Arc @ UNSW Limited

Arc @ UNSW Limited
Arc @ UNSW Limited
Type Public company
Industry Students' union
Founded 15 August 2006
Headquarters Sydney, Australia
Number of locations 2
Area served University of New South Wales
Key people Simon Crawford-Ash
Brad Hannagan
Charishma Kaliyanda
Kate Tanswell
Employees 90
Parent University of New South Wales

Arc @ UNSW Limited is the student organisation at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and is a not-for-profit public company based in Sydney, Australia. The organisation supports the activities of student clubs, student volunteer programs such as orientation week, student publications, a student gallery and houses an elected student representative council. Arc operates the Roundhouse entertainment venue, a legal service, and retail outlets on UNSW campuses in the suburbs of Kensington and Paddington.

Arc was established on 15 August 2006 and launched early the following year, taking over the functions of three existing student organisations.

In 2007, membership of Arc was free for UNSW students, of whom 18,000 (out of 40,000) signed up. In 2008 voluntary paid membership was introduced and membership dropped to around 2,800 students as of Day 1, Week 1, Semester 1, 2008.[1]



The name Arc @ UNSW is derived from geometry, the shape of an umbrella being considered an apt metaphor for the organisation's role encompassing the spectrum of student life. The use of an asperand owes much to that symbol's ubiquity in computing, although it does not appear in the logo.[citation needed] UNSW has previously used the asperand to brand its association with the Australian Defence Force Academy, "UNSW@ADFA".


Arc has two constitutional Student Bodies: one supporting clubs, volunteer programs, courses and activities, and an elected Student Representative Council. Arc's Kudos Gallery Management Committee runs the Kudos Gallery, an artist-run initiative gallery for College of Fine Arts (COFA) students.

The organisation runs a variety of volunteer programs, manages the university's annual orientation week (pictured), organises short courses and provides resources such as a pottery studio and darkroom. Arc publishes a weekly events guide, Blitz, and a student newspaper, Tharunka.

Arc operates nine retail outlets, plus The Roundhouse, an iconic entertainment venue and bar.


Six board directors are directly elected by students to two-year terms. Three seats are up for election each year. The Student Representative Council President and Student Development Committee Convenor are also accorded board seats, these positions are elected by students annually. The remaining directors are appointed: two alumni, two university representatives and the company's Chief Executive Officer.[2]


The first Chair of Arc was Kate Bartlett (06/07 term). Kate was followed by Caitlin Hurley (07/08 term), Simon Crawford-Ash (08/09), Caroline Wallace (09/10) and Jessica Mobbs (10/11). The current chair is Natalie Karam.

The CEO of Arc is Brad Hannagan. The Student Representative Council President is Osman Faruqi. The Postgraduate Council President is Ritwik Roy. The Student Development Committee Convenor is Scarlett Ha.

Notable former UNSW student politicians include activist David Madden and parliamentarians Kerry Nettle and Penny Sharpe. Sharpe, along with Ken Fowlie, served as presidents of the National Union of Students of Australia. John Niland, who served as UNSW's vice-chancellor from 1992 until 2002, is a former SU president.


Arc produces a number of publications throughout the year. The two regular publications are Blitz, a weekly "What's On" guide, and Tharunka, a student written magazine focusing on political issues. A number of annual publications are produced in conjunction with volunteer programs run by the organisation, such The International Cookbook, a compilation of student submitted recipes, Unsweetened, which showcases written pieces and Zing Tycoon, an artistic zine produced by College of Fine Arts students.


Blitz is a student magazine published every week of Session and O-Week by Arc @ UNSW, based at the University of New South Wales.[3] Blitz under this name first appeared in session 2, 1988, but a similar "what's on" style publication had been issued by the then University Union since the early 1970s. Initially it consisted of a simple sheet or two of paper, but it evolved into its current magazine style format in session 2 1994 [4] when a former editor from another student publication on campus, Tharunka, was hired to found a weekly "What's on" magazine. Blitz sometimes pays for casual contributors for submitted articles and photographs and employs a student editor, student designer and two student writers.

