Swinburne has a once in a lifetime moment to fix the Swinburne student experience. But it needs to get the basics right first.
In less than three months from now, the Swinburne Student Union (SSU) and Bookshop will be forcibly evicted from the UN after Swinburne decided that it was time to upgrade the campus infrastructure.
After no less than 18 separate interactions from July last year to date, Swinburne is proposing to evict us from three office floors in the UN Building and cram our services, staff, student representative and volunteers into a corner office in the GS Building that is out of site and out of mind.
Bizarrely, Swinburne’s side attempt to censor and conceal history by stripping ‘UN’, or Union, from the name of the building is an apparent attack on the history of all those who came before us.
Students paid for this building and they deserve better than Swinburne daftness of an immature university that constantly struggles with the value it places on a student-led and designed experience.
Thousands of students benefited from our services in semester one. Each and every one deserves better than this.
For each and every one of them, we’ll fight this decision.
Proposed new location of the SSU in the area highlighted in red
Swinburne students will always benefit from a student-led association that is empowered to be independent and hold truth to power, moreso when it isn’t pretty. Our campaign to reverse cruel and savage scholarship cuts to international students on the Vice Chancellor’s International Excellence scholarship. Calling out Swinburne’s poor governance standards of the university-controlled Swinburne Student Life by its failure to produce minutes showing how it spends your money on student services. Up until last year, there wasn’t even any accountability through a services agreement on how your money should be spent!
Even today, the Swinburne controlled “Student Representative Council” has been told they can spend their budget on paying themselves for meetings but they cannot use their budget to fund a Swinburne Ball for students. These types of parental controls are not what you expect at a university.
And who could forget the embarrassing situation earlier this year where Swinburne failed to provide Public Transport Victoria (PTV) with a list of 2023 courses, leaving students unable to get concession Mykis.
Much like Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship – there isn’t much to ignite if the best we can do is a university that prefers control and brute force over a university that believes in common sense and collaboration.
We’re hardly over the moon when it comes to these ongoing challenges. But we know we can shoot for a better Swinburne. We can be a Swinburne that believes in students and a Swinburne that invests in a next gen future.
After all, how do you really expect a university-controlled body, Swinburne Student Life, to be on your side as opposed to the owner?
It is kinda like expecting a tobacco company to commit to investing in respiratory health services. They’ll do what is always in their interests. Not yours.
It isn’t a coincidence that the University of Sydney, Monash, Melbourne, Deakin and UNSW excel in student experience rankings. They empower students to design and decide the student experience, together.
Swinburne, by contrast, ranks as the second worst Victorian university only behind Victoria University. What do they have in common? They are the only two Victorian universities that deliberately prevent students from designing and deciding the student experience, which in turn, means they miss the opportunity to listen and design solutions to becoming a better education provider.
That begins with not shoving student-led organisations into a corner.
All we want is to be treated with respect and that shouldn’t be much to ask.
Because at the end of the day, if you really believe in a student experience at Swinburne, don’t just preach it.