Sexual Harassment Officer’s Report – Week 3, Sem 1, 2016

It’s more than just ‘a joke’. Humour is old, humour is new. It can be basic, convoluted, quick, long-winded and it can be dogs that look like fried chicken. For those who devote their lives to it – it’s a daring step into unknown and unsettling territory. But whilst humour (and the internet) are forever, sexism, racism, transphobia, ableism, transmisogyny and queerphobia don’t have to be.

An inappropriate joke isn’t ‘just having a laugh’. We shouldn’t have to ‘lighten up, relax,’ or listen to ‘it’s ok, I don’t actually believe it.’ Because no matter what you say they are always doing harm – maybe not to those who hear the joke, but through these every day passing comments they normalise the inferiority of wom*n and non-cis male bodies in a casual, ‘socially accepted’ way. These jokes dominate our social spaces and perpetuate the way society still sees us as second-tier, from when we are children, through education, our workplaces, on the street and even our own homes.
As Sexual Harassment Officers, one of our main focuses this semester is to draw awareness to the harmful nature of oppressive comments and jokes.

Offensive jokes follow us everywhere. They might be in a tute, something going viral on social media, a meme, an ad, a lewd caption on a Tinder profile, in your favourite show, or maybe just a conversation at the dinner table with unfortunate family members. Some are subtle, some are more explicit – but all are wrong. There are many different types of uncomfortable – but if you feel hurt, humiliated, offended, uneasy or even if something just doesn’t sit right when you hear one of these ‘jokes’ – it’s always right to let them know. (If you feel safe and comfortable doing so!)
It’s always more than just ‘a joke’.

Olivia Borgese and Gina Tran

Education Officer’s Report – Week 3, Sem 1, 2016

The March 16 rally against the restructure is now a staff and student rally co–hosted by the National Tertiary Education Union. The restructure’s faculty amalgamations will see general staff lose their jobs, decreasing support for academics, leading to a decrease in our education quality. This is why we must fight back!

In the University’s latest paper on the new degree program ‘next steps’, Pip Pattison (the DVC, previously employed by Melbourne University) showcases the new Bachelor of Philosophy. Indeed it seems that some of SRCs biggest fears are coming true. Smaller schools and departments will struggle to provide the new 4000 level subjects required for a major under arrangements made by the new B/Phil. One high up academic in the school of Arts and Social Sciences claims this will lead to larger departments adopting the curriculums of smaller ones. It was also reported that the B.phil will also lead to curriculum and staff cuts as small departments, centres, and programs close, unable to provide the with the new degree program.

The B.phil threatens the current honours system. ‘Next steps’ proposes that B.phil students can be awarded honours if they graduate with a credit average and after the completion of a forth year project. One academic noted that this new honours system will not qualify students for entry in to PHD programs in the faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). One footnote in the paper noted that the University plans to completely phase-out honours as a pathway towards a PHD moving students into masters programs. But the vast majority of masters’ placements are full fee paying, more generalized and two years in length.

Running two honours programs concurrently will place further hurt small departments already underfunded. Vertical degrees are still considered in the new degree structure. Vertical degrees include a generalized undergraduate degree followed by a deregulated postgraduate specialized degree. This is the University’s way of shifting a bigger cost onto to students, it will see us spend more time studying at University and see average student debt increase exponentially.

The Centre of Peace and Conflict Studies has also been dragged in to the USYD restructure with the Australian reporting that its independence could be lost through a merger with FASS.

The SRC will stand up for students and staff! In the first week of semester we hosted an open meeting at SCA. Here students moved a motion with consensus condemning plans to move SCA from Callan Park and merging with FASS. The Education Officers have been leafleting and lecture bashing classes to promote the March 16th rally, but there is no doubt that the campus needs to activate if we are to stop the restructure.  This Wednesday join students and staff marching to Michael Spence’s office and demand – NO STAFF CUTS – NO DEGREE CUTS – NO TO SCHOOL AND FACULTY MERGERS.

Dylan Griffiths

President’s Report – Week 3, Sem 1, 2016

This week, I want to talk about Simple Extensions. You’ve probably heard rumours, whispers, maybe been told one statement that’s been contradicted by another. But here’s the truth – Simple Extensions are not dead. They are very much alive, but not as you knew them.

