RMIT University Student Union
|Full name||RMIT University Student Union|
|Members||4, 342 financial members as of March 2015 |
|Key people||Himasha Fonseka (President), Ariel Zohar (General Secretary) |
|Office location||Building 8, Level 3, RMIT University, 330 Swanston Street Melbourne|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (May 2014)|
Established in 1944, the RMIT University Student Union or RUSU, is the peak representative body for all students enrolled at RMIT University. The Student Union is independent of the university and operates under the direction of annually elected student representatives. According to the constitution, all students are automatic members of the Student Union but may choose to become a financial member.
The Student Union offers a range of services, including clubs and societies, publishing the RMIT student magazine Catalyst, student rights advocacy and support, Womens, Queer and Postgraduate student lounges, campus activities and events and has offices at all Melbourne campuses and sites of RMIT University. It is a separate organisation to RMIT Union (now RMIT Link), which provides support to Arts and Sports clubs. RUSU is an affiliated body to the National Union of Students and the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations.
John Storey Junior helped found the Student Representative Council in 1944, acted as its first President, and lobbied for the establishment of a central library. His studies were cut short when he was diagnosed with leukaemia and died in 1947, aged just 22. His recogonition of service to the RMIT community lives on with one RMIT’s most striking buildings – Storey Hall – in tribute to John Storey Junior and his father Sir John. Over the years since its founding, the student union has continued to grow and expand into more areas to become an integral part of the student experience on campus.
In 2006, with the introduction of voluntary student unionism (VSU) legislation, the Student Union underwent a major re-organization. Most of the staff were made redundant, the organization’s three separate campus councils were merged, and several services such as the second-hand bookshop were abandoned. While the organization suffered a drastic funding cut (from $3.9 million AUD to $1.3 million AUD) as a result of VSU, it managed to survive the cutbacks and continue providing services, advocacy and representation to students.
Aims and objectives
The Aims and Objectives of the Student Union are described in section 2.1 of the RUSU constitution. They are as follows:
- To represent and safeguard members of the Student Union in matters affecting their interests and rights.
- To advance the education, welfare, social life and cultural activities of members.
- To promote, encourage and co-ordinate the various activities of the Student Union and affiliated bodies.
- To afford a recognised means of communication between the members of the Student Union, the RMIT Administration and other authorities and organisations.
- To ensure that the Student Union’s practices, policies and procedure reflect the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action.
- To endeavour to achieve changes to the University’s structure, policies and procedures so that all of these encompass the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action.
- To establish and maintain contact with other organisations having aims similar in whole or in part to these aims and to co-operate with such organisations in pursuing these aims.
- To facilitate the effective co-ordination of student representation on all University bodies, including student representation on portfolio/College/School Board and Student Staff Consultative Committees.
- To do such other things as are conducive or incidental to the attainment of the above objects.
As of 2006, the Student Union Council has 25 voting members, who are elected by RMIT students at annual elections. Each Melbourne campus of RMIT (Brunswick, Bundoora and City) has a campus coordinator and a general campus representative as part of the 25 voting member structure.
Councillors are typically elected in September and hold November to October terms. Ex-officio (non-voting) members may be appointed to the Student Union Council at it's discretion. All members of the Student Union Council must be financial members of the Student Union.
The Student Union Council meets regularly, and it is also responsible for electing the president and communication officer, as outlined in the Student Union Constitution. A smaller group of student office bearers, known as the Secretariat, meets more regularly to discuss day-to-day operational, staffing, and other urgent matters.
The Student Union in addition to having student representatives as board directors of the organisation, employ professional staff to help deliver key programs and services and assist in governance. All staff members are supervised by an elected student representative as determined by the Secretariat.
Constitution, regulations and policies
The powers of the Student Union Council and Secretariat are limited by the Student Union’s Constitution and Regulations.
The Constitution, last amended in May 2015, sets out the organisation’s aims and objectives, the powers and rights of council members, the rights of members, and defines the organisation’s departments. The constitution can only be modified with the agreement of a majority of RMIT students at an annual general meeting.
The Regulations, last amended in October 2014 are rules which the Student Union Council uses to govern matters such as conduct at meetings, or the operation of certain departments, and can be altered by a vote at a Student Union Council meeting.
From time-to-time the Student Union Council and Secretariat may approve operational policies for internal governance purposes which can be altered or rescinded by any such future Student Union Council or Secretariat meeting.
As per the constitution, the Student Union currently has the following departments. Each of these departments may have a supporting collective or committee of students who work alongside the office bearer to achieve organisational goals:
- Education (including Student Rights help)
- Welfare (including Compass Drop-In Centre)
- Clubs and Societies
- Media & Communication (including RMITV and Catalyst)
- Sustainability (including Realfoods Organic Cafe)
- Vocational Education (TAFE, Associate degree and VCE students)
In addition the Student Union runs one of the most successful volunteer programs at the university, including offering various opportunities with the departments listed above. The Student Union's volunteer program is LEAD accredited which means students who complete the volunteer program will have their academic transcript signed off by the Vice Chancellor as having completed a university-recognised training program which assists students in being more job-ready.
The RMIT Student Union funds the student-run magazine Catalyst & student television on-campus production studios RMITV. It continues to have strong ties with SYN radio station located within RMIT, however there is no formal or funding relationship between the separate organisations.
Catalyst Magazine was first published in 1944, the same year the Student Union was established. It continues today as the only official student magazine and news source through its website.
- "RUSU First Quarter Report 2015" (PDF). RMIT University Student Union. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
- "List of elected RUSU representatives". Retrieved 10 November 2014.
- "RUSU Constitution August 2012" (PDF). RMIT University Student Union. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "John Storey Donor Information". RMIT University. Retrieved 22 May 2015.
- "RUSU Regulations October 2014" (PDF). Retrieved 22 May 2015.