Kerryn back for another blog post! As the semester draws to an end, I’d like to chronicle my experience campaigning for Hall President at Waipārūrū Hall. I must say, it was a rollercoaster of a ride and… anyway, no more spoilers!
It all began, a long, long time ago… so long that I can trace it back to the July of 2022. It was a wet, drizzly day and the heater was running at full blast; I had my mind set on Waipārūrū Hall (unrivalled in NZ) and as such, I sat there scrolling through the 2022 Residents’ Handbook, imagining what it would be like to live there. Imagine my surprise when I came across a page titled Student Voice. The words Hall President jumped out at me, big and bold, and I knew without a doubt that this was my goal for 2023.
Fast forward a couple of months, and here I was, so delighted and grateful that the University had guaranteed a spot for me at Waipārūrū with a scholarship. Move-in day was fast approaching; on the third Saturday of February my eyes would be opened to a whole new world. Having the privilege of taking Maths 199 in 2022, I had learnt the importance of Discord servers in uniting community at University. And so why not create my own, I thought, as a future Hall President? Within 24 hours of posting to the Waipārūrū Facebook page, I had over 100 residents on the server!
Soon the server was bustling and we were all joking around, getting to know each other. Even previous residents – ‘Ancestors’ – joined, and Q&A sessions with the Ancestors became the new hot topic. I was pretty stoked, and I decided to launch stage one of my presidential campaign. I think I confused many people that day – but after many referrals to the Handbook, I soon had quite a strong following of people who promised to vote for me (foreshadowing, perhaps?)
Days turned into weeks and suddenly, group chats were popping up left and right, and I found myself with a fierce competitor on my tail. Matt, a handsome young fellow, was gaining traction with his charm and understanding of Snapchat, and my policies were quickly being rivalled. At that point though, I was just agreeing to whatever people suggested (within the realm of reason, of course!)
At long last, move-in day had arrived. It was a daunting experience – a whole new world to explore, living independently for the first time, but I was prepared. I had a whole cohort of friends from the group chats, including quite a few members of my floor! At the very first floor meeting hosted by our Resident Advisor (RA), suddenly I found a burst of courage and I announced my presidency to a group of forty strangers! Thus it all began…
Now that I was living at Waipārūrū, it was time to buckle down and prepare poster ideas. The elections was in March, but man, I had been preparing since July! Having campaigned aggressively for Student Councillor at my high school, I knew that a good campaign idea was crucial. My first (terrible) idea was Say No to Consumerism – but a quick economics check reminded me that Hall Presidents can’t fix global inflation! After much contemplation, I had it – Scrap the One-Meal Policy. Waipārūrū food was absolutely delicious, but making stations self-service would cut down on waste and let hungrier students (like me) eat more! It was a win-win situation for all.
March 2023 – campaign week
For the rest of the month, I was ecstatic with anticipation! Campaign week was coming up, and I had a whole array of posters, along with a never-seen-before speech to wow my listeners. I fondly remember pestering the Resident Coordinators to let me put my posters up – and one fine Saturday that wish was granted. Scoping around for strategic locations, I realised the elevator rooms would have the most traffic. So after printing a thick stack of posters, I counted down the hours until midnight.
The fun thing is, at UoA Halls of Residence, there are no ‘curfew’ times. People study or gossip or walk around the Hall at 3am, and no-one bats an eye as long as they’re quiet. My plan was to visit every resident floor at Waipārūrū, all 26 of them! Since 9pm I had been vigorously campaigning in the dining hall, walking from table to table with my poster in hand. I knew I had to get in early. When midnight struck, I waltzed my way up the elevators, and most common rooms were packed! Perfect opportunity, I thought. Launching into a dramatic plea, I found myself met with such an awesome reception. People cheered my name and dragged their floormates out of the shower just to hear my ideas.
My first day campaigning (officially) had been a stunning success. I had met so many new people and suddenly my social circle had gone from 50 to 500 overnight. I felt like a bit of a celebrity and the reception I received around the Hall certainly agreed with that. But I wasn’t quite finished. That night, at 2am, I snuck onto every floor and glued my posters to their concrete walls (bad move in hindsight!) Suddenly my posters became the buzz of the Hall, but management wasn’t happy with me using glue-stick! So while the posters went down sadly, I was still confident in my winning streak.
