SRC Reports – Week 3, Semester 2, 2016

President Chloe Smith Special consideration – for many of you, these words probably don’t mean very much at all. However, for many other students, special consideration can mean ongoing uncertainty, stress and confusion, and mindboggling bureaucracy. Since the introduction of the new centralised special consideration process last semester, the SRC’s casework department has seen a…

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President
Chloe Smith

Special consideration – for many of you, these words probably don’t mean very much at all. However, for many other students, special consideration can mean ongoing uncertainty, stress and confusion, and mindboggling bureaucracy.

Since the introduction of the new centralised special consideration process last semester, the SRC’s casework department has seen a marked increase in students struggling to navigate the system, with common complaints including lengthy waiting times, extremely specific and difficult documentation requirements, and students inexplicably being knocked back despite going through exceptionally difficult personal circumstances.

The common theme running through these individual experiences is the sense that this system has been designed to make things as quick and painless for the university as possible, not to ensure that students are supported and cared for throughout their studies and not allowed to fall through the cracks. And yet surely that needs to be the whole point – the concept of special consideration exists so that students going through tough times and unforeseen circumstances don’t suffer and fall behind their peers, when they entered this university with just as much promise and potential.

Meeting with university management to discuss these concerns has been an ongoing part of my job since it commenced at the end of last year. After first semester, the university informed us they will be doing a “post-implementation review” of the procedure, to look at what’s not working for students and how processes can be improved. I will also be taking part in workshops this week run by the university, which will look at students’ experiences with the procedure and what we can learn.

Whilst the university has said they understand the concerns raised, anyone who’s had experience with university bureaucracy knows that change can move slowly and, unfortunately, can often fail to address the heart of the matter. Nonetheless, our caseworkers will be working on submission to the review on what parts of the process have failed students and what needs to be changed, to ensure student support is at the heart of every procedure and decision.

Any undergrad student who has struggled to navigate the special con process should see a caseworker at the SRC, to seek advice and support and help us provide feedback to the university on what students need to be supported through their studies. Come by the office on City Rd, call 9660 5222 or email help@src.usyd.edu.au.

Enjoy week three!
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Indigenous Officer
Georgia Mantle

“The past few weeks have been filled with a number of rallies. First we had the Sydney Black Lives Matter rally to stand in solidarity with Black Americans who still suffer under the oppression of white supremacy. As the rally was held in Australia it also included the suffering of Black and Indigenous Australians as the organisers demanded justice for the victims of death in custody, for the end of racist policy like the Northern Territory Intervention and a stop to the ongoing stolen generations. It was amazing to see a great turn out to this rally and to be able to listen to the inspiring speakers.

Last week Australia took to social media to express their disgust over the recent Four Corners expose of Don Dale Prison and it’s treatment of Indigenous children in detention. The sad thing about this is for Indigenous Australia this is nothing new, we have been talking about this for years yet it took white media to suddenly get people to listen and acknowledge the suffering. Last Saturday hundreds of people turned out to take stand against the injustice. We heard our strong Indigenous leaders speak about their suffering and devastation under the colonial system that is Australia that still sees it’s First Nations people pushed aside. We then all marched to parliament house to demand our “leaders” take real action and not just do a Royal Commission that will not lead to real change (See the last failure of a Royal Commission into deaths in custody)
Thursday was Aboriginal Children’s days and once again we took to the streets to protest against the on going removal of Indigenous Children and the suffering that occurs in out of home “care” the rally was organised by the amazing and inspiring ‘Grandmothers Against Removals’. It was heart breaking to hear the stories of these women’s experiences with having their children and grandchildren taken away from them.

A strong message that came through from these rallies was it is not enough to just come out and march in a reactionary way after seeing something like Four Corners rather what is needed is committed allies they listen and learn rather then assuming they know what is best.
Some upcoming events that may be of interest is, ‘Whiteness and Aboriginal Solidarity’ happening on the 11th of August at 7:30pm at the Waterloo Tent Embassy. ”
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Welfare Officers
April Holcomb, Isabella Brook, Matthew Campbell and Dylan Williams

Second semester is here and the results of the Federal election spell out a pretty grim future for student welfare. The Liberals are back in power and this means that student welfare is still under attack as Malcom Turnbull attempts to privatise Medicare, raise the GST, scrap penalty rates and make young people work for $4 an hour.

And to top it all off, everyone’s least favourite racist, homophobic, xenophobic and bigoted drunk aunt, Pauline Hanson, is back in parliament.
This might all seem a little scary, but don’t worry, your SRC welfare officers have got your back! Here are four easy ways that you can stand up, fight back and stay educated about the attacks on student welfare.
1.    Come find your friendly welfare officers on Eastern Ave on the 23rd of August from 12-2pm to find out about how you can protect your rights at work, at home and at Uni and also grab a free goody bag.
2.    Your welfare officers will be protesting Pauline Hanson every time she shows her racist face in public. Like the Facebook page, ‘ Hanson’s Racism: We Don’t Like It’   (https://www.facebook.com/hansonisagronk) to find out about upcoming protests and have a laugh at Pauline Hanson memes (also watch out for our Halal BBQ coming soon).
3.    To keep the fight going against the Liberals attacks on students, join your SRC, and students all across Australia on 24th of August outside Fisher Library at 1pm for a Student Protest. The Welfare Department will be protesting against 100k degrees, against cuts to higher education funding and against the lowering of the HECS repayment threshold.
4.    Like the Welfare Department Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/USYD-Welfare-Department) and join our Facebook group to stay up to date on how the department is continuing to stand up for student welfare for the rest of the year.
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Education Officers
Liam Carrigan and Dylan Griffiths

The success of the ‘Let SCA Stay’ campaign in beating back management and their attempts to merge the school with UNSW is the first major victory of collective action we have seen this year. As we approach the final months of our term as Education Officers it seems appropriate to reflect on why this particular campaign was so successful.

