NUPSA President, Ash McIntyre, brings you up to date with everything we’ve been doing this past month.
Hello all! Happy March! It astounds me how quickly this year is moving. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact (at least, I hope it’s a fact) that this is the final year of my PhD, but it really feels as if February never happened.
I have recently returned from Canberra, where I attended the Universities Australia Higher Education Conference. I admit I got quite a bit more out of this conference than I had anticipated, and while I was not overly impressed with the way in which student voice was represented, there was some relevant and valuable information that will inform some of the things NUPSA works towards this year. If anyone is interested in reading my 14-page report, it will be up on our website next month.
Meanwhile, we have had O-week and International Women’s Day, and still have two further festivals coming up: Sex Health and Guidance (SHAG) Week next week and Harmony Day the week after. NUPSA has an event every single day (sometimes more than one) from the end of February up until the end of March. It has been MASSIVE for us!
It was wonderful to see so many students at our stalls during O-week. We had a presence at Ourimbah, Sydney, NeW Space, and of course Callaghan this year. The highlight for me was definitely our special O-Week excursion to the Irukandji Centre, where students were able to get into the water with sharks and manta rays, feed them prawns, and learn a ton about Australian sea life. It is one of my favourite places in the world, and it was really exciting to be able to share it with so many similarly excited students!
In fact, it was such a success that we will be doing more of these special events in the future; hopefully one every two months. It means a lot that we can give students experiences that they would not have had otherwise, so if anyone has any ideas on their wish list, do let us know and if it’s possible we shall make it happen!
Another highlight was our life drawing class. We wanted to approach International Women’s Day (week) in a few different ways. The life drawing class was all about body positivity. We had body diverse models, and a fantastic art teacher that taught us to look at the body in different ways and appreciate it with an artistic eye. We have some very talented artists in our cohort! This was something I had always wanted to try, but had never done so, and there were several others like me in the room. We should all take these opportunities to try new things: you never know what you are going to learn.
Our theme this month (no surprise, with all these wonderful festivals) is equality. This is a theme that speaks to many different people in many different ways, and it is no different for NUPSA. We strive for fair and equal representation of equity groups, an equitable representation of student voice at all levels of University process, and fair opportunities for all students. Our ability to do this relies on students telling us about their experiences, and having a say in the issues that impact them.
I’d like to take this opportunity to remind each and every postgraduate student that we are here to help you. There are always decisions being made, restructures occurring, strategic plans being rewritten, and policies being updated, and we do our best to be present in these conversations. We depend on student communication to ensure that we represent the student voice in these forums, and ensure outcomes that reflect the needs of the current student cohort.
It is always difficult to take the plunge and attend a social event when you know you have a deadline coming up in a few weeks, or come to the workshop on public speaking skills for your next presentation – but these are the places we hear from you, and get to know your concerns and the factors that make up your student experience. They are also where you can find balance between your studies and your personal life. (A different kind of equality! See that?)
I guess what I’m trying to say is, we looking forward to seeing you (if we haven’t already) or seeing you again (if we have met!), and I hope you stay engaged and look after yourselves. 😊