Editorials: February 2013

From The Editors

 

The original Neucleus (1947-2005) stood for many things at UNE, most importantly as a tangible symbol for the student voice. It instigated and fuelled productive debate within the university and was a powerful player in the never ending struggle for the retention and advancement of student rights. It helped to achieve some great things for students, positively advancing the very structure of the university. It gave voices to those who needed and deserved to be heard, alerted students to serious issues within the university, and gave them the knowledge and grounding to fight for their best interests. It was the beating heart of the student culture, older than the university itself (circa. 1947, when UNE was still the New England University College, N.E.U.C., a branch of Sydney Uni), for 58 years. But, in 2005 it was let into careless and destructive hands, and was dismantled practically overnight.

While the seven year break in publishing is not something we should be proud of at all, it is something very much worth remembering and should not be forgotten. The change of title and format stand as a reminder of what can happen when we let our guard down, and should bolster our resolve to never again let the student voice fall into such abysmal silence. We have worked hard to get this back, and we will fight to keep it.

What is the Nucleus like? What kind of newspaper are we? First and foremost we’re a publication for students, by students, whose purpose is to facilitate and promote content of interest, relevance and value to the university community – particularly students.

We work within the ethic of the UNEG mission statement: “To represent without fear or favour, the Undergraduates of New England. To encourage participation in a fair and just tertiary experience through shared higher thinking.” For our purposes, this is not limited to undergrads, although we aim to fairly and faithfully represent the various student cohorts, which will also mean an emphasis on externals (who make up over four-fifths of UNE students).

Student newspapers have a history of being sharp, satirical, and creative, unafraid to say what people are really thinking and to demand student entitlements and the right to be heard. We have no intention of breaking with this tradition. Wordplay, edginess, comedy, and all other forms of literary and intellectual cleverness are acceptable, indeed encouraged, but we maintain that publication will always be at the discretion of the editors. We demand and jealously protect our, that is, the Nucleus’s, autonomy from the University and the controls of university administration and politicking. When push comes to shove, we answer to no-one but the students.

Writing should ideally be of a high standard (in reality we want to encourage students as much as possible and have room for almost anything), and should promote intellectual dialogue, information and discussion, with each contribution being informative or entertaining (or both), and provoking thought and response from people involved in what is after all a tertiary education system, a body of higher thinking. There is no reason or excuse to dumb things down or to play it smarmy; to act insincerely or without integrity.

Having said that, there is particular reason to make all content accessible to all students - both through distribution, but also through writing style and content. That means that while we may publish a philosophy column with mind-bending questions on the nature of reality, etc., we will aim to ensure that it’s written in layperson’s terms - in a way that means any person, any student, can pick it up and genuinely get something out of it.

Quality and accessibility are two things that are very important to us.

So how should we look? We don’t know. We’re working that out as we go. We want something that looks and feels like a student newspaper, that makes you want to pick it up, not just to read it but to hold it. We want to be careful not to make it too much like the boring old tabloids that nobody reads, but to steer as clear away as possible from the glossy promotional mags of the university and of general pop culture publication. It’s a student rag, a bastion of student collectiveness and coherence within the University. Because UNE isn’t coherent: it’s fragmented and suffers from poor communication. Any information that is important for students - university news, info on clubs and societies, changes in policy and regulation, activities happening, where and how to get help and support, what we all need to know, should know, should care about, would care about if we knew, all of that - needs to be in the one place. So that’s (as much as we can make it) the Nucleus. - The Editors

Stu Horsfield & Sarita Perston

 

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UNEG President

 

2013 is here and as for the past 75 years UNE has new influx of students, a refresh of future leaders exploring the opportunities that tertiary education in Armidale has to offer. This is a chance to reflect on the past, the present and future of each and every one of us. It is such a short time that most of us will be at UNE and although short it will have such a major influence on how we experience the rest of our lives. For those students joining in 2013 and enrolling for the first time, welcome. You have joined a fraternity that has proud history and tradition. UNE is the first regional university in Australia with some unique and quirky points and has a tradition of graduating generations of leaders and problem solvers.

