Students will be wishing Education Minister Chris Pyne an UNhappy birthday

Last Wednesday we celebrated Chris Pyne’s unhappy birthday, after all lizard people age too. We wanted him to know that even on his special day, we won’t let up in our campaign against his higher ed. reforms. So exactly one week out from the next education protest on August 20, the Education Action Group set up a stall on Eastern Ave, handed out a bunch of cake, and got the word out about the upcoming protest. Students also signed a card to Chris, mostly leaving an impressive array of insults and curse word combinations. My favourite was the eloquent “m8 get fucked.” Truer words have never been written.

Later that day, the cross-campus education action network organised a protest at NSW Liberal Party HQ. We brought our card, sang happy birthday and even brought a cake to cut and share. The security thugs and NSW pigs were the most discourteous party hosts we’ve come across though. They tried to steal our banners and physically force us out, then even threw the cake in the bin. Bastards. Nevertheless, we occupied the lobby for a while and made our message clear.

This Wednesday is the next national day of action for education. So far this year we’ve disrupted live TV, countless Liberal party love-ins, rallied in our thousands and refused to be silent in the face of the Liberals’ attacks on higher education and welfare. Our protests have made a real impact on the public debate with Labor, the Palmer United Party and the Greens all committing to block the cuts when they hit the Senate. The National Tertiary Education Union also recently published research results which found that around 69% of people oppose the deregulation of fees, making it among the most unpopular measures in the budget. The campaign is also hitting Chris Pyne personally; he now sits on a 50% disapproval rating which gives him the title of most unpopular government minister.

There’s a real chance that we could win, and that the reforms could be trashed. But it’s important to keep fighting and putting pressure on the opposition parties to keep their word.
So join us next Wednesday, Aug 20, 1.30pm outside Fisher for another day of action for education and sticking it to the Liberals.

SRC ELECTIONS: look for candidates that represent the diversity of our student body.

Each year thousands of students vote to elect a new group of representatives to run the SRC. For many students, perhaps most, this is their only interaction with the SRC. Many students are not even aware of the SRC, or the services and representation the SRC provides, as anyone who’s worn a lurid shirt during elections can attest to.

This is due to the fact that in many ways the SRC is a democratic anomaly. It’s a weird conflation of a student union with some form of representative democracy. It acts pre-emptively in a representative fashion but is also beholden to its council members and the wider student body. It provides behind-the-scenes help in the form of services but also publically negotiates with the university. The SRC operates on many fronts, many that are less visible, and it is from this that many students can attend the university and remain unaware of its purpose.
Despite the lack of knowledge about the SRC within the student body, SRC elections remain an important aspect of the organisation and are a reaffirmation of the principles on which it operates. In conducting an election each year the SRC brings in a new wave of students with new concerns and ideas.

That being said, like most elections, some candidates are better suited than others. Candidates with organisational experience have a better understanding of the organisation they will have to oversee, as well as a better idea of what the SRC can actually do. Year after year candidates run on impossible platforms that are never achieved. As students, you should hold your representatives to account. Further to this, the SRC is an organisation that has prided itself on diversity. In ensuring that students of any cultural, socioeconomic, religious or sexual background can become a part of it, the SRC has ensured that it best represents the diverse concerns of the USYD student body.

As elections approach, I encourage you to find out more about your SRC, to question the experience of the candidates running, and to look for candidates that represent the diversity of our student body.

SRC Elections: Why should you care? And why should you vote?

So a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the upcoming SRC elections; nominations closed on the 20th August and it is now time for the campaigning to start.

Why should you care? And why should you vote?

Well out of 32,000 undergraduate students there is a voter turnout of approx.  4000students. This can be attributed to the voluntary voting system and the fact that there is no physical incentive. But I will ask you PLEASE VOTE.

The SRC is the peak body at Sydney University representing all undergraduate students and it is up to all undergraduate students to choose who will be their next SRC president, councilors, and Honi Soit editors.

Student Elections can be overwhelming, annoying and seem completely irrelevant to your day-to-day life. This is partly true but I will tell you this. Who you elect will be responsible for the for a $1.5 million budget, will be the head of the legal service, will negotiate funding from SSAF (student services and amenities fee) and ensure that the irreplaceable services like the casework and legal service are up and running to help you out when you need.

