Environmental Collective: What we do and how to get involved

Environment Officers, Steven Kwon, Marco Avena and Amelie Van Der Stock

Like trees, bees and seas? Interested in meeting other folk who share these interests and want to protect them? AHAH! I see you’ve found the environment collective!

Who are we? We are an SRC collective (no access needed to join!) dedicated to learning about and taking action on issues of social and environmental justice both on and off campus.  We are linked with like-minded mates across the country as part of Australian Student environment network (ASEN) and together work on local and nation-wide campaigns such as ‘fossil free universities’.

We Are:

  • concerned about coal, coal seam gas (CSG), uranium mining, nuclear energy and the destruction of Indigenous autonomy, forests and marine parks as a result.
  • Love renewable energy, forests, reefs, food coops, community gardens… and sunflowers
  • Always strive to campaign in solidarity with local and indigenous communities
  • Have a non-hierarchical approach to decision making that is inclusive and consensus based so everybody has an equal ownership of the group and its actions

What do we do?

  • We run campaigns, have weekly meetings,
  • host discussion groups and info nights,
  • fight fossil fuels directly on campus,
  • join the NSW anti-CSG movement and blockade bulldozers and logging machinery,
  • host forums, screen films,
  • rally for the reef, attend camps,
  • organise ride to work days,
  • discuss societal change,
  • eat awesome food and enjoy good company!

Fossil Free Universities:

As part of a nation-wide ASEN campaign, we are pressuring USYD to ‘divest’ from fossil fuels on campus. That is, stop investing hundreds of millions of dollars in coal companies and their financiers such as ANZ to send the message of a lacking social and academic license as well as prevent such money from influencing the direction of our research and education.

USYD Community Garden:

In 2013 we joined the SRC, Food Coop and Centre for English Teaching (CET) to build a community garden on level 5 of Wentworth (Look up from Hermanns). We’ve found that sustainability education and growing our own food has become a fantastic way to meet new enviroey mates! Join the USYD Community garden to get involved!

Leard State Forest (Maules Creek):

We’ve been joining the 500 day blockade at the leard state forest to stop the construction of the Maules creek mine. This would destroy 1600 hectares of unique bushland and farmland. This region contains sacred indigenous land and 544 hectares of critically endangered habitat. The machine are in but and farmers, activists, community members, students and Gomeroi peoples are uniting against them.

Mining the Truth Roadtrips:

We join ASEN folk from NSW in an annual roadtrip around the state to visit communities directly affected by the impacts of coal and coal seam gas. In 2012 we filmed an award winning documentary ‘Mining the Truth’ which shares the stories of those we met on our travels. Themed ‘Just transitions’, in 2013 we met not just the fighters, but people working in the mining industry to build a dialogue of a just and sustainable future.

Students of sustainability (SOS):

Imagine all the awesome enviroey (mostly) student folk from around Australia in the one place sharing skills, knowledge, ideas, SUCH GOOD FOOD, camping, campfires, performances…. In 2013, we went to SOS Tasmania, and road tripped with other ASEN folk around the state. We visited the Observer tree with Miranda Gibson, stopped saw mills using old growth in Lornevalle and used our collective fire fighting and first aid skills to survive a 400year old myrtle falls when camping in the Tarkine. Watch out for SOS 2014 in Canberra! (A bunch of us are riding our bikes down!!!)

Want to get involved now hey?

Come along to our weekly meetings on Mondays 12pm, Sunken Lawns nr Manning or email us at environment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.
FB: “Sydney Uni Environment Collective” & “Fossil Free USYD” / Phone: Marco 0410881385, Steven 0416406900 & Amelie 0413679269.

Taking the fight to the Abbott government.

Education Officers, Ridah Hassan and Eleanor Morley

With conservative creeps like Abbott and Pyne calling the shots, students have a fight on our hands. They’ve been in office for roughly 5 months and already they’ve discussed cutting $2.3 billion from higher education, privatising HECS and the removal of the Student Services and Amenities Fee. The Liberals in government is bad news for students.

The $2.3 billion in cuts will include a slashing of $900 million from university budgets, which would put more pressure on the already under-funded higher education system; less course diversity, bigger class sizes and the undermining of general and academic staff conditions and wages. It is predicted that if these cuts go ahead $50 million will be slashed from Sydney Uni. The cuts also include attacks on student welfare, primarily the conversion of the start-up scholarships to HECS loans, which would mean that students who receive the scholarship could now finish university with up to 40% more debt than our wealthy counterparts.

