Title -- 3273 EDUCATION: Cook Islander wins USP student elections

COOK ISLANDER THOMAS WINS USP STUDENT ELECTIONS

By Peter Emberson Pacific Journalism Online (USP)

SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 23, 2001 - Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---More than 1,000 University of the South Pacific students braved the torrential rain in Suva today to cast their votes and elect Cook Islander Russell Thomas as new president.

The 39-year-old management and public administration student immediately promised changes to end the friction that has marked campus life since Fiji’s attempted coup last May 19.

A student petition had urged USP’s administration to organize elections, as there had been no ballot last year with the outgoing USP Students Association President Veresi Bainivualiku stalling.

USP’s counseling center’s secretary Verbana Miller, who was one of the people who oversaw the electoral process and counted the votes, was impressed with the turnout.

"The turnout was very good. In fact it was better than last year. This year we did not have time to rest or have lunch," she said.

Last year there were a little over 900 votes cast but this year there was more than 1,000 in spite of the heavy rain, she said.

Mrs. Miller said she also noticed a change in the way students were voting this year.

"It appears that the students were voting for people who would fight for their problems, unlike years before when students used to vote strictly along racial lines," she said.

Newly elected Vice President Akanisi Tarabe was jubilantly jumping outside the counting room tonight before returning officer Filimone Fifita announced the election results.

"I am very, very happy. It was something I have worked for and I know I can make a change," said an elated Mrs. Tarabe.

Mrs. Tarabe said she hoped to enhance the student’s ability to reach their potential.

"Right now I think the resources on our campus is very limiting and my goal is to ensure that students can confidently say they can study here without any fears or intimidation."

The next elections will take place in September as stipulated in the constitution.

The results of the University of the South Pacific Student Association’s elections are as follows:

President: Russell Thomas (Cook Islands) Vice President: Akanisi Tarabe (Fiji) Treasurer: Hekisou Fifita (Tonga) Secretary: Alvin Swamy (Fiji) Chairperson of International and Community Relations Committee: James Skelton (Samoa) Chairperson of Development and Welfare: Alafua Fisi‘ihio (Tonga)

Date -- 23 March 2001
Byline – None
Origin -- Pasifik Nius
Source -- PN/USP Journalism, 23/3/1
Copyright -- PN/USP Journalism
Status -- Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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