SRC Reports, Week 9, Semester 1

All your SRC news from Week 9.

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President’s Report: Jen Light

The long awaited Abbott Government’s Commission of Audit was released on the 22nd of April. The Commission was established by the Government as an independent body to review and report on the performance, functions and efficiency of the Commonwealth government – in essence it was a tool for the Abbott Government to legitimize the reckless and damaging reductions in Government spending they have had planned since opposition.

The commission gave recommendations that if followed though, will be devastating for not only for the wellbeing of the Nation – but will absolutely destroy the tertiary education sector as we know it.

From the recommendations of the Commission of Audit, we see findings right from the once widely ridiculed list of desired reforms from the stupidly far-right Institute of Public Affairs. From a Government that before the Commission already singled their intention to fundamentally change the programs that make Australian higher education sector one the most accessible in the world.

The destructive Higher Education recommendations are as follows:

  • Decrease Commonwealth contribution to higher education costs from 59 per cent to 45 per cent and increase the student share from 41 to 55 per cent
  • Deregulation of university fees.
  • Increase interest rates on student debt.
  • Graduates repay HELP debt once they earn the minimum wage ($32,354).
  • Abolish all Commonwealth vocational education and training programs including support for apprentices.

This is the time to send the Abbott Liberal Government a message. We will not stand for cuts to education, for increased burden on students, and for ELIMINATING ACCESSIBILITY TO EDUCATION!!

Your SRC is ready to fight the implementation of these appalling recommendations and will be closely watching Abbott and Hockey’s first budget, due next week. Education is a right, quality education is a right, and we are ready to defend it.

General Secretary’s Report: Mariana Podesta-Diverio

Mental illness is overwhelmingly overrepresented in young people at university and USYD is no exception. Sometimes it manifests in the form of not being able to complete uni work or social obligations. Other times it comes down to being unable to do basic daily tasks.

If you need help, please get it. Keep an eye out for unusual behaviour in friends, like detachment and disinterest in participating in activities they would otherwise enjoy.

  • The University has Disability Services, which you can register for in order to receive support for mental health issues that affect your studies. Their email is disability.services@sydney.edu.au, and they’re located in the Jane Foss Russell building, next to Wentworth.
  • CAPS – Counselling and Psychological Services – offer one-on-one appointments with psychologists, and they also have support groups to help you manage by adopting strategies. Their email is caps.admin@sydney.edu.au.
  • Headspace Camperdown is just down the road, and have free psychologists and psychiatrists. The waiting lists tend to be quite long, so allow for this factor by ensuring you have access to other support if you need it in the meantime.

Here is a short list of some quiet places to sit on campus, mostly away from people:

The high levels of fisher library, around the 900s of the Dewey decimal, the courtyard behind the chemistry building that leads to Fisher Road, the courtyards in Old Teacher’s College, St. Paul’s college oval when it is unoccupied, the giant set of steps next to the law building that leads to Victoria Park, the aesthetically pleasing but functionally useless steps next to Verge Gallery, the entirety of Schaeffer library, and the toilets in the basement of the Holme building.

If you need to unwind, buy a $1 bag of yesterday’s bread from Little Devil bakery near Broadway and feed it in bits to the ducks and eels in the Victoria Park lake. My friends taught me that one.

Remember that if you’re struggling with academic penalties or appeals, the SRC’s caseworkers can help you. We’re in the Wentworth building basement; enter via City Road. MPD out.

Education Officers’ Report: Ridah Hassan & Eleanor Morley

The Commission of Audit released last week was the stuff of nightmares. It recommended increasing student fees by 34%, lowering the threshold at which HECS repayments start to the minimum wage, turning relocation scholarships into loans, and a litany of other attacks on students and higher education. This was all accompanied by suggestions to introduce Medicare co-payments, reduce the minimum wage, raise the pension age, undermine welfare payments, and a number of other severe measures designed to assault the working class and poor.

We don’t know exactly what will happen come budget day, but it’s clear by now that this government is there of the rich, and for the rich. The fact that the Commission of Audit was released on May Day, the day for the international working class, is telling.

Students need to match the intensity of these attacks in our campaign to defend our education system. We have to oppose any fee increases and Pyne’s plans to move to a US style education model with ferocity. Only a mass campaign on the streets is going to stand any chance of winning against the heartless bastards that make up the government.

The National Union of Students had called for a national day of action on May 21 to start that fight. Sydney Uni students will be meeting at 1.30pm oytside Fisher library for an on campus rally, before marching to UTS. There’s no time to lose, public education as we know it is under threat!

Pick up some posters from the SRC, join + share the event online, announce the rally in your lectures + tutes – and make sure you and everyone you know is there on May 21!

Wom*n’s Officers’ Report: Phoebe Moloney, Julia Readett & Georgia Cranko

Hi everyone, hope you had a relaxing mid-sem break. We certainly did, but writing this report we are once-more overwhelmed with the exciting knowledge that in week 12 non-cis-male students of USyd will be taking over all 28 pages of this respected publication!

If you are an avid writer, poet, thinker, tinkerer, artist, creator or doodler and would like to have your voice and ideas in this space then we really encourage you to either submit to the Wom*n’s Edition of Honi or be an editor with our team!

