Joshua Cahill – So, we’re getting a bit of an insight into your journey through guild and your journey through university, so I guess, could you speak to um, what you’re studying at the moment, and what you’ve been through in university life.
Sharon Ndijibu – Ok, um I’m currently an arts major, my first major is English and cultural studies and then my second major is pathology and lab medicine. Um where I’ve been through at uni, so last year I was OCM on Science Union and then this year, I’m um education vice-president of health student society, and I’m also on like a bunch of faculty student committees. So, the faculty of health and medical sciences has its own, um, community and engagements committee, so I’m the undergraduate representative on that committee. Um, I got invited to sit in on the board meeting for the faculty, with all the deans and like, yeah that’s really good. Um, I’m also on a couple of guild sub-committees, so governance and then equity and diversity. And obviously as ed VP of a fac-soc I go to guild council every month.
JC – Yep, great. Um so I guess, before that, or I guess just to give a bit of disclosure, are you a member of any political party?
SN – No, I am not. I am not a filthy Lib (laughs).
JC – Ok, um thankyou for that context. And then the other thing I’ll ask is, with that experience in mind, why do you think you’ll um be able to fulfil the role of ed council president?
SN – Uh well, first of all, I’m doing two majors, the first one of which is very artsy and one of which is very sciency. And I think it’s really important to have that diversity because it exposes you to the struggles, the pros and cons of students from both faculties. So we’ve got favour here where a lot of students will struggle to find internships, they struggle to decide I guess, what they’re going to do with their careers after uni, or what they’re going to do with themselves I guess. And we’ve got medical sciences where a lot of students are pushed into thinking they either have to do med or they have no other option. So um, I feel like these would definitely give me more insight as ed council president because I’d be able to sympathise with people from both faculties and favourable is a really big faculty and health and medical sciences represents med students, dentistry, we’ve got podiatry and social work, and then we’ve got undergrads as well. So I guess, being ed VP this year of health students society has um enabled me to work very closely with the faculty of health and medical sciences, and its sort of exposed me to, I guess, the issues that the students face, and I guess, the stigma that they are placed in to you know you have to do Med or there is nothing else for you, so I think being part of two very diverse I guess faculties has made me equipped and experienced to sympathise with students and I guess understand the difficulties before making any decisions.
JC – Great, and I guess talking more in depth about the policy that you guys put forward, there seems ot be a partculary focus on EMS, so engineering and maths sciences, what is the decision from Launch to spend a lot of attention and resource into that area and why is certain other faculties not given the same amount of attention I guess?
SN – Right, so when we were coming up with policies for launch, we did consult students across every faculty, and all the policies that are on the website or online, are EMS specific, but we’ve got policies across all faculties. But the main sort of thing I guess is a lot of the time students sort of focus on domestic students and students tend to forget that a large majority of our international students at UWA actually study Engineering, and a lot of them struggle to find VAC work because they obviously don’t have that network base of people that might have grown up in Perth through their parents, through the jobs they have, and it’s quite sad having students getting sent back away, back to their homes because they don’t have those job capabilities so that’s why I thought it, like I brought it upon myself to reach out to the Engineering faculty and find out what their struggles are. Obviously because we have a huge number of international students, I thought it’d be really important to work with UEC and the other FACSCOS and empower the international students and make them feel welcome at UWA and make them realise that the university does care about them and we’re not just gonna let them study here then funnel them off to do their own thing, we’ll help their through their journey and facilitate their job applications.
JC – Great, and I guess this might be a broader question about education, but do you feel that education is predominantly about skills, or is it about a like a the enrichment and learning process that comes with going to university?
SN – It’s definitely not just about skills. You could come here and learn how to I don’t know do a titration
JC – Sure, I don’t know what that is but sure
SN – That’s chemistry, if you come here and learn how to do a titration, that’s a skill you’ve learnt, but you need to know how to apply it, not just in the field you’ve learnt to develop that skill. It is about the journey, it is about the enrichment process and how you can apply what you’ve learnt outside of university. We’re all here only for a short amount of time, so there is no point using a skill and using it for five years and then being like yeah I’m done.
JC – So I guess touching on that, the Ed President is kind of the last bastion for the students, particularly against the university. There has been a lot of moves by the university to be more driven to the bottom line, particular types of degrees getting more preferences I guess, how do you feel your job is at balancing the interests of the university against the interests of students?
