Defend Civil Liberties on Campus Campaign

Following a well-documented student protest at a talk given by Colonel Richard Kemp on campus, several students face disciplinary action from the University and an academic faces the sack. Accusations of anti-Semitism at the protest encouraged a witch hunt, for which student protestors and a member of staff in the audience are being punished. Importantly, an inquiry into the protest has found that the staff member’s conduct did not constitute “anti-Semitic behaviour”, but they still face dismissal or other disciplinary action for allegedly not treating a university visitor “with respect, impartiality, courtesy and sensitivity”.

The threats to these staff and students represent a significant threat to our civil liberties at university, and the political freedom that is vital to the university community. The University of Sydney has a long, proud history of demonstrating dissent, and a disgraceful recent history of punishing students who engage politically on campus. Too many times in recent history have student protestors ended up brutalised on and banned from campus for asserting their freedom of speech and freedom to protest, whether that be by demonstrating against war crimes, conservative governments, or supporting staff striking for fairer work conditions.

Interestingly, the University also disallowed a Socialist Equality Party (SEP) forum against militarism to take place over the ANZAC day weekend. The university reportedly bowed to pressure from groups associated with ‘The Great Aussie Patriot’ to cancel the event, which has links to the fascists at ‘Reclaim Australia’. The University feared disruption of the event, and formally uninvited the SEP; a risk they were apparently prepared to take when it came to Richard Kemp’s lecture. Give ‘Defend USYD Civil Liberties’ a like on Facebook, and come to their student and staff meeting this Wednesday from 1 – 2:30 PM in the General Lecture Theatre, Main Quad.

Also come to Education Action Group meetings at 1 PM on Tuesdays on the New Law Lawns. The next major action for education movement in NSW will be on May the 12th, 2 PM at Town Hall, called by the NSW Education Action Network – rally against education cuts, course fees and cuts to welfare. We know the score by now and have a pretty good idea what to expect from this government, and will be ready to strike back as soon as the budget is announced.

David Stokes

launching ‘Your Stories, Your Words’ welfare campaign

On this day in history, in 1967, boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army. Ali, a Muslim, cited religious reasons for his decision to forgo military service. Your Welfare Officers are not professing to such lofty heights of bravery or subversiveness, however I think it is important that we as a student body are able to recognise and applaud acts of defiance against situations that force upon us feelings of discomfort or shame. I have been lucky enough to receive several accounts of these acts through the recently launched Your Stories, Your Words welfare campaign. We have asked that any student who has encountered drugs or alcohol come forward and submit their stories – positive or negative – about their experiences to raise awareness about the reality of recreational drug use.

The submissions that I have already received have been incredibly moving, with stories of students who have stood up to aversive experiences for their health, their relationships and their wellbeing. Our theme of courage extends to the efforts of our Welfare Action Group, seeking to address the concerns of first-year students who are battling against the often daunting experience of transition into university academic and social life. What I have learnt from this campaign and from those who have been engaged in the Action Group, is that we feel we can stand up for ourselves when we have a support group who are willing to catch us when we fall. At Sydney University, the SRC and its Office Bearers are here to act as your support group. If you are interested in submitting for Your Stories, Your Words please go to http://tinyurl.com/welfarecampaign, or to attend the Welfare Action Group meetings, keep an eye on our Facebook page: ‘Sydney University Welfare Action Group’. You don’t need to be a world heavyweight champion to fight for your rights and wellbeing, and in those times that you feel like hanging up the gloves, remember you have a student body who are here to fight in your place until you’re ready to get back in the ring.

Eden Faithful

Let’s talk about CONSENT. Listen up!

So far this semester we have heard at several on-campus events, such as Pride Week, that consent is an ambiguous concept.
So we’ve decided to insert an analogy for consent here, which will hopefully make it easier for students to understand.

Consent is like a cup of tea. If you offer someone a cup of tea, and they decline, then don’t make them tea. Don’t get annoyed or angry at them for not wanting tea, and don’t force them to drink it.

They might accept your offer for a cup of tea, but when the tea has arrived they decide they no longer want the tea. Yes, that’s a little annoying that you’ve gone to the effort to make someone the tea, but they still do not have to drink that tea.

