NAAUC Report 2017

This year the 49th annual NAAUC conference was held at Mannix College, within Monash University in Melbourne. It was an incredible opportunity for the six Cromwell College delegates, selected by the Student Executive. The delegates selected were Michaela Oakley, Adriana Di Bella, Samuel Duffy, Dougal Stedman, Brodie Johnson and Rachel Melvin. NAAUC is the National Association of University Colleges and is a non-for-profit organisation that aims to inspire and encourage current and future leaders of university residences across Australia. This year the conference theme was ‘Stand up, Step Forward’ with a heavy focus on developing individuals to be the leader your community needs. The NAAUC leadership team worked extensively for a year prior to the week of conference and their efforts were obvious in all that we did. We were urged to take advantage of all opportunities offered to us and reflect openly and honestly and how to better ourselves as potential leaders and how to better our own college. This opportunity really was once in a lifetime and we are incredibly grateful to have attended and been a part of something so inspiring. 


L to R: Michaela Oakley, Adriana di Bella, Sam Duffy, Dougal Steadman, Brodie Johnson and Rachel Melvin

Guest Speakers
For four days in the conference, we started by listening to a guest speaker who talked about a different quality that has helped them to achieve the incredible things they have done. The four guest speakers were Tim Cope, Andy Gourley, Christine Nixon and Bennett Merriman.

Tim Cope
Tim Cope was the first speaker we had, and he addressed his latest book; On the Trail of Genghis Khan, detailing his journey from Mongolia to Hungary, travelling alone only on horseback. The theme for his talk was discovery, and the story he told of his three and a half year journey was truly inspiring. He faced numerous perils on his journey, from dangerous weather and treacherous glacier paths to not-so-friendly locals, and the ways he managed to persevere through all these adversities was incredible, almost inhuman. At one point on his journey he was given a companion for his journey, a scrawny little puppy who would turn into being one of the only things which kept Tim moving forwards. The main message we took from Tim’s speech was about discovery within ourselves, and that Discovery isn’t just about planting a flag on new soil, it’s about progression of the mind in an environment which is testing, both mentally and physically.

Andy Gourley
The second speaker for NAAUC was Andy Gourley, the founder of the Red Frogs organisation which the college community has a very close partnership with. He gave a very inspiring speech all about the Red Frogs organisation, from how they came to be, to how their influence has helped countless people all around Australia. He mainly presented to us his personal journey through the last few years, from a simple wish to help out a few teenagers at a beach party at Schoolies to now giving aid to thousands of people at major events all over the country. His personal journey with the Red Frogs was amazing, he showed us that from just one kind action, a whole legacy can be built and he was so very proud to share that story with us in the hope that we too could make such a positive change also.

Christine Nixon
Christine Nixon was the third guest speaker to present to us, and the theme she addressed was adversity. Adversity was a huge issue for her when she was first beginning her journey as Police Commissioner, she grew up in a time when females were not expected to join the workforce in such “manly” professions, and as a result it was extremely difficult for her to become the influential and powerful figure she became. Her speech for us was all about how to face adversity head on, to not give in when other people say that what you’re doing is impossible. And most importantly, to be a role model for those who aren’t sure of where they are in the world. When she was sworn in, she chose to have a high media presence there, as she hoped that being elected the first female Police Commissioner that she would inspire others like her to step up regardless of what other people say about them and to lead where they’ve been told they couldn’t.

Bennett Merriman
Bennett Merriman is the co-founder of Event Workforce Group and talked to us about Innovation. He talked about how when he founded his company, he was a university student living on a residential college studying event planning and all the jobs he was applying for needed him to have prior work experience, which he found most of his classmates and couldn’t get easily. So he innovated and created Event Workforce Group which gave students like him the opportunity to get the work experience they needed. He also talked about how what qualities the students would need to approach starting a business or innovate like he did.

