As many of you know, our beloved President, Dale Finch is currently on medical leave and is recovering well post-surgery (Get well soon Dale!). While he is away this month, I will be taking on his responsibilities, including this edition’s President Report.
This year, UNESA developed a comprehensive strategic plan. Our goal was to improve our engagement between the UNESA and the various areas of the university community. I thought it time to reflect and take stock of how we are performing and it’s a mixed bag; The Vice Chancellor has agreed to meet with us for a formal meeting on one occasion, and we thank her for that 15 minutes – although she did recently present at an open board meeting and there was some good discussion around changes to the higher education funding model and the Respect Now Always Campaign. The finance department has been very active in its engagement with UNESA, particularly since our funded full time position for an administrator was cut to $7000 – in the final budget sign off (it should be noted that UNESA did not sign off on the final SSAF budget). Whilst our relationship with UNE Life has been through some rough patches, it is looking healthier now with a number of activities planned and interactions across various positions. Big strides were made with the Academic Board with some terrific in-roads into developing a true partnership – but more on that in the next few weeks.
The other side of that engagement goal was to develop stronger relationships with the student body. Part of that strategy was to form sub-committees for various areas and encourage non-board members to participate in the activities and tasks of those sub-committees, and we have had some good success in this area. We also initiated sub-committees focused on particular student cohorts, including an external sub-committee and a JCR + Clubs & Societies Sub-committee. Our Media and Communications sub-committee was also heavily involved in improving our communication with students and that has had significant success, with our social media engagement up over 1000% on average. We can still do better!
We have also just completed a constitution review, and the Special General Meeting will determine its outcome (26/06/2017). The new constitution includes a new board composition – in part to compensate for the reduced funding for administrative support to the Association, but more importantly to better represent the students of UNE. The new composition sees the separation of the Vice President from the Treasurer, and the newly created positions of Equity Officer and Secretary, as well as the splitting of the Post Graduate role into the two positions of Coursework and Research.
Elections are coming up very soon and I encourage all students to participate. UNESA represents over 50% of the student body through its membership and your voice is vital to the improvement of the student experience. The stronger and more organised the Student Association is, the more strength we have at the negotiating table. Your HECS debt will be around $30,000 and will take around 15 years to pay off (if you’re not saving for a house) – so put your money where your mouth is and get involved! It’s YOUR money, YOUR education, YOUR future – be heard!