Posts for the Womens Dept

Emily Rayers talks about colleges and the NUS ‘Talk About It’ survey

CLEO magazine may not be the most traditional source of reliable or feminist journalism but this month’s Undercover at O-Week feature certainly hit the nail on the head for me. While news coverage of college culture always involves an element of sensationalism and relies on a weird fascination with young adults as opposed to genuine concern for their wellbeing, I have no doubt that the information presented by the media is true and comes from honest sources.

I attended two of the Sydney colleges, starting at a mixed college fresh out of high school and returning 18 months later to a single sex college. I look back on my college experiences with mixed emotions, feeling grateful for the opportunity to make lifelong friends, nostalgic for the excitement of the first few Wednesday nights at the Sals (the bar at St Paul’s) and discomfort with many aspects of the behaviour of the student body.

Processing and articulating my discomfort with various things that occurred during my college experience was very difficult at the time due to the pressure from the Student’s Club and from admin to keep all complaints insular and never to speak to media. In a less official manner the separation of college students from ‘Muggles’ creates a social situation where your good friends are other college students and doesn’t foster discussion with external viewpoints. It is also really difficult as someone new to party culture and to university and college to separate the fun, excitement and adventure from the aspects of it that frighten or worry you.

In order to allow students in university accommodation to speak up we need a system that holds colleges accountable and forces them to be transparent. We need external systems for handling complaints and opportunities for students to lodge anonymous or general grievances without naming perpetrators or identifying themselves. Speaking up in college means ostracizing yourself from your peers, and the majority of 18 year olds – myself included – value fitting in above speaking out.

I urge all women students, whether living at university accommodation or not, to participate in the ‘Talk About It’ survey developed by the National Union of Students. This is the second time the survey has been open for submissions and it is vital that we have a significant number of responses to work with. All questions need to be answered in order to submit but feel free to answer with ‘I do not wish to answer’ or ‘I have no response for this question’ if you are uncomfortable with any of them.

Find the survey at and help us to make this campus a safer and more respectful place for all students.

If you are interested in being more involved in Women’s Collective or would like to contribute ideas or information for our campaigns email:, tweet @SRCwomens or join our Facebook group ‘USyd Women’s Collective’.

Hannah Smith tells you what’s on with the women’s collective

Hi all! What a busy week it has been for the Women’s Collective. On Monday, some of us attended the History Society’s ‘Girl Effect’ trivia night. The night was part of a larger program run by the USU around the Girl Effect campaign which aims to empower women worldwide through access to education, health care and resources. As part of the campaign, we held a discussion in Women’s Collective on Wednesday on global women’s issues and the place western women have in addressing these issues.

We are also very excited to have launched the cross-campus women’s network this week. On Wednesday evening, we got together at UTS with women from UNSW, USYD, Uni of Wollongong and UTS and held a “craftivism” evening. We made badges, zines and bunting for the women’s room. We look forward to working with the network on big projects throughout the year such as Blue Stockings Week and Reclaim the Night.

In addition to this, both Emily and I are really excited to work with women’s collective and any other interested women students in producing the upcoming edition of Women’s Honi Soit. Women’s Honi is an important way for women to gain skills in traditionally male-dominated professions such as writing and publishing as well as starting conversations about women’s issues. We would like to see a broad cross-section of women involved this year, so please get in contact with us if you are at all interested!

As always, we would love to hear from you. Tweet us at @SRCwomens join the “Usyd Womens Collective” Facebook group or email us at We meet every Wednesday at 1pm in the women’s room (Level 1, Manning House).

Hannah Smith

Emily Rayers reports on the happenings of the Women’s Collective

In 2010, for the first time ever, the Academy Award for best direction was won by a woman (Kathryn Bigelow). In the history of the awards, over 80 years, only 3 women had ever been nominated for best director – that’s a representation of 0.75% of nominations, despite 16% of directors being women.