But we’re not going to take these attacks lying down, students need to take a stand against the Abbott government. We need to organize together to demonstrate our opposition, and pressure the government to back down.
And Tony Abbott is used to fighting with the lefty students. In fact when he was a student at Sydney Uni he once warned about the “Marxists…that are operating in the universities.” Well, here we are. And apart from education activism, we’ve also been planning the Marxism 2014 conference which takes place in Melbourne over the Easter break. Marxism is Australia’s biggest left-wing conference, featuring speakers from across Australia and the world, discussing radical history, theory and ideas to challenge the system. For more info see marxismconference.org.

But the first step in taking on Abbott and Pyne is coming out to the education demonstration on the 26th March. This will be an opportunity for students everywhere to stand up for our education, with protests being held all across the country on the same day. Sydney Uni students are meeting at 12pm outside Fisher Library to march as a contingent to UTS where the main demonstration will be held. For more information about the protest or how to get involved in the education campaign contact Ridah Hassan on 0402 667 707 or Eleanor Morley on 0448 029 165 or at education.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.

The first Education Action Group meeting for the year will be held Tuesday week 1 on the New Law Lawns at 2pm.

Fostering a community of intersectionality.

Phoebe Moloney, Georgia Cranko and Julia Readett

2014 is going to be a very exciting year for us. We will be putting a large focus on accessibility and inclusion which is a principle we would like all our gatherings to embody. This means that the spaces, tone and activities of our events don’t implicitly or explicitly exclude certain experiences of being a wom*n. We want to provide ample opportunity for all our members to explore and share new ideas, stories and experiences influencing their activism.  Together in 2014 we want to critically examine what Wom*n’s activism has and could be.

Maybe you have noticed that wom*n’s activism, particularly western Feminism tends to focus on one experience of being a woman; being white, heterosexual, employed, comfortable with identifying as a ‘woman’ and who ‘look’ like women. This year Wom*n’s Collective wants to work hardest at fostering a community and outlook that practises intersectionality in our activism. Intersectionality is a word you mightn’t be familiar with but it is a concept used to describe the experience of identities which fall out of normative moulds (for example the classic ‘woman’ we described above) who experience and embody more than one oppression in their lives. When we fight for wom*n’s rights we can’t just fight on behalf of a “normal” woman’s experience (because “normal” in fact that describes very few of us!). We have to fight for the wom*n who experience sexism, racism, queerphobia, transphobia, gendered-violence, fat-shaming, unemployment, classism, whore-phobia – because just the fact they identify in some way as a wom*n makes their experience of these oppressions something quite different to a man’s.

If you would like to talk to us about intersectionality or activisim or feminism or university or anything, please (PLEASE) come to talk to us at our O-week stall – which we are officially pumped for! Look out for us on Eastern Ave where we will be handing out show-bags that detail our activities and practices further, and our publication ‘Growing Strong’ which celebrates the diverse literary and artistic talents of wom*n both on campus and off. We will also be munching on ironic cupcakes, selling freshly made t-shirts and undies that raise awareness about sexual consent.

Hope to see you there!

There’s more to queer rights than Mardi Gras.

Elsa Kohane, Ed McMahon, Holly Parrington and David Shakes

If you identify as queer – that is, anything  other than “straight” – you may wish to join one of the oldest, most active queer organisations on campus, the Queer Action Collective (QuAC). This collective is a radical community, dedicated to fighting queer oppression at uni and beyond, as well as being an autonomous, anonymous and welcoming social environment and network for queer students.

The collective aims to be a safer accessible space for all queers on campus. We seek to actively challenge queerphobic, sexist, racist and similar attitudes and behaviours within our collective and beyond. The queerspace – a room just for queer students located in the Holme building – is a place to organise, meet, and for members to use however else they choose. Meetings are held here twice a week-  a general meeting at 1pm on Tuesday and an autonomous (that means exclusive) meeting for non cis male identifying queer people at 1pm on Thursday.

Something members of QuAC have been working on, along with other students from universities all over NSW, is a float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade. The theme of the float is “More Than Marriage”, which is in many ways a great representation of the collective.

