The Dangerous Road to Uni Fee Deregulation

In mid January the Group of Eight (a collection of Australia’s supposed top eight universities, of which Sydney University is) made a submission to the Federal Government’s review of the demand driven funding of Higher Education. The submission called for the first step in the ever-pressing push by some universities in Australia to fully deregulate fees and the sector.

The submission suggested that Australian Universities should be able to opt out of Government funding and in exchange charge fully deregulated fees for particular courses. The GO8 proposal was to deregulate law, economics, accounting, and commerce. The submission argued that these specific courses traditionally award with high paying jobs and therefore student’s long-term benefits would allow a higher fee. The proposed fees would be three times the current rate.

The deregulation of fees is an incredibly dangerous road to go on and one that the SRC is firmly against. Allowing Universities to choose the rate in which they charge, will evidently lead to fee increases and create a greater socio economic gap.

It will encourage a culture in which those who will be completing high return courses such as law and commerce will be the students who can afford it. The push over the last decade for Universities to increase the amount of students from low socio economic backgrounds and create a more inclusive acceptance system is counter acted by this push for deregulation of fees.

Although this proposal was submitted without knowledge from the VC Michael Spence, and has not been approved by the Sydney University Senate therefore not an official policy of the University of Sydney it is still a policy endorsed by the group of eight.

On the 26th of March the SRC will be Marching with students all across the state and the country for the National Day of Action against Abbott and Pine’s Education cuts. Join us at Fisher Library at 12pm to fight against any further cuts to your education.

Your welfare is our business

Hiya! We’re Philippa, Chiara, Brendan and Oliver – your Welfare Officers for 2014.

There’s more to the student experience than what goes on within the four walls of a lecture theatre. The stressful reality many students currently face involves juggling work and study while subsisting on measly Centrelink payments, sacrificing meals in order to pay for textbooks and rent instead. On top of all this, welfare is in danger of becoming (yet another) casualty of the ‘Abbottoir’ – but not if we can help it.

A strong and united student voice is now imperative to ensure that fairness and accessibility are prioritised by both the University and Government alike. It’s simple: every student should be able to make the most of their University experience. Your SRC recognises this, and is here to ensure that your rights, wellbeing and safety come first.

When life starts to become more thorny than rosy, our free legal service and wonderful caseworker team are able to offer advice on everything from Centrelink to academic concerns to tenancy rights. If you have any problems at all, drop in for a visit (we’re located on City Rd, below the Wentworth building), or send a messenger pigeon over the interwebs (otherwise conventionally known as an ‘email’) to help@src.usyd.edu.au.
In 2014, we’re very excited to work in collaboration with students, collectives and fellow OBs to ensure that no student’s University experience is adversely affected by any issue on campus or beyond.

Over the holidays, we were active in supporting the fight to save Medicare against the Liberals’ proposed $6 fee for GP visits.
We have also been working with other groups to radically overhaul the newly introduced scholarship for low-income housing, which supports poor students in name only.

This year, we will especially focus on mental health (particularly the improvement of existing services and practical advocacy), student housing, unpaid internships, scholarships, expansion of free education resources for students at the SRC (such as lab coats and dissection kits), and drug safety.

Last but not least, the National Day of Action is on March 26. We condemn the proposed conversion of Start-Up Scholarships into a loan system, as it will only further bar financially disadvantaged students from being able to pursue their studies. Join us at Fisher Library at 12pm for a march down to UTS to fight the cuts to education and demand a more affordable and accessible education system for all!

We’re passionate about a wide range of issues and would love to hear from the very students we’re here for. Should you ever have any comments, questions or concerns, or if you’d like to get involved with our campaigns, shoot us an email at welfare.officers@src.usyd.edu.au or swing by the SRC for a chat.

Growing Strong Launch and Self Defense Classes

We started the week off with a slam to celebrate the publication of our annual journal Growing Strong at the ever-charming and intimate Newsagency in Marrickville.

We were so excited to see so many new students coming along to the event and were really grateful to the old is that supported us. It was a fantastic evening that showcased the sheer emotional power of words and poetry as an inexpensive and accessible mode of expression. Keep your eyes peeled for our next poetry slam – we can’t wait to hold more!

If you’ve been keeping up to date with Honi and the Wom*n’s Report you might have seen that the three of us are involved in organising Autonomous Self Defence Classes open to non-cis people and wom*n identifying students. We feel that there is no one way to tackle this horrific beast, Rape Culture, that pervades our airwaves, television screens and lives. It has been designed to be a space where wom*n can feel comfortable learning some assertive moves. Although these moves might not be put into practical use, they can give us confidence in a society, where we are often taught that we shouldn’t be proud of our bodies, let alone take up as much space as cis-male people.

Next week, we’ll confer with the collective as to whether WoCo wants to endorse it as a whole, however, we, as officers look forward to continuing our support because we believe it is an important venture.

Thank you to all those who attended our first meeting on Wednesday and we look forward to seeing you next week.

