22 December 2006

What can students of The University of Queensland expect from the 2007 UQ Union?

"A union that students know about and use; a union that embraces the intellectual input of all ordinary students; and ultimately a union in good stead to operate on its own two feet."

At least that's what new UQ Union President Julie-Ann Campbell hopes.

The 20-year-old Arts/Law student swept to electoral victory in the recent union elections on the back of her Voice team's successful platform of student representation, services and support and a vibrant campus culture.

Ms Campbell, who has previously been a councillor and a National Union of Students (NUS) Welfare officer, said it was the opportunity to effect practical change for students that drew her to the position.

"My main motivation for contesting the presidency was to try and ensure that UQU would survive VSU and that with the obvious need for cost cutting, the vital representation and support of students would not be lost in all the scuffle," she said.

"I sit on UQ committees that have the ability to change a student's life, in making judgment on whether they can continue their studies, when they graduate and if they graduate - these all have a bearing on the future of students."

Not surprisingly, Ms Campbell sees the reduction in finances brought about by VSU as her biggest obstacle.

"I think the greatest barrier to getting this job done will obviously be working within more restrictive financial limitations yet still trying to produce effective and practical outcomes for students."

"Another challenge will be the gradual decrease in student unionists' enthusiasm, which is inherent in an organisation where the personnel must juggle study, work and UQU commitments.

"The university has been quite supportive during this post-VSU period, however in these first few years of VSU it is imperative that UQ maintains its commitment to supporting the union and in doing so, students in general."

In the face of these financial challenges, Ms Campbell hopes to run the union in a manner that will eventually enable it to act autonomously.

"Standing on our own two feet both financially and organisationally will be a great challenge after VSU but I think it will be achievable with hard work and the implementation of change.

"My other main goal is to ensure that every student on campus has a knowledge of and relationship with the union.
"We have so much to offer, but often students are unaware of the ways in which we can support and assist them."

Ms Campbell said she looked forward to working with the union team in a cooperative environment to achieve significant progress for UQ students.

"The presidency is somewhat of a misleading title because UQU works in a more open format with input from all students and office bearers so that students can collectively have some control over their own affairs.

"I am excited about being able to argue for a compassionate uni and about having a direct and positive impact on students` lives, even if it has to be done one student at a time."

Julie-Ann Campbell has just finished the third year of her Arts/Law degree and will next year commence an honours year in political science, studying the preselection processes of the Liberal and Labor parties.

Media: contact Lucy Manderson at UQ Communications (07 3365 2339 or 0404 388 584) or Julie-Ann Campbell (07 3377 2293).