Queer Action Collective Report
After a huge week during the July break in Canberra at Queer Collaborations (QC), an annual national queer students’ conference, Sydney Uni’s Queer Action Collective (QuAC) delegates have returned this semester enthused and ready for a semester of queer activism and knowledge/skill sharing with the rest of the collective and queer community. During QC, discussions and coordination of a national campaign on Queer youth homelessness begun and this is something that QuAC as well as other queer collectives and student groups will be working on in the coming months. We have also invited one of the facilitators of a workshop to come to Sydney to present a fantastic workshop on violence prevention. There is a possibility this may be a joint event along with Wom*n’s collective (though there may be two separate workshops).
After contact with the university’s Ally Network, we have opened up channels of communication so that there will be much needed student consultation for this initiative of the university that is supposed to support queer students. If you are a queer-identifying student interested in being a part of the consultative group, please do not hesitate to contact one of the queer officers (myself or Jay).
Around this time last year, we successfully provided a ‘breakfast bar’ (take that, USU!). This was to address student poverty and to provide free food for students in the queerspace. We will be starting this up again very soon as it is a very important direct action addressing needs of queer students, who are often disproportionately affected by issues such as student poverty and homelessness.
Finally, I would like to remind any student who is queer identifying (i.e. not ‘straight’) or questioning their sexual and/or gender identity that they are warmly welcome to our meetings at 1pm on Mondays in the Queerspace. We are an autonomous collective to queer and questioning students and we endeavour to provide a safer space and to make the university and greater society safer space as well. The queer officers can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Disabilities & Carers Officers’ Report
Disability awareness week is coming up in September. The thing that’s always hard for people to realise is that there are so many disabilities out there. Be very aware and very careful, as you’ll find more often then not that people suffer from a range of impairments that aren’t visible.
There’s something insufferable that comes up whenever I watch a disability awareness ad. It’ll be geared towards making the viewer feeling sympathy. Sympathy is patronising, it’s basically saying “I have no idea what you’re going through but from where I’m standing it looks horrible.”
So what we’re trying to do is create a campaign that denies this concept, that also denies the notion that people with disabilities are often humble, and grateful to be where they are. To put it bluntly disabled people can be both good and bad, our personalities differ just like everyone else. Our disability doesn’t match our personality. We are influenced by the things around us both good and bad. Don’t feel as though you owe us something because we’re disadvantaged. We are who we are.
For anyone that wants to help with this campaign please contact me through the SRC offices.
Autonomous Collective Against Racism
Eden Caceda, Deeba Binaei, Kavyá Kalutantiri and Lamisse Hamouda.
Your Ethnic Affairs Officers here. We’re pretty excited about semester 2; we’ve got heaps of stuff in the works and ready for launch around the end of September and into October. Kavya is spearheading orgainising a joint campaign and resource-sharing platform with UNSW. Yay for cross-institutional collaborations! We’ll be launching the campaign for awareness of the importance of representation and autonomy for people from minority ethnocultural backgrounds along with the resource-platform at an launch even at the end of September. Eden is working with one half of the dynamic duo of the Wom”*ns Office, Xioran, to pull together the first ACAR revue. If you want to get involved, please let us know! We need writers, producers, performers, singers, actors – you name it! We’ll be holding our revue at the amazing Red Rattler at the end of October! Meanwhile, Lamisse is working on pulling together a PoC Poetry Slam Feature Night for Verge Festival in October; some amazing guests are being organised so keep an eye out for announcements. As term two draws to a close, we’ll be looking for some more amazing people of colour to take over and keep this momentum going. We’re currently working on changing the name of ‘Ethnic Affairs’ to ‘Ethnocultural Department’ – we’re hoping the change in name will reflect the autonomy and self-representation we’ve sought to bring to this position. It is essential that we continue to enshrine self-representation within our instutions for people from minority ethnocultural backgrounds, indigenous peoples and people of colour. We also decieded that this semester we’ll test run be holding meetings monthly, along with a catered lunch/dinner, so please keep an eye for announcements. Until next time!
Sexual Harassment Officers’ Report
I feel like I am always talking about consent. I went to my first uni party during O-week and wound up in a discussion about consent an hour in.
