It’s been another busy week at your SRC! SRC activists helped to organise and build the SCA rally on Wednesday, which saw an amazing turnout from both Callan Park and main campus students! SCA students and staff voted overwhelmingly to go on strike for the day and attend the protest, calling on the university to ensure the continued provision of vital facilities and resources for their courses, and guarantee no staff or course cuts. There’s plenty more to come so watch this space!
I also attended a workshop with some of the SRC’s casework staff around consultation regarding the new special consideration process. As regular readers of Honi know, this follows many meetings with university management to convey the concerns raised by members of the student body about their challenging experiences with the new system. This will be an ongoing process but I’m proud to say that the fight to make special consideration fair and accessible for all is a key objective of this year’s office bearing team, and will be until the job is done. Always remember to get in touch with our casework team if you have any concerns.
The SRC also raised some important issues on students’ behalf at this week’s Academic Board meeting, including special consideration, lecture recording availability, and academic honesty procedures. The SRC has pushed for a university-wide lecture recording policy for many years, yet some lecturers are still opting out of the system for reasons that will put many students at a disadvantage, especially those juggling multiple work and study commitments, or students with disabilities.
Myself and other student representatives also had the honour of attending the Rainbow Wedding on Tuesday, hosted by many queer action collectives and groups. The event celebrated the LGBTIQ+ community and also called on the university to make some changes to further our goal of equality for all on campus, including making it easier for trans students to change their names and pronouns on class lists and university administration, and coming out publicly in support of marriage equality!
Finally, remember the NDA is happening next Wednesday! This is an opportunity to make it clear to the university, the government, and broader society that students value our education and won’t be taken for granted. 1pm August 24th outside Fisher Library – money for higher education, not corporate tax evasion! Enjoy week 5!
If you’re one of the three people who actually read this reports section in Honi, you’ve probably noticed that I’ve been harping on about Radical Education Week for a little while now. Well, time has flown by, and Week 5 – Rad Ed Week – is already here! I’m very proud of the hard work of activists in the SRC who have built this event from the ground up. We set out to share the knowledge and skills developed in collectives and activist groups with the broader student population, and promote engagement and collaboration between different groups. Although we come from different groups and backgrounds, we share a dissatisfaction with the kind of education that neoliberal universities provide us with – heavily based on theory, centred around the perspectives of old, rich white men, and bearing little relevance to our work in communities towards social justice and liberation.
We’ve created a program of events that we hope will engage the student community, and be accessible to people who haven’t necessarily been involved in activism before. Our events span the spectrum from how to run a successful campaign, the legal knowledge you need to participate in direct actions, and how to work in solidarity with Indigenous communities, to how to file a Freedom of Information request and facilitate a meeting.
Throughout the process of developing Radical Education Week, I have been continually overwhelmed by the strength of SRC collectives like the Environment Collective, the Indigenous Collective, the Autonomous Collective Against Racism, the Education Action Group, the Queer Collective and the Wom*n’s Collective (although perhaps I’m a bit biased about that one). These are all great examples of the power non-hierarchical, collective organising amongst passionate students. In the face of a corporatised university, a conservative government and a regressive social climate, collaboration between activists are more necessary than ever – and our collectives are thriving.
Join us on Eastern Avenue from Tuesday to Thursday to learn about how you can get involved, and come along to our workshops to participate in an exciting, innovatory week of learning.
During a busy week in Semester 1, in the midst of a flurry of media attention around Wesley College’s Rackweb, you may or may not have noticed that the university emailed a report called ‘Creating a Safer Community for All’ to all students. The report is based on a survey carried out last year, in which all students were invited to share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and of reporting these incidents to the university. It contained some very alarming statistics – less than 1% of even the most serious incidents are reported. 41% of students who reported their experience to the university found that they received no help.
Surveys like this are important, as they are the only way we can gauge the actual extent of the problem. If all we have are the numbers of reports (as revealed by Honi Soit under a Freedom of Information request), we’ll never know how many more incidents go unreported, silenced and swept under the rug.
