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

SRC General Secretaries Report – Week 7, Sem 1, 2017

Isabella pytka and Daniel ergas

Please read this like you are watching a YouTube vlog, and we are the YouTube vloggers.

Hey everyone! Welcome to our report. We’re just checking in with you all on what we have been doing since you last saw our names printed on these pages of Honi two weeks ago. It’s already Week 7 of Semester 1, and as every YouTuber says, isn’t time flying by!
This report is going to be our *favourites* of what has occurred over the past three weeks (yay).

The Co-Op, which you’ve read about in Honi, is definitely not a favourite. And the corporate hacks that stacked it out are, in fact, this week’s least favourites. But never fear faithful reader, we’re trying our level best to fix it. Last week, we led a cross-campus contingent of almost thirty students to the Co-op’s AGM (held accessibly, of course, in a shitty Central Coast hotel) to “Take Back Our Co-Op”. We’ve managed to focus quite a bit of media attention on the Co-op’s shady practices – paying their Board of Directors $330k (and super!) for twelve hours of work a year, while students can’t afford textbooks and the Co-op loses almost $3 million each year. We’ll keep you updated as our campaign continues!

We have mentioned in many a report about how we have been fighting for changes to the SRC’s Electoral Regulations. Both of us have been working with Samuel Chu to re-write Section 8. We ran consultation with students, we spoke to people in the know when it comes to regulations and elections, and last Wednesday, at Council, the Councillors in attendance unanimously supported these changes. Elections are now almost half the time, not nearly as expensive for candidates, with a whole host of new safeguards in place to protect voters. We are incredibly proud of these changes. They will make the SRC elections better for everyone, and that was our main aim.

The last favourite, is of course, the nominees for the Directors of the USU Board. To all those who have nominated, good luck. To the rest of the student body, get ready for election time. Signing off, B and D x

General Secretaries’ Report – Week 4, Sem 2, 2017

Isabella Pytka and Daniel Ergas

[The appropriate soundtrack for this report is either: Strawberry Kisses, or Sk8er Boi. Please indulge us by switching from your banal indie-rock-pop Spotify playlist, to your choice of these two ‘naughties’ bangers.]
You may be wondering why we chose these songs – beyond their obvious melodic worth.

Strawberry Kisses, much like your SRC, may seem on its face to be the work of one great youthful artist (I speak, of course, of Nikki Webster). While this will undoubtedly shock you, while we share these pages regularly with Izzy, the SRC does not function because of the three of us, but because of the collectives and their OBs, who do the most important work of reaching out to students, and making change on and off campus; and the SRC staff, who tend to the institutional knowledge we often lack, and make sure the lights are on and the bills can be paid.

Two weeks ago, we filed our SSAF proposal, declaring how we reckon the SRC could use part of your $290 to provide you with support – from a new multilingual caseworker, to a solicitor who specialises in harassment cases – none of which would be possible without the OBs, or the staff.
Sk8er Boi, by the punk rock princess of the 00’s, Avril Lavigne, talks of the star crossed love between a punk rock guy (Romeo) and a ballet girl (Juliet). Our reasoning for choosing the tune Strawberry Kisses worked, but right now you are probably thinking, “Dan and Bella, I can’t think of a reason as to why you are mentioning Sk8er Boi.”

Well, stupol hack who just filled out a USU board director nomination form, here is the SRC version of Sk8er Boi. Pre-fame ‘Sk8er Boi’ (ie. the titular ‘boi’ himself) is the current SRC elections, and his first love, Juliet, is every other attempt at regulations change. (Apologies to Cameron Caccamo.) But as you see through the song, he gets a new Juliet (ie. us), and famous ‘Sk8er Boi’ is the SRC elections after we change the regs.

Tune in in two weeks for our next smash hit, aka our report,

Bella and Daniel xx

SRC General Secretaries’ Report, Week 2, Sem 1, 2017

Isabella Pytka and Daniel Ergas

So, you didn’t take our advice from last week, and you’ve found yourselves here, reading this Week 2 edition of Honi, alone, sipping a macchiato and contemplating your Union Board campaign. (Let’s be honest about who reads this.)

Welcome to the first week of tutorials, all of which feature some sort of awkward introductory game. Therefore, we thought we would provide you with a fun fact about ourselves:

Dan: I am fake news.

Bella: An Almond Milk, Double Macchiato is my favourite coffee atm. (Yes i did make fun of myself a couple of paragraphs up.)