As a regional university we have some unique characteristics, approximately 80% of the students are external, 70% are women, 75% are over the age of 25 and UNE is growing each and every year; this is UNE. The UNE 2012 Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) survey highlighted health and welfare as the most important issue amongst the UNE students. The challenge is how we engage and explore unique ways to address health and welfare issues across a diverse student demographic. The one most common issue is the generational rotation of tertiary students. It is so short and it is incumbent upon each of us to ensure in the short time we are here the amenity of the future student experience. Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Sydney University, (Sydney University is the parent of UNE), and as I admired the buildings it occurred to me that they reflected a similar image at UNE, only regionalised. The buildings had the same mixture of old and new, the same mixture of cultures. I mused that if a future generation had not thought it important to invest in the next generation of graduates, universities would be old, dusty and elitist. As you go about your studies take time to reflect on where you are and who played a part in the privileges you enjoy.

With pride the undergraduate board has reinstituted a student newspaper (Nucleus) at UNE. It has been a long hard road to hoe. We should applaud the tenacity and dedication the Media Hub committee, especially Josh and the editors Stu and Sarita. To get this project off the ground was a massive effort. The Nucleus predecessor was a victim of the VSU; to have a forum for communication across this university is exciting and can only have benefits for UNE.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the undergrad board (UNEG) for their hard work and support through a tough few months. Without that support it would be a lonely journey and hardly worthy of the office. It is a poor leader who does not listen to the voice of dissent.

For the student representative organisation (SRO) this will be a big year, the UNE undergrad and postgrad boards are focussed on student amenity. With this in mind there is potential for restructure and streamlining of administration and in turn a more effective and influential student voice. It is important that we work with UNE to have an independent and autonomous SRO, providing advocacy and representing fair and just tertiary experience for students.

The theme at UNE this year is inspiration and aspiration, you as individuals are the inspiration and the course you are enrolled in is taking you towards your aspirations. Take full advantage of your tertiary education, it is a time for engaging in higher thinking and paradigm busting. In 2013 I wish you all good luck with your studies.

 

- David Mailler, UNEG President

 

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Postgrad President

 

I am enormously honoured to be writing for the initial edition of the Nucleus. I believe a student newspaper is an appropriate platform that can be considered as a great forum for all UNE students in all of its different services. These services might include contribution to UNE community, collaboration between UNE students, engagement with UNE associations, and to be oriented and up-to-date with the news at UNE.

As the President of Postgrads@UNE and the Saudi Students Club in Armidale I would like to welcome all UNE students to the New Year and I hope it will be a happy and productive one for all of you.

Marvellously, as an international student from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia KSA, I feel very lucky to be studying in a town like Armidale. The people have been very friendly and I have enjoyed being a student here as I think UNE is really the heart of the town. That means developing UNE associations and their activities properly can nourish Armidale culturally and economically.

I am currently studying for a PhD in Physical-Chemistry. At home I have published a poetry book, named First Sight, in Arabic as well as presented some of my poetry in numerous local newspapers and specialised poetry TV programs. Besides being a very keen learner I have worked as journalist/editor in Nuqoosh Magazine, one of Saudi’s cultural and scientific magazines, during my study here for my Masters. As part of my duties for that magazine I have interviewed several UNE staff and students. I have had additional responsibilities like following the news; the achievements as well as some of the problems Saudi students encounter on scholarships. One last word, I highly encourage all UNE students to concentrate on their studies and to utilize their spare time wisely and effectively.

 

- Abdullah Alanazi, Postgrad President

 

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National Union of Students President

 

The National Union of Students is typically described as the peak representative body for university students in Australia. But NUS is more than this. It is a strong, dynamic and powerful voice for students that can be a formidable check on government policy positions and university decisions.

I first became interested in NUS when I was in my first year of university and heard about something called a ‘National Day of Action’. This was a day where students around the country gathered together to demand a better future: fair youth allowance; an end to student poverty; saving student services and clubs and an end to voluntary student unionism. There is something very rewarding about being involved in student activism. It is a powerful thing to be in a rally with your fellow students; to hear the student voice across media headlines; to campaign around issues that affect us. Taking the fight to those who make decisions about our education and welfare is what matters. But we are only as strong as our members. This is student unionism and I encourage you to get involved in any way you can, because education changes lives and provides us with opportunities we might not have had otherwise.

This magazine you are reading is a student service, and one that has been reinstated. For that reason, I am especially honoured to be contributing to it. It is important to recognise that student services like this are central to campus life. Voluntary student unionism (which existed between 2006 and 2011) saw the loss of over $900 million from student services and activities. It also resulted in the collapse of a number of student organisations across the country.

