SRC President’s Report – Week 1, Sem 2, 2018

Imogen Imogen Grant

Welcome back to Semester 2! The SRC has been working hard over the break to help students with academic appeals and show cause. I have also spoken at a number of orientation events to ensure that new students know about the SRC.
Unfortunately, the University is still charging ahead with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation in hope to score a deal to establish a racist Bachelor of Western Civilisation degree.

The Ramsay Centre aims to give academic respectability to racist ideas under the guise of celebrating ‘Western Civilisation’ and its supposed supremacy. Speaking to the course content of the proposed Ramsay Centre, Abbott affirmed the Centre’s conservative and Eurocentric vision, emphasising “it’s not just about Western Civilisation but in favour of it.”

University staff have expressed well founded concerns regarding academic independence. Ramsay Centre CEO Simon Haines has said they will review all course content, not hire academics who have criticised Western civilisation and will withdraw funding if they think the course isn’t sufficiently pro-West.

Universities should be a place to challenge dominant ideas, institutions and systems—not a place where billionaires can buy influence over curriculum, staffing and pedagogy in order to pedal racism disguised as appreciation for ‘Western Culture’.

The University is selling control over its curriculum to the highest bidder and turning a blind eye to academic freedom and integrity to do so. The SRC, along with the NTEU, is taking a strong stance against the University entering into any arrangement with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. On Wednesday 8 August 6pm-9pm we will be hosting a forum on the fight against the Ramsay Centre. See the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/489536344793156/
Finally, THIS Wednesday is the one year anniversary of the Australian Human RIghts Commission’s landmark report on sexual harassment and sexual assault on university campuses. The National Union of Students and women’s collectives across the state will be holding a National Day of Action at 12pm Wednesday 1 August outside Fisher Library. See the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/491353347980626/

The anniversary will inevitably see university managements use the report to posture as being at the forefront of institutional reform when, in reality, it’s the result of the hard work of survivors and feminist activists.
At USyd, management plan to launch an online sexual assault reporting portal that they know is not trauma-informed and will artificially reduce reporting rates by deterring survivors.

This portal includes a 10 minute time limit on leaving the form inactive which means survivors cannot take breaks and are forced to write an account of their rape in a single sitting. It also places strict word limits on survivors describing “what happened”, asks for your gender, sexuality and what health services you have accessed post-assault, and there is still enormous ambiguity as to whether the University can guarantee confidentiality & anonymity with a range of staff being able to access the information at the back end, including ICT staff.

The SRC Casework team and I believe that it would be unethical and irresponsible to proceed as planned and, therefore, are taking every step to ensure the University does not launch the portal on 1 August. Having a functional policy and set of procedures, far outweighs celebrating an anniversary. Rushing to meet that deadline undermines the efficacy of the project, and neglects meaningful collaboration, placing survivors in a position where they will bear the brunt of a broken portal.

Feel free to email me on president@src.usyd.edu.au if you have any concerns or wish to get involved with the SRC. I wish you the best of luck for the year ahead and look forward to seeing you on the streets!