Max Hall makes a few things clear to Mr Spence

I have stolen these few lines to publicly sing the praises of my co-Vice President, Max Hall, for essentially chastising Vice Chancellor Michael Spence in the middle of a 4 hour meeting with 20 University executive members. In a glorious blaze of glory, Max informed Spence that as long as he refuses to stand up to the Government and Group of Eight Universities, we will continue to question his every move, chant outside his office until he really begins to fight for the accessible and affordable tertiary education that is our right.

Eds: Our apologies to Laura for mistakenly not including this in last week’s edition.

Laura Webster

DO NOT EVER WRITE IN LIBRARY BOOKS. EVER. NOT IN PENCIL, NOT IN BLOOD. DO NOT DO IT. Okay.

A timely reminder, fellow students: the SRC has a second-hand bookshop in the Wentworth Building, near the Food Co-Op and the International Students’ Lounge. There’s a range of used textbooks for different courses, so before you rush into purchasing an $80 political economy tome, check whether there’s an edition at the bookshop for a quarter of the price. I have saved a significant amount of money doing this. Fellow students, shop around to get a good deal on your study materials. Remember, you might not always need a textbook for a subject so ask around – classmates or Facebook friends may have done the course before, and they may be able to tell you whether it’s worth purchasing that copy of Revolutionizing the Sciences: European Knowledge and Its Ambitions for your modern science philosophy course (it’s not, I gave my unopened copy to a friend enrolled this semester).

James and I repeat this so frequently we should invest in frequent-repeater cards so that we get every eighth repetition free, BUT: THE SRC HAS A FREE LEGAL SERVICE. AND CASEWORK SERVICE. FREE. Academic advice, housing help, you name it – our talented and dedicated caseworkers and lawyers can help you.

Now I want you to take a deep breath – promise me you will do this – and imagine a tiny white piece of cork on the middle of a giant pin board. Think about it for a moment, and forget the ridiculousness of the first part of this report (god, I am so sorry, but I can’t change), because it’s taking a serious turn. Okay, now forget the pin board because it was never relevant to begin with. Physical wellbeing is an integral part of balancing life and studies while you’re at university. Sleep is a huge part of this. Eating well and exercising are also lauded as the pillars of good health, but they’re parroted so much by glossy brochures and daytime television shows that it’s hard to continue to give a fuck – the words and concepts become somewhat meaningless. But there are little things you can do that take little effort and make a difference.

How many of you out there are insomniacs? You? Good, this is for you: I have two tasks for you. Your homework for this week, if you please, is to stretch out as many of your muscles as possible before going to bed. This can be done with a background of soft music, an audiobook, or a bewildered partner. Also, I challenge every person who reads this to refrain from using any screens – laptop, TV, iPad – within two hours of going to bed. The science behind this isn’t as interesting as the results for those of you who have a hard time dozing off. I’ll allow (lolz, “allow”, who even am I?) very brief phone checks (text messages, setting alarms) within the hour before bed. But the rules are clear. No screens.
A note for regular readers of my report: smash capitalism, the patriarchy, racism, and the state. Free education and health care for all. Oh, don’t pretend like you didn’t read my report for your fortnightly dose of alienating far-leftism. You’re not fooling anyone.

Mariana – Joint General Secretary

Vice Presidents Max Hall and Laura Webster Ask, What’s going on?

Does Anyone Actually Understand What Is Happening Around Here?

No, we’re not talking about Sydney Student (although we don’t have a damn clue how it works either); we are referring to the current state of Australian Federal Politics. Ever the studious and engaged political hacks, we have compiled a list of the things most relevant to YOU:

Student’s for Women’s Only Services held a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of vital women’s services due to the state government slashing funding under the Staying Home Going Home reforms. To date, over 22 women’s only refugees have been closed, with more closures expected. The impact of these closures is indescribable with an estimated 2000 women and children to be severely affected by these closures every year. To add your voice to the non-autonomous student movement against these attacks, visit https://www.facebook.com/swossydney. Special shout out here to the USYD Wom*n’s Collective for all their incredible work with this campaign.

