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

DANIEL ERGAS and ISABELLA PYTKA

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

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

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

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

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

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