SRC Presidents Report – Week 1, Sem 2, 2019

President
Jacky He

Welcome Week ran extremely successfully for the University of Sydney Student Representatives Council last week! Over the three days, we have successfully attracted 1077 distinct followers on our WeChat and Facebook platforms and made a historical record in the amount of traction attracted to SRC’s social media during Welcome Week. Each day we had approximately 50 volunteers / office-bearers at our SRC stalls handing out show bags and SRC flyers, and some collectives have raised over sixty members in the span of the three days!

The international students campus tour also ran very smoothly as well, with 60 students turning up on Monday afternoon (20 more than the registered number of students). We received positive verbal feedbacks from the students expressing their satisfaction towards our service and they also had an opportunity to communicate and bond with some of the student representatives from the SRC.

Welcome Week is finally upon us; we have spent that last few weeks finalising the merchandise, the allocation of stalls, volunteers and packing all the material into the SRC tote bags.

We run out of 2000 SRC bag, including orientation-countercourse handbook, logo pen, SRC help flyer, SRC sticker and so on, and more than 2500 wall planer. We would like to thank the Welcome Week Committee for their assistance in organising Welcome Week, and also all the OBs and Collectives for their enthusiasm, time and energy they have placed into meeting the deadlines for printing and materials for this week. .We are very touched and we would like to great thank to the volunteers, you help us to let more students understand src, let us truly integrate students, understand students, represent students. We look forward to more volunteers joining us.

President’s Report – Welcome Week 2019

President
Jacky He

Welcome everyone to a fresh new start to the first semester of 2019! To students who are new to the University of Sydney, this will be a new chapter to your life. To students who have been living and breathing the air of the University of Sydney for the past few years, welcome back and it is great to see you again.

This year in preparation for Orientation Week, the SRC had devoted an enormous amount of effort into ordering merchandise, organising activities, welcome sessions and parties for the students upcoming arriving at / returning to the University. During the upcoming Welcome Festival, we would have 2,000 gift bags, several thousand discount vouchers, wall planners, and a slushie machine to wash off all the heat.

On top of that the SRC will also be hosting an undergraduate arts student welcome session with the Sydney Arts Students Society, and an undergraduate law student welcome session with the Sydney University Law Society. There will be critical information on how to study for exams, how to get involved, and experiences and tips from third or fourth year students. We encourage all first year arts and law undergraduate students to come along and join us at our welcome sessions.

During the week after Welcome Week, we are also likely to host a welcome party for undergraduate students, revolving around fried chicken and beer. Definitely check out the event when the notice comes around! It would be a great way to enjoy your start to the semester, make some new friends, and listen to some good vibes.

Again, a final sincere welcome to you all stepping into the first semester of 2019, and if you need any help, remember that the SRC would always be here for you..


Your Council at Work.
Report from your Student Council

ELECTIONS
For the 91st Council of the Students’ Representative Council (1 December 2018 to 30 November 2019), the following people have been elected.
PRESIDENT – Jacky He
VICE-PRESIDENT – Wanlin (Caitlyn) Chu, Dane Luo
GENERAL SECRETARY – Niamh Callinan, Yuxuan Yang
EXECUTIVE MEMBERS – Josie Jakovac, Xiaoyu Jin, Juming (Vonnie) Li, Prudence Wilkins-Wheat, Chia-Shuo (Alexander) Yang
REPRESENTATIVES – James Ardouin, JP (John-Paul) Baladi, Lily Campbell, Wanlin (Caitlyn) Chu, Hartley Dhyon, Yiting Feng, Ella Finlay, Nicholas Forbutt, Xiaoxi (Shirley) Hou, Daniel Hu, Josie Jakovac, Guipeng Jiao, Xiaoyu Jin, Jayesh Joshi, Yihe (Victor) Li, Juming (Vonnie) Li, Dane Luo, Layla Mkhayber, Shangyue (Brian) Mu, Amy Newland, Zac O’Farrell, Shaan Patel, Swapnik Sanagavarapu, Jiaqi (Abbey) Shi, Himath Siriniwasa, Ellie Stephenson, Gabi Stricker-Phelps, Manchen Wen, Prudence Wilkins-Wheat, Jingxian (Lois) Wu, Zifan (Crystal) Xu, Chia-shuo (Alexander) Yang, Kelli Zhao

