Welfare Officer’s Report – Week 9, Sem 2, 2016

April Holcombe

The Welfare Department assisted in the Halal not Hanson BBQ that took place Wednesday 14 September on Eastern Avenue. This was a great success, with many students popping by to grab a halal snack pack, talk to fellow anti racists, and launch a water bomb at Pauline Hanson’s likeness. With the Muslim prayer room having been ransacked 5 or 6 times this year, and racist graffiti popping up all over campus, it is crucial we make a stand and show solidarity with Muslims on and off campus against racism. The appalling opening parliamentary speech by Pauline Hanson later that day shows what we’re up against.

The most recent federal budget cuts was the Welfare “Omnibus” bill, which cut $6.3 billion from the welfare state. This savage attack was passed with support from the ALP. All while Scott Morrison talks of the “taxed vs. taxed-nots”, as if it is students on Centrelink and not multinationals like Apple who are draining our taxes! The Welfare Department is totally opposed to these cuts and will resist them.

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – Week 9, Sem 2, 2016

Anna Hush

Welcome to week 9! This semester is flying by, and I can’t believe this is my final report as Wom*n’s Officer! The Wom*n’s Collective has been busy as ever – on Monday, we hosted the President of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, who spoke about the newly launched national survey on campus sexual assault. The survey is being rolled out at USyd this week, so look out for an email with details about participation! It’s important to note that while this research is obviously valuable, it must be complemented by substantive action from university management. We are still calling for the demands made in our August open letter to be implemented in full.

One group that often gets forgotten in the conversation around campus sexual assault is staff. Like students, staff are vulnerable to sexual assault and harassment in the workplace; staff can receive disclosures of sexual assault from students, which can be traumatic, especially for staff who have themselves experienced abuse or violence in the past. Staff have been supportive of the undergraduate-led campaign against sexual assault from day one, and we are extremely proud to launch a new network called Staff Against Rape, through which staff can access resources designed to support survivors, and take a pledge to stand with students on this issue. Check out our website at staffagainstrape.org, and give our Facebook page ‘Staffagainstrape’ a like and share. With the support of the Sydney branch of the National Tertiary Education Union behind us, we are so proud to have staff as allies in the fight against sexual assault on campus.

What’s up next for the Wom*n’s Collective? On Thursday 22 September, we are co-hosting an event with the Law Society, called ‘Sexual Violence and Women’s Rights in the Cyber World’. A panel of activists, lawyers and industry experts will discuss online harassment and misogyny – join us in the Law Lounge at 1pm on Thursday!

If you’d like to get involved with the Wom*n’s Collective, or you have any comments or questions, please email womens.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.

General Secretary’s Report – Week 9, Sem 2, 2016

Georgia Mantle

When a lot of people think about queer rights I have noticed they tend to think solely about marriage equality, while of course the right to marry the person you love in so important I find that non-queer people don’t understand the full extent of discrimination and margination that comes from being apart of the LGBTQIA community. Access to adequate health and support services are essential for everyone’s well being yet to often queer people are neglected when it comes to these services as health practitioners are woefully under trained in regards to LGBTQIA issues.

I have found during my term as General Secretary that there is still such a need for a better understanding of marginalised identities too often I see people forgot that queer people, women, Indigenous people are people and the issues that we face are not limited to our identities but also that our marginalization is often intersectional.

University management needs to do more to support Queer students, the rainbow campus initiatives have been amazing while the Ally Network has been making huge improvements yet there is still so much more to be done. At the beginning of this semester Sydney Student allowed students to enter preferred names however there is still no place to indicated a person’s preferred pronouns. Also for a student to have their real name on their graduation certificate they  need to go through the lengthy and costly process of official name change. Students continuing to work and push management for meaningful change is so important but we also need management to facilitate these changes and meet us students half way. I hope that the University of Sydney will not only pledge their official support for marriage equality but will also commit to making the lives of Queer students better through increased mental health and support services on campus.

As always please remember that our casework and legal service are here to help you. This is a free service provided by the SRC for all undergradutae studnets.

President’s Report – Week 9, Sem2, 2016

Chloe Smith

Although the SRC has been in full election season mode for the past two weeks (thankfully culminating in voting on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week – go vote!) our work hasn’t stopped in the slightest.

This time of year is one of the busiest for our casework staff, as they deal with discontinue not fail and census dates, show cause, special consideration applications, and various academic appeals. This work is particularly valuable and useful for students who are more vulnerable or disadvantaged when navigating the complex bureaucratic systems that make up our university, such as international students or students with disabilities. They can literally make the difference between students dropping out of uni or graduating with their degree.

