Get to know your Student Senate

You’re probably familiar with your campus, or online, Student Representative Committee (SRC), but are you familiar with the organisation that oversees your SRC? That is the Student Senate.

I sat down with the President of the Student Senate, Luisa Foliaki, to see what it is, why it’s important that all students know exactly what the Student Senate is and how it can help you as a Charles Sturt student.

What is the Student Senate?

The Student Senate is a group of student leaders from each SRC.

“The Student Senate engages the student leaders from each SRC. There are six campuses and an Online SRC. Two members of each SRC represent their student community on the Student Senate. We work together to promote student issues to higher levels, such as the Academic Senate, the University Council or to different departments in the university that can deal with them.

“I basically see it as promotion and further training for student leadership for those SRC members so that they get a better understanding of what student leadership involves at a higher level.”

Why is it important for students to know what the Student Senate is and what it does?

“I think you feel confident when you know that you have advocates behind you and people that will support you and actively work for you, whether they agree with you or understand what you’re going through or not.

“This is why it’s really important for students is to develop relationships with staff in different departments and understand who to go to. Traditionally we’ve relied on student engagement to do everything for us, but as a student, even though I appreciate the work that they do and their support, I would trust the students to have my best interests at heart first and foremost.

“So it’s really important for them to know that that we’re here and that we can advocate for them and help them to have a better experience, whether they have a problem with academics or whether they’re experiencing something socially, to know that there is a team that can steer them in the right direction and support them.

“Even if we present someone to the Student Advocate team for example, we would still stay in the background. Are they performing and doing the job that you expect them to do? Are they helping you the way that you wanted them to? If there are any glaring holes that are revealed, then we can take that to the Academic Senate, the Student Council or the department and say that this is not good enough. We need to make change but students don’t know that.

“I think when you feel empowered, you also feel happier in general, so a student’s whole experience is like, well, if I do have a problem, I know I have these people to back me up. In that having that confidence and knowing that they have a strong voice to support them, should hopefully improve their student experience.

“I’ve helped a lot of students in the background appeal decisions that have been made by the university privately and that’s always made me feel very satisfied. But I would like people to know that we can do that. There is a specialist department within the university but some students don’t feel comfortable talking to staff and I’ve helped a couple of people in the background appeal quite serious decisions, including exclusions, so it’s rewarding.”

How to get in touch with the Student Senate

If you want to get in direct contact with the Charles Sturt University Student Senate, the best way is to send them an email: studentsenate@csu.edu.au