Meet Your College Presidents For 2018

Content warning: AHRC survey, sexual assault.

Woroni went around to each of this year’s college presidents and asked them questions about their life, their hopes for their college, and their dreams for the future.

Meet your college presidents for 2018:

Alex De Souza, Burton and Garran Hall

Alex is in her fourth year of university, studying a Bachelor of Human Biology. She started her first year of university at Australian Catholic University, and came to ANU in her second year. She grew up in Sydney.

What did you do these past holidays?

I travelled to Thailand for four weeks, and spent time backpacking there. Otherwise, it’s been mostly residency things; we’ve been planning for the year ahead.

What do you usually do with your spare time?

I don’t usually have too much spare time; part time work, and my other commitments usually keep me occupied. Last year, I was the social officer for the Science Students’ Society, the culture representative at B&G, I was an administrator in the Pint of Science festival, and I was doing part-time work.

What is different about B&G from the other residencies on campus?

The kitchen; it’s very open, and it’s very social. People always talk to each other and cook for each other – there’s really no better way to bond than to experience burning pasta for the first time.

What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in your year as president?

Dealing with the results of the AHRC survey and the study into ANU colleges which is due to be released soon. We have to keep building on the progress that we’ve made. In particular, we need to ensure that we have less confrontational reporting procedures and more streamlined administration processes. This is a really complicated issue, since policies aren’t the only things that need to be changed; we need to teach first-years and everybody else about what’s okay, what’s not okay, and the boundaries that we all need to observe.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

O-Week. We’ve been preparing so much for it, and the whole team has worked so hard. But furthermore, I’m so excited to get to meet everyone, and get to know the residency team better. I’m excited to help the residency team to implement the ideas they have.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?

I want to do a master’s degree, probably at the ANU, in culture, health and medicine. I’d like to become a surgeon.

Bella Tobiano, UniLodge

Bella is in her third year of university, studying a Bachelor of Science and Arts. Her major in science is biochemistry, and her major in arts is psychology, with a minor in criminology. She grew up in Sydney and started off her tertiary education there, at the University of Sydney, and transferred to the ANU in her second year.

What did you do these past holidays?

I went to Whistler in Canada for a skiing trip for two weeks. I really loved it there – everyone was really nice. Also, everyone seemed to be Australian, so I felt quite at home.

What do you usually do with your spare time?

I play the saxophone and guitar, although I haven’t done that too much since year 12. I also play a lot of sports; I played soccer, softball and hockey for UniLodge last year. I usually play striker in soccer, and winger in hockey. Other than that, I work part time, which keeps me quite busy.

What separates UniLodge from the other residencies?

Well obviously, UniLodge is not a college. Because of this, we have more freedom than the other residencies on campus. Not everyone is expected to attend sporting events or college events, unlike most of the other residencies.

What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in your year as president?

There’ll be a lot of challenges. But mainly, keeping the office-bearers motivated throughout the entire year. We’ve found in past years that as time passes, many of the office-bearers lose their gusto. But this year, I hope that my energy, as president, and the executive team, will transfer onto the office-bearers.

Also, I’d like to see more involvement from everyone in UniLodge. A side-effect of that freedom I talked about before is that there are people you just never see; who never show their faces. Most of the time, you always see the same group of people at most of our sporting events.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

Meeting the new residents and getting them involved in activities! I’m really buzzed for O-Week. Our theme this year is “Wake me up before you go-go” We’re having a daily brunch, lots of barbecues, and parties.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?

Not sure yet, but I’d like to be a nutritionist or dietician for a sports team. 

Christina Fawns, Ursula Hall

Christina is in her third year of studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in biology. She grew up in Wagga Wagga. She has three younger siblings and two dogs.

What did you do these past holidays?

I went back home to Wagga Wagga in this break, where I spent most of my time spending time with family, organising exciting O-Week events with the Ursula Residents’ Committee, and working on DIY projects, like the new set of pyjamas I’m making!

What do you usually do with your spare time?

I enjoy the casual jog and shopping spree. I also like to start new DIY projects. Most recently, I read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, but my favourite book to date remains ‘Hating Alison Ashley’.

What is different about Ursula Hall from the other residencies on campus?

Ursula Hall is often characterised as the homely and community-oriented residency, like a big family.

What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in your year as president?

I usually prefer to be on top of everything; that’s why I anticipate that sudden events or issues that require my attention, that previous presidents warned me about, will be the biggest challenges I face this year as president.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

Christmas! Also, being the fiftieth anniversary of Ursula Hall, there were many exciting events lined up for the coming year. In particular, the celebrations for St Ursie’s Day in October are due to be the biggest ever.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?

