UNSW’s elected student advocates share what they enjoy about their leadership positions and what motivates them to be the voice of the student body.
Chairman of the University’s student organisation, Arc, is Chris Mann, a fifth-year Science/Engineering student. First joining Arc as a Student Director, Chris was keen to make a greater contribution.
“Running for the role of Chairman meant I had input into the strategic goals of the organisation. I get to meet with University management and talk to some powerful people about issues that mean a lot to students.
“At the moment we are focusing on the allocation of the Student Services and Amenities Fee. We want to make sure students are benefiting from the money they pay, as Arc currently receives around half of that fee,” says Chris.
While the President of the Student Representative Council, Ross Willing, has also been involved in student life for many years as an SRC Councillor and Arc Director, he says he hadn’t always planned on becoming a student advocate.
However, since observing the hardships that many students experience, the Arts/Law student felt he had the ability to contribute more.
“Before I knew it I was lobbying the University about a whole range of issues. Student welfare and the quality of our education are perennial issues that the SRC works on. At the moment, mental health is an issue of particular concern for students,” says Ross.
“You get chucked in the deep end and you learn a lot about how big institutions work. [My position] is great for a whole range of skills but it’s most rewarding when you can see that you've had an impact, even in a small way.”
President of the Postgraduate Council, Joshua Yen, was motivated to run for his position out of a desire to introduce more social activities for the postgraduate student body.
“I feel that postgraduate research students are quite isolated as we have very specific research fields. In my quest to provide networking and socialising opportunities for research students, I became the Postgraduate Council President.
“[My position] was a way for me to improve the student experience at UNSW and give back to the postgraduate community,” he says.
For Samantha Bobba and Stefan Heap, their roles as student representatives on the University Council mean they act as the go-between for students and fellow members of the University’s governing body and Executive Team.
Living on campus for three years has given Samantha a unique insight into what students really want out of university life.
“Living in college and getting involved in UNSW’s clubs and societies gave me the opportunity to meet some incredible people with many different opinions on what university life should be like,” says Samantha, who is a fourth-year Medicine student.
“My position on the Council has shown me the importance of being open minded and aware of the multiple opinions around me. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to share and represent student insights,” she says.
While the elected leaders are pleased to be the voice of the student body, they say the opportunity to get involved in student affairs is open to everyone.
“Work out which aspect of student life you are most passionate about. Volunteer for a number of different things to get a feel for the various activities. UNSW is a huge place, there’s always something new you can try,” says Stefan.
“And you don’t have to be elected to the University Council to get involved,” adds Joshua.
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Media contact: Cassie Chorn, UNSW Media Office, 9385 8107, firstname.lastname@example.org