At Academic Board last week, the SRC raised the issue of how the university can be more supportive of students with disabilities or carers roles – Carers Australia estimates that university students caring for sick or disabled relatives have an average 97% drop out rate across Australia. This is a shocking and totally unacceptable statistic and one which must be addressed if we are to achieve the vision that Sydney Uni was founded on, of providing quality education for all. The university must commit to providing safeguards and support structures to ensure that students with disabilities and caring responsibilities have the same chance of completing their degrees as their peers.

Meanwhile, our legal service has been busy continuing to prosecute the case for SCA students regarding the closure of the campus and the move to main campus, and working hard on a range of other issues including sexual assault and safety on campus, tenancy and migration rights, and many more. One of the big projects of the SRC in 2017 will be to secure a solicitor for the SRC who has experience dealing specifically with sexual assault cases, to continue to draw light to this important issue and ensure our reporting systems and support structures are fair, accessible, and just.

Your SRC is always here for you and we never stop working. If you need advice and support, give us a visit. It’s your SRC. Enjoy week nine!

Queer Officer’s Report – Week 8, Sem 2, 2016

Evan Jones and Marcus Wong

The first month of the semester has been just as strong as any this year and we’re lucky to have remained so active. We attended the rally called by Community Action Against Homophobia on the anniversary of the 2004 amendment that specifically defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Some of our members attended various other rallies including the SCA Rally on the 17th of August, and then the NDA the week after. Members also came along for the immensely successful Wom*n’s Collective Protest held at Open Day. Massive congratulations to Anna Hush for putting this action together.

This month we were also lucky enough to see Radical Education Week happen and after seeing all the hard work that was put into organising it was an incredibly rewarding experience and we’re excited to see it grow over the next few years. With a variety of incredible workshops, there was something for everyone to learn. Thank you to everyone who put in so much time and effort into running the week.

Probably one of our biggest highlights so far was our Rainbow Wedding. Thank you to all who came along to support us and to watch us get married, I’m sure you’ll agree it was a truly exciting and fabulous day. We hope the SRC will continue to support the Rainbow Campus Campaign and our continued struggle against inequality at this university.

Looking to the future we have Queer Honi coming up. This launches in a couple of weeks and we’re excited to see it all come together. We have also been lucky that many of our members are now becoming more and more active and are bringing projects of their own. Amongst other initiatives we will be working on for the remainder of the year include putting together a library, and holding regular discussion groups to really focus on communal education, something that is immensely valuable in collectives and activism.

This has been an incredibly solid start to the second semester. Where this time of year is often a time that sees decreased engagement, we have seen our activism and involvement sustained which is very promising for the long term functioning and growth of the collective.

President’s Report – Week 8, Sem 2, 2016

Chloe Smith

It’s that time of year again – SRC elections are once more upon us, and campus is once again filled with coloured a-frames, t-shirts, and extremely dense morning foot traffic down at Redfern Run.

For most students, the campaign is three weeks of trying to avoid campaigners and wondering why it all takes so bloody long and who cares anyway. I’ll admit – that was me in my first year of uni. It’s very easy to dismiss student elections as just a cynical power play by ambitious student politicians – and maybe that’s partially true – but whatever you think of the campaigners and candidates, the reality is that the SRC is an extremely important student organisation and you absolutely should care who’s running it.

Why? Here’s a few reasons:

1. You fund it: every student pays what’s called the Student Services and Amenities Fee each year which funds student organisations like the SRC (this year, roughly $1.6 million of student’s money went into the SRC’s coffers). That means funding hugely important programs like the free legal and casework service, the free tax help service, the second-hand bookshop, and student campaigns around a heap of issues. These programs make a huge difference to the lives of students, in some cases the difference between being able to study and graduate or dropping out of uni.

2. It represents you (if you’re an undergrad): the SRC is the representative body for all undergrads at USyd. The students and staff who work here make submissions and representations on behalf of students across a range of issues, like international student travel concessions, simple extensions and special considerations, and sexual assault and harassment on campus to name some from this year alone. And we make a difference! We’ve saved simple extensions and extended them across all faculties, pushed for a review into the special consideration system, shone a light on sexual harassment and assault on campus and in our colleges, and held the uni to account on how students are assessed and admitted.

3. Who runs the SRC does make a difference: like any organisation, the SRC has had its share of good and bad student leaders over its 80+ year history. Many of those have gone onto be leaders in other areas of society, such as politics, law, arts, and advocacy. During their time here, our student reps have achieved amazing things for students. We’re being paid by you and entrusted to protect your interests.

