James Pinkerton, President of NUPSA, gives his monthly update.
It is done!!!
After all the labourious hours, days, months and years toiled, I have finally submitted my thesis. In those final weeks I went through a range of emotions: from annoyed, to scared, to hyperactive, to sleepy, to indifferent and, finally, immense relief and satisfaction. Why am I telling you this? I guess it helps describe the journey of study – a range of different hurdles and events that make you feel a number of different ways, but ultimately satisfied once you get there. And more importantly, excited about the future and what post-study life will bring.
During my PhD I have learnt a number of different things, some very specialised, some extremely specialised, but most importantly: I have learnt how to think critically. This skill is immensely important and something that I will carry with me throughout the rest of work career and life, and for that I thank my supervisors and peers at the University of Newcastle.
Funnily enough, the only strange feeling at the end was associated with the submission process. In previous years, students were required to submit hard copies for submission at the university, but due to improvements in technology, students are no longer required to submit physically, instead uploading it through Blackboard. This does mean a dramatic reduction in printing costs and waiting time associated with thesis feedback (which is a really good thing), but does seem a little anti-climactic.
In order to ensure we can still celebrate these events, which are really important, we invite all students who are in the process of submitting to come visit the NUPSA office – share in some party poppers, take a photo with the guys, talk about your project. In a small way this will hopefully help celebrate this immense achievement.
July has been a relatively quiet on campus but, as always, we’ve had another busy month at NUPSA. We ran a number of successful workshops this month, working in collaboration with the Careers team. These physical workshops were accompanied by online webinars, which were also well attended. This movement towards more online content is something we are striving to deliver alongside our physical workshops and will be something we really focus on in the upcoming year.
We have also just finished our recent Shut Up and Write! Boot Camp at Callaghan, which was an immense success (as all sessions were completely booked out). Thank you to everyone who registered! And for those of you on our waiting list, thank you for your patience. We will be running more of these later in the year, as well as boot camps at Ourimbah for our postgraduates there.
This month also saw the NUPSA International and Coursework Representatives advocate for Newcastle postgraduate students at the Council of International Students Australia (CISA). CISA is the peak advocacy body for international students, studying in any context in Australia. At the national conference our representatives were able to discuss and debate issues affecting international students across the nation.
The CISA 2017 conference talked about the potential for the development of a state-based advisory committee which would be able to advocate specifically for international student needs on a state level. NUPSA believes that if this course of action is implemented in an effective manner, this body could effectively lobby and advocate for issues that are important on a state-based level, such as the implementation of concession fees for international students in NSW. NUPSA welcomes the new CISA Executive and looks forward to working productively with them in 2017/18.
This week saw the release of the National Report on Sexual Assault and Harassment at Australian Universities. The report included responses from over 600 UON students. Alarmingly, over 50% of UON students reported that they had experienced sexual harassment in a location associated with the University, with 8% of students reporting that they had experienced sexual assault in any location during 2016. In terms of national data, women, queer-identifying students and international students were much more likely to experience harassment on campus.
Let’s be very clear here – NUPSA is completely opposed to all forms of sexual assault and harassment of any kind, on campus or otherwise. These data suggest that significant cultural change needs to occur on campus to ensure that we develop a campus culture that is safe and respectful for all students. NUPSA will be working alongside UON in the coming weeks, as well as the peak postgraduate body, the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA), to address the findings of the report and work through to implement all the recommended changes.
NUPSA encourages all students to review UON’s resources regarding sexual assault and harassment here. If you yourself have been affected by sexual assault or harassment, or are concerned about someone else who has, we advise that you reach out to Campus Care.
Lastly, the theme of the newsletter this month is focused on Wear it Purple Day on 25th August, and UON’s Pride Week (12-14th September) – both of these events aim to celebrate and recognise sexual and gender diversity. NUPSA’s LGBTI officer has organised a fantastic Postgraduate Queer Research Evening, which we’re looking to host off-campus (making use of the free Callaghan to City shuttle bus!). Stay tuned for more details and I encourage you all to take part in this great event.
As always, I hope you are all well.