Student services and representative organisations need to be student-run and well funded. Students are best placed to know what students want. This is why NUS will be participating in a review of the SSAF legislation this year, and asking students how it can be improved. It is important for the SSAF legislation to be strengthened to ensure that students’ money is going to students and that your student organisations like your Guild are independent so they can stand up against the university for you when they need to.

We are in an environment where higher education is suffering; the sector is starved for funds and the government has made no commitment to increase public funding. This year NUS will again be running a National Day of Action on March 27. We will be taking a stand against course cuts, press for increased uni funding, no increases to student fees and a strong student voice on campuses in the face of Uni Council cuts. Throughout the year we will be furthering these efforts and lobbying MPs and candidates in the election to ensure that they vote for our education.

So, join the fight and get involved through your uni Guild. For more information visit: http://www.unistudent.com.au/ and follow me on Twitter: @NUS_President

- Jade Tyrrell, NUS National President 2013

 

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External 

 

I began studying a Bachelor of Biomedical on campus in 2009, but quickly learned it was not for me. I transferred to the Bachelor of Business (International Business), studying externally from the (much warmer) mid north Coast! Starting a new discipline by distance was very daunting at first. No set lectures, tutorials to mull things over with peers and lecturers and finding time to study amongst work and family obligations, I feared I would be left feeling isolated, disadvantaged and questioning whether I could really do this. To combat this, I clicked the emotions icon on then ‘blackboard’ to ‘unhappy’ and soon after I was emailed by student services who offered me a point of contact and ways to interact and engage to enrich my studies. From here I found was a spectrum of services to offer support. The first being online through ‘blackboard’, and then through the current system ‘moodle’. In this forum your study space is available 24/7 along with all the resources you need to succeed in every unit. Access to lecturers via moodle, email and phone also provided plenty of support options. Next were intensive schools, which provided a great opportunity to meet students in similar situations and gain tips on how they make their study/life balance work. The New England Award (NEA) also provided me with the opportunity to engage in extracurricular activities just like internal students. With the academic support and NEA I was that much closer to a campus experience, but with the added bonus of real life experiences by studying externally.

Studying externally allows you to reach goals beyond even what you could imagine. I didn’t do High School Maths but received an industry award for an accounting unit and some of my best marks were in maths related units by following the unit requirements and putting in the hours. Some externals (like me) are fortunate enough to have a Study Centre - USE IT! It acts like a mini UNE campus and meeting point for your fellow externals and possible future study buddies or mentors! I definitely haven’t felt disadvantaged as an external in terms of the quality of my education, and in some respects feel I have had more time with lecturers via the several modes of contact. All of the resources available to externals enabled my two worlds to function side-by-side and reach my goal of a degree and life experiences I never would have had if I hadn't studied externally.

- Alice Rack, UNEG General Representative

 

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Vice Chancellor

 

Welcome to the first edition of the Nucleus student newspaper and congratulations to UNE Undergraduate Student Association President Dave Mailler, Vice-President Joshua Osborne, and especially Editors Sarita Perston and Stewart Horsfield for this welcome initiative, which will add a valuable new dynamic to student life.

The editors are no-doubt aware of the unique challenges they face in engaging with UNE’s extraordinarily diverse student body, both culturally and geographically, all with vastly differing reasons for studying and personal aspirations.

This diversity is one of the greatest challenges the University faces and indeed, one of our greatest strengths in the competitive global higher education sector. The strength of our student experience is the first priority and the foundation stone on which our Learning Without Limits five-year strategy is based.

Last year, for the third year running, the University received five stars for its student experience, but this is something we are always working on improving. It is my hope that the Nucleus will prove a valuable addition to the student life at UNE.

It is a high ideal to which the Nucleus aspires, at all times to promote the best interests of the student body, to be relevant and to inform debate about the issues which affect it.

And it appears they are off to a good start... our outgoing Chief Operating Officer Peter Enlund has informed me of the intelligent questions asked about the College Redevelopment Project, while the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students and Social Inclusion), Eve Woodberry, was likewise impressed in her own interviews on the University’s move to trimesters.

It is my own hope that this close two-way communication can continue as yet another avenue to keep the university student body well informed and ensure the University is responsive to your needs.

- Professor Jim Barber, UNE Vice-Chancellor

Welcome to Nucleus

Letters to the Editors - Feb 2013