ASK ABE: Strained living at home

Dear Abe,

I am currently staying with my girlfriend in her parents’ house. Her parents are really lovely, but I think it is causing a strain in all of our relationships. I moved out of my house because things were really awful there. Do you know if there is cheap housing available through the university?

Strained

Dear Strained,

I am sorry to hear that things are awful in your home. If it is because of physical, emotional or sexual violence you may be eligible for Youth Allowance (Unreasonable To Live At Home). Alternatively if you are over 22 years you would also be considered “independent”.

Hopefully that will help with your finances.

The University used to have 40 low rent beds available but I do not think they are available any more. The University has plans of building new accommodation (eg, Urbanest in Darlington, and Queen Mary in Camperdown), but it is completely unclear if there are going to be low rent beds or if there are going to be scholarships for the rent. Either way, the University has not announced how many beds will be provided. With over 51,000 students the only low rent accommodation available are the 38 beds offered at STUCCO. This is the student housing co-operative situated in Newtown.

In terms of emergency or temporary housing while you’re trying to get somewhere permanent to stay you can talk to SRC Help for some ideas. This way you can preserve your relationship with your girlfriend and her parents.

Abe

Help for Students with a Disability & Student Carers

Did you know the university has a service to assist students with a disability to access reasonable adjustments in managing their studies?
Disability Services works closely with the university’s administration and faculties to support students with a disability whether it be physical, sensory, intellectual or  psychological. If you find that your health is causing problems with your studies in an on-going way or that you are repeatedly applying for Special Consideration for your condition, Disability Services may be able to help you.
Check out their website to see if you are eligible and how to register: sydney.edu.au/stuserv/disability/

Disability Services are located within Student Support Services – Level 5, Jane Foss Russell Building (G02), City Rd, Darlington Campus.
Are you a carer of someone with a disability?

The SRC Disabilities & Carers Collective meets regularly to provide student carers with information and support, and to lobby the university for carer rights. Anyone is welcome to meetings and you can follow their Facebook page “USYDdisabilities.carers”. Alternatively you can check out their webpage: srcusyd.net.au/disabilitiesandcarers  or email them at: disabilities.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

Do you need special consideration?

Special consideration is different to a disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to your disability, this should be accommodated by you disability plan. If you are not able to complete an assessment due to an unexpected exacerbation of an existing condition, or an illness or misadventure that has nothing to do with your disability you are able to ask for special consideration. As with all Special Consideration requests, make sure you get a specific additional Professional Practitioner’s Certificate on the day of your assessment to show how severely affected you were, and how you were affected, eg, unable to do exam or attend a lab.

Max Hall makes a few things clear to Mr Spence

I have stolen these few lines to publicly sing the praises of my co-Vice President, Max Hall, for essentially chastising Vice Chancellor Michael Spence in the middle of a 4 hour meeting with 20 University executive members. In a glorious blaze of glory, Max informed Spence that as long as he refuses to stand up to the Government and Group of Eight Universities, we will continue to question his every move, chant outside his office until he really begins to fight for the accessible and affordable tertiary education that is our right.

Eds: Our apologies to Laura for mistakenly not including this in last week’s edition.

Laura Webster

David Shakes, Elsa Kohane, Edward McMahon and Holly Parrington talk about pride.

Pride means a lot to the queer community: it’s a deadly sin that only some of us are lucky enough to reclaim. If you’re queer, pride is not a birthright; instead it must be fought for. It’s hard to take pride in yourself in a society that understands the way we are as an aberration, harmful to our families, ourselves, and our prospects for the future. Many of us will never be able to take pride in queerness. But for those who can, celebrating difference and diversity against the rigid confines of social conservativism is a tool of empowerment and subversion.

This week is the USU’s Pride Festival, and from the 5th-7th of August, queer organisations around campus (QuAC, Queerkats, SHADES and Queer Revue) are collaborating in conjunction with the USU Queer Coordinators to put together a series of events to celebrate pride. The event can be found on Facebook, and the full itinerary is on the USU website. Look out for a variety of workshops, performances, and social events. The SRC Queer Officers are incredibly proud of all the hard work queers on campus have put into running such a vibrant festival. Many of the events will be autonomous, but sometimes we’re down to party with cis hetero people too, and we’d encourage everyone to (where possible) come out and celebrate the pride of the queer community at the University of Sydney.

As we enter the second half of the year, we remind all people who are queer or questioning that you are always welcome in the Queerspace, especially for Queer Action Collective meetings which will take place at 1pm each Monday in the Queerspace (Holme building). Queerkats, the autonomous group of queer non-cis men, will continue to meet at 1pm on Thursday. As renovations in the Holme building are soon to be completed, we look forward to a new and improved space. Greater accessibility, greater anonymity, and the inclusion of gender neutral bathrooms will all hopefully make for a safer space for queer people on campus.

