Many of you will have seen Sydney Uni feature in the news this week, most prominently in the Sydney Morning Herald and again on 60 Minutes, regarding the issue of sexual assault and harassment on campus. Whilst this is by no means a new story, I’m glad that it is finally beginning to receive some of the attention and scrutiny it desperately needs so that we can shine a light on the harmful cultures that pervade some parts of our university community and begin to look at how we can shift attitudes and responses.
One big step forward is the announcement this week that a new specialised sexual assault reporting system will be in place by semester one 2017. This is a project that many student representatives and activists have been pushing for over a number of years, including successive generations of SRC Womens’ Officers, and represents a significant achievement in the campaign to end sexual assault and harassment on campus.
Along with the new reporting system, the university also informed the SRC that all staff members will undergo training by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, to be able to better respond to cases of harassment and assault, and provide the necessary support to students who have experienced it. These are recommendations that the student representatives on the Safer Communities Working Group have been lobbying for over the course of this year.
There is still a lot more work to be done, but the SRC is hopeful that this represents the start of a genuine, long-term, consultative process to ensure students have equal access to a safe, inclusive campus and university community. In the meantime, the SRC will continue working towards funding a specialised solicitor for sexual assault and harassment cases and running campaigns that hold the university and colleges to account.
Lastly, this week’s edition of Honi has been compiled by members of the Autonomous Collective Against Racism, a student collective affiliated with the SRC for People of Colour, Indigenous students, and those marginalised by White Supremacy. It’s fantastic to be president of an organisation which funds the amazing work collectives like this do, and this edition should remind us why it’s so important that these groups exist and have the resources to produce their campaigns and ensure all students have representation in our community. I hope you enjoy reading it and congratulations to the hard work that brought it here.
Enjoy your week!
As an Indigenous student I am constantly being told that it is extraordinary that I am at University let alone at the University of Sydney. I am told that I am an exception to the norm. Myself and my cohort of Indigenous students are often viewed as the lucky ones who surpassed the expectations society puts on us to succeed. I am so proud of what I have achieved to be at this University and to have been able to hold a position of leadership however I reject the idea that I am an exception. I am surrounded by Indigenous people who excel, who continue to work hard and who achieve.
Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people of colour at this University are continuity othered. Throughout this year as a student rep I have continually seen this Unviersity remain inactive over racism at this campus. It is this University’s responsibility to do more. This University needs to act, it needs to explicitly stand against racism but more than that it needs to do more to create a safer environment to stop racist acts before they occur.
This may seem like a lot to ask for the University to stop racism but what I am asking is simple, I am asking for this University to listen to its students. I am asking this University to take down the paintings of golliwog’s in its education building and I am asking this University to take employment of people of colour seriously and seek out the talent of non-white academics in a way that is not simply tokenistic.
I am proud to be one of the leaders of an organisation that openly and proudly supports Indigenous people and people of colour. I am proud that we fund a collective that seeks to end racism and I am proud to be able to write this report that will be published in a fantastic paper put together completely by people of colour.
Wom*n of Colour Officer
The women of colour collective has been looking at developing ways in which to better hold meetings and engage more collective members. The lack of engagement from collective members has proven to be difficult to combat despite numerous attempts to remedy this.
We hope to host a picnic or end of semester wind down event towards the end of this year which will hopefully set the collective on a more constructive course for 2017. At this picnic/event we would discuss the outlook for 2017 and any feedback from collective members that can be handed down to the next women of colour convener.
In 2017, I would personally love to see the collective grow and engage more with itself as well as with other different collectives on campus. The next collective convener election will be held soon and despite the fact that the collective can no longer hold a paid office bearer position, I hope the next office bearer will persist regardless.
Despite being disheartened by the controversy surrounding the collective at the beginning of the year, I know the collective can rebuild and work towards a bigger and stronger collective for 2017
Some of the main directions I would like to see the collective move toward in the next year include: Greater engagement with women of colour on campus (inclusive of a more visible presence on campus), greater autonomy that is not relient on the women’s collective; so that the funding, function and operations of the collective do not depend on whether or not the current collective would like to allocate it more funding/less funding, restrict/enable its functions and operations, more educational events and workshops and more regular physical face to face meeting times which is a task in and of itself considering the predominantly online space that WOCC occupies. Again these are just suggestions but they definitely worth taking into account moving towards 2017.
International Students Officer
Alexander Shu, Jasmine Yu, Anqi Zhao
As for result of the election for 89th SRC, we would like to congratulate Stand Up for International Students and International Students for SRC getting on board for the next year term. Also, there are many new members joining the International Students Collective during the election and other time, which is really great for the development of the collective and our voice.
At the same time, there are close collaborations with SUPRA for NSW Opal Card Travel Concession Card Campaign, and with USU for International Students Council meeting to improve international students’ unilife.
We would like to draw attention on the articles published by Honi Soit as international students being racially targeted during senate election. We express our deep concerns among the current result of the senate election and disappointment on that no action was taken in response after numerous complaints raised with Returning Officer David Pacey. We would like to suggest that the Collective should keep working closely with ACAR so that we can team up to build up safer, more equal, more diverse campus.
Please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org , if you have any concerns of your university life. Also, welcome to the Facebook group of International Students Collective, we are all here for you, we are all here for a better unilife, we are all here for international students.
The past couple weeks have been a haze of productivity and business for the Enviro Collective! During the mid-sem break, students went on the roadtrip to Vickery State Forest with Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN)! Lots of fun and learning was to be had, with students meeting First Nations people from Gamilaraay and Gomeroi country, mining officials and local farmers from Maules Creek. Working with First Nations people is a priority of the Environment Collective and road-trips are a fantastic way for us to learn how to be the best accomplices we can possibly be!
Additionally, Fossil Free USYD has their commitment ceremony action on the front lawns of the Quadrangle last Tuesday! The action was to raise awareness of the Universities investments into coal, oil and gas and the University management’s slow progress in moving investments away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy. However the electrifying bride, Renewable Energy was left at the alter. With the groom, Michael Spence catching cold feet and once again failing to fully commit to a safer climate for everyone. For photos, catch us on our Facebook page @ Fossil Free USYD and to get more involved with the campaigns from the Enviro Collective make sure to join the ‘Enviro Collective 2016’ Facebook group! OR come to our weekly meeting @ 1pm Thursday at Manning Lawns!
Hope to see you all soon!