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Conflicting pitches for WoCo publication

Wom*n's Officer nominees diverge from the collective on the direction of the autonomous publication

Image of WoCo publication, Growing Strong, on an orange background, with an orange question mark superimposed on top of it

Wom*n’s Officer nominees, Gabi Stricker-Phelps and Zifan Crystal Xu, have released their own contributor callout for the Students’ Representative Council’s (SRC) autonomous women’s publication, Growing Strong. The call-out, distributed through private messages, appears to conflict in tone and vision with the Wom*n’s Collective’s (WoCo) call for contributions.

Growing Strong is the SRC’s annual publication produced autonomously by wom*n. Traditionally, Growing Strong is organised and produced through the Wom*n’s Collective and edited by the SRC Wom*n’s Officers. In the past, the publication has typically adopted a radical feminist perspective This year, however, the position of SRC Wom*n’s Officers has been left unfilled, following numerous uncompleted Repselects and the majority bloc’s decision to roll the autonomously elected WoCo convenors, Layla Mkh and Jazzlyn Breen. Consequently, it remains unclear who will adopt the position of editing and organising Growing Strong.

Honi understands that the two sets of nominees for Wom*n’s Officer organised a meeting where some degree of cooperation between Stricker-Phelps and Xu and the WoCo Convenors was discussed. Mkh told Honi that it was “explicitly noted that Growing Strong was a publication of the Wom*n’s Collective and that it would be edited by the convenors of the Women’s Collective.” However, in call-outs made on their behalf, it appears Stricker-Phelps and Xu have assumed the positions of editors as well as diverging from the theme Mkh and Breen claim was already decided on. Neither Stricker-Phelps nor Xu are currently members of WoCo.

Additionally, despite Growing Strong being an autonomous publication, the meetings between the nominees have unusually been organised through acting Secretary to Council Cameron Caccamo.

While Stricker-Phelps did not comment on the extent to which she plans to work with WoCo, she did state that she had met with the WoCo convenors and that they had “decided to do a call out for Growing Strong so that [they] could source contributors and content in the absence of elected 2019 Wom*n’s Officers.” Stricker-Phelps and Xu have “begun brainstorming and collecting content” and reached out to the WoCo convenors for a meeting to establish further discussions. Problematically, their proposed date of the meeting was on the 8th of February,  just ten days before the commencement of Welcome Week, when the publication is expected to be distributed.

The conflicting call-outs and conceptions of Growing Strong appear to be reflective of a broader discordance in the nominees’ approach to the role of Women’s Officers. Mkh and Breen wish to emphasise the importance of radical feminism and the historic work of women’s officers on campus. By contrast, the call-out privately circulated on behalf of Stricker-Phelps and Xu, of which Honi obtained a copy, focuses on “entrepreneurship” and frames contributions as “a great add to the resume”, seemingly adopting a more corporate conception of the role.

Mkh seemed to affirm this sentiment. “It has been really hard to meet halfway and be friendly to Gabi as she continues to disrespect collective autonomy … First it is with Growing Strong—what’s next?”