A few editions ago I reported on the existence of the Simple Extension. I said that they were important to those in the student body who rely on the face to face relationship between staff and student and those who may have anxiety when dealing with University Administration teams in the formal process of applying for Special Consideration.
Last week the Academic Board met to debate the new Assessment Procedure Policy, including the policy on Simple Extensions. The proposal was to remove all reference to it entirely. Before then, I had students messaging and emailing me asking that I argue the value of the Simple Extension to the Academic Board, which myself and representatives from SUPRA did. Following the debate, I moved an amendment to the proposal to keep the policy around Simple Extensions. Unfortunately the vote narrowly lost. These changes are set to come into play in January 2016 but there is still time to discuss this further with University Management and save Simple Extensions.
Throughout the next month I ask that students continue to send me their thoughts on Simple Extensions to help me gauge what the Student Body is thinking and structure an appropriate debate that would benefit the students of our University.
I would also like to take this time to congratulate our Education Officers, Blythe Worthy and David Shakes, along with the Education Action Group (EAG) for organising a brilliant National Day of Action last week in the name of Free Education. I encourage everybody to use the NDA to keep momentum up in the campaign against the threat of Education Minister, Christopher Pyne’s deregulation bill.
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
It’s an honour to write for ACAR Honi, as feminist spaces have a long, toxic and continuing history of championing the voices of white women at the expense of women of colour. This is a reality that our own Wom*n’s Collective has not been immune to. We cannot understate the struggle and persistence of the amazing women who took (and take) the time and emotional energy to educate others and in doing so helped the Wom*n’s Collective to be a space that now practices intersectionality.
Wom*n’s Honi, despite being the source of many conservative tears (sorry not sorry Mon Droit and Nick Cater), was a tribute to this. From critiques of Patricia Arquette’s white feminism, to analyses of race and emotional labour, the prison system and the role of photography in decolonisation, there were pages of articles that centred the experiences of women of colour. In spite of this, we recognise that the Wom*n’s Collective will never be a “safe space” for women of colour, as the world is not a “safe space” for women of colour.
Every day there are stories of women of colour being bashed, beaten, harassed and murdered. Just this year, we heard the horrendous story of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found dead in her jail cell, after an unwarranted arrest. We especially remember the trans women of colour who have been murdered this year. In the USA, of the 19 that we know the names of, 13 women were black and 17 were women of colour. Australia is not separate to these systems of violence, but implicated in them. We must never forget the colonial legacy of sexual violence and exploitation of Aboriginal women that defined and persists in defining our nation.
To end more optimistically, things are starting to change. Whether it’s the number of #teamnicki tweeters doubling the number of #teamtaylor tweeters, or the response to the whitewashing of the new Stonewall film, white feminism and white-centred politics are being dismantled with greater vigour every day. We can only attribute this to the centuries of activism of women of colour. We quote the words of women like Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Gayatri Spivak (and the countless others) often, but today we take a moment to truly and graciously thank them. It is the activists of the past that have given us a liveable present, and who provide the foundations for our continuing fight to smash the kyriarchy.
Indigenous Officers’ Report
Is it possible for a country founded on racism to ever move past its history to accept not only this country’s Indigenous people but people of every race?
Last week on my facebook Newsfeed Amnesty International Australia posted the iconic image of Gough Whitlam as he poured a handful of Daguragu soil into the hand of Gurindji elder Vincent Lingiari as a symbol of the land being returned to the Gurindji people. As I looked at this powerful image for a fleeting moment, I was empowered by this historical step in the Land Rights movement, however this feeling left as quickly as it came when I realised that not much has been done since then. Land rights are still a fundamental issue for Indigenous people as we fight for the right to something that was taken away from us. This is most clearly seen down at The Block in Redfern where Aunty Jenny and the whole mob down there are facing eviction from their land as they demand the basic human right of affordable housing. It seems that in the face of ‘progress’ and development human rights get left behind while racism prevails.
Human rights seems to be all but forgotten in the Northern Territory as the NT Intervention continues with little protest from the wider Australian community. The Australian government have restricted individuals rights and freedoms but have done so purely based on race. The measures introduced within the Northern Territory communities only apply to Aboriginal people, this discrimination and stigmatisation of the Indigenous people has caused the United Nations to openly condemn the Australian government actions, yet still nothing has been done. With little to no improvement in education and literacy rates within these communities it seems that even the so called ‘positive’ aims of the Intervention havn’t been made, so why are they still there?
The Paternalistic approach to indigenous issues has prevailed since colonisation and reinforces the idea that we are not able to help our self. That some how we are different from non-indigenous Australians and that we need the government. This idea is rooted in racism that allows the government to exercise control over the Indigenous population under the guise of helping.
In looking at the issues Indigenous people face today has there really been progress? Yes we are now counted as citizens, a momentous step in the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but citizens of what? A country that still vilifies a whole race? A country that still refuses the accept the true history of colonisation? A country that counties to break international human rights laws? Has anything really changed? Are we not still the victims of extreme discrimination and prejudice in our own country? Until Australian truly addresses the history of colonisation and its past and current treatment of this country’s Indigenous people we will always be living in a racist country.
Queer Officers’ Report
Hilary Clinton once said that “being gay is not a western invention.” In many ways, she is wrong. Western society establishes heteronormative social relations, so that “being gay” (or lesbian, bi, pan, trans*, non-binary for that matter) has to be labelled and marked, to indicate that our identities fall outside of socially constructed norms. There are many non-western cultures that recognise and celebrate sexual and gender diversity in ways that western society does not, however western cultural hegemony white-washes this, with the extreme cases of this hegemony being in the form of colonisation. This is certainly the case in this country, as non-binary gender identities are a norm in many Indigenous cultures of Australia. Decolonisation of concepts of gender and sexuality is crucial if we are to have queer liberation, with this in mind, the Queer Action Collective strives to be intersectional. Although my own experiences as a queer person of colour in queer activist groups (including this one) as well as those of other queer people of colour have often found that these spaces are white dominated and erase our experiences, we are all learning to be more respectful of other voices and aware of the diversity of experiences that we bring together. This is a difficult yet empowering process, as we are all socialised to be racist, sexist, ablist and queerphobic.
International Officers’ Report
Hi, I am He Lu, the International Student Representative in Student Representative Council (SRC) of the University of Sydney. This is the first report I made for this new semester. Semester 2, 2015 (July) will be the second semester we work as International Student Representatives in SRC.
Last semester, International Student Office created an event for international students and local students as a welcome party for the new semester. Free drinks and foods were provided at the time. New ideas and questions were shared during the meeting. We also made the language exchange sessions. Additionally, problems about International students’ visa were talked with councilor inside SRC and Honi Soit. Working visa and jobs will still be our focus this semester.
In this semester, welcome party has been considered to be held for sharing problems and gathering advice. Language exchange programs are still welcoming all students who are interested in. Also, connection has been made between International Student Office of Sydney University and the councilors in UTS. More events have been planed in order to work united. More events and information should be released during this semester. We strongly hope more students can give us more feedback or any idea you would like to share. The collectives of International Student Office would always like to help you with the problems and also welcome any of your idea.
Please do not hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org , if you have any concerns of your university life.