General Secretaries Report – Week 8, Sem 1, 2018

Nina Dillon-Britton and Yuxuan Yang

Last week, the SRC submitted its final submission for SSAF funding. If that sentence doesn’t mean anything to you, let me explain. The SRC as well as other student organisations on campus like the USU (which runs clubs and societies), SUPRA (which is the postgraduate student representative organisation) and SUSF (which does sport and fitness?? I guess) is funded by the University. Students pay for that indirectly through your Student Services and Amenities Fee, which is about $150 each semester.
That money is crucial for everything the SRC does: like printing this paper, providing the largest legal and casework service at Sydney University (for free!!) and launching campaigns that fight for student interests.
Amongst other things we’ve asked the uni for funding for this year is an additional research officer to help us understand student problems and create solutions for them; more outreach events so students know about services available to them and an increase the amount student office bearers (including the editors of this rag) are paid so they are more in line with how much the office bearers of other organisations are paid and they can do their jobs without as much financial strain.
The SRC’s services are vital to creating a vibrant student life, by providing a safety to students in trouble, letting students be informed about what is happening at uni (again, here in Honi) and by fighting back when the government or the uni tries to fuck you over.

It’s very easy to be cynical about student-led organisations. But they’re student-led for a reason: no one represents student interests like students. The government and the university pump money out of students in every way they can by making it harder for you to graduate, charge exorbitant fees to international students and cutting funding to your degree.

Moves by other student organisations to let the university run them need to be opposed because it’s just another way for the university to silence opposition when they make decisions that fuck over students. Student unions need to stay in student hands.
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General Secretaries – Week 4, Sem 1, 2018

Nina Dillon Britton and Yuxuan Yang

It’s been one month since university started . Do you think you are still on holiday?But we don’t think so, because we did a lot in the past 4 weeks. We achieved amazing goals during O-week!

  • Got 1500 SRC bags into the hands of students which is the largest ever amount the SRC has done. This will hopefully get more students than ever before
  • Counter-Course was into Chinese for the first time in the SRC’s history thanks to all translator ,thanks to Imogen and publication managers’ support, thanks to Nina and Yuxuan ,which will help us reach out to more international students than ever before. We also contacted lots of society and other organization publication and asked them to forward, let more student know us and help them.
  • We signed up more than 400 students to our new newsletter in order to get a back which will help us reach out more consistently to students than we have in the past.
  • We’ve put up a prize to follow us on Facebook to stay in the loop with the SRC’s activities. We advertised this through O-Week and will also do again so with our newsletter.
  • The SRC Caseworkers had their own stall at O-Week which allowed them to reach out to more students and make them aware of our services.
  • We have held and will hold more off-line event
  • Set stall on Eastern avenue on 3.13, to come deep into the student community , took the initiative to let student know SRC and what SRC relative to them(personally and collectively).
  • In addition, we listened their ideas to uni and some specific motions and collected it(do some investigate to truly represent student) .We plan to do it regularly ,twice a month ,and you will discover us outside ABS and eastern avenue, you are welcome to come and say “hi” to us.
  • We also co-held a lecture talking about finding caseworker and legal solicitor for help with some society on 3.8, to let more student know SRC help and help student personally.

We would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped out at the stall /event and/or handed out our bags and other materials as well as everyone who helped pack the bags .We also held a meeting with USU and SUPRA ,with student representatives from UNSW and western Sydney university to talk about student issue ,like campus safety ,education issue,international stude

nt opal concession card and so on. Once again ,we have united all the forces to protect students’ own right ,and you could see specific implementation scheme soon in their report.

General Secretary’s Report – Week 2, Sem 1, 2018

Nina Dillon-Britton and Yuxuan Yang

1. Your safety net: SRC Casework and Legal Service
If you get in trouble with the law, or with the University, our dedicated professional lawyers and caseworkers are here to help. To set up an appointment call 9660 5222 or email help@src.usyd.edu.au to see a caseworker or solicitor@src.usyd.edu.au to see a lawyer. If you’re having trouble finding our offices visit: srcusyd.net.au,

2. Your guide to uni life: Counter-Course
For students, by students, Counter-Course is your insider’s guide to University. It has everything from the best place to take a shit on campus, to how to access free health services, save money and navigate your faculty and the University administration more generally.
If you Google “Counter-Course Usyd 2018 ” you’ll find both our English and Chinese versions.

3. Staying in touch: Our Facebook Page
Our Facebook page is a great way to get involved with the SRC and keep in the loop with what we’re working on. If you like it before the end of Week 2 you’ll go into the running to win a prize of movie tickets, theatre tickets, dinner vouchers and more!

