PULP INTERVIEWS: Tina Lee
By Pulp Editors
We interviewed 8 of the 9 candidates in the running for USU board, asking them the same 7 questions about their thoughts on the USU and their reasons for running. We also asked a number of spicy political questions, as well as some relating to their policies. The full, un-edited transcript of each interview will be published over the next week in order of the ballot, so you’ll never be without juicy election content. Here’s Tina.
PM: Please state your name, degree, political faction (if any) and the year you’re in.
TL: My name is Christina Lee- but I prefer being called Tina, and apparently that’s what everyone knows me as. My degree is a Bachelor of Medical Sciences and a Diploma of Language Studies Japanese. I’m independent faction- so I don’t align with any particular faction and I’m here from 2017 to 2020, next year.
PM: Why do you want to run for board?
TL: I’ve benefited a lot by being in the USU program, being in clubs and societies: I’ve been an executive member of so many societies and that’s helped me develop my character, and I’ve made a lot of friends through volunteering and through the societies, so I just wanted to give back to that.
PM: Why do you think you’ll be a good board director?
TL: I have a lot of experience as multiple executive roles in multiple societies, so I hope that at least has put me in a better position because I have that C&S knowledge regarding regulations for societies.
PM: What are your three most important policies?
TL: Mine’s very simple, in a way: I would definitely want to introduce exam care packs to students. I’ve actually been to another university and I’ve realised that having some support during exam times, besides therapaws and all those services, is also showing a little more care towards students, especially in such a stressful time period. I also would really like to update the Orion Portal, as an executive I think having a renewed system, especially for new executives who often find it difficult to use that system, I think revamping it a bit would be quite a good thing. Also changing a bit of the funding model- so it sort of suits the clubs and societies, particularly those who don’t have membership fees. It would help those societies a lot.
PM: If you had to cut $1 million from the USU budget, where would you cut it from?
TL: Besides spending on students-that should remain, but anywhere else where money doesn’t need to be used as much can be taken. For example, the Board: you know how the Board Directors get paid- I would honestly do it for free, because I think from that it’s really about giving a better experience to students, rather than for the payments.
PM: One of the most politically controversial decisions that the Board has made in the last decade was voting to allow the Pro-Life student organisation Life-Choice to register as a society in 2012, overturning a previous ruling of rejection by the C&S committee. Faced with a similar dilemma during your potential term as board director, how would you vote and why?
TL: I haven’t been in that situation before so I’m not too sure what I would do, but I think I would see why they wanted to apply as a society here, and discuss with the other board directors what are the benefits that come from it, and what would potentially happen because I’m sure with those ethical issues there’s always going to be some conflict on campus and so basically I feel that student welfare in those areas is most important, and protecting the students is first.
PM: There have been persistent pushes from student groups to have Life-Choice disaffiliated in the years since their registration. Would you support a move to disaffiliate them? Why/ Why not?
TL: Oh that’s a very spicy question! I mean if its agreed by all the board directors, then that might happen, but personally for me I wouldn’t dis-afilliate a club purely because one small portion of the USU wants to dis-afilliate them. I think that’s a big discussion that needs to be held.
PM: In 2017 the Board voted against shutting down the USU’s commercial operations in solidarity with the NTEU staff strikes. Where the NTEU to call a similar strike during your term as board director, would you vote to close down operations for the period of the strike in solidarity, or keep them open? Why?
TL: As much as personally I would like to close them, I think generally I would probably keep them open, because of the fact that these businesses, and the people that own these businesses, really depend on sales and to give service to students. For me though I do support- I think that’s an important factor, it’s very important for the rights of staff to be upheld.
PM: Significant changes to the way the clubs and societies program is funded were announced in February of this year. Do you support the new model, which has resulted in a reduction in funding for individual clubs and societies? Why? If not, how would you propose funding be allocated?
TL: I actually don’t mind the funding model at the moment, because I have been to UNSW and I have been an exec there- It’s a similar model and it has worked and so in the long term it will work a lot better. I think the only issue I would find- I think personally from being the exec of a society which has no membership fees such as SCISOC, I definitely think there needs to be slight changes to accommodate for those societies, maybe having a slightly different part of a model to apply to those societies only or whether there is an overall change to the funding model.
PM: Do you think the USU and the Board is doing enough to support the International student community? Please indicate what programs and initiatives you find to be particularly successful if yes, and how the USU could better support International Students if not.
TL: I think in the language exchange program: I think that’s been a really big factor in helping international students develop more intercultural relationships between cultures. I would like for international students and domestic students to have, sort of like a language exchange, but they’re just exchanging between international and domestic students. So sort of sharing cultures and and hanging out with each-other, because I realise international students stick with international students and domestic students stick with domestic students. Particularly because I work in the centre for English teaching and doing the speaking connect program there, I realise that a lot of international students feel that they don’t feel as connected with domestic students, so bringing a program where they sort of have a buddy program between international and domestic students would be quite beneficial.
PM: Do you support the campaign for concession Opal Cards for International Students? Why/ Why not?
TL: Yes, because I was also a student at Melbourne University and they actually do concessions for international students. I know recently there was a letter written to Transport NSW regarding that and they had given a reason why that would be impossible, but I also think they would be mistaken that a lot of international students actually don’t have enough to support themselves. I have a lot of friends who are international students and I feel them. Also because I had an adult card when I was a Melbourne student- that’s a lot of money to be spending in a year.
PM: In 2019 the University of Sydney contributed $1 million to the USU in order for it to provide free Union membership for all students in 2019. To what extent do you think the University should or should not be involved in the operations of the USU? Would you encourage more or less involvement, were you to be elected?
TL: I think the level the University has been involved with the USU at the moment is fine, I wouldn’t suggest having a greater influence of the University in the USU, partially because there would be some conflicts that arise from that. But I think there should be at least some involvement by the University because inadvertently USU is part of this University campus, there is obviously going to be the involvement by the University then.
PM: The campaign to end sexual harassment, assault and gendered violence on campus has been a major issue on campus for the past decade. What role do you see the USU playing in the future of this campaign, if any?
TL: Well obviously the USU is designed to help students, like student welfare and student services. I think definitely helping spread more awareness: I know that domestically it’s an issue, but for a lot of international students who come here it’s not an issue that’s well known. So spreading that awareness is the biggest factor I think. From there on it really depends on how the Board will approach those issues.
PM: Being a med science student on another Campus you have a lot of study commitments, how will you be balancing your responsibilities on board with your studies?
TL: I’m only doing Westmead on one subject and I have spread out major across 3 units, so I assume I will have a bit more time then and a lot of that time will be going toward the Board, and toward my clubs and societies.
Due to time constraints, we had less time to interview Tina Lee than other candidates, and therefore asked a reduced number of questions.
Pulp Editor Madeline Ward is a current member of Grassroots and former SRC Women’s Officer.