Our Q&A with the five Vice-Presidential candidates for 2016/17 !
If you were elected Vice-President in 2016/17, what are two key policies that you would seek to implement during your term?
My two key policies focus on fostering community amongst law students, and promoting career options.
We are lucky to have a building of our own, a social ‘hub’ for law students is lacking and I worry that recent renovations have drastically underestimated the value of such spaces. Sometimes the most valuable insights gained in law school can be gleaned through casual conversations with others, and we ought to foster these experiences within the law school community. I would advocate for a common space for JD law students – to study, to recreate, and to create an enhanced feeling of belonging. Options such as making level 5 a space designated for law students ought to be explored.
Promoting Career Options
For many students, seeking commercial clerkships is an inevitability. The LSS should be better able to actively promote alternate pathways for careers in commercial law, other areas of the legal market that are too often under-explored at MLS, along with broader employment opportunities outside the legal market. Evaluating corporate sponsorship of the LSS events and looking holistically at the interests of all students will help the LSS to provide a more cohesive community while enhancing employment outcomes for all students.
As the primary role of the two VPs is to oversee the internal LSS portfolios, my overarching aim is to assist the directors of the portfolios in effectively managing their workload, whilst encouraging them to be creative in introducing new ideas and initiatives.
However, my general policies in regards to what I hope to be achieve stem from my desire for all MLS students to feel more at ease and confident in the law school. I believe that this can be achieved by allowing students to pursue their interests beyond partying and clerking (both of which the LSS already nails). I hope to do this through two pragmatic policies:
ANDREW (GOOFS) WILLIAMS
My primary focus will be on improving the Society’s focus on equality and increasing our exposure to non-commercial graduate pathways.
As well as continuing my work liaising with faculty in relation to gender-neutral bathrooms, the installation of sanitary product dispensers and appropriate health facilities (such as more syringe disposal units), I hope to expand the role of the Book Fairy program. Financial issues don’t just limit our capacity to purchase textbooks, but can isolate us from our peers as well. I aim to expand the program to include discounted rates for event tickets for those who qualify for the Book Fairy subsidy.
While the LSS may rely on sponsorship to provide services, it shouldn’t be the only graduate pathway we promote. I believe it is the responsibility of the LSS to accurately reflect all available pathways, and hope to implement graduate surveys to canvas statistics about common trends. While training providers in the public sector may not be able to afford to advertise here, we need to ensure that we work to raise their profile in line with the commercial providers to ensure students have accurate information. This will also hopefully work to ease the competitiveness and stress that surrounds the clerkship application period as well.
Hi there! As you may have already noticed from my online profile (http://mulss.com/images/uploads/Matt_Caldows_Open_Letter_to_JDers.pdf), I have many ideas for how I would like to make the LSS more responsive and inclusive. I am particularly excited to introduce a Semesterly LSS Survey and to bring Fortnightly Lunches to 185 Pelham Street.
1. SEMESTERLY LSS REVIEW SURVEY
Ensuring your voice is heard will be my key goal as Vice President. Whether you are an event regular or someone who prefers to be less involved, I am running for you.
Semesterly LSS Review Surveys will allow ALL students to have their say on how the LSS is organised. You will have an opportunity to comment on what you enjoyed, what you hated and what needs to be done! Responses will be distributed to LSS members and published to the entire cohort. Feedback will then be provided on how the LSS will respond.
This will not be a one-off survey that merely purports to increase engagement. I am seeking long-term, meaningful change in how the LSS addresses your needs. A regular survey will make the LSS accountable to the student body and also document progress over the longer term.
2. FORTNIGHTLY LUNCHES
While MLS can be a stressful place at times, I believe we can alleviate this by promoting a more inclusive and supportive environment.
Fortnightly lunches will provide a regular opportunity for us to share a meal and good vibes. I propose that we use these lunches as an opportunity for LSS portfolios to take turns displaying what they are up to and how their team is servicing the student body.
Not really interested in hearing about what the LSS is doing? That’s fine too! Grab yourself a snag/ (vegie)burger / pizza and just enjoy the atmosphere.
The role of Vice-President requires consistent oversight and management of three MULSS Portfolios and their Directors. In particular, the Vice-Presidents must oversee the Portfolio Directors in a manner that is involved without being overbearing. What key experience, training or qualifications do you have that make you an ideal candidate?
