He karere nā te Tumuaki (AUSA)

A message from Alofa So’olefai

Words cannot explain the honour it has been to have served as your student body President for 2022.

Talofa lava, malō le soifua maua ma le lagi e mamā,

Words cannot explain the honour it has been to have served as your student body President for 2022. As a recent graduate, I look back on the years I have spent tirelessly studying, the late nights at OGGB and Kate Edger, the anxiety attacks before an exam in a dodgy architecture room, and the trips to Munchy Mart for noodles and a muffin. These scenarios were nearly impossible a few years ago, but regardless, the struggle remains just in a different form. This is a lesson AUSA has had to fine-tune this year.

2022 has been no ordinary year with the disestablishment of the traffic light system, and with hybrid teaching and learning as well as examinations – it has been a time of change and adaptation. People have talked about going back to BC (before covid times), but the truth is it’s impossible with how the University is moving in response to the changes in the world.

AUSA prides itself in its mission of students serving students, and what a mission that is. We have tried our best to serve in a way that benefited the diverse student body, a team comprised of 12 student executives from a range of different discplines, and 8 supporting staff. The engagement has been at an all-time low, and instead of having students shoulder to shoulder trying to cross the four-way crossing on Symonds, there is no one here on campus some days. We’ve had to change tactics and think of different ways we can meet students where they are rather than expect them to come to us as it was BC.

A few of the significant events for this year include:

  • Almost $100,000 worth of care packages and hardship grants were given out to students
  • Collaborating with clubs such as the Sustainable Futures Collective, AUPISA, Ngā Tauira Maori, Public Policy Club, and more!
  • Partnership with the Postgraduate Students’ Association formalised through an MoU
  • Collaborating with AUT to deliver our first International Week in August
  • Officially leaving the New Zealand Union of Students Association on 2 June
  • Forming feedback for the Equity Policy, the Sustainability and Net Carbon Zero Strategies, Curriculum Framework Transformation, and more!
  • Visiting Te Tai Tokerau to deliver goodies and, of course, a good ol’ AUSA sausage sizzle
  • Advocating for sexual health to be included in the insurance of International Students
  • Advocating for transparency and consistency around student data used by Digital Services
  • Getting Māori and Pacific voices on committees like TLQC and Senate
  • Period Poverty campaign
  • Free Fares campaign
  • Advocating for the discontinuation of the fee for confirmation of enrolment documents for international students
  • Advocating for the waiver of the compassionate consideration fee

… and so much more!

I count on the hope of seeing a bigger and better future for our students, which relies on the partnership between the University and its student association.

Personally, this year has been a year of loss – having buried 3 of my relatives within two months, which created doubt in my mind about my ability to lead, but I’m thankful I did not give up. AUSA Presidency hasn’t been the easiest thing in the world, although it’s not rocket science. I have sweated blood and tears handing out sausages, read countless pages of minutes and agendas, woken up early for 8am meetings and left the office at 11pm after an event. The one thing people don’t tell you about being in student politics is that it is a thankless job. There is no recognition of your hard work behind the scenes, the tears you cry, the frustrations, the anxiety attacks – the outside world becomes blind to such episodes. However, they all see the good, the bad and unfortunately, the ugly, but when you come from good intentions, there is nothing that can stop you. Many would believe this isn’t as hard as it seems, but it’s easy to spew big jargon around a table of executive members. The hardest part to date has been to represent such a wide range of students who often contradict each other with their wants and needs; regardless of what AUSA advocated for, there was always one student we managed to upset. I’ve managed to embed in my mind just how important it is.

I am sad to leave this post, but I count on the hope of seeing a bigger and better future for our students, which relies on the partnership between the University and its student association. There is no one way to answer student hardship or generate a memorable experience, but all we can do is try. My most significant advice is if you want to change – do it from the inside. Sign up for your faculty association and have your voice heard at the AUSA Student Council. Pay attention to the emails coming your way from Dawn, Campus Life, and Student Services. Be the Class Rep and let your concerns filter through to the executive. Campaign to be on the AUSA Executive.

I conclude this message with this – thank you. Thank you to Dawn and her senior leadership team for the hard work behind doors. Thank you to every academic and professional staff at Waipapa Taumata Rau; our students’ success is rooted in your dedication and passion for your field and the countless hours you spend caring for our individual needs. Thank you to Campus Life, especially Anne-Marie Parsons, Brendan Mosely, and Louise Jackson, for supporting AUSA through the tough times. Thank you to the AUSA Student Council for holding us accountable to student needs in the various faculties; your dedication to student voice and your love for the student body is truly astounding. Thank you to the student body for enduring the challenges and striving for success – keep up the excellent work; the end goal is near. And last but not least, to my AUSA Executive and Staff, there are not enough words in the English language or Gagana Sāmoa to express my profound love for you all and our struggles this year. Ia olioli i le faamoemoe. Ia onosa’i i puapuaga.

Seia toe o’o se aso tatou te mafuta ai,

Alofa So’olefai

Your 2022 AUSA President

Related articles

Meet Michael

Meet Michael

Alongside offering pastoral support, Michael hopes to become a connector across the University and contribute to a better student experience.

Life in the Halls

Life in the Halls

Every year, a new cohort of kainoho | residents move into University Accommodation and begin shaping their community. Check out how they described their experience this year!