The President of the SRC is responsible for sitting on many University committee meetings. This year I have been pushing to ensure there are no longer 100% exams for any subject you do, that lecture recordings and slides will become an opt out system instead of an opt in system. As well the SRC has been fighting for fair and affordable student accommodation, so that all students are able to live while they are at University.

Prominent former Presidents of the Sydney SRC include a Prime Minister of Australia, Cabinet Ministers, and Members of Parliaments, State and Federal, Justices of the High Court of Australia and the Supreme Court, including a Chief Justice of New South Wales and a Court of Appeal President.
It is important to make your voice heard and vote during the election season.

The elections will start on 8th September and the elections will be held on the 24th and 25th September. Hope to see you voting

ASK ABE: CENSUS Date

Abe,
I am very confused about what the census date is.  This is my first semester.  Do I need to do anything or is it all automatic.

Cen-suss.

——

Dear Cen-suss,

The census date is always the 31th March and 31th August.  It means that whatever you are officially enrolled in on that day, you will be billed for.  This is for local students with HECS or for international students.  The census date is approaching now, so look carefully at all of your Units and make sure that you are happy to be doing the ones you are enrolled in. If you withdraw before the Census date you might avoid a later fail mark.  If you’re not sure what to do, talk to a faculty subject advisor.
Remember: if you are receiving Youth Allowance or Austudy you will need to maintain a minimum full time load, which is 18 credit points or more (24cp is the standard load).  If you have a “temporary incapacity” such as illness or a longer term disability that prevents you from studying full time then talk to SRC Help to see if you can get Centrelink on a lighter study load.

Abe

Abe’s answers can provide you with excellent insight and helpful tips for surviving as a student.
To ask Abe a question send an email to: help@src.usyd.edu.au

 

 

Have you come across ads online offering false medical certificates? Has anyone ever suggested you get one to use for Special Consideration? Ever considered making your own medical certificate? If you answered yes or maybe, then our strong advice is DON’T!! Just don’t do it.

Did we mention, this is not a good idea….at all….EVER.

There are a number of other reasons we say this. First and foremost because in creating, buying and/or submitting a false medical certificate you are committing FRAUD. This isn’t just against University rules, it’s also against the law, federal law, and potentially carries the risk of a prison sentence of twelve months, if prosecuted by the police.

Sounds serious right! It is! The University also treats this as Academic Misconduct and is referred to the University’s Registrar who appoints a solicitor to investigate. What may have seemed a quick and harmless way to gain special consideration may suddenly find you suspended for a semester or two, or even at risk of being kicked out of Uni. Think how hard it would be trying to explain to your family why have suddenly stopped attending Uni.

Beware, the University knows there are false medical certificates out there. Your Faculty receives hundreds of medical certificates every semester. They know what to look for, so their ability to identify a medical document that doesn’t look right is pretty high. This might be because the certificate looks unusual, or a high number of medical certificates are coming from the same medical practitioner or practice. Faculties routinely check the authenticity of medical documents with medical practices and practitioners, so submitting false documentation is far from “the perfect crime” and more likely to result in you facing serious misconduct allegations and potential police investigations if the University also decides to refer the matter to the police. Is it really worth it?

If you are stressed or struggling to the point that you even consider obtaining a false medical certificate, your best option is to talk to someone about what’s going on. You could speak to an adviser in your Faculty, a Counsellor at the University’s Counselling and Psychological Services, or an SRC HELP Caseworker. You can help explore other ways you might be able to manage your study load without risking far more serious consequences in the long term.

If you need to see a doctor, but your regular one is not available, look for a medical centre nearby, or attend the casualty unit at your local hospital.  If you are too sick to move you can get an after hours doctor to visit your home.  Check for details on the internet.

To see an SRC Help Caseworker
call 9600 5222 to
make an appointment or
email: help@src.usyd.edu.au

Working hard on the Fossil Free Sydney University campaign

The SRC Enviro team has been very busy over the break. 23 students from USyd went to the Australian Student Environmental Network’s annual conference Students of Sustainability in Canberra. We learnt about the importance of an intersectional environmentalism that fights for Indigenous sovereignty. We learnt about the theory of Just Transitions, an environmental movement that creates jobs through worker’s cooperatives building renewable technologies (check out the new Earthworker Cooperative in Victoria!), and the history of environmentalism in the worker’s movement from Jack Mundey of the Builders Labourers Federation famous for the Green Bans.

