With 2012 Student Executive Elections under recent wraps, many of you are probably wondering when and how each of the candidates will fulfil each of their student body promises. Free Parking? Better food options? Can’t wait! But in the mean time, let’s reflect back on what our 2011 Executive team promised oh so graciously last year through magazine blurbs and campaign posters. Were their promises executed? Read on to find out what your Executive got up to in 2011!
In 2010, Pete made quite a few promises to the student body in his campaign. He planned to improve communication about sports and clubs and with the trades’ students, introduce some more events in Waitakere, and also to more flawlessly integrate international students into the Unitec community. Pete had plans to develop common rooms on the North end of the Mt. Albert campus and in Waitakere, increase the awareness of first year students, and improve IT support for students. Lastly, he touched upon doing something about better footpath lighting between Building One and the Village. WHOA! That’s a whole lot to live up to! Let’s see how got on!
I have to say, it's been a year of juggling in terms of priorities and this particular "ball" was put to one side. The nature of the sporting activities is something the USU needs to build on over the next couple of years. The bottom line should always be getting as many people involved in the sports they love. That being said, the fact that we won (rather, totally fuckin' dominated) Tertiary challenge this year for the first time in about 5 years is definitely a good sign but that's as much the work of our students as it is the USU. I think the future of sport at Unitec is in upping inter-tertiary leagues for a wider range of sports rather than spending $12,000 so that 30 people can go to Dunedin for snow games, ya know? It's this sort of thinking that I have tried to encourage. As for the second half, we're moving away from the idea of clubs and more towards sponsorship. After giving our General Manager Authority to apply a sponsorship budget at his discretion we've assisted several students and groups of students with running their own club-style events without needing to go through all the bollocks of setting up a club - I'm sure that this will have a more significant effect on student life than the old way of doing things. However, that's not to say you can't have a club if you don't want one. If you're keen, get in there son!
The USU has gone for Zumba classes, a party at the Hangar bar and put funding into a couple of other student generated events out west. This was in addition to the Comedy Evening and Kids Day Out events which we put on every year. Unfortunately, due to a couple of things occurring outside of our control, the comedy evening and party were both put off.. Which isn't cool at all, we need to be actively pushing for things to happen out there, and I don't doubt that this will be addressed come 2012. The wheels are in motion! Mad props to our Events Manager Adam though -- as an Executive we give some direction but he and his team make it all happen. Buy them a beer at our next Waitakere party!
Well, I fell in love with one of them and am moving to Germany to be with her next February. How much more integrated can you get? Come on citizenship!
I think it's a gradual process and not one that has not necessarily been difficult because of: lecturers not engaging, or students not caring; rather with the nature of the majority of courses that are being taught. Traditional means of course evaluation and communication aren't as effective as we would like them to be. Essentially we need to communicate with the students we have, not the students we wish we had. The new Student feedback model we developed this year is also going to be better suited to addressing the needs of our night students, weekend and distance learners, part timers and the rolling short courses of 6 weeks (less in some cases) that make up a significant portion of not just trades students but all Unitec students.
We played a significant role in putting together common rooms in building 172 in Mt Albert, and the new Albany campus. We also pushed for some social space in building 510 in Waitakere. The year isn't through yet and we have some plans in development to set one up for our trades students in the building 112/113/114 area - stay tuned. Were on the right track and the year isn't through yet. The budget is there, we just need the space. In an environment where even teaching space has it's limits, common rooms are tricky to suss.
A couple of the key things - This year I delivered O-talks to around 3252 first year students which is a big part of the induction process, making sure that everyone knows what the USU and Unitec can do to make their time a little easier and more exciting. We are in the process of making the methods more flexible for lecturers to book so the level of access to students should increase next year as well. We conducted a targeted research project at the end of last year on the first year experience of students and specifically orientation. Out of which quite a range of small-scale initiatives flowed this year. We also implemented a mentoring programme as a trial within the Bachelor of Social Practice where 2nd and 2rd year students supported 1st years in getting acquainted with Unitec - this was really successful and will be expanded in future.
I have not been able to follow through on this goal particularly well in the sense that I myself have not improved IT support at all. However, I played a substantial role in developing and implementing the new Student feedback/Rep framework which will provide a greater level of input and influence to all students over areas like this (IT, Food on Campus etc) long past my time here at Unitec. I hope that this framework will be more effective in the long term than me going out and getting more computers and bandwidth.