In the next few months, the Australian Human Rights Commission will be rolling out a national survey on sexual harassment and sexual assault. It’s the first of its kind in Australia, and it will provide an invaluable insight into the extent of the problem on university campuses around the country. A cross-section of USyd students will be sent an invitation to participate, and I urge everyone to take part, even if you have never experienced sexual harassment or assault. It is crucial that we have accurate figures on students’ experiences – especially around the reporting process – to be able to shape future action and put a stop to this epidemic.
The Wom*n’s Collective and the Human Rights Commission will be co-hosting a launch for the survey on campus in a couple of weeks, and all students are invited to attend. Keep an eye out on the Wom*n’s Collective Facebook page if you’re keen to come along and share your thoughts and experiences. If you’d like to get in touch with the collective at any time, our email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
With feminist love and rage, Anna
Sexual Harassment Officer
“I’ve spoken to students all around Australia and it’s the same story. It feels like groundhog day.”
Bill Murray’s iconic film is a sad but fitting reference to the discourse and lack of University action in regards to sexual harassment and assault on campus. After reading Nina Dillon Britton’s article on Nina Funnell in Honi (‘The Most Empowering Thing I Ever Did Was Politicize My Own Assault’), the driving force behind Funnell’s advocacy for sexual assault survivors strikes me as just this; students valiantly leading the charge whilst the university drags its feet behind, bringing a very lacklustre effort to any change.
The momentous success of student activism against sexual harassment and assault on campus this year has received a lot of positive media coverage. Yet the University’s constant failure to support students that have experienced harassment and/or assault, combined with inadequate and inappropriate reporting mechanisms, a lack of disciplinary action against perpetrators and a timid avoidance of the deep-rooted misogyny of the colleges remains disappointing and disheartening.
Why has nothing changed since Funnell’s experience on campus? Why are we are still fighting for the students who have to face their perpetrators on Eastern Avenue with no institutional support? Why are there still no clear procedures on how to report experiences of harassment and assault?
Funnell doesn’t think anything has changed since she was at University and neither do I.
We can’t lose momentum, we need to re-frame the fight. Fighting against sexual harassment and assault shouldn’t be an activist movement – regardless of our gender, age, race, religion or political stance, we all deserve to be safe and supported on and off-campus.
If you are interested in ending the time loop, please send me an email at email@example.com or contact the Usyd Wom*n’s Collective 2016 via Facebook.
Justine Amin, Jenna Schroder and Llewellyn Williams-Brooks
SRC’s Student Housing Affordability portfolio and 180Degrees Consulting have started a collaborative project that will look to research how to ensure cheaper accommodation for a wider range of students in the University’s 2020 accommodation restructure. It’s slow work but will have results by the end of semester so as to ensure the SRC has the knowledge and abiltiy formally lobby the university from 2017 onwards.
Liam Carrigan and Dylan Griffiths
On Wednesday the 17th students from Sydney College of the Arts and main campus held a brief occupation of the student Centre. During the occupation, the SCA campaign put an ultimatum to university management, if the campaign demands were not met by the end of the week we would escalate. The university has made no correspondence to the SRC or other members of LET SCA STAY saying that no cuts to staff and facilities of SCA will occur, that the B.Visual Arts has been reinstated or that they will LET SCA STAY where it is.
So I guess the campaign will have escalated by the time this issue of Honi is released.
At the August 17th rally and SCA student strike, Hall Greenland, a trot and ex editor of this paper, spoke about the campaign to have Marxism and feminism taught in the philosophy program. The University expelled Hall after a long term occupation escalated the campaign. This Education Officer, and I’m sure other members of the SRC hope not to follow his fate.
Get involved in the campaign by keeping update over the LET SCA STAY and SCAR Facebook pages.
The 60% staff reduction and massive cuts to SCAs curriculum are the product of poor funding to higher education by the federal government. With the Liberal government cutting over $2 billion dollars form the sector last budget and continuing to push deregulation light its essential we link the struggles and turn out for the August 24 NDA 1PM Fisher Library.