This isn’t because I am short on conversation topics, or a one track record, but I am constantly reminded of why consent needs to be discussed more.
It was on my mind at that party because there were a few butt grabbers on the dance floor. I was minding my own business, dancing with my friends when suddenly….. unsolicited butt grab.
And while this may not seem like much, it’s really infuriating when everywhere I turn people tell me we don’t need to keep pushing to keep consent in the conversation. Because we do. If at the first uni party of the semester people are grabbing others without their consent, then it is a conversation we need to keep having. over and over and over again, until everybody begins to get the idea.
When I was at Radical Sex and Consent Day last year, I overheard a few people commenting on how unnecessary it was, but I heard more saying they were excited about what they had learnt.
So I guess you can say I am even more excited about Radical Sex and Consent Week this year. There will be lots of activities around consent, and other areas of sex that many people are just too embarrassed to ask questions about. So lets keep that conversation going.
If you have experienced any sexual harassment or assault on campus and you are looking for avenues of support or people to talk to, our email is:
Education Officers’ Report
Blythe Worthy and David Shakes
As it’s the week before the week before our National Day of Action (NDA), during which thousands of students will be rallying at universities around the country in protest against the reforms proposed by our government, I suppose I’d better talk about that. Except there’s more.
What our Vice Chancellor and Principal, Michael Spence wants to do to our university is disgusting. During our last consultative session with Spence, he repeatedly danced around the idea of staff cuts, accusing us of not being “for change” if we were against staff cuts, as they’re a “necessary part of progression”.
Now the restructure that we were supposed to be talking about has a few strategic points I’ll elaborate on now:
1. Degrees are going to go down in number and up in cost. This is because the degrees that don’t get cut will be so generic you’ll have to do a specialised post grad course, which are pretty much already deregulated.
2. You’ll therefore be studying longer (no more 3 year degrees) and it’ll be harder to transfer to other universities.
3. International students are going to continue to be preyed upon to pay domestic student’s fees, even though Spence argues the strategic plan will encourage “cultural competency”.
4. HEAPS of staff are going to lose their jobs in a ‘spill and fill’ strategy, meaning they’ll have to reapply for their jobs, usually at a lower wage and conditions. They’ll be overworked if they’re ‘lucky’ enough to be rehired and as fewer will be employed, workloads will increase. You can’t cut courses and keep employing those that organise and run them.
5. Admin and pharmacy staff are already feeling the sting THIS IS ALREADY HAPPENING, IT HAS ALREADY BEGUN.
We’re having an NDA to fight these cuts to education, so please join us on the 19th of August at 1pm on the Law Lawns. Help Defend your degrees!
Education Officers’ Report
David Shakes and Blythe Worthy.
The University of Sydney discussion paper released just over a month ago on the “strategy” of “undergraduate offerings” at the university has signalled a massive restructure of the University through the 2016-2020 period.
The discussion paper and statements Vice Chancellor Michael Spence has made to the media suggest that the University of Sydney is to emulate the “Melbourne model”, a model of tertiary education based on the University of Melbourne, in pursuit of a top ranking for the country or region.
What this means in practice is cutting over a hundred undergraduate degrees, resulting in a broadened (generic) education to push more students into more expensive postgraduate study. Already the University is suggesting necessarily extending three-year degrees to a further fourth year, and changing double degrees from “horizontal” (two concurrent undergraduate degrees) to “vertical” (an undergraduate degree followed by a postgraduate degree ($$$)).
These changes would have a big impact on the amount of money you’d need to study here, and appears to be an internal response to a) a very real lack of funding from the government (Australia ranks 33rd out of 34 OECD countries in terms of higher education funding as a percentage of GDP) b) the failure of university fee deregulation to pass the Senate, which included a further 20% cut in higher education funding, for which Michael Spence was a devout and adamant advocate.
Join students and staff from the NTEU and the EAG on the 5th of August outside the Madsen building at 1 PM to protest the hundreds of job cuts this would mean for staff, and on the 19th of August at 1 PM on the New Law Lawns to join a nationwide campaign for better conditions for universities. Get further involved by coming to EAG meetings on the New Law Lawns on Tuesdays at 2 PM throughout semester.