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By Eliza McPhail, Grok Magazine.
Dax Jagoe will be the Guild’s Queer Officer for 2021, and their pronouns are They/Them. They are a self-described geek, into science fiction, fantasy, and video games.
Dax’s favourite film is Mad Max: Fury Road, and they are currently playing Magic: The Gathering, Keyforge, and other tabletop games like Dungeons and Dragons.
While they are getting more involved with clubs this year, Dax describes the Queer Department as their home on campus.
Where is your favourite place to be on campus?
It might be cliché, but honestly the Queer Department is probably my favourite place to be on campus. It is just a really comfy, quiet space to hang out and chat with other LGBTQIA+ students, and it is close to a lot of food outlets, as well as most of my classes.
We have got a TV set up in there as well, so people can watch things or play games on a large screen!
What are your plans after university?
I am hoping to get into LGBTQIA+ advocacy and support, especially community engagement and development. My experiences with the QD have shown me that I have skills in building communities and getting people engaged in their community, and I would like to continue to use those skills to improve the lives of LGBTQIA+ people everywhere.
I would also be really interested in helping groups and organisations rewrite their policies to be more inclusive and avoid perpetuating harm against the queer community.
How can the Guild help to make university life better?
The Guild is the best service available to students to help them navigate the stressors and problems of daily university life. The team at Student Assist can help all students with all sorts of problems, from appealing grades to dealing with Centrelink, to assisting with financial issues.
The rest of the Guild is full of advocates and activists, willing and ready to fight for the rights of students across campus and Australia, to make sure no-one gets left behind.
The Guild is your voice at the table when the university tries to change your courses and fees, and we fight tooth and nail to prevent policies that will hurt our students from being enacted.
How and why did you get involved in the Guild?
I got involved with the Guild last year after having attended Queer Department events since 2016. I had been using the Guild’s services for that entire time, and I just figured it was my time to step up to the plate and help!
The process of getting involved was easy—I just spoke to then-Queer Officer, Bridge, and he helped me get involved. Meeting everybody who works at the Guild has been amazing—everybody is so kind and friendly, and everybody wants to help. It is an amazing environment to be working in, and I cannot wait to work together with them.
I highly encourage anybody interested in getting involved with the Guild to reach out and say hi—there is always work to do, and we love meeting interested and active students who want to help.
How do you think you can make a difference this year, and what are you hoping to achieve?
I will be continuing the amazing work of my predecessors by providing advice and advocacy for any queer-related issues on campus—especially all-gender bathrooms, preferred names on rollcalls, and providing a voice for all queer students at Curtin. In addition, I will be looking into ways that we can support LGBTQIA+ students who are not on campus, as many are still being forced to attend online classes only.
I am hoping that I can continue to put on wonderful events for LGBTQIA+ students, and I would love to invite LGBTQIA+ students and allies to come and say hi!
What is the most important issue for students today?
Between the federal government cutting funding for dozens of courses and the University administration cutting funding to hundreds of staff positions, students are currently navigating an extremely unsure future. There is also an effort to keep students attending classes online, without providing the support and assistance that is necessary to do so.
Another issue is the push to reduce the amount of content students get in their courses, while continuing to charge students the same amount for their studies. We are currently feeling besieged and considering the amount of stress that has been placed on students having to continue their studies through the COVID-19 situation, it is a rough time to be a student.
It is hard to pin down exactly one most important issue, when the rights of students to an affordable, practical, and useful education is under attack from so many angles. There has never been a more important time for students to band together and resist the unfair changes that are being made to our quality of education.
How do you see universities adapting to students’ needs in the future?
The COVID-19 crisis has really put the spotlight on how little the university is helping their online, off-campus students. With more students accessing online education than ever before, it is essential that the university sector adapts their practices to properly support those who attend classes online.
Students with accessibility or time issues have been struggling with these online programs and classes for years now, and it has been easy for the university to sweep that under the rug since they make up a relatively small percentage of students.
Now that more and more students are being put onto online education to keep class sizes small, the universities need to take responsibility for the lower quality of education they have been providing to these people and take real steps to improve the experience for online students.
What is your advice for making the most out of the university experience—especially for first years?
Get involved in campus culture! You have no idea how cool some of the clubs and activities we run are. Go for a wander during O-Day and say hi to any of the clubs and societies that catch your eye.
Talk to the Guild! We run Student Assist, providing all sorts of advice and support, from helping with fees, enrolment, and general study problems, all the way through to assistance with housing, food, and budgeting. They are genuinely geniuses and have helped me on many occasions.
The Guild Equity Departments are also an extremely good resource to get engaged with if you are a person who experiences marginalisation in our society.
Get some rest! Seriously, get some rest. Enjoy your holiday periods and take advantage of every second of sleep available to you—you will need it! Just do not nap in classes, or you might end up on a Facebook page or two!
If you could make any changes in the university, what would they be and why?
Cut the Vice-Chancellor’s pay by 50% or more and use the money to hire more teaching staff and increase the pay of all staff across campus so they are being adequately compensated for the extremely difficult job they are being asked to do.
In addition, I would love to see the counselling services provided at Curtin be drastically expanded and improved, so students do not have to wait as long to access services for issues that are time-sensitive and require urgent assistance.
If you were the Prime Minister of Australia for a day, what would you do?
Return sovereignty to our First Nations peoples and pay reparations for 200+ years of violent occupation, change the date of Australia Day to May 8 (maaaate), institute a universal basic income for all people, make education completely free, abolish the military, increase legal protections and support for marginalised people in our society… the list goes on.
This article is part of a Curtin Student Guild interview series conducted by Grok Magazine.
Email Dax on firstname.lastname@example.org