Liberal Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne is continuing what is fast becoming a grand tradition of genuinely having no clue what his own education policies by producing yet another classic cringe worthy moment, when he stated the government should begin collecting HECS debts from deceased students families as a source of revenue. Seriously…who invited this guy?
The University’s Senate Fellows are petitioning the Vice Chancellor to convene a meeting of the Convocation to debate a motion condemning the Liberal Government’s proposed changes to tertiary education and request the University of Sydney to refrain from implementing deregulation of fees. Seriously, read up on this – it’s relevant, fascinating and hilarious. The term “going medieval on your ass” takes on a whole new meaning.

Tony Abbott, the self-titled ‘Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs’, has once again proven that he is an ignorant bigot that should never be allowed to speak in public. During a speech on foreign investment, he actually said this; ‘’I guess our country owes its existence to a form of foreign investment by the British government in the then unsettled or, um, scarcely settled…”. There are so many problems with this; we don’t even know where to start.

So there you have it, our abridged list. Feel free to cut this out and keep it as a memento of these dark times in Australian politics.

Why Constitutional Recognition is a necessary step

Constitutional recognition is something that Indigenous peoples have been asking for since the creation of said document. Many believe that it is the right step forward to address the discrimination and historical exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The constitution is a long document and there are very few people on earth that have actually read it (because why the hell would you? It’s not exactly light reading).

It is for this reason that sections perpetuating racism and racist policies are still induced and have not been repealed. Some members of the community would argue that instead of constitutional recognition, we should be fighting for self-determination rights. I would argue they are not mutually exclusive; they go hand in hand.

Constitutional recognition is not just a symbolic gesture; it is a step that finally and rightfully recognizes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia. It is an act that allows both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples to address and reflect upon the historical oppression of Indigenous peoples and move towards reconciliation. It also allows the opportunity to add a section that prohibits discrimination based upon race, sexuality and gender. An overwhelming amount of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples believe that constitutional recognition will have a positive impact upon their lives and provide greater historical recognition of the struggles of Indigenous peoples. It also serves as one of the most promising and powerful gestures of repentance and reconciliation. With this in mind, doesn’t it seem logical that constitutional recognition is not only the next step in closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, but is also a necessary step?

Despite the social and economic disadvantages we face as a people, we remain the oldest race on earth. We have survived everything that history has thrown our way and we should be afforded the respect and recognition that comes with such a feat.

Laura Webster

“The More You Ignore Us, The Louder We Will Scream

Vice Presidents Max Hall and Laura Webster love protests and hate the government.
First of all, we want to offer our congratulations to the University of Sydney Education Action Group, UTS Students’ Association and the NSW Education Action Network for such an amazing action on last week’s Q&A. The protest was in opposition to slashing education budgets and the proposed deregulation of university fees – this essentially means universities will be able to charge whatever their little hearts want.

Universities are already woefully underfunded and we cannot fathom what will happen if further funding is cut. Tutorials are already at capacity, staff casualization is a disturbing trend and academics live in constant fear of being fired at any moment. Do the Liberals care that our education system is failing? No, and the proposed fee deregulation is the final nail in the coffin of tertiary education.

Are we angry?
Yes.

Do we have a right to be?
Absolutely.

The Q&A protest achieved its goal of publicly broadcasting the discontent and frustration university students feel with the Liberal government. We have been constantly silenced, policed and downright bullied and, in the immortal words of Twister Sister, we’re not going to take it anymore. The only means we have of getting our message to the wider community is through media coverage and public protest and actions. Students are growing more concerned, discontent and furious as the government continues to obliterate our rite to a quality education.

Abbott and Pyne would have us think we are in a budget crisis. The fallacy of this is apparent to anyone capable of noticing that the OECD rates us among the strongest and most secure economies. How can the federal government justify slashing education funding and then purchase $12.4 billion worth of fighter planes? If the ‘budget crisis’ is as dire as the government want us to think it is, why can’t these funds be instead spent on things we actually need like improved public health care, repairing infrastructure and funding quality and affordable education at all levels?

As long as the government continues to wage war against tertiary education, we will continue to protest. The more students you anger, the louder we will become.
However we will take one piece of Pyne’s advise: as we are both students and tax payers, we will be sure to send each other flowers and chocolates as a thank you for funding each other’s tertiary education.”

