As the semester picks up momentum and uni begins to take over your life, I wantyou to have a think about your future. Upon enrolling into university, many of you would have selected to pay for it through HECS. By the time you read this report the Senate may have already voted on the new reforms by the Liberal Government regarding the deregulation of universities. This means that universities can charge what they want for your degree and sentence multiple minority groups, and many other underprivileged students, to be in debt for life.
The Government’s hypocritical and regressive approach to higher education is damaging for students from almost every walk of life. It takes away opportunities from those who must spend large amounts of money to travel to uni from rural regions, from those of inherently disadvantaged backgrounds, such as Indigenous students, from those who will struggle later on in life as a result of their sexual orientation, and wom*n who already experience the bare brunt of the gender pay gap and therefore would take longer to pay off their debt to their university.
The vote could go two ways this week; for, or against. Either way I encourage you to take a stand on the 25th March for the National Day of Action. If the bill is voted up and you believe that a quality education is a right and not a privilege, march with us to call for the death of deregulation. If the bill is voted down, march with us calling for a free education system. If we have enough money to fund the killing of innocent people around the world, then we have enough to help people in our homeland and build the future of our country for the next generation.
Education Officers’ Report
Last week, our Vice Chancellor Michael Spence appeared on the 7:30 Report with Glynn Davis, Vice Chancellor of Melbourne University, and Rose Steele, President of the National Union of Students (NUS). They were there to publicly condemn the Abbott government for tying research funding to the university fee deregulation package. If the package is voted down in the Senate, no research funding will be assured, leaving 1,700 science jobs at risk, and potentially setting back research and innovation projects by several years. It’s outrageous that the government would hold research funding hostage in the name of gutting the higher education system.
At one point, Michael Spence spoke about the fantastic “19th Century” movement for a free, public, secular education system in Australia which afforded both him and the other Vice Chancellor a free university degree. He then made a smooth segue into corporate greed, maintaining the “accepted wisdom of Australian politics, on both sides of politics” is that students should have to front costs, as universities are businesses, and education a private investment. It is important to remember that indeed it was the Labor party who opened the door for more brutal attacks on the higher education through the Gillard government’s cuts to higher education.
Spence argued further that university fees should be deregulated so that universities could compensate for the lack of government funding, and to respond to “local conditions”. Spence basically reckons he should be able to determine how wealthy you must be to study at the University of Sydney. The other VC agreed wholeheartedly; the most prestigious universities in the country encourage competition and consumer choice. Living and studying in Sydney doesn’t permit many a particularly glamorous lifestyle, but the university does offer a whole lot of opportunity. Most students live under the poverty line, but how much more would/could you pay? How many meals will you sacrifice for your education?
Fee deregulation is being heard in the Senate on the day that this edition of Honi goes to print. The government is desperate to broker a deal with cross benchers to get the bill through. We hope the cross benchers hold strong in their opposition, and students have another chance to enter the public debate by demonstrating in numbers on March 25th in the first National Day of Action for higher education of the year, outside Fisher Library at 1 PM. And join the EAG. Now would be the time.
Disabilities and Carers Officers’ Report
There are a wide range of support networks available to students who identify as having a disability accessible by registering with the university’s Disability services. The purpose of this is to allow students to be given as much of an equal opportunity to access their course material and assessments tasks in the best manner possible tailored to that students needs. Disability services makes your teaching staff aware of your needs whilst not disclosing your exact circumstances. If you are hesitant about registering with Disability Services and would like to seek independent advice in doing so, you can make an appointment to see a SRC Caseworker by calling 9660 5222 or visit the SRC at Wentworth Building Level 1 for a Drop-in visit on Tuesdays & Thursdays, between 1 and 3pm.
This collective provides an opportunity for students to share their lived experiences with one another and to identify and formulate plans for resolving issues within the university that affect students who identify as having carers responsibilities or being a person with a disability. Remember there are many kinds of disability, it is in fact the largest minority on the planet, more often then not however a lot of issues faced by people can go ignored and that’s why it’s important to get involved. By using ones lived experience to make people aware of the issues faced it is possible to move people from pondering mere abstract concepts to thinking about the real world that some of us negotiate each day. That’s why we are looking for members to help raise awareness about the diverse lives that we lead and how they are affected by our impairments and responsibilities. With such a wide range of impairments and responsibilities it is impossible for a few to speak for the many. So lets share our challenges and make them part of our success.
If you want more informaiton on the collective please e-mail us at
Ethnic Affairs Officers’ Report
Eden Caceda, Kavya Kalutantiri, Lamisse Hamouda and Deeba Binaei.
