The University of Sydney Debating Union, one of Sydney’s oldest and most prestigious societies, has moved away from its predominantly white male success stories to provide a particularly diverse showing at the Australian Intervarsity Debating Championships.
Of the 13 teams they send, the debating society has affirmative action for women, and requires a proportion of the contingent not come from a “blacklisted” school, being schools that do not have access to good coaching (usually public schools, with some exceptions).
The entirely Sydney-based Grand Final, featuring the University of Sydney Union 1 and the University of Sydney Union 5 (the winners of the tournament), was one of the most diverse finals in recent history. Impressively, Sydney’s top teams boasted absolutely no white men in the final (hoorah!), as well as seeing half the competitors identify as queer, a majority of female speakers, and Sydney’s first entirely female USU 1.
An extra fun fact? The Grand Final make up was more than half Honi Soit reporters, and even one editor!
Union Board rumours
As the dreaded Union Board elections draw nearer, Honi brings you a few extra faces to watch out for on redfern run.
Second year student Esther Shim, a former Strip for Honi candidate, has confirmed she will be running, managed by Jacob Messina. Whilst Shim and Messina have both been linked to the Sydney University Liberal Club (SULC), Shim claims she will be running as an independent and that neither Messina or herself have spoken to SULC about her campaign. Shim boasts the advantage of already being involved in one campaign last year, as well as citing support from the Politics Society, the Arts Society and Surg FM.
SRC councillor and director of student publications David Hogan has also confirmed he will be in the running, drawing support from his 2015 Launch for SRC ticket. Interestingly, Hogan is yet another candidate with links to Liberal factions on campus, but who will be running as an independent. Hogan has, however, admitted he will be drawing some support from liberal party friends.
Honi Soit can also confirm that Courtney Thompson has won the Grassroots preselection, in an ultimately uncontested ballot.
Song saga continues
On April 4, Wom*n of Colour Collective Officer, Vanessa Song, put her allegedly illegitimate pre-selection to a vote of confidence. Earlier this semester, Honi reported on allegations of electoral fraud in Song’s pre-selection to a coveted $12, 000 paid position in the SRC as co-Wom*n’s Officer.
Following internal tension, including subsequent claims Song was not performing her duties as Wom*n’s Officer, SRC caseworker Melissa De Silva acted as the Returning Officer for Song’s vote of confidence. The final tally, including roughly 8 proxy votes, was 10-10, with two additional informal votes.
Given the deadset tie (we don’t make this stuff up folks), Mel ruled the vote had failed. Critics on the “no confidence” side say there were no anti-stacking measures in place. In her defence, Mel says only people who had been members of the Facebook group for over a month were eligible to vote, and the group itself had no rules or official process for membership.
In the SRC meeting on 6 April, Song announced the result, as well as plans to close the Wom*n of Colour Collective Facebook group for two months. Song later confirmed this “moratorium” was for members to undergo media, and bullying and harassment training. Honi understands closing the group for two months will also assist Song in preparing for her upcoming Union Board campaign.
Wanted: SRC Vice-President
On March 18, during an executive meeting, Jamie Rusiti – the elected co-Vice President of the SRC – was dismissed from his position by his peers. The SRC constitution states that missing two consecutive executive meetings is grounds for dismissal.
Much like Rusiti himself, members of the executive made no apologies for their decision. They all voted – with the exception of Michael Sun, who was absent – for Rusiti’s removal.
Rusiti had been overseas over the break. “That being said, over this period I’ve kept up with the content of meetings and have approved motions via email,” he said, prior to the dismissal.
The position is also shared with Anna Hush. Rusiti assured Honi, “we’ve kept in close contact regarding our duties and where possible, I’ve worked on projects from abroad.”
For those looking to jump on the vacancy, act fast, or your careerist best friend might beat you to it. “No one has expressed interest in filling the role yet, but it’s certainly something I would consider,” Hush told Honi.
Late on Sunday night, Rusiti sent us this statement: “Because of personal issues completely unrelated to the SRC, I was put in a position where attending meetings or even being in the SRC office became a major point of anxiety, which has led to my resignation as VP. This situation has been difficult for everyone on council and is proof that it is completely unreasonable for people to impose their personal disagreements on a professional environment.”
Whine and Cheese
The FrenchSoc’s semesterly Wine and Cheese night was cancelled last week due to University of Sydney Union licensing restrictions on the planned venue, The Cellar Theatre. The cancellation for the event, ‘DÉLIRE DANS LA DISCHOTHÉQUE, was publicised the day before it was scheduled following a series of updates informing ticket buyers of ‘pesky restrictions’ on alcohol and location changes.
The USU also asked that the society’s replacement ‘Slushies and Cheese Night’ be postponed ‘even if non-alcohol drinks were served.’ FrenchSoc President Alana Cherry told Honi, “Whilst it’s a shame Wine & Cheese Night had to be cancelled, we completely understand the concerns of the USU and cannot wait to work closer with them to bring it back even bigger and better next semester! As the French say, c’est la vie!” The society was able to refund all tickets purchased and claim back the $800 spent on cheese, baguettes, pastries, and non-alcoholic drinks.
Last week was all about activism on campus. While the fracas at Fisher Library made national headlines, the Great Hall also saw its share of (slightly less dramatic) action during the Science Faculty graduation ceremony on Thursday morning.
Science graduate and SRC Environment Officer Lily Matchett, who earlier this month locked on to a coal conveyer at Narrabri to protest fossil fuel mining, broke from stifling graduation procedure mid-ceremony to unfurl a banner that read “Science Student ashamed to graduate from a Uni that FUND$ climate change”. While the action was ultimately brief, Matchett told Honi, “the only dignified way I could graduate from Bachelor of Science was to take a stand against and highlight the University’s inaction on Climate Change”, citing its failure to divest from the fossil fuel industry.