Women are under-represented both in the media workforce and in media awards. In feature films, women make up 29% of producers, 20% of writers and 16% of directors. While this participation rate is low, and the reasons behind it ought to be examined, far more distressing is the comparative recognition women receive for their work: of the top 250 grossing box office films in 2011 only 5% were directed by women, and fewer than that received any awards or even nominations.

If you’re reading this column, we can probably agree that this discrepancy is not a result of women being inherently worse at directing or producing films. The low representation and recognition of women in media is a reflection of the society we live in. During collective this week we discussed the portrayal of women in the media, and many great points were made about the shallow stereotypes put forward: women are either bitchy or sickly sweet, innocent virgins or ‘sluts’. With a traditional media representation like that, how many women would want to work in the industry?

Other issues involve a lack of women mentors within the industry and poor financial compensation for women. True to common trends in all careers, a study from 2011 showed women in film were on significantly lower salaries than men both in production and other roles, and regardless of whether it was free-to-air or subscription TV channels.

When faced with huge imbalances such as this it can be difficult to know how to make a difference. As women, and men, we can support and encourage women in the industry by acknowledging their unrecognized work – you can start this week by attending the Seen & Heard festival’s final night on Thursday 21st March at the Red Rattler, Marrickville. Tickets $15 for adults and $10 for students.

Seen & Heard aims to showcase films with women involved in major production roles (writing, producing and directing). The festival is back for it’s fourth year and is bigger and better than ever, showing some incredible short films and celebrating diversity and intersectionality. This Thursday is the third and final night and promises to be something pretty special, with fictional and documentary films from across the globe including Australia, UK, Germany and Puerto Rico.

If you are interesting in joining the Women’s Collective in attending Seen & Heard, or would like to be a part of the collective feel free to come along to our meetings at 1pm Wednesdays in the Women’s Room, Manning House. You can also email, search for ‘Usyd Women’s Collective’ on Facebook or send us a tweet – @SRCwomens.  Have a great week!

Women’s Report

Emily Rayers reports back on women’s collective

It’s been another busy week for the Women’s Collective! We hope you have all started to settle in to your classes and timetable and are looking forward to the semester ahead.
Our first meeting took place on Wednesday, and we had so much new interest that we were practically spilling outside the door of the Women’s Room! It was fantastic to catch up with old members, meet so many new members and, hear some really great ideas for activism and social events through the coming year. Don’t let the lack of space deter you from joining us at our next meeting – there is always room for more enthusiasm around women’s issues and we have a place in our ranks for every woman on campus.

As you are likely aware, International Women’s Day occurred last Friday – an annual event which has been an international celebration for over 100 years. Much of our time last week was spent at various events celebrating the achievements of women, remembering how far we have come and remembering that we still have much further to go in women’s activism.
The Women’s Collective hosted a stall on Friday at the IWD festival hosted by the USU and had a fantastic day. The combination of sunshine, fairy floss, fabulous tunes from Eirwen Skye and the company of so many wonderful women made for a perfect way to celebrate! Huge congratulations go out to the USU Women’s Convenor and Women’s Collective member, Eve Radunz, who did an
amazing job organising everything despite lots of unexpected setbacks on the way!

Many of our members also attended the Sydney-wide International Women’s Day march on Saturday. After catching up over some yummy homemade snacks we wandered over to Town Hall and joined hundreds of other Sydney women to raise awareness for and push for action to end violence and discrimination to women. There was a huge turnout for the march and it was not only a great success but a LOT of fun to march with friends and alongside the UTS and UNSW Women’s Collectives!

The Seen&Heard festival continues this Thursday evening at The Red Rattler in Marrickville, showcasing films produced, directed or largely influenced by women. For more information see their Facebook event ‘Seen & Heard Film Festival 2013’.

As always, if you would like to join the Women’s Collective feel free to come along to our meetings at 1pm Wednesdays in the Women’s Room at Manning house. Alternatively request to join our Facebook group ‘Usyd Women’s Collective’, tweet us (@SRCwomens) or phone the SRC on 9660 5222.