By Cameron Cripps-Kennedy
For most students Arc @ UNSW is simply the gateway to clubs and societies but, in reality, it’s an entire universe of opportunities. Arc owns and runs the Roundhouse and Whitehouse; coordinates over 20 volunteer programs covering everything from tutoring to gardening; manages all the sporting teams on campus; and has a separate branch catering to the Art & Design campus.
It’s important to understand the scope of Arc’s operations and influence especially when voting in the imminent election of the Board’s Student Directors, and it’s equally important to understand the new changes to the composition of the Board, passed at the most recent Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). This meeting of ordinary members of Arc @ UNSW was held on March 16, where 200 students gathered in the Roundhouse to pass a motion for Affirmative Action.
Affirmative Action, as defined on CivilRights.org is the implementation of policies that seek to “break down barriers, both visible and invisible, to level the playing field, and to make sure everyone is given an equal break”. The recently passed diversity requirements of Arc Board have sought to redress the disparity in representation of elected officials. In years past, the composition requirements stipulated a representative from the College of Fine Arts (now UNSW Art & Design) had to be elected to represent the student cohort at the Paddington campus, while another spot was reserved for a Postgraduate director, which was and still is adequately represented by the President of the Postgraduate Council. With the new changes in effect the diversity requirements address the historical gap in representation for women on the Board.
On the Arc website it states: “Women make up a greater number of the overall population then (sic) men and Arc’s membership base is made up of roughly 49% of women however, it appears that the previous Board election process did not result in a diverse reflection of the membership, in particular students who are women.” The 2015 Arc Board Chair, Tom Morrison, explains in the Annual Report that the changes to Arc’s Constitution will “result in the certainty of at least half the elected student directors each year being women”. A great step forward for the organisation that already practices and promotes gender equality in the workplace recognised by the prestigious WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality awarded again in 2015, an honour shared by only 89 organisations nationally.
These changes, however, have a very real impact on the upcoming round of elections. Four positions are being contested by seven candidates; two of which will be filled by women. It is written on the website that “Arc’s Constitution defines a woman as a person who identifies as a woman”, although the gender identity of each candidate is not yet disclosed.
As one might be privy to, following the University Council elections held during Week 8, often the strategy employed by candidates is to ask students to vote for them by approaching them on the Library and Quad lawns. In the optional democratic process that is followed during these elections (and all other student elections) students should make an informed decision and not simply vote for the candidate or campaigner that gets to them first. Considering the scope of Arc and the new composition rules, it’s extremely important to ask questions and research, as these changes could see your vote go to waste if not enough votes are directed to the women running.
Voting for four new members of Arc Board will commence at 9.00am on Monday 2nd May and conclude at 3.00pm Thursday 5th May 2016. To be eligible to vote in the upcoming election you must have signed up to or renewed your Arc Membership at the close of nominations on 4th April 2016. All Arc members eligible to vote will be sent an email containing a link to the voting page to the email address you nominated when completing your Arc membership form on OrgSync.