An open letter to the AUU from Things To Do at Adelaide U
Words by Things To Do At Adelaide U founders
Things To Do At Adelaide U is a passion project that we initially spearheaded to help support clubs. We’ve had this idea since we first got involved with the clubs community. We want to stress that we approached student reps and AUU staff on this idea prior to starting it ourselves. Even when interest was expressed, there were other reasons for its delay, such as there simply being not enough money — as some reps told us. All the while, we watched clubs, especially the smaller ones, struggle to connect with students, hoping that the people who signed up at O’Week would be enough to sustain them or at least keep showing up.
On the other hand, we continued to see students go through university never hearing about clubs, possibly besides the odd few they interacted with during one of the few Clubslands they went to. Clubs are made up of passionate individuals who want to build their niches and make sure like-minded students have a place of belonging while studying. Yet, the clubs’ space continues to be a mystery to many. Things To Do was born out of a realisation that it’s easier and less confronting to go on a social media hub than trying to contact one of the hundreds of listed clubs on the AUU website directly.
So far, the endeavour is serving its purpose. It is informing students about club events and consistently lowering the barrier to access clubs. Things To Do At Adelaide U operates a Facebook page, a Facebook group, an Instagram account, and a Twitter account. The Facebook group in particular has been making great strides towards helping foster a deep awareness of all the wonderful work clubs invest into their social media accounts, for a wider cross section of students.
This success is to such a point where even some university stakeholders have taken note of the Facebook group and page, and are building working-relationships with us as well. We are becoming the prime spot for clubs to reach a neutral university student audience, because our platform is moderated by a team of admins who are passionate about seeing clubs and campus culture thrive, nurturing a service that is widely accessible, aware of its audience and potential, and selective with its content.
The Facebook group is only as politically charged as the Student Society Space is, quite simply because it’s the clubs that are already affiliated or at least exist in our community that are making the posts in our group. It has largely been able to remain non-partisan, regardless of any allegations to the contrary, and that is something we always envisioned for it, as clubs should not be politicised unduly. Further, with a member count of over 2000 strong in barely 6 months of activity, even in the context of COVID-19, the platform has emerged as a strong force set to positively affect campus culture.
We do believe that our service can be improved. This could include having more volunteers who are willing to work with us, maintaining and providing greater sustainability for our vision of how the page should be run. We would again like to emphasise that it is a service we’re providing as non-partisan as we believe possible, and see the group’s community posts and our service as separate entities. We are thriving through continually striving to ensure that there is as little political interference within the service as possible — reaffirming our commitment to functionally improving Campus Culture.
We believe that if not for these difficult times, we would be well on our way towards an arrangement with the university that defines how our service plays a role in enhancing the student experience. This being said, an improvement we very much would appreciate your support on is to be better connected to be able to holistically promote all of our university’s activities, not only those from clubs or our union, but also those from AU Sports and the university itself — but we will never jeopardise how we operate for students, by students, to that end.
The potential of all this is why we initially approached the AUU and student reps with this idea. However, we were consistently turned away. So imagine our surprise when, in the first AUU Board Meeting, we found that one of our founders and AUU board member Ashley Jayasuriya was named in the agenda without his prior knowledge, and that the Board was deciding whether or not they would action us to transfer the project that we had begun without the AUU’s support over to them. Imagine if a university lecturer decided your work, which they did not support you to accomplish, was good, and hence published it under their name with no consultation. That is what has previously been attempted when Things To Do At Adelaide U has appeared as an agenda item. It is only now that Ashley has been actioned by the Board that we feel we have to speak up.
Things To Do At Adelaide U was started by independent students, and it will not be ceded because of an AUU Board decision. To this, our team of eight admins harmoniously agree. Being run by the AUU would be detrimental, we believe, because it would not remain an authentic student effort. Supposedly, it is to be transferred over to the marketing team, and, even if paid students helped, the passion that is brought to this service our admins is not something that money can buy — just like you can’t create good clubs by simply funding them.
We are also under the impression that this Board may have some issues regarding Ashley’s personal involvement as an AUU Board member, however, our hope is that we are all sensible enough to draw a distinction between his efforts in trying to help students and clubs through spearheading this initiative and his separate elected role to represent their interests. Just like many of us, he is involved in clubs and this university in other ways. There should be no outlandishly unique conflicts of interest with his being a Board member and investing his free time into helping run a platform that supports clubs. If the Board would instead like to support Things To At Adelaide U, rather than laying false claim to it, they could resolve to:
-Promote Things To Do At Adelaide U through AUU Channels
-Actively encourage clubs to work with Things To Do At Adelaide U
-Explore infrastructure donations towards improving Things To Do At Adelaide U service
-Help connect Things To Do At Adelaide U with the broader university community
-Overall, try to work with Things To Do At Adelaide U and its admin team, rather than attempting to take the platform over
You can find their Facebook page here.
You can find their Facebook group here.