By the time you’re reading this report the Academic Board of the University, that is the top advisory body when it comes to academic matters, will have voted for or against a proposal that seeks to alter semester dates. This proposal plans to shorten semesters from 13 weeks to 12 weeks and extend the winter break so that semester 2 starts and ends later in the year.
The SRC has serious concerns about the impact that these changes will have on the student learning experience. Namely, students and staff will face increased pressure to achieve learning outcomes in a shorter period of time. While the university claims it has undertaken an extensive amount of consultation on this proposal, they have failed to consult and inform those who will be most effected by this change, the average student at University of Sydney. Student representatives across a number of different faculties have raised concerns with me regarding how this proposal will affect them and expressed their frustrations.
I know that some of you reading this are probably thinking that I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. “It’s only one week,” you’re thinking to yourself, “It can’t be THAT awful”, but the one week difference isn’t the biggest of our worries. What I’m most worried about is that this is just another step towards the restructuring of our university in a way that could drastically alter our education. This trend isn’t just restricted to Usyd, we’re seeing a number of universities implement a trimester model in restructures that have outraged students across the country. Regardless of if this proposal is passed or rejected by the Academic Board, we know that the landscape of our university is changing and I’m not sure if I can say that I believe its for the better.
If you’re worried about the future of your education, speak up and voice your frustration. Talk to your mates, your teachers or join the SRC’s education action group. Shoot me an email at email@example.com to find out how you can get involved and like our facebook page www.facebook.com/usydsrc/ to stay up to date.
General Secretaries’ Report
Isabella Pytka and Daniel Ergas
[The appropriate soundtrack for this report is either: Strawberry Kisses, or Sk8er Boi. Please indulge us by switching from your banal indie-rock-pop Spotify playlist, to your choice of these two ‘naughties’ bangers.]
You may be wondering why we chose these songs – beyond their obvious melodic worth.
Strawberry Kisses, much like your SRC, may seem on its face to be the work of one great youthful artist (I speak, of course, of Nikki Webster). While this will undoubtedly shock you, while we share these pages regularly with Izzy, the SRC does not function because of the three of us, but because of the collectives and their OBs, who do the most important work of reaching out to students, and making change on and off campus; and the SRC staff, who tend to the institutional knowledge we often lack, and make sure the lights are on and the bills can be paid.
Two weeks ago, we filed our SSAF proposal, declaring how we reckon the SRC could use part of your $290 to provide you with support – from a new multilingual caseworker, to a solicitor who specialises in harassment cases – none of which would be possible without the OBs, or the staff.
Sk8er Boi, by the punk rock princess of the 00’s, Avril Lavigne, talks of the star crossed love between a punk rock guy (Romeo) and a ballet girl (Juliet). Our reasoning for choosing the tune Strawberry Kisses worked, but right now you are probably thinking, “Dan and Bella, I can’t think of a reason as to why you are mentioning Sk8er Boi.”
Well, stupol hack who just filled out a USU board director nomination form, here is the SRC version of Sk8er Boi. Pre-fame ‘Sk8er Boi’ (ie. the titular ‘boi’ himself) is the current SRC elections, and his first love, Juliet, is every other attempt at regulations change. (Apologies to Cameron Caccamo.) But as you see through the song, he gets a new Juliet (ie. us), and famous ‘Sk8er Boi’ is the SRC elections after we change the regs.
Tune in in two weeks for our next smash hit, aka our report,
Bella and Daniel xx
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
Imogen grant and Katie thorburn
This Friday is Trans Day of Visibility (TDOV). The University of Sydney Wom*n’s Collective stands with transgender and non-binary people and their struggles against gender-based discrimination, particularly those along feminine-spectrum identities. To celebrate TDOV, come to our Radical Trans Politics Workshop on Tuesday the 28th 5pm in Old Teachers College Rm 427 (Level 4). It will explore the roots of trans oppression under capitalism and colonialism, the development of the trans rights movement, and the problems with trans liberalism. On Friday the 31st we will also be hosting a film screening of Paris is Burning before the QuAC party at STUCCO – please come, there will be food!
