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By Maggie Leung, Grok Magazine.
Clare Metcalf will be the 2021 Accessibility Department Officer. Her pronouns are she/her and she is studying Commerce with a major in event management.
Clare is also an avid writer excited about learning sign language. Here, she discusses her passion in bringing the best student experience for students around campus.
Where is your favourite to be on campus?
My favourite place to be on campus is the Guild Building in 106, I have found that the equity spaces are great for studying or hanging out with other students! Unless I am getting something to eat, then I will be heading to Bookmark or Angazi.
What are your plans after graduation?
My major is event management, so I want to work in planning and managing events, maybe as a function manager for a venue like a hotel or bar! I am also really interested in Australian Politics and have often thought about going into the Australian Electoral Commission to have a hand in organising and managing elections—these are two different paths though!
How and why did you get involved in the Guild?
It is the elections for me! I am drawn towards democratic system, but I was also keen to become a representative because I was part of a cool network in the Guild's Queer Department and I wanted to represent Queer issues on the representation board!
Through that role, I got to know the 2020 Accessibility Officer, Dylan Botica, who was doing amazing things to build up a department that had been rudderless for a while, and I had a vision of the Accessibility Department having a thriving community like the one in the Queer Department, so I jumped at the opportunity to run for Accessibility Officer in 2021!
How do think you can make a difference this year, and what are you hoping to achieve?
I am ready to continue Dylan's work around promoting Curtin Access Plans (CAPS), what they can do for students and how to get one, as well as advocating against changes the University proposes that will further disadvantage students with disabilities. I am also preparing a campaign to raise awareness for a range of different disabilities that I will be disseminating via @curtinguild.accessibility on Instagram!
But the thing I am most looking forward to is community building. I have got some regular Meet and Greets planned as well as collabs with the other Equity Departments, I cannot wait to meet students and build a little network!
What is the most important issue for students today?
Students are currently facing attacks on all sides. They are also putting limits on HECS/HELP loans, which is difficult for any student but will particularly target students with disabilities such as neurodivergence, who already take longer on average to finish degrees and have enough problems with a university education not being accessible.
At Curtin, we are also seeing the University shamelessly sit on "rainy day" money while putting in place cost-cutting measures to recover from lost revenue during the pandemic, as if the pandemic were not a textbook example of a time to dip into those funds. This is largely in the form of staff cuts leading to course cuts and schools merging, as well as being incredibly demoralising for the university employees that provide us with our education.
How do you see universities adapting to student's needs in the future?
I believe that if a student needs accommodation for them to be able to access their education, that education is not accessible at all. Why should you need a CAP to have closed captioning on recorded lectures? Is the University afraid someone they deem undeserving of accommodation will receive one?
One of the more common adjustments on a CAP is an assessment extension, why is this considered a special requirement? It undermines the dignity of the student to have them jump through hoops to prove to the University that they are struggling, or ill, or have fallen victim to misadventure as if they did not only choose to come to the Institution to work for the degree but are paying thousands of dollars to get it.
What is your advice for making the most out of the university experience, especially for first years?
If you are a First Year, O-Day is wonderful! Join as many clubs as you can, you can use your Guild Vouchers and there are free clubs! You can also meet your Guild Reps on O-Day, join your faculty Facebook group, and get oriented with any of the equity departments you are a part of.
If you could make any changes in the university, what would it be and why?
My number one change would be to bring back in person lectures. Curtin is currently looking at either keeping live online lectures or switching them out for videos as part of a new blended learning model, rather than returning to in-person.
This is terrible for anyone who signed up to learn internally and has now found their degree mostly online, but it is completely inaccessible for students who cannot concentrate or engage with online learning content, such as students with ADHD or dissociative disorders.
A tiny person talking on a screen is completely different to a person talking to you from the front of the room and they should not be treated as an equivalence, and students with disabilities should not be pushed out of their education like this.
If you were the Prime Minister of Australia for a day, what would you do?
That is a tricky question because I do not know a lot about the powers of the Prime Minister, I would have to do a lot of research to prepare for such a day…the only thing that is jumping to mind is I might get the Governor General dismissed just for the drama of it! Something fun for Politics Students to study in the future.
This article is part of a Curtin Student Guild interview series conducted by Grok Magazine.
Email Clare on firstname.lastname@example.org