The nominees for the 2023 Auckland University Student Association (AUSA) Elections are in, and voting is open on AUSA’s website from 15 August to 19 August. The elected executive advocate for student voice in University policy, control funding for hardship grants, run student spaces like Shads, and organise events on campus like O-Week.
Craccum asked our 12 candidates (-1 who didn’t respond), why they should get your vote, and other important questions like their go-to Shads drink.
Alan Shaker (he/him)
Running for: President.
Studying: Fourth-year Bachelor of Arts in History and Politics / Bachelor of Science in Exercise Sciences.
Why should students vote for you? I’ve been the Education VP for the last two years and in that time I’ve seen AUSA grow from strength to strength. I’ve seen what needs to be done to make effective change, and I also know the areas in which AUSA needs to do better. I’ve got the experience, passion and skills to make sure students are put first.
Fun fact: I was born on the other side of the world in Norway.
Go-to Shads drink: Vodka Cranberry.
Do you read Craccum? Of course 🙂
Danico Vanwyck Castro Rico (he/him)
Running for: President, Welfare Vice-President, and Engagement Vice-President.
Studying: First-year LLB/BA, majoring in Law, Politics, and Philosophy.
Why should students vote for you? I’d like to enlighten and inaugurate you to your benefits if you vote for me. That I, myself, as a previous class representative from previous classes, have acquired and refined. If you vote for me, I can promise you an ease of communication and approachability. I may or may not look intimidating to some, but the case will always be the same. If you vote for me, I can promise you honesty and truthfulness. I believe that these are the foundation of trust between us, peers. I’m an open book. And if you vote for me, I can promise you my commitment to helping others.
Fun fact: I sleep right next to my cat.
Go-to Shads drink: Never been to Shads, but open to trying new things.
Do you read Craccum? Not often, but occasionally when I get the chance to.
Ruisong Xue (Ray) (he/him)
Running for: President.
Studying: Masters in Mathematical Modelling and Engineering. 2022 is my final year, so if I’m elected, I will be working full-time for my AUSA role.
Why should students vote for you? Through my five years of university life, I saw a large number of students disconnected and under-represented by AUSA. Some of them even didn’t know how AUSA could support us. My aim as the president is to consolidate our AUSA framework and develop better channels for students to raise their voices. Students should know more about what AUSA is working on. Their voices should also be collected more proactively instead of waiting for a certain matter to happen. Trust me, and we can certainly do better than this!
Fun fact: I like Chinese calligraphy very much and remember myself handwriting 500 bookmarks for our 2020 and 2021 Club Expos.
Go-to Shads drink? Will certainly grab a drink in Shads if I’m elected.
Do you read Craccum? Yes, especially for this issue! Joking aside, Craccum is a fantastic representation of students’ life and thoughts. It is not only something very worth reading, but also super enjoyable to read.
Amol Kumar (he/him)
Running for: Treasurer-Secretary.
Studying: Fifth-year BCOM/BE(Hon), majoring in Finance, Economics, and Mechatronics Engineering.
Why should students vote for you? I’ve been here for five years and have experienced a bit of everything; the $100 Ubers, four-day benders, and four hours of sleep when you have four assignments due but still need to go to work. I’m finally at the stage where I have found myself and have the courage and power to give back and help others. I’ve been a part of two faculties, many clubs, had five different part-time jobs, and ran one of the largest University programmes, the Uniguides programme. I’ve talked to and tried to understand thousands of students with the one goal of improving their university experience. Joining AUSA is the next step in making this dream a reality. My [degree], combined with my understanding of the broad range of student needs, makes me the perfect candidate for this role.
Fun fact: I have matching pink butterfly earrings with my four-year-old niece.
Go-to Shads drink: Jager Bombs for sure bro.
Do you read Craccum? Hell yeah, I even got featured in their Fashion edition last year!
Mahek Nagar (she/her)
Running for: Education Vice-President, Women’s Rights Officer, International Students Officer.
Studying: Second-year BSci, majoring in Psychology.
Why should students vote for you? Because I understand how difficult it is to be a university student at times, and it does help when you have a person in charge who gets that.
Fun fact: I have been on a personal mission to join every literary fandom there is since I was 11, and got my hands on Harry Potter (I don’t discriminate between genres).
