Kyol Blakeney writes his report from the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides.
“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.”
No doubt the above proverb is seen as a guide for how to live one’s life in the heart of many Aboriginal people. In the past week I have taken this saying quite literally. I have just returned from the 50th Anniversary of the 1965 Freedom Ride, which was headed by the late Uncle Charlie Perkins.
During my journey, with a group students and staff from our uni and many of the original Freedom Riders, we passed through Dubbo, Coonamble, Walgett, Collarenebri, Moree, Bowraville and Kempsey to not only celebrate the achievements of the Freedom Ride but also to reflect on what has changed, what hasn’t and what still needs to be done in these communities to shorten the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
I had the opportunity to sit and talk with local members of the community; to observe, to learn, to grow, and to love. I learnt about the positive and negative changes they had experienced and engaged in discussions about what we can do, as young university students, to help. I found that many still face discrimination in these communities based on their race in the present day such as life long bans to children as young as age 7 in the Moree Swimming Pool to the low standard living conditions on the Ginghi Mission, which has just 12 houses for up to 90 people. I learnt about the low rate of employment opportunities in Dubbo and Walgett, and the little amount of youth services available to the people in Bowraville and Kempsey. All of these things have one main common factor; they are all predominately Aboriginal communities.
I strongly encourage you to take a look at the articles from pg 12 of this issue of Honi for more details and contact me if you want to get involved in creating change in our country as we pass through before returning home.
General Secretaries’ Report
Chiara Angeloni & Max Hall wrote this frantically on a bus.
It’s O Week, you’re probably drunk, you’ve mistakenly turned to the middle of Honi Soit (great publication by the way) and discovered the shining light in the dark depths of the University – the beacon of hope that is your Students’ Representative Council. We’re your General Secretaries for the year. Essentially, that means we are responsible for taking care of the money and making sure that you know who we are and what we can do for you. How can we make that happen?
Well, make sure you swing by the SRC stall on Eastern Avenue and you can collect the fruits of our summer labours in the form of a sweet showbag (mmm, dat calico). Inside, you’ll find a ‘How to Uni’ guide we put together over the break, and the Counter Course Handbook courtesy of your Education Officers. As for the former, somewhere between the sealed section and delicious recipes, you should definitely check out the forty-odd pages of advice on starting uni and making Sydney life great.
Also, if you’re getting an ACCESS card, be sure to check out our handbook that has literally everything you need to survive uni, including the awesome collectives that can help you get involved in the things that matter on campus.
On a slightly more boring note, remember the Student Services Fee you’ve just paid during enrolment? That cash is put in a nice little pile, some of which funds the SRC, its activism and free casework and legal services. Right now we’re working (read: wrestling) with the other student organisations for the money to bring you the same SRC goodness we’ve been providing for the past 87 years. We’ll keep you updated.
If you’re interested in getting involved in your SRC (you won’t regret it!), keep an eye on these SRC pages in Honi for regular updates from us and the other SRC Office Bearers, and helpful tips from our great casework team. Alternatively, feel free to shoot us an email (email@example.com) with what you’re passionate about and we can point you towards the collective or department for you.
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
Xiaoran Shi and Subeta Vimalarajah.
Greetings feminists, allies, men’s rights activists et al. We are humbled and excited to be your wom*n’s officers for 2015. I (Xiaoran) am a law student with an arts degree who has been told she’s a mix between Jane Lane and Daria, although I’m beginning to question whether comparisons to angsty fictional teenagers are really all that flattering. I (Subeta) am also a law student and my greatest achievement/the point at which my life changed was when a waitress on King St mistook me for MIA.
Forget about us though, this is about Wom*n’s Collective and the year of activism, creativity and knowledge ahead. WoCo is a radical, autonomous, feminist space open to all who identify in whole or in part as a wom*n, trans or non-binary person because “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (Audre Lorde – we really need to find a new quote, we use this one a lot). We’ll be meeting on Thursdays at 1pm, starting from March 5 in the Wom*n’s Room in Manning, level 1. If you’re interested in getting involved, hit us up on our email, firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Facebook group, Usyd Wom*n’s Collective.
Unfortunately, we were both away over the holidays but aided by dodgy wi-fi (and Eastern European dial-up), talented collective members and friends, we’ve put together some goodies for our O-week stall, including T-shirts designed by the amazing Elizabeth Mora, as well as printed canvas “show bags” with a mixed CD, badge, vagina activity book, educational zine, DIY wheatpasting poster, flashcards of useful terms, our activist handbook, Growing Strong and more inside.
Speaking of which, the WoCo annual publication Growing Strong was also born over the holidays. Come celebrate with us at the launch on March 7 at the 5 Eliza ballroom in Newtown! There will be live music and good food, so look out for more details soon.
Collective is also going to the Mardi Gras Film Festival screening of “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry” on March 3. It will be our first collective “field trip” for the year and a great opportunity to meet your fellow feminists.
Lastly, don’t hesitate to say hi or ask questions if you see us around! We promise that future reports will be less a list of things we did over the summer.
Xiaoran & Subeta
Ethnic Affairs Officers’ Report
Eden Caceda, Kavya Kalutantiri, Lamisse Hamouda and Deeba Binaei.
