There is a song by Talking Heads called Road to Nowhere that I believe summarises my voyage through the mazes of UNE. Take a moment to look up the lyrics if you aren’t familiar with the song.
There are many similarities between this song and many student’s journeys with UNE. I often find myself lost between the mechanisms of UNE and the mechanisms of student representatives. The song speaks about being focussed on a prize, in my case, the degree. My eye is on the prize, obtaining my degree. Sadly, the path to that place has become burdened with difficulty.
Prior to applying for a place at UNE, I imagined a place where all students could achieve this great goal of successfully completing their chosen course, in an environment that offered scope for growth, excitement, and the opportunity to meet like-minded people with similar goals. What started off as a journey towards this dream has turned into a seemingly endless road, to nowhere.
I am certain there are those that absolutely love the voyage they are on with UNE, and I wish I was one of them. I want to be. But I feel like the poor cousin. I envy my on campus friends who regale me with stories of wonderful lectures, meaningful conversations with lecturers, tutorials that stimulate ideas and conversations, and a place with books also known as a library. I am also glad for them, but this is not my experience.
Most of my units do not have lectures. I have found the majority of my lecturers and unit coordinators are slow to respond to queries, perhaps a sign of too many commitments without enough time to fulfil them all? Tutorials are non-existent for me. I can’t just knock on the door of a lecturer and ask a question. I cannot borrow eBooks our library doesn’t own. I can’t even call the library at a convenient time, as there will be no-one to help me then. I feel I am on a solo journey.
There are others just like me who are struggling through their experience too. It seems to me it would be great if we helped each other as we navigated the way through together. Once again, it is all about what you actually do, not what you say you will do.
Which leads me to the point of this particular voyage, this is an appeal to those student representatives out there in this magical city I have in my mind; take the time to listen to your fellow students. We should not feel like we are powerless and that we are the lone voice trying to make the experience better for everyone. We should not have to plead with you to represent us. Get passionate about something that affects us. Understand people off campus have the same desire that you do; to be educated in a meaningful way without the disappointment and pain that has become for many, synonymous with UNE.
You represent everyone, not just people exactly like you. You claim to embrace diversity, so start doing that. And if you cannot, perhaps you should not be student representatives. Would you like to come along? You can help me sing the song. Or perhaps we really are on the road to nowhere.