O-Week was a great success! We handed out all 1 000 bags to new and returning students. Each calico bag had our own Counter-Course/Orientation Handbook amalgam, a condom (thanks Hero Condoms!), tampons (thanks Moxie!), Cinema Vouchers (thanks Palace Cinemas!), an SRC calendar (thanks Mickie and Amanda!), SRC fliers (thanks Casework team!) and an Honi Soit (thanks Eds!) – and biggest thanks of all to the admin staff, who have printed more handouts, leaflets and posters than we ever thought possible.
We have personally received several texts about “that funny handbook” (see: back page of handbook), so we are hopefully radicalising many youths.

For all you interested Stupol hacks, we have been working with various ‘students’ (read: headkickers) on electoral reforms. This will obviously be part of a longer discussion, but we’re excited to hear your thoughts here.
Got a question? Shoot us an email general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au, we’d love to hear your ideas on how we can make our elections better.

General Secretary – Week 12, Sem 2, 2016

Lachlan Ward

Hey all, Well this is it, the final report, my term has come to a close. Well technically it ends on November 30 but the point is, this is the last time my words will grace honi soit. It has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience being one of your two general secretaries. Mostly people recap the year in these final reports, and that is what I will do to the best of my ability. We start off with OWeek preparations, which arguably fell to me and Georgia, when inevitably as is a time honoured tradition, the OWeek Committee failed to deliver in terms of attendance. Thankfully, that has been restructured, so no future general secretaries will have to deal with the awkwardness of calling a meeting which no one will actually turn up to. Georgia and I, also had the pleasure of doing SSAF negotiations, which secured funding for the SRC for another year. With these funding, we did something that all fiscal conservatives can be proud of, and passed a surplus (who says that the left can’t be fiscally responsible), which of course will mean that more ‘jobs and growth’ within the SRC was achieved, through secure investments, at least that’s something that would occur if Georgia and I didn’t want to adequately fund services and activism for students. I am proud of us boosting funding to the legal service to cope with the higher demand that the SRC’s Legal Service. I am also proud, that we managed to find the funding for EDCON to be hosted at USYD this year, which saw numerous students attend to constructively debate and learn about educational policy and activism. I am also proud of my efforts regarding business school referencing policy, with most schools in the faculty continuing to elect not to include references in the word count. I would now like to take time, to commend and thank Georgia for her efforts throughout the year. Georgia has truly been an exceptional counterpart, going above and beyond the job description regarding her activism and enthusiasm in fighting for students and wish her the best of luck in her coming years. I wish the next person/people to take the role of General Secretary the best of luck and hope that they will be able to serve students to the best of their ability, knowing that I will probably be the last ‘NLS’ person to hold this position for a while. I also wish Isabella Brook luck with her term as President of the SRC, I know she will be amazing. As for me, I have enjoyed myself but now it is back to return to the excitement of commerce and out of the factional warfare that student politics can be. As far as regrets, I have none, including the way I got my position, but I stand by my decision. Well If you need me, I will be busy preparing for Quidditch Nationals (arguably my true passion in life). Long live the SRC, Ciao, Lachlan

General Secretary’s Report – Week 11, Sem 2, 2016

Georgia Mantle

As an Indigenous student I am constantly being told that it is extraordinary that I am at University let alone at the University of Sydney. I am told that I am an exception to the norm. Myself and my cohort of Indigenous students are often viewed as the lucky ones who surpassed the expectations society puts on us to succeed. I am so proud of what I have achieved to be at this University and to have been able to hold a position of leadership however I reject the idea that I am an exception. I am surrounded by Indigenous people who excel, who continue to work hard and who achieve.

Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people of colour at this University are continuity othered. Throughout this year as a student rep I have continually seen this Unviersity remain inactive over racism at this campus. It is this University’s responsibility to do more. This University needs to act, it needs to explicitly stand against racism but more than that it needs to do more to create a safer environment to stop racist acts before they occur.

This may seem like a lot to ask for the University to stop racism but what I am asking is simple, I am asking for this University to listen to its students. I am asking this University to take down the paintings of golliwog’s in its education building and I am asking this University to take employment of people of colour seriously and seek out the talent of non-white academics in a way that is not simply tokenistic.

I am proud to be one of the leaders of an organisation that openly and proudly supports Indigenous people and people of colour. I am proud that we fund a collective that seeks to end racism and I am proud to be able to write this report that will be published in a fantastic paper put together completely by people of colour.

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.

