Pride. It’s often seen as a sin. It is said to be something that does nothing but feed one’s ego and put them above others. People will often tell you to be modest, to not stand out, to not be who you are and just conform to what the majority of society is telling them to do. You must not question the status quo.
I tend to take a different approach.
I believe you should have pride in who
you are. I believe you should stand out. I believe you should question the status quo. The fact is that for people from marginalised groups, pride can sometimes be all they have. I am talking about people of colour, wom*n, and people who identify as queer. I am talking about those people who are constantly kicked to the side because they may be seen as ‘different’.
In this society, people are rejected from their families and their homes for being who they are. They are spat on in the street and called names. They are physically or verbally assaulted in public and private spaces because they are seen as ‘different’.
What many people don’t understand is that when there is a problem that society has thrown at you, there is a high chance that these ‘different’ people know exactly how it feels. There is also a high chance that those ‘different’ people are the ones who are filled with understanding and compassion. They will be the ones to stand in solidarity with you. And they will do it with pride; owning absolutely everything they wear, owning the actions they take, owning the attitude they have, and showing society that they are the only ones who own them.
But the disappointing thing is that when all of that is over and society returns to its status quo, most people will still continue to abuse those who are ‘different’. They
will try to cut down their pride and degrade them as less than human. It is at this point that a trans* person who stood beside a worker to defend their wages is brutally beaten during a night out, or a father throws his son out of his house because he has admitted that he is attracted to the same sex. It is at this point that a queer student walks into a bathroom to find homophobic slogans scratched across the door of the cubical. It’s at this point that those ‘different’ people have, once again, only been left with their pride.
Pride is something that cannot be taken away from you no matter what else has. It’s what drives people to continue their work when all odds are against them and I encourage those who are ‘different’ in our society to remain proud of who they are and show the world what you are capable of because I will always stand beside you with pride.
General Secretaries’ Report
ith just under three months left until the end of our term, the theme running through much of our work at the moment – from challenging university policy, to reviewing SRC procedure, to collaborating with other student organisations on campus – is looking towards the future of the SRC and students to come.
Since you last heard from us, we’ve been working with the President and Executive to institute some changes in the SRC arising from the mid-year Office Bearer consults. We also coordinated the SRC’s stall at the University’s Open Day last Saturday. We met many bright-eyed, bushy-tailed high school students eager to find out what was next in store in their learning journey. They were especially excited to hear about the campaigns and initiatives run by SRC collectives and snapped up copies of the SRC’s ‘How to Uni’, ‘Growing Strong’ and ‘Counter Course’ handbooks.
There’s no greater a reminder of how fast our term has gone than the fact that Eastern Avenue is soon going to be flooded, once again, with students in brightly-coloured shirts campaigning for the SRC elections. From Camperdown to ‘Cumbo’ to the ‘Con’ and beyond, they’ll be asking for your vote to represent your interests in the SRC. The positions up for election include President, 33 Councillors (who will elect the 2016 SRC Office Bearers), 7 delegates to the National Union of Students’ National Conference, and the editors of Honi Soit.
Your vote will go towards deciding which students will sit at the head of a $1.65 million organisation dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of all undergraduate students at our university. Next week’s edition of Honi Soit will feature the policy statements of students running in the election. In between mid-sems and your fifth pot of tea to procrastinate from said mid-sems, please read this information closely and carefully to make a considered judgment on which candidate you’ll vote for to best represent your interests.
As for your current SRC representatives, there will be a Council meeting on 6pm Wednesday September 2 at the Professorial Boardroom in the Quadrangle. Max and I will be giving our General Secretaries’ report as per usual and presenting policy to be voted on by Council regarding the loaning of items to Office Bearers from the SRC’s shared resources pool. Any interested undergraduate students are more than welcome to attend.
Ethnic Affairs Officers’ Report
Eden Caceda, Deeba Binaei, Lamisse Hamouda, & Kavya Kalutantiri.
Last week the Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) Honi Soit edition appeared on stands and we, at the collective, could not be more proud of the hard work our writers, editors, illustrators, photographers, poets and comedians put into our second ever issue. We also thank the beautiful people at the SRC and our launch performers and singers who helped us celebrate this wonderful occasion.
But structures of oppression are not isolated and white supremacy, sexism, queerphobia, albeism and classism all intersect. There is no space safe from each of these oppressions and it’s important to never see any of these issues separately. What this means the most is that those of us at the intersections frequently suffer, face discrimination and can experience great pain, even from the communities that from which we belong.
