This week, we had our final Student Senate meeting of 2013, which provides us with a great opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved by our student leaders, and where we’re headed next.
Formed in 2012, the Student Senate is a representative body which consults with, and advocates on behalf of all of our students. They have a key role in consultations over Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) spending, as well as having representation on a variety of University committees such as Academic Board.
This year there have been 19 members, representing specific groups of students by campus, community, school, Higher Ed/TAFE etc. They all work tirelessly to improve the student experience for all students, and have made a huge impact, holding 8 student fora on different campuses.
The key achievements of the Senate in 2013 include:
Representing the student voice during the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) ban on publishing results
Often the groups most affected by decisions have the least representation, both in local negotiations and in the wider world, so it speaks volumes for the Senate as a consultative body that they were able to talk to both the NTEU and Senior University staff from the students’ point of view.
Aiding the transition to Federation University
The Senate have been an active voice during the proposals to merge with Monash Gippsland Campus, and as well as building relationships with Monash Gippsland’s student directors to help smooth the transition. They have visited the Gippsland campus, presented to Monash staff, and hosted a visit from the Monash University Gippsland Student Union (MUGSU) to Ballarat in September.
Consulting on the use of SSAF funding
Significant investment has been made to the facilities on all campuses as a result of Senate consultations, including updating of kitchenettes, providing ceiling fans and cleaning equipment for the movement studios at Camp Street and installing student lockers at 3 locations across the Mt Helen campus.
Creating Portfolios for more focused student advocacy
Senate members are now part of one of the new portfolios, which have already made a significant impact: Facilities & ICT, Communications, Academic and Student Connect.
The Senate have raised awareness of mental health issues by helping organise the Blue Tie Ball, revamped the TAFE orientation process and Clubs manual, and even managed to get their own office built!
So what’s on the horizon for next year?
More student engagement: Both with the Senate and with the student experience in general – getting students and staff talking, collaborating and shaping the University.
New Roles: The Senate is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of our student body, and their expanding role due to the transition to FedUni offers a great opportunity to do just that. Several new senate positions have been identified as a priority – Vice-chair, a Gippsland Campus Rep, a Distance Education Rep and a Senior Student Rep from our Federation College. A member of MUGSU will also be invited to each meeting.
Security and lighting: Across all campuses, lighting is a key issue for the safety of both students and staff – the Senate propose funding be used for a complete audit and upgrade of lighting at FedUni.
Communication: At FedUni we want to talk more. We want to hear from students, and we recognise that we could be better at communicating to students what’s going on around campus. The Senate proposes a team of student Communication Champions as a role within the Leadership Program. These students would help staff get the word out about events, activities and the services and support that their SSAF provides.
That’s just for starters – elections will be held in March, so the new Senate members will no doubt be brimming with ideas on how to make FedUni an amazing place to study.