Last week students across the country had a significant reason to celebrate and take a short sigh of relief when the Coalition Government decided to take the university deregulation bill off the agenda. It is important to remember that the game of politics is not necessarily one that has the public’s best interest at heart. I see this as a desperate political move to ensure the Liberal Party’s win in the next federal election. A Sydney Morning Herald article explained that the bill for deregulation has only been taken off the table for the next 12 months, at least. I believe that the new leadership of the Liberal Party will hope that the conversation around tertiary education policy will die down before the 2016 election so they may have another term to push the bill with a more favourable Senate.
So what does this mean for you? I think we should keep the conversation about education policy in the public eye. I think people should not forget the atrocious behavior of the Liberal Party, not only with the handling of education policy, but their treatment of asylum seekers, women, and Indigenous peoples. In the lead up to the next federal election we must use this opportunity to further pressure the Government and other politicians for the total abolishment of the deregulation bill along with an increase in public funding to tertiary educational institutes such as yours. We must continue to fight for a free education policy like the one many politicians who say we cannot have actually benefitted from. This doesn’t just mean that your SRC can be the only group of students writing letters, making phone calls, having meetings, and hitting the streets. We need your help. We need you to turn up to our marches and rallies. We need you to make a noise and voice your opinion. We need you to help us organise our next move. We need your input in discussion and your feet on the ground next to us when we stand side by side, united as students from all backgrounds, fighting for the quality education that every person has the right to, rather than the ‘privilege’ those calling the shots tell us it is. We need you to stand up for your education and the education of future generations.
General Secretaries’ Report
Over the past couple of weeks Max and I have been reviewing how your money is used and distributed within the SRC and by the University.
Firstly, at the Student Consultative Committee Meeting last month we proposed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the distribution of the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). We had been working on this for a couple of months with former SUPRA President Timothy Scriven.
The impetus for this Memorandum of Understanding was primarily our experiences with the allocation of SSAF for 2015. This year’s allocation was, for the first time, determined by the University and not the student organisations amongst themselves. The proposed Memorandum of Understanding is designed to clarify the procedure of SSAF allocation for years to come. It also seeks to recognise the importance of SSAF for the student experience, preserve the independence of student unions on campus, and ensure the transparent distribution of students’ money. The outcome of this will hopefully be determined at the next Student Consultative Committee meeting – we’ll keep you posted.
Secondly, we have been working with members of the Executive to develop an alternative stipend allocation model for Office-Bearers. This model is in response to the mid-year Office Bearer consults where one of the primary concerns shared was the inequity of the SRC’s existing stipend allocation. In short, the alternative stipend model would see a decrease in the pay of existing stipended positions (President, General Secretary, Education Officer and Women’s Officer) so that the (currently unpaid) Queer, Indigenous, Ethnic Affairs, Disabilities and Carers, International Students and Environment Officers would be able to receive a stipend in recognition of their work.
The SRC regulations changes necessary for this proposal to be implemented will be considered at the next Council meeting which will be on Wednesday October 7 at 6pm in Carslaw Lecture Room 350. Feel free to come and see SRC democracy in action beyond 3 weeks of elections in September!
Vice President’s Report
With the wrap up of elections just behind us, I want to focus on how students and hacks interact. It’s a great thing to be involved in the SRC: I can’t count how many people I alone have referred in for casework assistance with accommodation, special consideration, financial struggles, Centrelink woes and more.
We are able to provide something incredible to our student body here at the SRC, and with another year of elections complete, we need to remember that it is critical to focus on this. The petty politics and juvenile stunts that the stupol arena is known for can no longer afford to dominate the scene – we need to be redirected back to what we are elected to do: to serve and to represent.
I encourage everyone involved in student politics to really examine what they want to achieve in the coming year and think about why we had such a poor voter turnout.
Don’t let the status of stupol drive students away from the body that represents their interests – the body that houses them when they have nowhere else to go – that supports them when they are at their most vulnerable – that is wholly and to its very core for the student. Instead, I implore you to continue on what I and others have been striving towards this year and work to refresh the student politics scene, refocusing your energies on serving students.
Never forget that the SRC often deals with very vulnerable people. We have a huge responsibility to protect and support our students of all identities across campuses and across degrees.
The students we serve can’t afford for us to lose sight of their interests in favour of the factional drama that always seems to plague us.
The SRC deals with real people and real problems: be as dedicated to supporting students as you claimed to be during your campaigns and push for excellence!
Welfare Officers’ Report
Welcome to the back alleys of Honi Soit once again. This is the point at which I usually make a joke about how nobody reads these reports but…it’s the end of the semester and I’ve run out. On that note of finality I should mention that this is the last report from this year’s welfare department, so I thought I would be horribly indulgent and reflect on the year that’s past. As a welfare officer I learnt so much about the incredible work done by SRC welfare and legal service but was also deeply troubled by the lack of compassion in the way high level university management treats students who are struggling. Even at one of the most elite institutions in the country people are falling through the cracks because they don’t know what help is available or are afraid to reach out.