Wom*n of Colour Autonomous Collective Conveners’ Report

A few weeks ago my [white] friend asked me about this collective and what we did. “So… is it, like, a political group?” “I don’t really get it… what’s the point?” Admittedly, my first reaction was internal screaming at the thought of having to justify what I do and pretty much validate my identity as a wom*n of colour – a tiresome and, surprisingly, an all too common task. Instead, I decided to take the time to explain why the existence of this collective is important not just to me and the other wom*n of this group; but also for the progression of truly progressive and conscientious activism and polities.

Our collective may not come across as politically inclined, at least in the conservative sense. Rather, our politics manifest themselves in varied creative and visceral ways that is as much introspective as it is externally communicated. The creation of a safe and empathetic space for wom*n of colour allows us to nurture an uncompromised sense of self that informs intersectional activism. So far on campus, it has proved to be the only space that is a haven from daily oppression whilst being understanding of broader structures that affect how I navigate the world, straddle tradition(s), and defy assimilation.

This group has taught me that a wom*n of colour’s self-love and validated sense of self can be fuel for activism and used as a tool of resistance. A woman of colour’s self-love is political and radical: it unsettles the status quo because by choosing bravely to dismantle the narratives of racist aesthetics against us.

This group has taught me the importance of acknowledging and appreciating different forms of activism and how I can act on political inclinations and defy racism, sexism and other oppressive ‘isms,’ in ways that are safe and of solidarity. It is something that translates to facets of my life – political or otherwise. It has given me the strength to call out out the fallible nature of other groups that I have been a part of, in the hope and idealism of establishing truly inclusive, empathetic and conscientious spaces on and off campus; that takes into account the experiences and oppression of numerous identities.

The Wom*n of Colour Autonomous collective is a safe space for wom*n who identify as of colour, from an ethnocultural background, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, or otherwise marginalised by white supremacy. If your identity falls in line, you are welcome to join our Facebook group. We hope to be holding a little autonomous event soon, it would be lovely to see you there!

Shareeka Helaluddin and Tabitha Prado-Richardson

The Abbott government’s attack on welfare will be detrimental for students.

The Abbott government is planning to launch an attack on welfare that will be detrimental for many students. Many students already live far below the poverty line, and are forced to work long hours, eating into their study time. What we need is more, not less, welfare provisions, an idea that has been clearly rejected with the Liberals class war budget.

Abbott’s work for the dole legislation proposes under 30s will have to do 25 hours a week of community service if they are to receive unemployment benefits. In addition to this they will have to apply for 40 jobs a month. This policy is clearly serving a political rather than economic service, as economist across the country claim there is no evidence of such program’s reducing unemployment. This is part of the Liberal governments ideological attack on welfare.

Mining billionaire Twiggy Forrest has provided the government with his recommendations for an overhaul of the welfare system (I guess now they’re not even pretending in whose interests this budget lies). The most worrying recommendation is for the expansion of welfare quarantining. Under this system recipients of welfare are presented with a basics card, rather than a money transfer, which can only be spent as certain shops and prevents the purchase of certain items including alcohol and cigarettes, and does not allow for a cash withdrawal.

The most dangerous change to welfare in Australia is the “earn or learn” policy. Under 30s will have to wait 6 months after they apply for welfare to begin receiving payments, and will be monitored under certain regulations during this period. This will force thousands of young people across the country into abject poverty and homelessness, as they have no way of feeding or housing themselves.

The next big opportunity we have to fight these cuts is the National Day of Action on August 20. All across the country students will be marching to defend their education and oppose the myriad of other attacks facing students in the budget. Last semester hosted the biggest student demo in Sydney in almost 10 years, now we have to step it up! If you would like to get involved in the campaign, join the Education Action Group which meets every Tuesday at 2pm on the New Law Lawns. The EAG will be hosting a number of events in the lead up to the NDA, so there is plenty to get involved with!

education.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

DO NOT EVER WRITE IN LIBRARY BOOKS. EVER. NOT IN PENCIL, NOT IN BLOOD. DO NOT DO IT. Okay.

A timely reminder, fellow students: the SRC has a second-hand bookshop in the Wentworth Building, near the Food Co-Op and the International Students’ Lounge. There’s a range of used textbooks for different courses, so before you rush into purchasing an $80 political economy tome, check whether there’s an edition at the bookshop for a quarter of the price. I have saved a significant amount of money doing this. Fellow students, shop around to get a good deal on your study materials. Remember, you might not always need a textbook for a subject so ask around – classmates or Facebook friends may have done the course before, and they may be able to tell you whether it’s worth purchasing that copy of Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions for your modern science philosophy course (it’s not, I gave my unopened copy to a friend enrolled this semester).

James and I repeat this so frequently we should invest in frequent-repeater cards so that we get every eighth repetition free, BUT: THE SRC HAS A FREE LEGAL SERVICE. AND CASEWORK SERVICE. FREE. Academic advice, housing help, you name it – our talented and dedicated caseworkers and lawyers can help you.