The Queer rights movement has been recently dominated by a rights-based assimilationist agenda, where equality is sought on the grounds of sameness. Asserting the ‘normality’ of being queer denies what we should truly seek – autonomy and power in difference. While most people now agree that so long as the institution of marriage is available to heteronormative relationships, access to the institution should be granted to non-straight relationships, there are many other important causes within the queer movement that don’t receive anywhere near the amount of attention that “marriage equality” does. They are issues of life and death – things like queer poverty, mental health, and asylum seeking. Yet they do not get as much airtime because they are not promoted by the “pink dollar” and the cis, white, gay men who primarily control it.

The Mardi Gras float aims to show the world that queer students are fighting for more than just marriage equality, and that society should too. The float will promote issues such as transgender rights (“combating the
cis-tem”), protest the fascist immigration policies of the state that operate particularly harshly on queer asylum seekers, protest police violence and brutality against queers (which has specific relevance to Mardi Gras), and advocate for the introduction of queer sexual education in schools. If you’re interested in coming on the float, go here: http://goo.gl/z8M8Xy .

There is plenty more than Mardi Gras happening the first few weeks of semester. To find out more, such as how to find the queerspace, find our stall at O Week, find an officer on Facebook (the Queer Officers for 2014 are Elsa Kohane, Edward McMahon, Holly Parrington and David Shakes), or contact us at queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au. We hope to see you at the meetings in Week 1!

The Gen Sec’s will get you involved in the SRC.

General Secretary’s Mariana Podesta-Diverio and James Leeder

Greetings, succulent comrades, and welcome to another year of simple extensions and general debauchery. Or, if you’re a first year, we’re so sorry. It was never meant to be like this.

For those of you who came from schools where your SRC’s greatest achievement was selling lamingtons or raising $80 for the Salvos, be thankful that you are now at university. This SRC is different; it has staff, it provides services, it looks out for your interests, and most importantly, it gets shit done.

We’re Jariana, and our role in the SRC is fairly bureaucratic. Simply put, our job is to look after the finances and budget of the SRC and promote its activities. Our job is halfway between the secretary and treasurer role because, well, a couple of years ago they amalgamated the secretary and treasurer role. Still with us? Good.

Remember that $140 you either paid or deferred when you were enrolling a couple of weeks ago? That’s your Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). That sum of money, paid by all students, goes into a large pool and gets distributed between SUPRA, the USU, Sydney Uni Sport and Fitness (SUSF), Cumberland Students’ Guild, Student Support Services, and yours truly – the Student’s Representative Council. The SRC, along with other student organisations, is in the middle of negotiations that determine how much each organisation receives. The SSAF money we receive – which is generally just above the $1million mark – goes to paying our caseworkers and lawyers, our activism, printing Honi Soit, and running our second-hand bookshop in Wentworth just to name a few. It’s our lifeblood, and our only source of income. SUSF, on the other hand, who receive upwards of $3.8 million (the most of any student organisation), offer no free services to students and have a generally hideous colour scheme. They can’t sit with us.

One of the things we’re proudest to boast about is the SRC’s free casework service. We have a number of full-time staff dedicated to seeing students with academic, financial or personal problems. Some of the staff will be at the SRC stall, as will we, come up and say hello.

We also want you to read the Orientation Handbook, which we produced, which has a bunch of recipes for disaster including places to eat, drink, fart, and fuck around campus without attracting unwanted attention from bewildered passers-by, or putting a hole into your wallet. Rejoice!

Anyway, we’re rambling now. So, uh, previous general secretaries have made names for themselves as the writers of inebriatingly dull Honi reports, but you can expect more incoherent hack babble from the desk of Jariana. Good day.

SRC President Jen Light welcomes you

Welcome to a new year at Sydney University.

Uni is one of the biggest roller coasters of your life, and the SRC is your life support to help you successfully get through it.

My name is Jen Light and I’m your SRC President for 2014. The SRC is your Student Representative Council, there are 33,000 undergraduate students and we are the peak body here to represent you and fight for you. We are your voice to the University, to the Government, and the wider community. The SRC is also affiliated to the National Union of Students (NUS), is the national body that connects all SRC’s around the country together. NUS has a two pronged approach; one which is to lobby the Government and be the national voice on students issues, and the other is to run national campaigns throughout the year on specific education, and welfare issues.

HOW CAN THE SRC HELP YOU?

The SRC has been around for 86 years and we have a long history of being completely run by students to benefit students. We offer free, confidential services of Casework and legal service that are available for all undergraduate students. These services spread out to Cumberland, Sydney College of the Arts, the Conservatorium of Music, the Nursing Campus at Mallett St, and Camden Campus.

