Events, advocacy, welfare and care packs are just a small part of what we deliver for students every year, and we are always working hard, behind the scenes, to deliver key initiatives to improve the student experience at RMIT, and to fight for the support students need, when they need it most.
RUSU has been campaigning for fee relief for all students throughout 2021, and we have urged RMIT to acknowledge the particular difficulties that students stranded overseas are facing.
As a direct result of our campaigning RMIT introduced the RMIT International Tuition Fee Bursary, which offers a 10% fee discount to international students who are currently unable to come to Australia due to current Australian border restrictions.
2021 marks the start of the RMIT Multifaith and Wellbeing Centre project. Improved multifaith spaces for students at RMIT has been a priority area for RUSU since 2018. Our campaigning has been in direct response to feedback from students and driven by the collaboration between our staff, clubs and students.
RUSU has long been advocating for greater representation for our students with a disability and/or caring responsibilities. We are proud to announce that this position has been funded for 2022 and look forward to working with this this student rep to advocate for and run events with students with disabilities.
At the start of the August 2021 lockdown RUSU advocated to secure academic support for students impacted by the lockdown. The seven day rolling extensions were introduced in response. Our work in this area is ongoing and we are currently pushing RMIT to introduce further support that recognizes the impacts of ongoing lockdown.
In 2020 RUSU was firm that RMIT should respect student privacy and not allow online proctoring of exams. As more Australian universities introduce some form of remote exam surveillance, RUSU will continue to stand up for students' rights and fight for privacy.
RUSU raised the issue of our offshore students inability to access RMIT’s counselling services during COVID 19 as a significant risk to student safety and wellbeing multiple times throughout the duration of the pandemic. RMIT has now engaged a global counselling service to provide much needed support to these students.
RUSU has campaigned for RMIT to have a clean investment portfolio for many years. In 2021 RMIT announced that it was 100% divested from fossil fuels. RUSU will continue to push RMIT to embrace sustainability and become a sector leader in sustainable practice.
RUSU made a medical hub on campus a priority in 2019. We worked hard with RMIT to ensure it would be staffed with medical professionals with a deep understanding of our diverse student body. As part of our ongoing work the medical hub has welcomed specialist LGBT+ doctors, as well as student mental health specialists and doctors with multiple languages. Since the start of 2021 the medical hub has been vaccinating eligible RMIT students with flu shots, Astra Zeneca and Pfizer shots.
In 2021 the RMIT University Student Union Council was proud to declare a climate emergency and will continue to assess our role in creating a sustainable student experience. RUSU President, Akshay Jose, also utilised part of his yearly presentation to RMIT Council to urge them to solidify RMIT’s commitment to sustainable practice by declaring a climate emergency on behalf of the University.
Our RUSU departments are responsible for creating events and advocating on behalf of different student cohorts at RMIT. Our Community Art Projects reflect this work at a University level through the creation of a student artwork that stands in solidarity with a marginalised student group. In 2019 the ‘Blooming Now’ artwork celebrated an inclusive definition of women at RMIT. 2022 will see the completion of the ‘Journey of Mapiyal’ artwork, communicating the value of respect and solidarity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and for people from all backgrounds on campus.
Student Staff Consultative Committees are a key mechanism for including the student voice in decision making at RMIT. These committees have been inconsistently resourced for years and as a result opportunities for continuous improvement at the program level have been missed. Improving SSCC was a priority for RUSU this year and we are proud to say that training for SSCC reps has been centralised, SSCC rep enrolment and engagement is high and committee administration is being standardised for consistency across programs.
Our VE Department identified regional students accessing insecure accommodation when they travel to Melbourne for assessments as a clear risk to student safety. Their advocacy work has led to the introduction of heavily discounted student accommodation being made available to students travelling to campus for assessments.
Here when you need it most, our Compass team work tirelessly to support students. Since the start of the pandemic RUSU has distributed over 29,000 meals to students through our online Compass Marketplaces, Healthy Breakfast and Heat and Eat programs. Semester 2 2021 also sees the return of a virtual version of our hugely popular Welfare on Wheels program which will deliver healthy snacks to students during SWOTVAC.
With new measures in currently place at RMIT to manage contact tracing, RUSU has advocated for some form of swipe card access remaining in place to reserve key RMIT spaces, such as the Library, for RMIT students only during peak periods.
After years of paper-based timetables on student noticeboard, the College of VE has taken on feedback from RUSU to move timetabling online. This has the dual benefit of increasing the likelihood that students will be informed of their timetable at least 7 days before the start of their classes and creating greater timetable consistency for VE students.
We all deserve to be free from harm at university and RUSU has been campaigning for change at RMIT to keep us all safe. As a result of our advocacy RMIT has introduced the following measures: Introduction of consent training micro-credential, introduction of bystander training for students and the rollout of safe spaces across all campuses.
Students have continued to highlight to RUSU the need for counselling appointments during the pandemic and we have been ongoing proponents of students needing access to more appointments and more timely appointments. RMIT has determined to keep the current counselling appointments available to each student capped at six but the wait time for an appointment has dropped significantly from an average wait time of one month to eight days.
RUSU ran a campaign to say no to library cuts and save the Makerspace during the financial cuts to key student services during the pandemic. The support from students was overwhelming and with the voices of students behind us we saved this vital student space. The creativity and imagination of RMIT students' lives on in the Makerspace.