Now I want you to take a deep breath – promise me you will do this – and imagine a tiny white piece of cork on the middle of a giant pin board. Think about it for a moment, and forget the ridiculousness of the first part of this report (god, I am so sorry, but I can’t change), because it’s taking a serious turn. Okay, now forget the pin board because it was never relevant to begin with. Physical wellbeing is an integral part of balancing life and studies while you’re at university. Sleep is a huge part of this. Eating well and exercising are also lauded as the pillars of good health, but they’re parroted so much by glossy brochures and daytime television shows that it’s hard to continue to give a fuck – the words and concepts become somewhat meaningless. But there are little things you can do that take little effort and make a difference.

How many of you out there are insomniacs? You? Good, this is for you: I have two tasks for you. Your homework for this week, if you please, is to stretch out as many of your muscles as possible before going to bed. This can be done with a background of soft music, an audiobook, or a bewildered partner. Also, I challenge every person who reads this to refrain from using any screens – laptop, TV, iPad – within two hours of going to bed. The science behind this isn’t as interesting as the results for those of you who have a hard time dozing off. I’ll allow (lolz, “allow”, who even am I?) very brief phone checks (text messages, setting alarms) within the hour before bed. But the rules are clear. No screens.
A note for regular readers of my report: smash capitalism, the patriarchy, racism, and the state. Free education and health care for all. Oh, don’t pretend like you didn’t read my report for your fortnightly dose of alienating far-leftism. You’re not fooling anyone.

Mariana – Joint General Secretary

Where are we at with the Liberal’s Higher Education budget?

It has been 3 months since the Liberals announced their budget that would see the greatest attacks not just on funding for higher education, but a complete targeting attack on students.
To recap the budget proposed:

  • The deregulation of University fees, meaning that Universities have the ability to charge whatever fees they like. This will lead to a two-tiered US style system, and Universities could charge $100,000 or more for a Law degree. Students will be dealing with life long debt.
  • A reduction of at least 20% of commonwealth funding per student. Another cut to higher education.
  • The introduction of commonwealth scholarships. This is a scholarship that will supposedly ease the burden of fee deregulation and allow more students from low socio-economic backgrounds to attend university. However in reality the Government will not be putting any money towards the scholarship. Universities are stipulated to put 20 cents per dollar received from fees towards this fund. However Universities do not have to put this money away until they break even on the 20% funding cut.
  • The implementation of an interest rate of up to 6% on HECS repayments, while lowering the income threshold required for beginning repayments. Currently HECS has no real interest rate attached to it, only that of CPI. The implementation of a HECS interest rate would mean that you would be disadvantaged if you chose to study Law and then work for a NGO, you would be disadvantaged if you were a women because on average you will earn less, you will be even more disadvantaged if you are a woman and chose to have children.

In short Australia’s next will not be able to see a higher education as a right, but will have to make a strategically life long decision of debt at the age of 18.
We are currently waiting for the senate to return in late August
and the Liberal Government to put forward the higher education bill to really understand what we will be dealing with.

Libraries, Libraries all around.

Libraries, Libraries all around.

You really shouldn’t rely solely on Wikipedia to research your assignments. (Or possibly at all.) Every Faculty has a library that specialises in information relevant to your course. These libraries vary in size and are generally located near your lectures. There is a Faculty Liaison Librarian who is able to help you navigate the resources available to you. You can ask questions at the help desk or you can email them.

The libraries are also where you’ll find some computers and photocopy machines. They also tend to have some of the loveliest sun shiny spots. If you manage to avoid snoring, you should be able to have a little kip there to rejuvenate yourself in time for your next set of study tasks.

Please BE AWARE: thieves also find libraries great places to hang out and pick up your stuff. Make sure you are careful with phones, computers, wallets, etc.

ASK ABE: Pregnant and don’t know what to do

Hello Abe,

My girlfriend is pregnant and I just don’t know what to do. If she wants to keep the baby I guess I’ll support her but I’ve only got 2 years to go in my course and I’d rather finish my studies then think about starting a family. I don’t even know if I love her or not. What would you suggest my options are?

Not Ready to Be a Daddy

Dear NRBD,

I’m sorry to hear that you’re in this situation. I would encourage anyone who is having sex to use a condom, as that is the only way to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections. If you are in a monogamous relationship then you could consider some of the other contraceptives available. Now that your girlfriend is pregnant it would be a good idea for her to talk to a counsellor. The university has a free counselling service that keeps your issues confidential. You can talk to a doctor who is also bound to keep your situation confidential. Beware of counselors and doctors who give advice based on their personal beliefs rather than your welfare.

If you do decide to keep the baby then both you and her will need to negotiate your situation. You need to work out what you’re willing to commit to, and what else you will need. If you decide to terminate the pregnancy then you can talk about your choices with the doctor. Be aware also that this kind of stress will often impact upon a student’s ability to study effectively. If you find that you are too stressed to focus on your study talk to a caseworker at the SRC to get special consideration with your subjects.

Abe