Lia Perkins, Deaglan Godwin – Education Officers, 94th SRC
Week 12, Semester 1, 2022
Congratulations to all staff and students for a successful two days of striking at USyd! It is clear that staff are determined to win their demands, and they have the complete support of students. Students and staff are fighting against the corporate university for secure jobs, a pay rise, ending the crisis of casualisation, for Indigenous staffing targets and for gender affirmation leave, among other critical demands. Thank you to everyone who came out today to show solidarity and support.
On both Wednesday and Thursday campus was shut down from 7am, and picketers were not determined by the rain. USyd was a strike town, and the main streets of campus which are usually filled with thousands of people were dead.
Management sent an email to students shamefully stating that picketers were violent while ignoring the violence of police and scabs trying to cross picket lines. We condemn management’s framing of the situation and urge students to understand the importance of not participating in any university activities or entering campus while staff are on strike. Hundreds of students have convinced, chanted, sung, stood, and rallied in solidarity with staff over the past two days.
The NTEU has sent a clear message to management by withdrawing their labour for two days, and made it clear that it can make it again. Join the Student Contingent to the Strike and Picket on TUESDAY 24TH MAY 7AM. STAND WITH STAFF AND STUDENTS TO FIGHT FOR BETTER EDUCATION. DON’T CROSS THE PICKET LINE.
UPCOMING EAG EVENTS (can all be found on our Facebook pages)
Tue 17th 3pm EAG meeting: Preparing for the Week 13 Strike & Picket
Tue 24th 7am to 1pm STRIKE AND PICKET
Tue 31st 3pm EAG meeting: Why we strike: Fighting the Corporate University
Week 10, Semester 1, 2022
Since our last report, staff have voted to go on strike and the Education Action Group has been increasing our support for the strikes. The upcoming strike dates in week 11 are WEDS MAY 11 AND THURS MAY 12. Please help us get the word out! We encourage everyone reading this to not go to class and attend the pickets. Staff are on strike to end casualisation at USyd, to prevent forced redundancies, protect academic research and for a fair pay rise. Improving staff conditions will make a real difference in the quality of education taught at USyd.
Education activists have been going to classes to pass motions in support of taking strike action. We have over 300 signatures on our petition to support the strikes and many shares on our page ‘Students Support Staff Strikes’. We ran out of our zine and have to print more! Our building efforts continue to increase and we are excited for our meeting next week and our pre-strike and picket briefing on Tuesday 10 May at 3pm.
It has been great to see a number of student contingents emerging for the strikes. Including political economy, science, architecture and more. If you are looking for a student contingent or would like to start your own message us on Facebook or send an email (email@example.com) and we can help you out. Please also email us if you have a class that you would like someone to come make an announcement in (or help making an announcement yourself), as voting to go on strike is a really important way to reach students!
Other activism that we and other EAG members have been involved in include WoCo’s forum on Nursing Power, the Tamil Refugee Council and SRC Refugee Officers film screening, and attending the May Day rally in the city. In other striking news, teachers are going on strike this Wednesday (possibly the day you’re reading this) and we stand alongside them as they demand #morethanthanks, and for a pay rise.
See you on the pickets!
Week 8, Semester 1, 2022
As staff strikes at Sydney University get closer and closer, we have begun to increase the tempo of our building for real solidarity amongst students.
Over the past two weeks, our central event has been the “Why Students Should Support Staff Strikes” forum, cohosted with the NTEU branch at USyd. Deaglan co-chaired the event with NTEU branch committee member Jennifer Huch-Hoogvliet. We heard from a series of staff and student speakers; Joel Griggs, a casual tutor in Political Economy spoke on the clear antagonism between staff and management; Nick Reimer, the NTEU USyd President made a rousing case for why strikes at USyd are so important not only for staff, but for broader society as well; Lauren Lancaster, SRC President, ended the panel by arguing to students not to scab on striking staff but to stand alongside them. The forum was a great success, with over 60 people attending, and it was an opportunity for staff and students to come together to begin to seriously discuss and organise the ongoing campaign.
This forum was also the launch of our zine about why students should support strikes. You can find a digital copy on the SRC’s Issuu account or find our stalls on campus. Thank you to everyone who helped write and edit this document!
This week we also attended the NDA organised by womens officers at various Sydney Universities. It was great to hear from students and staff about their experiences responding to the NSSS and organising against sexism and sexual violence on campus.
This Wednesday at 1PM at Fisher Library, we are hosting alongside the National Union of Students, other campus education collectives and the NTEU USyd Branch, a “National Day of Education for Free Education”. This will be our last event before the mid-semester break, so make sure that you come along! Tertiary education should be a right, not a privilege. Free and accessible higher education is the first step towards a different ideal of education.
