David Pink outlines some important student rights you should know about

The Student Bill of Rights
In your dealings with the University and its staff you have a right to:

Representation
At all times either as a group or an individual you have the right to seek representation. Your SRC can and will advocate on behalf of students.

No Sexual Harassment
Students have the right to freedom from sexual harassment and other offensive material and behavior.

No Discrimination
Every student has the right to be free from discrimination based on a characteristic or condition such as race, sex, disability, and sexuality. This includes the behavior of University staff and fellow students.

Disability Support
All students with a disability have a right to expect action by the administration or teaching staff to accommodate their specific needs. This includes lecture taping and the provision of course notes.

Appeal
You have the right to expect timely, confidential, procedurally fair and unbiased appeals, academic exclusion/satisfactory progress or misconduct decisions.

Privacy and Confidentiality
You have the right to ensure that the University does not disclose any of your personal information including marks to other without your formal consent.

Freedom of Information
The University often keeps a file on all students. Every student has the right to access their file. Students also have the right to see their exam papers after have been marked.

Assessment Criteria Information
Students have the right to clear and early written information about all your assessment requirements. These requirements should not change without equal written notice being provided to students.

Assessed Against Explicit Criteria
Grades or marks that are best determined on the basis of performance against clear criteria or standards rather than by reference to the performance of the group.

Special Consideration
If students suffer illness, misadventure or is impeded from meeting assessment criteria you have the right to be granted special consideration.

Consultation Time with Academic Staff
While staff are very busy, all teaching staff should be required to be provide each course with consultation time. You should check your course information hand-out for this information.

Security on Campus
Students need to feel safe on campus. You have a right to expect adequate security services and lighting.

Childcare
Students have the right to expect from the University accessible and affordable childcare.

president@src.usyd.edu.au

Amelie Vanderstock gives you the inside word on what the collectives are up to and how to get involved

As second semester brings its usual array of new courses, readings and lab demonstrators, with it comes a refreshed and active SRC! Returning from winter conferences around the country, office bearers and collectives have met, planned and crafternooned to build campus campaigns. If collective didn’t fit into your timetable 1st semester- perhaps now is the chance? From feminism to global solidarity- many likeminded folk are coming together to create change on and off campus;

Anti-racism collective are participating in weekend-ly refugee rallies across the city to demonstrate broad student outcry against the inhumane and outrageous PNG solution. The Indigenous officers have been celebrating NAIDOC week whilst planning for the National Indigenous Tertiary Student Games in September. Disabilities and Carers collective are busy compiling an info-booklet for Carers week in October, and are calling for student carers to complete the online survey. By filling it in and passing it on, we can compile useful stats to pressure the university to recognize carers’ needs! Queer collective is frantically, and fantastically prepping for Pride festival in Week 8, building a campus ally network and seeking identifying writers for Queer Honi! Womens collective will be hosting ‘Knightess’ –showcasing the talents of USYDs incredible women-identifying performers in Week 7.

We’ll then be reclaiming the streets from sexual violence in late October for the annual ‘Reclaim the night’ march. As part of the ‘fossil free universities’ campaign, Environment collective participated in a city-wide ‘divestment’ training on Sunday- joining Doctors for the Environment and other groups who are seeking to withdraw financial ties between coal, CSG and our respective institutions. Join the Thursday discussion group on ‘divestment’ and watch out for some colorful campus actions to learn more!

The Education Action Group (EAG) are working  towards the National Day of Action (NDA) on the 20th of August-where students around the country coordinate rallies, marches and creative campaigning on the value of Education- for everyone, not profit.  This coincides with the USYD strike-support staff, don’t go to class!  It would have been difficult to miss Tuesday’s canvas and color on Eastern Ave, as students from varying faculties, collectives and interests painted banners expressing our reason’s & asks’s for education reform.  ‘Funding education, not deportation’ to recognition of student carer’s – there’s a myriad of ways that we can improve education for all.

