Here’s an idea – allowing club presidents to trade in their long, unpaid hours for academic credit!

Now this may sound like a pretty wild one as ideas go. How would such a system work? Who would even coordinate the process? But as it turns out, this proposal isn’t quite as new as I thought it was.

SVLG2003 is not a unit you would likely have heard of, nor is SVLG a major you can enrol in. Instead, SVLG comprises a selection of units that broadly form a category of ‘Service Learning’. Service learning covers community engagement activities that have been formalised through units of study in an assessable and creditable manner. This includes a variety of internships based out of the McCusker Centre for Citizenship as well as units like ‘Pathways to Citizenship’ and ‘Fundamentals of Service Learning’. More interestingly, it features the unit ‘Service Learning for UWA Student Guild Office Bearers, ranging upward from Level I to IV.

This is a six-credit point elective “only available to elected Guild office bearers with approval by the Dean, Coursework Studies on advice from the Guild President”. The logic behind the unit is made pretty clear from the outline, generally arguing that office bearers put in a significant amount of work and deserve recognition for that work. Furthermore, it goes on to advocate the importance of reduced academic workload to both improve their capacity in their Guild role, as well as allow them to maintain a sensible life balance.

A similar arrangement also exists for Residential Advisers and Residents’ Club Members, as long as approval is given for them to enrol in the unit.

SVLG2003 was introduced in 2017, with 7 students taking up enrolment in the unit, with another 7 enrolled this year. Students must also meet weekly with the Guild President, who acts as one of two supervisors keeping our Guild OBs on track to prove their worth for those sweet six credit points.

During a Guild Council meeting last month, Pelican heard that this same concept has now been rolled out to faculty society presidents. While this change is yet to be extended to club presidents of all stripes, Education Council President Conrad Hogg told Pelican that there were plans to do so in the future.

All Faculty Society Presidents are automatically eligible, but must prove that they spend over 100 hours of work on the club throughout the semester. It’s a pretty exciting proposal that rewards the unpaid hours that go into creating a #campusculture that’s worth saving.

But as this potentially expands beyond just fac socs, it ultimately becomes a question of how much we put academic value on the unpaid work that students do at university. I think it’s uncontroversial to argue that club presidents deserve much greater recognition for their work, and this seems to be a pretty positive step in the right direction.

How far the scope of this proposal should extend and who else on campus does work worthy of receiving academic credit is a question for another time. For me at least, learning about this change was a reminder that the things that happen in the halls of the guild and the changes that are brought forward in Guild Council meetings can and do have a positive impact on students. However, if these meetings weren’t so mired in petty arguments over NUS National Conference or election preference deals, people might be more inclined to believe that those same individuals were deserving of the academic credit they have access to.

 

 Cormac Power | @cormac_power