Blitz typically covers the going's on around campus and conducts interviews and publishes stories relating to current student activities. It widely publicises Arc services and activities on campus. Due to its non-partisan policy, it does not cover political issues, with the exception of voluntary student unionism. However in 2004 an edition of Blitz was withdrawn by the student union because it contained a guide to rolling a joint. The editor Janet Duncan claimed there had been censorship of her editorial in the following issue.[5] Arc @ UNSW announced that the organisation would continue to publish the magazine after the introduction of voluntary student unionism in 2007.[6]


Tharunka, meaning "message stick" in the language of the Aboriginal people local to the area, is a student newspaper originally published by the UNSW Students Union from 1953 until 1992, when that body was replaced by the University of New South Wales Student Guild. The Guild published Tharunka from 1993 until 2006 and the successor student organisation, Arc @ UNSW Limited, continued the publication of Tharunka from 2007.

Tharunka is managed by a small editorial team and actively solicits contributions from the UNSW student body. Including staff wages, the publication's budget is under $30,000 per year.[7]

Student Representative Council

The SRC is a student body housed within Arc and the peak body for the representation of student issues at UNSW. It runs Collectives for student groups and organises activities and campaigns.

The UNSW Law Revue Society's 2008 submission to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations criticised the Representative Council for having "wasted students’ time & money focusing on internal structuring issues; rather than truly lobbying for better student rights".[8]


The Arc Student Representative Council works with NUS to campaign on behalf of a variety of causes. According to the Council's website, "A fully funded and free tertiary education system could be paid for with only a small fraction of the money which is poured into budget surpluses, tax cuts for high income earners and military spending."

The Arc Student Representative Council is opposed to recent workplace relations reforms, supports Australian ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, seeks to increase the amount paid to students through Youth Allowance, and seeks to prevent the construction of nuclear power stations.[9]


Arc Student Development facilities the clubs and societies at Kensington and COFA.[10] Some clubs include Circusoc and the UNSW Atheist Society; both one of a kind in Australian Universities[citation needed]. The Arc awards prizes to the best clubs and societies, for example, the 2008 Club of the Year was awarded to the UNSW Economics Society (EcoSoc) and NUTS.

UNSW Revues

UNSW Revues provide some of the major theatrical comedy productions on campus each year.

UNSW Debating Society

The Society was ranked 11 in the 2008 World Universities Debating Rankings, slipping to 17 in 2009 but rising to 16 in 2010. It won the Australian British Parliamentary Debating Championship in 2004 and 2005.

New South Wales University Theatrical Society

The theatrical society produces many shows each year.

Film Society

Screens modern and classic films every week during semester.

Society of Orchestra and Pipers

The society that runs the University's orchestra and wind band with UNSW through the Large Instrumental Music Ensembles (LIME) Committee.


The Hip Hop Society that runs dance classes.

Chocolate Society

The society fund raises money for charity with chocolate.

Faculty-based Societies

Large faculty-based student societies include, the Computer Science & Engineering Society (CSESoc), the Medical Society (MedSoc), UNSW Economics Society (EcoSoc), UNSW Civil and Environmental Engineering Society (CEVSoc), UNSW Business Society (BSOC) and the UNSW Law Society (Lawsoc).


University of New South Wales Student Guild

Students' Union

The first student organisation at the university was the Students' Union (SU), established at the then New South Wales University of Technology on 8 September 1952 by the University Council. The SU was replaced by the Student Guild of Undergraduates and Postgraduates at the end of 1992. The last president of the SU was Jo Kaar of the National Organisation of Labor Students.