Georgia Cranko, Phoebe Moloney and Julia Readett

New Education Activists get involved in Education Action Group

Our first EAG meeting this semester was a real success! After a busy O’week where dozens of students signed up to the EAG, it was great to see so many new faces along to the first collective meeting. We’ve got big plans for the national day of action for education on Wednesday March 26th. The day will begin with a Clubs Carnival to Save Student Life from the potential attacks on student organizations by the Liberal govt. We invite all students to come along to the carnival, check out the clubs, enjoy some food and lefty sing-a-longs before we all march to UTS to join the main demonstration.

For anyone who couldn’t make the first meeting, they are being held every Tuesday at 2pm on the New Law Lawn, look out for the red banner!

The next big event the EAG is holding is a forum on the radical history of Sydney Uni. Terry Irving and Rowan Cahill, authors of Radical Sydney, and Diane Fieldes will be sharing stories from the good old days when flares were cool, beards were long, and occupations of the Vice Chancellor’s office were not a rare occurrence.

Last week also saw International Women’s Day, a day started by socialists in 1910 to challenge sexism, and the system that breeds it. Unfortunately the radical traditions of IWD have been buried. These days attendees of IWD breakfasts try not to choke on their pancakes as our misogynist PM Tony Abbott declares himself a feminist and equality achieved. We’ve obviously got a long way to go in the fight for women’s liberation. So for a couple of months we’ve been involved in organizing a rally for IWD, held last Saturday March 8th to demand equal pay for women and no to Zoe’s Law no 2. (foetal personhood laws currently before NSW parliament).

For any Abbott haters, the March in March is this weekend starting on Sunday at 1pm in Belmore Park. If you support any of the following: unions and workers’ rights, the environment, refugee rights, women’s and LGBTI rights, free and accessible education, and/or Medicare, you’ve got a reason to be pissed off at the Government and need to join the rally! Thousands will march this weekend to voice opposition to the government, all decent lefty students need to be there!

Ridah Hassan and Eleanor Morley

Best Vegan Eats on Campus

Look, these reports are here to keep office bearers accountable to the student body and let you know what’s happening in the SRC’s various departments. James and I promise to do that with important issues, as we have previously done, like SRC staffing changes and campus activism. But as the occupants of the most bureaucratic position on campus, there’s only so much we can tell you without mimicking the broken-record babble of general secretaries past before you’re driven to the point of desperation and are compelled to gouge out your own eyeballs with a dried vanilla pod or some other delicious kitchen spice. At least if our writing provokes a bout of explosive dysentery you’ll now have access to Mon Droit in the likely case your nearest lavatory is out of toilet paper.

So anyway, here’s something that 5% of you might find vaguely useful: a run down of the best vegan eats on campus – something in which I have a vested interest.

1: Vegesoc – also know as The Magnum Opus of Meals. Vegesoc is back on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this semester from 12-2 on the manning sunken lawns and for $3 you get a solid serving of rice, veggies and halva. THREE DOLLARS.

2: Crispy tofu baguette from Taste without mayo. A more expensive option that is still a pretty good deal with an access card, this delightful morsel of a sandwich comes with the fillings that make salad rolls brilliant (like coriander and carrots) with the added bonus of TOFU. As delectable as the night is dark! Rejoice.

3: Salads from Raw in the Wentworth building. Clocking in at around the $5 mark, the best part about getting a salad from this joint is the option of mixing two salads together, maximising your potential for the simultaneous ingestion of quinoa and shallots.

4. Lastly, if all else fails, bring your own half-watermelon, like the one pictured here. They’re juicy and double as superb weapons. Or hollow one out
and make your own helmet!

Till next we speak.

Jen Light wants you to know about International Women’s Day.

Last Saturday marked International women’s day, with the annual international women’s day march. It therefore seems an appropriate time to reflect on how far the equality movement has, or hasn’t come.

It’s 2014, It’s been 111 years since Emmeline Pankhurst founded a new organisation, the Women’s Social and Political Union, which sparked further radical feminists fighting for equality. It has been 102 years since the first International Women’s Day, and 97 years since the Russian revolution which was sparked on March 8, 1917 by women protesting against bread shortages in St. Petersburg, the 8th of March is recognised as International Women’s Day.

By 1923 all women in Australia had the right to vote, in 1961 the pill became public accessible empowering women to have the rights over their own bodily autonomy, women account for over 50% of University graduates in Australia. In the last 10 years the Sydney Uni SRC has seen 7 female Presidents, and I was fortunate to be one of 3 female candidates running for Presidency last year.

However as a 21 year old woman I feel incredibly disappointed and increasingly afraid of what the future holds for women and the seemingly distant future of equality.

The Marie Claire #demandbetter video that went viral in the last week demonstrates the devastating statistics and the inequality to the treatment of women. The pay gap between men and women is 17.1%, women are constantly judged on their appearance and superficial characteristics.
80% of women who considered a career in politics now say that the treatment of Julia Gillard has put them off.

Women are better represented in the Afghan Government than in Australia’s federal Cabinet. With the only Minister being Julie Bishop and Tony Abbott disturbingly appointing himself Minster for Women.

It seems that the feminist movement has been paused. That’s not to say that there are no longer active feminists fighting, but the size of the movement has shrunk not grown, and the three steps forward that women are taking are simultaneously taking one step back.

It is up to young women to make a fuss, and not be shut down, now is the time to re-energise the movement and fight for women’s rights and equality.

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