In order to let as many students know as possible about the strikes and about our campaign “Students Support Staff Strikes”, we have started flyering and petitioning on Eastern Avenue, as well as putting up posters and making announcements in classes. If you want to help us, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact either of us on Facebook.
Week 6, Semester 1, 2022
Over the past fortnight we have been supporting other rallies and building for our own forum!
The EAG hosted a flyering event and student contingent to the Refugee Rally last Saturday, organised by SRC Refugee Rights Officers and EAG members Andy and Annabel. The millions of refugees created by the Russian invasion of Ukraine has once again placed refugee politics in the spotlight and the hypocrisy of Western government’s openness to them and not to other refugees needs to be highlighted and rejected.
We attended the amazing national climate strike on March 25. It was fantastic to see so many students and staff members leave class to attend the important action. Deaglan spoke at the cross-campus contingent at UTS about the need to build a mass student movement for climate justice. The University Senate is home to multiple people deeply invested in the fossil fuel industry, who should not be in charge of an institution like USyd.
The National Student Safety Survey released its results this week, and it was unsurprising for many to hear that sexual harassment and sexual assault is rampant on University Campuses and at residential accomodation and colleges. We stand completely alongside the Women’s Collective in demanding an end to ALL sexual violence and call on the University to fulfil its empty promises.
The EAG has a bunch of upcoming events which we have been organising and building on campus! On April 6 we are cohosting a forum with the USyd NTEU branch titled ‘Why Students Should Support USyd Staff Strikes’ and we encourage all students interested in how our conditions are shared with staff to come along. It will also be a space to ask questions about and contribute to building active student support for the strikes. EAG members have compiled a short zine on the same topic which will be out next week!
Additionally, the EAG along with education collectives at other campuses and the National Union of Students, is organising a National Day of Action for Free Education on April 13. It is an outrage that the government can find money for the military or tax cuts for the rich, but refuses to fund fully free tertiary education. The protest will also link up with staff rallying to vote YES to strikes later this semester.
Week 4, Semester 1, 2022
Hello! It’s been an exciting start to the semester with Mardi Gras last weekend. We joined the student contingent to Pride in Protest’s Mardi Gras march down Oxford Street. It was fantastic to return to the original sentiment of Mardi Gras, that it is a radical protest for LGBTQI rights. The Religious Discrimination Bill is a big attack on Trans kids and adults, and it can only be stopped by support on the streets.
The EAG has a few upcoming events, including a protest against Peter Dutton’s presence at a USyd United States Studies Centre event on March 16th. We will be taking a picture outside the building on campus, opposing Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison’s recent announcement about significantly increasing defence spending and the size of the military. We will also be opposing Penny Wong and the ALP’s unwavering commitment to Australian imperialism.
Two days later, the USyd Senate is meeting to consider further attacks that they can make to education and student wellbeing. The Senate is the highest governing body of the university, and we will be protesting them to send a message that students and staff oppose their running of the university for profit.
We continue to lay the groundwork for student solidarity with staff strikes, which are expected to happen later in the semester. Also! The National Union of Students is organising a National Day of Action around free education in early April.
On March 25th there will be a huge climate strike in the city, with a contingent marching from USyd to a university continent at UTS and then to the Domain. The USyd contingent will meet at 10:15am outside Fisher Library. In the context of a flooding crisis in NSW, the demand for 100% public renewable energy by 2030 is essential. We have been supporting the strike by helping the Enviro collective build for the strike on campus.
Protest Peter Dutton on campus, Weds, March 16th, 12pm USSC
USyd Senate Protest, Fri, March 17th, 11am F23
Day of the Unborn Child, Sunday, March 27th
UTS Protest to Defend Education, Wednesday, March 23rd 12pm UTS
Week 2, Semester 1, 2022
Hello! The Education Action Group was busy during welcome week at our stall. We handed out ‘No USyd Cuts’ t-shirts, stickers and pins and told every person about our week 1 rally. Hundreds of students signed up to join the EAG, but it is never too late for you to join! Find us on Facebook or shoot us an email (email@example.com)
On Monday a small group of EAG members gatecrashed a catered lunch and presentation given by Vice-Chancellor Mark Scott on “leadership”. We chanted and interrogated him about his history at the ABC and the NSW Department of Education, as well as the current attacks on staff contracts and workloads. Unsurprisingly, he gave bland and unsatisfactory answers, although what was satisfying was the frown on his face by the end.
If you were on campus on Thursday at 1pm you may have noticed a group of students giving speeches and marching down Eastern Avenue shouting “No Cuts, No Fees, No Corporate Universities” or “1, 2, 3, Fuck the VC” – that was us!
