Introducing your student rep Trent Ford

18 Jul 2017

Trent Ford

When it comes to advocating for the student voice, 4th Year Crim/Law student Trent Ford comes with the credentials. This year he’s your student rep on the Arts & Social Sciences Faculty Board, the Academic Quality Committee for Arts & Social Sciences AND the UNSW Faculty Board of Student Reps.

Plus, he’s served for three years on the Criminology Society executive, most recently as President. (Nice.)

Well versed in UNSW protocols, Trent knows his way around campus. He’s your man if you need help navigating UNSW assessment policies or just seeking out the best coffee spots.

(TF: best upper-campus caffeine, the Coffee Cart ‘beautifully located outside Morven Brown’. For low-campus caffeination, head to Will & Co. Study-fuel sorted.)

So, who is the man behind the smile?

Trent split his childhood between the North Shore and Port Macquarie, giving him an appreciation of both smaller-town and big-city life. His fascination with the criminal mind dates from a young age. But he was always destined to use his powers for good – not evil.

Until late primary school, he dreamt of becoming a policeman. In high school, this translated into an interest in law.

‘I had lofty aspirations of locking up criminals and things like that,’ he says. ‘Then I got to university and became more enlightened!’

Inspired by a love of Legal Studies in Years 11 and 12, he began contemplating a career at the Bar. His Legal Studies teacher was something of a role model. With a background in family law, he was Trent’s first connection to the legal world.

‘I’d usually spend ten minutes after every class just racking his brain for information!’ Trent says.

Trent was drawn to the performative element of barrister work, in particular criminal law. His first year in Criminology opened his eyes to the intricacies and complex nature of crime, and the complex interweaving of the criminal justice system and bureaucracy necessary for its application.

At the end of the year, he added a Bachelor of Law to his slate.

Trent Ford

How does his Bachelor of Criminology & Criminal Justice feed into his Bachelor of Law?

‘Law is the black letter – this is the law,’ he says, ‘whilst Criminology is a lot more about asking the question what should the law be, what should the criminal justice look like… I’d preface this by asking what is crime? What is going wrong and how can we learn from that to make a more wholistic system?’

Criminology’s multidisciplinary approach delves into sociology and psychology as well as jurisprudence, examining the intersection between black-letter law and the social considerations around law-making.

‘The Arts and Social Sciences give the added value of teaching students to question what kind of society we want to have,’ he says, ‘and what kind of values or ethics should surround this.’

The students taking criminology are also incredibly diverse which makes for interesting debates.

‘In tutorials, you have so many different people from different disciplines,’ he says. ‘Lots of Arts students with diverse majors or Social Work or Psychology students majoring in Criminology. That’s what’s amazing.’

How does his family feel about having a lawyer in the family?

Trent is the first in his family to go to university. So, ‘They’re really happy,’ he laughs. ‘They’re very proud!’

His father completed his School Certificate and moved into business, whilst his mother studied ballet, completing her Higher School Certificate at an accomplished Queensland dance school. His brother is studying at the Australian Institute of Music – so they’re a talented bunch.

‘Our family network is very supportive,’ he says. ‘They never pushed me to do anything. I’m very grateful for that.’

Growing up around the family’s dry cleaning business in Mosman helped Trent develop a good work ethic. In fact, he’s been doing legal work experience with one of their clients, ‘tailing him around the court and in his chambers’ since before university.

So, what does the future hold?

At this stage, Trent is leaning towards prosecution in criminal law, perhaps working with underrepresented minorities through networks, such as the Women In Prison Advocacy Network (WIPAN) and the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS).

“I think the advantage of being Defence Council is that you’re often working with groups facing that power imbalance with the state,’ he says, ‘ensuring their rights and making sure police are conducting their investigations appropriately – things like that are so important – to ensure the justice system is working.’

Trent Ford

What could you contact Trent about?

As your student representative, Trent can communicate any concerns or suggestions to the academic and administrative sectors of the Faculty. Student representatives vote and have a say on aspects of the governance of the Faculty, and voice issues of concern from the student body.

Trent’s also well positioned to help you if you’ve got a question about assessment policies, or you’d like to provide some feedback on your educational experience.

His advice to future students?

‘Try and experience a bit of everything – use that to pick something where there’s a bit of an opening for you to get involved. And just get your teeth stuck into it.

The thing about school is that you’re learning because you have to learn. The thing about uni is, it’s so tied to what happens after-uni. It has meaning. It’s meeting people. It’s developing skills of how to human. Yeah – it’s good.’

Got an issue you want raised with the UNSW Executive? Like to provide some feedback about your educational experience? Or just keen to have a chat about uni life? Get in touch with Trent at trent.ford@student.unsw.edu.au.