OFFICE BEARERS
Education Officer: James Newbold, Yiting (Eva) Feng
Women’s Officer: Gabrielle Stricker-Phelps, Zifan (Crystal) Xu
Welfare Officer: Madeleine Powell, Ellie Stephenson, Liam Thomas & Mingxiao Tu
Ethno Cultural Officer: Zheng Dingsong, Junjie Shen, Mahek Rawal, Ellie Wilson
Indigenous Students’ Officer: Thomas Harrington, Akala Newman
International Students’ Officer: Jahanzaib Lashary, Yilan Wu, Ken Leung, Janet Lin
Environment Officer: Alev Saracoglu, Alex Vaughan, Georgia de Mestre, Jayesh Joshi
Global Solidarity Officer: Lingxi Li, Jiale Wang, Ella Finlay, Swapnik Sanagavarapu
Intercampus Officer: Manchen Wen, Paul Touma, Shuhan Zhang
Sexual Harrasment Officer: Hang Gao, Charlotte Plashik, Jazzlyn Breen, Layla Mkhayber
Disabilities Officer: Wilson Huang, Hayden Moon
Queer Officer: Peter Burell-Sander, Steff Leinasars
Mature Age Students Officer: Vinil Kumar
Interfaith Officer : Julia Kokic, Keegan Mason, Hongli Wang, Angela Zhang
Social Justice Officer: Joshua Noble, Shikki Wang, Siying He, Olivia-James McKeown
Refugee Rights Officer: Lili Schapiro, Yihe (Victor) Li, Sulainsan Malik
Residential College Officer: Hayley (Luoyu) Zhang, Flora Zhao, James Ardouin, Annabel de Mestre
Student Housing Officer: Irene Ma, Yinfeng Shen, Seamus Kirk, Ziwei Lin
Chair, Standing Legal Committee: Xiaoman Zhu

MEETINGS
The first Ordinary Meeting of Council was held on Wednesday 6 February 2019. The following substantive motions were considered and carried:
R2. Censure Motion
The SRC censures and strongly condemns Zac O’Farrell who attempted to blackmail the organization by preventing the organisation’s democratic process and hypocritically acting against the best interests of the students he claims to represent.
Moved: James Ardouin Seconded: Chanum Torres Co-sponsors: Josie Jakovac
The next Ordinary Meeting of Council will take place on Wednesday 6 March 2019 at 6:00pm at New Law 026.

SRC President’s Report – Week 12, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Grant

This Wednesday staff and students at Sydney University will join a national day of action across campuses to call on the Morrison government to end offshore detention.

In recent weeks the mental health crisis on Nauru has exploded. Around 20 children still on Nauru have been consumed by despair and are refusing food and water. The situation is growing more and more urgent and the pressure on the government is building. The doctors’ peak body, the AMA, has called for all children to be immediately brought to Australia for medical care.

At Sydney University, outside Fisher Library on Wednesday 17 October, staff and students will hold a public reading 11am-1pm of Behrouz’s book written from Manus; and at 1pm hold a group photo action with placards reading #NoMoreHarm, #BringThemHere and #EducationNotDetention.

The USYD action will coincide with actions being organised across the country by Academics for Refugees. The USYD action is endorsed and being co-organised by Campus Refugee Action Collective and the National Tertiary Education Union

Secondly, on Saturday 1pm Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) and USYD Queer Action Collective (QuAC) will protest against Scott Morrison’s homophobia. The SRC will be attending protest and stand alongside the queer community in their calls for an end to the homophobic rhetoric that has been spurred on by the so called leader of this country.

We demand an end to gay conversion therapy. This is an ongoing practice in Australia that our new PM has described as simply “not an issue for me”. We call bullshit on this. Conversion therapy has been deemed as ‘torture’ by the United Nations. Morrison’s response shows a deep lack of respect and is just one example of his incessant homophobia and contempt for LGBT+ Australians. Even when the postal vote returned an overwhelming Yes for marriage equality he left the room in parliament instead of voting for equality. Now since becoming PM he has re-raised the issue of religious discrimination in an attempt to roll back our rights post marriage equality.

