The St Mark’s College Leadership Week has just concluded after a week of training for our 2020 student leaders.
At St Mark’s College our highest priority is the wellbeing of our students. We want our students supported to thrive at university and have the best possible transition from high school to an independent adult life. As part of this, we have developed an extensive support program, incorporating student leaders, staff and external training providers. Last week our 2020 student leadership team began their training.
Our student leadership team comprises three streams, who work closely to meet a range of student needs. Firstly, we have the Residential Advisor Team. Led by the Assistant Deans, who are the most senior student leaders, the Senior Residential Advisor and Residential Advisors provide pastoral care to all students living in the College. Each Residential Advisor is assigned a floor, and they are the first point of call for their students, helping them manage the day to day challenges and opportunities of living away from home. They are part of the College’s 24/7 support system, along with our residential staff. The Residential Advisor team are appointed by the College for their empathetic, proactive and mature approach to supporting their peers.
Next, we have the Academic Team. Led by the Senior Academic Tutor, our team of Academic Coordinators are the mentors and role models of academic achievement at College. Each Academic Coordinator is responsible for supporting every member of their academic faculty to thrive, and is appointed by the College based on their own history of outstanding academic performance and their demonstrated capacity to encourage achievement in others. The Academic Coordinators manage a team of subject tutors, organise career events and guest speakers, and help new students adjust to university life. Between all the excitement of growing up, moving away from home, and enjoying all the things College has to offer, the Academic Coordinators are here to keep our core mission of pursuing academic excellence at the forefront of students’ minds.
We also have the College Club Committee. These students are elected by their peers and drive the social, sporting and cultural life of the College. They also represent and advocate for student interests. Led by the College Club President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, this team includes male and female Equity Officers, Sports Officers, Social Officers, Arts and Cultural Officer, Charitable Officer and Merchandise Officer.
Every member of our student leadership team is ready to support all students and help them to have the best possible College experience.
Before starting their roles, we provide all our student leaders with a comprehensive training program to help them promote the physical, emotional, social and cultural safety and wellbeing of all our students. This begins with a one-week intensive program in December each year called “Leadership Week”, with further training modules to be completed over the summer and a second training week in February. The aim is that every student leader is confident to be a proactive promoter of cultural renewal and is equipped to respond to whatever situations they may find themselves in.
The week kicked off on Sunday with an inspiring opening address by new Head of College, Professor Don Markwell, on values-driven leadership. Professor Markwell spoke to students about what it means to be a leader upholding the College’s values and about the moral and legal duty of care that comes from holding a position of responsibility. Delving into College history, he looked at the values stressed by our College founders, including the College’s first Master, Sir Archibald Grenfell Price. He then challenged students to think about what it means to be values-driven, encouraging students to ask of everything they do: “What are we fundamentally trying to achieve?”, “Is this promoting the wellbeing of all our students?” and “Is this consistent with a culture of respect, genuine inclusion and safety?” Building good character in our future leaders is fundamental to our College’s goals, and understanding what is means to be a values-driven leader is something that develops with guidance and maturity.
Next, our students spent an afternoon with Steve Lacy from Leading Teams, looking at effective leadership dynamics and how to hold yourself and your peers accountable to your shared values and goals. Together the team came up with their shared purpose for 2020, “to make everyone proud to call St Mark’s home”, and their trademark for how to achieve this, PRIDE. Standing for Passion, Respect, Integrity, Diversity and Empowerment, the student leaders identified these as the key qualities they needed to achieve their goals.
On Monday our students spent the day learning positive bystander behaviours to help lead cultural renewal. This built on the skills they learned earlier in the year through the MATE Bystander program. In a workshop with Shawna Marks from Flinders University they looked at sexual violence, consent, power and vulnerability, what is missing in conversations around consent, and how communities can change their culture to become safer for everyone. After lunch they worked with counsellor and educator Kirsty Brady on how to support peers experiencing grief and loss. Then, before dinner, they had a lively workshop with Caleb Maru and Akash Patel from YLab on racism, cultural diversity and bystander intervention strategies to make our communities inclusive and safe for everyone. That evening students shared a dinner with guest speaker Linda Matthews, chair of the St Mark’s College Board, who spoke about some of the key elements of effective leadership.
On Tuesday our student leaders had a full day workshop on Drug and Alcohol harm minimisation with Alcohol and Drug Education Specialists (ADES). ADES is the leading provider of alcohol, drug and wellbeing education in Australia, and have had a long involvement with the College. Over the summer new student leaders will also undertake their Responsible Service of Alcohol certification to further their education in this space, and early next year they will have further training around their liquor licensing responsibilities when running student events. Afterwards the team went offsite to AFL Max where they pushed themselves physically and mentally in a series of rigorous activities.
On Wednesday student leaders have a Mini Masterclass with Dr Tom Nehmy from Healthy Minds, looking at positive strategies for building the mental wellbeing of themselves and their peers. In the afternoon they had a briefing from Areti Metuamate, the Dean, on communication, risk management and event planning, building on an earlier session from Kathy Radoslovich, the Director of Learning, on Child Protection. Finally, to finish the week’s training, student leaders had a workshop with Dr Tessa Opie from In Your Skin, looking at ways of promoting respectful relationships among their peers.
Our student leader training does not stop here. Over the summer our student leaders will undergo their Working With Children Checks, complete their Responsible Service of Alcohol certifications as required, and undertake Provide First Aid training. In February 2020 the training will continue, with a Mental Health First Aid course, Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Assault training by sexual assault support service Yarrow Place, LGBTI+ awareness training, Bystander Intervention training, Fire Warden training and more. They will also support our new and returning students in their training program.
We are proud to equip our student leaders with a structured and extensive training program, preparing them to help every student have the best experience possible at St Mark’s College.