Previously, our efforts in the first half of the year were focused on building rallies to varying degrees of success, holding snap protests against the Liberals and attempting to maintain momentum in the lull after the shelving of fee deregulation. Whilst it was hoped the restructure would inspire a mass staff and student campaign, following a successful staff and student rally early in Semester One, resistance stalled as the University pushed ahead with their agenda. The changes to the senate, wherein elected alumni and staff positions were removed in pursuit of a corporate governance structure are now irreversible. Despite staff and student opposition, the Education faculty was moved into Arts and Social Sciences. The 2016-2020 Strategic Plan was replete with worrying suggestions, funneling students into expensive postgraduate degrees through limited undergraduate options, building links with the corporate sector and destroying honours. The University solidified its move away from a community of staff and scholars, pursuing a neoliberal model of tertiary education that is fast becoming the norm in Australia.

Against this backdrop, students at Sydney University should be aware that the myth of millennial entitlement our elders feed us is a fucking lie. Thanks to the Baird government our city has become a soulless ghost town. The changes hit us hardest: lockout laws, opal fare hikes and anti protest legislation are direct attacks on us. But under our neoliberal backdrop it is hard to notice the collective war being raged upon us. The capacity to organize against and recognize these attacks has been severely weakened by voluntary student unionism, the destruction of free education, inadequate government support and a precarious job market upon graduation.

However, at Callan Park, the attack was so obvious and vicious that the students of SCA refused to take it lying down. Upon being informed that they were to be shipped off to UNSW like unwanted furniture they channeled that anger into a strategic, organized and vibrant student campaign. They refused the logic of Steven Garton, chasing him and his cronies off campus. A visit to the senate snowballed into the biggest on campus rally since 2012. The vigil at the Archibald Prize was emblematic of the strong community support from across NSW they were able to rally to their cause. Although the Universities decision to abandon the ‘Heads of Agreement’ with NSW was a success, the campaign is not one. Let SCA Stay will not stop fighting until the BVA is reinstated and the future of SCA as a world class visual arts school is ensured.

Study. Be Silent. Die. I remember seeing this graffiti on campus in my first year, and believe its message is one that has been proven time and time again to students on this campus. We should all take inspiration from the students of SCA and continue to demand a better future, because we aren’t going to get one without a fight. Start by joining us on August 17th at the Rally to demand SCA Stays at 1pm at the Quad and on August 24th at the National Day of Action at 1pm outside Fisher Library demanding more money for Education, Not Corporate Tax Evasion.
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Environment Officers
Lily Matchett and Maushmi Powar

The Enviro Collective is back at it after another great Students of Sustainability conference! Students of Sustainability (SoS) was in Brisbane this year, on Jagera and Turrbal country. We had some awesome plenary’s with speakers discussing first nation women’s involvement in the environmental movement and the history of resistance in Brisbane. Awesome workshops were also run covering topics from permaculture to Marxist ecology!

Coming into Semester 2, the Enviro Collective plans on working on our connections with other grassroots groups and Fossil Free USYD! We’ll be having regular stalls on Wednesdays on Eastern Avenue so come say hi!

Members of the Enviro Collective have been attending Grandmas Against Removal (GMAR) rallies in solidarity in response to the terrible treatment of indigenous and Aboriginal children in juvenile detention centres.  A workshop on ‘Whiteness and Aboriginal Solidarity’ will be held at 7.30pm on 11 August @ the Waterloo Tent Embassy. People from the Collective will be attending and I strongly encourage you to attend as well. Here’s the Facebook link -https://www.facebook.com/events/1738223453101456/.

Fossil Free USYD is getting a kick-start this semester! We’ll be banner painting this week so look out for the event on the Facebook group – USYD Enviro Collective 2016. We’re looking for more than just a 20% commitment to the divestment of the University’s money from coal, oil and gas – so look out for some fun actions!!

Hope to see you all soon!

Best regards,
Maushmi and Lily

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Wom*n’s Officer
Vanessa Song

The Black Lives Matter and Support Student’s Safety, End the War on Women rally took place on the 16th of July and both were attended by members of the Women of Colour Collective. A banner painting afternoon was held the day before and the response to some of the signs we painted was positive! In future the collective resolved to take more photos at events and rallies.

The first collective meeting of the semester was held last week on Tuesday and will be consistently held fortnightly at 1pm in the Women’s Room in Manning.
The collective also hopes to plan a cross campus vigil for victims and sufferers of domestic violence – particularly focusing on the disproportionate way women of colour and LGBTI women of colour are affected by domestic violence.
Currently workshopping constitution – hoping to clearly define things like eligibility of voting as well as the definition and aims of the collective itself.
Looking toward expanding and building the collective after the huge blow suffered at the beginning of the year. It has been difficult to engage a lot more students and we hope to start being more visible on campus. With things like bake sales, picnics and stalls.

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