This year’s department was ambitious and I’m proud of what we achieved, starting the welfare action group, working with Sydney Alliance to represent student voices in consultations for the Bays Precinct development, creating the Your Words, Your Stories campaign to start a candid dialogue about student’s experiences with drugs and alcohol and much more. However being ambitious also meant some projects such as the creation of an emergency food bank, publishing a student budget cookbook and translating SRC material into multiple languages are still ongoing and will have to be handed over to the next group -one year is such a short time! Hopefully whoever takes over has a passion for helping other students; there are big tasks ahead.
Finally, since it’s our last report, I’d like to get a little mushy. I was so lucky this year to get to work with three incredibly wonderful, passionate capable wom*n: Sarah Enderby, Ivana Radix and Eden Faithful. Working with these three I learnt that it doesn’t matter what faction or political party you belong too or what kind of -isms you ascribe to. If everyone involved in student politics was like these three fantastic wom*n then the university would be a much better place.
Goodbye for now everyone, take care of one another.
Wom*n’s Officers’ Report
This is my penultimate report as Wom*n’s Officer. It has been a very challenging, but rewarding year. I will leave the sentimental thoughts and feelings (there are many) to the last report and just provide a general report back for our loyal (if there are any) readers this week.
Despite SRC elections and mid-semester break, it has been a momentous fortnight for the Wom*n’s Collective. In the final hours of campaigning, as all the hacks gathered on Eastern Avenue to fight over the handful of remaining students, the Wom*n’s Collective and Sydney University Law Society ran ‘Responding With Compassion’ in the Law Lounge. The wonderful Karen Willis joined us from Rape & Domestic Violence Australia and provided us with two hours of deep insight into the psychology of perpetrators, sexual assault legislation, how to respond when someone discloses an experience of sexual assault, and more. Thank you so much to everyone who came – the event was completely packed out, with some people even relegated to strange bar stools to fit inside. The final count – including money collected from a few other events, was over $600, not including the money raised by the Anti-Violence Fundraiser.
The Wom*n’s Collective have also written a piece for Honi Soit this week about election regulations/reforms to be considered in order to create a safer campus. We know we are being optimistic with the extent of proposed reform, but hope that councillors and OB’s will at least consider our suggestions. We will also be holding our elections soon – currently planned for the 22nd of October, with nomination forms going out on the 8th of October. This year, due to a policy voted on last week, the Wom*n’s Collective will only be voting for one Office Bearer (OB), with the other to be pre-selected by the Wom*n of Colour Collective.
Given upcoming OB elections, I’m hosting a Candidates Information Session on the 8th of October at 4.00pm in the Office Bearer room of the SRC, so please come along if you are interested. Even if you are not interested in running as an OB, it is a great opportunity to learn about the bureaucracy behind Collectives! Afterwards, there is a performance workshop being run by Sarah Gaul, Victoria Zerbst and Kendra Murphy as part of Verge.
Xiaoran has also been working hard on re-stocking the books in the Wom*n’s Room. With a few other committed Collective members she has collected new books, sorted the old ones and recorded everything in an online catalogue. Look out for a launch event soon!
Autonomous Collective Against Racism
Eden Caceda, Kavyá Kalutantiri and Lamisse Hamouda.
As the end of semester two quickly approaches, our term as ACAR Officer Bearers sadly draws to an end. However, there are many exciting events happening in the next couple of week. As part of Verge Festival, ACAR has teamed up with Outspoken to bring to you “Towards a New Consciousness”, a themed spoken word poetry feature night on identity and belonging. Held at the Red Rattler on the 14th of October at 7pm, it will feature Abdul Hammoud, Lorna Munro, Abe Nouk, Rameen Hayat and will be hosted by Zohab Zee Khan. It is a ticketed event so please ensure you get tickets fast! The event will be raising money for the Aboriginal Women’s Sexual Assault Network, known as ‘Hey Sis, We’ve Got Your Back’, a network of Aboriginal women from all parts of New South Wales, who are committed to working to prevent sexual assault in their communities.
In the following week the Red Rattler will host another event, ACAR’s very first revue! It is currently in production and all details will be out in the coming week.
Our online resources campaign is also in its final stages, if you have any ideas for any particular resources that you would like included please email us with any suggestions.
We’re currently working on changing the name of ‘Ethnic Affairs’ to ‘Ethnocultural Department’ in the hope that the change in name will reflect the autonomy and self-representation we’ve sought to bring to this position. It is essential that we continue to enshrine self-representation within our institutions for people from minority ethnocultural backgrounds, indigenous peoples and those who identify as people of colour.
On the 8th of October, a cross-collective information session will be held in the Student Representatives Council’s Office Bearer Room at 4pm. We encourage all students, who would like to take an active role in ACAR, to attend. The session aims to shed light on the various duties and processes that Officer Bearers experience during their term.
Finally, we would like to thank everyone for their support over the past year. It has been a very eventful year and we are looking forward to the upcoming events to reflect, share knowledge and celebrate ACAR’s second year as a collective.