Sometimes people change their mind in the time it takes to make a cup of tea, and that’s okay.

If someone is unconscious, then don’t make them a cup of tea. Unconscious people don’t want tea, and they can’t tell you whether or not they want tea. Trust me on this.
If someone was fully conscious when you offered them a tea, and made them the cup, but has since passed out in that time, then you should just put the tea down and make sure the unconscious person is safe. Don’t make them drink a cup of tea. They’re unconscious, they don’t want tea.

If your friend comes over to your house and said yes to a cup of tea last week, does this mean they want a cup of tea? No, they may want a cup of tea, but they also might not. Just because they previously said yes to tea, does not mean they will always want a cup of tea every time you see them.
It may seem silly to spell this out, and in fact it is. It’s incredibly frustrating to have to compare tea to sex, just so people will understand that CONSENT IS ALWAYS NECESSARY.

I hope this clears things up.

This analogy was created by Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess, and can be found on her blog: rockstardinosaurpirateprincess.com

Monique Newberry

Farewell to Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association

Last week the black movement lost one of its strongest fighters for Aboriginal rights. Uncle Ray Jackson passed away peacefully in his sleep on the night of Thursday 23rd April after attending a regular Indigenous Social Justice Association Meeting.

Uncle Ray was the President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association and put most of his efforts into battling Aboriginal deaths in custody. He had been instrumental in organising many direct action events to challenge the authority of the state and his involvement and support for the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy will be missed.

During my time as NSW Indigenous Officer, Ray helped me build the Stop the Intervention Campaign and gave me the knowledge and wisdom that an Elder is expected to pass down to the younger generations without hesitation. Since then I had joined Ray in many areas of activism such as the Land Rights and Sovereignty movements, along with the recent Sniff Off campaign targeting the overuse of sniffer dogs in heavily black areas such as Redfern.

Obviously, being a political activist, people saw Ray as either an obstacle or a comrade. Clearly, I saw him as a comrade. He was a teacher and uncle to many, a driving force behind the peoples’ motivation to seek social justice, and he did not get caught up in corporate greed to become a mere pacifier for the mob to keep us quiet.

He will be missed.
Please respect that cultural sensitivity must be used around areas of significance such as Aboriginal organisations in Redfern and the Tent Embassy during sorry business.

Student Housing Report – Supporting student and public housing

Miller’s Point is classic Sydney-town. Today, it’s primarily made up of public tenants in state housing. For decades, it’s been home to a vibrant community with families that can trace a rich history back to the working-class homes of dockworkers and seamen.

And it’s under threat. The Baird State Government is intent on selling off the community housing in the area and handing over the ‘prime waterfront property’ to private hands and developers. While the state government claims it will reinvest the proceeds into public housing, there is no clear plan for such projects.

In the 1970s, the community was saved from similar sell-offs by the Green Bans of Jack Mundey’s Builder’s Labour Federation (BLF), where labourers refused to work on the proposed projects. Now, however, there are mainly the fierce residents and local supporters.

Why does this matter to students? Because the same process that fuels these sell-offs fuels rising rent prices around uni and shifty landlords packing a dozen international students into a four-bedroom townhouse. The inner city is becoming gentrified. The Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy is a similar campaign for public housing and against private development.

The University will be building student accommodation—to the tune of 4000 beds. The fear is that they will make ‘financial’ decisions in light of local rent rates rather than ethical decisions for students. The challenge is to make them do right by us.

As your Residential College Officers on the SRC we are committed to improving the experiences of campus and university life for Residential College Students

As your Residential College Officers on the SRC we are committed to improving the experiences of campus and university life for Residential College Students through fighting directly for their interests. At the outset of our term as Residential College Officers, the four of us decided that a major priority for us would be to foster a positive dialogue between the SRC and the administrative, leadership and student bodies of University of Sydney Residential Colleges. An important step in achieving this has been to enact processes to boost the profile of the SRC and its important services within the college community by liaising with key figures within the leadership bodies of colleges as well as initiating discussions with college students. Some of the SRC services that are directly relevant to college students include the legal representation that can be provided by the SRC, support in academic appeals, emergency financial support, support against discrimination and safe spaces for marginalised groups. Integral to our conversations with college students has been outlining the processes they can undertake to access these services.

