International Student Officers’ Report
The international students’ collective has been trying to plan more activities for students. In the middle of May, an event of meeting and greets for both members and non-members of International students collective has been created by International Student Office of SRC in International Student Lounge. Free food and drinks were provided in the event. The main goals of creating this event are: firstly, introduce SRC and international Student Office to students so that international students could get better services and enjoy a better university life; secondly, we aimed to introduce further plans of international student office in the rest of the semester; thirdly, students who had better ideas or problems would be encouraged to share with members and non-members so that better services could be provided to university students.
We were glad that many students have come to enjoy food and drinks. This could not only be an official event for the office to introduce working plans, but also a relaxing place for both international students and local students to communicate and share ideas about their university lives.
Another program worthy to mention is that a basic introduction passage of Australian university’s politics was made in the corporation with Australian Chinese Youth Associate (ACYA).
This project aims to share basic knowledge and situations of university politics in Australia so that more international students were able to get involved in the university activities such as campaign of SRC and USU. The article has been spread both officially in ACYA’s network platform and social network websites. We hope more and more international students could feel free to be involved in university wide activities.
Please do not be hesitated to contact with International Student Office of SRC if you have any concern. Email address: email@example.com
Residential College Officers’ Report
Congratulations to the recently elected Union Board Directors Michael Rees, Jack Whitney, Atia Rahim, Marco Avena, Tiff Alexander and Shannen Potter! The above are all capable and experienced representatives who will serve the USU well. However this year we regret that there was a lack of representation from the USyd Colleges, as none of the above elected Directors (to our knowledge) are associated with one.
As all Residential College students are Union members it is important that we have a say in its direction, especially as the fight goes on for transparency, greater representation of marginalised groups (including wom*n, queer and ethno-culturally diverse people) and as Sensitivity Training is extended to all student leaders.
Again, we congratulate the new elected directors, but call on Residential College students to stay involved in Union programs and to continue casting a vote in coming years to decide the direction of your union. On another note, though in a similar vein, all four Residential College Officers encourage College students to broaden their involvement in the SRC’s various initiatives in the (inevitable) lead-up to this year’s SRC election, which will take place some time around September.
The SRC does great things for student welfare and has strong roots in activism. Above and beyond all obscure factional alignments, all of the current SRC Office Bearers in the departments for Wom*n, Queer students, Ethnic Affairs and the Environment have been autonomously preselected by their collectives, which are open to anybody with an applicable identity/interest.
For evidence of the amazing work of these Collectives, you need not look past this incred Wom*n’s Edition of Honi Soit, or the ongoing fossil fuel divestment campaign, Fossil Free Usyd, of which many of the recent USU Board Director candidates came out in support.
For more information, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers!
Wom*n of Colour Officers’ Report
Just over a year old, the Wom*n of Colour Autonomous collective is continuing to provide an important space for individuals that negotiate race and gender as important aspects of their identity. The collective has a strong online community, where anyone that identifies as Indigenous or marginalised by White supremacy is invited to join.
This year started with an open call for any members by Tabitha and Shareeka (2014 office bearers), to come forward to assume this very role. I initially shied away from such a position, but then realised I wanted to actively contribute to a space that provided so much comfort, openness and learning. As a medical science student I often found race and gender to intersect with interpersonal interactions with tutors, peers, lecturers that left me alienated and frustrated. It is testament to the collective’s supportive and encouraging presence that I am in this position, and I am very grateful.
To crack things off we had an intimate screening of Brandy’s Cinderella ft. Whitney Houston and Keeping up with the Kardashians, which was a chance to meet some new faces. Following the devastating earthquake in Nepal in April, the Wom*ns Collective and WOC collective organised a film-screening fundraiser of Manakamana, and relief donations, which are being sent through Disaster Support Nepal. For any readers who wish to contribute with monetary donations, Mitrataa Foundation and Guthi Australia are both grassroots organisations that are contributing to disaster relief in various areas affected.
This year holds some exciting new plans, such as working on a zine, as well as with other collectives such as the Muslim Wom*ns Collective & Indigenous Collective to strengthen and expand our commitment to intersectional feminism.