I had a chat with a couple of the blokes on the facilities team about this and did see people out working on the newly installed lights down by the village, but having asked if it was working, I was told by a couple of students that it wasn’t. Probably just an electrical fault though, and they should be sweet as. Will take a look tonight on my way home and follow up again if I need to.
At the end of last year I ran for and successfully was elected onto the board of directors for Student Job Search New Zealand. We are in the middle of significant changes to the service delivery platform and interactions with industry. Over the next year or so you'll see the website redeveloped with better job placement systems, a refined enquiry process that speeds up your access to jobs and more vocational employment opportunities along with work experience and volunteering. With only one year of involvement I've done my best to be a particularly vocal contributor to the direction of SJS, keeping student ownership and focus of the service at the core of its delivery. I was also appointed to the Auckland Social Policy Forum by our Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennet. This forum is a first for NZ and I was extremely honored to be invited as a member - A key item of focus was Youth unemployment and I advocated for SJS funding and development as-well as utilisation from employers rather than continuing to extend funding into "youth employment incentives"
Shannon’s big promise in his 2010 campaign was to “Bring Student Back”, whether this was a bad reference to a JT song or a trendy campaign slogan—we may never know. In association to this campaign, he ensured for more and better USU functions, improvement in interdepartmental cooperation, more available clubs, and a system for making students more aware of what each other was learning/studying.
The last year as VP has been both challenging and rewarding. Many of the ideas on how things work at Unitec have changed and I now realize many of my original intentions were quite naive (improve interdepartmental cooperation at Unitec? How was I going to do that?!). My biggest concern coming into the job was the lack of community feel to Unitec.
Then as now I wanted to bring a feeling of belonging and involvement to campus. My main ideas for doing this (more functions and more clubs) have not been hugely successful. The reasons for this are beyond my control and include the high turn over of students at Unitec and finding events that will meet the needs of such a diverse student population.
I have supported new initiatives such as the creative issue of Inunison which highlights student achievements and makes others aware of what is being accomplished here at Unitec.
I believe my biggest contributions towards the ideal of a friendly and supportive campus have been achieved through my interactions with staff and student in both formal and informal situations. These times are where I have expressed these ideas and had subtle but important influence on campus life.
Jenine’s only promise for her 2011 Executive role was to make the students proud.
Jenine did not submit a comment regarding her 2011 campaign guarantees.
Johnny made some inspirational guarantees in his 2010 campaign. His campaign assured that he would utilize the position of Maori Representative to its greatest advantage (open ended, but assuring none-the-less). He also campaigned to inspire and encourage Maori students to reach their full potential.
For the future of Maori students, I’ve established a clearer vision based upon outlining principles of the Maori Success Strategy and a support structure reaching out to Maori students across all campuses. I’ve encapsulated the importance of the Maori voice and how it can be represented more effectively.
Through example and small and simple means, I’ve been able to give support and assistance to my fellow Maori students at Unitec. The Whai Ake Maori mentoring programme that I’ve been involved with as a mentor has been my main platform for helping others and I encourage all Maori students to enrol in it next year and take advantage of all the wonderful support services it provides.
Marcelle has been a member of the Executive since late June. Here is what she has contributed since that time:
In my short term as the Waitakere rep. I have managed to establish a Wednesday drop in service at Waitakere as well as support many of our students with everyday requests. I have been support person in many meetings with staff over grades etc. and started asking the serious questions about the lack of events at Waitakere campus. I have also sat on the Waitakere committee which is working to make our campus a safer and more family friendly place.
I really hope to continue this work in some way next year
Umar was concerned with one major thing in his executive campaign. That was to get to the bottom of why postgraduate courses at Unitec weren’t eligible for “University Status”. He promised to bring these issues to light and fight for University course standards.
Postgraduate studies are challenging and coping with them is a demanding task not only for students but for lecturers as well, as this mode of studies requires a bond between students and their respective supervising lecturers. Oftentimes students find difficulties in communicating to their lecturers what they actually want from their postgraduate work and the better way out of such confusions is to sort things out on a cup of coffee or casual lunches with your lecturers/supervisors to strengthen that bond of cooperation. Scheduling casual catch-ups, for example in this instance, between HoD Computing and postgraduate students from the same department provided a platform for students to really discuss, criticize, and suggest what they were looking from individual courses taught at the postgraduate level within the department. Students for example came across to know the degree of flexibility actually present around assignment submission dates, as sometimes postgraduate students are supposed to submit multiple assignments (upto 4) on the same date.