As Residential College Officers we wish to express our support for the work of individuals within the college community to create safe spaces for LGBTIQ* students within their community with the establishment of networks such as the “Intercol Free Alliance” and other similar groups. We are aiming to continue to work closely with these groups in the coming months to ensure their growth and outreach. We believe there is significant scope for spaces such as these to connect up with similar spaces on the main university campus and the SRC is best placed to facilitate interaction and dialogue.

As Residential College Officers we are passionate and determined to fight for the physical and emotional welfare of Residential College students and ensure that they have access to adequate information and support services. Knowledge of sex and consent is important for all University of Sydney students and we want to ensure that information is disseminated to everyone, especially given the poorly lacking sex education offered in High Schools. In light of the success of the USU’s Radical Sex and Consent Day last year, we are currently working with the Sexual Harassment Officers to look into initiating sex education programs in tandem with the administration and leadership of Residential Colleges.

We would like to take this opportunity to further encourage any college students reading this article to get in contact with us, and the SRC, about absolutely any concerns that they have that are relevant to campus policy. This includes any improvements that could be made to the services that the SRC provides or to university services that the SRC has the capacity to lobby for on behalf of college students.

For more information, email us at residential.colleges@src.usyd.edu.au

Ehnic Affairs Report

Hey friends! Your Ethnic Affairs Office Bearers/Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) Office Bearers here! We’ve had a busy time at ACAR finalizing our plans for 2015 and we’ve got some fantastic things in the works!

As mentioned, we are currently assisting the USU in developing their new sensitivity training program so we can ensure that the USU is a welcoming and safe space for all People of Colour (PoC) on campus.

Many of us continue to attend the Critical Race Discussion Group (CRDG). Let us take this moment to clarify that CRDG isn’t owned or run by ACAR, but we love supporting the group and facilitating students seeking to engage in nuanced critiques and understandings of race.

We are also collaborating with the Muslim Wom*ns Collective to support a campaign based around tackling racism and Islamophobia on campus and in wider society.

Lastly, we have Verge Festival coming up in October this year. We will be organizing an autonomous poetry slam event for a non-autonomous audience! If you identify as a PoC, as an individual marignalised by White supremacy or structural oppression, please pen your feels into a poem and prepare to share your heart with us on stage. We’ll be ready with a sign-up sheet and beatnik clicks.

In more serious news, concerned students have approached us about the state of PoC politics at UNSW. As a result, we’re planning the rollout of a PoC awareness campaign, one in which we hope to work together with UNSW students with the aim to create awareness in university communities of understanding the term “People of Colour” and why autonomous representation is valued and important.

The official government definition of CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) is a problematically homogenizing acronym that fails to distinguish the structural hierarchy of oppression and White supremacy of which manifest in the lived experiences of people of colour.

Please remember you can contact us on our facebook page—Autonomous Collective Against Racism (ACAR) or find us at our regular weekly meetings on Wednesday 12pm at the Education Studio Room 229.
Lamisse Hamouda, Eden Caceda, Kavya Kalutantiri and Deeba Binaei

Wom*n’s Collective – Update on the many projects and happenings!

We’d like to begin this week’s report by talking about another collective on campus, and a pretty wonderful one at that. The Wom*n of Colour Collective is an autonomous space where people share experiences, discuss future projects, and generally are rad intersectional feminists. In fact, the collective just elected their new office bearer, Aulina Chaudhuri, and we’re beyond excited to work together on film screenings and autonomous discussions that focus on re-education and prioritising wom*n of colour perspectives. One project we have in the works, currently titled “fucking up a white hot mess” is a wom*n of colour feminism workshop, potentially (hopefully) to be submitted to run at this year’s NOWSA (NUS Wom*n’s Conference).

It’s been a while so we have a long list of things to report. We’ll try and be comprehensive. (And we’re sorry that wom*n’s activism on campus can’t be sufficiently summarised in so few words; we’ll endeavour to fight against kyriarchy less productively in future.) The National Day of Action took place before the mid-semester break, you may have seen our glorious hot pink 8 metre long banner that read “FEMINISTS 4 FREE ED”. That was a sweet cross-collective initiative —thanks to UTS WoCo for letting us use their space and everyone who helped out. After the workshop a few of us went to a public lecture given by intersectional feminist theorist Sara Ahmed on calling out and challenging hegemonic norms. If you’d like to read some amazing notes taken by collective member Julia Readett, shoot us an email (usydwomenscollective@gmail.com) and we’ll send them over!

