This week the FASS Board voted to increase their late work penalties from 2% per business day to 5% per calendar day. Whilst this change will only effect one part of the university, it comes at a time when our University Executive is considering a university wide late work policy.
I can already hear your groans “I’m in ‘x’ faculty and our late penalty is ‘x%’ per day’ or ‘how about you just learn to hand assessments on time”. And I hear you loud and clear, knowing how to meet deadlines is an important life skill, but hear me out. Harsher late penalties and late penalties calculated via calendar days rather than business days are inherently anti student.
Higher late penalties unfairly target disadvantage students who, due to circumstances out of their control, often find themselves having to submit work late. With the current state of the university’s special consideration and simple extension systems, it’s extremely difficult for students with reasonable ground to apply for an extension to do so. We should not be harshly penalising these students. Additionally deducting marks per calendar day rather than business day unfairly targets the many students who have to work on weekends to meet inordinate living costs. Your SRC will continue to advocate for a late penalty policy that is fair on students and compassionate to their circumstances.
Over the weekend your SRC joined the NTEU’s strike action at Usyd’s open day. We’re proud to stand in solidarity with university staff fighting for better pay and conditions. Staff working conditions are student learning conditions. Join the fight to ensure the quality of our education by joining the next strike action on the 13th of September.
Your SRC has also been busy talking to students about how we can win the fight for marriage equality and making sure that students are enrolled to vote in the upcoming postal survey. In order to win we need passionate young people to get involved, get active and join the campaign. Make sure you join us at the USyd says YES to Marriage Equality Rally on Wednesday 30 August at 1pm on Eastern Ave.
General Secretary’s Report
Daniel Ergas and Isabella pytka
As Billy Bragg put it in his classic 1913 banger, ‘There Is Power In A Union’, there is “power in the hands of a worker / but it all amounts to nothing if together we don’t stand”. Billy Bragg got it. He understood that trade unions are formed of, by and for the workers they represent; because, after all, as individuals here at USyd we are often atomised, swept along university currents that we barely understand, much less control; it is only when we come together that we have power.
On Saturday, our teachers and their union, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) went on strike at Open Day. They went (and will continue to) go on strike due to the ongoing enterprise bargaining with the University. The Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) process is a long one – negotiations have been happening for about six months, and, despite the NTEU’s best efforts to come to an agreement, the University refuses to offer anything except a real terms pay-cut (!) and a continuation of the shameful practice of treating casual staff as expendable (denying them a pathway to permanency, or even the superannuation that all other staff are offered). The next strike will be September 13.
Why does it matter that you get involved? It is obvious enough that your teachers’ working conditions – the precarity of their work, whether they are paid fairly for their labour, and whether they are able to undertake the cutting-edge research that our university is known for – are your learning conditions, and determine how much you’ll get out of your time here. But what may not be obvious is that – if you scab (ie. attend class during a strike) – you are signalling to the university that you don’t care that much about the conditions they force your teachers to work under; you are proof positive that the university can do what it likes with impunity.
Impartiality is not an option here. You are either with your teachers – staying at home on strike days or, even better, helping out at a picket line (ie. the entrances to the university where staff and students will stand on strike days, telling students that the strike is on, and classes are cancelled) – or you are against them, weakening their collective power and letting the university get away with whatever it likes. The university needs you. It needs you for the big obvious reasons – you are its piggy bank – but it also needs you for the less obvious ones – for example, you are its reputation; if it loses you, and it thinks that you’ll tell your family and friends that this is a shit-hole, then it affects prospective enrolment, alumni donations, etc. and it is all downhill from there. Your decision on strike days matters. We can win the strike for our teachers, or we can lose it for them.
It is not only because the benefits accrue to you for it (!) but because what happens here, at our university, sets the trend for what will happen at universities all across the country.
Industrial action gets the goods. We all have an obligation to support it. See you on the picket lines.
Environment Officers’ Report
ANDY MASON, MAUSHIMI POWAR, SETH DIAS, and JODIE PALL
The Environment Collective has had a great year so far. Through the NSW branch of the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN), we helped to organise the annual Students of Sustainability conference in Newcastle. This is the longest-running student environment event in the country and was a great success again this year, with over 600 people attending from all parts of Australia. Sydney Uni was well represented with 30 students attending from our campus. The conference featured a wide range of speakers from environmental and social justice campaigns across the country. One highlight was a panel about ‘just transitions’ – a transition away from coal for the Hunter valley region which has historically been economically dependant on coal mining. The panel featured a speaker from the regional Trades Labour Council, giving the perspective of 70,000 mining and energy workers in the area who are often ignored by mainstream environmentalist discourse about climate change. The panel argued that mining and energy workers must be actively involved in a renewable energy transition in order for it to be democratic and equitable, and indeed that the labour movement will play a key strategic role in such a transition happening at all. Other presenters included representatives from Aboriginal groups throughout the country engaged in fighting the environmental destruction of their country, and Greens senator Lee Rhiannon discussing the need for massively expanded affordable housing initiatives in Australian cities.
The Enviro Collective has a number of upcoming events. On Thursday 31st August from 5.30pm we are hosting a screening of Guarding the Galilee, a film released earlier this year which documents the struggle against the Adani coal mine in central Queensland. This will be a must for all students interested in climate change and the climate movement. On-campus location TBC – text Andy on 0467 809 319 for details.
On Sunday 3rd we are holding a bushwalk, visiting regenerated bushland and the abandoned naval installations around Malabar. Contact Andy again if you’re interested in coming along.
Along with other campus groups, we are planning a road trip in the mid-semester break to visit a number of communities affected by coal and coal seam gas mining in the Hunter and the north-west of NSW.
If you’d like to get involved with the collective, our weekly meetings are at 1pm on the law lawns. You can also join our Facebook group, “Usyd Enviro Collective 2017” to stay tuned about upcoming events and opportunities to get involved, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your 2017 Environment Officers,
Andy Mason, Maushmi Powar, Seth Dias and Jodie Pall.
ACAR Officers’ Report
Maddy Ward, Radha Wahyuwidayat and Sophia Chung
Hello and good day. We are mad. Very mad. The ethnocultural space, gifted to us by our Union overlords, has been vandalised, disrespected and stolen from a number of times. Most recently, someone tore up a beautiful poster drawn by a collective member and threw it in the bin. We elaborately reconstructed it with sticky tape and fury, so suck on that racists. We’ve found empty Heineken bottles, mess and white people in the space on a number of occasions- most recently an OB had to boot two of the latter out of the space at once, one who was playing dungeon and dragons and the other watching ultimate frisbee. Also, stop stealing our furniture. Who the fuck steals a futon?
On a lighter note: we’ve got some real fun shit coming up. We have a poetry and dance night for verge festival, which is currently seeking performers! If you’re a poc and you dig poetry and dancing please sign up. We’re also releasing a cookbook! Submissions for recipes and family stories close in late week six. You should submit if you like food and hate socialist alternative, who think cookbooks aren’t real activism. Why miss out on a good opportunity to piss off the trots? Submit recipes, enquiries, and nominations for the variety night to email@example.com
As much as we joke about it, we would really love for people to stop fucking with the Ethnocultural space. This rarely happens to the women’s and queer rooms- we should be treated with the same respect. We get you’re jealous of our lush furnishings and sweet views but honestly you can occupy literally anywhere else on campus. Also, give us back our futon.
Yours in love and rage,
Madeline, Sophia and Radha