On the last day of semester one, Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) revealed that Emma Rogers had been elected the organisation’s new Education Vice-President (EVP). Dan sat down with Rogers for a quick chat.
Congratulations! How does it feel to be AUSA’s new EVP?
Thank you so much! I’m thrilled to be taking up the position. Obviously, taking over from George won’t be easy, but I hope I can continue the great work he was doing. It was a tough election with so many great candidates, but I’m stoked to have the opportunity to work closely with students as part of the AUSA team.
For those who don’t already know, what is AUSA?
AUSA is an organisation of elected student officials who represent the student voice. We work with the university to ensure that students have a hand in important decisions affecting the university, and we also work to ensure that there’s a lively student culture on campus. AUSA provides loads of cool services outside of just the political stuff too. These services include stuff like AUSA Advocacy, which is a free, confidential advice hub run by advocates independent of the university; AUSA hardship grants; AUSA food banks; and more. We also put on some great events, and organise stuff like O-Week.
What does your role entail?
The EVP represents university students in various committees, including the Education Committee, TLQC [Teaching and Learning Quality Committee], and the Academic Programmes Committee. The EVP also helps manage the class rep system and supports AUSA advocacy. Basically, the EVP’s role is to provide a direct link between the university and the voice of students. The EVP also plays a role on the recently formed Student Council. The Student Council is a group of student faculty association presidents, which provides consultation on changes and decisions being made within the university.
Why should students care about the EVP role?
EVP is one way students can have representation on important committees and decision making bodies within the university. Having someone who listens to and stands up for students and their needs on these decision making committees is vital for the university to work with students. In some cases, I am the only student voice in decision making bodies. For example, at the moment I’m working with the university on ongoing projects like improving the online library and learning services – obviously, what is decided will have an impact on students, so I think it’s only fair that students should have a voice in what improvements we would want to see. Simply put, decisions affecting students should have student input.
What do you think are the biggest issues students are facing right now?
One issue I can see right now is that there is a lack of real consultation with students when it comes to decision making at the university. I think students should have more of a say in these matters. It just makes sense – students are what make up the university. They need to be involved when changes are made to our uni and I would like to see certain groups value what students think about upcoming changes.
I just got back from a conference where I spoke with reps from unis around the world about using students as partners in consultation groups. It’s amazing to see how other universities have managed to involve their students as partners in decision making groups; I would love to see some of those ideas implemented here. I really want to change the culture here so that student involvement in decision making is not only truly valued, but is an integral part of how the university operates. I think consulting with students shouldn’t just be about ticking a box but instead realising the positive impact it can have on the university and supporting it at every level.
Can you speak about some of the stuff you saw at the conference? What were some of the methods other universities were using to include their students?
Yeah, sure. One of the cooler things I saw were universities that had students working with their professors to design courses. The idea is that it ensures the courses run with the students in mind, as the papers are relevant to what students want to learn, whilst still being balanced with what they need to know. Another cool thing I saw was something called P.A.S.S. – Peer Assisted Study Sessions. They’re sessions held by students for students to offer support to those who need it. This could be discipline specific or help for more general skills like how to answer an exam question. The stats show students improved the more time they spent in these P.A.S.S. classes, with some students doing roughy 40% better than students who didn’t attend the sessions. It’s an interesting way of encouraging students to engage in self-directed learning, and take responsibility for their education.
What kind of things can we expect from you this semester?
To start with, look out for more free exam seminars for the big first year papers. Also keep an eye out for new things happening in the class rep area – we are looking at how we can change the program to better benefit students and make the positions more desirable. I’ll also be working with the university on incoming policy changes like the Learning Analytics Policy and also the Student Services Strategy – both of which affect students now and in the future. As the semester progresses I’ll be looking into how we can bring in policies and procedures that’ll see students better integrated into university decision making. I also want to improve the representation of minority groups in these decision making bodies.