He has also joined the train of inflammatory comments directed at trans young people and the schools who support them. As he tweets “let kids be kids” and “we don’t need gender whisperers in schools” these are genuine statements that we direct back at him, conversion therapists and the government-funded school chaplains that have interfered with trans kids lives. No person should be put through mental torture because of someone else’s bigotry.

Join us to say No to ScoMo. Come protest on the day of the Wentworth by election and march to Oxford Street within their electorate. This protest will be held in conjunction with another taking place in the heart of Canberra that day.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC Presidents Report – Week 8, Sem 2, 2018

On Sunday the Students’ Representative Council, along with the National Union of Students, hosted a rally against the new Scott Morrison prime ministership which I had the honour of speaking at. The right wing coup in the Liberal Party brought down Malcolm Turnbull. But it has failed to elevate its number one candidate, former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, to the prime minister’s office.

We are now seeing the bourgeois media pitch Morrison’s victory as a great triumph of “moderation”. But Morrison built his brand and popularity on the back of years of torturing refugees. During his time as immigration minister, was the architect of the government’s inhuman Sovereign Borders boat turnback policy, and presided over the deaths of Reza Barati and Hamid Khazaei on Manus Island in 2014.

He also led the “It’s okay to say No” brigade in the marriage equality plebiscite and led the push for a “religious freedoms” bill to undercut the result.
The political legacy of Morrison’s term as immigration minister is particularly striking when one remembers the leadership challenge came as a 12 year old girl on Nauru tried to set herself on fire, and another 17 year old girl is in a critical condition after refusing food and water.

Morrison’s far right politics are no better than Dutton or Turnbull’s. The Liberals continue to cut penalty rates, privatise education, screw up our public transport, slash Medicare funding, destroy the climate and give tax cuts to their rich mates, while driving racism to distract us. It’s not refugees or migrants cutting our penalty rates and living standards.

Workers in Australia need a decent living wage and a future we can be proud of, not a far-right fearmonger whose policies gain the support of Trump and Hanson. The far right MPs in the Liberal Party are buoyed by the success of Trump and the far right in Europe. They too want a party that is openly bigoted, sexist, racist and shows a complete contempt for science.

The connections between Trump & Morrison are clear – Morrison famously refused to criticise Trump’s travel ban, instead encouraging countries to “catch up” with Australia’s racism. And just yesterday, the US president, Donald Trump, has tweeted his congratulations to the new Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison.And we shouldn’t forget that, for many in the hard right of politics, US president Donald Trump’s against-the-odds success, driven by unashamed bigotry and take-no-prisoners approach, is considered a model to be emulated.
The solution is not to vote our way out of this, but to reignite the refugee rights movement. Social change happens from action – we cannot vote our way out of it. Just like the way we did in after Abbott’s 2014 budget – calling protests, strikes, direct actions and working with unions is something to be replicated today. We must stand up for ourselves because we cannot rely on the Shorton Government to end offshore processing.

We need to kick out the Liberal Government – yes – but we also need to kick the racist policies out & build a movement based on attacking state racism such that such policies become untenable for any party to enact. We have more in common with the workers, activists and unionists locked up in detention than we do with the parasitic Australian ruling class torturing people indefinitely in camps.
Reflecting on this, we don’t want a “stable” Liberal Party. The dominant party of the Australian capitalist class is now in deep crisis because of this factional schism and we want to see the party topple – along with the far-right policies within it!

And there is a role the student movement can play here. There’s a long history of students – no matter their colour – standing up and mobilising against the state’s racism, see the 1965 Freedom Rides. And I am going to make sure that we build we build this movement against the Liberal Government at the University of Sydney and across campuses in this state.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC Presidents Report – Week 7, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Grant

As I am writing this, a final memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Ramsay Centre CEO Simon Haynes and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence. Annamarie Jagose, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, is currently reviewing the MOU and will take it to the FASS Board Meeting on Monday for discussion.