We held a protest against the cuts to courses and jobs happening across the University. A USyd staff member and member of the NTEU spoke at our rally in favour of students joining them when they take strike action. We’ll be having more protests throughout the semester, so make sure you get along to the next one!
Week 1 was significantly disrupted because of the train lockout, enacted by the Liberal Perrottet government. The Education Officers stand in solidarity with train workers and members of the RTBU who were unfairly blamed for the lockout. Railway workers have every right to go on strike and we support all industrial action they take, but a lockout is not a strike- it’s a tool for the bosses to try to crush and demoralise workers.
The University of Adelaide SRC had its O-Week funding terminated by the bureaucratic Adelaide University “Union”. This was an attack on the current left-wing SRC President and Council, by right-wing Liberal Party-aligned bureaucrats. Democratically elected student representatives should have the right to the funds and resources of student unions. We organised a statement of solidarity and donated some money to recompense them for the O-Week materials they needed.
Welcome Week, Semester 1, 2022
Hello! We are Lia and Deaglan, your Education Officers for this year. We run the Education Action Group (EAG), an activist group that meets weekly to organise protests around education and other important social justice issues. We have a protest organised in week 1 to fight for education and for no USyd cuts – Fisher Library 24 February 1pm!
Over the break, ourselves and members of the EAG wrote, designed and edited Countercourse, a publication full of political articles distributed freely at Welcome Week. We have articles about strikes, the anti-war movement and much more. Thank you so much to everyone who chipped in!
Invasion day was an amazing show of First Nations resistance, and we stand in complete solidarity with the struggle for land rights and justice. We organised a student contingent and saw dozens of students attend the march in solidarity.
A group of philosophy students brought it to our attention that at the start of January there was a week until beloved former philosophy lecturer Sebastian Sequoiah-Grayson’s contract would be terminated. We ran a social media campaign to get attention and outcry directed towards the university. We reached almost 1000 signatures on the open letter. Despite this, USyd has lost a brilliant academic to UNSW. As the prospect of industrial action begins to heat up, we will be there to fight for every job loss.
The EAG has an exciting return to semester planned! We have called a rally for Week 1 against uni cuts and to build solidarity with staff amongst students. This semester will be an exciting one for education activism on the campus; it is very likely that staff will strike, and they will need our support. Strikes are the most powerful tool for university workers to win better and more fair working conditions. We strongly encourage all students interested in activism to get involved with education activism now – help build the Week 1 rally, come along to it, and join EAG organising meetings.
We will be stalling every day during welcome week and week 1 to get the message out about our rally in week 1 and about the EAG. We have t-shirts, pins, stickers and more. Come along to learn how you can get involved, find out about our exciting plans, and grab some activist merch! Hope to see you there!
Madeleine Clark and Thomas William – Education Officers, 93rd SRC
Week 11, Semester 2, 2021
The last two weeks the ed officers and EAG have been busy in the lead up to the SGM this Wednesday.
We started off with the gender and cultural studies action, that despite the rain had strong attendance. Tom spoke at the rally as well as staff and student speakers from across GCS about fighting the change proposal and supporting the SGM.
Following this, we got the “haunting of USyd” stunt off the ground, creating a Halloween-themed orientation to the horrors of USyd for a set of terrified students. The stunt is being made into a video to share in the lead up to the SGM, and should be informative, entertaining and exciting.
Additionally we have been meeting regularly with working bees to build for the SGM directly. We need to complete pre-registration using student numbers for it to be official, and so we really encourage everyone who has signed up or intends on coming to pre-register ASAP!
Finally, this month the new education officers were elected. Their term officially starts later this year, but we congratulate Deaglan and Lia on their election and are very keen to see their hard work on the education campaign continue into next year.
Week 9, Semester 2, 2021
The past fortnight has been a very eventful one for the education campaign. The full details of future FASS have been clarified and we have been organising around those. While theatre and performance studies and studies of religion have not been cut, we are seeing mergers and restructures that threaten arts education broadly. There is a trend towards far more generic and shallow undergraduate degrees, with departments such as gender and cultural studies and linguistics being merged, putting over 200 courses at risk as well as permanent and casual jobs. This comes as shameful spill and fills are proposed for dentistry and business.
In response, we have been heavily building the SGM and actions in the leadup. We reached the 200 signatures necessary for the SGM last week and have confirmed the date. The EAG is co-hosting the gender and cultural studies in person protest next week and have been passing motions to stop classes and come to the action. We have organised an in-person stunt on the 20th, and much building has been going into the SGM the week afterwards – which we strongly encourage students to come to! The past two meetings and two working bees have been very busy.