UNSW Student Guild

The University of New South Wales Student Guild of Undergraduates and Postgraduates (commonly referred to as the UNSW Student Guild) was the principal student union at the University of New South Wales. The Guild replaced the University of New South Wales Students' Union and the Postgraduate Representative Association on 1 January 1993. The Guild represented students at all faculties of the university save for the College of Fine Arts and the Australian Defence Force Academy. It had a constituent board for postgraduate students called the Postgraduate Board. The Guild's first President was Penny Sharpe, its last was Jesse Young. Membership of the Student Guild was compulsory for UNSW students at the Kensington campus until 1 July 2006. In late 2006, it commenced the process of winding up following the establishment of Arc @ UNSW.

Political History

By the time of the Guild's establishment, student politicians from the left-wing National Organisation of Labor Students (NOLS) had established a firm ascendancy. In 1994, however, right-wing students running as "Us" polled unexpectedly well, beating the ticket of the president-elect, Warwick Adams, 4-to-1. In the end, a complex network of preference deals between left-wing groups locked "Us" out.

A major phenomenon in National student politics at the time, the Non-Aligned Left represented centre-left coalition that avoided the extremism of radical activist groups like Love and Rage or Resistance. At UNSW they were in many ways populist predecessors to the Everybody phenomenon and, later, Students First in that they exploited links within the campus club and society community to gain power. Reminiscent of Democrats and (at the NUS level) Independent factions, they gathered a very significant volume of support at UNSW and on other campuses around the country. The Guild President in 1993, Alex Hanlon, was prototypical of the group which later involved Amanda Graupner (later the last NUS delegate from the NAL and a member of the Australian Democrats) and Greg Moore (also the president of the UNSW Union but not related to the UNSW Students' Union President of similar name.

As if to mirror the defeat of the Federal Australian Labor Party in 1996, after 13 years in office, right-wing students under the "Everybody" banner came to power under David Coleman. But the key to Everybody's success was not right-wing ideology: it was instead a strategic alliance with international students, coupled with a formidable network amongst colleges and clubs.

Non-left groups were to hold the Guild for seven of the next eight years thanks to this formula as a coalition of nonaligned, centrist and conservative students build a formidable get-out-the-vote machine though links to the residential colleges and communities of foreign students at UNSW. During this time, Australian Liberal Students Federation and National Liaison Committee-aligned student politicians, along with a large number of genuinely non-aligned students from the faculties of law, medicine and engineering, running under the Everybody, U'n'I and SpeakOut! banners, prospered.

In the 2000 elections, however, the Everybody/U'n'i/SpeakOut group fell apart. Without a core political base beyond the personalities of key individuals there was little to hold it together. This disintegration had been in place since the resignation of Nina Pham and the increasing tensions between the Guild Council and Tharunka. The election was poorly contested and a left-wing alliance of "Student Power" candidates led by members of the National Organisation of Labor Students (NOLS) in conjunction with identities from the National Broad Left (NBL), and other unaligned leftist and environmental activists, capitalised on the situation. Student Power pursued a more radical and activist political agenda. The new administration's budget dramatically increased funding to the Guild's activist departments and related collectives, dipping into the Guild's reserves.

A fissure of the NBL and NOLS alliance, coupled with the Guild's failure to cultivate affiliated clubs, helped propel the Labor Right-linked Students First ticket to victory at the 2001 election - with over 70 per cent of the vote.Students First, founded by Sam O'Leary and David Hughes, was based around the UNSW Labor Club (of which O'Leary was the President) and linked to the Australian Labor Party and the Student Unity faction (of which O'Leary and Hughes were, at the time, the State and National convenors respectively). Despite this political core, the ticket had a very broad support base, derived from college students and members of a large number of campus clubs and societies. Students First campaigned on a platform of reducing Guild activism on global non-student political "activist" issues in favour of a strong focus on the needs of students, the politics of higher education and lobbying on campus-specific issues.

Students First sought to undo what they perceived as the fiscal irresponsibility of the previous administration and redirect funding into clubs and societies. The Guild participated actively in the Federal Government's review of Higher Education in Australia, making a series of submissions to the Senate.[11][12][13] This tied in with the group's ideological focus on education and student issues rather than engagement in broader political movements such as the anti-globalization movement, which it claimed was a misuse of student money, no matter how valid such movements might be on their own terms.