At the next FASS Board Meeting on 10 September, FASS staff & students will be leafleting members to vote against the proposed degree in Western Civilisation. It is normal for Academic Board to look to the decision at a faculty board humanities experts in FASS and consequently decide approve or reject the Ramsay curriculum. If it gets through the FASS Board then Academic Board is more likely to just rubber stamp it – or at least very unlikely to vote against it. As a result, the decision at Faculty Board is crucial in the fight against the Ramsay Centre on campus. We have cohered a strong student opposition to the Centre and are currently in contact with the student members of the Board.

On another note, the Academic Board and University Executive are currently conducting a review into safety and wellbeing. This is an issue that has become the subject of regulatory attention from the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Association (TEQSA).

The Higher Education Standards Framework (Threshold Standards) 2015 (HES Framework) includes Section 2.3, on wellbeing and safety, that requires providers to provide timely and accurate advice on access to student support services and to promote and foster a safe environment on campus and online.

We will be ascertaining as to whether the University is or is not compliant with these standards and making recommendations for improvements on the availability, provision and communication of services and processes to ensure the wellbeing and safety of specific cohorts of students.

Interviews will be conducted over the next few weeks with students. If you receive an invitation, I encourage you to take up the offer and have your voice heard on the topic. If you have any feedback on the state of student safety and wellbeing you wish for me to know or relay to the committee, always feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au.
Finally, last week the SRC sent a contingent of students to the early childhood educators walk off & protest, as part of the Big Steps campaign, outside the NSW Parliament. We heard speeches from childhood educator Gwen Alcock, ACTU President Michele O’Neil, Labor MP Tanya Plibersek and a parent Emily Mayo.

Childhood education is a booming industry and many of these educators attend university for years to be qualified. With diploma-level or university-level training the wage is only $23 per hour, about half the the national average wage – childhood educators are the working poor.

Childhood educators also earn 30% less than people with equivalent qualifications in male-dominated fields. 97 percent of childhood educators are women and society undervalues these skills because they are seen as “soft,” just an extension of the unpaid work performed by mothers at home.

The SRC has made a solid commitment this year to become activated around workplace issues – both as student-workers and in solidarity with workers from a range of different industries. As a part of that we are organising a ‘Union Day’ on September 17 on Eastern Avenue.

Majority of students work full-time alongside full-time study and as a result the distinction between student and worker is becoming increasingly blurred. 60 percent of international students living in Sydney are paid below the the minimum wage of $17.29 per hour. It gets worse in retail, where 90 percent of international student workers being paid below minimum wage. This day will provide a fantastic opportunity for students to learn about their rights in the workplace & potentially join a union.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC Presidents Report – Week 5, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Grant

Last week I was incredibly proud to organise, along with our President, Radical Education Week: a week of free workshops accessible to all that covered everything from drug law reform in Australia to the history of political economy movement to legal skills for activists.
Community leaders, academics, politicians and students themselves led these workshops, breaking down the usual constraints around education and its accessible and providing a vision for education free, accessible and liberating. It is only through these peoples’ generosity in their time, resources and knowledge that we were able to organise this at all, and we saw more than 250 students attend workshops that ranged from intimate chats to packed panel discussions throughout the week. If you’re interested in being involved with organising Radical Education Week next year, please either shoot me a message at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au or message the Radical Education Week 2018 Facebook page.

Last weekend we also organised the SRC’s presence at Open Day, letting incoming students know about the SRC’s services, opportunities to become involved in collectives and the Council’s work and some of the campaigns we are working on at the moment. We also were able to distribute several hundred copies of the Counter-Course I edited at the beginning of the year. Hopefully this will be able to provide a useful insight to people considering attending Sydney University from students attending University themselves, counter-balancing the University’s slick advertising.

Good luck to everyone going with their upcoming assignments, and please feel free to shoot me an email with any questions about the SRC or this report at general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au.
On Sunday the Students’ Representative Council, along with the National Union of Students, hosted a rally against the new Scott Morrison prime ministership which I had the honour of speaking at. The right wing coup in the Liberal Party brought down Malcolm Turnbull. But it has failed to elevate its number one candidate, former home affairs minister Peter Dutton, to the prime minister’s office.