I’m the only candidate running for this position coming from within the equality portfolios. I know how they operate, and where they are weakest and require improvement. I’ve been heavily engaged with the majority of the portfolios, and feel prepared to offer guidance and support to incoming directors.
I’ve held a number of relevant positions before. From other student societies (International House), to founding and running charitable initiatives (Travelling Shanty Town and Project Fraternitas), to leadership positions on camps (Camp Hazen YMCA), training and mentoring positions on organic farming initiatives (Finca La Flor De Paraiso), to leadership roles in the workplace (United Backpackers, Melbourne Metro YHA) – I’m going to stop there. This is making me feel old.
ANDREW (GOOFS) WILLIAMS
It is for this exact purpose that I see myself as having one of the stronger applications. Over 2015/16 my Co-Director and I managed a Competitions portfolio comprising of 17 co-opted student officers. In groups of two or three they each ran a different competition that the LSS provides. The management style required to effectively run such a team is exactly that described above. We had to allow our officers the freedom to run the competitions themselves yet also be there to handle any issues that arose and provide sound advice when required. We helped set the direction then let the officers do their thing.
I went for that role last year as I already believed I had developed those sort of leadership and management skills through previous work and sport roles as well as through formal education on project management. While that experience was useful then, it pales in comparison to how equipped I am now for the VP role after my Competitions one.
I am well versed in modern project management techniques after taking several subjects in my previous Master’s Degree. They were taught through the Melbourne Business School and I have used those techniques to great success in my student committee roles so far. This past year I was also on the Founding Committee for the Science and Technology Law Association (SATLA). Starting a new student representative organisation gave me key insights into the sort of leadership required for a successful association. I can’t stress enough that I am only running for this position because I see it as the role most suited to my skill-set and the one in which I can contribute to the most in terms of making every students MLS experience better and more enjoyable.
I have been interested in the Vice President role for some time due to the oversight involved and the capacity to introduce real change. I have developed skills to fulfil this position during my time as LSS Communications Director.
As Communications Director, I have had unparalleled experience liaising with every single Portfolio. Unlike other Portfolios that are siloed in their own matters, my role was fundamentally about acting as a central node between LSS Portfolios. This was most apparent through the spruiking of various events on Facebook. I have developed an intimate understanding of each portfolio’s key activities and events.
Yet beyond this, my role included streamlining internal LSS communications. Bella (my wonderful Communications partner) and I, introduced Guidelines to help other Portfolio Directors manage their communication.
Our IT legend, Rosie, was also critical in ensuring an LSS wide approach to IT was facilitated. Moreover, our Marketing and Publications dynamo, Anna and Tam, were frequently outsourced to assist other Portfolios – whether it involved the Careers Guide or the Orientation Guidebook.
At the very heart of managing the Communications Portfolio was therefore a broader role in understanding how the various parts of the LSS come together.
A massive part of the success of the Communications team has been due to our seven co-opts. Each has skills that far surpass my own – whether it is in design, IT, photography or publications. Managing these talented individuals has given me significant experience in finding a balance between providing guidance and giving them necessary freedom. I look forward to utilising these skills as your LSS Vice President.
Moreover, I am excited by the opportunity to demonstrate the leadership skills I have developed in various roles including MLS Student Ambassador, LSS First Year Representative and Anzac Centenary Ambassador for the Victorian Government.
I have had a lot of experience with both leadership and team work on my 24 years on this planet. Firstly, I come from a massive family (I’m talking 15+ cousins), and a house with every revolving doors of guests. So growing up I was well aware that (in the words of my mum) ‘communication is key!’ to ensuring everyone feels welcomed and in the loop.
Professionally, I was a team leader at my previous workplace, a position I held for three of the six years I worked there. This role that required me to ensure that our admin team felt valued and supported in the office, whilst liaising with management and the CEO to communicate any concerns we had. The past year I have had the pleasure of being one half of the Activities Directorship on the LSS. This was a massive role, and we luckily had a team of 7 amazing coopts working with us to achieve the large scale events we put on (hey, Law Ball). It was a steep learning curve, but I definitely have learnt that providing team members initiative and trust is the best way to get a job done. We’ve managed to do this by evenly splitting work loads, open communication (TG for Facebook), and most importantly regular face-to-face meetings, as this is definitely the best way to get stuff done. Having had this position, I appreciate how important it is to have a VP who is engaged and interested in your portfolio, so you feel comfortable coming to them with questions, but at the same time a VP who just knows how you work, so you can do your thang without constant monitoring.