The 2003 Guild election saw the incumbent Students First group in decline as experienced people moved away. Students First faced a renewed challenge from National Organisation of Labor Students (Power) and Australian Liberal Students Federation (Your Own University) candidates. Power and Your Own University both outpolled Students First. But Power's candidates were controversially excluded by returning officer Andrew Phanartzis after the ticket was caught with campaigners from outside the university—grounds for disqualification under the regulations. Power's preferences flowed to Students First, nudging the incumbents ahead of Your Own University.[14]

In response, NOLS, the dominant National Union of Students faction, ruled the NUS component of the ballot invalid, excluding the UNSW delegation from the organisation's national conference. The decision was reversed in a deal between NOLS and Student Unity, NUS being unwilling to forfeit the Student Guild's $135,000 affiliation fee.[14]

In 2004, the Guild joined calls for then UNSW Vice Chancellor Rory Hume to be dumped for his role in the Bruce Hall scandal. When the embattled Vice Chancellor resigned in April, then Guild President Courtney Roche told ABC Radio that "Hume has simply meant more fees for students."[15] Roche later told Tharunka that Hume's handling of the Hall whistleblowers had been "shocking".[16]

In November 2004, the Guild was attacked by Daily Telegraph columnist Michael Duffy for attempting to prevent the expression of support for voluntary student unionism at UNSW. "Student politics is still notoriously corrupt and secretive," Duffy wrote, reporting that "the editors of the student union magazine Tharunka, have been told by the Guild Council ... not to publish articles in support of voluntary unionism."[17]

Students First won the 2001, 2002 and 2003 elections—though the results of the last election were rejected by the heavily favoured NOLS opposition. In 2004, Students First pushed through changes to the Guild's constitution in order to make better use of the organisation's resources. This proved a high water mark for the group, which spent most of the latter part of the 2004 term fighting internal battles.

In 2004, the University of New South Wales Postgraduate Board, hitherto an autonomous department of the Guild, indicated its intention to split from the Guild.

The 2004 election was won by the National Broad Left (NBL) and NOLS-linked Power ticket, with Students First only a token presence on the ballot paper.

In 2005, the Guild attracted negative publicity in the mainstream and student press after it offered monetary incentives to campus clubs in return for getting students to attend a protest against voluntary student unionism. Then president Manoj Dias-Abey defended the $500 prize pool as educative. Education Minister Brendan Nelson dismissed the Guild's protest, telling the Sydney Morning Herald that "The average, normal students whose compulsorily collected fees are paying for this sort of rent-a-crowd have probably had enough. This is a perfect example of how they continue to be forced to pay for activities that they may not need or want."[18]

In the 2005 election the incumbents under a new name of "Voice" defeated a combined Unity/Liberal challenge with an overwhelming majority. The election highlighted in particular the effectiveness in strategic alliances between large student clubs and societies with politically affiliated tickets. On the first day of polling, over 85 campaigners from Voice were seen to march down the main walkway. "It was a sea of red" claimed one bystander. This election was the subject of a student-made documentary, Politics 101: Big Fish, Little Pond, timed to observe student politics as the implementation of voluntary student unionism drew closer. Voice won the 2006 election, students electing Jesse Young as President. The Guild's position on a restructure presented the maintenance of almost all of their expenses as a minimum position during a 2005 review of student organisation services.[7]

University of New South Wales Union

In 1961, the university established the University of New South Wales Union to provide campus services. Though the Union shared a membership base with the SU, its higher membership fees and control of on-campus retailing immediately made it the larger of the two organisations. The overlaps between their respective roles were to be contested for the next 45 years.

At the beginning of 2006, the Union rebranded, referring to itself as "the Source".