We are now seeing the bourgeois media pitch Morrison’s victory as a great triumph of “moderation”. But Morrison built his brand and popularity on the back of years of torturing refugees. During his time as immigration minister, was the architect of the government’s inhuman Sovereign Borders boat turnback policy, and presided over the deaths of Reza Barati and Hamid Khazaei on Manus Island in 2014.

He also led the “It’s okay to say No” brigade in the marriage equality plebiscite and led the push for a “religious freedoms” bill to undercut the result.
The political legacy of Morrison’s term as immigration minister is particularly striking when one remembers the leadership challenge came as a 12 year old girl on Nauru tried to set herself on fire, and another 17 year old girl is in a critical condition after refusing food and water.

Morrison’s far right politics are no better than Dutton or Turnbull’s. The Liberals continue to cut penalty rates, privatise education, screw up our public transport, slash Medicare funding, destroy the climate and give tax cuts to their rich mates, while driving racism to distract us. It’s not refugees or migrants cutting our penalty rates and living standards.

Workers in Australia need a decent living wage and a future we can be proud of, not a far-right fearmonger whose policies gain the support of Trump and Hanson. The far right MPs in the Liberal Party are buoyed by the success of Trump and the far right in Europe. They too want a party that is openly bigoted, sexist, racist and shows a complete contempt for science.

The connections between Trump & Morrison are clear – Morrison famously refused to criticise Trump’s travel ban, instead encouraging countries to “catch up” with Australia’s racism. And just yesterday, the US president, Donald Trump, has tweeted his congratulations to the new Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison.And we shouldn’t forget that, for many in the hard right of politics, US president Donald Trump’s against-the-odds success, driven by unashamed bigotry and take-no-prisoners approach, is considered a model to be emulated.
The solution is not to vote our way out of this, but to reignite the refugee rights movement. Social change happens from action – we cannot vote our way out of it. Just like the way we did in after Abbott’s 2014 budget – calling protests, strikes, direct actions and working with unions is something to be replicated today. We must stand up for ourselves because we cannot rely on the Shorton Government to end offshore processing.

We need to kick out the Liberal Government – yes – but we also need to kick the racist policies out & build a movement based on attacking state racism such that such policies become untenable for any party to enact. We have more in common with the workers, activists and unionists locked up in detention than we do with the parasitic Australian ruling class torturing people indefinitely in camps.

Reflecting on this, we don’t want a “stable” Liberal Party. The dominant party of the Australian capitalist class is now in deep crisis because of this factional schism and we want to see the party topple – along with the far-right policies within it!
And there is a role the student movement can play here. There’s a long history of students – no matter their colour – standing up and mobilising against the state’s racism, see the 1965 Freedom Rides. And I am going to make sure that we build we build this movement against the Liberal Government at the University of Sydney and across campuses in this state.

Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC Presidents Report – Week 3, Sem 2, 2018

BIG NEWS! This Tuesday at 12:30pm outside NSW Parliament House, the “International students need travel concessions” campaign group will be handing over their petition to be tabled in Parliament. See event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/243138486506764/
NSW is home to the largest number of international students studying in Australia — 300,000 in 2017, and the number is set to rise. In 2016-2017, international education raised $7.2 billion for the state. It is now NSW’s biggest service export, and the NSW government is keen to grow it further.

NSW benefits from having international students study here — culturally, educationally and, of course, financially. Yet, it is the only state in Australia that does not offer international students concession prices on travel.
International students pay at least twice as much for their degrees as domestic students and we do not believe that they should have to pay higher transport costs. The fact that they do is discrimination.
Come along with the SRC and international student activists as they hand over the petition to NSW Parliament. Follow it live through the twitter hastag #FairTransport.

On another note, last week we co-hosted a forum with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) on “No to Ramsay, The Myth of Western Civilisation”. Keynote speakers included Raewyn Connell – a prolific author, prominent sociologist and gender theorist, former University Chair at University of Sydney – and Lily Campbell – SRC Education Officer. The event was a complete success and proved that USyd SRC continues to set the example for political organising on campuses in Australia.