Previously, Simple Extensions were only granted in the Arts faculty. They gave students up to five extra days to submit a non-examination assessment, without academic penalty, for reasons that don’t require documentation such as minor illness or misadventure. Last year, the university moved to scrap Simple Extensions in favour of a centralised Special Consideration system. The idea was that this would be a better way to keep track of individual issues, rather than relying on individual discretion to grant extensions.

Whilst there may be some benefits of this new system, Simple Extensions are still very important for students. The new system is still experiencing teething problems and anyone who has ever tried to register with Disability Services knows it’s not exactly a walk in the park, especially for students with mental/physical illnesses. Sometimes, students don’t have the capacity to see a doctor, especially their regular GP or psychiatrist. Sometimes you don’t know that there’s going to be a problem until the night before a due date. Simple Extensions exist to give students some breathing space in the event that something does happen.

So, what’s the go now? Student representatives from the SRC and SUPRA formed a working group with Disability Services and faculty staff and came up with a new matrix, which will see extensions reduced from a maximum of five days to a maximum of two. If an extension is granted, it will not affect a student’s ability to also apply for Special Consideration.  Importantly, this new matrix will also be available to all schools and faculties. This proposal will be put to Academic Board on March 30 and will hopefully be passed. In the meantime, your student reps are pushing faculties to clearly communicate the situation to all students – that Simple Extensions still exist and that students have a right to them. If you have any questions about the system or the information you’re receiving in your courses, get in touch with the SRC caseworkers. Enjoy week three!President

Chloe Smith

Wom*n of Colour Officer’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2016

We are currently in week 2 of semester! WoCC is working in conjunction with WoCo to put on the Growing Strong Launch, held on the 22nd of March at 107 Projects. There will be food and music and an opportunity for contributors to showcase their work. Confirmed performers include Dweeb City and Xiaoran Shi, It is guaranteed to be an amazing night, this is a non-autonomous event.

A picnic and banner painting session will also take place on the 12th of March at Victoria Park, before the International Women’s Day March taking place in Hyde Park, hosted in conjunction with the Wom*n’s Collective.

WoCC is also delving into holding Race and Sensitivity workshops on campus this year, hopefully in order to create more awareness about intersectional feminism on campus.

Our first meeting will be taking place on the 7th of March at 4-5pm where we’ll be discussing the outlook and ideas for 2016 as well as the goals of the collective. There will be music and craft available for collective members to be involved in, as well as the opportunity to meet one another. The meeting will take place in the Women’s Room in Manning House.

If you would like to contribute to the Women of Colour Collective, please join our facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/502317086477436/ and like our facebook page here for regular updates:

https://www.facebook.com/usydwomenofcolourcollective/?fref=ts
or shoot us an email here at: usydwomenofcolourcollective@gmail.com

Residential College Officer’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2016

Hi Everyone, let us introduce ourselves as your college office bearers for 2016! It’s the new year and a new semester, meaning we have just seen a hoard of new students moving into college for the first time. While everyone was partying at Manning or watching Shannon Noll, the new residence of the University of Sydney’s several colleges were also partying at Manning, watching Shannon Noll, and completing and competing in a number of O-week College events. If you are wondering why some students have been wandering to class in Academic Robes while carrying bricks… they are either from St Andrew’s, or masochists.

The past two weeks have seen the return of second, third, and even fourth, fifth and sixth year college students to the place they know as their ‘home away from home’.

As the 2016 College Office bearers, it is our role to represent the voices of students living at the University’s Residential Colleges on the Student Representative Council. In this respect, we are also a point of contact for such students wanting connect with the University’s administration.

In addition, we want to ensure that these students have the best time possible when living within the University of Sydney. We hope to explore issues of safety on campus, and address issues of Wom*n’s representation within college administration. In addition, we hope to better bridge the divide between college and university life, and have more students engaging with SRC collectives and utilising our services.

If you would like to contact the College Office Bearers, please do so at: residential.college@src.usyd.edu.au

International Students’ Officer’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2016

On February 29 the Minister for Tourism and International Education published a Media release, announcing that about half a million international students studied in Australia in 2015 – a record number that is predicted to grow to one million by 2025. While the media release praised the importance of international education on Australia’s economy ($20 billion were generated by the sector in 2015 alone), it failed to mention the declining quality of living and public services offered to international students in this country.

