In the Faculty of Arts, a small team of seven are situated in Belgrave (one of the merchant houses) with the sole aim of supporting students. Despite being smaller than most faculties, arguably, these staff pay that much more attention to the wellbeing of their students, often going above and beyond their roles to support students.
One unique aspect of the Faculty of Arts student support services is Arts+. Arts+ is a first year in-class mentoring programme, manned by over 100 student mentors. The programme allows an opportunity for first year students to engage with older students who support their adjustment into university life, but also provides an opportunity for the Arts student support team to ‘be in the class’, let students know what services are available, and be there to support them. Ash, the Student Development and Engagement advisor, noted how often students “fall through the cracks” because they simply didn’t know what support was available to them, or how to reach out for help.
Last year with COVID-19, student wellbeing took a particularly hard hit. The University provided laptops for students in need. However the Arts student support team went one step further. They distributed 900+ computers or modems to students, sometimes in very rural areas, after sourcing funding from local philanthropists. Their support team noted the importance of these devices not only being necessary for online learning, but highlighted that any student who did not have access to a device in lockdown was equally lacking access to it during a normal semester, placing them at a disadvantage.
The Arts Faculty also last year established the Faculty of Arts Student Emergency Fund, which provides up to $500 in the form of vouchers for Ubiq, Auckland Transport (AT), or Countdown. This fund arose as an answer to how invasive the University Hardship fund can often be, seeking detailed bank records over past months, and instead tries to ease any extra burden upon students. The student support team noted how often they would have students coming to them for support in this, and members of the team themselves would help students write their application, or advocate on their behalf.
The Faculty also provides support to clubs and student organisations, such as financial support of the Interesting Journal and close mentorship and support of the Arts Student Organisation (ASO) and their initiatives to help students. They also host a morning tea early in the semester, inviting the presidents of arts-related clubs in order to form relationships with these groups.
The Arts Graduate Study Centre is also available for arts students. This space is designated for postgraduate students and intended to be used for quiet study, and provides computers, printers, lockers and other facilities. Despite the closing down of the Social Sciences Building (commonly known as HSB) where this space was originally located, space has been made available in Te Puna Reo/CLL Building to ensure postgraduate students still have access to this facility.