General Secretary – Week 4, Sem 2, 2016

Georgia Mantle

Since last fortnight I have been able to make some real progress with the issues of Lecture recordings. I personally spoke to the Chair of Academic Board, Tony Masters and explained the issues as well as provided him with some details of real students experiences and issues in relation to lecture recordings. I also raised the issues at SEG ED last week which seemed to be well received by the board members there. A lot of the board seemed shocked by what I was telling them as they seemed unaware this issues was happening which is why it is so important we stand up and let management know what is going on in their University! I will, however, continue to work on this issue as it is fair from solved.

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting in with the General Assembly at SCA where the students unanimously supported going on strike this Wednesday the 17th of August to stand against managements proposal to close SCA and move it to Camperdown/Darlighton campus while greatly reducing the offerings and specialized studio based practiced SCA is famous for. I encourage everyone to like the Facebook page ‘Let SCA Stay’ and to join the SCA students and your SRC reps on the 17th at 1pm at the Madsen Building to protest against the closure of SCA.
Another important rally coming up is the National Day of Action on the 24th of August where the Education Action Group will take a stand and fight against the governments cuts to higher education.

One last important thing is the Census date! The Census date for this semester is the 31st of August this is the deadline to withdraw from a subject and not have to pay! So right that one in your diary, but if you have any further concerns of questions about enrolment or withdrawing you can always come down to our office and see one of our dedicated caseworkers.

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

Georgia Mantle

Welcome to Semester 2 week 2! Hopefully most of you are yet to miss a lecture and are still in the ‘this is my semester’ mode. Last week Honi Soit published a piece about the failure of the new Special Consideration system where students truly suffering have been rejected by an inhumane system that shows little compassion to students. This system is unacceptable and I want to assure students that your Student Representative Council is doing everything in its power to fight this. I understand that students may feel like there is nothing to be done but if you need assistance remember that our free casework service is here to support you while your student representatives are here to fight for you.

Another issues that has recently come to my attention is the amount of lecturers opting out of lecture recordings, choosing to not upload them or deciding to activity not speak into the mic. These actions go against University policy which require lecturers to provide a good reason to opt out of recording, and that reason can’t be we want more people to turn up to lectures. Lecturers decision to opt out affects people with disabilities, people with clashes and people who need to work to support themselves and don’t have the luxury of being able to come to every class. I am currently compiling a report to present to University management about this situation and its effects on students, if you have experienced a lecturer unfairly deciding not to record the lecture please send me a message at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au your anonymity will be assured.

I would also like to remind everyone about some of the collectives that the SRC offers, Wom*n’s collective meets every Monday at 1pm in the Women’s room in Manning, the Environment Collective also meets weekly you can find out what time by joining the facebook group ‘USYD Enviro Collective 2016’ and the Education Action Group meets every Tuesday at 2pm on the Law Lawns. For a full list of the SRC departmens and collectives as well as their contact details check out our website http://srcusyd.net.au/

– In love and rage

General Secretary’s Report – Week 13, Sem 1, 2016

Lachlan Ward

So I guess we are at the end of Semester 1, and therefore Georgia and I are halfway through our term as your General Secretary. Over the last few weeks, we have been crunching the numbers and have finalised the SRC’s budget, ensuring that our services and collectives are funded as effectively and efficiently as possible, in order to improve your SRC. I have also been involved in assisting in with the organisation of the National Union of Student’s Education Conference, which this year is being held at USYD. I expect it to be an informative conference, consisting of speaker panels from politics, unions and media, as well as sessions on activism and educational issues. Registration is closing soon, so feel free to look it up or contact general.secretary@usyd.src.edu.au to find out how to attend, with some equity places being available if you have financial issues.

With the federal election happening at the conclusion of semester, keep in mind the current government’s attacks on higher education. These have consisted of deregulating the university sector, gutting funding and seeking to take back your HECS even after your death, something that will impact those worst off in society, most of all. Furthermore the government is committed to slave labor with the PATH program to employment, which when trialled in other countries has been completely ineffective at reducing youth unemployment. Coupled with the fact that the Liberal party still is not committed to action on climate change, legislating for marriage equality, or any of the other numerous policy flaws that they possess, there really isn’t anything going for them at this election. That’s why it’s so important for you to have your say at the ballot box, and I strongly urge you to put the Liberals last as it is where they are already putting you and anyone else who is not a wealthy business owner. Finally, for your exams, I wish you, good luck and hope you do your best!