism and has been adopted by 12 campuses across Australia as well as the National Union of Students. Do you accept this definition and its associated examples as best practice?

Rebuild with Ruby is supportive of the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism. One small caveat with the examples it gives is that clause 7 of the IHRA erases the long history of activists, especially including Jewish activists, who have contested the purpose, actions and existence of the state of Israel. In this way, clause 7 contradicts clause 11 which rightly asserts that holding Jewish people collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel is antisemitic. Whether this stance is antisemitic should be based on the manner in which these opinions are expressed. We acknowledge that the IHRA working definition of antisemitism is positive but as it sometimes conflates the state of Israel and Jewish people it must be further developed to allow all non-antisemitic criticism of the state of Israel. These are not the opinions of Rebuild with Ruby as a campaign, as we recognise the diverse views and lived experiences of Jewish and other students on these issues. This is not necessarily representative of all Rebuild with Ruby campaigners, and we encourage Jewish students to talk with our campaigners to hear their thoughts.

Ada Choi

Ada did not provide a response.

Amir Jabbari

Amir provided his general policy document but did not respond specifically to any of the questions.

Prudence Wilkins-Wheat

Prudence did not provide a response.

Jiale Wang

Jiale did not provide a response.

Vikki Kailin Qin

Vikki did not provide a response.