President’s Report: Jen Light
Welcome to a new year at Sydney University. Uni is one of the biggest roller coasters of your life, and the SRC is your life support to help you successfully get through it.
My name is Jen Light and I’m your SRC President for 2014. The SRC is your Student Representative Council, there are 33,000 undergraduate students and we are the peak body here to represent you and fight for you. We are your voice to the University, to the Government, and the wider community. The SRC is also affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS), is the national body that connects all SRC’s around the country together. NUS has a two pronged approach; one which is to lobby the Government and be the national voice on students issues, and the other is to run national campaigns throughout the year on specific education, and welfare issues.
HOW CAN THE SRC HELP YOU?
The SRC has been around for 86 years and we have a long history of being completely run by students to benefit students. We offer free, confidential services of Casework and legal service that are available for all undergraduate students. These services spread out to Cumberland, Sydney College of the Arts, the Conservatorium of Music, the Nursing Campus at Mallett St, and Camden Campus.
University life is hard to adapt to, and there are always hiccups along the way so our caseworkers are hear, on your side to help you out with:
Youth Allowance and Centrelink
Students at Risk
Harassment and Discrimination
International Student Issues
Plagiarism and Misconduct
THE FIGHT TO SURVIVE!!
Unfortunately we have entered a year in which the Abbott Government will be a serious threat to our education. We are at risk of seeing the privatisation of HECS, the deregulation of University Fees, and more cuts to higher education funding. Sydney University SRC will be ready to ensure that any cuts, or threats to the quality of our education and the inclusiveness of attending university will be fought against at every level possible.
While we are facing possible cuts to funding, and increasing fees many students have to deal with rent payments, food payments, part time work and full time study. We at the SRC will be working tirelessly to fight for fairer rent costs, and a fairer centrelink system.
COME JOIN US!!!
Like I said the SRC is completely run by students for students, and the only way this works is because we have hundreds of passionate students in our various collectives, and Office Bearers for various different departments. These include Education, Women’s, Queer, Welfare, Environment, Indigenous, International, Disabilities, Ethno-cultural, and many more.
Hopefully I’ll see you throughout the year. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have fun at uni, but most importantly get involved!!
General Secretaries’ Report: Mariana Podesta-Diverio & James Leeder
Greetings, succulent comrades, and welcome to another year of simple extensions and general debauchery. Or, if you’re a first year, we’re so sorry. It was never meant to be like this.
For those of you who came from schools where your SRC’s greatest achievement was selling lamingtons or raising $80 for the Salvos, be thankful that you are now at university. This SRC is different; it has staff, it provides services, it looks out for your interests, and most importantly, it gets shit done.
We’re Jariana, and our role in the SRC is fairly bureaucratic. Simply put, our job is to look after the finances and budget of the SRC and promote its activities. Our job is halfway between the secretary and treasurer role because, well, a couple of years ago they amalgamated the secretary and treasurer role. Still with us? Good.
Remember that $140 you either paid or deferred when you were enrolling a couple of weeks ago? That’s your Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). That sum of money, paid by all students, goes into a large pool and gets distributed between SUPRA, the USU, Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness (SUSF), Cumberland Students’ Guild, Student Support Services, and yours truly – the Student’s Representative Council. The SRC, along with other student organisations, is in the middle of negotiations that determine how much each organisation receives. The SSAF money we receive – which is generally just above the $1million mark – goes to paying our caseworkers and lawyers, our activism, printing Honi Soit, and running our second-hand bookshop in Wentworth just to name a few. It’s our lifeblood, and our only source of income. SUSF, on the other hand, who receive upwards of $3.8 million (the most of any student organisation), offer no free services to students and have a generally hideous colour scheme. They can’t sit with us.
One of the things we’re proudest to boast about is the SRC’s free casework service. We have a number of full-time staff dedicated to seeing students with academic, financial or personal problems. Some of the staff will be at the SRC stall, as will we, come up and say hello.
We also want you to read the Orientation Handbook, which we produced, which has a bunch of recipes for disaster including places to eat, drink, fart, and fuck around campus without attracting unwanted attention from bewildered passers-by, or putting a hole into your wallet. Rejoice!
Anyway, we’re rambling now. So, uh, previous general secretaries have made names for themselves as the writers of inebriatingly dull Honi reports, but you can expect more incoherent hack babble from the desk of Jariana. Good day.
Queer Officers’ Report: Elsa Kohane, Ed McMahon, Holly Parrington & David Shakes
If you identify as queer – that is, anything other than “straight” – you may wish to join one of the oldest, most active queer organisations on campus, the Queer Action Collective (QuAC). This collective is a radical community, dedicated to fighting queer oppression at uni and beyond, as well as being an autonomous, anonymous and welcoming social environment and network for queer students.