Looking for even more ways to engage on campus and meet some rad people of diverse interests? Why not join the community garden collective? In a collaborative SRC endeavour, we sketched and imagined our ideal campus workshop-garden on Sunday- a space for domestic and international students to share knowledge about native and food plants, get our hands dirty and hang out. We’ve come a long way from guerrilla gardening in Eastern Ave- now with a space and ongoing dialogue with Campus infrastructure and the Centre for English teaching and learning- but there’s much room for growth! If you’re interested in organising, brainstorming ideas, learning some gardening skills, or finding out more, feel free to contact me on 0413679269 or by email at  vice.president@src.usyd.edu.au.

Too much happening to remember? Stay updated and get organized by picking up an A1 SRC Semester 2 planner from an Honi stand or the SRC office- collective meetings and events included!!!

vice.president@src.usyd.edu.au

Hannah Smith reports on the collaborations between QuAC and women’s collective

Hi everyone! This year some women’s collective members and myself have been working with women from Queer Action Collective (QuAC) and the USU’s Queer programs department on starting a Queer Women’s Network.

We started last semester with an afternoon tea in Verge gallery with approximately 50 women in attendance. It was a great opportunity for queer women to get to know each other and talk about what they would like in a university based network. We are now looking towards a movie and pizza night, and eventually having regular meetings similar to women’s collective or QuAC.

We have been inspired and encouraged by University of Melbourne’s network- which features the weekly “Ladies who lunch with Ladies” event as well as UNSW’s network featuring the “No-homers club” and the “feminist queer book club”.

Some of you may be wondering why it’s necessary for queer women to have their own network/space at the university. We have active, inclusive women’s collectives and queer collectives- isn’t that enough?

Some queer women who are active in both circles will be able to tell you that often women’s organizing can orient towards hetersexual, cis-gendered experiences- particularly on issues like harassment, assault and reproductive rights. In addition, Queer organizing is often heavily focused on men’s experiences- take for example the marriage equality campaign- it often focuses heavily on white, cis-gendered men.

Since neither women’s nor queer spaces often provide enough time, space and resources for queer women, sometimes it is necessary to create an autonomous space.

The network is still in it’s infancy, but many of the women involved so far envision a well-resourced, active and social network that provides a safe space for queer women at Sydney University.

usydwomenscollective@gmail.com

Jay Ng & Bowie Yau update you on keeping safe in Sydney

Welcome (back) to the second semester everyone.

Safety Issues

We would like to inform you about a serious attack and robbery last week in Perth. A Japanese international student was threatened with a knife by two offenders and was badly beaten at 6:20pm, as he was walking home.
As it is still winter time, sunsets really early, pay special attention to any suspicious activities or people around you when walking alone in the dark. Please be aware that listening to devices such as MP3 players or talking on phones may be distracting and hinder your ability to be aware of dangers in your own environment. If you are on campus at night and feel unsafe, you can contact our campus security (phone no.). Walk in well-lit and regularly used areas of the campus, as well as using the free shuttle bus to and from Redfern Station. If you have experienced physical danger or threats, please do not be afraid to contact to the police or other relevant services.

For more information, check out the City of Sydney flyer.

Council of International Students Australia

The international students collective has attended the CISA conference over the break. It was an insightful event and we would like to welcome their new president, Thomson Ch’ng. Our collective has been working with Mr. Ch’ng and he is the best and professional candidate to represent all international students. CISA is a non-profit organization that aims to unify and help all international students. If you are interested in connecting with them and joining their events such as International Students Leadership Program, check out cisa.edu.au.

international.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

 

Tenaya Alattas can’t forgive the Public Order and Riot Squad

The violence that occurred on the five days of industrial action at the University of Sydney last semester will not soon be forgotten: police deployments by the administration effectively militarized our campuses; picketers (students and non-students alike) were arrested en masse; a staff member suffered internal damage to her liver; a students head was stomped on, community members/ union representatives were beaten and maimed by punitive riot cops; and there was also the emotional wounds, the psychological trauma that lingers long after the physical bruises have healed. All this because students, staff and community members held picket lines in order to refuse the privatization of their universities, as do students in Europe for weeks, without any police response whatsoever.

