BA (Extended) student Tyson Holloway-Clarke becomes UMSU President

Tyson Holloway-Clarke is a well-known face around the Parkville campus. Our interview was punctuated by a stream of students, academics and professional staff waving, shouting hello, trying to organise meetings and promising to return emails. As the newly elected President of the University of Melbourne Student Union, Tyson is in high demand, and he says he likes his days to be full.  Combining study in his Bachelor of Arts with the presidency of UMSU, playing hockey and rugby, and reading Harry Potter to unwind, full they certainly must be.

Tyson on campus in Parkville.
Tyson on campus in Parkville.

Tyson has been involved with the student union and Murrup Barak Melbourne Institute for Indigenous Development as a counsellor and representative for Indigenous students on campus for several years. He believes that active involvement is critical to creating real and meaningful change in any organisation, saying ‘if you’re not loud you’re not going to be heard’.  Predicting the biggest year of change for UMSU, Tyson describes his style of leadership as consultative. Recognising that a single person can only do so much and that students have to be the change they want to see, he chooses to focus his energy on empowering the team around him, with the idea that “social change comes from social leadership”.

Majoring in history in his Bachelor of Arts, Tyson plans to start Honours in history next year basing his thesis on the heavy government dossier he has uncovered on his grandmother. The dossier will be the basis of an exploration of the documents he has uncovered, as well as an investigation into how files like this are put together and the effect they have on the lives they record.  Often, Tyson believes they demonstrate prejudice against a group or an individual. Tyson hopes a PhD focused on Indigenous Australian history will follow his Honours.

Thanks to a recent rugby injury, Tyson is currently using a mobility scooter to get from Trinity College, where he is a resident, to the main campus. Cruising around on a chilly winter morning in shorts, Tyson was quite unconcerned by the weather, pointing out that as he comes from Tasmania, he’s used to it.

Where are you from? Tell us about life before the University of Melbourne.

I moved around a lot as a kid. I’d lived in the NT, QLD, ACT and TAS before I finished primary school. In 2006 I was the recipient of an academic scholarship and Yalari scholarship and in 2007 I started high school at Scotch Oakburn College. While I was there I played a lot of sport, developed a wide range of skills and faced a number of challenges. Living away from home was a challenge sometimes but I also grew highly independent.

Why did you choose to study the Bachelor of Arts?

History has been a passion of mine since I was a kid. I had a subscription to Horrible Histories and I used to read them cover to cover and thoroughly enjoy them. Coming to University, the choice for me was clear that History would be my home.

What has been the most interesting part of your study so far?

It is really hard to see your progress when you are neck deep in work but taking a break and reading an essay you wrote in first year or talking with a mate it becomes clear that you have come a long way. Being able to feel the difference in your skills and knowledge is hugely gratifying.

What has been the biggest challenge been?

At the end of 2014 my good friend Josh Hardy was killed just before exams. That exam period and summer was really hard to deal with both personally and academically.

What is something interesting you have discovered about your study area?

The discoveries have been small and continuous in history. Uncovering the next fact or a different understanding happens almost every day but the biggest epiphanies have been through taking sociology and political theory and applying them to history.