I want to travel to Machu Picchu, Europe and Korea. I’m also considering doing another degree, this time in law, because of the valuable skills it would provide, but also because I lowkey love Legally Blonde.

Hannah Minns, Griffin Hall

Hannah is in the third year of a Bachelor of Environment and Sustainability. She was originally from Toowoomba, in Queensland, and started university living off-campus.

What did you do these past holidays?

I went to Vietnam for an environment science field school. Before that I was working, so that I could afford to go away! And after the trip I mainly just did O-Week preparation.

What do you usually do with your spare time?

I work at the Street Theatre Cafe on campus. I’m a little bit into my music, like guitar and cello. I’m also a little bit into sport, like basketball and soccer – I don’t really focus on any one thing. I’ve got my fingers in a lot of pies!

What is different about Griffin Hall, compared to other residencies?

We face a lot of different challenges. More and more over the past few years we’ve been able to cater to a broad range of people. In the past we’ve been known as the “cliquey college” – I think it’s really lovely that we have the one common room on campus. Mind you, it is way too small, and I hope we get a bigger space with the Union Court redevelopment.

What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in your year as president?

I really want to focus on making Griffin a more inclusive place, and getting more people engaged. Last year we had hundreds of sign-ups, but you only ever meet up to a hundred of those people. People sign up because they’re really keen, but sometimes they drop off early in the year. A broader range of events will hopefully help us achieve more engagement – and in terms of community vibes, we need to be encouraging people to use the Griffin community to the best of their advantage, to meet more people, and not get stuck in their little group of friends.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

Working with my team. Everyone in committee are all really, really passionate and dedicated to their jobs. I think a lot of them have great ideas to make the college better. And because we are a young college, we can’t rest in the mindset of ‘this is how we are, we can’t change from this’.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?

I don’t really have any set to-do list. I might do a Masters, I might travel some more. But I want to make sure I am thinking about my end goal, which is sustainable development.

Lucy Bannon, John’s College

Lucy is in her third year of a Bachelor of Law and Arts. Her major in arts is gender studies, though she changed degrees a few times. She grew up in Manly, Sydney and started off studying law and PPE, which was the main reason she came to the ANU.

What did you do these past holidays?

I just got back from a three-week holiday in Nepal. My friend and I spent a week in Kathmandu and spent the next two hiking Annapurna. I worked as a paralegal before that for Centrelink. Since then, I’ve been working hard to prepare for O-Week.

What do you usually do with your spare time?

I like reading, taking road trips, and playing piano. Recently, I’ve been reading Headscarves and Hymens. Also, I play a lot of sports; last year, I played rugby, AFL, softball and soccer.

What separates John’s from the other colleges?

John’s is separated by its reputation; we’ve had incidents in the past. But otherwise, our college has a loyalty to each other and sense of camaraderie that isn’t found anywhere else.

What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in your year as president?

Probably dealing with that reputation and continuing the good work that we’ve done. We’ve actually had three female presidents in a row. It feels like John’s is at its tipping point now; we can shape the culture to a more supportive, safe environment, and get of that ingrained toxic masculinity once and for all.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?

Well, I’m planning on going to Jordan for six months after graduation. I want to learn a language, and Jordan seems like a good place to study Arabic. Also, I’ve become really interested in feminism in the Middle East. But after that, I’d like to work in law; maybe something like indigenous law reform, or one of the NGOs on women’s rights.

Max Moffat, Bruce Hall

Max is a Tuckwell Scholar in his third year of studying a Bachelor of Law and Arts. His arts major is psychology, with a minor in English literature. He grew up in Sydney, where he went to North Sydney Boys High.

What did you do these past holidays?

I went to the beach a lot, and I went to Japan with my friends for a while. I also volunteered at the Redfern Legal Centre.

What do you usually do with your spare time?

I volunteer at LegalAid ACT, and play the trumpet. I’m looking to get back into soccer after high school (he played centre back). I also ran Inward Bound last year.

What is different with Bruce Hall from the other residencies on campus?

Bruce doesn’t really have a set stereotype; unlike the other colleges. It allows people from all different backgrounds to find their clique. Since it’s a quite a large college – that’s probably its biggest benefit.

What do you anticipate will be your greatest challenge in your year as president?

Mediating the divide between international and domestic students. It’s very prominent at Bruce Hall; when you walk into the dining hall, there’s a visible divide. Actually, there was a study at the ANU that showed that the sense of belonging to a college correlates to the stability of your mental health. But we found that international students don’t really feel involved or as if they belong in colleges. There was a study that asked for the archetypal characteristics of a domestic, international, and college student, and it found that there was a strong correlation between the way students, even international students, described domestic and ideal college students. So, we need to make sure that international students feel that college is their home as much as domestic students.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?

