Fantastic Mr Fox
7 March 2012
James Fox, photo by Joanne Saad
- As this year's Student President for the UTS Union Board, assisting services for those who are balancing work and study is high on James Fox's 2012 agenda
- Fox says the newly introduced Student Service Amenities Fee will give students better campus discounts for clubs, societies, events and programs as well as extra funding for grants and scholarships
James Fox is a people person. He’s the voice of the student body and it’s likely he’ll be fighting the good fight well after he graduates.
As Student President for the UTS Union Board, the Bachelor of Business student – nicknamed Fantastic Mr Fox during his election campaign – is no stranger to the world of student representation and governance. He’s the inaugural president of Labor Students NSW and an executive of Young Labor NSW. He’s also former President of the UTS Australian Labor Party Club, former Assistant Secretary for the UTS Student Representative Council (SRC) and was the UTS Representative for the National Union of Students (NUS).
A supporter of the newly introduced Student Service Amenities Fee (SSAF), Fox says it’s an exciting time to be coming into his presidency role. The SSAF allows universities to charge a fee for student services and facilities of a non-academic nature, which means better campus discounts for student clubs, societies, events and programs as well as extra funding for grants and scholarships.
“What I’ve gained from university isn’t just from a classroom, it’s through participating in the union, through clubs and societies. We needed a reform like the SSAF to come in so that we could start really lifting our services to match an expanding and growing university and provide good representation for students. The voluntary student unionism legislation (VSU) was turning universities into degree factories, so I’m happy it’s been repealed.
“The model we have at UTS is really functional and we’ve weathered the storm well. We’ve continued to have a union and SRC whereas at other unis they’ve folded or been absorbed by their university administration, usually unsuccessfully.”
Fox credits the late former CEO of the UTS Union and President of the Australasian Campus Union Managers’ Association Tom O’Sullivan for providing students with a well-funded future on campus.
“I’m particularly grateful to Tom – he was a friend, a mentor and someone I respected very deeply. He did so much for today’s students and they’ll never know him despite the impact he’s had on their future university experience. He lived to see the VSU overturned; he was the real driver behind that nationally. Even while he was very ill, he continued to fight for this.”
Previously a full time student, Fox is now studying part time and working full time for the Liquor and Hospitality Division of the union United Voice. Assisting services for those who, like himself, are balancing work and study is high on Fox’s 2012 agenda.
“UTS as an institution looks after its people but, due to the constraints of the VSU, services have some way to go to catch up. One of the things I’m pushing hard for, and have had a lot of success with so far, is seeing servicing hours expand across the campus, particularly at food outlets. For example, a late opening coffee cart near classrooms would be appreciated.”
Fox’s time at UTS really has come full circle. Having commenced his education back in 1990 as a toddler at UTS’s Magic Pudding Child Care Centre (his father is Manager of Workplace Relations and Policy Peter Fox), he’s now on the UTS Child Care Board as a director and will be involved with the management of operations.
“I think I’m lucky to have been so connected to the UTS community, from Magic Pudding then later when I would occasionally come to work with dad. When it came time to pick a university I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.”
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