Guest speaker Tim Cope

Role Development Seminars
The Role Development Seminars (RDS) aimed to encourage and aid delegates in developing specific roles within their residences. The individual seminars outlined the primary tasks and responsibilities of each leadership role, and NAAUC leaders shared lessons learnt from other leaders within that role. We, as delegates, found these particular seminars critically important in both understanding particular leadership roles within our residence and furthering our individual aspirations to become leaders of Cromwell College in our third year. The Role Development Seminars offered were ‘President/ Vice President’, ‘Treasurer’, ‘Secretary’, ‘Social Rep’, ‘Sports Rep’, ‘Arts/Cultural Rep’, ‘Intercollegiate Rep’, ‘International Rep’, ‘RA/SA’, ‘Current RA’, ‘Current Executive’. We had the opportunity to attend two of these seminars and individually chose roles that we feel passionate about and have a strong interest in pursuing. We found the Role Development Seminars incredibly beneficial in terms of understanding specifically what is expected in each particular role and more importantly the responsibilities of the role that aren't often talked about and the extensive work behind each role that is often done behind the scenes. Each session offered a discussion in which delegates could share ideas and experiences. We were able to understand how other residences leadership roles differ from our own and learn how to develop our own relationships between the student executive, the Resident Assistant team and the administration. This area of the NAAUC academic program was incredibly insightful and undoubtedly and highlight for all delegates. 

Seminars were an opportunity for us to learn more about college life, college challenges and the responsibilities of being a leader. These daily seminars were lead by the NAAUC leaders, and provided an insight into the skills required to effectively solve possible problems. These skills could then be taken back and applied within our own college.
The seminars were:
  • Building Culture and Spirit outlined what is involved in positive culture, and how to reduce negative culture within residences. It included topics such as ‘role models’ and ‘unity’ to better convey the message of ‘college community’.
  • Sex, Sexuality and Gender was a seminar that involved an open discussion about the definitions and stigmas surrounding sex, sexuality and gender within society, and gave insight into how to have these conversations within residences.
  • Let’s talk about Sex! was a platform for open discussion about sex and the stigmas surrounding it. It also worked to help to create positive conversations surrounding sex.
  • Alcohol and Drugs: From Addiction to Culture defined addiction, and how a negative alcohol and drug culture within a residence can lead to addiction.
  • Diversity and Inclusion outlined how leaders can conduct themselves, and create programs that include and engage the entire college community.
  • Building Alumni worked to assist us in forming and maintaining a positive alumni network, whether it be the involvement of past students or a larger, more established network.
  • Orientation Week outlined all the responsibilities required by a leader during Orientation week, and how to create a positive and open environment for first year students.
  • Time Management was a seminar that gave an in depth approach to time management, and how to prioritise time.
  • Establishing Links Between Residences and the Community focussed on the importance of creating relationships with other residences, to increase and improve networks.
  • Spirituality had a focus on the effects of spirit and religion on residences, and how we can maintain these in a modern residential context.
  • How to be Employable was a seminar highlighting the various opportunities and how these can be used to further improve an individual, and to give them an edge.
  • Traditions and Cultural Change had a focus on asking ‘why’ when taking part in traditions and cultures. It highlighted the importance of traditions having a positive and constructive purpose, and upholding the values of the college.
  • Residents Committee Administration was a seminar with a focus on the law and how it applies to residences. It discussed the responsibilities of a leadership team and their legal requirements.
  • Sustainability looked at the impacts of college on the social, economic and environmental sustainability of a community, and how we can work to decrease the negative impact of our actions.
  • Professional Partnerships and Sponsorships worked to teach delegates about gaining support externally, to provide their college with a ‘wow’ factor. It helps to secure the funding and improve the student experience.
Each seminar had a different focus, with each providing an insight into several responsibilities of a leadership team. They also provoked conversation about how each of these seminars apply to us and Cromwell College, and how we can better the college experience for the students. 

Focus Sessions
The focus sessions we attended brought a panel of experts to discuss specific topics relating to the well-being of students in and out of college life. There were a total of three panels with three experts who covered a different topic based on their expertise. The first panel focused on personal well-being and was hosted by Kate Risso from The Kindness Effect, Ash Gurney from Alcohol and Drug Education Specialists (formerly known as Alcocups) and Lorraine Ngwenya. This session focused on how one would manage and improve their own mental health or other people’s mental health, create goals and structure their timetables. 

The second panel focused on Holistic Student Leadership and was hosted by Dr Ian Walker from University Colleges Australia, Andrew Swan from Monash Residential Services and Inala Cooper from Yulendj Indigenous Engagement Unit. This session identified key challenges that student leaders would have to face while on the leadership team. The biggest focus of this talk was how to include a diverse group of residents into everyday college life and how to inspire participation. 

