Welcome to semester one 2018! First and foremost,
I am Imogen Grant and I will be your President of the Students’ Representative Council this year.
As you will discover during your time at university, student unions play a crucial role in defending student rights, disseminating information, and organising resistance. In essence, the SRC is run by students, for students; and it both wants to help students at an individual level (in its casework and legal services) and at a collective level (through defending public education and resourcing student activism). Essentially, if you don’t wish to just study at university – but want to shape it – then the SRC is the organisation for you.
This week is O-Week – one of the most dangerous weeks of the year for students. Sexual assault service providers receive a spike in calls from university students and one in eight attempted or committed rapes at USyd colleges will happen this week. This is why we call it ‘The Red Zone’.
For over a decade, student activists from the SRC have been at forefront of the fight against sexual assault in university communities. Over the past week vile college rituals and abuse were exposed at universities across the country, along with the complete failure of colleges to address rape and misogyny within their own communities. We have seen stories from St John’s College where women residents are ranked in order of attractiveness, setting pubic hair on fire, the Green Goblin rituals, and ‘No Jets Friday’ where male college students refuse to make eye contact or talk to female students (who are called ‘Jets’ for ‘Just Excuse The Slag’). But students have resisted, and we have now reached an apex in the campaign where our voices can no longer be ignored.
There is no doubt that student unions have been critical to mobilising student struggles and will continue to be so into the future. The possibilities for significant student protest to impact the political climate are far from dead. Now more than ever we need to draw on the radical history of student organisations, which can only be strengthened by the participation of students who recognise their potential and fight to revive it.
My challenge for you to become a student in the broadest possible sense. University provides an almost unparalleled opportunity to become politicised and contribute to a better society through your education. Join the SRC’s collectives, embrace student activism, and do not be afraid to seek support when you need it.
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, help is available – call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732 and ask to speak to a specialist trauma counsellor.