A letter to students from the Dean, Professor Julie Willis

We’re a few weeks into our semester – well done for getting through this far. And if this is your first semester with us, either in the Bachelor of Design or a masters degree, welcome to ABP and the MSD.

It’s been, and continues to be, a difficult time. Coronavirus, and associated its uncertainty, is having an impact on all our students. In particular, Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria have presented new challenges for many of us; while some of you are studying in other states and in many countries around the world that may bring its own challenges. We miss being on campus and all that entails and hope to see you all back there soon.

Still, the spirit of who we are and what we do matters very much. We aim for a dynamic and vibrant environment in which ideas and innovation thrive and there is space for both experimentation and engagement, deeply connected to the multiple professional arenas that shape our built environment. Even online, our classes, studios, workshops and tutorials are at the heart of what we do in the Faculty. In these environments we collectively grapple with complex problems in creative and original ways. Projects, problems and opportunities - from the speculative to the most pragmatic real world issues - are designed to test your thinking and push you out of your comfort zone. We hope you enjoy the creative experimentation and learning that both supports you and delights in your success.

It is hard to study our subjects at a distance and isolated from your student peers, as gesture, detail, peer critique and just the capacity to ask the person next to you what the teacher meant, as well as the buzz and hum of industry and creativity, make it easier – and a lot more fun – to learn. Do stay in touch with your fellow students outside of Zoom if you can – get involved by joining one of our Faculty-related student clubs, or one of the many interest-based clubs associated with your student union. I also encourage you to connect with your classmates via your online subject communities and the MSD Discussion Board. If you’re looking for friends to study with outside class, Peer Assisted Study Sessions are free weekly study sessions led by a student who has successfully completed the subject in a previous year: a great resource at any time.

Make sure you ask for help if you need it – the University offers support for every type of challenge. During Week 1 of semester the University sent a health and wellbeing message to all currently enrolled students alerting you to available support services, including free meal packs, flu vaccinations through the health service, advice on making friends, mental health workshops and booking a GP appointment.

Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) provides free, confidential professional counselling to currently enrolled students. You can contact CAPS (Phone: 03 8344 6927 or book online) during business hours (9am - 5pm AEST, Mon - Fri).

For mental health support and advice outside of business hours (including 24 hours on weekends and public holidays), students and staff can contact the University's Mental Health Crisis Support Service (Phone: 1300 219 459, Text: 0480 079 188).

If you are feeling socially isolated, know that there are people who care very much about you. Make sure you reach out to friends and family as often as you can.

We are proud to count you as a member of our scholarly community and hope we will see you sharing your thoughts with your classmates and connecting with your teachers.

I look forward to seeing you shine.

Best wishes,

Professor Julie Willis 
Dean, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning

Julie #2