4.Keep in the loop: Check out our reports in Honi Soit and subscribe to our monthly newsletter
Our reports in Honi Soit are one of the most important ways of staying in the loop with the important work the SRC has been doing. They’ll let you know things like we gave 1500 bags full of SRC information and other goodies away, and that we had Counter-Course has been translated into Chinese for the first time.

Another great way of keeping in the loop is to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, which will let you know the specific upcoming events and the thigns we’ve been working on. You can do that here: https://ninadillonbritton.typeform.com/to/eDJibx.

General Secretary’s Report – Week 11, Sem 2, 2017

DANIEL ERGAS and ISABELLA PYTKA

It’s almost over – you’re almost there (wherever that is) and, for that matter, so are we. This is our penultimate report (truly a tear-jerker if ever there was one), and, in a reflective spirit, we’ll be reviewing the year in our final two reports, and offering suggestions to all (four of) the hacks out there who actually read this.

O-Week, that chariot of co-branded stress-balls and corporate stalls, gave us our first opportunity to get the SRC’s name out there (the erstwhile goal of every single election campaign ever run). As we handed out several thousand calico bags (we still fill with pride and stare whenever we see a #mainstream student using one), the collectives smashed it in recruiting new students; WoCo’s several hundred new members is unlikely to be beaten in quite some time.

There are several lessons to be drawn from O-Week. The first doesn’t particularly relate to the SRC, but instead to student organisations more broadly: how do we fund the fun, wild, and creative events without selling our soul in the process? We took free tampons – and, in our estimation, that was a good op – but should we have taken the free Red Bull we were offered, too? We tend to be a bit upset at the CommBank bonanza, but we seem to be more OK with free Dendy Newtown tickets. It’s a tough balancing act; and it’s one the Uni loves to see us struggle with. It is, after all, purely a consequence of how the Student Services and Amenities Fee – that pesky couple of hundred $ you pay / defer each year – is distributed. If less of it went, say, to SUSF, and more of it went, say, to actual student organisations that you have a voice in, student orgs wouldn’t need to make the choices they do.

That doesn’t mean that we need to live an aesthetic life of piety and solemn contemplation. It just means that any incoming OB needs to accept that there will need to be trade-offs, and to consider them methodologically and carefully. It also means that student orgs need to work more closely in delivering – and conceiving of – these big ticket events. A lot of criticism comes down to lack of communication, rather than any meaningful political or ideological differences, and can be solved beforehand, with cooperation, rather than after the fact, with awkward half-hearted mea culpas and pledges to ‘do better next time’.

The second lesson, directly for the SRC, is to plan early. You – and I’m going to guess you’re an incoming OB, because why else would you read this? – need to start fast. It is an awkward time of the year to come into a role (December 1, for those playing along at home, is when the new SRC officers start), and the annual shutdown comes quick. Source quotes fast (trust us, Alibaba is great – but always always always go for escrow), decide on a plan for what you want, and work closely with collectives to make their dreams come true. O-Week will come faster than you think, and it’s your best opportunity to make an impact and lay the groundwork for the SRC and your collective for the year. And make sure to coordinate early with the USU, and their O-Week coordinators; they helped us immensely in our term, and they’ll help you too if you make your requests clear, and aren’t afraid to reach out early.

Next fortnight, in part 2, we’ll be looking at the rest of the year and signing off. Until then, in solidarity, D+B.

SRC General Secretaries Report – Week 7, Sem 2, 2017

You’ll be reading this either the day before, the day of, or a day or two after your teachers and staff strike. So we thought that this could be a useful cheat sheet to get you up-to-speed with what you can do to help.

Why is there a strike? First things first – what even is a strike? A strike is when people collectively refuse to work until their employers grant them fair working conditions. On strike days, the striking staff (who take leave without pay for the day) form picket lines – ie. congregate at Uni entrances – and ask other staff, and all students, not to come onto campus that day, to show the Uni their strength and resolve. It is vital that you do not cross that picket line.

This strike has been precipitated by the need for a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement between the University management and its staff. The University has offered staff a real wage cut, and refused to extend standard conditions to tutors (casual staff), such as sick leave. As a result, the staff union (the National Tertiary Education Union, or NTEU) balloted its members – ie. literally sent a ballot to their home addresses – and the staff voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action (above 90%).

Why does this affect you? As we covered in our last report, staff working conditions are student learning conditions – it is pretty obvious, for example, that if your tutors are overworked (and unable to even take sick leave) the quality of your education will suffer. You accrue the benefits of a stronger staff negotiating presence.

So what can you do about it? If you’re reading this the day before the strike (ie. Tuesday, Sept 12) – message your lecturers and tutors, and let them know you support them, and their industrial action; message your mates, and make sure they know what’s going on. You should join us on the picket lines that next morning!

