In the past week we’ve seen a huge victory for students across the country while witnessing some of the most disillusioned remarks from the Prime Minister and the Western Australian Government regarding Aboriginal communities.
Monday last week saw a form of direct action taken by myself, and members of the Education Action Network as we locked ourselves onto the Vice-Chancellors door in the name of free education and to protest the deregulation of Australian universities. On Tuesday evening, the Senate’s votes were counted and the motion for deregulation failed. We have built momentum through the course of 2014 and this year but Christopher Pyne is not backing down. He has vowed to put his bill of higher educational reform to the Senate for the third time. We must remain vocal, persistent, direct, and clear with our message. I encourage you not to be satisfied with just the lost deregulation bill. Continue to fight for the free education that every person is entitled to. Fuck the Coalition Government and their privatisation bullshit and fuck the ALP and their relaxed stance towards the HECS system when the same people who benefitted from a free education decide we don’t deserve it.
I also encourage you to campaign against the closure of over 150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. The rumors have already begun. Child abuse. Domestic violence. Pedophilia. Sexual assault. Limited funding for schools. Do these sound familiar? THE NORTHERN TERRITORY INTERVENTION?!?!?!?!? This is just another land-grabbing opportunity for the mining industry on Traditional Owners’ countries with the backing of an apartheid régime.
As USyd students, we created and involved ourselves in movements around the Vietnam War, Land Rights, wom*n’s rights, and queer rights. None of these things could have caught the public’s attention and created change without the voices of students. Be part of history and a better society that’s actually ours.
General Secretaries’ Report
It’s week three. Things are starting to get boring. So are the reports.
Last week we finalised the SRC’s application for funding from the Student Services and Amenities Fee which provides the bulk of our funding year to year. This follows a number of rounds of negotiations with other student organisations who are also funded from the Fee. With the submission of our application and those made by the other students organisations, a University committee now decides on the exact amount of funding provided to each organisation.
Once we have confirmation of our funding for the year, Chiara and I will begin consulting on the distribution of that money between the different things that the SRC does (if you don’t know what those things are, you should check out srcusyd.net.au). We’re keen for anyone with an opinion—councillors, office bearers, our staff members, and any student—to have input and are always happy to talk through where and how the SRC should be spending student’s money. Will keep you updated as this process starts.
The SRC is currently hiring a new Secretary to Council to fill the position which has been vacant since the end of last year. This role ensures that the elected Council of students functions smoothly and is a significant point of contact between students and the Council that acts on their behalf. The position will be finalised in the next week or so.
Locomoting in the opposite of a backwards vector, we’re going to kick off a redesign of the SRC’s appearance in the next few weeks. You could say our logo is not looking as youthful as the group of people that it represents. You could also say that we could do better communicating the SRC’s role in activism on campus, as representatives of students, and as a service-provider that helps students most at risk. With that in mind, we would love to hear from anyone with ideas or design feelings and we’re looking forward to entering the 21st century.
Vice Presidents’ Report
Look at all that’s happened in the short span of two weeks: our humble PM has consumed two raw onions (that we know of, that is: others, privately consumed, are as of yet unconfirmed, but I trust The Garter to keep us well abreast of this topic); a former PM (who was, unfortunately, little known for his prescient stance against apartheid), and outspoken advocate for refugee rights in his later years, has passed; and, much to the disappointment of a strange assortment of PMs, yet another bill to deregulate our university sector has floundered in the Senate.
With all that in the foreground, it does not seem that my scrappy, little report is of much relevance. And it’s not. This split ink is rendered worthless. Worthless, that is, without you reading it: interrogating my work, challenging my assumptions and priorities, and thoroughly critiquing my biases. What is relevant—and what I’ll endeavour to do in each piece of mine in Honi—is to make sure you understand what I’ve been doing, where it’s going, and why.
That accountability, and its closely-tied buzz-word of ‘representation’, has been my focus for these past weeks. As I type this, I’m quickly learning the intricacies of Google Spreadsheets, creating a table of all campaign commitments all elected SRC Councillors made, such that we can work collectively to agitate and achieve their goals; spreading the knowledge and advocacy-work of the SRC beyond its Executive. I’m eagerly reconstructing (or, more aptly, resuscitating) the Faculty Societies’ Committee. Composed of all of the Faculty Societies’ Presidents, this is an exciting new opportunity to engage faculties (especially those under-represented in the SRC, ie. all non-Arts faculties) more closely in the work and advocacy of the SRC. I’ve also been working closely with the International Students’ Officer in conducting a review of the SRC’s operations in the International Students’ Lounge in the Wentworth building, and the efficacy of our bookshop. My most exciting project, however, is—undoubtedly—the awareness-building campaign (and associated video) I’ve been working on with the Cumberland Intercampus Officers.
That’s a bit of a laundry-list for you: and there’s so much of each project left to do. This doesn’t need to be a spectator sport, so please contact me any-time at email@example.com.
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
Xiaoran Shi and Subeta Vimalarajah.