Another consequence of the police violence is that the original political message – in the case of the students, the project of defending the rights of staff through strike action—has been drowned out by discussions about “violence,” about who gets to be a “good” or a “bad” protester. The former was the student caught up in the heat; the latter was the ‘outside agitator’ or professional protestor who knew what to say (or what not to say) when questioned by the police. My point here is that whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’ protester the police were interested in the potential violence on the picket as opposed to the violence the picketers experienced. And this is not to say that this violence is not new; it is only that for many of us, it has remained invisible at the University of Sydney. The ‘scuffle’ is the reappearance on campus of what the NSW police and the Public order and Riot Squad (PORC) do every day to poor people — without video cameras (or I-phones) present, without stories in the Guardian or letters from concerned faculty. And at USYD too the handcuffs, capsicum spray, pistols, horses, vans and those creepy leather gloves have became an extension of the bureaucratic violence of the administration.

With the next strike on the 20th of August I think it is important to stress that there can be no dialogue with the threat of violence. The VC is terrified of losing control in his ability to undermine the working conditions of staff, ‘welcomes the assistance’ of the police presence on campus and is ready to turn the riot police on anyone who dares to raise their voice in protest. But this isn’t dialogue with the riot police in the background, as they form a line, smirk, slip on their leather gloves and tell us to “get ready for the beat down”. However, I refuse to smother my rage, cover my wounds and smile as I submit to further exploitation. I hope to see you at the picket lines 7 am, August 20th.

education.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

Dylan Parker talks about the SRC Legal Service

Recently David, the SRC’s Solicitor, our Admin Manager and I had our regular SRC legal service board meeting so I thought it worth was worth giving you an run down on all things legal.

If you weren’t already aware, the SRC is in the unique position that we provide a free, in house free legal service. Our lawyers are both willing and able to provide not only initial advice but even represent you in court. They’re able to provide advice and assistance on a wide range of topics ranging from speeding infringements to immigration assistance.

Established in 2010 by then President Eli Howse and VP Phil Boncardo, the SRC Legal Service broke new ground for student associations across the country. Where previously the SRC contracted out to Redfern Legal Service for a fee by setting up our own service, Eli and Phil were able to provide a more expansive service for students at smaller price tag.

This year David and I as directors of the legal service have had the pleasure of working with Annie, Maggie, and Chitra in building upon this initial win for students.

As General Secretary this year, there has been no greater joy than working with our amazing staff and hearing about the awesome work they do.  That’s why I am pleased to write, that in 2013 I am pleased to say that David and I have delivered the most funding to our SRC legal service yet bringing the total to $110,000 dedicated to representing students. This will mean an additional day of legal access on campus each and every week.

general.secretary@src.usyd.edu.au

 

David Pink points out what the SRC has done for you lately

Students had two big wins at last week’s Academic Standards and Policy committee. If its recommendations are adopted by the Academic Board:

1. Absent fails will no longer count as a 0, instead a mark between 0 and 49 will be recorded.

2. Discontinue fails will continue to count for progression requirements, but won’t have any mark recorded or have any effect on WAMs.

This took place in the context of a review of grades – a particularly contentious discussion was over whether or not Absent Fails (where a student misses an exam, or does not submit an assessment) should continue to attract a mark of 0. The SRC argued very strongly that a mark of 0 was a disproportionate and harsh penalty, especially because it could potentially knock someone out of Honours because of one subject on their transcript. Under the new system the exact mark an Absent Fail will attract will not necessarily be tied to assessment results, but will be determined at the discretion of the Faculty.

There was consensus in the committee that to continue to give a mark of 0 for Discontinue Fails would only create a perverse incentive for people to Absent Fail (and therefore not seek help from the university, but simply fail to hand in assessments). As a result, Discontinue Fails will still affect progression requirements (meaning the university can help students stay on track), but they will not mean a black mark on a student’s WAM.

president@src.usyd.edu.au

Amelie Vanderstock reports on the Students of Sustainability conference held over the holidays

Environment Collective spent an active winter in Tasmania with the Australian Student Environment Network (ASEN) at the Students of Sustainability conference (SOS). Each year, SOS creates a safe space to explore ideas of environmental justice and its intersections with social movements. Eating vegan deliciousness, camping, dancing and skill-sharing with likeminded folk from around the country meant whether we were workshop facilitators, movement oldies, or first-timers, we could learn, make friends and work towards a sustainable world together.

