Welcome back to semester two! I hope you’ve all had a relaxing and refreshing winter break. The SRC has been working hard over the break helping students with academic appeals and I’ve spoken at a number of semester two orientation events to make sure new students know all about the SRC. There are three big things coming up for the SRC in the first couple of weeks of semester two.
Firstly, nominations for the SRC’s annual elections are officially open. These elections will determine the new President of the SRC and the next editors of Honi Soit as well as electing your 90th SRC council and delegates to the National Union of Students. If you’ve ever wanted to get more involved in the SRC this is your chance. You can visit srcusyd.net.au/elections/ for more information.
Second, the National Union of Students has called a National Day of Action for Tuesday 8 August. On this day Sydney University teachers and workers in the National Tertiary Education Union will be meeting to vote on industrial action, including potential strike action. Your SRC will be joining them in a protest at 12pm to show that students stand in solidarity with staff and will support them in strike action.
Finally, by the time this edition of Honi is on stands the Australian Human Rights Commission will have published the results of their national survey into sexual assault on university campuses. The SRC acknowledges that this may be a difficult time for survivors of sexual assault and we have been working closely with the university to ensure that there are adequate support mechanisms in place. With the release of this survey universities will no longer be able to hide from the dangers that students face on campus. They will no longer be able to cover up rape and silence survivors in order to protect their own branding.
Students from across NSW will be protesting on August 2nd at 2pm outside fisher library to demand an end to sexual assault and harassment at universities.
General Secretaries’ Report
Daniel Ergas and Isabella Pytka
Cast your mind back to the first week of first semester. Thumbing through Honi as you nursed your Tsingtao™ hangover, you stumbled upon this humble report. For some reason, you read it. And now, for some reason (literally, why) you’re back.
While we have you here, we have three things you need to know (and one thing you then need to do):
1. At the moment, your staff – your tutors, your lecturers, and your library staff – are negotiating with the University chancellery. They’re negotiating for their wages, super, and work conditions over the next couple of years.
2. What they’re fighting for isn’t just about them. Their working conditions are your learning conditions. If your teachers aren’t paid fairly, or given enough time to teach your classes and mark your assessments, it’s the quality of your education that will suffer most.
3. We can do something about it. It’s not good enough to say that it’s not our problem. Staff support us every single day, often far above and beyond what could be reasonably expected of them. It’s up to us.
Now, here’s what you can (and will!) do about it. At 12pm on August 8 outside Fisher Library, the staff union (the National Tertiary Education Union, NTEU) will be holding a rally to show the University management that there is serious and sustained support for their demands. As students, we need to be there too. Come along, make a placard, and show your support for our staff.
But before you go to that march, this Wednesday (which is likely today, if you’re reading this as Honi is distributed!) at 2pm outside Fisher Library there will be a rally to Protest Rape on Campus. As you’ll read about from our Women’s Officers below – who have been working overtime building this protest, and bringing women’s collectives all across the state together for it – given the appalling indifference of our Uni administration, we need to force them to act. It’s not good enough that our reporting systems are so inadequate, allowing rapists and abusers to stay on campus, untouched. Again, it’s up to us to do something about it. See you then!
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
Imogen Grant and Katie Thorburn
On Tuesday 2 August, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) are revealing the results of a large scale national survey into sexual assault in educational communities. The results will be damning.
The 2015 NUS ‘Talk About It’ survey found that 72% of students had experienced sexual harassment on campus and 27% had experienced assault. Sexual assault is a fundamental abuse of a person’s bodily autonomy and can greatly impact a student’s mental health and ability to fully participate in university life. Despite having a very clear duty to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for students, many universities see the issue of sexual assault as a matter solely for the police. Don’t be fooled – this is a lie and a method universities use to avoid their responsibility to support survivors and prevent sexual assault in university communities.
At USyd, and across the uni sector, we see unis dragging out cases so that the survivor and/or perpetrator graduate, failing to remove a perpetrator from a survivor’s class, failing to communicate to the survivor during the investigation or the outcome of the proceeding, and refusing to sanction perpetrators or issuing them with inadequate punishments. Over the past 5 years, 575 complaints into sexual assault and harassment were lodged at universities – only 6 resulted in expulsion. Most perpetrators receive no punishment at all, but if they do it’s entirely insufficient – a note on file, a $55 fine or a written apology.
This has gone on long enough. Students deserve better.
What can I do?
JOIN US at 2pm Wednesday 2 August outside Fisher Library for the ‘Protest Rape on Campus – Break the Silence. End Sexual Violence’ rally and make clear that everyone deserves an education free of sexual violence. FB event: https://www.facebook.com/events/214658329058347