Amelie Vanderstock writes an open letter to the student protester

Dear Students on the picket fence,

We are all at university to learn. We are able to do so because we are fortunate and intelligent enough to be to here, to expand our minds and think about the ways of the future. We hence understand that academic freedom, ant-discrimination laws and job security are fundamental to an equitable, quality teaching and learning environment. We can’t possibly disagree with these endeavors. But, we still allow ‘political neutrality’ or fear of short term academic disadvantage to stand in the way of our value for a worthy and fair education institution?

Striking is a polarizing choice. There is no politically neutral ‘grey zone’ when it comes to crossing a picket line.
It is easy not to go to class when our classes are cancelled. That choice is made for us by our lecturer who is striking in solidarity with a majority union vote to stop University operations.

The choice comes when our classes are running. Perhaps, like me, you are of a faculty such as science, where university corporatization is less threatening because it is more ‘economically profitable’. As such, these staff may feel less personally endangered, so choose to continue teaching. But although these subjects are vital, they need not run at the expense of future working conditions of all staff on campus.
Still, as students who value our education, concerns with missing valuable classes cannot be overlooked. Unrecorded lectures, compulsory tutorials, assessable laboratories…we feel by skipping these we’ll miss out on core content, or be unfairly disadvantaged.

The Vice Chancellor capitalized on these concerns when sending every student an email painting the strikes as an “inconvenience” to our studies. Of course administration wishes to isolate students and staff when they are the very body placing the educators, and quality of our education at risk.

But even the Vice Chancellor’s debasing email cannot mask our right as students to support the strike:

“No student will be penalized if their class does not take place or if they are unable to attend their class”

Striking is a legitimate reason for being unable to attended class. We cannot be penalized.

The SRC is here to support you make the choice not to cross the picket line. If you feel you are being unjustly disadvantaged, the SRC Case Workers can help you. Email  or come see us in the SRC office (Basement of Wentworth building).

The SRC values your education as you do, and hence asks all students to choose to stay home, or join the picket on an NTEU strike day. If the University continues to refuse negotiation with the NTEU on fair teaching conditions, there will be another.

To cross or not to cross a picket line is an active, polarizing choice, and we ask you to choose to act in solidarity with your teachers.

Dylan Parker let’s us in to the SSAF allocations

So I’ve been holding off on any SSAF and budget related reports until we received more of an indication from the University in regards to our 2013 funding. On Friday, we finally received the SRC’s funding outlook from the University for 2013, so from now on I can get a little nerdy.
In total, USyd student organisations will be allocated $10,203,401 in SSAF funds, with the breakdown between organisations being:

SRC:    $1,420,000
SUPRA: $1,000,000
CSG: $605,000
SUSF:  $3,763,401
USU: $3,110,000
Student Support Services: $305,000
TOTAL: $10,203,401

So for 2013 this means that the SRC will receive $1,420,000 in SSAF funds,  a reduction the $1,493,093.64 in 2012. From a budgeting perspective this means I can begin to finalise the budget for the 85th Council.

Look, I’ve said it before USyd’s SSAF process isn’t perfect. In fact, its not even great. The University has the power over your money and student organisations are forced to play along. Last year we had to negotiate between ourselves over a fixed figure and the University substituted historical funding with SSAF student money. A large new injection should have been possible.

Frankly, the situation is by no means ideal because with new funds being raised the SRC deserves to be better funded. We provide vital services to students and should be expanding them. However, the good news is that this reduction won’t result in any significant changes to our overall operations. Our caseworkers, legal service, publications, and second-hand bookstore are going to keep on being awesome for another year.

David Pink talks about student activism

Wow, what a whirlwind week of activism it’s been. We’ve pulled off a successful two day strike with the NTEU and CPSU. We had a National Day of Action that saw hundreds of students mobilize at UTS and march to Sydney Uni to help build the pickets. We sat down on City Rd and shut down traffic. It was amazing.

Across the country Sydney had the most successful and well-attended National Day of Action. In my opinion this was because it wasn’t constrained by hierarchical organising and was instead fueled by a genuine grassroots movement. CCEAN, the primary body that organized for the National Day of Action in NSW, agrees. It passed the following motion for consideration by education activists around the country:

“The CCEAN calls for the formation of autonomous rank and file networks in states and regions across Australia. We call on these networks to fight back effectively and without bureaucracy against the brutal attacks of all major parties on education. Where currently there exists a culture of anti-democratic, inaccessible and inept student organising, we call for a broad student movement from outside the cadres of aspiring parliamentarians and union bureaucrats. The CCEAN will provide support to students in their efforts to organise autonomously with advice, solidarity, and within our means material assistance. We will also support such efforts to organise on a national and global scale.”

In Hope,
The Cross Campus Education Action Network

We need to organise now. Our education has been under attack for decades by successive neoliberal governments, and the attacks by the coming Abbott government will probably be more severe than any that preceded it. The point of the CCEAN motion is that we need to start organising ourselves rather than waiting for others to do so, and on our own terms. The era of student politics being run by self-interested hacks fighting for a career, rather than by students fighting for a future, must end.

Our tutorials are packed. Our courses are being cut. Housing costs a limb. Many of us cannot afford proper nutrition. We have to choose between having enough money and enough time to study. We’re stuffed with titanic debt that takes years to repay and that many of us never will. We’re resentful, stressed, we’re bubbling, seething. It’s time to bring together our anger and begin to build mass organisation. Everything we had, like free education, had to be fought for. We can win it back, and more.