As this collective is a space for solidarity, strengthening our radical form of entitlement to facilitate our voices being heard, not marginalised or silenced as it regularly is in other political and social contexts is vital. You can keep up with events by joining the ‘Usyd WOC Autonomous Collective’ Facebook group, and following us at womenofcoloursydney.tumblr.com.
Education Officers’ Report
For Wom*n’s Honi, I thought I’d talk about exclusively wom*n’s education things and that brought me around to how much graduates who identify as wom*n earn.
Let’s have a little guess at how much less than men they earn? $500 a year? $3000? Nup, it’s a whopping $5000 less than graduates who identify as wom*n earn in comparison with their male counterparts.
Trans wom*n earn even less comparatively, and there’s barely been any research into it because it’s easy to ignore gender issues if you’ve never had to deal with any.The truth is, trans people are ignored by everyone. In fact, just last year at their annual conference, the National Union of Students (NUS) made the incoherently ignorant decision to pass a motion to remove the asterisk from wom*n for their collectives.
Let me just say that the asterisk is there in order to protect wom*n from discrimination and hate based on the very term they rely on.
Trans wom*n will be the ones who want to join a collective with an asterisk in its name in order to seek support and friendship, and the fact that NUS decided to try and strip all collectives of this statement of solidarity is disgusting.
The excuse given by the wom*n’s officer and member of Labor right faction Unity who moved the motion was that explaining the reason for the existence of the asterisk was too hard.
She managed to ~explain~ to an entire conference floor of students that the asterisk alienated “women” from collectives and was unfair because who even remembers why the asterisk is there and who can even be bothered explaining it because that’s not the entire reason you were fucking elected campus Wom*n’s Officer or anything.
A member of NLS spoke against moving the motion based on NOWSA’s definition of wom*n (a little bureaucratic but ok) and a Grassroots member also spoke out against the motion in defense of trans people, but it passed anyway.
Then someone from Unity got up and started talking about how stupid the asterisk was. And read out a list of words that had ‘men’ or ‘man’ in them to derisive laughter from the Unity cohort.
Because gender issues are funny right?
Especially if you’ve never had any.
Let’s burn transphobic organisations to the ground, starting with NUS.
Indigenous Officers’ Report
Putting together last week’s Indigenous Honi saw me focusing and reflecting on my cultural heritage and identity. However I realised that my Aboriginality is only one important aspect of my identity. As an Indigenous wom*n, my identity is not only shaped by cultural influences but also by the way in which society views and understands my gender. In writing this piece I began to reflect on what I know about Aboriginal wom*n and more specially Aboriginal feminists. My conclusion was, not very much.
The history of feminism in the Australian context is more often then not dominated by the narrative of white feminists. The ‘first wave’ feminist movement was shaped by the desire for wom*n to gain the right to vote — a brilliant movement that changed a lot of people’s lives. However, did all wom*n get the vote through the suffragette movement? No. Aboriginal wom*n did not gain their rights to vote until the 1960s.
Similarly during the ‘second wave’ feminist movement wom*n fought for their rights to their own bodies and the legalisation of abortion as well as more government support for childcare. At the same time, Aboriginal wom*n were forced into sterilisation as their children continued to be taken away from them.
This is by no means a way of diminishing the work and suffering of white feminists but rather a way to critique past movements in the hopes of gaining a better understanding of why an intersectional approach to feminist and wom*n’s rights work is needed. Wom*n cannot hope to achieve equality while neglecting the needs and suffering of Indigenous Wom*n, Trans wom*n and Queer Wom*n.
I want to acknowledge the incredible spirit and courage of our Aboriginal mothers, sisters, cousins, and friends. I want to acknowledge the continual suffering of Indigenous wom*n as their land, culture, rights, and children were taken from them.
I also acknowledge the great steps indigenous wom* have and are taking to connect with their culture and make real change within the community.
Lastly I want to acknowledge the wom*n within the Indigenous collective and encourage them to continue to celebrate our culture and identity as we continue to break down barriers and understandings of what it means to be Indigenous wom*n.