By Manu Risoldi
What a whirlwind T1 its been! At times like this its incredibly important to check in with your friends and family. Social distancing does not mean we cannot be social. Arc is running many initiatives to keep us socialising over Facebook and Zoom. Our collectives are also working on ways to go digital. If you’re experiencing mental health concerns reach out to our counselling and psychological services which are still open on campus.
Over the course T1 the SRC has been part of many major discussions with university management in regards to UNSW’s response to COVID-19. Our statement to management was released in early March and it highlighted some key issues that the SRC wanted responded to by management. Our call for attendance requirements in courses to be scrapped was agreed to, as well as all courses going online within the week of our meeting with management. Census date was not extended despite students voicing their concerns over the lack of openness regarding what T1 would look like, however a week of flexibility was given to those students who wanted to drop courses without a financial burden.
Accessibility has also been a major discussion point because the SRC is aware that some students do not have access to wifi and laptops. The university is responding to students needs on a case by case basis to ensure all students can access their course work in this newly online environment.
Since our initial discussions with management new policies around grading have been implemented. Students no longer have to worry about their academic transcript being impacted by T1 and the uncertainties that COVID-19 has created as Fail grades will not be recorded this term. Students should be contacting their course convenors if they are unsure about the current grading system for their courses. Not all courses have changed to the SY/FL grading criteria. Moreover, students no longer have to submit medical certificates alongside their special consideration applications. This has been done for a dual purpose: firstly because the university recognises the risk going to the doctors can pose to students. This change was also implemented because we do not want to be burdening the medical system due to the volumes of people already needing to access it.
The National Union of Students successfully campaigned around including Youth Allowance, Aus Study and AB Study onto the governments stimulus package which the UNSW SRC supported. Without this camping thousands of students would not have been eligible for the governments COVID-19 stimulus package so this was an important campaign that put the rights of students at the forefront of the national conversation. This campaign has now grown into a national call for international students to also begin receiving payments from the Australian governments because student unions across the country are seeing some of our most at risk students come from the international community.
The UNSW SRC Welfare Officer has crated a survey for international students (which can be found on our Facebook page) which is collecting information regarding the immediate and long-term needs of the international student community at UNSW. This is helping to shape the SRC’s efforts in securing more funding and support for our international student community. Our Welfare Officer has similarly also put together a survey for exchange students. We understand that exchange students have been recalled to Australia and great personal cost and that this is an incredibly uncertain time. This survey intends to collect information from exchange students which can be relayed to management in the hope that we can receive some concrete advice and support from UNSW management that students can then access.
At the moment our collectives have moved online, and this will continue until campus is reopened. If you’re wanting information and the links to the collective meeting groups please visit the collective pages on Facebook as all information can be accessed from there. On top of this I am involved in Legal Beagles, which is an Arc Facebook live event where the legal and advocacy team and I talk all things Centrelink, Renting rights and your rights as a student at UNSW. For those students who are unsure about their rights as renters, students or as casual workers tune in on Mondays and Fridays from 1:45!
Get in contact
If you’re wanting to get involved in our campaigns or stay up to date with what the UNSW SRC is up to you can follow us on Facebook and you can join the various Facebook Collective Pages. This is the primary way our Office Bearers share news about our campaigns and meetings for the future. Our SRC Spaces also have suggestions boxes if you would like to submit some anonymous feedback or give suggestions about the direction of our council. Our general enquirers line is also always open for students who need assistance from the SRC.
If you’re experiencing mental health concerns our counselling and psychological services remains open on campus. To get in contact with CAPS call: 9385 5418. Because of COVID-19 CAPS are taking Telehealth appointments just let them know what you feel most comfortable with.
To read the full edition of Influence, go to https://www.arc.unsw.edu.au/uploads/Influence_Actual_Final_lores.pdf !