Hello again! Your Ethnic Affairs Officers here! The Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) had a fantastic turnout this OWeek and we were very pleased to work closely with the newly formed Muslim Wom*ns Collective at our stall. We gave out over 150 gift bags with pamphlets and other information about fighting racism on campus, online resources and our inaugural zine with contributions from students of colour. We hope these materials will continue to inform students about our collective and our aims in providing a racist-free and safe university space.
During OWeek we hosted our first two events of the year. The first was a Safe Spaces panel where our speakers, Riki Scanlan, Subeta Vimalarajah and ourselves, Eden and Lamisse discussed what is necessary to create safe spaces so no Person of Colour, wom*n, queer or disabled individual feels threatened, silenced or attacked. We also talked about how safe spaces could be fostered and how all people can contribute to making marginalized people feel welcome in social spaces.
Our second event was an autonomous mixer where new and old members of ACAR could meet and come together as a collective. It was great to see the intersectionality in this years collective, with queer and wom*n of colour becoming more involved with ACAR. This social event is one of many we hope to hold to allow students of colour to mix together and move away from a political sphere of discussion.
ACAR also applauds the many queer and wom*n of colour who were involved with International Women’s Day and celebrated the successful (and rain-free) Mardi Gras. These two events are important because they remind us about the successes of both queer and wom*n of colour as well as highlight the continued struggle they both face in society.
If you missed us at OWeek, never fear! It’s easy to join us during the year. We’re in the midst of choosing a collective meeting time, but until then, we have a fantastic Facebook group where we discuss and organise. Likewise if you want to keep up with our events and campaigns, but maybe don’t identify as a Person of Colour, chuck us a ‘like’ on our ACAR Facebook page: www.facebook.com/usydacar
Have a great week!
Ethnic Affairs Officers
Queer Action Collective Report
Getting involved in the queer community, on or off campus, can be difficult. There’s the risk of outing and having to explain your whereabouts to friends and family. There’s the social anxiety of going to an event alone and meeting new people. Perhaps you’re still exploring or questioning your sexuality or gender or presently in a heterosexual relationship.
Rest assured, we have all felt this way at some point or another. Persevering through the awkwardness and anxiety and self-doubt is totally worth it. If you’re looking for ways to get involved here’s a few:
1. Join our mailing list and/or Facebook page
QuAC has a secret Facebook group to avoid outing. Email the Queer Officers on firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the group. In that group you will receive information about upcoming events like board games evenings, movie nights and workshops that you might like to come to.
If you want to come to something but are not sure what to expect or where to go, or you just need a friendly queer to show you the way, let the Queer Officers know and one of us will be more than happy to help you out.
2. Hang out in the Queerspace
The Queerspace aims to be a safe(r) space for queer and questioning students and is a great place to study, chat to other queer people or have a sneaky nap between classes. Spending time in the Queerspace is probably one of the easiest and low pressure ways to meet other people in the queer community on campus.
If you don’t know how to find it go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tb_UgucYbQc and follow the instructions in the video. Or email the Queer Officers and we’ll help you out.
3. Attend a Pride Week event
Pride Week is coming up in Week 4 (24-26 March) and promises to be amazing! On the first day we’re having a mini Fair Day with stalls, a speaker panel, queer yoga and drag performances. This is followed by two days jam-packed with workshops and evening events including Coming Out By Candlelight, movie night and Queer Beers at Hermans. For more information go to:
Intercampus Officers’ Report
Jason Kwok, Mary Osborn, Mary Ellen Trimble, and Fiona Lieu.
The Intercampus crew call this week’s article ‘Cumberland’s Secret Secrets’. Yes, that’s right. We thought we’d let you readers into some confidential matters of this elusive campus that we call Cumbo.
For any Cumbodians reading this: Yes, we can confirm that there ARE piano stairs. Located in K Block, it’s a sneaky flight of steps that only staff members and a handful of chosen students know about. Well not anymore. Not only does it make some funky piano tunes, but you can also choose some groovy default beats or harmonies to funk your way up/down the stairs. This is the future. You’re welcome, Cumbo.
Second on the agenda, the Secret Garden. What’s a swag campus without a Secret Garden? Take a walk down the meandering gravel path around B Block and you’ll come to an oasis of lush greenery. For some reason, not many people know about this haven so it’ll just be you spiritually connecting with the Lidcombe flora (and not to mention the abundance of persistent mosquitoes). There’s even a fountain too. Ooo… ahhhh… tranquillity…
One last helpful tip would be to keep your eyes peeled for the one week where the Cumbo coffee cart (bottom level of JDV) gives out $1 Hot Choc. What’s even better is that this deal normally happens around the wintery months of the year. So make sure you get your hands on that! What’s even better than extremely friendly Cumbo barista staff? ONE DOLLAR HOT CHOCOLATES.
So there you have it. Although Cumbo looks like a bare campus with nothing to hide except a freaking huge cemetery next to it, you should never judge a book, let alone a university campus, by its cover.