Hello there, regular readers (probably just our mums and some loyal friends)—bet you missed us! Well, never fear—we’ve got lots to tell you.
The Wom*n’s Collective went wild on Saturday the 14th of March with TWO events in one day. We kicked off the morning at the International Wom*n’s Day march. Somewhere in amongst Penny For Newtown campaign propaganda and various Marx and union enthusiasts, we strolled casually but indignantly through the city. We explained kyriarchy to some confused passersby and even managed to make a t-shirt sale mid rally. Amongst a sea of whiteness (literally and politically) our “Decolonise Your Feminism”, written in sweet bubble writing over an Indigenous flag, and “Fight For Wom*n of Colour” attracted some necessary attention. Feeling like we’d single handedly brought intersectionality to IWD, we rushed home to get “glammed up” for the Growing Strong Launch that night.
There are so many feels we could share about the Launch. The performers were fantastic; Jane Park was wonderful; the falafels were, unfortunately, finite. An hour before we’d resigned ourselves to sitting in the venue alone and consuming the eight boxes of pide ourselves. Luckily for our health and the future of wom*n’s activism at Sydney University, that wasn’t necessary. Thank you to everyone who came. Such a huge turn out was unexpected, but all the more wonderful for it. Thank you also to Caitlin Still and Fancy Chen who both read their works to us and to those who helped us set up and/or pack up.
We’ve decided to start a new segment to help our readers in their radical education. Each fortnight we’ll share some articles that have been scoring likes on the Wom*n’s Collective facebook group. This week we’re giving JAM a callback in the pages of Honi Soit, as two of its editors have written wholesome, critical, must-read pieces. Lucy Watson’s “Reflections On My Assault, One Year Ago Today” on newmatilda.com and Rafi Alam’s “disperse – away from my mother’s land” on Armed are our first recommendations. Terrific people, terrific writing, and pretty good reminders that the personal is political. That’s all for now – until next time (we’ll miss you).
Welfare Officers’ Report
Hey everybody, welcome back to the haunted nether regions of Honi. Just get through these reports and you’ll be home and dry in the joke section, but before you flip over for your weekly dose of Christopher Pyne themed puns (I’m Pyne-ing for him to be sacked? No that’s pretty crap…) let me tell you about the work happening in your SRC welfare department.
Work is continuing with the incredible international student officers to build a campaign that connects international students with SRC welfare services. International students create the multicultural environment that make life at this university so rich and increasingly it’s their fees that pay for everyone’s classes. However the university has dropped the ball when it comes to their care. For too many international students their experience of Sydney uni is marred by exorbitant home stay and travel prices, dodgy employers and a lack of language support.
The SRC wants to be the safety net that catches international students before alienation or stress become too much to handle. The first step will be to create multilingual materials letting students know how the SRC can support them but until then please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or a friend is struggling with rent, debt or even just a big workload. We can put you in contact with an SRC caseworker or solicitor and start shrinking those troubles down to size. Getting help when you feel stuck is not always easy but we (the welfare officers) can make your appointment for you and even come and sit in with you in the meeting if you need us to. There is no shame in asking for help.
We are also excited to announce that here in welfare we are creating a new forum where students can engage with the department, give feedback, share tips and concerns and become directly involved with our campaigns. It’s early days and we are still experimenting with the format but if you want to voice a concern or get involved with the politics of compassion search for “Sydney University Welfare Collective” on Facebook and watch this space!
International Student Officers’ Report
The International Students Collective are still supporting the Australian Discussion Group program under the regulation of University of Sydney Union every Tuesday 3 pm at International Student Lounge throughout semesters. During week 2, the collective officers met up with the USYD SRC welfare officers to discuss about our plans for international students in 2015. We are currently working on a new multi-language SRC handbook for international students with the welfare officers, we are also focusing on how to help international students to find a job after they graduate and help them to claim back their superannuation money before they leave the country. We are working on the discrimination issues with the Anti-racism Collective this semester by currently helping the Anti-racism with the first event in week 4.The collective also met up with the UTS international students officer in week 3,we are planning to establish a cross-campus International students collective among USYD, UNSW and UTS together in 2015. The first USYD International students collective meeting has been arranged which is 2 pm on the 23rd of March at International students Lounge.
In order to help international students to claim back their superannuation money and provide more job opportunities, firstly we have to make sure more international students know about our free legal services provided by the SRC, so our plans for week 4 is to meet up with all the presidents of cultural societies in order to call out international students to join our collective as many as we can, making sure international students get to know about the collective and all the legal services provided by SRC. Our collective officers will be keeping in touch with the Student Career Centre and the SRC legal service.For the following week 5 to week 13, we are planning to arrange a meet and greet event for international students from all over the world. Secondly, we suggest to replace the second hand bookstore at Wentworth building to a legal service centre,more international students can see it and will know about there is a free legal service in SRC. Thirdly,we focus on caring International students’ mental health, we had a survey during week 2 and found out that International students hardly know about the free mental health service on campus, so we are more International students know about the free service of CAP on campus.