Cheers!

Student democracy – however inconvenient, annoying or downright obnoxious – should be embraced

We’ve traipsed back from mid-semester, grudgingly faced assignments that should have been started earlier and are already counting down the days until a real holiday. Between now and then are the exams, essays, emails, extensions, excuses and all other things that start with ‘e’ – including elections.

Oh student elections. This time around we’re electing board directors to the USU, our campus-wide champion of the onesie and marketing focused parent of Manning and Hermann’s. It’s easy to write off the mess of coloured t-shirts and cringe worthy slogans as being the irrelevant noise of student politicians whose need for public validation is matched only by their willingness to promise you anything. This may be (read: probably is) true, but, mess and slogans aside, the process of student democracy and its outcomes should not be quickly dismissed.

Superficially, the first reason student elections are worth caring about is how much you have already invested into organisations like the USU. Last year a quarter of the Student Services fee that you paid to the university was allocated to the Union – in other words $70 per student, just over $3 million in total, is given over to the decision making of those students elected to the board.

Who cares? Well, if one truth emerged from the recent Raue saga it’s that the USU board is capable of spending student money on all sorts of things, including the cost of defending in court a failed attempt to oust the duly elected vice-president of the board. The Union hasn’t disclosed how much was spent in this . An exact figure is almost beside the point, because the example itself is enough to illustrate that the elected figures – yes, with their tshirts, slogan and cheesy videos – are responsible for spending your cash, even in situations when it is unclear why it is in the student interest. Anyone as broke as most students are cares where there money goes and how it is being spent, student elections give us just a little bit of control over who gets to do that spending.

If you don’t care about money, or prefer a principled approach to things, your second reason to care when the ballot arrives is for the sake of student control itself. Long past are the glory days of democratic learning when students were allowed to vote in department meetings. In contrast, it’s not so long ago that the University attempted to wrest control of the USU’s commercial operations away from students. There are worthy critiques to be made of the methods and decisions of student representatives and board directors, but at the end of the day the needs and interests of student will always be best served by their own and can be defended by simply casting a vote.

Student democracy – however inconvenient, annoying or downright obnoxious – should be embraced wherever we can get it, because at least we have it.

Vice Presidents Laura Webster and Max Hall tell you why they “Stand with Raue”.

It cannot have escaped your notice that a certain Vice President is faced with the likely possibility of being removed from Board. No, it’s not us. It’s Tom Raue. If last’s weeks edition of Honi Soit is any indication, we are not the only ones who support Tom and strongly oppose any motion which would have him removed from the University of Sydney Union Board of Directors. The events that have lead to this has already been thoroughly documented in this fine publication in great detail, so we instead will tell you why we stand with Raue…and why you should too.

Tom is an anomaly in student politics. He actually cares about students as opposed to building his résumé. USU executive would have you believe that Tom has committed a heinous crime and released a confidential report; however we would argue that Tom has done nothing but fulfill his obligation to the safety and welfare of students by releasing one line of a report detailing police and University cooperation during the violent 2013 strikes. May 14 has become synonymous with abuse, trauma, lies from the University and blatant police brutality.

We can’t help but question the integrity and motivation of anyone who suggests that documents proving direct cooperation between the University and the NSW Police Force should not be made public at the time of discovery. Tom made a judgment call and we stand by him. Tom’s attempts to protect students and his attempts to hold the University accountable for the violent acts committed by the NSW police on the picket lines have been met with a motion proposed by USU Executive to remove him from his position as Vice President, citing severe misconduct. Go back and check your duty statements because you’ve got it wrong.

Disappointment is not a strong enough word to encapsulate our feelings toward the USU Executive, Hannah Morris, Sophie Stanton and John Harding-Easson.

USU Executive, we do not support you. We do not trust you. You do not represent our wishes. If a motion to remove Raue from Board is passed, we have completely lost faith in you and you will have proven that the USU is more concerned with placating the University and it’s numerous corporate sponsors than listening to what its students want.

Show your support and keep updated at facebook.com/standwithraue.