Well based off volunteering at LegalAid and the Redfern Legal Centre, I’d like to end up in social legal work, like a service that provides a community with free or cheap legal advice, to increase access to justice. But, I haven’t had too much experience yet, so I’m not sure where I’d go.

Ollie Brown, Burgmann College

This is Ollie’s third year at university, and is studying music. Ollie is the first openly non-binary residency president, and feels most comfortable with he/they pronouns. Previously, Ollie studied physics. Ollie has been a sports sub-editor at Woroni, and worked in the radio team. They grew up mostly in Melbourne, and also had stints in London and Adelaide.

What did you do these past holidays?

I spent time travelling! I was travelling in China before Japan, where I am now, and I also played guitar and wrote. I’m also reading a fascinating biography of David Bowie now.

What is different about Burgmann College from the other residencies on campus?

Burgmann’s level of student governance and student autonomy is what separates it from the other residencies. The Burgmann Residents’ Association has broad powers. Interestingly, because the association’s acronym spells BRA, it is a tradition for some committee members to hang bras on their doors, a regular source of confusion for parents who visited their children’s residencies, I’m sure. The presidency comes with a powerful voice which means both an opportunity and a responsibility to be a strong advocate for resident needs.

What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in your year as president?

I think that it will be correctly dealing with the responsibility to respond to the AHRC survey regarding sexual assault and harassment that was released last year, and the upcoming ANU study regarding sexual assault and harassment in ANU colleges. I want to be a driving force to create timely, strict, and transparent policies to combat this issue plaguing the ANU and campuses around Australia.

In particular, I want to create substantial, quantitative policies to ensure safe, non-confrontational reporting procedures for survivors and friends, the imposition of firm but fair sanctions to offenders, and improved educational and behavioural strategies to destigmatise the experiences of sexual harassment and assault survivors.

We have a long way to go regarding this issue, and this isn’t a problem that will disappear overnight, during my presidency, or even while I’m at university. But it’s time to get the wheels rolling; doing something is better than doing nothing.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

I’m looking forward to tackling that challenge the most. But otherwise, I look forward to advocating for the queer community and speaking at forums about these issues.

Also, I want to increase the accessibility of the college – it might seem trivial or may have slipped the minds of most, but I think many people will be shocked to hear that it’s actually borderline impossible to easily access Fellows or South Oval safely from Burgmann with mobility impairments.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?                                                             
I’d like to travel – I’m thinking of taking a semester off next year to instruct on the ski fields. Long term, I’d like to be a music producer or recording engineer. 

Tom Dodds, Fenner Hall

Tom is in his third year of a Bachelor of Law and Arts. His arts major is psychology and has completed a minor in international relations. He is due to start his second minor in forensic linguistics. He’s part of a community legal education program through the ANU, where he visits different schools and teaches students about simple concepts in law. He grew up in Anglesea in Victoria.

What did you do these past holidays?

I spent some time back home in Victoria. I spent time at the beach and went camping a couple of times. Otherwise, I’ve been busy preparing for O-Week with the residency team.

What do you usually do with your spare time?

I like hiking, swimming and running. I often go camping too. Right now, I’m reading this book called ‘Pandora’s Star’, about fighting aliens.

What separates Fenner Hall from the other residencies on campus?

About two kilometres of Northbourne Avenue. That makes us an almost off-campus residency. In this way, we’re more self-sufficient than the other colleges, and gives us a very different atmosphere to the other colleges.

What do you anticipate will be the greatest challenge in your year as president?

Continuing talks with the university about moving to SA7 (Fenner Hall is being relocated to the heart of the new Union Court, due to be finished in 2019). It’s meant to be a five-storey residency, but whenever I peek over the fences in the Union Court redevelopment, there’s nothing there yet that looks anything like a five-storey building. There’ll be problems, of course, with moving onto campus.

What are you looking forward to the most this year?

O-Week – I love the residency team, and we’ve been working hard to plan out a fun O-Week, and fun year in general. We’re planning a ‘Barn Night’, since our theme for O-Week is ‘rodeo’. We’ve even ordered bales of hay to decorate with.

What are you looking to do after you graduate?

Probably going into law. I’ve really liked the law units I’ve done so far, especially Australian Public Law, so constitutional law would be fun to get into. Criminal law was good too, so I might look into that as well. Currently, my options are wide open.