An editorial for Honi Soit's coverage of the COVID-19 situation.

In light of community concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19 and reduced numbers of students and staff on campuses, we are reducing our print run for week 5 of semester to 500 copies per week, distributed to stands at Fisher, JFR and outside the Students’ Representative Council (SRC). Thereafter, and for the foreseeable future, there will only be 100 copies printed per week.

We will continue the remote lay-up of the paper on a weekly basis so that all editions will be available digitally via Issuu. We will continue to report on the COVID-19 crisis as it affects students and the wider community. We have also begun a live blog which we will be updating frequently.

COVID-19 immediately affects the most vulnerable in our community. Indigenous people, disabled people, the homeless and the elderly are those that will be most severely affected by the spread of the virus. They are also those most impacted by the vein of neoliberalism that receives near bipartisan support within the Federal Government. 

The economic effects of our current situation spell a future of uncertainty for many. The loss of work will hit Australia’s casual workforce, many of whom are students, particularly hard. These are the same people who, living paycheck to paycheck, are unable to prepare for extended periods of social distancing. 

In light of this, Honi Soit would like to reiterate that we do not believe in liberal notions of balance and objectivity. Instead, we explicitly support the demands issued by multiple unions and grassroots organisations across the country. 

Some of these demands include: an immediate rent freeze by landlords, a repayment amnesty from banks and mortgage holders, a moratorium on rental evictions, an increase to welfare benefits, a relaxation of eligibility criteria for Youth Allowance so part-time and deferred students are eligible, increased funding for hospitals and an abandonment of commitments to a budget surplus.

We also support the calls of the SRC in asking the University of Sydney to cease the austerity measures it has introduced without adequate staff consultation and without respecting the nature of an increasingly casualised tertiary education workforce.

Though we are living through uncertain times, we have hope. Mutual aid groups have been set up across Sydney as those with time, age, or health on their side help strangers. It is this spirit of collectivism and solidarity which will get us through this crisis, and this spirit which will help us in building a more just world.


Honi Soit

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