Well it feels crazy to be saying this already, but – welcome to semester two! I hope the winter break was a chance to relax, have a sneaky bevvie here and there, travel, and catch a few Pokemon if you’re into that.
The SRC has been busy over the break helping students with academic appeals and processes following the exam period and leading into enrollments for semester two. We’ve also been making preparations to introduce our new free tax help service in time for tax time, and our student reps have been keeping up with the always turning cogs of the university machinery. We’ll also be out and about for Re O-Day on July 25th so keep an eye out!
Of course, the biggest thing to come out of winter break was the federal election result – after a very, very close race, it’s now confirmed that the Liberal/National Party has been returned for three more years. Although higher education wasn’t a huge issue during the election campaign, thanks to the repeated efforts by the crossbench, Labor, and Greens senators in the last parliament to vote down deregulation and other measures, combined with the overwhelming unpopularity of these policies within the electorate, we know this government still has many plans for students and young people that are of concern. In particular, the PaTH internship scheme, partial deregulation in flagship courses, cuts to university and TAFE funding, and uncertainty around the future of access to healthcare and welfare services.
Your SRC and other student unions will continue to stand up for students and young people and advocate for fair, funded, accessible education for all. If you want to join our fight and hold our government to account, come to the National Day of Action on August 24th! Best of luck with semester two!
Marcus Wong & Evan Jones
It’s been a busy year all-round and the past couple of months have certainly been no exception. We protested La Trobe University in the aftermath of Roz Ward’s dismissal. Following that we protested the Drummoyne Baptist Church’s event that hosted Brett Lee-Price who has expressed extremely transphobic views, including offering advice to deliberately misgender transgender individuals. We also had contingents to the Refugee and Marriage Equality/Safe Schools Rallies that were held in the weeks leading up to the election. It is important to stand in solidarity with refugees and stand for their rights, and the atrocities being committed against them by the Australian Government is absolutely deplorable. The Marriage Equality/Safe Schools Rally was absolutely fantastic, drawing a giant crowd with speakers including Roz Ward and Jess from The Veronicas.
Following the tragic shooting in Orlando many of our members also attended a vigil held in Newtown to honour the victims. It is important that we do not erase the fact that this was at an LGBTQIA+ club, and an attack against the Latinx Queer community, something overlooked by many news sources. It is also important to critique the role of Islamophobia in media coverage and stand against Islamophobia in all its forms. We cannot fight bigotry with bigotry.
In July, we sent a delegation to Perth for Queer Collaborations, an annual queer student conference. It was a fantastic opportunity for our members to network with other students across the country, and to acquire skills and knowledge from some fantastic activists. It’s also a good opportunity to get involved with some campaigns that are being run, and to see a variety of approaches to activism, something that we can help use to broaden our own activism. It was an intense week but an experience many will remember for a long time.
We’ve also been continuing work on the campaigns we’ve already been involved in. We took Rainbow Campus to the USU and will be taking it to the SRC at the next meeting. We’ve also been assisting with the Ending Queer Youth Homelessness Campaign and involved with groups like Community Action Against Homophobia and Defend Safe Schools.
Over the coming semester we have much to look forward to. Queer Honi will be out in a couple of months and preparation is already underway for it. We’re also very excited about Radical Education Week, a collaborative project we’ve undertaken with the other SRC Collectives that is shaping up to be incredibly promising. As part of Rainbow Campus, we are organising a Rainbow Wedding to protest the university’s refusal to endorse marriage equality. Finally, having successfully won a bid to run Querelle, an annual queer student magazine, we will be beginning work to launch at next year’s Queer Collaborations.
Overall, it’s been an incredibly exciting few months and we’d like to thank the ongoing support and commitment of our collective, as well as our supporters across the university. For any queeries please email us at email@example.com.
Dylan Griffiths & Liam Carrigan
Over the break USYD management sent an email to Sydney College of the Arts students announcing the signing of a Heads of Agreement with UNSW that proposed a ‘merger’ of SCA with UNSW Art and Design. With no guarantees for staff, studio space, curriculum and facilities this is no merger; it’s a closure!
The closure will see up to 3/4 academic staff, all of the technical and many admin staff sacked. It will sacrifice pedagogy for a surplus. Management attempt to calm students by promising that they will still be able to graduate with a Sydney University degree. But students know that it important thing isn’t the piece of paper you get ant the end of your degree but the education in the middle. All three-art schools are under threat by the merger, and so is the wider visual art community. As artist Ben Quilty put it ‘the cultural face of Australia has been punched’.
SCA students are angry and have started the LET SCA STAY campaign. Management has removed the Bachelor of Visual Arts from the 2017 UAC guide and the campaign demands that it is reinstated and the closure halted.
The campaign’s first open meeting attracted 200 people and continues to pull large numbers in the weekly campaign meetings. LET SCA STAY’s first action was to mobilize around managements student briefing, this was successful in sending a message that art students will not stand idly by while university management destroys their education. SCA students didn’t let the Provost, Stephen Garton get a word in before and proceeded to escort him and the dean of SCA off the campus in Rozelle.
This was followed by a rally to disrupt the University Senate. Hundreds of SCA students and activists marched from the quad to the business school where the meeting was taking place only to be met with the riot squad and denied entry.
The Archibald prize was usurped by a peaceful protest of SCA students outside the Gallery of NSW, who were extremely supportive of the protest.
Show Solidarity with SCA students and staff in the main quad on the 17th of August rallying against the proposed closure of SCA.
We also saw the return of the Liberal government, who want to deregulate fees, lower the HECS repayment threshold, and decrease government funding by more than $2 billion. The National Union of Students has called a National Day of Action against these cuts on the 24th of August, be there to defend your education!
Even as university students enjoyed their break between semesters, news stories about sexism and sexual assault on university campuses did not stop breaking. Investigation by Honi Soit revealed that in the past five years, up to 1700 students may have experienced sexual assault, estimated from the University’s own data. Five students at ANU have recently been expelled for sharing photos of women’s breasts online without consent, as reported by ANU student newspaper Woroni. Although these seemingly endless stories of sexual assault and harassment reveal the dark underbelly of campus life, it is also heartening to see brave students sharing their stories, as well as tireless activists campaigning for better support, and student media leading reporting on the issue.
The National Union of Students launched the ‘Support Student Safety, Stop the War on Women’ campaign during the break, with a rally at UTS and USyd after the annual NOWSA women’s conference. This campaign demands that universities implement zero tolerance policies towards sexual violence, roll out the national sexual assault survey developed by the Human Rights Commission without delay, and do more to support survivors of violence on campus.
This semester, the Wom*n’s Collective will continue to fight for survivors of sexual violence. Currently less than 1% of survivors report their experiences to the university: we want to see better reporting procedures put in place, so that students feel safe to come forward. We want better education for students and staff, to create a community with a greater understanding of consent and greater respect for women. Sexual assault on campus will not stop until the university listens to the voices of students and survivors.
This semester, Wom*n’s Collective meetings will be held on Mondays at 1pm in the Wom*n’s Room in Manning House. Women and non-binary students are welcome to come along to meetings!
If you want to get in touch with WoCo, find us online at facebook.com/usydwoco, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.