Go-to Shads Drink: The legal age for drinking in Mumbai is above 25 (I KNOW).
Do you read Craccum? Is anything other than an absolute yes an acceptable answer?
Qun Ma (Qun) (she/her)
Running for: Education Vice-President and Welfare Vice-President.
Studying: Third-year doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Education and Social Work.
Why should students vote for you? I truly understand it is critical to reach a balance between our studies and social life. Students like me would like to see the simplification of funding [and] logistical procedures that can speed up the delivery and wrap up of different academic and well-being projects. Also, we need to expand our funding resources to support more programmes growing and improving.
Go-to Shads Drink: Sorry, I do not drink alcohol lol another fun fact. But I do wish to go to Shads to mingle with you guys.
Do you read Craccum? I haven’t gotten a chance to read Craccum but I wish I could have done that.
Varsha Ravi (she/her)
Running for: Education Vice-President.
Studying: Fifth-year LLB/BGlobalSt.
Why should students vote for you? I’ve got the AUSA experience needed for the role and I’m super passionate about advocacy.
Fun fact: My name means Rain!
Go-to Shads drink? Gin and Tonic or a classic Shads Jug.
Do you read Craccum? I am a Craccum enthusiast! I save all the middle pages!
Folau Tu’inukuafe (she/her)
Running for: Engagement Vice-President.
Studying: BCom/BSci majoring in Accounting, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Chemistry.
Why should students vote for you? Students should vote for me because I work my butt off trying to engage as many students as possible. As a student that has been here for a few years, I know the importance of student culture and the role it plays in ensuring students are comfortable on campus. A happy student means happy grades!
Fun fact: I’m a dog mum to a (nearly) two-year-old Labra x Staffy named Athena and she’s my actual life.
Go-to Shads drink: Odd Company.
Do you read Craccum? Yes of course!
Theo van de Klundert (they/them)
Running for: Queer Rights Officer.
Studying: Third year of a BA/LLB, majoring in International Relations and Religious Studies.
Why should students vote for you? I am currently the incumbent Queer Rights Officer seeking relection for 2023. Under my leadership, AUSA and the Queer Student Council have pushed for the hiring of a new Rainbow Student Advisor to meet national tertiary Rainbow support standards. I also re-designed Queer Space, which has seen new life return to the space after lockdown. A vote for me is knowing that the QRO will always have your back. I passionately believe that the meaning of equity in student politics is about empowering students to make positive change.
Go-to Shads drink? Definitely a G and T, call me bland.
Do you read Craccum? I do read Craccum and have been a contributor.
Layba Zubair (she/her)
Running for: Women’s Rights Officer.
Studying: First-year LLB/BA, majoring in Psychology and Education.
Why should students vote for you? I don’t want to persuade anyone to vote for me by listing the titles to my name, or the achievements that I have [but] if there is anything I’m good at it’s taking action. Uni should be a place that is safe for anyone who identifies as a woman, and I can assure you as WRO, I’ll commit to making that a reality. Instead of focusing only on my own goals, I want to put the students’ voice first, and make sure that I fulfil those needs.
Fun fact: I’m a huge Harry Potter fan and my biggest flex to date is that I worked for MuggleNet, a Harry Potter fansite.
Go-to Shads drink? I haven’t been to Shads yet, but I do like sweet things.
Do you read Craccum? Duh, what kind of an Arts student would I be if I didn’t?
Kelly Misiti (she/her)
Running for: Postgraduate Student Officer
Studying: Third-year doctoral candidate researching the teaching practices and policies of refugee background English language learners.
Why should students vote for you? Students should vote for me for this position, given my experience as a former Vice President of the Postgraduate Students’ Association (PGSA) and the current AUSA Postgraduate Officer. This year I have worked hard to advocate for the fees-free Masters extension and collaboratively design a memorandum of understanding between AUSA and PGSA. I chaired a monthly subcommittee with multiple postgraduates from cross-faculty student associations, spoke at many consult groups on behalf of postgraduate rights at the University, and worked with various postgraduate student support advisors across different faculties.
Fun fact: I’m working towards my divemaster training this summer and love anything water related!
Go-to Shads Drink: An ice cold beer.
Do you read Craccum? Yes.