Hello new and returning students for 2015. My name is Kyol Blakeney and I am YOUR President of YOUR Students’ Representative Council (SRC). Firstly, on behalf of the SRC and the undergraduate student population, I would like to pay respect to the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, along with our Elders both past and present. I would like to acknowledge our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and students that are part of this vibrant institution of academia and critical thinking.
In this introduction, I would like to draw attention to student collectives in particular. I believe that top-down approaches and knowledge hierarchies are what hold us back in making progressive change. In my experience, I have found that collectives work to empower people at a grassroots level to have the courage and determination to participate and speak up about things that matter to them.
What is a Collective?
Essentially, collectives are groups of people who organise together to enact change through skill sharing, providing safe spaces and building a supportive network. I see a collective as a good way to get in touch with like-minded people and discuss ideas without the stress of overextending yourself, as you have the freedom to decide your level of involvement. The interests which unite collectives can be almost anything. In the SRC they include Environment, Wom*n’s, Indigenous, International students, Anti-Racism, Queer and many more. What’s that? There isn’t one that suits you? Start your own. Our SRC strives to be a space that is as inclusive as possible. If you want to be more involved in what we do, let us know.
Autonomous collectives are groups of students who identify specifically with a certain race, gender or sexual orientation. They aim to empower those who are traditionally oppressed in society. This includes people who identify as Queer, Ethno-Cultural, Indigenous, Wom*n (check out the Wom*ns Officers’ Report on page 27 for an explanation of the asterisk) and people with disabilities. During my time as Indigenous Officer, Indigenous students were able to form a strong collective to stand up for social justice in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in and outside of the University. The Queer Action Collective were able to raise awareness of issues that people with varying sexual orientations have to face. By doing this, they have created a strong support network for students who identify as Queer. Last year, the Wom*n’s Collective were part of a campaign against the closure of wom*n’s refuges in NSW. There are so many achievements that I can’t list them all in the space I have, but I strongly encourage you to have a flick through this book and explore what you can do during your time at uni.
University is not just about getting a degree or a job. It is a place for debate, new ideas, controversy, and creating progressive change. If you want to see change happen for the better in the coming years, I encourage you to take a leap and have a go. Who knows what YOUR involvement in YOUR SRC could lead to.