Since then we have been working hard on the Fossil Free Sydney University campaign to encourage the University to divest from (cease investment in) fossil fuels and stop profiting from climate change. We are on track, through collecting the constitutionally required 450 undergrad signatures, to having a student referendum on the following question included in the ballot for the upcoming SRC Elections:
“Should your university stop investing, via its shareholdings, in companies whose primary business is the extraction, processing and transportation of coal, oil and gas (fossil fuels)?”

Although it is yet to be finalised, there is support from the campaign from all sides of politics, and we are confident that the referendum will yield a positive result to demonstrate to management students support divestment. Even Council’s sole Liberal councillor, Matthew Wollaston, seems to be making the right noises.

Coming up, we will be running some exciting events with the USU. #LeardBlockade Information night will be at the Verge Gallery at 6pm on Tuesday the 2nd of September. In addition to live music and photography of the site, there will be talks about the Leard State Forest and the variety of different ways students can save it from open cut coal mines. Divestment Day will be held from 11am – 3pm on Wednesday the 10th of September. There will be stalls from divestment organisations and workshops will be run throughout the day to facilitate people getting involved in the campaign, and educating SRC campaigners from various political groups about divestment so they will be able to answer voter questions about the referendum.
***If you want to sign the petition there is one at reception in the SRC and another copy in the USyd Food Co-op on Level 4 Wentworth Building.***

Max Hall and Laura Webster have things to say

Max Hall and Laura Webster have things to say and want somewhere to say them.

If there is a talent that every politician, administrator and rising member of an organisation’s middle management has to have it’s the ability to talk without saying anything.

For every article written and protest held about the changes to university fees (you know: deregulation, larger fees, probably fewer university places and a bonus hike in your HECS debt) Sydney Uni has responded with promises to consult and reason their way through an approach to the changes. This is great. Truly. If deregulation is to become a reality, then a process of consultation that prioritises the interests of students is our best chance of securing changes to fees that minimize the impact on students, particularly those from groups already marginalized in the education system.

But there is a significant difference between talking about consultation and actually doing it.

The announcement last week by the university senate of a town hall style meeting in response to calls for a convocation is a positive first step towards including all groups of the university community in deciding what to do about fee changes. Including current students alongside graduates and staff members is a sensible move on the part of the university. However, there is good reason to be concerned with the lack of detail accompanying the announcement. To make the meeting more than a publicity presentation from the powers at be, students, graduates and staff need an equal ability to speak and argue to that of the university administration. Relinquishing the moderation of the event to students or staff would be an ideal step to ensuring that discussion is meaningful and legitimate.

On that note, a single meeting is not enough. If they are to fulfill their stated desire to consult widely and reasonably with students then there needs to be greater access to the vice-chancellor and his views. Ideally this first forum would lead to several more and the university would establish a means of making written submissions that students and student organisations could expect to be publicly responded to. Without comparable measures the universities lip service to consultation will remain just that.

This is the view that we’ll be taking to the university in the coming weeks, hopefully resulting in a series of opportunities for you and anyone interested in saving public education in its current form to meaningfully influence the machinations of the university machine.

In the meantime, come to the NDA and stay angry.

Wom*ns Colective update…

First up, we’ve change our meeting time to Thursday 2pm. Hope you can make it! We’ve had a great start to the Semester in the Wom*n’s Collective. Many of us attended the film screening, hosted by Xiaoran Shi and Andy Mason, of Black Panther Woman, the story of Marlene Cummins, an Indigenous activist in the 70s whose story is incredibly powerful and moving. As one member commented in a reflection, it is a privilege to be able to complain or report men’s behaviour and for it not be perceived as a reflection of your culture, race or community.

We’re looking forward to collaborating with Xiaoran and Andy to screen regular documentaries and movies over the semester. We’ve also been at work finalising our Grievance Policy which contains the shared self-edcuation and skill-sharing that we’ve done over Semester 1 to effective practice being non-oppressive as a collective and take these attitudes and behaviours into the wider world. We’re also very excited to be supporting Bebe D’Souza in organising Radical Sex and Consent Day which will be held on September 4th, in just a few weeks. Get ready for film screenings, facilitated discussions, hands on workshops and all the things you wanted to know but were too afraid to ask.