Over five days in Leterrermairrener country, Launceston, we participated in workshops from ‘Theories of change’ to ‘Permaculture 101’ and even tree climbing. In plenaries, inspirational Indigenous elders including Darren Bloomfeld shared stories of continued dispossession by mining- and stressed why we must work together for sovereignty. We learnt of Tasmania’s current environmental politics surrounding the Tasmanian forestry agreement (TFA) which involves a protest-silencing ‘durability’ clause when forests remain unprotected. From Alice Hungerford and Bob Brown’s reflections on the Franklin river campaign, to Jonathan Moylan’s view of direct action- collective shared successes, struggles and tactics with experienced activists and community campaigners.
In the founding state of Australia’s environmental justice movement, our deepest learning and shared experience lay in the Post-SOS Roadtrip. A convey of 40 ASEN students joined local forest crew from ‘Still Wild Still Threatened and ‘Huon Valley Environment Centre’ for 1402 km to explore and protect Tassie’s native forests. We camped in the Upper Florentine, where for six years the lively community of ‘Camp Floz’ prevented logging of 1000ha granted, less than a month ago, UN World Heritage.  Miranda Gibson brought us to her home of 457 days in the canopy of ‘Observer Tree’, where she not only shared Tassie’s unique ecological values with the world- but prevented logging by her presence. Scott Jordan from ‘Save the Tarkine’ led us into the mystical temperate rainforest. Such a magical walk was contrasted by sickly orange sludge oozing through eucalypts at a discontinues aluminum tailings dam base further into the Tarkine. No words could describe our shock when we saw (and smelt!) such ‘rehabilitation’.

Contrasting beautiful forests with their destruction re- catalysed our need to take action. Native growth forests are still being logged by forestry Tasmania despite the TFA, and human-rights violating companies like Ta Ann are feeding veneer mills with old growth despite ‘ripe’ plantations. Learning by doing with forest crew, collective members participated in direct actions to reveal this ‘chain of custody’- from constructing tree sits in logging coups to stopping work of mill machinery. The Media hiatus generated reinstated the controversy in national eyes- allowing us to help forest crew and learn skills for home.

However, it wasn’t just skills that made the roadtrip one-in-a-lifetime. It was a powerful learning experience regarding collective interactions and consensus decision making. Where respect and trust in my ASEN comrades stood out, was the night a centuries old myrtle fell onto a campfire and two friends, including Marco from collective (*both fine!). At that moment everyone snapped into self-facilitated, coordinated action. We were fire fighters, first aiders, camp constructors, carers… And when we were threatened by loggers with knowledge of our whereabouts? We were able to collectively decide, under the pressure of conglomerate emergency, a plan of action. Collective decision making is a process- and doesn’t get harder or more rewarding than that moment. Nor does the comradery I felt with all involved.

Winter in Tasmania, through SOS and the roadtrip, was an experience environment collective will never forget. We’ve been incredibly inspired by the forests and crew- and excited to return in December for a “Fearless Summer” of forest Campaigning.
But it’s not just Tassie’s forests which remain under threat. The red alert has been sent by blockaders of the Leard State Forest, NSW. Whitehaven have just received approval to commence construction of the new mine despite a courtcase revealing corruption of Tony Burke’s EPBC approval. Enviro collective will be blockading together to stop forest destruction- contact us or “Front Line Action on Coal” to join!

Amelie Vanderstock

environment.officers@src.usyd.edu.au

Eleanor Morley implores you to get involved in the refugee campaign

A few weeks ago, Kevin Rudd announced that from now on, no asylum seeker who travels to Australia by boat will ever be resettled on our shores, instead they will first be sent to Manus Island for mandatory detention, with the aim of being settled in Papua New Guinea. I am writing this report to convince you why we should give a shit about the lives of refugees (not economic migrants, not ‘boat people: refugees), and why it is now necessary that we mobilise both here on campus and in the wider community to fight Rudd’s anti-humanitarian policy.