The Survivor Network is up and running. The idea for the initiative stems from a similar network in Pakistan, and the lion’s share of the work to make it happen has come from Post-Grad Women’s Officer, the formidable, Mariam Mohammed. The space has already provided incredible support for the courageous women survivors who are taking part. Being able to talk openly and realise you’re not alone brings an immense source of strength for many of the survivors. If you are a survivor and think this space could be helpful, or you’d like to know more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
After much pressure from the student body and survivor advocates, USyd is currently considering a consent module to be rolled out to students. We trialled the Consent Matters module. This module clearly doesn’t even meet the University’s own academic standards for best practice as students don’t have to answer questions to progress to the next section of the module! WoCo maintains that USyd should seek the assistance of international leaders in sexual assault prevention education, such as Professor Moira Carmody, in creating a USyd specific module.
On Sunday we hosted a Pro-Choice Rally. The protest comes at a crucial time. We seem to be at an impasse around the issue of abortion in NSW. On one hand, we’re so close to legalising abortion in NSW and implementing exclusion zones, however, simultaneously Fred Nile is resurrecting his war on body-autonomy by re-introducing “Zoe’s Law”. More reason to follow our public page and join our FB group!
Welfare Officers’ Report
LILY CAMPBELL, BELLA DEVINE-POULOS, HARRY GREGG and CAITIE MCMENAMIN
It’s been a busy fortnight for the Welfare Officers. The NUS National Day of Action occurred on Wednesday the 22nd, with students gathering to express their discontent with the Liberal government’s cuts to penalty rates and poorly managed Centrelink system, as well as harmful USyd faculty restructures. Furthermore, the International Wom*n’s Day March on Saturday the 11th was a great success, with many USyd students in attendance. Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia had an impressive contingent as part of their current campaign ‘No Profit From Rape’ against government attempts to privatise support services. The Welfare Officers will continue to support this campaign whole-heartedly.
The Welfare Department has also been working with the Wom*n’s officers to plan a protest against the Day of the Unborn Child (March 26th), an event held by conservative groups attacking wom*n’s reproductive rights. Other campaigns in the works include building for the ‘Save Our Penalty Rates’ rally on the 2nd of April, as well as assisting the Campus Refugee Action Collective with their work in preparation for the Palm Sunday refugee rights march. It is worth noting that USyd students appear to have returned to university more politically enlightened and engaged than they were previously, almost certainly due to Trump’s victory in the US. Personally, I am currently working in conjunction with General Secretary Daniel Ergas on a campaign to hold a particularly exploitative business on campus accountable. Keep an eye out for upcoming events and remain woke.
Written by Caitlin McMenamin
Vice Presidents’ Report
James Gibson and Iman Farrar
The University of Sydney SRC Vice Presidents condemn the proposed changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) proposed by the Australian Government, and believe that removing the terms, “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” with the ambiguous term, “harass”, is highly problematic to Australian multiculturalism and a fundamental step backwards. Many of us are opinionated – and opinions, whilst sometimes controversial are respected. However, for one to act in a way which directly offends, insults or humiliates another based on “race, colour or national or ethnic origin” is a breach of the responsibility that comes with the (implied) right of freedom of speech in Australia, it is a breach when “freedom of speech” becomes “hate speech”. Section 18C as it stands provides a framework that helps draw the line between the two, and whilst it does fall short in some areas, it is inherently aimed at protecting the most vulnerable in our society. The Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Gillian Triggs, expressed she was “especially concerned” with the removal of the term “humiliate”, and that the draft proposal in itself was a “highly unsatisfactory… circular process”, particularly in its proposal alongside a rhetoric of fear and the perpetuation of the ‘topical other’. As far as the university culture and environment goes, we will not stand for the justification of empty hatred amongst students, and the SRC would thus like to remind students of the free legal and casework support services available to them. Furthermore, as Vice Presidents of the University of Sydney SRC, we will be attending Walk for Respect on the 31 March @5:30pm at the Corner of Gillies St and Haldon St, Lakemba, speaking in favour of ensuring that these changes to Section 18C will not proceed through Parliament and so encourage anyone interested to come and show your support.