Another project we’ve been secretly working on is our “fEMPOWER” workshops. During our first meeting, collective member Georgia Behrens pointed out that very few wom*n have any knowledge, let alone a critical knowledge, of feminism before they come to university. As a result, being bombarded with asterisks, kyriarchy, and the names of radical black activists (luv u Angela, bell) can be very overwhelming. As a result, we’ve decided to look beyond the hallowed halls of Sydney University and are searching for consenting young feminists in local public high schools. More on this later (the project is developing as we speak and we’d need the whole of wom*n’s honi to give you a proper update), but if you’re interested in getting involved, request to join the “USYD feminist education workshops” group on Facebook.

Other things include: our Pride Week stall, sexual harassment campaign, writing letters to Purvi Patel, discussing the USU’s BROSOC, a stall at the Other Worlds Zine Fair, Wom*n’s Honi, self-defence workshop for the USU Health & Wellbeing day etc. etc. Thank you loyal readers, may you return first timers.

With lots of feminist love and rage,

Xiaoran & Subeta

Report on the Student Services Amenities Fee (SAFF) Allocation

Three months of negotiations and two rounds of funding applications later, the University has announced how the 2015 Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF) will be allocated between its student organisations. This was decided by the SSAF Allocation Committee, chaired by Professor Tyrone Carlin (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Registrar)) and comprising the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy and Services) Professor Shane Houston, two Deans (Professors Peck and Rhodes), and the Director of Corporate Finance, Mr Matt Easdown.

The Committee has determined that the SRC will be receiving just over $1.65 million from SSAF this year. This represents an increase of 9% on last year’s $1.51 million.

We have since begun preparing the annual budget. Max and I would like this to be as consultative and collaborative a process as possible. Office Bearers have been invited to submit a funding application for their department, outlining the projects they’ve got in store for 2015 and how much they plan to spend. After having reviewed them, it’s safe to say that many exciting and progressive ideas abound, which we aim to support wherever possible.

We would also like to ensure our hardworking members of staff are supported in the budget. This includes allocating sufficient funding to maintain and (where possible) expand the casework and legal services the SRC provides, which face increasing student demand each year.

We have also been in contact with the National Union of Students (NUS) regarding affiliation in 2015. Throughout the first 4 months of our term, we—together with the President, members
of Executive, and other SRC Office Bearers—have attended NUS National Conference and been in contact with NUS Office Bearers regarding the union’s plans and funding arrangements for 2015.
Ultimately, the SRC is a student organisation that runs entirely on student money. With that in mind, we welcome any input from you, dear student, as to where your money goes and how it should be spent. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to drop us a line at
general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC Vice President – not happy with the reactionary bipartisanship in our Asylum seeker policy

It’s now been 118 days since Christmas. As a good, Jewish boy, you may not have expected this nativity commentary from me. This is not from any newfound religious awakening (cue disappointed Rabbis worldwide), but to emphasise a broken promise.

Scott Morrison, in the midst of a coercive rhetorical kidnapping of a hapless cross-bench, committed to taking all children out of detention by Christmas. A little, merciful compromise wrapped in abhorrent, archaic legislation.

And yet, there are still 227 children in detention centres. 103 on the remote, lawless Nauru. How can this be? Offshore detention centres are no place for children. Or people.

I wish there was at least a little contention about our treatment of asylum seekers, instead of a quiet, reactionary bipartisanship. I saw a small bit of what that contention could look like at this past Sunday’s rally for asylum seeker rights. And yet, not a single major news organisation covered it. These, the same bureaus that report on asylum seekers almost academically, an ethnographic study in inhumanity. I’ve met so many people in just the past week that care deeply about other people’s rights, albeit in different ways: from the presidents of Faculty Societies, to the executives of SUSF’s sporting clubs, to everyone at the rally. I know that these are people who together will stand up for refugee rights. It is only a matter of time.

118 days is a really long time. To be honest, I know very little of the man born in a manger. But from what I do know, He, too, was a refugee.