New South Wales especially has been rather negligent towards international students’ rights, being the only state that does not offer travel concession to both under- and postgraduate international students. This, alongside the abolition of the MyMulti ticket in February this year and the looming reforms of the Opal Card pricing system further burden international students with high public transport costs.

We are currently addressing this issue through the #FairFare Campaign, which was launched on Monday the 22nd of February and has gathered more than 1500 signatures in total in a very short period of time. The Campaign was launched in cooperation with SUPRA, NUS, as well as the SRCs of UTS and UNSW. We are happy and proud to have succeeded in creating a very active network of international students representatives from all over Sydney and the state, as this will facilitate future campaigns and hopefully is the beginning of giving international students in Australia a voice that will be heard on decision-making levels.

Another initiative we have been working on in this regard is the implementation of a consultative body to the USU formed by international students – we will see how this plays out over the next couple of weeks.
Moreover, the International Students Collective is finally active again, and has had a very successful first meeting this week. We encourage every international student interested in creating change for themselves and their community to join.

Lastly, considering the recent outbursts of islamophobia on campus, we would like to reach out to all international students of Islamic faith – if you have experienced or observed islamophobia in Australia, or generally feel intimidated by the current atmosphere, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us, the Muslim Societies on campus, or CAPS.

Queer Officer’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2016

Hi everyone,

We are part of the Queer Action Collective (QuAC). Quite simply, we are the University of Sydney’s queer student collective, providing support for queer (or LGBTQIA+) students on campus. We run our own campaigns or get involved in wider ones run by the Australian Queer Students Network (AQSN), as well as organising social events throughout the year. It’s important to maintain the social element, as it is key to fostering learning, which is such an integral part of activism.

Over the holidays we worked with AQSN to organise a cross-campus Mardi Gras float for the parade. This is, of course, always a very fun way to start the year and an exciting opportunity for new students to meet others from around the state and country. We’re pleased to say that USYD has a high number of students participating, and we’d like to thank everyone who has gotten involved, with of course a special thank you to AQSN for helping to put this together. O-Week was incredibly successful, with more than a hundred new sign-ups to the collective. The university also hosted two queer beers events, both well attended and a great way to start friendships. This is of course very promising and we were fortunate to meet so many new people when they came to visit our stall.

We’ve got an incredibly exciting year ahead of us. We have begun collaborating with other collectives on campus, and we hope to run some exciting events and campaigns with them. We’re excited to learn from each other and give our members a full and well-rounded intersectional approach to social issues. We have begun collaborating for Pride Week, which will this year be held from the 14th to the 16th of April. It’ll be something to look forward to and hope that it will do much for queer students on campus.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in contact with one of your friendly Queer Officers, Evan and Marcus. Send us an email at queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au. We look forward to seeing you all throughout the year!

General Secretary’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2016

Hello all,

We trust that you have been settling in well to university and hope that you are enjoying all the tedious icebreaking exercises in your tutorials this week. Currently we are still engaging in SSAF negotiations with the other student organisations in order to secure the SRC’s budget for this upcoming year so we can fund all our cool and amazing services. We are coming close to securing the final deal, with it looking like negotiations will be completed before the end of March. (Of course this process would be infinitely easier and more pro-student under Universal Student Unionism, but that is a discussion for another day).

Secondly, if anyone would like a copy of the Orientation Handbook, we still have some left over from O-Week so feel free to come to the SRC and ask for a copy. Also as a reminder, the Census date is on March 31st, which means this is the last day for picking up any subjects, and finalising payments and administration matters with the university. Remember if you have an issue with the university administration or payment concerns, feel free to consult the SRC caseworkers on help@src.usyd.edu.au or come in and make an appointment.

Also you may have seen bright yellow posters around campus promoting a student rally on March 16th. This rally has been organised by the Education Officers and the Education Action Group in response to the restructure that has been proposed by university management, and it promises to be the first step in a strong and broad campaign. The restructure will see the reduction in the number of degrees, a reduction of staff numbers and faculty mergers. You may ask what does that mean for me? Well mainly this will cause a lowering of teaching quality at the university and progressively forcing students to undertake postgraduate degrees, meaning that you will have to spend longer at university and pay far more for your education.