SN – I think um what Launch is trying to achieve is definitely build that relationship with the university so obviously the education council president and the Guild President sit on multiple boards with the university and they’re the student voice on there. It’s really important that educational Council President and the Guild President works really hard with Faculty Societies, Clubs, get insight from students, and not just ask them to send them issues through reports, but actually take those issues to the university and say look this is what students want. And I feel like it is the university’s responsibility to provide what the students think is beneficial to them, because we do pay money to be here and you know I feel like the university is under some sort of obligation to deliver to students what students think will help them with the direction in which they are trying to go into
JC – Sure and then I guess if we are being a bit more specific in terms of the most recent decision to move into 12 week semesters, I feel like it’s a common talking point in this election, obviously the process that was done by the incumbent STAR was to negotiate with the university and obviously that didn’t pan out, how do you think you guys would approach that particularly? Would there be a more activist approach from your end as well as the negotiation or do you think it’s just that change in the way we negotiate?
SN – I think um ooh I think we’d definitely have to re-evaluate how our relationship with the university and also how we communicate this to students because obviously if the 12 week semesters have been an issue of discussion for two years since 2016, if students knew about it earlier, perhaps momentum and resistance against the issue could have been established earlier and the university might have reversed its decision. And negotiation with the university could be re-evaluated, but I think communicating the issue to student, does play a hand in negotiation, because the more momentum and the more backing we have from students, the more the university can actually engage with us.
JC – Sure, and I guess touching on that is another thing that you guys have mentioned is a full mark break down and I know that is something that a lot of students will get behind, how realistic or actionable do you think that is given I guess the relationship with the university trying to make those changes, it is quite a heavy ask to get that kind of information out there
SN – Yep so this year I’ve worked really closely with the faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. Before, their relationship wasn’t that close, they didn’t have a concrete relationship with the health student’s society, so I’ve definitely pushed beyond the limits of my predecessors and obviously worked with the faculty really hard and gained their trust. And they were able to you know come to me and ask me if you need anything come to us. So I feel like if I channel that sort of energy and that sort of passion to communicating with university better and saying look, I don’t see why you can’t give us a break down of our marks like when we do WACE exams we get the scaling factor, that transparency is what the university sort of lacks and if we have I guess student movement behind it like I don’t see why the university would say no because it’s not like them telling us how our marks have been broken down is going to negatively impact students anyway shape or form. In fact it could be an incentive for students to perform better, because if you know what the median mark is, what the mode is, what the mean is, and you have this spread out of data, you might look at it and be like hey why is everyone getting 80% and why am I getting 53? It might actually push you to work harder, so I think that’s I guess the incentive behind bringing something like that to UWA.
JC – Great, that makes a lot of sense. And I guess ah finally, there was mention of like more incentives or more processes um for things like ah tutoring and peer tutoring um given that those already do exist, what are you actually looking to do with that process? Are you trying to improve it? Create a competitive? I don’t know…
SN – So at the moment a lot of facsocs run tutoring sessions where they get honours or postgrad students to come and help with first year students. But what Launch I guess what we mean by our policy is so you’re not just going to be tutoring for no like, just to help students, those hours that you spend tutoring will actually be recorded on your academic transcript as volunteering hours. A lot of students look towards building that network themselves and improving I guess their relations with community work and that sorta thing so I feel like giving the students the opportunity to record their volunteering work is really important. And if students volunteer for graduation ceremonies and the university does record it on your transcript, I myself have done that, if we give students the opportunity record their tutoring hours as volunteering hours that would be really helpful.
JC – Yeah sure and I guess the final question I’m gonna ask is ah with all of this in mind, um, why is it that a voter should go to the booth and put one next to Sharon on the ticket? Or Launch in general?
SN – Um, well obviously Star constantly talk about how they’re experienced, progressive blah blah have been in power for the past eight years, but when you go for a job interview, they don’t always hire the person with the most experience, they hire the person with the most potential, the one they can connect with the best, the one that shows they are actually going to deliver, they are not just gonna stand back and all talk and no actual action. I think students should vote for Launch because every single policy that we came up with, it’s not just the top people in Launch that decided it, we consulted students, we asked them what they wanted to see, we also I guess looked at the surrounding council that we’re in for some of our policies, like the infamous $2 middies, we, I think it’s important that students vote Launch because there is a disenchantment between the Guild and students. A lot of, me myself, I hang out a lot of the time at Reid and I constantly talk to students and they’re like oh the Guild doesn’t really do anything to help us, or they run events to benefit 80 students, what about the other 20,000? That sorta thing. I think that Star has, they do a lot of work, but it’s not benefiting as many students as it could. And that’s why I think you should vote for Launch because we’ve put a lot of time and effort and dedication and it’s time for change, because UWA students deserve better than what we’re getting and complacency is definitely evident in the Guild, because you know, there’s a lot of people who pat themselves on the back for doing this and doing that, but what about all those voices that aren’t being heard? Are you reaching out and listening? Or is it to make your CV look better? So if UWA students want change, then Launch is definitely the way to go.
JC – Thanks for your time, Sharon.
SN – Thank you.