SRC Presidents Report – Week 1, Sem 1, 2018

Imogen Grant

The SRC has had a brilliant start of the year at Orientation Week. The SRC collected hundreds of sign ups from students who want to get active in their student union. We also gave out 1,500 tote bags and spoke to thousands of students about SRC campaigns, their rights on campus, and the incredible services we offer.

Moreover, for the first time the SRC has translated our Counter Course guide into Chinese! It is critical that the SRC does more to engage with the international student community and fight on issues affecting them. I hope you enjoy reading this new edition of Counter Course, you can find it here – https://tinyurl.com/ydghtuug.

In Orientation Week the SRC also protested in response to EROC’s ‘The Red Zone Report’ which exposes vile college rituals and abuse at universities across the country, along with the complete failure of colleges to address rape and misogyny within their own communities. It recounted horrific incidents of abuse including swallowing live goldfish, setting pubic hair on fire, male residents habitually masturbating into womens’ shampoo bottles, locking new students in bathrooms and tipping vats of dead fish on them, and forcing residents to consume more than a dozen drinks without a bathroom stop, causing them to wet their pants. One of the case studies in the report also deals with Stuart Kelly, who took his own life after living in St Paul’s College. His parents are demanding an inquest and suspect catastrophic hazing happened to their son on the one night he stayed at St Paul’s College.

The rally was a tremendous effort from the SRC Women’s Collective and brought together around 200 students in opposition to abuse and sexual assault in university communities. It was also fantastic to see a strong presence of staff members from the National Tertiary Education Union. Staff have a vital stake in discussions around campus safety and it is through working in solidarity that we will see change.

During O-Week, students also mobilised in opposition to LifeChoice, the anti-abortion group on campus. Previously, the club was rejected by the USU on the grounds that it would not “enrich the student experience at university”. However, eventually this decision was overturned by the board. This means that student money and spaces administered by the Union are going to a club that targets women and the choices they make regarding their reproductive health. Moreover, by continuing to include it in their C&S program, the Union is undermining the very safety and inclusivity that it seeks to promote. Anti-choicers have the right to free speech but, as a former SRC office bearer Rafi Alam said when the club was first established, “the USU is not the government and their role isn’t to facilitate all forms of speech, only forms of speech that benefit students and are democratically decided by students, not the kind of violent speech this group produces”. If you wish to get involved with Women’s Collective, contact the SRC

Women’s Officers at womens.officers@src.usyd.edu.au.

Finally, last Saturday marked the 40th anniversary of Mardi Gras and was also a landmark celebration after the marriage equality win. Mardi Gras has a long history of protest, having come out of a 1978 rally for queer pride that was brutally shut down by police. The slogan was “Stop police attacks on Gays, Women and Blacks!”. Today’s activist interventions into Mardi Gras – such as ‘No Pride in Detention’ and ‘Department of Homo Affairs’ – are critical to reigniting this tradition. Activists around the country are also fighting back against the pinkwashing of the police who have an extremely strong history of homophobia and transphobia, and are the very reason for Mardi Gras existing in the first place! Police presence in Mardi Gras is a slap in the face to every marginalised person who has ever been mistreated by the cops. Activists and community organisers are out there doing the real work to strengthen Australia’s LGBTQI community and are beginning the hard work of healing the damage inflicted every day by the police.
Feel free to email me at president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. If you are experiencing any academic, personal or legal issues and wish to seek the advice of an SRC caseworker or solicitor, contact us at 9660 5222 or help@src.usyd.edu.au.