University life is hard to adapt to, and there are always hiccups along the way so our caseworkers are hear, on your side to help you out with:

  • Youth Allowance and Centrelink
  • Academic Appeals
  • Discontinuing/Withdrawing
  • Students at Risk
  • Show Cause
  • Exclusion
  • Tenancy Advice
  • Fee refunds
  • Harassment and Discrimination
  • International Student Issues
  • Plagiarism and Misconduct

THE FIGHT TO SURVIVE!!

Unfortunately we have entered a year in which the Abbott Government will be a serious threat to our education. We are at risk of seeing the privatisation of HECS, the deregulation of University Fees, and more cuts to higher education funding. Sydney University SRC will be ready to ensure that any cuts, or threats to the quality of our education and the inclusiveness of attending university will be fought against at every level possible.
While we are facing possible cuts to funding, and increasing fees many students have to deal with rent payments, food payments, part time work and full time study. We at the SRC will be working tirelessly to fight for fairer rent costs, and a fairer centrelink system.

COME JOIN US!!!

Like I said the SRC is completely run by students for students, and the only way this works is because we have hundreds of passionate students in our various collectives, and Office Bearers for various different departments. These include Education, Women’s, Queer, Welfare, Environment, Indigenous, International, Disabilities, Ethno-cultural, and many more.

Hopefully I’ll see you throughout the year. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me at president@src.usyd.edu.au

Have fun at uni, but most importantly get involved!!

Abe gives tips for success at uni

Dear Abe,

I’ve attended all of the sessions and stalls available at O week.  I was wondering if there was anything else I needed to know to be able to do well at this degree.

Just a Little Bit


Dear Just a Little Bit,

I’ve seen lots of different types of people go through uni and I reckon there’s a bit of a recipe for success.

Attend all of your classes and do all of your readings.  This sounds like more work than just bluffing your way through tutorials, but you’ll actually pick things up much quicker and have a better understanding of the material.  Assessments and exams will also be easier to prepare for and you will score better marks.  Most importantly you are less likely to fail anything, meaning you won’t have to repeat a subject.

Check out the Learning Centre courses as soon as you can.  Some people say they have no time to do these extra courses, but actually putting in the time for them now, will save you heaps of time later.  Generally speaking people who get help from the learning centre will improve their marks by one grade.  That is, if you had got a pass for that assignment you’d probably get a credit with the Learning Centre’s help.  Check out their website too, they have great modules on referencing properly, time management and a bunch of other topics.

Deal with any problems you have during the semester WHEN THEY HAPPEN.  Talk to SRC HELP or someone in the Faculty to get whatever it is you need.
Most of all allow yourself to have fun.  This should be an awesome time of your life.

Abe

Abe is the SRC’s welfare dog.  This column offers students the opportunity to ask questions on anything.  This can be as personal as a question on a Centrelink payment or as general as a question on the state of the world.  Send your questions to help@src.usyd.edu.au.  Abe gathers his answers from experts in a number of areas.  Coupled with his own expertise on dealing with people, living on a low income and being a dog, Abe’s answers can provide you excellent insight.

Welcome to the Big House… (well, not in a prison kind of way)…

It doesn’t matter how big your school was, it was not as big as this place.  This place even has its own postcode, which makes it even bigger than the Rooty Hill RSL.  Even the satellite campuses are many times bigger than most high schools.  So whilst adjusting to this change can be exciting and challenging, it can also be down right horrifying.

The workload here is significantly higher than for most high schools.  There is less individual direction and increasingly larger class sizes.  The onus really is on you to stay focused and do lots of work to learn all of the required information.  Most students will tell you that you don’t have to do the readings before tutorials or read all the resources you list in your assignments.  What they won’t tell you is that this is an extremely stressful way of not doing very well at uni.  Being full time at uni is definitely more work than being a full time worker. We don’t mean to alarm you, we’re just telling it like it is. But don’t despair, there are ways to make it work for you.

Studies have shown that if you don’t make some sort of attachment to the uni by about week six you’ll find it very difficult to be successful in your degree. What do we mean by attachment? Your attachment may be that you’ve met some other people who like the same hobbies as you, so check out all of the different clubs and societies available through the Union.  If you get the chance, go through the O-Week stalls so that you can meet them face-to-face and join straight away.  If not, you can also find them online and go along to a meeting.

