Jesse Zambrano has been elected unopposed as the Guild’s Business and Law Faculty Rep.
Although she is only in her second year as an Economics student, Jesse has already built up a wealth of experience on campus. Signing up for the Guild on her first day of uni, she was keen to get involved with the student council and was elected as the Humanities Representative on Illuminate’s First Year Committee.
In last year’s election she ran for Guild Council and, although she wasn’t successful in obtaining a councilor position, she managed to get onto the Representation Board—first as a general rep and then as chair.
During the winter break Jesse attended the National Union of Students Annual Education Conference, which gave her a greater understanding of how the NUS operates and helps students, but also how the organisation can be improved.
“I joined a group of independent students, because I don’t believe in being part of a group where a few leaders can tell me how to think and how to use my representative vote for Curtin students,” says Jesse.
“I feel very passionately that Curtin students should be represented by independent students acting on their behalf, not students acting on behalf of an outside organisation.”
When asked why she chose to run for Business and Law Faculty Rep, Jesse points to a particular incident that sparked her passion for faculty representation.
“Some friends were telling me about an upsetting incident in one of their mandatory units, where university staff told them that their work from a mandatory assignment would be used by the University around campus and online. They were told that they would not be paid for it,” she says.
“This is not only illegal, but an abuse of power by the faculty. These students were in no position to advocate for themselves against faculty members who control their grades, the outcomes of their degrees, and often have industry connections that could be used to harm a student’s career.”
Feeling that this was completely unacceptable, Jesse utilised her role on the Rep Board to raise the incident with the appropriate Faculty Representative and help the students.
“[The rep] was able to go in and advocate on their behalf to the faculty. The circumstances were changed so that students were no longer forced to work for free, and we will be keeping a close eye on the faculty in semesters to come to ensure it doesn’t happen again,” she says.
“This is what Faculty Reps are for. We’re here to help students, to fight on their behalf when they aren’t in a position to do so themselves. We’re here to make sure students don’t have to accept bad units or unfair circumstances, and instead feel they have someone to turn to who can help them.”
Jesse says that while it’s unfortunate that she’s been elected unopposed, she’s very grateful to have the position.
“[In] an ideal world we’d see enough student involvement in the Guild and in student representation to have every position contested. That way, the best representative would win based on their experience and ideas, not just having been the only person to go for the role,” she says.
“That being said … I know that I have what it takes to do an absolutely amazing job. As Illuminate’s selected candidate, I went through a rigorous preselection process to ensure that I was qualified for the position, and I have the full support of the students involved in our team.”
Next year Jesse plans to advocate for increased opportunities within the faculty for internships and work experience in sustainable industries. Noting Curtin’s ties to the oil and gas sector, she wants to help students get connections within sectors that are sustainable and set to thrive.
“I believe that we should be the generation that go out there and make positive change towards a better future,” she says.
Jesse is also passionate about making the Guild more visible and accessible to students. Pointing out that many clubs have built a community within the degree they’re studying, she says it would be beneficial for Faculty Representatives to increase communication with Faculty clubs in order to gain insight into what students need.
“I wouldn’t have heard about the issues those students I helped were having if they weren’t my friends. It makes me wonder how many other students are struggling … That’s why I’m going to assist in the implementation of the Course Representative system, so that we have students across every course in the university who can hear about issues and act on them,” she says.
“To make sure I’m accurately representing the needs of Business and Law students, I will re-establish the Business and Law Student Advisory Committee. This will allow Faculty Clubs to talk directly with the Faculty Representatives, allowing for greater communication and better representation that actually addresses the needs of students.”
On the topic of clubs, Jesse speaks of their importance in fostering campus culture and community, and providing students with skills, connections and experiences that often result in lifelong friendships.
Image of Jesse Zambrano (front row, second from left) attending the University Climate Walkout on 9 August 2019.
Discussing the election, she urges students to inform themselves by reading up on candidates and understanding their motivations and reasons for running.
“The Curtin Student Guild is your student union … I believe it should be made up of Curtin students who are accountable to the Curtin students who elected them. Illuminate is the only 100% independent ticket—we are not affiliated to any external political organisations, which means that we’re accountable to you alone,” says Jesse.
“I don’t have to listen to the wishes of a higher-up in a political party or a national political faction that will tell me what to do and how to vote, and I’m not running as a representative to pad out my resume for a future political career. I’m just a student who sees the value and the reward in representing students, and ensuring the best possible student experience for them.”
“In this coming election, this is more important than ever to consider … Our ticket is made up of a diverse array of students with unique backgrounds, priorities and ideas. Inform yourselves, and vote for the students you believe will represent you the best!”
Jesse Zambrano paid a joining fee to the Greens in May this year but notes that she should not be a member as she was never approved and has not been involved with the party.
Note: Election polls are open from 16 September 2019 at 10am to 19 September 2019. For more information on Guild Candidates visit the Guild website.