The Source was primarily involved in providing student services such as retail outlets, entertainment and social activities. It also ran events including Orientation Week, Oktoberfest, Sourcefest, weekly dance parties and the weekly Blitz magazine which included a 'What's On' guide for the Kensington Campus.

In late 2006, it commenced the process of winding up following the establishment of Arc @ UNSW.

College of Fine Arts Students' Association

Until 2007, the College of Fine Arts, a UNSW faculty based at the smaller Paddington campus, had a separate student union.

The College of Fine Arts Students' Association (COFASA) began life in the mid 1970s as the Art Club at what was then called the Alexander Mackie College. The club was formed to cater to the specific needs of tertiary students of fine arts. At the end of the decade, a Student Representative Council was formed. In 1990, the council changed its name to the College of Fine Arts Students' Association to reflect its broader focus.

The COFASA operated as a 'single structure' student union combining political representation with service delivery. The organisation maintained retail spaces, a student common room and various publications. In addition, it performed a student advocacy role and sent delegates to the National Union of Students.

In late 2006, it commenced the process of winding up following the establishment of Arc @ UNSW.


In 2005, the Federal Parliament passed legislation making membership of student unions voluntary for the first time. This policy, known as voluntary student unionism (VSU), threatened the funding model behind the four UNSW student organisations with compulsory membership provisions.

A report commissioned by the university administration recommended that three of those organisations – the Student Guild of Undergraduates and Postgraduates, the University of New South Wales Union and the College of Fine Arts Students' Association – merge into a single student organisation, a structure in use at the University of Melbourne.

A new company was registered under the name ACN 121 239 674 Limited in August 2006. A transitional board with representatives from the university and existing student organisations managed the process over the following six months. The expected fall in membership fee revenue forced the company to significantly reduce the number of staff – two-thirds of the organisations' 300 paid positions were axed.[19]

The organisation's final structure was adopted on the basis of a report from consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A variety of names were considered by the company before "Arc" was settled upon. The Union, having rebranded as "the Source" in 2006, was of the view that the term "union" was a liability for student unions: organisations such as Students At Macquarie had also moved in this direction. While discussions continued, the company was simply called ACN 121 239 674 Limited or the "New Student Organisation". The "Arc" brand was launched in early 2007.

See also


  1. ^ Arc's Submission to the Impact of Voluntary Student Unionism on Services, Amenities and Representation for Australian University Students' Discussion Paper. Retrieved 3 February 2009 from
  2. ^ Arc: The Board
  3. ^ UNSW A - Z Guide Blitz entry. Retrieved 31-08-07.
  4. ^ Past Blitz issues are available for access at UNSW Archives,
  5. ^ Student papers feel weight of censorship, The Australian, 16 November 2005
  6. ^ What is VSU?, B&T Magazine, 17 November 2006
  7. ^ a b O'Halloran, Brett (June 2005) "The Implications of Voluntary Student Unionism Legislation for UNSW An Issues Paper with Recommendations". Accessed 13 Nov. 2006 [1]
  8. ^ UNSW Law Revue Society's Submission on the impact of Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) on Services, Amenities and Representation for Australian University Students. Retrieved 3 February 2009 from
  9. ^ Welcome to Rep Council
  10. ^ Arc Club List
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^>
  14. ^ a b Stella, Joe (23 Feb. 2004). "Maintaining the rage or arguing the toss?". Tharunka.
  15. ^ Australian Broadcasting Corporation (9 Apr. 2004). "Uni students welcome vice-chancellor's resignation". ABC Local Radio New South Wales.
  16. ^ Small, Kathryn (26 Apr. 2004). "VC Day". Tharunka.
  17. ^ Duffy, Michael (13 Nov. 2004). "Forced to subsidise bad food and bullies". The Daily Telegraph.
  18. ^ Thompson, Matthew (26 Apr. 2005). "Student cash for protest denounced as rent-a-crowd". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  19. ^ Alexander, Harriet (15 November 2006). 'Anger as student body agrees to university workplace deal'. Sydney Morning Herald.

External links

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