President’s Report – Week 6, Sem 1, 2016

The mid-semester break is over and it’s already week 6! Uni might feel like it’s getting a bit serious now, so it’s probably a good time to remind everyone that our Casework service can help out with a range of academic issues, including academic rights, appeals, special consideration arrangements, course discontinuations, academic dishonesty and misconduct, show cause, and exclusion issues. Fisher Library also has courses for students to learn to better manage study habits, including sessions catered for international students. Whatever you might need help with, the most important thing to remember is not to leave it until the last minute. Make sure you know your rights!

Given the time of year, it’s also salient to remember that university is about more than just assessments and exams (and also about more than just eating delicious pide at Hermann’s as well). There is so much happening in Australia right now that affects our education, including two announcements over the break: one by the Federal Government that they want to start collecting HECS debts from students who are deceased (yes, this is a thing), and a recommendation from the Grattan Institute to lower the HECS repayment threshold from around $54,000 to $42,000.

Whilst these issues might seem far-removed from where you are now, particularly if you’re just beginning your university education, they are policies which could have a major impact on you one day. They could certainly have an impact on your friends and family. Regardless of what you know or how you feel about higher education, you should be interested in how they play out. This week, the National Union of Students will be holding rallies and speak outs on campuses around the country as part of the National Day of Action, talking about what these policies mean for students and the university sector. If you care about your education and the education of future generations, and if you believe that education should be seen not as a commodity but as a right, then you need to be outside Fisher Library at 1pm this Wednesday. If nothing else, it’s a break from the textbooks! See you there!

Chloe Smith

Refugee Rights Officer’s Report – Week 4, Sem 1, 2016

The refugee campaign is growing. It’s getting hot. Everyone from students to doctors to teachers to Christians are taking action.

The letthemstay campaign is building up to a potential of a mass direct action campaign to block the refugees from getting deported. Already we have seen a sign of mass industrial action by the doctors and nurses at the Lady Cilentio hospital, to stop baby Asha from getting deported. The churches indicated they will be providing sanctuary to refugees and its congregation is taking physical NVDA (non violent direct action) training anticipating forced deportations. People in their masses are putting their bodies and their potential livelihood on the line, for the refugees. This is where the action is at. This is the movement to be involved in.

But first we have to remember that the #letthemstay movement did not arise out of thin air, but was built on the work of tireless refugee activists who continued to hold forums, stalls and rallies to try and reach out to people who care about refugees like you, and continued to intervene in organizations and its members to take a stand on refugees. And for the movement to go forward, to politicize people, to change public opinion and to force the hand of Turnbull or Shorten (or whoever it doesn’t matter): we need people who care about refugees like you, to join the rest of the members of the Campus Refugee Action Collective (CRAC), to help bring refugee activism to life on our campus.

During O Week we signed up 200 people to our collective and by speaking out about the horrors in Manus and Nauru in Med lecture theatres, facilitated the establishment of a sister USYD Medical Students for Refugees Collective. And together with the Campus Refugee Action Collective (CRAC), they have painted banners together, and marched side by side in the USYD student Palm Sunday rally march contingent that was fifty students big. We will come back onto campus, inspired by the diversity and passion of the masses, to build the refugee movement here at USYD and build our capacity to escalate the fight, for if the government starts deporting the refugees.

If you have been thinking about getting involved in refugee activism, please like the Campus Refugee Action Collective facebook page to stay in touch, and come to CRAC events to join us, because now is the time when you can make a significant difference! Alternatively message us on our facebook page, or contact Steven on 0416 406 900 to find out ways to get involved.

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – Week 4, Sem 1, 2016

Last week, the Wom*n’s Collective and the Wom*n of Colour Collective co-hosted a picnic for our collective members, and a contingent took to the streets to rally on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (IWD) march. The day prompted me to reflect the history of IWD, and the potential that still lies in celebrating the event.

The first Women’s Day was held 107 years ago in Manhattan. The inaugural event was organised by the Socialist Party of America, in solidarity with the strike of the Garment Worker’s Union. Two thousand women took to the streets to demand better pay and working conditions in the factories. On 8 March 1917, IWD protesters joined Putilov factory workers in Petrograd to protest the introduction of food rations, in large-scale events that eventually triggered the February Revolution. The Soviet Union declared IWD a national holiday the next year, in recognition of the contributions of women textile workers to the mass strike and the changes it brought about.

Since then, the revolutionary roots of the day have been somewhat watered down, with IWD traditions bearing little resemblance to the first radical protests. In Italy, the day is celebrated by men giving women yellow flowers; the Taiwanese government, bizarrely, marks IWD by releasing a national survey on women’s waist sizes, warning of the consequences of obesity for women. In countries like Australia, IWD events are too often focused on white, bourgeois issues like corporate gender equity, celebrated at expensive champagne brunches that have little relevance to the lives of most working-class women.