Finally we would like to encourage you to get involved with a SRC collective, as collectives represent the main way for students to get involved with student advocacy and activism on campus. If you are unsure of which collective that would be right for you feel free to send us an email at general.secretary@usyd.src.edu.au

President’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2016

Welcome to week two – where tutorials start and you begin to figure out how to get from your class in Bosch to your class in Merewether. While most new students are starting to feel comfortable on campus, I want to talk about those students who might be feeling the exact opposite. You may have heard about the Islamophobic attacks occurring on campus since the start of the year. These include the trashing of the Muslim students prayer room five times, the scrawling of anti-Muslim graffiti, and, most recently, the vandalism of SRC posters advertising a #letthemstay rally with disgusting slurs.

I want to say this firmly – this university is for everyone. Regardless of your cultural background, you should feel welcome to study and pray in peace. That some feel they have the right to make students feel unsafe on the basis of their faith is totally at odds with what universities are – places of respectful debate and engagement with new ideas. These are cowardly, anti-intellectual acts of bigotry and the SRC condemns those responsible. I have called on the university to do more to tackle Islamophobia and to make students feel safe. The university has assured me that they are working on ways to do this and I will certainly be holding them to account. In the meantime, I want to reiterate that anyone who witnesses Islamophobia on campus should immediately report it to campus security and student organisations like the SRC. We also have a free casework service for students who may feel distressed as a result of these attacks. Muslim students are welcome at USyd and we stand with you.

I also want to mention the student rally against the restructure on March 16th. This restructure, announced by university management on the eve of the university shutdown in December, will see degrees cut, faculties merged, and huge numbers of staff jobless. This directly affects all students and yet very limited information has been provided so far about what will happen to degrees and courses. The SRC is running a campaign to educate students about what we know so far – if you’d like to find out more, head to the rally at 1pm outside the Carslaw building. I’ll see you there!

Environment Officer’s Report – Week 1, Sem 1, 2016

Yeaaaaah kids! What a summer wahooooooooooo!
Members of the Enviro Collective were engaged in a whole bunch of stuff off campus. We participated in the People’s Parliament, getting dragged out of Federal Parliament with about 200 others demanding real action on climate change. We did some citizen science and blockading with the Goongerah Environment Centre down in Victoria’s unique East Gippsland, culminating in one collective member spending 12 hours up a tree sit before Police Search and Rescue brought them down. Simultaneously, a legal challenge brought against VicForests was settled out of court with Environment East Gippsland over the controversial logging coupe the collective member was blockading.

Collective members have been engaged with the Gomeroi and Gamilaraay communities, and local farmers, from the Liverpool Plains in northern NSW. We have been helping with the Pilliga Push campaign, trying to prevent the development of Santos’ Leewood Wastewater Treatment Facility. This facility is a crucial piece of infrastructure for Santos, who plan on developing 850 coal seam gas (CSG) wells in the Pilliga forest against the wishes of the local community and posing a serious threat to the Great Artesian Basin. We have participated in several ‘walk ons’ to stop work at the Leewood Facility, as well as other ‘direct actions’ including capturing a truck for over 27 hours!
Another ongoing campaign in the Liverpool Plains region is the Leard Blockade, a campaign against the expansion of Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek open cut coal mine. Whitehaven is currently clearing forest which contains Box Gum Woodland a critically endangered ecological community of which there is less than 0.1% left globally. There are 34 threatened species reliant upon this habitat. Moreover, Lawler’s Well, the last of eleven Sacred Gomeroi Sites is scheduled to be cleared.

In the mid-semester break we will be going on a road trip up to the Pilliga and/or Leard forests. If you’re interested in coming along, or uncertain, fill out this form: http://tinyurl.com/asen-midsem-trip
The Enviro Collective meets on Tuesdays at 12pm on Manning Sunken Lawns (left of the main entrance to Manning House) to discuss environmental justice and organise upcoming events and projects. We welcome people of all backgrounds, knowledges, and abilities.

Lily Matchett and Maushmi Powar