The most important thing to do is to seek out information about each team and candidate – who they are, what they want to do for students, and what their vision is for the SRC. Be informed, listen, ask questions, and most importantly – vote! For no other reason, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain!

Enjoy week 8!

Interfaith Officer’s Report – Week 6, Sem 2, 2016

SRC Muslim Wom*ns Collective Report

In Semester 2, the Muslim Wom*n’s Collective have started our own blog. Every month, a topic is selected and members of the collective submit pieces related to the topic with the deadline being the end of the month. For August, the topic is ‘Hijab’. The pieces may be pictures, essays, a poem or as simple as a sentence. The topics are not specific to allow members to interpret it as they like for example someone may write about physical and social aspects of hijab whereas someone else may write about what the hijab means to them.

Meetings have been taking place to discuss events and issues, if any that the members would like to talk about. A bake sale was suggested and the Sydney Period Project was picked to raise funds for.
The bake sale will take place on Tuesday 30 th August from 10am-3pm which will include an hour of henna art from 12pm-1pm. During the meetings, film screenings were suggested where we would play a movie/talk/documentary related to the topic of the month which will hopefully be happening soon.

The Muslim Wom*n’s Collective together with AUJS organised a book swap. The book swap took place on Wednesday 17 th August between 12pm-1pm where wom*n from both groups came together to discuss their chosen books and swap with each other. The book swap was not limited to a genre.

Wom*n’s Officer’s Report – Week 6, Sem 2, 2016

Vanessa Song

The Black Lives Matter and Support Student’s Safety, End the War on Women rally took place during July and both were attended by members of the Women of Colour Collective. A banner painting afternoon was held the day before and the response to some of the signs we painted was extremely positive! In future the collective resolved to take more photos at events and rallies.

The collective meetings of the semester will be held every second week on wednesday at 1pm in the Women’s Room in Manning.

The collective also hopes to plan a cross campus vigil for victims and sufferers of domestic violence – particularly focusing on the disproportionate way women of colour and LGBTI women of colour are affected by domestic violence.
Currently workshopping constitution – hoping to clearly define things like eligibility of voting as well as the definition and aims of the collective itself.

Looking toward expanding and building the collective after the huge blow suffered at the beginning of the year which has disengaged a huge amount of members. It has been difficult to engage more students as new and existing members of the collective now have a visible discomfort around getting more involved. We hope to combat this by trying to encourage collective members who were previously engaged with the collective to get involved again with the positive direction the collective is moving in. We also hope to start being more visible on campus, with things like: bake sales, picnics and stalls.

President’s Report – Week 6, Sem 2, 2016

Chloe Smith

Universities are built to be places of critical thought, social reform, and advancement through education. Many have a proud history of challenging social and historical norms, encouraging students and academics to not simply accept things as they are, but to agitate and work towards what we want an ideal society to look like. We have seen this in many of the revolutionary social movements that evolved out of universities and changed societies forever, including the Freedom Rides for Aboriginal justice, the Vietnam War moratorium, and broader movements for feminism and LGBTQI rights at Sydney Uni over the last century.

Unfortunately, such struggles are often accompanied by a backlash, as we have seen in more recent times: incidents of Islamophobia, racist graffiti, religious intolerance, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia on campus are well-documented in these pages and elsewhere. Just a few weeks ago, threats were made against the SRC and individual students by members of an extremist group on social media, simply for providing a forum for discussing topics like religion, capitalism, and American imperialism.

These cases are obviously at odds with the values the university claims to espouse and be founded on, that it is the right of every person, regardless of their origins, to be educated to make a positive contribution to the progression of society. For many students, especially those not personally targeted by such incidents, they might seem like extreme outliers amongst a broader landscape of diversity and acceptance, committed by an angry few. But these acts do not occur in a vacuum.

Consider what we have seen over recent months regarding institutional responses to sexual harassment and assault on campus and in our colleges: a reticence to acknowledge the extent of the problem and take immediate, meaningful action to stamp it out, with a focus on preserving reputations rather than protecting victims. Consider the university’ refusal to publicly endorse marriage equality, or their unwillingness to act on ensuring that trans and intersex students can have the same rights as the rest of us, to be addressed by the name and pronouns they identify with.

We all must take individual responsibility for how we choose to engage with others. But we are also products of the world we live in. We’ve seen it in our parliament: when the people leading us express intolerance, overtly or not, or refuse to call out bigotry for what it is, it is a message that this behaviour is normal and tolerable. Students and staff need to start taking serious steps to ensure that the same effect is not repeated at our universities. We are building the next generation of leaders here, and we want them to lead us forwards, not back.