Liv Peck, St Andrew’s Scholar and Secretary-elect of the Students’ Club, is no stranger to leadership positions. She was selected as the 2016 Fresher Representative having served as Vice Captain of St Columba Anglican School (Port Macquarie, NSW) the year prior. Her upcoming role, however, will present challenges and opportunities of a different order. Thanks to the model of student governance that St Andrew’s College has upheld for 150 years, Liv will be one of three Executive leaders to make lasting decisions on behalf of an autonomous student body.
The first task on Liv’s agenda is, however, far from exciting or inspiring: administrating the room draw. “There’s no beating around the bush – it’s tricky and I can only hope I figure it out in a way that’s fair!” However, offsetting this is a year-long opportunity to shape the practices and dynamics of the St Andrew’s College community. One of the contemporary challenges for colleges is keeping pace with societal standards while preserving idiosyncratic traditions. “Next year will be different,” she admits, “but I’m looking forward to working out how our College can maintain its core values and history within this period of transition. 150 years of history doesn’t disappear overnight, and we’ll endeavour to make sure that the efforts of previous House Committees remain recognised and important.”
Liv speaks openly and frankly about the ongoing media interest and scrutiny colleges have been subject to in recent years. “Contemporary standards change, and with this change all institutions in society, including colleges, should be held accountable. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the issues highlighted by the media are exclusive to St Andrew’s, or even to Sydney University Colleges; the same issues are prevalent in other residential colleges, university villages, share houses and communal living spaces across the country.”
She is also willing to speak honestly about the relevance of colleges to tertiary education. “Nowhere else will you find a place that assumes the responsibility of introducing young adults into the next phase of their lives quite like St Andrew’s College does,” she points out. “We are exposed to opportunities and connections that may not materialise until most of us are in the workforce. We are taught the value of hard work and the responsibilities that come with it, and we are held accountable for our actions, both positive and negative, in a way that no other institutions afford.” But it is the social opportunities afforded by colleges that Liv values most. “The friendships formed in College are like no other, and will be long-lasting – this is why the College is important to me.”
In an unprecedented election result, eight out of the eleven 2018 House Committee positions will be filled by women. “This result,” Liv says, “shows that the St Andrew’s College has moved past traditional notions of ‘strong leadership’ (namely masculine voices supported by a mix of male and female leaders). The students have elected what they consider to be a strong House Committee.”
As Liv readies for an exciting year ahead, 2017 Secretary, Sarah Steele-Park, prepares to focus on her career in the sporting industry. Sarah, who was struck by how much behind-the-scenes work the position entails, has had a memorable and challenging experience. “I thought it would be a cruisy year working with my best mates Lachie and Georgia,” she says, “but in fact, it was a roller coaster. Trying to balance sport and university while representing over 300 students is really hard, and not something people will understand unless they have experienced it first hand… but I have had the absolute time of my life.”
Sarah has taken the challenges of leadership in her stride and served the College community with distinction. We thank her for her wonderful contributions this year, and wish Liv the very best of luck for the year to come!
- Will Cesta, Dean of Admissions
Photos courtesy of Minami Takahashi
Bottom photo, 2018 Executive. L-R: Liv Peck, Susannah Cooke, Liv O’Connor