Welcome to the third Office-Bearer report. We’re happy to see that you’ve made it this far into the handbook, we’re sorry there’s no prize – except knowledge(!). We are Jariana (but please, never ever call us this), the General Secretaries for 2014, and it’s the first time in recent memory that this position has been split between two people. Our role in the SRC grew out of an amalgamation of the Secretary and Treasurer positions, which means that much of our job relates to bookkeeping and overlooking of the SRC’s finances, as well as compiling the budget every year in cooperation with the President and Chitra Narayanan, the SRC’s administration manager. Our job description also involves promoting the activities of the SRC and student unionism in general, which is why we have such a big role in the compilation of this handbook. We both strongly believe in the values of unionism and intend to spend our term ensuring that students know about the services the SRC has to offer. Given that there are two of us, we hope that means we can get twice as much done for all the campaigns and activism on campus.
At this point we want to be open, so full disclosure: James is a member of the Labor Left and Mariana is in the Grassroots Left. We are both progressive and believe in the right to free and accessible education. As young activists, we believe it’s important to make the personal political and to open about our political beliefs. We condemn the PNG solution and believe Australia should welcome all refugees. We stand in solidarity with Indigenous Australians, the custodians of the land on which we live, learn and work, which was never ceded and will always be Aboriginal land.
We believe that women should have full control over their own bodies and reproductive rights. These are not only our personal values, but also the values supported and campaigned for by your SRC. The political environment of our country has become saturated with a lack of vision and a lack of political clarity; political entities are afraid to be clear about what they stand for, in case a marginal electorate disagrees. This is not the case with your SRC and we hope with most students on campus. University is a time to explore your views, have them be challenged, and re-examine them critically. Engaging in political discussions is not only a hallmark of the university experience, but an integral aspect of what it means to be an active citizen. We urge those who share our views, as well as those who don’t, to get involved in the SRC and the political ideas and struggles it focuses on.
Enough political manifesto, back to spruiking. What you’ll read about a lot in this handbook are the services offered by the SRC. These include the free legal service, the free case working service and the independent advocacy done on your behalf. This means that if you ever need to see a lawyer but can’t afford one or would prefer not to pay, you can make an appointment at the SRC’s front desk, or drop in at the designated hours for a private appointment. The same goes for the caseworkers, who are veritable experts on Centrelink, academic advice (like dropping subjects and how that affects your transcript), and accommodation to name just a few things. For example, they can give you a referral to stay in STUCCO, the USYD student housing cooperative’s temporary accommodation if you suddenly find yourself homeless or unable to live at your regular residence.
This handbook is not intended to be the decisive guide to all things university, but hopefully it makes for a good stepping stone on the path of knowledge.
James Leeder and Mariana Podesta-Diverio
SRC General Secretaries 2014