NUPSA President Ash McIntyre takes you through our initiatives this month (and that time she was bitten by a camel).


Happy May, everyone!

This month, NUPSA began our first information sessions about the Student Representation Restructure. Unfortunately, we only had four students attend across the three sessions. While I understand students have busy schedules, I sincerely hope that as further information comes out about the restructure leading up to our (postponed) AGM, you will all endeavour to have a look at the info packet we are developing, and carefully consider your vote.

It may seem as if the restructure will have little impact, but we believe this has the potential to significantly impact the student experience. With our resources pooled, the new association can run bigger events, and its own research projects into best practice and the student experience. It can run volunteering schemes and opportunities for students, and provide more of the opportunities that Callaghan students experience for students at other campuses.

When we move to vote on dissolving NUPSA at the end of this year should the new structure be confirmed, it is important that as many students as possible have a say in the decision, and feel confident that – whatever happens – it will be the best outcome for the student body.

Another exciting development is the launch of UON’s Mental Health Strategy on May 3. This is the first document at our university that truly acknowledges the impact that mental health has on the student experience. NUPSA has been advocating for changes to the way in which the University recognises mental health and its relationship to the student experience for several years, as mental health issues are escalated in a university context, especially for postgraduate students. This document means that the University is actively acknowledging this and is holding itself accountable for improving the mental well-being of its students. To find out more, keep an eye on our social media on Friday!

Now to the theme of this month’s newsletter – animals! I have a collection of animal stories, like the time I accidentally made a spider bite my sister (accidentally!), or the time I fed fish to a shark, or the time I got to pet a brown snake. But I thought I’d share a more recent tale about NUPSA’s trip to Hunter Valley Zoo, and my new nemesis: the camel.

I was excited to learn that you can feed the camels there (as I am, among other things, an animal nerd). They give you some animal feed in those little plastic ice cream cones, and for the camel, you tip some of the seeds into your palm, hold it out flat, and they drool it off your hands. With extra drool for good measure. Hilarious! How fun.

I went over, while Georgia went to feed Snort the Goose about five meters away. I hate geese, as they chased me at Walka Water Works as a child and I will never forget (or forgive). So I walked up to one of the camels and started feeding him. He drooled a lot, it was funny, life was good. Then, to my amusement, a second camel came trotting towards us quite quickly, and leaned his massive head towards the other one’s face. Then he clenched his teeth right over my hand. My entire hand was in his mouth.

Now, this was amusing to me at first. Until he started to squeeze. Really hard. And for a moment, I honestly thought that this camel was going to break my wrist. (Meanwhile, I can still hear Georgia talking to her goose-friend, completely oblivious to my situation.) Apparently, with help so close by, I thought silence was the best course of action, so I silently used my other hand to try and pull its top jaw open.

I don’t know if you have seen a camel recently, but they are really big, and really bloody strong, and for the life of me I could not get it to open its mouth. So, I did what all of the animal documentaries I watched growing up had taught me to do: I stuck my finger up its nose.

Sure enough, it let go, and my hand was freed! I now have two very deep indents, about 2cm wide, from its front buckteeth. Thankfully, camels eat grass and grains, so their teeth are not designed to penetrate wrists. (Has anyone seen Llamas with Hats? “I have a hunger that only hands can satisfy.”) To make matters worse (for me), about an hour later I saw a mother holding up her toddler to feed the camels, and the camels were being LOVELY.

C’est la vie, I suppose.

Have a lovely month everyone, and as usual, if you have any ideas, questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to send us an email, call us, or drop into the office. 😊


Ash McIntyre
NUPSA President

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