I decided to combine my June and July reports into one Winter break report, due to the relative quietness of the period. I am also choosing to use this post to offer a brief reflection on the year so far and offer an outlook for the remainder of the year.
Now, I should just declare that, as I am writing this, I am very sick in bed and feeling feverish, so I hope this post doesn’t read too oddly.
(Pictured: me right now)
So, this period, as I have said was much quieter. This is unsurprising – as many university staff members had taken leave over the period and students have been occupied with final assignments and exams (then their own breaks, of course.)
There was, however, still plenty to do. USASA were there to offer support to students feeling the pressure of end of semester activities. For instance, Examin+aid presented us with a great opportunity to make sure students had the necessary support going into exams, and ensure they had the equipment.
And, there were a lot of technical items I worked on during that period, including 2017 budget approval and a contract negotiation. However, the period did present an opportunity to reflect on the achievements made so far.
In my opinion, this board has been a very progressive board. Off the bat, we added the organisation’s name to the list of many who call for Marriage Equality in Australia. We’ve also begun the process of rewriting the USASA constitution to reflect the needs of the students in the 21st century (we’re still in early stages and it won’t be complete this year – there is still a lot to do, including loads of open student consultation) and our individual board members have also been passionate on various issues on campus, in particular: academic integrity ethics, confusion over parking, women’s issues and international student issues.
Over the next half year, I want the board to continue being this audacious. Questions should be asked and issues should be brought up. Equally as important, though, we must keep our connections with the students strong and make sure we’re communicating with students well, and ensured we are doing what YOU want done.
Indeed, I want to reach out to the students more this semester, by talking to you all more often and also by visiting the regional campuses to meet with regional students, to ensure your voices are heard as well (Details TBD; it will be planned with the respective campus representative, so I don’t end up arriving when nobody is around – and I hope to promote it well.) I genuinely want to hear your thoughts and, frankly, I feel a bit cloistered right now.
No, “cloistered” not “Cloyster”… no, it’s not there – don’t try to catch it…
3 June – Career Advisor Information Session
Was proud to give a 5-minute presentation to career advisors from various secondary education institutions. The advisors were at the Bradley Forum for the day, hearing from various UniSA figures about different aspects of the university and why it is a good place for students to study. My component was about USASA and student life. I addressed what USASA does as well as emphasising that it’s student-run (and therefore a great opportunity for students) as well as the campus culture we add to (in cooperation with other departments in the university.)
7 June – Birthday
Became a year older and was reminded of my own mortality by being one year closer to death; ate cake.
14 June – Student Appeals Committee Meeting
As usual, it is an important duty of mine to represent students on the Student Appeals Committee. While the particulars of the cases are confidential, the importance of having a USASA advocate representing the students was still very evident, as those who didn’t have one generally presented weaker cases. It was also very pleasing that the committee overturned a decision, affirming that appeals are not futile exercises.
16 June – University Council Meeting
22, 24 & 25 June – Examin+aid
Volunteered for the USASA Examin+aid stalls on these dates. Our presence at the Showgrounds was really important as many students (in pre-exam anxiety) often forgot necessary equipment like pencils or calculators. Furthermore, directions were confusing to some students, so we were able to point them in the right direction. Other than those services, we were also a valuable presence for emotional re-assurance.
23 June – General Manager Contract Renewal Negotiations
A committee made of myself, Nick Li, Nick Anderson and Arthur Siow, and advised by Bernice McGrath (Senior Project Officer to the Director of HR, UniSA) met with Daniel Randell to successfully negotiate a new contract for his position as General Manager. (This committee was directed by the board in the 14 June Board Meeting.)
23 & 29 June – Board Planning Day Preparation Meetings
Met with Daniel Randell and Jason Bilberry to discuss and prepare for the 5 July Board Planning Day.
24 June – Meeting Kayla Dickeson and Daniel Randell
24 June – Academic Board Meeting
5 July – Board Planning Day
Board members (who were able to) met for a planning day at The Gallery, where we discussed budget priorities, potential board composition in the future (especially with the pending constitutional re-write in mind) and any other strategic considerations. It was a good productive day and I was also pleased to see mingling amongst board members who don’t really communicate that much outside of Board Meetings.
Overall, it was a good day but I also would like the board to take that momentum and, with the knowledge that there are only a few months left in our respective terms, to consider what kind of legacy we want to leave behind and make a final push to get the goals we want accomplished (or at least begin the process, if a longer one), regardless of whether individual board members are considering running for a board position next year or not.
6 July – Meeting with Shweta Mariwala
Met briefly with Shweta Mariwala (Executive Officer to the PVC: Student Engagement and Equity) to discuss recent calls for women’s safe spaces and outline what process shall be followed. She advised that the board form a position on them before proceeding. Kayla Dickeson (whose initiative this is and who has done the hard work, and deserves the credit for any progress) has put in a paper for this month’s meeting, covering this.
Mid-July – Budget Approval Committee
Convened the committee (made up of myself, Nick Li, Izik Nehow, Kayla Dickeson and Nick Anderson – as directed by the 14 June Board Meeting) completely via email (i.e. not in person) because it was during my two week break I had granted myself and because its scope was just to confirm the budget met the directives made by the board on the planning day and that it was accurate. In the end, after a few corrections to errors and design, it was approved.
28 July – Meeting with Shweta Mariwala and Daniel Randell
Met with Shweta Mariwala again – this time she was meeting on behalf of Laura-Anne Bull (PVC: Student Engagement & Equity) who was out of the country at the time – and Daniel Randell, as a part of the ongoing meetings between Daniel, Laura-Anne and myself. Discussed were general foreshadowing of the next semester as well as discussing the pending budget submission to the university. We also discussed the logistics and finance behind subsidising the entire costs of Brekky Bar, which I understand Daniel has been working closely with Izik Nehow on, since this conversation.
Meetings with board members
Meetings with General Manager
Developing my own goals and strategies
Meetings with PVC: Student Engagement and Equity
USASA Board subcommittee meetings
8 August – University Governance & Legislation Committee Meeting
9 & 10 August – Mid-year graduation ceremonies
16 August – Meeting with Daniel Randell and the new Director: Student Engagement Unit, Brendan Hughes
16 August – Election Nomination Information & Discussion Night
18 August – University Council Meeting
TBD – Trip to regional campuses to meet with students (as well as the respective campus rep) and discuss, in an open but structured format, what they would like from USASA and the University.