Nevertheless, the day still acts as a reminder of the same issues feminists have been fighting for throughout the past century, like fair working conditions, equality in decision-making, and bodily autonomy. It is a good time to take stock of the gains we’ve made (primarily through direct actions, like those of the first Women’s Days) and the roadblocks that still impede the movement (like the corporatisation of gender equality); to remember that without justice for all women, there is no justice.

General Secretaries’ Report – Week 4, Sem 1, 2016

Georgia Mantle and Lachlan Ward

We can happily confirm that at the time of writing this report (4pm Friday the 18th- one hour before it’s due) the SRC has submitted its application to the University for SSAF. The ball is now officially in your court University management! Basically now we just have to wait for the university to get back to use to confirm what figure we get from SSAF, from there we will be able to start the process of formulating our internal budget.

We would like to congratulate all the students who came out to the Education Action Groups Rally Against the Restructure last Wednesday and took a stand against the university’s proposed restructure, which will see course cuts, faculty mergers, and huge job losses across the university community. We encourage students to get involved in the campaign by joining the SRC’s Education Action Group – the next meeting is March 22nd, 2pm, in the SRC offices.

Recently a new working group has been created to address issues of Equity, diversity and culture- these are issues that affect all students (some more then others). As the student representative on this group I would love to hear from students as to what their concerns where in relation to equity, diversity and culture on campus. Please send through any ideas to general.secretary@usyd.src.edu.au.

We hope everyone is settling into their classes and being to feel comfortable on campus, remember that there are a lot of groups and people around to support you on and off campus, which is something to keep in mind as workloads begin to increase. You can always contact help@src.usyd.edu.au to get in touch with the SRC Caseworks who provide free and confidential advice.

Vice Presidents’ Report – Week 4, Sem 1, 2016

It was incredibly inspiring this week to see hundreds of staff and students attend the ‘No Faculty Mergers, No Cuts’ rally, and march from Eastern Avenue to the Vice Chancellor’s office in the Quadrangle. The program of reforms proposed by university management behind closed doors includes vicious cuts to the range of degrees, loss of administrative jobs through the merging of faculties, and hikes to student fees, making education even less accessible to low SES students and other minorities. I would like to commend the Education Action Group for their hard work in organising this rally, and I hope that the student body will put similar support behind the upcoming National Day of Action on April 16 to fight the neo-conservative federal agenda to deregulate the university sector.

In the spirit of free and equitable education, representatives at the SRC are continuing to organise the inaugural Radical Education Week, which will be held in mid Semester 2. We’re very excited to create a program of skillshares, workshops, talks and film screenings to promote peer education around progressive issues, and to foster greater solidarity between different SRC collectives and the broader student population. If you have a keen interest in decolonisation, Marxism, ecofeminism, environmental justice, or any other radical theme under the sun, get in touch at radeducationweek2016@gmail.com! We’d love to hear your ideas for workshops and incorporate them into our program. Keep an eye out for our Facebook page, which will be up soon.

President’s Report – Week 4, Sem 1, 2016

Welcome to week four and almost Easter break! Whilst assignments are probably starting to pile up, the break should also be a time for relaxation and reflection on the semester so far. Last Wednesday saw the first student-led rally for the year to protest the university restructure. Whilst well-attended and enthusiastic, student activists are concerned about the level of involvement of the broader university community – especially the students most affected by the changes, including those from the faculties of Arts, Education and Social Work, and SCA.

On April 13th, the second week back, the National Union of Students (the peak representative body for tertiary students) has called a National Day of Action for universities around Australia, calling on the Federal Government to fully fund higher education and scrap fee deregulation as policy. This second rally for the year will be an opportunity for more students to get involved in the movement for a fair, funded, quality higher education system. SRC activists will be leafleting, postering, and speaking at lectures to get all students involved in the campaign so keep an eye out for us and feel free to ask any questions.

I’ll also use this time of reflection to step outside the university parameters for a moment and talk more broadly about the future of our country. It’s a federal election year and whilst many of us may not exactly be enamoured with the state of politics at the moment, it’s incredibly important that we are aware of the issues, the policies, and what’s at stake when we go to the ballot box. Particularly as students and young people, we need to think about issues that affect us like the funding of our education, the cost of living and rent, access to quality and affordable healthcare, Centrelink and welfare support, penalty rates for working on weekends, and social justice issues that affect many of our peers. I urge everyone to find out where political parties and representatives stand on these issues and, more importantly, what they can actually do to implement change and support people. We are incredibly lucky to have the privilege of a free vote in this country – so make it count. Enjoy the break!