UNESA Presidents Report
New face, fresh style.
It has been just over a month since the elections occurred and the new Board of Directors and myself took office, and we have been at work enabling an efficient handover and creating targets for the year ahead through the development of our Strategic Plan. Our new Board comprises of 6 new faces, Nick McCann as Treasurer, Hayden Gray as Secretary, Rhiannan Bartos as Undergraduate Representative, Joshua Bemrose as Internal Representative, Callum Clayton-Dixon as Indigenous Representative, and Carmen Stassen as External Rep, with Amy Behringer now Vice President and Christine Segaert Equity Officer, all members of the 2017-18 Board have already shown their capacity to create meaningful change and advocate for student-centric issues, and have all worked together to create our 2017-18 Strategic Plan – Your Voice.
Your Voice focuses on the student voice as the primary focus of the Association for the next twelve months, setting goals to target student engagement, grow partnerships within the University and community, improve our operational resilience and develop and deliver an advocacy platform for all students at UNE. Action plans are currently being drafted to target these specific areas, the completed Your Voice will be made available to all students via our Website, Facebook and Moodle. This all comes from our aspiration to ensure that all students are fairly represented without fear or favour, whilst engaging with students to create a transparent and strong advocacy platform.
The Board has continued to acknowledge and continue the conversation about Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment on campus and how it is #NeverOK. Partnering with the National Campaign #NeverOK the Board hosted a successful BBQ during the Trimester 2 intensive period that saw over 130 students sign the campaigns pledge. After it was revealed that over 22 students at UNE has been sexually assaulted on campus, and even more had been sexually harassed it is crucial that we continue to educate and inform ourselves of the issue at hand, as it is Never OK.
As a fresh Board, it is crucial that we continue the conversation around student issues, with a number of meetings having occurred between myself and UNE’s Chancellor James Harris, Deputy Vice Chancellor Professor Joyce Kirk, and Chief Financial Officer Kris Kauffmann. These meetings have focused on UNESA’s push for transparency and communication between the university’s executive and students, as students continue to be left in the dark as large decisions are made and communicated with other key stakeholders, only for us to find out days later when the media get their hands on the information. It is now time that this University understands and appreciates the capacity and ability of its key stakeholder, us, the students.
On this notion, the Board has continued to engage with the Students Voice in University Decision Making, a fellowship by Sally Varnham of UTS that seeks to start the conversation and build a framework around the idea of students being involved in University Decision Making at all levels. UNESA intends to utilise the principals from this symposium in partnership with student representatives of the Academic Board to stream line UNE’s student governance, with the potential of creating a new unified advocacy platform.
Following the Open Student Forum that UNESA facilitated, we have engaged in a number of student issues. The major ones being trimesters being too short, parking, student activities and the overall culture on campus, with a great focus on transparent communication between the University and students. Since this Forum, UNESA has been invited to sit on a number of working groups focused on UNE’s academic periods and student engagement, our interaction with these working groups will have a direct impact and benefit for all students.