Making change through collaboration: How the Inter-University Network has empowered me to serve the student population
Putting our beliefs and words into concrete actions with the newly formed Inter-University Network.
Often, universities are compared against one another based on their worldwide rankings or vibrancy of campus life. As such, many may presume that this competition between universities will affect the relationship between the various student leaders.
As the newly elected president of Singapore University of Technology and Design’s (SUTD) 10th Student Government (ROOT), I beg to differ.
Despite our differences, student governments and unions are created to serve a common goal: to provide an enjoyable university life through fostering a holistic school culture and facilitating effective communication between the various stakeholders.
Launch of Inter-University Network (IUN)
With the network built by seniors before us, I was able to connect with like-minded student government and union presidents from the other autonomous universities.
Together with Sara from Singapore Management University Students’ Association (SMUSA), Denyse from Yale-NUS Student Government, Yat Bun from National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU), Dhanraj from Nanyang Technological University Students’ Union (NTUSU), we launched the Inter-University Network (IUN) on Feb 26 during the annual Inter-University Dialogue session (IUD).
With this newly minted IUN platform, we strive to create opportunities for youths to be heard, be empowered and be the change. Representing the interest of our respective student bodies, we wish to foster knowledge sharing and collaboration, while advocating for issues impacting youth nationwide.
During our discussions, we identified common issues faced across universities that are pertinent to youths like my peers and myself. After identifying the issues, we then come up with solutions and initiatives.
A pioneering project of the IUN is UCare, which advocates for mental well-being. UCare aims to gather the current mental health experiences of university students through various means, such as surveys, collaborations, and conversations with key stakeholders.
The end goal of UCare is to raise awareness about mental health among universities and to provide some ground-up recommendations for policies to build a better mental health support system in universities for students.
Aside from that, we will be looking to support the vulnerable students, discuss employability and address the pressing issue of sustainability.
With this network and platform to facilitate collaboration, we are able to suggest more constructive solutions and hopefully garner more support from the ministries and government agencies.
It may be a long journey to see our collective efforts reap its rewards, but this is definitely a meaningful initiative, one that I am certainly glad to be embarking on, as it empowers the youths of Singapore.
Inter-University Dialogue sharing
Apart from the launch of IUN, another highlight of this year’s IUD is the sharing session by the fellow presidents of various student governments and unions. Through this, I was able to understand how the different student organisations work and gain insight on their policies and initiatives.
Their experience as student leaders gave me great inspiration on my step forward as the president of the 10th ROOT and drew a clearer vision ahead for my team and myself.
Personally, it was a great honour to be able to share what ROOT has achieved in the past year. The acknowledgement given by the other universities also served as a testament of the efforts put in.
Organising this year’s Inter-University Dialogue
This year, SUTD ROOT is also the organiser of IUD 2022. COVID-19 has halted large scale physical events for a long period of time and we were thrilled to bring close to 200 people from various universities and organisations to this event while abiding the safe management measures.
The planning team started ideating ways to organise the IUD physically from September 2021. We wanted an environment to facilitate fruitful discussions so that participants can take away newfound knowledge.
My teammates Royden, Oakar and Kailin led the logistics, programme and merchandise team respectively. Despite the worrying COVID-19 situation, they were adaptable and resilient. This brand new experience for my team could not be achieved without the support of the National Youth Council (NYC) and the SUTD Offices, especially the Office of Student Life.
Throughout the process, I witnessed their strong capability as a team, through helping one another when in need and bringing fresh perspectives to the table.
An excellent example would be the acrylic phone stand proposed by Riccia and the 3D-printed trophy as a Token of Appreciation for the guests.
As an institution that takes pride with our curriculum that heavily emphasises hands-on experiential learning, we were taught to use the laser engraving machine and 3D printers in our first year.
Applying the useful techniques we learnt, we were able to design products that have practical applications.
From this experience, I recognised that empowerment comes with great responsibility, especially when we are representing over 65000 students.
As a university student myself, I deeply relate to the struggles any 20-year-old university student would face.
I hope to be able to address these struggles in my term. Though it’s been only less than a month since my team has stepped up, the IUD and IUN give great assurance that my presidency journey ahead will be a meaningful one.
In the upcoming year, I wish that the IUN will be able to deliver significant initiatives to benefit the universities. I’m also confident that the new team of 10th ROOT will be able to fulfil our promises and achieve significantly for the wellbeing of the SUTD community.
This piece is written by the president of SUTD’s Student Government Sarah Chua.