Report from the Queerkat Collective

Queerkat’s focus project for this semester will be to start a clothing swap, hopefully including binders and breastforms, and as such the swap will be aimed to cater for trans and non-binary folks. We would like to make this a cross-campus event as the Queerkats collective is not just for students of Sydney University. Clothing swaps can be a very useful tool as they allow students who may not be able to afford new clothes to obtain a wardrobe they feel comfortable in, and mean that trans people do not have to face potential transphobia when shopping for clothes. More details to come about this event and if you would like to be involved please contact the Queer Officers:
queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

SRC Indigenous Officers Report

Howdy y’all! Hope you had a good break. Now, just in case you missed it over your alcohol study fueled break, here are a few important issues.

What is the intrinsic aspect of Australian politics? The humble thought bubble. Warren Mundine in his role as Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council has suggested a national database of Aboriginal people. Now I understand the rationale, it can be quite difficult to prove ones Aboriginality but having a database of one specific group seems reminiscent of some dystopic science fiction.

Last Friday night there was a march from Belmore Park to The Block to stop the forced closure of remote communities, held simultaneously with one in Melbourne (which was eloquently described as a ‘selfish rabble’, at this point newspapers are just trying to prove their absurdity). The 2000 strong march consisted of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, students and non-students, unionists and small children. Starting in Belmore Park with several speeches then marched through the pouring rain, with the gutters overflowing to the Redfern Tent Embassy.

These marches were in solidarity with the Indigenous communities in W.A and S.A that are under threat of forced closure. The speeches also highlighted issues of racism in our society, deaths in custody and more close to uni, the plight of the Redfern Tent Embassy. Now all of these are important issues but we can only overcome them through a set of national actions and movements.

Last month the Indigenous officers met with the Bridget Cama, the NUS National ATSI officer, to discuss Sydney Uni’s involvement in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Student conference in Sydney 2015. The conference will be held from the 22nd – 25th of July, with approximately 50-70 Indigenous officers, representatives and student leaders predicted to attend. The conference aims to develop relationships between Indigenous student leaders, building and gaining skills in the areas of policy writing, fundraising, and campaigning.

The conference will establish a network of young indigenous student leaders in which the communication of Indigenous issues and the organisation of events such as rallies and protest, can be made efficiently and effectively. This conference will reflect the Indigenous values of community and solidarity, particularly important considering the current relationship between the Australian government and Indigenous Australia – reflective in the closing of communities, the Redfern tent embassy, and The Intervention. This year’s conference will have a focus on representation and access as expressed in the conferences motto ‘Equal Access, Equal Representation = Equal Education’.
Stay tuned interested parties; there will be another protest on the 1st of May.

Continuing the Fight for a Fair Education

First of all, David and I would like to thank and praise those who turned up to the National Day of Action on the 25th of March and yelled, carried banners and exercised their democracy. It was such a touching and energetic demonstration that didn’t lose momentum once all the way from Sydney Uni to UTS and then to
Town Hall.

Speeches on our end were wide and varied, calling from students from the Disabilities and Carers, Queer and Indigenous collectives, as well as members of the NTEU (that’s the National Tertiary Education Union). Having a diverse and intersectional selection of people to represent the Sydney University community is really important to us as we believe Queer and POC (People of Colour) voices have always been foundational to radical social movements yet are also those more likely to be silenced.

With contingents from all over the university community including massive Wom*n and Queer blocs, as well as an incredible Indigenous bloc, assembled at UTS.

The fight against the Liberal government’s cuts to education doesn’t end with the defeat of fee deregulation, something many of us are beginning to believe might actually happen due to the latest Pyne defeat a few weeks ago.

Abbott and Pyne will come back for our SSAF or increase other fees for students, which will only serve to target those who have trouble affording to come to uni as it is.
We can fight back though, and have more fun, creative actions up our sleeves as the year rolls on, so if you want to come to some of our panels or law and Photoshop sessions, please look up the EAG on Facebook.

EAGs (Education Action Group) are held on the law lawns (weather permitting) every Tuesday at 1 and the Ed Officers are always keen for a chat, should you want to look us up on Facebook. Maintain the rage.

The Environment Colletive get active – Join us.

The Environment Collective is a fun loving group, with an abounding compassion for the planet, and all of the life that resides here. We hope you, dear like-minded reader, will join our ranks and start making a difference! Our new working groups mean you can engage in a broad range of activities that interest you. The Collective has had a vibrant first half of the semester, building a more active and diverse environmental movement on campus.

In Week 4, the Collective had a fabulous stall at Pride Week. We added to our collection of signatures for the Fossil Free USYD and Monster Climate Petitions. Our friends from the Queer Community were incredibly supportive of the cause because environmental problems are queer problems too!

Fossil Free USYD has been out campaigning and letting people know about the upcoming national day of divestment action at mid day, outside the quad on the 22nd of April. Come and plant a wind turbine, enjoy a picnic with us and sign our petition to the university to divest. Last year we achieved a 20 percent reduction in the Uni’s portfolio carbon footprint, and our rallying cry this year is to “DIVEST THE REST!!” If you would like to get involved in organising, come to our meeting at 11am every Wednesday at the Manning Sunken lawns.

The Community Garden are planning some very interesting and exciting gardening workshops.
At a collective meeting, we agreed to support the organisation SOS Blak Australia with a financial donation and explore other ways we might be able to support this movement supporting communities fighting removal from their land. This reflects our commitment to environmental activism that is in solidarity with First Nations peoples’ fight for justice.

During the break, Collective members ventured over to UTS to support UTS Enviro Collective with their Fossil Free UTS campaign.

Collective members who attended the Wollemi Common Enviro Group this past weekend, camping with members of other enviro collectives from around Australia, reportedly had a great time.

We are excited about our new e-newsletter! It will service as a periodic reminder of upcoming events, campaigns, get-togethers, and other fun activities. We will also share readings and articles that we find interesting and pertinent to the causes we are fighting for.

To subscribe to our fascinating and inspiring newsletter, please find us on Facebook: Sydney Uni Enviro Collective. There you will also find more frequent and detailed updates on the Collective. You can also email us if you don’t have Facebook: environment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.

Addressing Anti-Semitism allegations

Recently, the Vice Chancellor sent around an email to all staff and students of the University alleging that student activists had been engaging in anti-Semitic behaviour on campus. This has been a growing controversy within the walls of our University and it’s time that a few things were set straight.

Firstly, as President of your SRC I reject the allegation that our students engaged in anti-Semitism. The views our students hold have nothing to do with a person’s ethnicity, beliefs or religion.

Secondly, the conflict happening right now involving Palestine and Israel is nothing more than an invasion for land. It is the same thing that happened to this country 227 years ago. The only difference is that, due to technological advances, the whole world can see.

Thirdly, I find it horrible that the right to protest has been compromised because people have completely twisted the issue in the direction of race wars and discrimination based on religion. I think it’s quite childish, particularly when the marginalised group in this circumstance still gets the short end of the stick.

I, personally, stand in solidarity with those accused of acting in an anti-Semitic manner because I know that this is only a strategy to silence those wanting justice for our comrades in Palestine.