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President's Report

Week 13, Semester 1, 2022

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Here we are. The final report. It's a long one so please bear with me.

It is difficult to put into words the impact the Presidency has had on me this year. In one sense, it’s been everything I’d hoped for and more. We have achieved a lot, and I am very proud of it: the largest base increase to our funding in recent memory, the introduction of the 5-day simple extension pilot, a permanent stipend increase for Honi student editors, 6 days of student solidarity for the NTEU strikes, protests and fora on climate action, sexual violence, the student welfare and housing crises. We brought elections back in person, something many undergraduates had likely never experienced. We ran the first SRC Welcome Party in Semester 1, hosted the National Union of Students’ Education Conference with 250+ student unionists from around Australia, ran a successful and diverse Radical Education programme throughout Semester 2 and have served over 2000 students with essentials to live via our FoodHub in collaboration with the USU.

We’ve signed onto massive international petitions for action on various social and political causes, made arrangements to grow our exceptional Casework team in 2023, brought on a junior paralegal in the Legal Service, argued for brilliant and varied motions at massive Council meetings and come together to support undergrads in tough times. We’ve stood up against the campaign of austerity being waged by the University and government against our education and future - like coordinating the defeat of the Business Law cuts at Academic Board, working with disability advocates to counter ableism within Faculty assessment regimes, and supporting Indigenous students in their rejection of proposed changes to the University’s Confirmation of Aboriginality policy. We’ve pushed back against the appalling behaviour of management in the NTEU’s strike campaign and articulated a vision for tertiary education that undermines the class and colonial hierarchies of the neoliberal state, a vision founded on the premise of education as liberation, resistance and counter-culture.

However I won’t lie, it has also been a really tough year. It is hard to be a young person particularly as it appears the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and the powerful don’t give a shit about us. The follies of student politics sometimes make this seem an inevitability and have had me at moments wanting to tear my hair out. Concurrently, as with any public-facing job there comes a lot of pressures and scrutiny (mostly good, sometimes horrifically unhinged). It’s inevitable that we, and I, don’t always get everything right. I have a lot of people to thank for backing me up and supporting the SRC through these moments in addition to through the wins. You can see the full list in my report on the socials, can’t fit all the names in print.

In particular, to my executive - Alana Ramshaw, Emily Storey, Grace, and until recently, Mikaela - thank you for holding the fort, carrying the mantle etc., the girls really do know how to get it done. Tiger Perkins, dear cuz and valued General Exec, thank you for grounding me and leading the Enviro Collective alongside the excellent Ishbel Dunsmore. Dashie Prasad, Women’s Officer for most of the year, your grace, trust and deepseated care for political growth and education have been essential for our up and coming activists and so inspiring to me. To Cole, Telita, Onor, Madhu, Isla and of course, the one and only Prudence Wilkins-Wheat - your work within the USU has been a critical compliment to much of what the SRC has been able to achieve this year, and you do such brilliant stuff for student life on this campus. I’m proud to know all of you. To Georgie Beatty and Luc Velez at the National Union of Students - you two just rock, and care deeply for the student movement. To work with you is a pleasure and taught me a lot about leadership and collaboration. To the Honi team - it’s been real, you are so talented and I am lucky to bear witness to your work. You’ve set a standard this year that will be hard to top. I consider it an honour to be slammed in the Murdoch press alongside you.

To the SRC staff - you are bloody incredible and I would not have been able to function this year without your skills, care, guidance and laughs. Thank you for all you do for undergrads at this uni.

To my parents, sister and Charlie - love you! Everyone should go read Charlie and Henry’s article on country music and 9/11 in this edition - seriously cool analysis.

There are many more names, you know who you are, you’ve likely put up with a lot of stuff from me this year, and/or have brought many important projects to my and the SRC’s attention, so thank you for that. Thanks to the many activists on campus who give the SRC the relevancy and radical spirit for which we are famed, and for running incredible campaigns throughout the year. Finally to Lia Perkins, incoming Prez 2023 and a stellar Education Officer this year - you’ve been such an inspiring organiser this year, and I am so keen to see where you take the organisation next.

If you’ve read through to here, you might want to hear what I’m up to as we reach the final 4 weeks of the Presidency. We are neatening and submitting the SSAF base application for 2023 in the coming week, and we have moved the final November council to Thursday so that reps can attend the Cassius Turvey vigil at 6pm, Wednesday 2nd at Town Hall. The SRC abhors this tragic and senseless act of racist violence against a mere kid, and will be looking to support First Nations organisers re this event as usual in whatever capacity we can. I’m studying for Public Law and smashing out some OLEs on the side, and pushing the website development forward with UKMSL. Pubs and I will be doing some training for that in the coming weeks. It’ll launch by the end of the year!

I am pretty sad to be reaching the end of this. As mundane as the reports have been to write throughout the year, they have punctuated my weekends during semester like a reliable if slightly irritating friend. I think we as the student union have done a pretty good job this year, all things considered, and I hope that as President I have achieved things that have benefitted you all in some sense. Keep engaging with us, keep reading Honi, come to Collectives, join our organising groups and get in touch if you need a hand. After all, that’s what the union is for. Student ‘politicians’ and Presidents come and go but this year has proven to me beyond doubt that the Uni would be a lot worse off without a fighting, left-wing SRC like ours and the many characters who inhabit and shape it.

Good luck with exams, congratulations if this is your final sem at USyd and enjoy the summer break. Down with the Libs, up the student left (and Grassroots + Switch, of course)!

In solidarity and thanks, signing off for the last time.

Lauren

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