It’s week 5 and that most likely means that you’re reading this reports section of Honi as a very desperate attempt of procrastination from assessments with looming deadlines. So, to alleviate the feeling of total doom as you pull an all nighter, I’m going to focus on two pieces of good news that have come out of the last week.
First, regular readers of this reports section (there’s probably two of you) might recall that last week I wrote about the University’s proposal to alter semester dates. This proposal was put before a meeting of the University’s Academic Board last Tuesday and was successfully voted down by a number of students and academics. This is a great result for students, especially considering the large number of you that emailed me concerned about how this proposal would affect your studies. I don’t think this is the last time we will hear about this issue and I’m sure the university will try and implement it in one way or another in the future. However, what is obviously clear is that students want to be informed of changes that will affect them, they’re unhappy with the lack of consultation, and they want their voices heard.
Second, is the incredible news that the proposed changes to 18C in the Racial Discrimination Act were defeated in the Senate. The proposed watering down of the Act would have been a serious threat to the multiculturalism and diversity that our nation prides itself on. With racism and islamophobia on the rise across the country and even on our campus, it’s up to us as community to stand in solidarity with those affected and fight back against hate speech. And let me be very clear, 18C is not a limitation on free speech. It is a limitation on hate speech that aims to deliberately and directly offend, insult and humiliate on the basis of race, colour, religion, national and ethnic origin.
As always, if you have any concerns, issues or enquiries don’t hesitate to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and don’t forget to like our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/usydsrc to stay up to date with your SRC.
International Students’ Officers’ Report
Helena Ng Wai Ting, Yifan Kong, Wenxin Fang and Zhixian Wang
2017 has seen a busy start for the International Students’ Collective. The collective was established roughly one year ago and one of the major focuses for 2017 International Students’ Officers is the growth and development of the collective to better engage international students on campus.
The preparation for Oweek kicked start early in January. The collective painted a banner featuring greeting words written in several languages as we wish to embrace foreign friends. During Oweek, more than 300 people signed up to join the collective. One thing I would like to highlight here is the booklet produced by four International Students. The booklet not only explained in details the vision, structure, operation, and the plans of the collective, but also briefly illustrated the organizing structures and essential functions of student organizations and media platforms on campus, including the USU, SRC, and Honi Soit. We hope that by distributing booklets, we could inform international students of student organizations and guide them to integrate into campus life. Lastly, we would say thank you to everyone involved in the process.
The first collective meeting was held in Week 3 at the SRC office. During the meeting, we discussed our plans for 2017, including the proposal to publish International Students’ Honi edition and to add the International Students’ Revue to USU Identity Revue Season. The collective recognized that while initiating these two programs takes time, we would like to negotiate with Honi editorial team and USU representatives as we believe that issues International Students face are different from those faced by POC community and there’s a demand to showcase our own identity. The Collective also open several positions for international students to nominate including Marketing Officers, Programs Officers, and Event Coordinators.
The International Student’s Officers have been drafting the first collective constitution for the past two weeks and we hope that with the finalization of the constitution and regulation, the operation of the collective can be more standardized. The collective would like to say thank you to Wom*n’s Officers for their generous help during the procedure.
Sexual Harassment Officers’ Report
Jessica Syed, Nina Dillon Britton, Iman Farrar and Ella (Rachel) Bickley
Hi! We’re Jessica Syed and Nina Dillon Britton, two of your Sexual Harassment Officers for 2017! We’ll be working to hold the University to account in supporting survivors of sexual harassment and assault on campus, as well as ensuring they take all possible steps to stop these instances.
So, the wins so far this year:
The USyd Survivor’s Network launched in O-Week, providing for the first time an on campus support network for survivors of sexual assault. The organisation is led by survivors and aims to provide support, resources and a platform to advocate for change and eliminate stigma.
The University has unexpectedly announced they will be reviewing their stance on mandatory consent modules. A module is currently being trialled. If any such trial does fail for whatever reason, we are committed to pushing management to find and implement something that works.
We have put together information pamphlets in both English and Mandarin distributed tat O-Week. We want to make sure we are aiding those who face barriers in accessing support following instances of sexual violence. We would like to thank Xia Bonan for kindly translating the pamphlet.
There’s still a long way to go. Though the university has launched its reporting system, a hotline called 1800SYDHELP, it has done so with minimal student consultation. Both we and this year’s Wom*ns officer’s are yet to be convinced that the service does not inadvertently traumatise survivors. In light of this opacity – strengthened by the university’s lack of advertising for their own initiative – we are still reluctant to refer survivors to 1800SYDHELP.
Our main priority for 2017 is ensuring that a sexual assault specific lawyer is made available within the SRC. It was more than a year ago that SRC lawyers first expressed that this is a vital necessity within the SRC for students, and we cannot agree more. We will continue to support the Wom*n’s Officers in striving to gain funding for this goal and hope to see it realised by the end of our term.
If you or someone you know has been impacted by sexual assault, please do not hesitate to email us at email@example.com and we will direct you to professional resources that you can access. Feel free also to attend an information session about such resources on Wednesday 5th April in Carslaw lecture Room 452 – there will be free pizza.
Indigenous Officer’s Report
This week, the Indigenous Strategy and Services Committee will meet, and it will be my first time attending the meeting as a voting member. Being the only student voice on the Committee, I do aim to represent all Indigenous students as best I can. One thing that has been a topic as of late in relation to the Koori Centre, has been the printer. I recently notified the President, and General-Secretaries that if the University will not provide the funds or provide limited funds, that the SRC, as part of the Indigenous budget will provide funds or provide additional funds for this.
Last week, an article was published in Honi by James Stratton, in relation to the University’s National Centre for Cultural Competency’s release of an online course which seeks to give students an enhanced learning of Indigenous culture and its role and place in contemporary Australia. I urge all students to take up this course when they can. Further comments on this are in last week’s article.
Any issues, shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.