Last week the black movement lost one of its strongest fighters for Aboriginal rights. Uncle Ray Jackson passed away peacefully in his sleep on the night of Thursday 23rd April after attending a regular Indigenous Social Justice Association Meeting.
Uncle Ray was the President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association and put most of his efforts into battling Aboriginal deaths in custody. He had been instrumental in organising many direct action events to challenge the authority of the state and his involvement and support for the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy will be missed.
During my time as NSW Indigenous Officer, Ray helped me build the Stop the Intervention Campaign and gave me the knowledge and wisdom that an Elder is expected to pass down to the younger generations without hesitation. Since then I had joined Ray in many areas of activism such as the Land Rights and Sovereignty movements, along with the recent Sniff Off campaign targeting the overuse of sniffer dogs in heavily black areas such as Redfern.
Obviously, being a political activist, people saw Ray as either an obstacle or a comrade. Clearly, I saw him as a comrade. He was a teacher and uncle to many, a driving force behind the peoples’ motivation to seek social justice, and he did not get caught up in corporate greed to become a mere pacifier for the mob to keep us quiet.
He will be missed.
Please respect that cultural sensitivity must be used around areas of significance such as Aboriginal organisations in Redfern and the Tent Embassy during sorry business.
Vice Presidents’ Report
Hello everyone, Madison this week! I’ve been in contact with the student centre about erasing those $15 fees for our Academic Transcripts and we’re off on a journey to investigate an online official transcript system. This would cost the University about $18K initially and $6K annually; these are negligible costs for the University which is GREAT for internship and job applicants!
At this stage, we understand that the system would make your access to transcripts unlimited, free and super easy.
As a reminder, current USyd students applying for internal honours positions, scholarships etc. do not need to purchase their transcripts, as they can be accessed internally. This information will be communicated to faculties to ensure no students are wasting money on hard copy transcripts where is is unnecessary.
I’ve also just launched COUNT, an initiative about councillor accountability which I hope will re-inject some of the spirit of service and transparency back into student politics. I’ve compiled all of our councillors’ candidate statements and goals into a spreadsheet (in short, I’ve written down the reasons why they were voted in) and some of the Executive team will be meeting with myself and each councillor to talk about how we can support them in achieving the goals they were elected to work on! Hopefully this will also increase Council meeting attendance, too.
I really want to see all of your SRC working for you and putting all of their great ideas for your university experience into amazing realities.
Sexual Harassment Officer’s Report
So far this semester we have heard at several on-campus events, such as Pride Week, that consent is an ambiguous concept.
So we’ve decided to insert an analogy for consent here, which will hopefully make it easier for students to understand.
Consent is like a cup of tea. If you offer someone a cup of tea, and they decline, then don’t make them tea. Don’t get annoyed or angry at them for not wanting tea, and don’t force them to drink it.
They might accept your offer for a cup of tea, but when the tea has arrived they decide they no longer want the tea. Yes, that’s a little annoying that you’ve gone to the effort to make someone the tea, but they still do not have to drink that tea.
Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to make a cup of tea, and that’s okay.
If someone is unconscious, then don’t make them a cup of tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea, and they can’t tell you whether or not they want tea. Trust me on this.
If someone was fully conscious when you offered them a tea, and made them the cup, but has since passed out in that time, then you should just put the tea down and make sure the unconscious person is safe. Don’t make them drink a cup of tea. They’re unconscious, they don’t want tea.
If your friend comes over to your house and said yes to a cup of tea last week, does this mean they want a cup of tea? No, they may want a cup of tea, but they also might not. Just because they previously said yes to tea, does not mean they will always want a cup of tea every time you see them.
It may seem silly to spell this out, and in fact it is. It’s incredibly frustrating to have to compare tea to sex, just so people will understand that CONSENT IS ALWAYS NECESSARY.
I hope this clears things up.
This analogy was created by Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, and can be found on her blog: rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com
Welfare Officers’ Report
On this day in history, in 1967, boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army. Ali, a Muslim, cited religious reasons for his decision to forgo military service. Your Welfare Officers are not professing to such lofty heights of bravery or subversiveness, however I think it is important that we as a student body are able to recognise and applaud acts of defiance against situations that force upon us feelings of discomfort or shame. I have been lucky enough to receive several accounts of these acts through the recently launched Your Stories, Your Words welfare campaign. We have asked that any student who has encountered drugs or alcohol come forward and submit their stories – positive or negative – about their experiences to raise awareness about the reality of recreational drug use. The submissions that I have already received have been incredibly moving, with stories of students who have stood up to aversive experiences for their health, their relationships and their wellbeing. Our theme of courage extends to the efforts of our Welfare Action Group, seeking to address the concerns of first-year students who are battling against the often daunting experience of transition into university academic and social life. What I have learnt from this campaign and from those who have been engaged in the Action Group, is that we feel we can stand up for ourselves when we have a support group who are willing to catch us when we fall. At Sydney University, the SRC and its Office Bearers are here to act as your support group. If you are interested in submitting for Your Stories, Your Words please go to http://tinyurl.com/welfarecampaign, or to attend the Welfare Action Group meetings, keep an eye on our Facebook page: ‘Sydney University Welfare Action Group’. You don’t need to be a world heavyweight champion to fight for your rights and wellbeing, and in those times that you feel like hanging up the gloves, remember you have a student body who are here to fight in your place until you’re ready to get back in the ring.
Education Officers’ Report
Following a well-documented student protest at a talk given by Colonel Richard Kemp on campus, several students face disciplinary action from the University and an academic faces the sack. Accusations of anti-Semitism at the protest encouraged a witch hunt, for which student protestors and a member of staff in the audience are being punished. Importantly, an inquiry into the protest has found that the staff member’s conduct did not constitute “anti-Semitic behaviour”, but they still face dismissal or other disciplinary action for allegedly not treating a university visitor “with respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity”.
The threats to these staff and students represent a significant threat to our civil liberties at university, and the political freedom that is vital to the university community. The University of Sydney has a long, proud history of demonstrating dissent, and a disgraceful recent history of punishing students who engage politically on campus. Too many times in recent history have student protestors ended up brutalised on and banned from campus for asserting their freedom of speech and freedom to protest, whether that be by demonstrating against war crimes, conservative governments, or supporting staff striking for fairer work conditions.
Interestingly, the University also disallowed a Socialist Equality Party (SEP) forum against militarism to take place over the ANZAC day weekend. The university reportedly bowed to pressure from groups associated with ‘The Great Aussie Patriot’ to cancel the event, which has links to the fascists at ‘Reclaim Australia’. The University feared disruption of the event, and formally uninvited the SEP; a risk they were apparently prepared to take when it came to Richard Kemp’s lecture. Give ‘Defend USYD Civil Liberties’ a like on Facebook, and come to their student and staff meeting this Wednesday from 1 – 2:30 PM in the General Lecture Theatre, Main Quad.
Also come to Education Action Group meetings at 1 PM on Tuesdays on the New Law Lawns. The next major action for education movement in NSW will be on May the 12th, 2 PM at Town Hall, called by the NSW Education Action Network – rally against education cuts, course fees and cuts to welfare. We know the score by now and have a pretty good idea what to expect from this government, and will be ready to strike back as soon as the budget is announced.