For the first time, the student bodies and university services negotiating the allocation of the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) have deferred their decision to the University Executive after just one meeting.
This is a change from the drawn out, bloody battle that usually takes place over SSAF each year. Compromise wasn’t reached until May in 2015, and the decision was taken up by the University Executive after months of failed talks last year.
This time, the six stakeholders have agreed in their first meeting to hand over their budget proposals to the University Executive’s SSAF Funding Committee (yep, they have one of those) and hope the money is divvied up in their favour.
Jordi Austin, who represents Student Support Services (SSS) in negotiations, said the change shows a “greater level of trust that the University understands the importance of the funding for these projects.”
“The fact that we have gotten to this point and just put our bids in for consideration ensures we have continuity of funding as best as possible — it’s a really great moment for the University.”
Each organisation is guaranteed 90 per cent of the funding it received in the previous year, leaving a pool of $1.5 million that stakeholders are applying for to fund new projects and expansions this year. So, what are the proposals up for consideration?
Students’ Representative Council (SRC) President Isabella Brook says the SRC wants to rebrand all banners and materials, create promotional videos, and ideally employ a full-time multi-lingual caseworker. The SRC is also working with the Sydney University Postgraduate Association (SUPRA) to apply for a full-time sexual assault lawyer for both undergraduates and postgraduates.
With a 250 per cent increase in casework over the past few years and a booming postgraduate population, SUPRA wants to bring on another part-time caseworker and an outreach administrative officer to boost engagement with satellite campuses.
SUPRA Co-President Ahmed Bin Suhaib says SUPRA has also asked for increased funding for events, including a “monthly meeting for postgraduate students from each faculty sitting down with faculty advisors to discuss proposals and issues for academic board.”
The University of Sydney Union (USU) has similar proposals: they want to expand the Welcome to Sydney program both in size and experience, and create day trips to Redfern and the Block so students can engage with Aboriginal culture.
Honorary Treasurer Tiffany Alexander hopes for “more money to fund bright ideas like last year’s Wom*n’s Comedy Program … and provide more avenues for INCUBATE teams through casual workshops or one-time networking events”.
A season pass for the USU’s Revue shows is also on the table.
Both the Cumberland Student Guild (CSG) and SSS want more money to improve their current offerings.
The CSG would like to increases funded places at Uni Games, and make the Cumberland Campus’ O-Day and O-Camps “more exciting” with diverse activities.
SSS is hoping to receive more funding than last year for their international student careers program, and double their careers advisors from two to four this year.
Honi reached out to Sydney University Sport and Fitness (SUSF), but they didn’t provide a response before this article was published.