By Madeleine Dunne
We were all bombarded with endless unijam propaganda – but what actually was it? What worked? What was a total flop? First year student Madeleine Dunne investigates the positives and negatives of the recent university initiative.
On the bright side:
- Ideas were running wild throughout the jam, with numerous “why on earth didn’t we think of this before” suggestions emerging minute by minute. A shuttle bus between campuses, full video recording of all lectures, a UniSA iPhone app and a more powerful orientation week were all amongst hoards of relatively simple ideas identified by the unijam board as easily doable in the near future. Staff, students and alumni could easily voice their many visions for the university as threads or comments, and the unijam board actually took the time to read through all the posts to see what they can do for the institution in the near future. I mean, seriously—what better place than unijam to rally for a bar at Magill campus, or to experiment with pop-up cafés, or suggest publicly wearable university apparel? Suggestions were constantly flowing and, essentially, ideas were being heard. It was a massive step in the development of UniSA as a leading worldwide institution.
- Twitter went totally crazy with #unijam posts, with users incessantly tweeting about the forum into the early hours of the morning. #unijam was a trending topic for much of the 36 hours it was live, with head mojos such as Vice Chancellor David Lloyd even running the university’s Twitter account for a good deal of the jam. Personalising such a massive media platform with posts by the VC made students far more inclined to hop on to #unijam, as they were receiving a sort of esteemed attention that so often lacks in the university lifestyle between staff and students. Twitter was an essential medium in promoting #unijam, providing contributors with yet another platform to share and discuss innovative, achievable ideas.
- A number of big names took part in unijam, with personalities such as Premier Jay Weatherill, senator Nick Xenophon, NASA Administrator Major General Charles Bolden, former PM Bob Hawke and media personality Amanda Blair all contributing their opinions and array of industry knowledge to the jam. For the 36 short hours of unijam, students, alumni and staff alike could speak to these widely admired public figures as equals and use their well-informed comments as further inspiration for even more ideas to help UniSA move onwards and upwards.
- The day before unijam took off, each campus was treated with an array of indulgences to incite us to hop on the unijam bandwagon. Pizza, popcorn, scones, drinks, massages, and even free pens and wristbands were being given out in an attempt to make sure as many people as possible knew that unijam was happening. Did it work in promoting the jam? I’m not entirely convinced that it did. But you’ll never catch me listing free pizza as a negative.
- The format of unijam was sophisticated but at the same time easy to use, meaning that no participant was held back from contributing to the forum because of their lack of technological capabilities. The more senior members of the university community managed surprisingly well at adequately operating the modern online forum—not so inept at social media now, Baby Boomers? The site offered an array of formats for users to easily contribute ideas and respond to other people’s suggestions, meaning that young or old, computer illiterate or otherwise, everyone had the opportunity to fully express their vision for UniSA.
On the dark side:
- What the flaming heck is unijam? Despite there being 10+ posters in just one of my lecture theatres alone, and regardless of the countless emails we all received, many people had absolutely no clue what on earth unijam even was. A new UniSA website? A compulsory subject? A pub-crawl? A jam making competition? Another free sausage sizzle? When the answer was offered as “a forum to talk to staff about the university”, you could see the lights dim in the eyes of your peers. Oh goodie, a forum.
- Everywhere I looked there were staff, staff, alumni, staff, and you guessed it—more staff! All bar one of the ‘top rated jammers’ were staff for the majority of unijam, and guest contributors had an annoying tendency to only respond to senior members of the forum. One must question why people who are getting paid by the university were more inclined to raise their voices than those who have the blessing of HECS fees—but hey, that’s Generation Y for you. It’s debatable whether there was an overwhelming number of staff or an underwhelming number of students involved in unijam, however I’m inclined to go against my own kind and agree with the latter. Despite being slightly more opinionated (and obsessed with social media) than your average 19-year-old girl, I found myself standing almost alone amongst hoards of staff who had 99 problems… And student voices weren’t one.
- The timing of unijam seemed somewhat poorly planned, being smack-bang in the final weeks of the semester when gigantic assignments are due and exams are looming. Many people were far more inclined to meet the deadlines for their courses than to beg for prices to drop in Aroma or discuss the upkeep of grass on the UniSA grounds. The main reason that there were so few students involved in unijam? Perhaps.
- A big question in the aftermath of unijam is whether the event was long enough. Obviously, the longer the jam went on for, the more people would come to know about it and be inspired to add to it. Was there enough time for people to discuss unijam in real life and motivate one another to contribute their ideas? No. Especially when the majority of people attend uni earlier in the week, two days of unijam in the latter half of the week was simply not long enough for the true essence of the forum to spread.
- Nobody took my suggestion of introducing more koalas to Magill Campus seriously, and I’m really upset about that. Really, heartbreakingly upset. 🙁
So, we came, we saw, we unijammed—but was it all a success? In most aspects, yes. Suggestions were made and suggestions were heard, however whether the forum fully reached out to every member of the UniSA community is debatable. Was it successful enough for another unijam to be held in the future? Only time will tell. Let’s see a university iPhone app and an awesome orientation week before we make any more big decisions. However, if another unijam means more free pizza and, slightly more importantly, a louder student voice—then I say hey, David Lloyd, bring it on!