A new era began at the University of Sydney Union today, when fourth-year Economics student, Patrick Bateman officially assumed the highly-esteemed role of USU President for the 2009-10 term.
The new President replaces outgoing President Ruchir Punjabi as the face of the historic organisation, and said he is incredibly proud to serve as the head of the USU, and believes the USU’s best days are “still ahead”.
“It's a privilege and honour to be able to work every day with our dedicated staff and be part of this extraordinary organisation,” said Mr Bateman.
Bateman will be flanked by third-year Arts student, Courtney Tight, who replaces Alice Dixon as Vice President, Douglas Thompson, replacing Justin Hancock as Honorary Treasurer, and executive newcomer Giorgia Rossi, who takes over from Vyvyan Nickels as Honorary Secretary.
Bateman’s new deputy, Courtney Tight could also barely contain her joy after being named Vice-President of the USU.
“If I had been told in my first year of university that I would one day be serving as the Vice President of the University of Sydney Union, I would have most probably laughed and responded with ‘you are joking!’” said Ms Tight.
“It is important that we are consistent in our efforts to reach and provide for the university community in a way that is both relevant and desired,” she said.
Taking a practical tone, new Honorary Treasurer, Douglas Thompson said he recognises the thorny circumstances he is up against, with the USU not immune to the current global financial crisis that has relegated many organisations to the economic scrap heap.
“Over the next year I feel that issues regarding the USU’s long-term financial sustainability and independence will challenge the new Board of Directors,” said Mr Thompson. “With the new executive team, I feel that we will be able to meet these challenges and any others that we are faced with.”
New Honorary Secretary, Giorgia Rossi, who was only recently elected to the Board last May, also identified the external pressures on the organisation, but said it wouldn’t prevent the new executive from “seeking to form new relationships and reinforce the carefully managed partnerships that currently exist”.
Meanwhile, there was no indolent wind-down for Ruchir Punjabi during his final days as USU President.
Mr Punjabi spent his last Presidential moments as busy as ever, as he oversaw exciting new USU projects aimed at fostering a vibrant and all-inclusive community at the University of Sydney.
These initiatives include long-time USU projects, such as the new Union Plaza, International Student Lounge and Verge Gallery that have finally come into fruition under Mr Punjabi’s period in office. Mr Punjabi, who graduated recently with a Bachelor of Computer Science and Technology (Advanced), said his Presidential term was “by far the best experience I have had in my life ‘til this point”.
“I learnt more in my last year as President then I did in my three years at University,” he said. An international student from India, Punjabi said he was committed to making the USU “more approachable, transparent and supportive”.
“This was while working within the University family to ensure that we achieve the best possible outcomes for the members of this community,” he said.
Ruchir now joins a diverse and exclusive club of former USU Presidents, that includes Sir Edmund Barton, H. V. Evatt, Michael Kirby and Adam Spencer.
“I now plan to enter the unchartered territory of business on my own and explore what it has to offer,” said Mr Punjabi, who will still sit on the board as the non-voting Immediate Past President.
“I congratulate Pat Bateman and wish him and his Board all the best for a year that is sure to challenge USU to aspire to even greater heights,” he said.
Mr Bateman returned the favour and congratulated Punjabi for his achievements, and said he is now focused on keeping the USU Board’s momentum rolling.
“My main priority is to continue the great work of my predecessor, in adding depth to our engagement with students on campus,” he said, “I want to expand our programs so that we can extend our reach to new groups on and off campus.”
“The USU should always be striving to create a real University community,” said Bateman.
“It is hard to even imagine this University without the USU.”