Your attachment may be your love for the subject material.  Take the time to complete at least the required readings so that the lectures make sense to you.  Attending classes is compulsory for a reason, so save the socialising for another time.  Most people say that doing the reading before attending the class (not to mention paying attention whilst you’re there) makes the exams a lot easier.

Your attachment may be as simple as meeting a new friend or potential new partner.  This is always exciting.  Remember to have (safe, consensual) fun, but don’t neglect the main reason you are here. You are now a University of Sydney student. Embrace it like you would a blossoming new romance.

Remember that most people feel just as nervous and out of place as you do – even the students that have come to USYD already equipped with friends from high school.  The best thing that you can do is to try to be yourself, be
open to meeting new people and having new experiences, and know that if you ever need to talk to someone, USYD has a free counseling service.
Another area of difference to high school is the increase to your own personal freedom.

The University prefers to treat you as an adult.  You are free to make your own decisions about alcohol and other drugs, and sexual activity.

If you have questions about anything to do with these feel free to contact the SRC.  We can always point you in the direction of reliable and non-judgemental information.

Living in Sydney is increasingly difficult for anyone on a limited budget.  Where you live needs to be affordable so you’re not spending more than 10 – 15 hours a week working (for a full time student) to be able to support yourself.  It needs to be stable, so you are not worrying about whether you’ll have somewhere to live next week, or whether your flatmates are going to pay their rent.  It needs to be appropriate.  Some students we have met were sleeping on a balcony in the middle of winter and not getting very much sleep…probably not the best idea they’ve ever had. Exhaustion and illness does not a good student make. Having trouble with accommodation? You guessed it; the SRC can help you out.

Always remember that you are not alone here.  There are lots of people willing to help you settle in.  The trick is to ask.

help@src.usyd.edu.au  |  (02) 9660 5222

Community Garden

Who are we?

We are a group of keen, green bean students who love building, gardening, sharing skills and growing food together! After seven years of lobbying the university for a greenspace, in November 2013 we joined up with the SRC, the Usyd Food Co-op and the Centre for English Teaching to create a space where domestic and international students can garden together on campus! We grow food crops, friendly flowers and native plants for both nummy consumption and education.

Why a community garden?

Across Sydney and around the world, communities have sprung alive through gardening in their street plots and local centres. As we spend most of our student lives at uni, gardening here is a great opportunity to work together and learn about sustainability and food security.

In the city, where many of us don’t know how to grow veggies or don’t have the space, the balcony on level 5 of Wentworth can offer both garden beds and garden friends.

What do we do?

In creating our garden, we sourced recycled crates, lugged tonnes of dirt up to the balcony, constructed self watering (wicking) beds, painted them with colours and quotes, planted seeds and trees, and watched them grow into a flourishing food forest!  It was both educational and socially rewarding, as we bonded with a group of similar-minded people who are passionate about food and the environment.

But the best thing about a garden is that it just keeps growing! We still have beds to build, seedlings to transplant and delicious organic strawberries to harvest!

Now that the garden is established, we’ll be holding monthly working bees, weekly organising meetings and weekly harvesting-skill-sharing meet-ups. The community garden is not just a space to grow food, but a live music and workshop space – from  permaculture 101  to urban food farms and community organising.

Numerous ideas for this year have already arisen, like starting a seed bank, developing a worm farm to process the scraps from Wentworth food court, starting a native (stingless) bee hive, and constructing our own garden-furniture.  With your garden gloves and grand ideas, this garden and space will just keep growing!

Getting involved

Whether you are a green thumb or have never gardened before, the Usyd Community Garden is a space to meet new friends from a diversity of backgrounds, faculties and year groups. Anyone can be a community gardener! You don’t even need an ACCESS card.

In 2014, we hope the community garden can be a great space to hang out with your friends, meet up for organising meetings, and connect with nature in the middle of the city, through growing food and eating it fresh.

We meet at the Community Garden on the Level 5 Balcony of Wentworth building (Look up at the trees from Hermann’s) twice a week for organising meetings, skillshares-harvests and have monthly working bees.

So, when you’re having a drink at Hermann’s, look up at the sunflowers, and take the lift to level 5, it’s blooming marvellous!

For more information please contact us:

Email – usydcommunitygarden@gmail.com

Facebook Page – Usyd Community Garden facebook.com/pages/USYD-Community-Garden

Call Amelie – 0413 679 269