President’s Report – Week 8, Sem 1, 2016

This week’s edition of Honi Soit is the autonomous Indigenous edition and I strongly encourage everyone to read through and think about the articles and stories contained in these pages. Whilst we have come some way in terms of recognising the role of Indigenous peoples within the university community, through symbolic actions such as Welcoming and Acknowledging Country, devoting a week in semester to Indigenous culture, and (finally) having the Aboriginal flag flown permanently on main campus, there are still so many questions and challenges to face when it comes to reconciling Indigenous and non-Indigenous members of the university community. It is important to think about the rates of Indigenous enrolment and retention at Sydney Uni, and what lengths the university goes to in ensuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff feel welcomed on campus. This was identified as a key goal of Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence when he took on the role, and yet alongside this we have seen funding cuts and attempted closures of Indigenous learning and cultural centres on campus. Non-Indigenous members of the university community must ask ourselves: what does reconciliation really look like? How does it play out in our lecture theatres, classrooms, and boardrooms? Just how much are we prepared to challenge our prejudices and ignorance in order to achieve true reconciliation, rather than just a feel-good newspaper headline or advertising campaign? Hopefully, this week’s edition will take us further towards that goal and understanding. If nothing else, I can guarantee you’ll learn a thing or two from reading it. Enjoy and remember – always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

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