Taking a look at Diversity and Equity on Campus

We’ve always thought it was slightly unfair that Sydney Uni management do little else but treat students as nothing more than numbers on a page. In order to celebrate the release of the new Veronica Mars movie (which one of your VPs watched at 3 in the morning) we decided to do some
not-so-subtle sleuthing to find those dirty facts the Uni doesn’t want you to know.

You, dear reader, are likely a non-Indigenous, Australian wom*n who was raised in the affluent Inner West… you’re also studying a BA.
The numbers don’t lie and the numbers paint an interesting picture of the people that populate your lecture theatres, dictatorially dominate your tutes and get between you and a meat box after a hard days study at the neoliberal factory.

Inside these sandstone walls, 57% of 53 000 students are female, just ahead of the national average of 56%. International students comprise 22%, while regional and Indigenous students make up only 5.6% and 0.8% of the populace respectively.

This places USyd behind the national average in intake of both regional (6.5%) and Indigenous students (1.1%). These shortcomings, whilst embarrassing, don’t come close to the extraordinary under representation of people from a low socio-economic background.
Nationally, 17% of students come from a low SES area. At USyd, that number halves to 8.6%.

These statistics are damning to a University that claims to be “founded on principles of diversity and equity”. If Spence continues to run with this people pleasing line, he should closely follow it up with “but if you have the dollars, I have your acceptance letter!”. No brochure filled with buzzwords can apologise for the inequitable reality that this number represents, no matter how much money the university throws at ‘media consultants’ to cover it up. If education remains the silver bullet that improves the livelihood of all who receive it, then our University is failing abysmally to share this.

It goes without saying that an attachment to traditional demographics and tuition cheques should never be allowed to stand in the way of an inclusive and socially conscious admissions policy; yet if recent alterations to housing scholarships are anything to go by it seems as though the university could care less. These changes will leave students in need of accommodation unsure whether they will receive assistance until well into the semester – long after they have signed a lease and begun paying rent (which is also ridiculously high). Students in need
of help = not Spence’s division.

Management and admin must stop thinking about their ludicrous pay checks and realise that education is a privilege owed and deserved by all who seek it, rather than a commodity exchanged with those who can afford it.

Your Vice President’s Max Hall and Laura Webster

Amelie Vanderstock updates us on the USYD community garden project

A community garden is growing at USYD!

After years of spontaneously arising groups, writing proposals, pressuring the university, and creating guerrilla garden plots around campus to spread the word, a community garden will soon be growing at USYD. Operating through the Student Representative Council (SRC), in a joint venture with the Centre for English Teaching (CET) and the USYD Food Coop, we can now create an inclusive space where students are empowered to come together- learning from one another through building and maintaining our campus garden. We’ve received the final approval to begin construction of raised garden beds on the 5th floor Balcony of Wentworth building. Accessible through the Centre for English teaching (CET), this location and collaboration provides a unique opportunity for international and domestic students to meet and work in concert. In this expansive space students are invited to participate in workshops from no-dig-gardening to feminism and facilitation – as the garden has the potential to become a hub of cross SRC collective endeavours. Community garden allow those without gardening area or knowledge of their own to join others in a common site for such skills and soil to be shared. Local councils including the City of Sydney with the ‘grow it local’ focus, are increasingly encouraging community garden initiatives in a shift toward local empowerment and vegetating urban environments. Schools have been leaders in such projects with increasing successful University examples. From the rooftop garden at ANU (Canberra) to the vibrant vegetable beds of UOW (Wollongong), campus gardens have brought students together in more ways than planting.

Sustainability, food security, questioning the supermarket monopoly, approaches to mental health, urban ecological understanding, collaboration and community… there is an abundance of reasons and goals for a community garden on our campus. The garden will be a balance of food crops and native flora for education, encouragement of native diversity and self-sufficient food production purposes. Multilingual signage and regular working bees to plant and maintain the garden will ensure a collaborative, volunteer-coordinated project – not to mention opportunities for volunteer participants to feast on the fruits of our labour!

