The SRC has had a brilliant start of the year at Orientation Week. The SRC collected hundreds of sign ups from students who want to get active in their student union. We also gave out 1,500 tote bags and spoke to thousands of students about SRC campaigns, their rights on campus, and the incredible services we offer.
Moreover, for the first time the SRC has translated our Counter Course guide into Chinese! It is critical that the SRC does more to engage with the international student community and fight on issues affecting them. I hope you enjoy reading this new edition of Counter Course, you can find it here – https://tinyurl.com/ydghtuug.
In Orientation Week the SRC also protested in response to EROC’s ‘The Red Zone Report’ which exposes vile college rituals and abuse at universities across the country, along with the complete failure of colleges to address rape and misogyny within their own communities. It recounted horrific incidents of abuse including swallowing live goldfish, setting pubic hair on fire, male residents habitually masturbating into womens’ shampoo bottles, locking new students in bathrooms and tipping vats of dead fish on them, and forcing residents to consume more than a dozen drinks without a bathroom stop, causing them to wet their pants. One of the case studies in the report also deals with Stuart Kelly, who took his own life after living in St Paul’s College. His parents are demanding an inquest and suspect catastrophic hazing happened to their son on the one night he stayed at St Paul’s College.
The rally was a tremendous effort from the SRC Women’s Collective and brought together around 200 students in opposition to abuse and sexual assault in university communities. It was also fantastic to see a strong presence of staff members from the National Tertiary Education Union. Staff have a vital stake in discussions around campus safety and it is through working in solidarity that we will see change.
During O-Week, students also mobilised in opposition to LifeChoice, the anti-abortion group on campus. Previously, the club was rejected by the USU on the grounds that it would not “enrich the student experience at university”. However, eventually this decision was overturned by the board. This means that student money and spaces administered by the Union are going to a club that targets women and the choices they make regarding their reproductive health. Moreover, by continuing to include it in their C&S program, the Union is undermining the very safety and inclusivity that it seeks to promote. Anti-choicers have the right to free speech but, as a former SRC office bearer Rafi Alam said when the club was first established, “the USU is not the government and their role isn’t to facilitate all forms of speech, only forms of speech that benefit students and are democratically decided by students, not the kind of violent speech this group produces”. If you wish to get involved with Women’s Collective, contact the SRC Women’s Officers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, last Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras and was also a landmark celebration after the marriage equality win. Mardi Gras has a long history of protest, having come out of a 1978 rally for queer pride that was brutally shut down by police. The slogan was “Stop police attacks on Gays, Women and Blacks!”. Today’s activist interventions into Mardi Gras – such as ‘No Pride in Detention’ and ‘Department of Homo Affairs’ – are critical to reigniting this tradition. Activists around the country are also fighting back against the pinkwashing of the police who have an extremely strong history of homophobia and transphobia, and are the very reason for Mardi Gras existing in the first place! Police presence in Mardi Gras is a slap in the face to every marginalised person who has ever been mistreated by the cops. Activists and community organisers are out there doing the real work to strengthen Australia’s LGBTQI community and are beginning the hard work of healing the damage inflicted every day by the police.
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.
Lara Sonnenschein and Lily Campbell
Hello all! Thanks for looking to read our first Honi Soit report of the year. My name is Lily, and my co office bearer who will write here in future is Lara. We work as the elected Office Bearers to lead and collaborate with the Education Action Group, a campus based collective affiliated to the Student Representative Council.
The EAG has a long and proud history of fighting back against government and campus cuts. In 2014, the EAG worked with the National Union of Students to organise a mass student campaign against Abbott and Pyne’s plans to deregulate university fees. Just last year, the EAG organised the Students Support Staff Strikes campaign, raising awareness of the strike on campus, why students shouldn’t go to class and mobilising for picket lines. If you want to join the fight to defend your education and fight for better – join us! Our next meeting is on Wednesday at 5pm in the SRC, Level 1 Wentworth.
On Thursday of O week the EAG headed down to Turnbull’s office to protest against the hypocrisy of a $2.2billion cut to higher education, whilst Australian arms manufacturers get $3.8 billion in handouts. It was a lively protest that blocked an intersection and the road and involved many first year students who were new to activism. We took plenty of homemade placards and an EAG banner to the event.
Our first project for semester one is building a protest on campus on March 21 under the slogan ‘Books not Bombs’. Nationally, the Turnbull government has shown that its interests lie in funding weapons to destroy lives, rather than funding education, health care or welfare. On campus, courses are being cut, whole degrees slashed, units are disappearing. At the same time, the university vice chancellor maintains strong links to the fascistic Trump administration and holds millions of dollars worth of investments in weapons companies. Help us spread the word about this protest! Leaflet your classes, put up posters, share the event on facebook (search ‘student protest – fund books not bombs’). We also now have stickers and tshirts for this protest! Come grab some at the next meeting.
Furthermore, the EAG has decided to be a broad activist collective this year, meaning we want to also help build and organise around other issues. Coming up in May is a protest organised by the group that organised Invasion Day against Black Deaths in Custody, which we encourage all students to attend in solidarity.
Looking forward to a radical year – please contact myself or Lara with any questions, queries or quandaries about education activism. We can be reached on facebook, via the src and mobile phone if asked nicely.
Madeline Ward and Jessica Syed
The Red Zone report was released on the 26th of February by End Rape On Campus. It outlined historic practices of hazing within Australian residential colleges, embedded in a framework of power, wealth and sexual assault. The report was the first critical and explicit look into this endemic and age-old problem, that also offered tangible and thought out solutions to it. We are grateful for the work of EROC, particularly of 2016 Wom*n’s Officer Anna Hush alongside journalist Nina Funnell for their unpaid effort in putting the report together. We also thank all survivors who came forward to share their stories.
We continued the campaign against these practices and against sexual assault on campus more broadly in O-Week primarly by holding a rally in response to the Report. We deman meaningful change from the university and college structures by asking no less than that the recommendations outlined in the Report be implemented.
It has been floated that we are alienating college students with our rhetoric in doing this. To this we say: we are open to speaking to and working with anyone so long as they are open to the critique of the institutions to which they subscribe. We work as a subsidiary of the SRC, to which we owe a lot. But we aren’t afraid to come out and tell it how it is, if the student union puts a foot wrong. Let’s get ourselves on the same page, and then talk. Also maybe don’t rip our posters down.
LifeChoices, the anti-abortion group on campus were again with a stall during orientation week. WoCo has time and time again attempted to preclude them from participating with their archaic views on reproductive health. We staged an impromptu protest outside the stall/gave out accurate informational pamphlets and were naturally accused of, among other things, silencing free speech, studying gender studies and Marxism (both useless, of course), having had abortions, and not engaging in ‘respectful discussion’. It also came into question, “who would want to pump them?”. We take this opportunity to say to LifeChoices: so long as you exist we will always be protesting your views in the most outrageous and radical way possible. We’re big fans of Marx and don’t want to discuss your foetal fetishes. And also, we’re both having huge amounts of great sex in our recreational time.
M. Ward and J. Syed