The collective aims to be a safer accessible space for all queers on campus. We seek to actively challenge queerphobic, sexist, racist and similar attitudes and behaviours within our collective and beyond. The queerspace – a room just for queer students located in the Holme building – is a place to organise, meet, and for members to use however else they choose. Meetings are held here twice a week- a general meeting at 1pm on Tuesday and an autonomous (that means exclusive) meeting for non cis male identifying queer people at 1pm on Thursday.
Something members of QuAC have been working on, along with other students from universities all over NSW, is a float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade. The theme of the float is “More Than Marriage”, which is in many ways a great representation of the collective.
The Queer rights movement has been recently dominated by a rights-based assimilationist agenda, where equality is sought on the grounds of sameness. Asserting the ‘normality’ of being queer denies what we should truly seek – autonomy and power in difference. While most people now agree that so long as the institution of marriage is available to heteronormative relationships, access to the institution should be granted to non-straight relationships, there are many other important causes within the queer movement that don’t receive anywhere near the amount of attention that “marriage equality” does. They are issues of life and death – things like queer poverty, mental health, and asylum seeking. Yet they do not get as much airtime because they are not promoted by the “pink dollar” and the cis, white, gay men who primarily control it.
The Mardi Gras float aims to show the world that queer students are fighting for more than just marriage equality, and that society should too. The float will promote issues such as transgender rights (“combating the cis-tem”), protest the fascist immigration policies of the state that operate particularly harshly on queer asylum seekers, protest police violence and brutality against queers (which has specific relevance to Mardi Gras), and advocate for the introduction of queer sexual education in schools. If you’re interested in coming on the float, go here: http://goo.gl/z8M8Xy .
There is plenty more than Mardi Gras happening the first few weeks of semester. To find out more, such as how to find the queerspace, find our stall at O Week, find an officer on Facebook (the Queer Officers for 2014 are Elsa Kohane, Edward McMahon, Holly Parrington and David Shakes), or contact us at email@example.com. We hope to see you at the meetings in Week 1!
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report: Julia Readett, Phoebe Moloney & Georgia Cranko
2014 is going to be a very exciting year for us. We will be putting a large focus on accessibility and inclusion which is a principle we would like all our gatherings to embody. This means that the spaces, tone and activities of our events don’t implicitly or explicitly exclude certain experiences of being a wom*n. We want to provide ample opportunity for all our members to explore and share new ideas, stories and experiences influencing their activism. Together in 2014 we want to critically examine what Wom*n’s activism has and could be.
Maybe you have noticed that wom*n’s activism, particularly western Feminism tends to focus on one experience of being a woman; being white, heterosexual, employed, comfortable with identifying as a ‘woman’ and who ‘look’ like women. This year Wom*n’s Collective wants to work hardest at fostering a community and outlook that practises intersectionality in our activism. Intersectionality is a word you mightn’t be familiar with but it is a concept used to describe the experience of identities which fall out of normative moulds (for example the classic ‘woman’ we described above) who experience and embody more than one oppression in their lives. When we fight for wom*n’s rights we can’t just fight on behalf of a “normal” woman’s experience (because “normal” in fact that describes very few of us!). We have to fight for the wom*n who experience sexism, racism, queerphobia, transphobia, gendered-violence, fat-shaming, unemployment, classism, whore-phobia – because just the fact they identify in some way as a wom*n makes their experience of these oppressions something quite different to a man’s.
If you would like to talk to us about intersectionality or activisim or feminism or university or anything, please (PLEASE) come to talk to us at our O-week stall – which we are officially pumped for! Look out for us on Eastern Ave where we will be handing out show-bags that detail our activities and practices further, and our publication ‘Growing Strong’ which celebrates the diverse literary and artistic talents of wom*n both on campus and off. We will also be munching on ironic cupcakes, selling freshly made t-shirts and undies that raise awareness about sexual consent.
Hope to see you there!
Education Officers’ Report: Eleanor Morley & Ridah Hassan
With conservative creeps like Abbott and Pyne calling the shots, students have a fight on our hands. They’ve been in office for roughly 5 months and already they’ve discussed cutting $2.3 billion from higher education, privatising HECS and the removal of the Student Services and Amenities Fee. The Liberals in government is bad news for students.
The $2.3 billion in cuts will include a slashing of $900 million from university budgets, which would put more pressure on the already under-funded higher education system; less course diversity, bigger class sizes and the undermining of general and academic staff conditions and wages. It is predicted that if these cuts go ahead $50 million will be slashed from Sydney Uni. The cuts also include attacks on student welfare, primarily the conversion of the start-up scholarships to HECS loans, which would mean that students who receive the scholarship could now finish university with up to 40% more debt than our wealthy counterparts.