Student input is important at every level of the community garden’s creation. From sprouting skills, to poster design, to volunteer roster coordination – there are many ways to contribute that cater to a diversity of interests and experience. Now that we have our location secured, we are in the final design phase: looking at best permaculture practice to use our space efficiently and sustainably. If there are any budding permaculture designers amongst our student community, why not use this as a first (or umpteenth) project? After we’ve erected the beds, ready for spring planting, watch for the call out for the Inaugural Gardening Bee! Watch this space!
In the meantime we can choose which crops we want to plant, sprout seeds at home and uni, refine the everyday organising of the garden, and complete the finer tasks that as a broad collective we can learn to do together!

I envisage the garden to bring together our broad, dynamic student community in sharing knowledge, skills and experiences- not just about gardening but about our commonalities as students and the diversities of interests and futures. As the representative body for all USYD undergraduates, it is important for the SRC to facilitate these inclusive ventures and hopefully, it can then contribute to making our SRC more accessible and relevant to our diverse community.
We next meet Monday 1pm on the Garden Balcony, Level 5 Wentworth – accessible via the Centre for English teaching, upstairs from International students lounge (or look up at the protruding rail from Hermanns!).

No matter your skills and experience, If you are interested in gardening, or simply finding or expanding your community on campus, contact us at usydcommunitygarden@gmail.com or call me on 0413679269 to find out more!

Amelie Vanderstock gives you the inside word on what the collectives are up to and how to get involved

As second semester brings its usual array of new courses, readings and lab demonstrators, with it comes a refreshed and active SRC! Returning from winter conferences around the country, office bearers and collectives have met, planned and crafternooned to build campus campaigns. If collective didn’t fit into your timetable 1st semester- perhaps now is the chance? From feminism to global solidarity- many likeminded folk are coming together to create change on and off campus;

Anti-racism collective are participating in weekend-ly refugee rallies across the city to demonstrate broad student outcry against the inhumane and outrageous PNG solution. The Indigenous officers have been celebrating NAIDOC week whilst planning for the National Indigenous Tertiary Student Games in September. Disabilities and Carers collective are busy compiling an info-booklet for Carers week in October, and are calling for student carers to complete the online survey. By filling it in and passing it on, we can compile useful stats to pressure the university to recognize carers’ needs! Queer collective is frantically, and fantastically prepping for Pride festival in Week 8, building a campus ally network and seeking identifying writers for Queer Honi! Womens collective will be hosting ‘Knightess’ –showcasing the talents of USYDs incredible women-identifying performers in Week 7.

We’ll then be reclaiming the streets from sexual violence in late October for the annual ‘Reclaim the night’ march. As part of the ‘fossil free universities’ campaign, Environment collective participated in a city-wide ‘divestment’ training on Sunday- joining Doctors for the Environment and other groups who are seeking to withdraw financial ties between coal, CSG and our respective institutions. Join the Thursday discussion group on ‘divestment’ and watch out for some colorful campus actions to learn more!

The Education Action Group (EAG) are working  towards the National Day of Action (NDA) on the 20th of August-where students around the country coordinate rallies, marches and creative campaigning on the value of Education- for everyone, not profit.  This coincides with the USYD strike-support staff, don’t go to class!  It would have been difficult to miss Tuesday’s canvas and color on Eastern Ave, as students from varying faculties, collectives and interests painted banners expressing our reason’s & asks’s for education reform.  ‘Funding education, not deportation’ to recognition of student carer’s – there’s a myriad of ways that we can improve education for all.

Looking for even more ways to engage on campus and meet some rad people of diverse interests? Why not join the community garden collective? In a collaborative SRC endeavour, we sketched and imagined our ideal campus workshop-garden on Sunday- a space for domestic and international students to share knowledge about native and food plants, get our hands dirty and hang out. We’ve come a long way from guerrilla gardening in Eastern Ave- now with a space and ongoing dialogue with Campus infrastructure and the Centre for English teaching and learning- but there’s much room for growth! If you’re interested in organising, brainstorming ideas, learning some gardening skills, or finding out more, feel free to contact me on 0413679269 or by email at  vice.president@src.usyd.edu.au.

Too much happening to remember? Stay updated and get organized by picking up an A1 SRC Semester 2 planner from an Honi stand or the SRC office- collective meetings and events included!!!

vice.president@src.usyd.edu.au