The final focus session was about Residential Well-Being and was hosted by Dr Tim Corney from Victoria University, the Red Frogs and the Southeast Center Against Sexual Violence. This session focussed on how alcohol and drugs can be managed in the college community and some of the positives and negatives that alcohol brings into the college setting, how support services like the Red Frogs can be brought in and help when alcohol is present and how sexual assault and violence is present in colleges and what to do to help reduce, prevent and manage people who have suffered sexual assaults. 

These focus sessions were very useful in not only raising issues around university residences, but by seeing what other residences do to work around these issues can help to see what would work for Cromwell. These sessions also brought up what the legal issues were regarding these issues which will help when planning and managing the student leadership team.

Throughout the week, workshops were offered to the delegates to develop practical skills that they need throughout their residential community leadership. We had the opportunity to attend three of these sessions, all of which focused on specific areas associated with residential life and leadership. The NAAUC team provided six interactive 90 minute workshops, all of which both aim to enhance the delegate's knowledge of these areas and also how they apply to the residential community environment.
  • “Conflict Resolution and Fostering Successful Relationships” provided delegates with tips to create positive relationships between the students, administration and the community and in turn helps with effective conflict resolution. 
  • “Communicating with Social Media” focused on the maximising social media opportunities to the advantage of the residences’.  
  • “Operating Effectively as a Team” gave delegates insight into operating as a successful executive team with tips on how to ensure your committee operates professionally, how to tackle common problems faced and how to develop and maintain a positive working relationship with your Administration. 
  • “Wellness and Mental Health” was run as a guided discussion on how we approach mental health in residential communities and provides strategies for mental health awareness. 
  • “Strategic Planning and Effective Changeover” provided a further insight into these two aspects of management, focusing on literature surrounding them.
  • “Event Planning and Risk Management” focused on the procedure of creating an event and steps to take for to be as safe and enjoyable as possible.
Choosing between these was difficult however we found the ones we selected to be very helpful. Lead by members of the NAAUC team who have both the experience and passion for these aspects of residential community leadership, these workshops were inspiring and enlightening. The workshops we attend provided us with knowledge and solutions that will ultimately aid us in building a successful residential community. 

State Forum
A new addition to the NAAUC conference this year was the State Forum, where each state was given the opportunity to network and share ideas with each other. Overall, there were 64 delegates from Queensland, most of which came from UQ and we found that this session allowed us to connect with other students from the residences around UQ and discuss issues and struggles we feel are present within our own residences. Throughout the session, we engaged in roundtable, full group and also fishbowl discussions which gave us a chance to foster meaningful conversations and shared ideas which we could take back to our own residences to create change for the better. 

Some of the topics that were discussed included positive and negative traditions and cultures and the effect they have on our college, mental health awareness and how much support there is available, the traditions during O-week and the effect that hazing has on freshers and many more. As a college, we realised during these discussions that the subject of mental health at Cromwell is something that needs to be more focused on. We felt that after discussions with the delegates from other UQ residences, we noticed that we are one of very few colleges that don’t have a qualified counsellor on site to assist RA’s and students with issues they may be facing. This was said to be a highly valued initiative by other colleges as they felt that they as students and also the RA’s had someone to go who is more specialised in the areas of mental health. Overall, we found this new addition to the NAAUC Conference a great success and benefited greatly from getting to know other UQ delegates and discussing ways in which we can work together as a larger team to make our residences the best they can be. 

Social Program
The conference social program was undoubtedly a highlight for all delegates. The NAAUC leadership team held a themed event each night of conference which enabled all delegates to network and relax after a day of academia. 

Opening Dinner - the social program begun with opening dinner, held at Mannix College in the dining hall. This was an opportunity to meet other delegates and be introduced to the entirety of the NAAUC leadership team. The NAAUC leadership team were introduced to delegates by esteemed guest speaker David Copolov, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Monash University. 

NAAUCathalon - following the opening dinner, we competed against each other in our debrief groups in a series of rotating activities. These ranged from beer goggle soccer, Mario Kart Wii with a twist, ping pong, speed dressing, trivia and scoring goals with an AFL ball. Overall, as the first activity of the conference, it was a great way to get to know other delegates in our debrief groups and enjoy ourselves after a long day of academic sessions. 

A Night at the Theatre - from comedy to hypnotism to a marriage ceremony, this night was definitely one to remember. Over the course of the night, we were entertained by two comedians, one of which was a musical comedian and then following this was the amazing work of Kevin Grisé, a hypnotist from the USA. 

