Macquarie University Council: ALISTAIR BOOTH

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Alistair Booth VOICE

What degree are you studying?

Bachelor of Arts (Major in Media, Culture and Communication; Minor in Marketing) and Bachelor of Laws

What inspired you to initially run for Council?

Simply put, I love the Macquarie community. Now, I know that probably comes across as some wanky cliché, and for that, I apologise! However, there really is no other way to describe it. I’ve had the great pleasure of meeting some extraordinary people at this university who are doing some extraordinary things, and have been so grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to learn together, work together and play together, giving me experiences that I will never forget.

It is for this reason that I first ran for the SRC (then SAB) back in 2015. I wanted to create a university that ensured all students could have the chance to have the best experience possible, but also be in the most advantageous position for when they entered the ‘real world’ upon graduating.

When I began my role as the Undergraduate Representative two years ago, I realised how much work needed to be done to achieve that vision. Unfortunately, the student voice has been barely a whisper in the last decade at Macquarie, with questions around SSAF, academic policy, tuition fees, and the future of the student experience going very much unanswered. In the past 24 months, the SRC has worked extremely hard to address these issues. I was proud to lead the charge on projects such as our name change and constitutional reform, the increase to our yearly operational budget, our growing influence through governing and decision making bodies within the university, and our increased presence and profile amongst the student body. Major wins such as RE:Conception put the student voice back on the map and since then, we’ve done our best to start turning up the megaphone.

But we’ve got a long way to go and my work certainly isn’t done yet. Macquarie University is about to go through major change. Whether it’s the physical layout of the campus, the bodies that govern us, or the opportunities available that come at a hefty price to our small back pockets, the student voice at Macquarie is more important now than ever before. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done and I want to use every last bit of passion, energy, drive and experience I have to ensure that Macquarie is the university its students want it to be.

If elected, what aspects of university life do you intend to improve?

First and foremost, I really do want to empower students with the ability to make their voice heard and have real influence over the shape and direction of their University. Now, I’m sure this is something that all students want, particularly those running in any of the current elections – after all, it’s a catchy point to campaign on. But why is this so important? Why do we, as students, feel a greater sense of ownership and desire to influence this element of our lives than we do others? Why is this empowerment of the ‘student voice’ at university something that forms part of the bigger picture and goes beyond any on student, SRC term, or election campaign?

Because we’re here to invest in our future.

Yes, I know, another stomach turning cliché – sorry! But it’s true. We’re not investing thousands of dollars and hours at university just to get a piece of fancy paper today – we’re investing in the livelihood of our tomorrow. For many of us, this will be the only time we study at university and the decisions we make now will dictate the path we take in future – so let’s make sure it’s bloody worth it whilst we’re here! This is why the move towards an independent, empowered, autonomous and influential body to represent students is so important. Plus, I don’t think there is any piece of paper that on its own could justify the look I get when I rock up to the petrol station at 11.30pm in my track pants and ugg boots to buy a family sized block of Cadbury for myself during exam time…

I want to address the communication barriers and the lack of transparency and accountability to ensure that governing bodies at the University make decisions that reflect the wants, needs, desires and values of its students. As a Council member, I’d make sure this starts from the top. I also think this should include the SRC through forming a healthy relationship with Grapeshot to enhance the two-way communication between students and the body that represents them.

I want to make sure Macquarie offers opportunities that will put its students in the best position possible for when graduate – whether that be a reform to a unit’s graduate capabilities, through to increased career and employment services.

I want study at university to be an easy and rewarding experience, rather than a daily burden – whether that be through increased wellbeing services and simplification of the special consideration policy, through to bettering daily conveniences such as introducing class cancellation notifications and reforming the cost and supply of on campus parking.

I want to make sure the in class experience is just as rewarding as the out of class experience – whether that be through making sure every student has a seat in their tutorial room, increased funding and services provided to our amazing student groups, or making sure traditions such as Ubar and RE:Conception stick around and that we offer a fun and vibrant campus, particularly once the Hub is demolished.

I want to make sure every student has the same opportunity to come to university and invest in their future – whether that be through increased grants and scholarships, equity and support services, or even easier access to textbooks without the hefty price. I also want every person in Australia to know that Macquarie University is a safe, welcoming and accepting community and that any student who doesn’t share in these ideals does not have a place here.

Finally, I want to make sure the interests of Macquarie students are not only represented internally, but also are advocated for within the wider community. Forming a relationship between the SRC and the National Union of Students (NUS) will go a long way in achieving this, ensuring that Macquarie University never falls behind and offers the best student experience possible in comparison to other universities.

And this is just the beginning.

What difficulties do you feel the Council faces on the road ahead?

As I mentioned above, Macquarie University is going through a significant time of change. With the departure of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Students and Registrar) and a change to the structure of the University Executive, major academic policy reforms, and plans for the substantial re-development of the campus as only the tip of the iceberg, having a strong, passionate and experienced student voice on University Council is beyond essential. It’s imperative that the student perspective constantly remains at the forefront of any decision-making and that the momentum that the SRC has begun to build is not slowed. In an era of increased tertiary education providers, online study opportunities, uncertainty about government funding, rising living costs, and a limited and demanding workforce, students need to ensure that their financial and time investment in university is worthwhile. As the student representative to University Council, I will make this my mission.

This is your University.

 

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Art by Brittney Klein, Creative Director