I found it difficult to bring Postgraduate reps under a single forum to highlight the common issues arising in the Postgraduate courses within Unitec, due to their tight schedules and work commitments. I believe that the mentors programme and the upcoming improvements to the executive/student reps structure, by USU, would lay a solid foundation to build this bridge, between postgraduates from different departments, in a better way.
I wasn't able to live up to my commitments towards the end of my tenure with USU due to the fact that my student life changed lanes to a professional one, but still I'm giving my level best to fulfil what I signed up for and would advise the upcoming execs to do the same.
Until the new execs take over I'm always here to help you as a mate, as a brother and as the USU's Postgraduate Rep.
Karan’s campaign promised to “raise the student voice at Unitec” and talk to students about their problems.
Karan resigned from the USU in August.
Ali had some very focused goals that he verbalized in his campaigning. These included a promise to defend student rights within the USU and against lecturers. His campaigning included a bit about resolving car parking issues, and creating better social areas around campus for group study.
I have challenged staff by engaging in debate and pushing the student’s agenda when making decisions within the general executive. I discussed concerns with staff around issues and made some suggestions around campus with staff and students alike.
I have discussed the issue and made it a point of conversation several times with fellow executives. My fellow executives did not share my concerns in this area and so as a single executive I was persuaded to drop this issue.
I also made this a topic of discussion around the USU general executive table and often encouraged and supported initiatives that led to more social areas, such as voting for the development of the 172 area and the Albany social area.
I feel that there is a lot more the USU could do in terms of providing students with facilities, and that they need to continue expanding their role in the area of social activities (not parties but rather facilities allowing student to be actively engaged on campus) and general student services such as car parks, food/cafe and other general services.
I would also like to thank the students for the opportunity provided to me with their votes
In 2010, Shaun had high hopes for onions with your free weekly sausage. His campaign was notorious for the tasteful promise. Alongside a more enjoyable BBQ experience, Shaun campaigned to bring a fresh voice to the USU, and adequately voice the concerns of students. He also assured to improve current student services.
One of the challenges of being an Executive member is that very seldom students know who we are and what we do. That is something we wanted to change this year. Students should be able to approach the Student Executive. If we aren’t engaged with the students at Unitec, how can we say that we represent them? I currently sit on several Unitec committees, which is where I bring to the table the student perspective as I see it. For the most part, I believe I have actively contributed to changes around Unitec, even though they may not be seen at a ground level.
I think that my “onions with your free sausage” plan was quite successful. It was a based on the very simple idea that we should be addressing student issues regardless of how minor they might be. I believe it was well received, and was a small step in building public confidence in the Student Executive.
This year, the USU started looking at the current student representation model, and how it can be improved to better serve the students. I was a part of that discussion, and that is where I was able to bring my ideas for change. Student representation is at the core of what we do, and it’s something I believe that we want to do well. The feedback we collect from students through the various mechanisms we employ is extremely valuable. We need to know what the issues are and where, so we can make positive changes that improve the student experience and academic progressions of learners at Unitec.
One of the more notable changes to student services that’s coming, are the changes to the myUnitec Portal. This portal is a gateway to several key service area’s within Unitec like re-enrolment and final grades for courses. I was able to contribute to the discussion that formed the change to this service, and is something that I enjoyed doing. The improved myUnitec Portal is just around the corner, so keep an eye out for it.
Chantelle’s campaign promises were short and sweet. She did not overly extend herself with elaborate plans for drastic change; instead, she guaranteed to get more involved with the student body, learn more about the USU, and apply her newfound knowledge of the institutional rules to relevant student issues.
I personal think that the process took me a little longer to learn, and how to apply them to the student issues. It was new for me, and it takes a reasonably long time to get to know all the rules, but once you get to know them the process is easier and the response is better and shorter.
The new things that I have learnt are that the USU tries to make a difference in a short time, but due to some constraints and policies it all take time, time and time.
This year I think I was more effective than previous years, because I was able to ask the correct questions to follow up on issues that students had, and also get the correct information from the students. The feedback to deal with the issues was more effective and it took less time.
Natasha’s campaign promised one thing strongly—to be the voice of students in 2011.
Unfortunately, Natasha moved off to Australia in July.