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Student Precinct Update I

So where are we at?

Since UMSU’s two Student Forums (on April 22nd and May 22nd respectively), there has been no major developments within the Student Precinct project. No spaces have been allocated, no timelines set, and no master-planning architects contracted. As was said at this forums, this is a project that is currently sitting at the start of a very long timeline, and there is seemingly no desire to rush into it/get it wrong.

Food Co Op
UMSU General Secretary Hana and I met with the Food Co Op to discuss their needs within the Student Precinct. We discussed how we might be able to represent the Food Co Op, who are not Steering Group members, at the highest decision making level.
Its important to the Co Op to maintain their independence from UMSU and the whims of student politicians, so we have submitted their needs in the prescribed template, but separately from ours. I will make sure they are included as stakeholders in the reference groups to come over the course of this project.

Food Co Op lovers should feel rest assured knowing that Alex, who is the Director Campus Strategy and at this stage will be very involved in the day to day management of the project, has informed me that she is actually a member of the Food Co Op and hence has an understanding of what it means to be a Food Co Operative.

Student Precinct Steering Group – June 23rd
The Student Precinct Steering Group finally met again, for the second time (the first time being what triggered the first forum). There were a few things to look at, and I added my own long list of agenda items that I felt needed discussing (the forums, the food co op, food and beverage, a student centre update, the architecture studio whose students designed their own student precincts); unfortuantely, in the one hour we had available to us, we didn’t get to discuss many of them… we did have time enough to acknowledge that one hour once every two months is just not enough.

From the outset of this meeting, it looked as if we were close to amending and adopting proposed terms of reference for the Steering Group and stages for the project. I asked for clarification around the meaning of some of the stages to come, including Precinct Planning (which is to be the master-planning of the precinct, and allocation of space), Staging Plan (who moves when based on need and location), Design Development (consultation on specific projects in specific spaces).

I also clarified that we the Steering Group will have approval authority over every planning stage. I asked that each of these separate approval authorities be explicitly added to the Terms of Reference before we vote to adopt them.

The Head of University Services Paul Duldig then presented about the concept of “co-creation”, a model that was employed at the University of Adelaide in his time there to create a new student study space called the Hub.
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The University and students as a whole co-created the new space- with most of the exploratory, consultative work being done by a committee of students with some University staff. This committee then made recommendations to the Project Steering Group which, like ours, was made up of University chancellery members with not enough spare time to invest into looking at the nitty gritty of the project, but trusted the recommendations put to it by the committee. As Paul pointed out to staff, ‘you’re not the demographic’.

This idea was received favourably by the Steering Group who want to consider this model further.
Eoin, the Chancellery Communications Advisor, said this would be a great first project for the University’s upcoming participation website ( which will follow along the lines of City of Melbourne’s Participate platform).
After my many voiced frustrations throughout this process and insistence that students need to play a larger role (which Paul has supported), I’m relieved to see this is finally being made a priority (although disappointingly it was something that staff needed to hear from within).

In light of all of this new information, it was decided that we couldn’t confirm the proposed terms of reference and stages just yet, and more work would be done exploring co-creation prior to the next Steering Group.

Performing Arts Audit

We were informed on Monday that the University is writing a brief to engage a Performing Arts specialist, to audit the performing arts facilities and venues (including North Court). The goal is to establish the extent and nature of the use of those venues and facilities. We remain adamant that we should not be separated from any of our UMSU services.