Sydney University has a lively student political culture that enables students to represent their peers to effect change within the Uni. As one can imagine, it is a microcosm of the politics in our nation, with student political actors who are passionate and vocal. As I embarked on finding a solution and formulating a vision to address the many problems my peers raised with me, I was fighting an uphill battle.
When I heard from friends and peers in our casual walks across campus, in the classroom and online that they were unhappy with the state of their education and their concrete belief that the Uni could be doing more to support them in their studies, I took it upon myself to be the force for change they were seeking.
The University of Sydney Senate is the highest governing body of the educational institution. One undergraduate student sits on the 15-person Senate to govern, develop strategic input, provide insight and represent the undergraduate body consisting of over 40,000+ students for a two-year term.
Motivated to effect change in the University of Sydney Senate, I launched an 18-day campaign from my bedroom and threw everything I learnt from working on strategic messaging and creative campaigns and, before that, in the many student election campaigns I helped run at the university. Quickly, I created a website, created and developed digital media assets to disseminate across social media channels that are popular with students at USyd (see below) and put up hundreds of posters across campus. The campaign colours and strong call to action message ‘Our Future Matters’ that students could connect with covered the campus, and many students said that the material was highly visible.
My platform aimed to speak to the concerns of the everyday student, seeking to shift the dial on student-to-teacher ratios to provide a solution to the very visual and active National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) campaign that aimed to bargain for better teacher working conditions.
Apart from the binary political contest, my platform sought to achieve tangible benefits for students. It addressed pain points in the student administrative process and aimed to bolster student engagement with campus life for a smooth transition back to mandatory in-person education in 2023. At the same time, I argued that we should strike a balance of accessibility to keep zoom-university as an option (students enjoy the flexibility and practicality that online lectures provide).
Over the 18 day campaign, data insights showed 1800 clicks to the website, with 3500 DL flyers handed out across campus and over 700 QR code scans to show how students could vote online.
My campaign, ‘Our Future Matters’, was successful, in resonating with the undergraduate body. This resulted in being elected on the first count (1257 primary) with three times the number of votes of my nearest competitor. Starting in December 2022, I have the immense privilege and responsibility of representing my peers as the Undergraduate Student Fellow to Senate. During this period, I will be a fierce advocate for the platform I campaigned on and I hope this, in turn, shapes the university in a positive strategic direction.