Raewyn Connell spoke at length about Western civilisation as an educational concept and traced it back to the early 1900s during attempts to codify the ideology of empire and the idea of a supreme ‘Western Culture’ into a library and curriculum which gave birth to the ‘Great Books’. The curriculum proposed by the Ramsay Centre seeks to revive the ideology of empire and has racism embedded in its agenda. Universities should be a place to challenge dominant ideas, institutions and systems – not a place where billionaires can buy influence over curriculum, staffing and pedagogy in order to pedal racism disguised as appreciation for “Western Culture”.

At the forum we also unanimously passed a motion stating “That the Sydney University EAG and Sydney Branch of the national tertiary education union wholly reject the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. We condemn Sydney University management’s decision to continue with ongoing negotiations with the Centre. We commit to protesting the centre on August 15 and continuing our campaign into the future.”

Come along to our protest against the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation THIS WEDNESDAY 1PM, Eastern Avenue. See event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/398552780634589/
Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.

SRC President’s Report – Week 2, Sem 2, 2018

SRC President
Imogen Grant

Last week myself, the casework team and the Women’s Officers were busy responding the University’s botched sexual assault reporting portal. In case you haven’t been following the news, the University of Sydney has developed an online portal for students to report their experiences of sexual assault, and has been criticised by the SRC as “unethical and irresponsible” due to a series of egregious flaws. The portal was thrown together in less than a month in order to be released in time for the anniversary of the Australian Human Rights Commission ‘Change the Course’ report.

It also sets word limits on survivor’s stories, only current students and staff can lodge reports, and has no clear safeguards around which staff can access the portal’s sensitive data.
It is clear that this portal is not trauma-informed and does not restore power and control to survivors. Placing arbitrary restrictions on how survivors express themselves undermines survivors and exacerbates trauma.
Total anonymity is not at all ensured, as students must access the portal through their university log-in, with no sense of clarity as to who is accessing survivors’ reports. This also excludes members of the public who may need to report, such as a year 12 student raped at a college formal.

The portal also asks survivors for their gender, sexuality and post-assault therapeutic history.
This is an intrusion and irrelevant to how the University processes the complaint. Students should not feel like their ability to lodge a complaint is conditional on their willingness to have their privacy violated.
Asking about therapeutic history is as appropriate as asking about what medical services they might have accessed post-assault such as STI testing or abortion.
The primary purpose of the reporting portal is for survivors to lodge complaints – not to survey them for internal data analysis purposes.

The Students’ Representative Council pushed for the University to delay the release of the portal and to consult with experts and staff in its development. University management failed to act on any of the major concerns, instead pushing ahead with releasing the portal.
As a result of the rushed release, the portal was released with additional flaws – a student was transferred to the staff not student reporting options. And the link to the reporting portal was broken for days after the Wednesday 1 August release.
We are now in talks with senior management to find out how this occurred and will continue pushing for our recommended changes to the portal, including consultation from experts.

Finally, nominations for the SRC’s annual elections are officially open. These elections will determine the new President of the SRC, the editors of Honi Soit, the councillors for the 91st SRC Council as well as your delegates to the National Union of Students. If you have ever wanted to get more involved in the SRC this is your chance. You can visit srcusyd.net.au/elections/ for more information.

Feel free to email me on president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. I wish you the best of luck for the year ahead and look forward to seeing you on the streets!

SRC President’s Report – Week 1, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Imogen Grant

Welcome back to Semester 2! The SRC has been working hard over the break to help students with academic appeals and show cause. I have also spoken at a number of orientation events to ensure that new students know about the SRC.
Unfortunately, the University is still charging ahead with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation in hope to score a deal to establish a racist Bachelor of Western Civilisation degree.

The Ramsay Centre aims to give academic respectability to racist ideas under the guise of celebrating ‘Western Civilisation’ and its supposed supremacy. Speaking to the course content of the proposed Ramsay Centre, Abbott affirmed the Centre’s conservative and Eurocentric vision, emphasising “it’s not just about Western Civilisation but in favour of it.”