If you’re reading this the day of – what are you doing?! If you’re not already on the pickets, get there; and join us for the rally at 1pm. (And take a picture with the people’s rat, Scabby. We love you, ETU Victoria.)
If it’s the days after the strikes – don’t worry, there will likely be more strike action for you to get involved in. We’d love it if you signed the petition Daniel’s been working on to force the USU to support our teachers’ fight, and close in solidarity on strike days – which is accessible at form.jotform.co/danielergas/ourUSU.

SRC General Secretary Report – Week 5, Sem 2 2017

Daniel Ergas and Isabella Pytka

As Billy Bragg put it in his classic 1913 banger, ‘There Is Power In A Union’, there is “power in the hands of a worker / but it all amounts to nothing if together we don’t stand”. Billy Bragg got it. He understood that trade unions are formed of, by and for the workers they represent; because, after all, as individuals here at USyd we are often atomised, swept along university currents that we barely understand, much less control; it is only when we come together that we have power.

On Saturday, our teachers and their union, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) went on strike at Open Day. They went (and will continue to) go on strike due to the ongoing enterprise bargaining with the University. The Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) process is a long one – negotiations have been happening for about six months, and, despite the NTEU’s best efforts to come to an agreement, the University refuses to offer anything except a real terms pay-cut (!) and a continuation of the shameful practice of treating casual staff as expendable (denying them a pathway to permanency, or even the superannuation that all other staff are offered). The next strike will be September 13.

Why does it matter that you get involved? It is obvious enough that your teachers’ working conditions – the precarity of their work, whether they are paid fairly for their labour, and whether they are able to undertake the cutting-edge research that our university is known for – are your learning conditions, and determine how much you’ll get out of your time here. But what may not be obvious is that – if you scab (ie. attend class during a strike) – you are signalling to the university that you don’t care that much about the conditions they force your teachers to work under; you are proof positive that the university can do what it likes with impunity.

Impartiality is not an option here. You are either with your teachers – staying at home on strike days or, even better, helping out at a picket line (ie. the entrances to the university where staff and students will stand on strike days, telling students that the strike is on, and classes are cancelled) – or you are against them, weakening their collective power and letting the university get away with whatever it likes. The university needs you. It needs you for the big obvious reasons – you are its piggy bank – but it also needs you for the less obvious ones – for example, you are its reputation; if it loses you, and it thinks that you’ll tell your family and friends that this is a shit-hole, then it affects prospective enrolment, alumni donations, etc. and it is all downhill from there. Your decision on strike days matters. We can win the strike for our teachers, or we can lose it for them.
It is not only because the benefits accrue to you for it (!) but because what happens here, at our university, sets the trend for what will happen at universities all across the country.

Industrial action gets the goods. We all have an obligation to support it. See you on the picket lines.

General Secretaries’ Report

Daniel Ergas and Isabella Pytka

Cast your mind back to the first week of first semester. Thumbing through Honi as you nursed your Tsingtao™ hangover, you stumbled upon this humble report. For some reason, you read it. And now, for some reason (literally, why) you’re back.
While we have you here, we have three things you need to know (and one thing you then need to do):

1. At the moment, your staff – your tutors, your lecturers, and your library staff – are negotiating with the University chancellery. They’re negotiating for their wages, super, and work conditions over the next couple of years.

2. What they’re fighting for isn’t just about them. Their working conditions are your learning conditions. If your teachers aren’t paid fairly, or given enough time to teach your classes and mark your assessments, it’s the quality of your education that will suffer most.

3. We can do something about it. It’s not good enough to say that it’s not our problem. Staff support us every single day, often far above and beyond what could be reasonably expected of them. It’s up to us.
Now, here’s what you can (and will!) do about it. At 12pm on August 8 outside Fisher Library, the staff union (the National Tertiary Education Union, NTEU) will be holding a rally to show the University management that there is serious and sustained support for their demands. As students, we need to be there too. Come along, make a placard, and show your support for our staff.

But before you go to that march, this Wednesday (which is likely today, if you’re reading this as Honi is distributed!) at 2pm outside Fisher Library there will be a rally to Protest Rape on Campus. As you’ll read about from our Women’s Officers below – who have been working overtime building this protest, and bringing women’s collectives all across the state together for it – given the appalling indifference of our Uni administration, we need to force them to act. It’s not good enough that our reporting systems are so inadequate, allowing rapists and abusers to stay on campus, untouched. Again, it’s up to us to do something about it. See you then!