The next day, I walked out of the shower to two Hall President posters stuck on my door. They weren’t mine – they featured a hilarious picture of a guy dressed in an Elsa costume. In fact, Aryan’s entire campaign centred around ‘letting it go’ and Frozen-themed imagery; I was impressed and rather excited that competition was stepping up. Matt had confirmed he wasn’t running, and I didn’t feel the honour in winning by default. But I was quite stunned nevertheless!
Days passed, and suddenly from all around cropped up different faces and figures, each with their beautifully designed posters. With Momin, Maiana, Maia, Seth and Jonty offering equally hilarious posters, I found myself quickly swamped with competition. It was a welcome change; but I didn’t quite feel so confident of my winning streak any more. In particular, one competitor stood out – Seth, who had photoshopped himself onto the Rock to show off his hilarious artificial muscles. With a proven previous track record and a strong following around the Hall, Seth posed a real threat to the presidency. So did Aryan, as well, with his humorous brand. Ah, if only I had done something funny! But I had chosen the professional action-taking path and there was no going back. The least I could do was blu-tack all the candidate posters to my door to show my support.
March 2023 – speech night
Finally, the day of speeches had arrived. It was a peaceful Thursday, and all around the atmosphere was one of excitement. I sat in my room, rehearsing – but my speech wasn’t quite a speech. I had a rap in the works, and I was feeling quite confident in belting out the rhymes from my cue cards. While the others had chosen various outfits, I stayed true to Waipārūrū with my classic red Waipārūrū t-shirt (we had received one each in early March).
And so the speeches began. With the Resident Advisors running the show, we each had an exact minute to present our speech. Bad news for some candidates with lengthy speeches – good news for my rap which I could blaze through. When it was my turn, I stood up eagerly and promised the audience something different. Raucous applause, and then it was Q&A time – various questions came in and we were literally put on the spot. At long last, however, the slightly nerve-wracking but also memorable experience was over. Private voting opened on the Facebook group, and quickly the votes flooded in. It would be a week before we knew the results, and I couldn’t wait!
I came back from my part-time job one night. As I was walking through the doors, a young man shouts ‘Seth’s the Hall President’ with a grin across his face. I looked at him and couldn’t tell if he was joking. Quickly striding across and up the elevators to my room, I checked my phone for the results. Indeed, the results said:
The Hall President for 2023 is Seth!
The Vice-President for 2023 is Aryan!
I was stunned. The fake Dwayne Johnson and the fake Elsa had won!
But the results were there, bright and clear, and I couldn’t deny them. I was happy for Seth and Aryan, but at the same time I felt a confusing mix of emotions. I was disappointed that I had put in a lot of effort for no return, and tried so hard to no avail. The Hall Presidency had been my goal since literally the year before. With nothing better to do, I went to sleep.
I woke up feeling refreshed. It was like a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. No longer did I have to worry about how the presidential race would turn out. It was all over, and my friends quickly gave their condolences and congratulated me on my effort. And then it was at that point, sitting there, talking to people, that I realised something. I did get something out of my campaigning. I had made so many connections, so many friends around the Hall. I was perhaps the most recognisable resident in the Hall. I had the chance to meet some incredible people, people that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.
I suddenly found myself… grateful.
Grateful that I had gone ahead and seized the opportunity. Grateful that Seth and Aryan had claimed the presidency – I received all the celebrity perks with none of the responsibility or time commitments. It took me a while, but I realised that it was all for the better. When one door closes, another opens. Life goes on; many opportunities still await, and I welcome them with open arms!
I congratulate Seth and Aryan on their appointment as Waipārūrū President and Vice-President, and to you, dear reader, I encourage you to see the silver lining! Things will always work out – you may not see it in the moment, but hindsight will show you 🙂
And that’s a tale for the ages!
Kerryn He-BurchKerryn He-Burch
- Hall President Chronicles - 27/06/2023
- Maths 199: How I Became a Hacker, Oracle and Artist - 19/04/2023