But we’re not going to take these attacks lying down, students need to take a stand against the Abbott government. We need to organize together to demonstrate our opposition, and pressure the government to back down.
And Tony Abbott is used to fighting with the lefty students. In fact when he was a student at Sydney Uni he once warned about the “Marxists…that are operating in the universities.” Well, here we are. And apart from education activism, we’ve also been planning the Marxism 2014 conference which takes place in Melbourne over the Easter break. Marxism is Australia’s biggest left-wing conference, featuring speakers from across Australia and the world, discussing radical history, theory and ideas to challenge the system. For more info see marxismconference.org.
But the first step in taking on Abbott and Pyne is coming out to the education demonstration on the 26th March. This will be an opportunity for students everywhere to stand up for our education, with protests being held all across the country on the same day. Sydney Uni students are meeting at 12pm outside Fisher Library to march as a contingent to UTS where the main demonstration will be held. For more information about the protest or how to get involved in the education campaign contact Ridah Hassan on 0402 667 707 or Eleanor Morley on 0448 029 165 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first Education Action Group meeting for the year will be held Tuesday week 1 on the New Law Lawns at 2pm.
Environment Officers’ Report: Steven Kwon, Amelie Vanderstock & Marco Avena
Like trees, bees and seas? Interested in meeting other folk who share these interests and want to protect them? AHAH! I see you’ve found the environment collective!
Who are we? We are an SRC collective (no access needed to join!) dedicated to learning about and taking action on issues of social and environmental justice both on and off campus. We are linked with like-minded mates across the country as part of Australian Student environment network (ASEN) and together work on local and nation-wide campaigns such as ‘fossil free universities’. We:
Are concerned about coal, coal seam gas (CSG), uranium mining, nuclear energy and the destruction of Indigenous autonomy, forests and marine parks as a result.
Love renewable energy, forests, reefs, food coops, community gardens… and sunflowers
Always strive to campaign in solidarity with local and indigenous communities
Have a non-hierarchical approach to decision making that is inclusive and consensus based so everybody has an equal ownership of the group and its actions
What do we do? We run campaigns, have weekly meetings, host discussion groups and info nights, fight fossil fuels directly on campus, join the NSW anti-CSG movement and blockade bulldozers and logging machinery, host forums, screen films, rally for the reef, attend camps, organise ride to work days, discuss societal change, eat awesome food and enjoy good company!
Fossil Free Universities: As part of a nation-wide ASEN campaign, we are pressuring USYD to ‘divest’ from fossil fuels on campus. That is, stop investing hundreds of millions of dollars in coal companies and their financiers such as ANZ to send the message of a lacking social and academic license as well as prevent such money from influencing the direction of our research and education.
USYD Community Garden: In 2013 we joined the SRC, Food Coop and Centre for English Teaching (CET) to build a community garden on level 5 of Wentworth (Look up from Hermanns). We’ve found that sustainability education and growing our own food has become a fantastic way to meet new enviroey mates! Join the USYD Community garden to get involved!
Leard State Forest (Maules Creek): We’ve been joining the 500 day blockade at the leard state forest to stop the construction of the Maules creek mine. This would destroy 1600 hectares of unique bushland and farmland. This region contains sacred indigenous land and 544 hectares of critically endangered habitat. The machine are in but and farmers, activists, community members, students and Gomeroi peoples are uniting against them.
Mining the Truth Roadtrips: We join ASEN folk from NSW in an annual roadtrip around the state to visit communities directly affected by the impacts of coal and coal seam gas. In 2012 we filmed an award winning documentary ‘Mining the Truth’ which shares the stories of those we met on our travels. Themed ‘Just transitions’, in 2013 we met not just the fighters, but people working in the mining industry to build a dialogue of a just and sustainable future.
Students of sustainability (SOS): Imagine all the awesome enviroey (mostly) student folk from around Australia in the one place sharing skills, knowledge, ideas, SUCH GOOD FOOD, camping, campfires, performances…. In 2013, we went to SOS Tasmania, and road tripped with other ASEN folk around the state. We visited the Observer tree with Miranda Gibson, stopped saw mills using old growth in Lornevalle and used our collective fire fighting and first aid skills to survive a 400year old myrtle falls when camping in the Tarkine. Watch out for SOS 2014 in Canberra! (A bunch of us are riding our bikes down!!!)
Want to get involved now hey? Come along to our weekly meetings on Mondays 12pm, Sunken Lawns near Manning or email us at email@example.com.
FB: “Sydney Uni Environment Collective” & “Fossil Free USYD” / Phone: Marco 0410881385, Steven 0416406900 & Amelie 0413679269.