The 2014 Wom*n’s Edition will be autonomous for non-cis-male students. This is a bit different to editions in past years, but means that everyone except male-bodied students, who identify as men exclusively, can submit and contribute to the creative process. The chance to establish an autonomous space in print media is an extremely exciting prospect as it gives us the opportunity to create according to our shared motives, reasons and values as well as remind ourselves and all students that our experiences, reasons, values as a community are actually mostly different and diverging. This is the radical opportunity of autonomy. Its a chance to reinstate, explore and value our differences as people away from the homogenising eye of oppressive and violent structures.

However, we must recognise that autonomy in itself is a structure that works on and encourages exclusion and categorisation. In the past Wom*n’s Honi has actively excluded students who do not identify as wom*n, or who have not had lived experiences as wom*n but also may not identify as “men”. Implicitly, the voices of wom*n who are not expressedly feminine, white, able-bodied, straight have also been silenced. This year we would love to create a publication that does something to challenge each and everybody’s ideas of what a wom*n, or not-a-man might be, and listen to those experiences, opinions, dreams, imaginings, ramblings, celebrations that are silenced at all levels of society, right down to the censorship we partake in of ourselves.

This will never be achieved in a single publication, week or year but if you are interested in this aim or have any idea how we can get closer to achieving it please get in contact with the Wom*n’s Collective, we would be overjoyed, relieved and super grateful to hear from you 🙂 We need all the writing, art and ideas we can get!

If you are interested in any of these opportunities, or our new non-autonomous book club, or just curious about what Wom*n’s Collective does, please send us an email at: usydwomenscollective@gmail.com. Best wishes for Week 9!

Interfaith Officers’ Report: Monique McKenzie & Henry Maher

It’s hard enough to find any two individuals in complete agreement on matters of faith, let alone two world religions; a casual glance at the news show the globe embroiled in apparently religious conflicts, from Syria, to Sudan and Bangladesh, the list goes on. Thus rather than attempt to encourage inter-faith dialogue based on a commonality of belief, we instead suggest it should be based on a common enemy; capitalism. Beginning with Christianity, despite modern capitalism being built mainly by Christians, it is not compatible with Christianity. The Bible itself is jam-packed full of Marxist material, from Jesus overturning the tables of the traders (Matthew 21, the first example of proletarian attempts to seize control of the means of production), Jesus’ humble carpenter (read proletarian) origins in leading the lower class against the Roman oppressors, and Jesus’ warning that ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven’ Matthew 19:24.

Pope Francis speaks of a Christian Church of the poor, in which the pursuit of money and free market capitalism has no place. In Evangelii Gaudium, he criticised free market economics and ‘trickle down theories’ lamenting that ‘Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless.’

Similarly, Islam has in-built mechanisms to prevent capitalist absolute pursuit of wealth. For instance, many Islamic schools of Fiqh prohibit the charging of interest on loans usury and monopoly trading, the cornerstones of capital formation and contemporary capitalism. Prominent anti-capitalist protests in Turkey have a strong religious flavour; Ihsan Eliacik, a protest leader, says protestors seek a pluralist world ‘without exploitation and privileges, (a vision)that is at the heart of Islam.’ Judaism produced anti-capitalist bastions Karl Marx, Leon Trotsky and later Herbert Marcuse, and many contemporary Jews believe the sacrosanct imperative of ‘Tikkun olam’ (humanity’s collective duty to heal, repair and transform the world) to be inherently incompatible with free market capitalism.

The solution to religious conflict is not going to be found in the reconciliation of metaphysical beliefs. Rather, it lies in people of faith finding commonality in the practical world, and cooperation in fighting common enemies. This imperative must be recognised by any person, either religious or otherwise, harbouring hope of world peace in the 21st century.

PEOPLE OF FAITH, WORKERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!

Disabilities & Carers’ Report: Yaz Camdzic and Sarah Chuah

A lot has happened so far this year in the way of disabilities and carers’ matters and, as usual, this has largely involved behind-the-scenes work. In our capacity as student reps, we are a part of the Disability Action Plan (DAP) Consultative Committee; a group that meets every second month to discuss the progress of the University’s third DAP and an avenue through which members can flag any issues that may become apparent throughout the implementation process.
With five students on this committee, we are establishing a student consultative group to meet outside these meeting times to open the discussion and gather feedback from a broader range of students. We’re encouraging students who have been involved in their faculty’s local DAP to join the student consultative group as well as any other students who are interested in contributing their time and thoughts, so email us if you’re interested.

In other news, we have been meeting with other disabilities student reps from universities and TAFE in Sydney to rebuild the Australasian Network of Students with Disabilities (ANSWD) in the local area. This network will strengthen communication for students between institutions and serve as a way to share information, discuss campaigns and plan events in a unified fashion.

As far as our campaign for supporting Carers in Higher Education goes, we have been thrilled with the interest and feedback we have received through consultations with a wide range of stakeholders both within Sydney Uni and external institutions and organisations. We also have had involvement in the development of NSW’s five year Carer Strategy and are pleased that Carer involvement in education is now one of the major priorities of the strategy. Attending the NSW Ministerial Carers Strategy Summit in late March was a fantastic opportunity to be involved in this process but also to network with various attendees within university, business and government sectors. We’re confident that change is not far away – programs and policies to support Carers at uni are coming, but where they will appear first is anybody’s guess.

Filed under:
Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

Michael Spence

Michael Spence: the fair controller?

The Vice Chancellor has been in the role for almost a decade; his drive to reshape the University seems to have only grown.