University staff have expressed well founded concerns regarding academic independence. Ramsay Centre CEO Simon Haines has said they will review all course content, not hire academics who have criticised Western civilisation and will withdraw funding if they think the course isn’t sufficiently pro-West.

Universities should be a place to challenge dominant ideas, institutions and systems—not a place where billionaires can buy influence over curriculum, staffing and pedagogy in order to pedal racism disguised as appreciation for ‘Western Culture’.

The University is selling control over its curriculum to the highest bidder and turning a blind eye to academic freedom and integrity to do so. The SRC, along with the NTEU, is taking a strong stance against the University entering into any arrangement with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. On Wednesday 8 August 6pm-9pm we will be hosting a forum on the fight against the Ramsay Centre. See the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/489536344793156/
Finally, THIS Wednesday is the one year anniversary of the Australian Human RIghts Commission’s landmark report on sexual harassment and sexual assault on university campuses. The National Union of Students and women’s collectives across the state will be holding a National Day of Action at 12pm Wednesday 1 August outside Fisher Library. See the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/491353347980626/

The anniversary will inevitably see university managements use the report to posture as being at the forefront of institutional reform when, in reality, it’s the result of the hard work of survivors and feminist activists.
At USyd, management plan to launch an online sexual assault reporting portal that they know is not trauma-informed and will artificially reduce reporting rates by deterring survivors.

This portal includes a 10 minute time limit on leaving the form inactive which means survivors cannot take breaks and are forced to write an account of their rape in a single sitting. It also places strict word limits on survivors describing “what happened”, asks for your gender, sexuality and what health services you have accessed post-assault, and there is still enormous ambiguity as to whether the University can guarantee confidentiality & anonymity with a range of staff being able to access the information at the back end, including ICT staff.

The SRC Casework team and I believe that it would be unethical and irresponsible to proceed as planned and, therefore, are taking every step to ensure the University does not launch the portal on 1 August. Having a functional policy and set of procedures, far outweighs celebrating an anniversary. Rushing to meet that deadline undermines the efficacy of the project, and neglects meaningful collaboration, placing survivors in a position where they will bear the brunt of a broken portal.

Feel free to email me on president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. I wish you the best of luck for the year ahead and look forward to seeing you on the streets!

SRC President’s Report – Week 12, Sem 1, 2018

It was discovered last week that University of Sydney’s two main support hotlines for student survivors of sexual assault have not been working. The discovery was made after a person seeking support was unable to make contact.
Those who called the Student Liaison Officer hotline were given a message that the hotline was “temporarily out of service”. In addition to this, the 1800 SYDHLP hotline has been automatically re-routing callers to the NSW Rape Crisis Centre during business hours instead of being answered by staff.

While the hotlines have now been fixed, it’s not clear how long they were down for or how many students who attempted to make contact and were left abandoned.

Stress and desolation are common feelings for students who are seeking support after a traumatic sexual experience. By creating inoperative hotlines USyd is exacerbating survivors’ trauma.

This is an impact that can last a lifetime. The first response that a survivor of sexual assault receives often dictates how they will navigate their recovery. If that response happens to be white noise on the other end of the phone line, it may discourage the student from seeking any help altogether. Without help, student survivors are much more vulnerable to mental illness. How will students suffering from trauma reach their academic potential, attain their degrees, and regain a sense of trust in their everyday interactions?

It is clear that USyd lacks a coordinated and proactive response to sexual assault which is enabling the problem to persist.

Even when the University does endeavor to provide support, these services are drastically understaffed, underfunded and lack counselling staff with trauma specialist training.

USyd has millions upon millions to spend on new buildings, yet fails to sufficiently resource support services. The University has twisted priorities that ultimately leave survivors in the lurch.

This comes off the back of Universities Australia abolishing the National Sexual Assault University Hotline which was run by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia. Last year the AHRC ‘Change the Course’ report found that 6.9% of university students were sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 or 2016.

If you have any concerns about University of Sydney support services please email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au. To get involved in the campaign against sexual assault, contact the Women’s Officers at usydwomenscollective@gmail.com.

If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.