If we want to continue anti-racist organization, we must continue to understand and organize again the multiple ways queerphobia manifests in our communities and every day lives. Queer organizing will be nothing if our queer spaces are inhospitable to Indigenous people, people of colour, wom*n and disabled people, and vice versa. We need to work together and refrain from viewing each oppression differently.
This year we are fortunate to have two queer-identifying office bearers, and we are proud to continue to foster the inclusion of more queer people of colour in our collective. Too often we silence or don’t give enough opportunity for intersectional voices to be heard above those in power. We hope this increase in representation and inclusion of varied voices can expand to all SRC collectives and into other institutions.
Indeed we work hard to improve things for our communities, but our goals should be bigger and should remember that intersectionality exists. We will not achieve anything until equality exists within every community and we ensure that society is feminist, anti-racist, decolonial, non-ableism and queer-safe space.
Education Officers’ Report
David Shakes and Blythe Worthy.
With all the whimsical flair of a not-yet-disgraced Barry Spurr, a few short months ago our Vice Chancellor Michael Spence declared his intentions to “wake the proverbial sleeping dragon” (fire staff and cut courses) in order to prevent a thousand flowers from continuing to bloom (???) through a “traumatic” (verbatim) university restructure for the 2016-2020 period. Dissent to this proposal must be spread as quickly as possible lest we forever say goodbye to double degrees, three year degrees, over a hundred undergraduate degrees, many more staff lost through redundancies, remaining staff’s job security and teaching conditions, already limited resources for staff and students, diversity of course content, accessibility to all levels of education, student debts smaller than mortgages, joy, value, and purpose, among other things.
Sydney University is an institution of considerable power, and the direction it takes in this 2016-2020 period is important and has consequences for the university sector. Made clear by the Vice Chancellor’s dismissal of questions and concerns raised by staff and students to do with the restructure and the established history of years of aggressive cuts to staff and work conditions, University management is not on our side. They’ve bought into the “accepted wisdom” of decades of cuts to public funding for higher education from the government and are pursuing students for costs most of these baby boomers never had to pay, be that through lobbying for fee deregulation or introducing an internal restructure.
This is all happening while former student, social reformer and Prime Minister Gough Whitlam is paraded about in USYD’s massive new marketing campaign. The late Gough Whitlam’s great contribution to the university sector was abolishing fees for higher education. The university using his influence for their marketing campaign while simultaneously trying desperately to find a way to increase student fees is not only hypocritical, it is disrespectful, and representative of the many years that have been spent by the university pursuing international repute at the expense of teaching conditions and quality of education. The terrific façade of Open Day this past weekend was another example of this; the University never seemed so cheery. Lucky it was a weekend.
Environment Officers’ Report
On one horror day a few weeks ago, the Abbott government affirmed its commitment to making Australia the world’s most regressive nation. Not only were we to be behind the rest of the developed world in Equal Marriage, but just as proudly, we were to have the weakest commitments to reducing our emissions, as if we were going for the last place award on all fronts. It’s days like these that the relentless attacks on people and the planet by “Coal is good for humanity” Tony and his cronies makes you want to despair. But one person’s despair achieves little. Rather only by organising, through action together, can we make change. And what a better place to start than right here on campus with other likeminded students through the SRC Environment Collective.
The Environment Collective is an opportunity to engage in environmental campaigns on campus and engage in the environment movement through the Australian Student Environment Network and beyond. So far this semester have been getting our Community Garden ready for Spring to teach students about sustainable growing, preparing the next phase of Fossil Free USYD’s campaign to make USYD divest from fossil fuels and are preparing an eye opening contribution to the Verge Festival. Building campaign skills are another big part of what we do, recently our members have been skilling up on Non-Violent Direct Action, The Fossil Free movement, and soon we will be holding climbing workshops. Coming up in the Mid-Semester break will be a road trip to visit the blockades stopping logging in Victoria’s East Gippsland. If that sounds like something you would like to get involved in, or if you have your own idea for a campaign and want to meet up with a network of likeminded students, come along to one of our meetings. Don’t despair, take action with us!
The Environment Collective meets every Tuesday at 12pm at Manning Sunken Lawns.
The Fossil Free working group – Tuesday at 11.30 at Manning Sunken Lawns
The Community Garden working group – Friday at 12pm at Level 5 Wentworth Building Balcony.