Leading Without Title

Words by Nicholas Birchall

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Artwork by Jennafer Milne

Now that the insanity of election week is over, it is important to reflect on what the results actually mean for students and the broader community.

Having now finalised the roles for next year’s Student Representative Council (SRC) and Adelaide University Union (AUU), we look ahead to 2019 and what these newly elected officials can and will accomplish.

This year I unsuccessfully ran for Welfare Officer. Obviously, there is a great deal of disappointment that goes with losing an election, that I am sure many out there are also feeling. We gave 100%, and over 40 hours of our lives to this, and for those like myself who were not successfully elected, I say, our roles are not over. You can still affect substantial change at University.

It is not solely the duty of elected representatives to ensure that this campus and its students thrive. The SRC is made up of 23 members, 15 office bearers and 8 General Councillors. The idea that these 23 individuals are supposed to single-handedly manage the needs and requirements of over 25,000 students is unfathomable. Get involved, join a club, help organise an event. The ways you can contribute to our collective time at this university are almost endless.

We can take lesson from UNSW, who have subcommittees led by their respective office bearers. These dedicated volunteers are passionate about the areas they represent, enact change and support students who may be doing it tough.

If you are passionate about an issue, do something, be vocal. If you care about student welfare, volunteer to help out during “Stress Less Day”. If you are having issues with books being stored off campus, you are probably not alone. If there is an on campus protest being organised for issues you care about, attend it. Stay informed. Come to an SRC meeting every so often. You can make your voice heard.

As much as one might rag on campus activists, the University takes note. If enough people care about something, and are willing to stand up for what they believe in, they become a powerful force. We have shown that the University is afraid when we are united. The actions spearheaded by SRC President Matthew Boughey resulted in the University folding to create a stand-alone sexual assault policy, making it far easier and safer for these abhorrent instances to be reported and handled appropriately.

This reformation does not need to be solitary. As individuals, we struggle, but in numbers we find strength, and can truly affect meaningful change.

On a more serious note, while the University does indeed have facilities in place to care for and respond to incidents falling outside what should be experienced at university, it is our responsibility to help care for one another too. Recently the University has introduced “First-Responder Training”. This three and half hour course will soon be offered to students by the University in order to be prepared in the event a friend or colleague discloses an instance of sexual assault to you. I would strongly encourage you all to take part, and then pray you will never have to use your training.

Come December, the sun will set on the careers of certain student politicians, I would argue for the better. That being said, we will also lose a great number of incredibly passionate, caring, and outspoken individuals, whose altruism has truly shone through this last year, with the way in which they have conducted themselves in not only a professional context, but a personal one.

Many of the appointments for the year 2019 fill me with great optimism for the University and its future. I feel great pride that I will be able to work with these astounding individuals to help improve this university for all its members. I would encourage you all to do the same.

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Adelaide University student magazine since 1932. Edited by Nicholas Birchall, Felix Eldridge, Taylor Fernandez and Larisa Forgac. Email us at onditmag@gmail.com

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