On Wednesday this week, students will be re-launching the #WentworthMustFall campaign which demands that the Wentworth Building at USyd be renamed and that statues of Wentworth be removed from campus.
William Wentworth is a colonial figure who is best known at USyd for his role in founding the University. The building bearing his name – the Wentworth Building – currently houses the Students’ Representative Council, AIME Mentoring, and several University of Sydney Union-run facilities.
Wentworth’s broader notability comes from his “discovery” of a crossing through the Blue Mountains, most likely by exploiting an Aboriginal guide which was commonplace practice for explorers. Wiradjuri, Gundungara, and Dharug people had been using the same crossing for tens of thousands of years, and they had even previously been used by other white people.
The route over the Blue Mountains precipitated an explosion of pastoral settlement into Aboriginal land, which in turn led to a series of brutal frontier wars that would last more than half a century.
On 10 June 1838, the Myall Creek Massacre occurred where around 10 stockmen murdered 28 Gamilaraay people at Myall Creek in north-western NSW. The approximately 28 people they murdered were largely women, children and old men. Children had been beheaded while the men and women were forced to run as far as they could between the stockyard fence and a line of sword-wielding stockmen who hacked at them as they passed. Their headless bodies were later cast into a large fire. Testimony was later given at trial that a women was allowed to run with blood spurting out of her cut throat. She was then thrown alive onto the fire. Her infant child was thrown alive onto the fire. Two young girls were raped and kept as sex slaves by the gang.
At trial, four participants were identified by an Aboriginal witness, but the law of the time did not allow Aboriginal people to give testimony in court. To rectify this and allow the white men to be tried, a bill was introduced to the Legislative Council. However, it was defeated after Wentworth gave a speech describing Aboriginal people as “wild men” and comparing their testimony to “the chatterings of the orang-utangs.” At many other points in his legal and political career, Wentworth vociferously argued against Aboriginal people’s right to justice and expressed a hateful bigotry against them, providing a legal cover for the brutal dispossession and genocide occurring in the state at the time.
This campaign is about more than Wentworth, it is about decolonising our university and our education. We must challenge our own complicity in the ongoing colonial oppression of Indigenous people. Decolonisation demands an Indigenous framework and the centering of Indigenous land, Indigenous sovereignty, and Indigenous ways of thinking.
For students that like Turnbull compare the renaming of buildings and the removal of statues with Stalinism… how much more intellectually bankrupt can you get? Not only is it particularly bizzare given the actual removal of statues of Stalin in the former Soviet Union, but statues are not textbooks. They are not attempts to tell a neutral perspective on events that occured. We build them to support a particular narrative that suits a specific ideological agenda.
When colonial statues were built to honour Captain Cook it is a celebration of white invasion and reinforces the idea that Australia was an empty landscape settled by white visionaries who deserve to be lauded. It also reinforces a specific vision of what Australia is and who Australia is for. It is much easier to persist with policies that enact racist policing against Aboriginal people and rob them of their land if your idea of Australia is a country built by white people for white people.
We call upon the University of Sydney to decolonise their buildings, practices and teaching. We call upon this institution to remove the statues of William Wentworth, remove his name from the building on City Road, and consult with local Indigenous communities on finding a replacement name.
Come visit us this Wednesday on Eastern Avenue and learn how you can get involved with the #WentworthMustFall campaign.
Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SRC Wom*ns’ Officers
Madeline Ward & Jessica Syed
Hello babes. If you have made it this far you are likely aware that we have spent quite a bit of time putting together this edition of Honi. Perhaps you have even contributed to it. Perhaps you are one of us, and wrote this report at two in the morning in between eating stale brownies from last week’s Safe Access Zone’s stall at two in the morning hoping for some kind of cosmic reprise which may give you energy and strength to finish this paper.
Anyway, we had that stall for a reason – the Safe Access Zones bill which would criminalise harassment of patients outside abortion clinics in New South Walles about which we have been endlessly harping on goes to debate in State Parliament on Thursday. The details of the support contingent/rallly we are organising are somewhere on the preceding pages of this magazine, please find it, we are too tired to recalll the page numbers, and also please come and be a good lefty and support reproductive safety .
Also we have been meeting with a misc. member of management to discuss, lo and behold, a standalone sexual assault pollicy which is supposed to be implemented by next semester??? Which seems a bit fucked because when has the uni ever actually done anything about sexual assault on campus amirite so we aren’t like 100% trusting them at this point and some of their ideas about the policy seem a bit dodgy. But nonetheless your faithful wom*n’s officers will keep you the FUCK updated on any and everything that happens re: this policy.
For now we must scoot and complete the remainder of whatever we have to do to get this bad boy in your hands on Tuesday arvo.
Au revoir nos chers camarades!!!!
SRC Indigenous Officers Report
Jackson Newell, Holly Kovac, & Akala Newman
Hey mob! Call out for Indigenous stories start now for next semester’s Indigenous edition of Honi Soit. We are happy to review any content written by Indigenous students as First preference, and also content relating to Indigenous Australian affairs. Also a call out for artwork submissions to be started for a potential cover. Send us your content or ideas to email@example.com
Support the Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) National Gathering happening on May 26th.
GMAR was started in 2014 by First Nations community members who are directly affected by forced child removals. They are a community group that works to stop the ongoing Stolen Generations.
A delegation of First Nations Grandmothers from the movement to stop ongoing Stolen Generations will travel to Canberra to mark National Sorry Day next month on 26 May 2018. 10 years on from Rudd’s apology and it is clear that the atrocities of the past are being repeated. At present, the number of First Nations children forcibly removed from their families is higher than at any other point in history.