Congrats on making it through O-week and to the hallowed SRC pages of Honi Soit! The SRC had a massively successful O-Week. We talked to hundreds of students about the SRC and its incredible services as well as giving out over 1000 free SRC goodie bags! Our collectives also had a great O-Week signing up hundreds of new students and letting people know what’s in store for 2017.
The first week of uni is always pretty weird. You might find yourself sitting in a packed lecture theatre nursing a post O-week hangover or if you’re like me you’ll be ashamedly telling people in tutorial name arounds that you’re in your fourth year of a three year degree.
Even though it’s only the first week of uni, your SRC has spent the beginning of the year being active and vocal around a number of student issues. In January the SRC joined the NSW Education Organising Group in protesting Centrelink’s automated compliance system that issued hundreds of students false debt notices.
It’s only just March and the list of attacks on the rights of students keeps growing with the Fair Work Commission’s decision to slash penalty rates being the latest addition.
These cuts to penalty rates mean that students working in retail, hospitality and fast food will have the extra money they earn for giving up their weekends drastically reduced. At the SRC we know that most students work weekends in order to balance work and study, and that many of these students rely on penalty rates to make ends meet.
If you’re worried about what these cuts will mean for you, I encourage you to join your union and get involved in the fight for your rights. You can visit www.australianunions.org.au to join your relevant union.
The SRC will also be protesting alongside your National Union of Students on March 22 to protect your rights at Work, Uni and Home and to Make Education Free again so come join us!
If you have any questions or queries don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com and give our Facebook page a like at facebook.com/usydsrc.
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
Imogen grant and Katie Thorburn
O-Week was incredible for the Women’s Collective. We had 400 students sign up to get involved! This is a shocking, unprecedented number. If you were one of them, WELCOME! If you weren’t… it’s never too late to get involved in feminist organising on campus.
Unfortunately, O-Week is also the time during the university calendar when students are most likely to experience rape. The front page of the smh the Monday of O-Week detailed End Rape On Campus’ report ‘Connecting the Dots’. The report chronicles the chronic failings of universities to respond appropriately to sexual assault and to prevent the assaults in the first place. For example, the report exposes that there have been only six expulsions in the past five years despite more than 500 official complaints. In addition to this, USyd’s own data shows that out of all students who had experienced sexual assault, only 1% of them ever made a formal report to the University.
This is why as part of O-Week, WoCo members handed out “Consent Condoms” – condoms with a sticker on the package reading “check they’re into it, before you get into it”. We did this because the university abnegated its responsibility to prevent sexual violence by rejecting the mandatory education module for all students. The University’s stance on the consent module is ludicrous and goes against the University’s own practice of promoting several online modules from plagiarism to cultural competency.
We know that young people are far more likely than any other age bracket to experience sexual assault. And prevention through consent education is key to eradicating sexual violence on campus. We need a behavioural transformation in order to create a campus with zero tolerance for sexual violence.
Everyone has a right to an education free from sexual violence and universities have the responsibility to provide that. As tens of thousands of students return to USyd this week, we must question the University’s ability – also willingness – to ensure that these tens of thousands can study safely. If you think the uni should be doing better by you, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, support is available by contacting NSW Rape Crisis Centre on 1800 424 017.
Welfare Officers’ Report
Lily Campbell, Bella Devine-Poulos, Harry Gregg and CaItie Mcmenamin
Student welfare is under attack. The Centrelink scandal enraged many, as thousands of the most vulnerable in society were charged with debts they don’t owe. The announcement that Sunday penalty rates for retail, fast food and hospitality workers will be cut greatly affects students, two thirds of whom already live in poverty.
This year, the National Union of Students Welfare Officer and Education Officer are running their campaigns in conjunction with each other, as they raise similar demands for students rights, against the Liberals’ attacks. The Welfare Department supports the NDA on March 22 – I’ve (Lily Campbell) been mass leafleting, painting banners and creating merchandise for that event and building the Education Action Group at O week. I am a regular attendee of EAG meetings.
I have done several stalls in Newtown over the summer break petitioning for the NUS Welfare Department, demanding that the government fix Centrelink now.
I chaired a recent rally outside the Redfern Centrelink office, demanding an end to fake debt letters and the gutting of social services. It was a lively demonstration that got significant media coverage, somewhat centred around the brilliant burning of a debt letter outside the office.
I also recently spoke at a rally against the cuts to penalty rates, outside the Fair Work Ombudsman. It is crucial that students join these rallies and join their unions today. The cuts to penalty rates will be the greatest wage cut since the Great Depression – now more than ever we need to fight back. I encourage all to join the March 9 CFMEU ‘National Rally to Defend our Jobs’.
Furthermore, a horrific wave of racism and bigotry is sweeping the world today. The Welfare Department stands in solidarity with all oppressed peoples against the rise of the far right and recognises the need to organise against these forces.
I participated in the Women’s March, the RAC rally against the Muslim Ban, the protest against war criminal Netanyahu and the protest against genocide in Aleppo, amongst other demonstrations.
(I contacted the other welfare officers for reports – they did not wish to contribute)
Education Officers’ Report
April Holcombe and Jenna Schroder
Make Education Free Again is the central student campaign running across the country this year. The campaign has had a brilliant start to the year at Sydney University’s O-Week. The Education Action Group (EAG) collected hundreds of signatures and sign ups for students who want to get involved in the fight back. We brought a bunch of students to the FairWork Commission to protest against its heinous decision to cut Sunday penalty rates. The anger against FairWork and the Liberals is palpable, so it’s important that unionists get the ball rolling by taking action right away.
Whether it’s fake Centrelink debts, rising student fees, course cuts, staff cuts, or wage cuts, students are facing attacks on all sides. That’s why the Education Department is organising action on all of these issues, with a focus on building the National Day of Action on March 22. We are regularly communicating with the university staff union, the NTEU, to help support teachers and admin workers in their fight for better working conditions, which improve the quality of student learning. We are ready to support any industrial action the NTEU wishes to take against greedy university management, who are sacking hundreds of staff even as the Vice Chancellor takes in $1.3 million a year.
The Education Action Group meets every Tuesday at 2pm on the New Law Lawns. Any student – domestic or international, science or arts, undergraduate or postgraduate – is welcome, because mass action by students and staff is the key to success. Tell your classmates, yor students, your workmates, about the National Day of Action.
1pm on the New Law Lawns, Wednesday 22 March (Week 3). See you there!