UQU Series: An Interview with the Big Cheese

Amidst the chaos of looming exams, there is a light that shines not only at the end of the tunnel, but also in the form of pancakes. Free pancakes to be exact, freshly cooked on campus for all of us students who thought 8am classes were a good idea!  But sometimes it is easy to reap the benefits of a curated free breakfast, without recognizing the hard work and dedication that goes into servicing students’ best interests.

Ethan Van Roo Douglas is one of UQU’s dedicated executives bringing new life to campus culture. As this year’s President, he’s faced the pre-emptive challenges of the job, whilst also battling the onslaught of a major pandemic.

In Ethan’s own words, “It’s been an up and down year because of Covid, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what it was going to be like. We are still facing a lot of financial challenges and certainly a lot of government issues both internally and with the university because business as usual was on hold for 6 months.” 

“Now it’s resumed, but there is this psychological scarring in the psyche of the bureaucracy and no one really wants to commit to anything big and they are nervous to go full steam ahead as they don't know what's going to happen in two weeks or three weeks.”

Regardless of a few minor setbacks, UQ’s Student Union is still marching towards their goal of providing exemplary campus experiences for students. The executive positions are very goal-orientated and as Ethan explains, can be unfortunately slow moving because of the sheer size of the university. Although things don’t happen immediately, at the centre of UQ’s Student Union, is creativity, motivation and the desire for positive change.

“We want to improve the student experience, protect the institution and overall make the university a better place by being here.”

It is no understatement to emphasize the importance of connectivity and community, especially in light of the recent lockdowns and off-campus learning. Ethan, alongside Union executives, is taking big strides in developing events and opportunities that enhance the communal culture of UQ and increase student involvement on campus.

Ethan states, “University isn't just about studying, it is about socializing and building both professional networks and friendship circles to support you and to maintain your mental health.”

There are over 200 clubs and societies affiliated with UQU, which is over 200 ample opportunities to meet new people, create new friendships and explore possible interests. Ethan offers this timeless advice, “Regardless of what year you are in, join a club. First thing you do on market day is join a club, doesn’t matter what club, any club!”

With faculties like HASS and BELL, that are overflowing with various degrees and majors, you rarely cross paths with the same people twice. Being a part of a society is a valuable contribution to your overall university experience and one that will enhance your time spent on campus.

The next time you’re walking to your early morning class and you smell the rich scent of pancakes in the air, take the chance to utilise the brilliant on-campus offers provided by UQU. And when you take a bite of your crispy fresh pancake drizzled in maple syrup, salute the students working behind the scenes to strengthen not only the community, but your UQ experience!

Article by Shauna Wood

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