Hi there! Our names are Eden, Kavya, Lamisse and Deeba and we are honoured to be your Ethnic Affairs Officers this year as we continue to represent and fight for the equality of those who identify as a person of colour, a person from an ethno-cultural background, an Indigenous person and/or as someone marginalised by white supremacy. We stand for the liberation of these people and believe that it is important that we are represented appropriately.
At the beginning of 2014 the Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) came together to ensure the empowerment and self-determination of ethno-cultural people on campus and outside of campus.
Last year we ran our “I, Too, Am Sydney” campaign to highlight the racism and prejudice faced by many students at our uni. It was a great opportunity to give a voice to those students whose experiences aren’t always heard. We carried on with ACAR Honi Soit, where we took over this rag and curated an amazing edition full of articles, poetry, art and comedy, all created by autonomous students of colour. Some of these works became received massive exposure and others allowed first time creators to dabble in writing new work.
Currently we are working with members of the University community on the upcoming Racism. It Stops With Me campaign that will launch at the end of March, a project we are very excited about. Likewise, this O-Week, we have created our first ever ACAR zine. The new quarterly booklet will continue to provide our members with an creative outlet that we aren’t always given. ACAR would like to thank Whitney Duan for assisting in this editions creation.
We hope to continue the great traditions of last year and are excited to work with the SRC in the capacity of Ethnic Affairs. This collective hopes to operate not only as a space of activism and political organizing, but also as a support space where all racially marginalised people can share their experience. We see racism and its effects as diverse and we are determined to work as a collective to make visible the different ways racism manifests in people’s lives and how we can end it.
Queer Action Collective Report
We’ve come into 2015 firing on all cylinders, and we couldn’t be more excited to commence another year of activism within QuAC and Queerkats!
The queer officers have worked through the summer break to establish some new initiatives for queer students on campus. We’ll begin the year with the re-establishment of our Buddy System—an opportunity for new LGBTQIA+ students on campus to be paired with a more experienced QuAC member. Beginning university as a queer student can be a daunting experience, and frequently one which is undergone alone. We hope that new students in 2015 will feel comfortable to find support in students who have already walked those difficult roads.
Preparation has also begun for this year’s Pride Festival, held in week four of semester one. We’ve put a focus on providing workshops for this year’s festival, as the ones we ran last year received such a positive response. We believe a focus on education and the sharing of skills and experience is vital to fostering a strong queer community on campus—we can have no activism without a foundation in a willingness to learn from others.
We are so proud thus far of the achievements and growth of our non-cis male collective, Queerkats. Queerkats was begun last year in order to provide a safe space for those whose experiences of sexuality also intersected with gender inequality. We held several events last year, including an Art Party and zine launch, and cannot wait to see the exponential growth of Queerkats in 2015.
We’re also pleased to announced that we were able to contribute some funds at the end of last year to the Redfern Tent Embassy. We believe it is so important to acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and to, where we can, support queer members of the Indigenous community. We were also able to contribute some of our budget so that several members of our collective could attend a recent conference at University of Woollongong called “Cultured Queer/Queering Culture: Indigenous Perspectives on Queerness”, in the first of many steps we intend to take to ensure that QuAC and Queerkats are never places in which POC experiences of queerness are erased.
Intercampus Officers’ Report
Jason Kwok, Mary Osborn, Mary Ellen Trimble, and Fiona Lieu.
There’s more to USyd than just Camperdown. We have nine other campuses and thousands of proud USyd students who don’t call the sandstone halls of the Quad home. Are you one of these students? If so, the Intercampus Department is here for you. This year we’re going to do things a bit differently. Keep an eye out for us at your campuses because we’ll be around frequently as your representatives of the University of Sydney Student Representative Council. In previous years we feel that student services have been an exclusive Camperdown privilege. Despite the good work of many student activists, we want to ensure that all students, regardless of location, have the ability to access the amazing services that their SSAF pays for too. Get fired up SCA, Mallet, Cumbo, Con and Camden kids because we are thousands strong, we are proud Usyd students and we love our university, and it’s about time we got some of that sweet lovin’ back.
Our vision, our plan for 2015 is to make your SRC more accessible, more available, and more accountable to you, students of satellite campuses. Your campus should not determine your access. For the first time in too long, your Intercampus officers are Intercampus students, we study with you and we are familiar with your problems because they are our problems too. We are your link to your SRC so don’t be shy, come Holla at us. You now have the opportunity to bring up your issues to the SRC! So make sure to take up this advantage and all of the SRC services.
This year we will be:
• Providing frequent meaningful consultations to your campuses
• Bringing the SRC to you and ensuring that you get acquainted with your President and Executives
• Delivering caseworkers and legal services to your campuses so you don’t have to make the trek out to Camperdown
• Expanding Union events to your campuses
• Fighting for the small things such as longer facility hours (e.g. libraries, practice rooms, studio rooms) and more frequent shuttle buses
Contact us via email on email@example.com. You’ll also be seeing us around on your campus daily. So come say hi!
Your Intercampus Officers for 2015,
Jason, Mary, Mary and Fiona