QUT Council Undergrad Candidates: Sean O’Brien

What are the QUT Council Elections? Read about the other candidates here.

Sean’s official candidate statement

“Hi! My name is Sean, and I am a second-year Economics and Film student. I am active in the QUT College of Excellence, having been a student leader, helping foster a community that appreciates and uplifts others. I also work at HiQ as a Concierge, serving the QUT community by providing students with the knowledge they need to better engage with QUT. I believe I would be a valuable member of the Council by taking on the ideas of my colleagues and working with the Council to have our voices heard.”

What do you think sets you apart from other candidates?

What sets me apart from the other candidates is that I am committed to having a holistic perspective of the undergraduate student body while holding the position. As the job as undergraduate representative is to provide an undergrad perspective to Council discussion points, I will make an active effort to hear all sides of the story as to not alienate anyone. This would involve active discussions with the other candidates about their key aims and how I would be able to have their concerns heard, as well as with other students about what they care about and their experiences with the university. My core belief is that the person holding the position should be someone that students can trust to listen to their perspective and incorporate that perspective into their contributions to Council, and I will do all in my power to embody that if I am fortunate enough to win the vote.

What do you think QUT Council does and what is your understanding of its power?

The QUT Council is the governing body of the university. As per the legislation that brought it into existence, it has the ability to do anything necessary or convenient to ensure the effective continued governance and operation of the university, including but not limited to appointing university staff, managing and controlling QUT affairs and property, and managing and controlling QUT finances. These powers are all underpinned by the primary goal of Council to act in the best interest of the university in all decisions they make. In doing so, it can and does delegate this power to perform key actions to either members of Council, university committees that include a Council member, or adequately qualified QUT staff members.

Council has many different activities of the university come to its attention to ensure that its delegated duties are being carried out adequately. The discussion and approval of these activities are where immense value can be added by representatives through incorporating different perspectives into the talking points, ensuring that the group they represent is considered in the governance and operations of QUT.

You’re campaigning on a promise that you will “be a valuable member of the Council by taking on the ideas of [your] colleagues and working with the Council to have [student] voices heard”. What does this mean in practical terms?

Why is this important to you? Why are you the person to get these things done? Why is this something students need?

Across my life, treating inputs equitably from different groups has always been important to me, whether it be in leadership, work, or personal contexts. When the position was advertised, I recognised it as an opportunity for me to bring this philosophy to the role, as QUT’s body of undergrads is extremely diverse. By the very nature of this diversity, having a representative that is willing to consider a wide range of perspectives and raise these perspectives across the many activities that the Council reviews is extremely important, as the diversity of the cohort brings with it entirely different wants and needs, with one-size-fits-all solutions never being able to fully cater to them all. Thus, by committing to take on the ideas of my peers, I am promising to my fellow undergrad students that I will hear their voice, and do my best to accurately reflect that voice to Council when the time is right.

I don’t believe that I hold any intrinsic quality which gives me any more of a right to provide this approach to the position than anyone else, however, I recognise it as something that I am able to provide, and I am not going to wait for someone with the same disposition to fill this need when I know I can do so, and recognise it as something of great importance. In practical terms, it is very similar to what I mentioned in my first answer, in that I am committed to talking to any and all who feel as though they are not being heard, and doing all in my power to have their wants and needs incorporated into Council discussion when I have the opportunity to provide input. While I can never promise that I will achieve any particular outcome, as often it would hardly be the undergraduate representative’s final call as to whether something does or doesn’t go ahead, I can promise to do my best to have all students considered when I represent the cohort, rather than just a few select groups.

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