On this day in history, in 1967, boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused to be inducted into the U.S. Army. Ali, a Muslim, cited religious reasons for his decision to forgo military service. Your Welfare Officers are not professing to such lofty heights of bravery or subversiveness, however I think it is important that we as a student body are able to recognise and applaud acts of defiance against situations that force upon us feelings of discomfort or shame. I have been lucky enough to receive several accounts of these acts through the recently launched Your Stories, Your Words welfare campaign. We have asked that any student who has encountered drugs or alcohol come forward and submit their stories – positive or negative – about their experiences to raise awareness about the reality of recreational drug use.
The submissions that I have already received have been incredibly moving, with stories of students who have stood up to aversive experiences for their health, their relationships and their wellbeing. Our theme of courage extends to the efforts of our Welfare Action Group, seeking to address the concerns of first-year students who are battling against the often daunting experience of transition into university academic and social life. What I have learnt from this campaign and from those who have been engaged in the Action Group, is that we feel we can stand up for ourselves when we have a support group who are willing to catch us when we fall. At Sydney University, the SRC and its Office Bearers are here to act as your support group. If you are interested in submitting for Your Stories, Your Words please go to http://tinyurl.com/welfarecampaign, or to attend the Welfare Action Group meetings, keep an eye on our Facebook page: ‘Sydney University Welfare Action Group’. You don’t need to be a world heavyweight champion to fight for your rights and wellbeing, and in those times that you feel like hanging up the gloves, remember you have a student body who are here to fight in your place until you’re ready to get back in the ring.