Finally, we were lucky enough to collaborate with the UNSW and UTS Wom*n’s Collectives in a workshop called “How to Call Out and Apologise”. It was a great opportunity to share experiences in being called out and discuss strategies in calling out oppressive behaviour in activist spaces. We’d like to thank Amy Knox for her organisations skills and Georgia Cranko for an amazing workshop in disability politics. Georgia’s workshop, through an old-school game of Simon Says, allowed us to experientially understand the social model of disability; where society arbitrarily constructs what a “normal” body is, builds infrastructure and attitudes around it, then blames people who might not be able to conform to those norms.

Update on 2014 so far…

Now that we’re past the halfway point in our elected term, we’ll give a rundown of the things we’ve worked on this year. The General Secretaries occupy an extremely bureaucratic Executive position with limited visibility which is crucial to the functioning of the organisation. We got involved so we could use the position in a more active way than it has been used in previous years, particularly by emphasising consultation with collectives and being involved in SSAF negotiations. The work of the SRC Executive is ongoing, time-consuming and sometimes goes unrecognised – so we want to give a shout out to the rest of exec, who attend regular meetings, discuss circular motions (to approve campaign spending) via email in between meetings, and help organise the activities of the SRC. The majority of readers are probably unfamiliar with the nature of our role, so in case you’re interested in getting involved in the SRC (do it!), or you just want to know more, here’s a brief run down.

The general secretaries attend regular executive meetings to do things like organise funding for collectives and campaigns, have sat on panels for the hiring of two new staff members, and are on the board of the Legal Service (which also involves staffing decisions and restructuring). We also produced an O-Week handbook containing all original material and handed these out to new students at O-Week, met up individually with some newer office bearers (ACAR, Welfare, Queer, Disabilities and Carers, Indigenous) to discuss funding and SRC functions, assisted the VPs with regulation changes, publicised the SRC full-time every day at the O-Week stall and handed out showbags, we wrote up the SSAF proposal along with the President, participated in SSAF negotiations with other student organisations, and have been involved in SRC staffing matters. Our biggest project, perhaps (well, the cornerstone of our job description) was the budget. After consulting with extensively with auditors, the administration manager, and collectives, we put out the budget. We increased funding to the Indigenous, International, and Ethnic Affairs departments and have a surplus. This was a pleasing outcome and a proactive reevaluation of spending priorities has enabled us to provide financial support to students arrested during activism on campus. We’re working on some other things at the moment – some that we can’t tell you about (but get excited – it involves jurisprudence) – and some that we can (extensive handover documents, information packs for collectives, general housekeeping).

This year has been active for the General Secretaries. We hope that future gen secs can continue to increase SRC’s visibility on campus and find ways to provide as much financial support to collectives and campaigns as possible. We won’t drop the ball while SRC elections are on in September, so rest assured that if you have any enquiries or require assistance, we’ll get back to you promptly: general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au

Housing affordability in Sydney is a myth – because it is not affordable.

However what is most concerning is the unaffordability of student accommodation around The University of Sydney. There are a few options that are offered: colleges, self catered rooms on campus, self catered rooms off campus, or going through private landlords.
There is college accommodation:

– St Paul’s College starts (all male) at $10,350 a semester (or $796.15per week)

– Mandelbaum House (co-ed) starts at $508 per week for a single room – St John’s College (co-ed) starts at $484.50per week Sancta

-Sophia College starts at $420 for a shared room, and $490 for a single room.

– International House (co-ed) starts at $367 per week for a shared catered room, $470 per week for a single catered room, and $438 for a single self catered unit.

– St Andrew’s College (co-ed) starts at $516 per week for a single room – Weasley College (co-ed) starts at $484 per week\

– Women’s College (all female) starts at $515 per week

The cost of college’s does include three meals a day, and all utilities included. There is Sydney University Village (SUV) – privately owned: which is a self-catered room in shared apartments range between $271.50-$475 per week.Urbanest Cleveland Street – privately owned: self catered room’s start at $299 per week.

The University is planning on having 4000 new rooms available for students by 2020 and there are conversations happening about the affordability of rooms, what is defined as affordable and how much the University is asking students to pay for a bed. Student accommodation is particularly difficult for students who are required to live out of home in order to study at the University.
Student accommodation is just a single component to the great complexity of student welfare, and the absence of funding to ensure it. The SRC will be presenting the University with an in-depth proposal for affordable student accommodation in next few weeks.