Modern Australia has a dark history; genocide, stolen land, stolen generations to name but a few. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past. Instead of building the foundations for a national apology in twenty years (considering the high rates of self-harm and mental and physical illnesses caused by mandatory detention, I believe this to be inevitable), let Australia treat those fleeing persecution with kindness, compassion and open arms. We should not turn our backs on those fleeing wars Australia has played a role in creating.
It is important not to believe the lies of deterrence our government is feeding us. Last year we were told that mandatory detention on Nauru and Manus Island was necessary in order to prevent deaths at sea. However, more refugees have arrived by boat to Australia since August last year than the previous year. The real catalyst for this policy is to feed in to a racist rhetoric initiated by Pauline Hanson and John Howard that Abbott has in recent years brought back to the forefront of political discourse. Instead of taking leadership and educating the nation on why it is people flee their homes to secure a future free from persecution, the Labor party has adopted this racist view, feigned as a humanitarian solution. But nothing we can do short of sinking boats could be worse than the conditions in war torn countries refugees are fleeing; thus, they will continue to seek asylum.

Rather than extinguishing the final glimmer of hope for a future, Australia should be a nation that offers safety; we should do what we can to ease the suffering of our fellow human beings. After all, imagine if it were your daughter, father, cousin or friend.
This is an issue that we cannot solve at the ballot box; both the Labor and Liberal Parties have offered abhorrent policy that are a blatant abuse of Human Rights. If you would like to get involved with the campaign to free the refugees, contact me at emor6283@uni.sydney.edu.au, come along to the Usyd anti racism collective every Wednesday at 11 on the New Law lawns, or the refugee action coalition every Monday night at 6 at the teachers federation building in Surry Hills.

Eleanor Morley

eleanor.m.morley@gmail.com

 

Fahad Ali reflects on the inhumanity of Labor’s PNG plan

By no measure is Australia a completely queer-friendly country, but in many respects we are lucky to live here. Queerphobic bullying and discrimination still occurs in schools and in the workplace, intersex and sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people still do not receive legal recognition, and even the allegedly ‘progressive’ Labor Government cannot follow its own National Platform and legislate for marriage equality.

But we’re doing a lot better than Uganda, where parliament is considering a bill that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, Saudi Arabia, where the death penalty can be issued to anyone engaging in ‘political advocacy’, and Russia, where queerphobic violence is rife and new anti-propaganda laws make it a crime to express one’s sexual or gender identity.

Just because we’re not under threat of being sentenced to lashings or being stoned to death does not mean we should ignore these injustices around the world. We need to be ready to stand up and fight. As a letter in last week’s Honi explained, “reaction before any injustice in any part of the world is a duty.”

Radical action has always been and will always be the only way to effect social change. Anyone who denies this is either naïve, uneducated, or a complete fucking idiot. The history of social movements has shown time and again that it is only activism and protest that achieves tangible change. This is true for the civil rights, suffrage, and gay liberation movements, among others, and it will remain true until society is governed by justice and compassion.

We need look no further than the AIDS movement of the eighties and early nineties to find evidence for this assertion. It was radical activists, not lobby groups, not the government at the time, not the medical profession, that built the successful response to AIDS in Australia that has now become a model for the world. It was because of these activists that the first drug for HIV was made widely available, despite government resistance. It was because of these activists that the Therapeutic Goods Amendment Act 1991 was introduced, making significant improvements to the 1989 law. It was because of these activists that all HIV/AIDS deaths to date are just a tenth of what they are in America. In the words of academic Robert Ariss, “AIDS activism has transformed the practise of clinical science from one that prioritises the demands of science itself, to one that is more responsive to the needs of human beings.”

With the Government’s new ‘PNG solution’, queer refugees who are escaping persecution in their home countries by boat will now be resettled in Papua New Guinea, where being queer is still a crime. Homosexual sex is a crime, punishable by up to 14 years jail. Queer people in PNG face social stigma, difficulty finding employment, and the necessity to keep their identities hidden.

We, the strong, must come together for those who are weak. We must fight for the freedom for those who are bound in chains, imprisoned in offshore processing centres and neglected by a Government that refuses to fulfil its obligations under the Refugee Convention or even basic human decency. We, the loud, must raise our voice for those who have been muted. We must demand freedom for those who have never tasted its sweetness. We must resolve to let freedom echo from streets of Sydney and the ashes of Nauru.

History will look back upon the PNG ‘solution’ in contempt, but the thousands who rallied in every major city in Australia will be remembered as the protagonists of an age when the value of human life was forgotten in the cold halls of Parliament House.

Fahad Ali

queer.officers@src.usyd.edu.au