Amazing Race - Thursday took us into the heart of Melbourne city where we participated in an “Amazing Race” style scavenger hunt and completed various challenges in exchange for points and in the end, the team with the most points, won a pinata. This race took us to places like the old Melbourne jail, Hozier Lane and the Library, Chinatown, the Casino and many other well known places around Melbourne. 

Parliamentary Debating - Parliamentary Debating saw us go to the green room of the Victorian Parliament house to debate topics such as ‘Should residents only be allowed to have one serving per meal.’ The debates weren’t serious debates, but were a way to relax, have a laugh and meet more people.

NAAUCturnal Activity - once again, the NAAUC team took us out to Melbourne landmarks on another scavenger hunt. Starting at Mannix, we completed a set of activities before hopping on party buses and heading to a small carnival. Balloons attached to our arms in team colours, we wandered around completing activities until progressing to the Queen Victoria Markets. Just like the Amazing Race, we were shown Melbourne's icons while subtly learning teamwork and leadership skills. 

Charity Auction - The Red Frogs charity auction saw all of the delegates bidding to win multiple items such as art, tickets and Giant Jenga (which we won). All of the profits went to support the Red Frogs.

Merch Swap - The Merch Swap was an event that allowed us to meet people from other colleges by swapping our college merch for merch from other people's colleges. This not only let us meet other people, but it let us see their college colours, some for the first time.

Flight Night - Flight Night saw us take a trip around the world through fun activities and good food. From making paper cranes in Japan to recreating still art in France to line dancing in Australia and learning how to dance in Mexico. 

NAAUC Ball - The NAAUC Ball was the final event of the conference which brought all the delegates and leadership team to celebrate the week that was held. It was also the last time we got to see the incredible people we met during the week. 

There is no possible way to sum up the experiences we encountered at NAAUC in this whole report, instead, we intend to implement the tools and knowledge we gained over the week to improve our college and enable all students to reach their potential throughout their college lives. The experiences and friendships we made are invaluable and it’s unfortunate that only 6 delegates are chosen to attend as we feel that this conference provides great benefits for delegates through not only the academic sessions, but also during the social events. The week was definitely challenging for all of us in different ways, from having not much sleep and trying to stay warm in the cold, Melbourne weather. Despite this, the week was also informative and inspiring as it provided us with tools and ideas to take back to our own residences to implement and work on in order to make our college the best it can possibly be. 

NAAUC also provided us with valuable knowledge to take back and implement in our desired executive roles next year which we are excited about and are looking forward to sharing these ideas with our fellow leaders. It was also a great honour to see past students Lachlan Power (President in 2015) as the President of NAAUC this year and also Charles Powell (“Lion” in 2015) as the media rep. Having these familiar faces around during the conference was really beneficial as it allowed us to discuss issues we may see in Cromwell or their thoughts on various things we could implement. 

During AGM on Saturday morning, we represented Cromwell College to pitch to the executive team and the rest of the NAAUC delegates our bid to host the 50th annual NAAUC Conference in 2018. We presented a video which gave visual representation of the location of Cromwell and also highlighted the spaces we have to offer for people to stay, eat and run academic and social events. The great news that we have is that we won the bid and the NAAUC Conference for 2018 will be held at Cromwell. This is a great opportunity for Cromwell to showcase it’s great facilities and we wish the executive team all the best for next year and we hope it is nothing but a success. 

To conclude, we would like to greatly thank the Student Executive Team, Ross, Michael and the Administration, and also the Board of Governors for your financial support which allowed us the opportunity to attend this conference. Without your support each year, this college would not be as successful as it is today. The lessons and knowledge gained from this conference come from either other delegates from other residences or the executive team which are past students themselves so they often understand the issues we may be facing and could have dealt with something similar while at college themselves. This is what we feel makes NAAUC the great success it is. 

We wish next year's delegates a wonderful conference and we hope that they gain as much valuable information as we did this year. Next year will see the last of the winter conferences being held in the mid-semester university break. As of 2019, NAAUC will be held in the summer before students return to college and university. This will allow students already elected into executive roles and RA’s to gain valuable knowledge specific to their role and to work together as a team to do the best for Cromwell in the coming year. 

Please do not hesitate to contact any of us for further information regarding NAAUC and the knowledge we gained. We have no problem talking to you further. 

Thank you again greatly for all of your support, 

2017 NAAUC delegates,
Adriana Di Bella, Rachel Mel
vin, Michaela Oakley Brodie Johnson, Sam Duffy and Dougal Steadman