SRC General Secretaries’ Report – Week 13, Sem 1, 2017

Daniel Ergas and Isabella Pytka

A fitting sequel to the 2004 film classic, ‘Million Dollar Baby’, our 2017 budget bonanza – ‘$1.8 Million Dollar Baby’ – will be hitting SRC Council next week. (And yes, it really is our baby. We love it.) As General Secretaries, we have been working hard over the past two months to finalise this budget, and we are both incredibly proud of what is being presented. It is no small thing. We have consulted with each of the SRC collectives – the activists who work tirelessly for progressive change – as well as the SRC departments – who provide legal and casework help to undergraduate students – to fund new and existing projects that will make a tangible difference on campus. to make sure every undergraduate student on this campus is supported. You will be able to see the Budget on the SRC’s website when it is approved by Council – trust us when we say that is a cracking read. (Both Margaret and David give it five stars.)

Looking forward to Semester 2, we thought we should take the time to explain to you a phrase that you may not be familiar with: ‘Enterprise Bargaining’. To put it simply, the University has an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA) with its staff. Conditions outlined in an EBA can include pay rates, entitlements, and so much more. The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is one of the unions that represent staff on campus and has been negotiating with the University all through Semester 1. The three main asks include increased staff participation in the democratic life of the University, ruling out forced redundancies of staff over the life of the agreement (it lasts several years), and rights for casual workers, giving them fair pay and entitlements. The University has rejected the NTEU’s agenda. On June 8th, the NTEU will be voting on whether they take industrial action. Staff conditions are student conditions; if industrial action is called, stand with your lecturers and tutors.

So we have all made it, to the last week of Semester 1. Good luck with STUVAC and finals, and we will catch you in Semester 2.

B and D x

SRC General Secretary – Week 11, Sem 1, 2017

DANIEL ERGAS and ISABELLA PYTKA

As the A-frames and lurid shirts (finally) vacate Eastern Avenue, and the NDA marches on its merry way, you’re still here, reading this report, almost there at the first semester finish line… Congratulations!

I was planning to write this report in the style of ‘80s rock anthems (you could have expected classics such as – ‘we built this NDA on rock-and-roll’), but, alas, you’ll have to deal with this standard and dreary format. We’re tired too.  We’ve got a lot to report back on for this fortnight. The National Day of Action (NDA) was a roaring success; massive congratulations to the Education Officers, all students in the Education Action Group (EAG), and the National Union of Students. We got oodles of media coverage – hello even the most reactionary channels and Kochie! – and we can’t wait to see what happens next in the campaign.

We are onto the less-sexy, yet more report-worthy task of internal administration of the SRC. We received our SSAF allocation from the University, so we’re onto budgeting for our collectives and departments. Over the coming week, we’ll meet with every staff member for half-yearly consults, and interview candidates for the role of the Electoral Officer for this year’s SRC elections. (WILD!) As always, we would love you to email us about you, your ideas, and your breakfast – general.secretary@src. usyd.edu.au.

In other news, which many may find exciting, or like us, slightly intimidating, only two weeks left until STUVAC. Let’s just say – we are both ready for the break. Use your final weeks wisely – join a collective, come to a protest, tell your lecturers and tutors you support the NTEU’s demands… just do a little thing that the Uni doesn’t want you to. It’s worth it. D & B x

General Secretaries’ Report – Week 9, Sem 2, 2017

Isabella Pytka and Daniel Ergas

When I was a kid, my favourite film was ‘The Princess Bride’. Vizzini, played by Wallace Shawn (yes, he played Rex in Toy Story, if you were wondering), memorably says: “You fool! You fell victim to one of the classic blunders – the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia” – but only slightly less well-known is this: “Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line”!” He promptly dies. Nonetheless, this quote bears wisdom. It would be of even more use if it were modified to include: “Never fuck with students’ fees, or they will fuck with you!”

Just this week, yacht-owners’ hero Simon Birmingham announced cuts to universities amounting to $2.8 billion (!) while simultaneously increasing students’ fees by almost 10% and lowering the threshold after which you need to pay their HECS debt back. (Under their scheme, you’ll only have to be earning about $21 per hour when working a 38 hour week to have to start making repayments. Totally, utterly cooked.)

This isn’t the first time a Liberal government has tried to fuck with students. Just three years ago now (feels longer, doesn’t it?) in Abbott’s first nightmare budget, the government tried to deregulate student fees. By taking the fight to them and causing a god-awful ruckus, they relented.
Now, they’re trying again. We’ve got to do what we know works – protest until they give up. We’ll be standing with students from across Australia on May 17 at 12pm (meeting outside our own Fisher Library).

We’re not the only ones standing up for our rights. Journos at Fairfax Media are using a seven-day wildcat strike to fight against their management’s appalling behaviour. We stand in solidarity with them.

Can’t wait to see you there on May 17,
D & B x