I have held a number of leadership roles throughout my university career. I have held leadership roles at Ormond College and at the Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra. I would utilise my experience to bring the best out of people, ensuring portfolios are managed in such a way as to deliver the best outcomes to all law students. I will be a strong independent voice to ensure the LSS is accountable and responsive to the needs of students.
The role of Vice-President requires consistent attendance at a variety of MULSS events and initiatives. In particular, it requires consistent support of the three Portfolios for which you are responsible. This involves a significant time-commitment (for, eg, attendance at events 2–3 nights per week). How would you manage this time-commitment during your term? In particular, during periods of assessment?
To every person out there who has ever had to host and run an event, I am with you in all that worry that comes in the week leading up to that event, which is why for the past year you have seen me lurking around Level 1 classrooms until 9pm most week nights. I 100% know how it feels when you’re running an event, thinking of all the last minute work that needs to be done, and most of all stressing that no one will turn up (special shout out to the people that came to Garden Party when it was pouring rain).
I have endeavoured (and will continue to endeavour) to attend every event I can to appease the host by having one more person in a seat, or one more person to banter with a professional guest. I manage to do this, on top of part time work and study, by structuring my days (colour coding is key), and ensuring I get a solid day at home every now and then to recharge. Also, it helps that all of the events that the LSS run are incredibly interesting, and we are so privileged to be able to have guest panelists and speakers come in to share their stories with us – we had Gillian Triggs and Julian Burnside in, that’s amazing! And if all else fails, planning to get dinner and drinks with friends after these events is a great incentive to hang around MLS when you so want to go home and crash.
I am very confident that I will be able to manage the responsibility associated with being Vice President by using the approach that has served me well so far in law school. I am a big believer in lists and organisation.
My approach to dealing with busy times during assessment is by identifying due dates early on and ensuring that I set aside time in advance. By planning ahead, I am confident that I will be able to commit to the time required to be your Vice President.
Moreover, my experience so far in attending LSS events is that it is a great break from the demands of work and study. I do not see attending events 2-3 nights per week as a requirement, but rather an opportunity to take part in something different. I am already actively involved in LSS events and look forward to the opportunity to gain further exposure.
ANDREW (GOOFS) WILLIAMS
If there is anything to take away from my previous two years involved in the LSS it is that I do put the LSS first. In second year, as an Activities co-opt, that committee gave me an award for putting my blood, sweat and tears into the LSS. Everyone received a tailor made award so it wasn’t something overly special but it is indicative of where my priorities lie and the lengths I went to in support of the different LSS initiatives. That passion to support my fellow students through these representative roles has not wavered.
This year I backed all that up by taking on the even more time intense role in Competitions. With so many co-opts and all the external competitions and info sessions to organise there was almost always something going on. Periods of assessment don’t get moved because of Comps emergencies and so I just found a way to make it all work. On top of this I also consistently volunteered my time to umpire the LSS mixed netball comp each Wednesday night as well as fit in my part time work (needed to survive financially) and my sporting commitments (needed to survive mentally). So between Competitions, SATLA, LSS netball, Work and Sport I constantly had distractions from study yet I still gave them all the time and commitment they demanded.
In terms of the VP role there is a lot of face time required at various events, this is quite similar to the role I had in Activities and from that experience I know that I would need to ensure my nights are flexible. Thankfully my workplace and my sporting commitments are quite suitable for this and can be easily moved or skipped as a particular week requires.
Please contact me with any further questions.
I will do this by planning my time well.
This year I learned pretty quickly the terror that sets in about 30 minutes before an event you’re running. You suddenly become convinced that absolutely no one is going to attend. In response to that fear I very quickly committed to attending absolutely every equality portfolio event that was on, and as many careers, competitions grand finals and other events as I could manage! I’ve earned a solid reputation for it! It also means I have a good sense of which events aren’t attracting enough attention and need to be reconsidered.
This year I’ve also worked to increase engagement with other universities (guys Monash just introduced its first Queer Rep!), so am committed to engaging with their events more as well.
In all seriousness, I pride myself on time management. I currently juggle my responsibilities to the LSS with three volunteer roles and a guide dog puppy at home. Not only am I sure I’ll be able to manage the work-load and event attendance expectations, but hopefully I’ll be able to bring an adorable Labrador puppy with me too.
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