Tom spoke at the NSW forum on “exposing the modern universities”, talking about how the university heavily relies on intense exploitation to develop weapons of war and climate destruction. The forum had 150+ attendees, and featured NTEU life member Raewyn Connell.
Make sure to sign the SGM petition and come along on the 13, 20th and 27th!
Week 7, Semester 2, 2021
This past fortnight the EAG has been especially busy in the fight against cuts on campus, as well as building staff-student solidarity and working on the next major step in the education campaign, a student general meeting.
6 students spoke at the consultation with the Dean last week, with many more members of the EAG coming along as well to grill the Dean. The zoom was filled with 250 or so people asking why these cuts are being forced through despite large surpluses and bonusses for management. There was strong opposition from both staff and students and we successfully passed a motion of opposition.
This lead well into our zoom forum with staff on Thursday night. We heard from casuals, NTEU members and student speakers from a variety of schools in Arts. One of many important messages was the importance of solidarity with staff fighting for improved workloads, for casual conversion and for retaining the 40/40/20 model. The forum had more than 60 attendees at its peak which was a great showing!
There was broad support at the forum for our next major event, the student general meeting. We will be meeting this week to hash out the details of the motion to be passed and begin the process of building the meeting.
The arts draft change proposal has also been released. The proposal will gut around a million dollars from arts, which will largely be casual hours, low-enrolment courses and postgraduate options. While this is better than other options on the table such as school closures, we still see this as an egregious and unnecessary measure that we will continue to fight.
Finally, we have been meeting with the NTEU regularly and will continue to keep in close contact (virtually) over this semester and into next year. Deaglan spoke at an all staff meeting on behalf of the EAG about student support for the log of claims and the willingness to fight for better conditions.
Week 5, Semester 2, 2021
This fortnight the EAG has been busy organizing with USyd Save the Arts to fight against the attacks facing the FASS faculty. We have organised a forum on the 15th of September with the NTEU to discuss these issues and to help build the campaign. We also organised motions to be passed in classes against the cuts. It is appalling that the university is reporting that they will make a $135million surplus this year, which is far beyond other Australian universities, but are still committed to cutting $3.6million worth of courses and staff members from FASS. We want to help build this campaign as much as possible and we have organised a working bee this week to help do so. We have also organised a meeting with Annamarie Jagose, the FASS Dean to confront her about these unnecessary cuts. Apart from this campaign we are working with the NSW Education Organizing group to fight against the cuts faced by universities across Sydney. We are helping cohost a forum with this group which will be on the 19th of September and is titled ‘Exposing the Modern Australian University’. This forum will discuss how universities in Australia have become increasingly right wing institutions, particularly with their research partnerships with weapons and fossil fuel companies. This will be a really great discussion and would be great for students and activists to come along. We are also continuing to help organise Rad Ed Week which is going really well as well as being involved with other collectives and campaigns. Although COVID is making it difficult to organise it is encouraging to see how many students are getting involved and how we can continue to organise in COVID safe ways.
Week 3, Semester 2, 2021
Despite the continued outbreak of COVID and online study, the EAG has continued to keep busy. On the 12th of August we hosted a forum discussing the many cuts to Sydney Uni. We heard from students who have been involved in the fight to say the Arts, activists involved in the fight to save Med Science last year and staff members from the NTEU who spoke about the Enterprise Bargaining negotiations and the appalling conditions university management are arguing for. We also helped run the August 16th Counter Summit with Tom co – chairing. This was an excellent demonstration of students across Sydney’s universities all coming together to oppose the Higher Education Summit on the same day. With over 100 participants this campaign looks really promising and there will be future organizing meeting across NSW next week. We have also been engaged with organizing the Rad Ed Series and Maddie helped run the opening session on Radical Education which was a great event and a fantastic start to the series. Apart from this we have been having regular fortnight meetings. At our meeting this week we planned to have another online forum specifically about the EBA and the NTEU fighting for their working conditions. This is planned for September. We also passed a motion in the EAG to support the “Lockdown to Zero” campaign. It’s important that the EAG takes up other issues of the left, particularly as the issue of eliminating the virus is contentious across the Sydney left.
Week 1, Semester 2, 2021
We have had a very busy time over the winter break. Kicking things off both officers and many members of the EAG attended the National Union of Student’s Education Conference. The conference was totally online this year, however there were still a range of seminars and discussions around the situation in higher education nationally. There was a consistent message upheld by activists that we must build a passionate, national education movement to fight the cuts not by lobbying managers but by fighting for education directly on the ground. This message manifested as the August 16th student’s counter summit, organised originally in the NSW breakout room. The event coincides with and protests the AFR’s summit, where VC’s and uni bosses meet to plot how they will cut higher education for their own profits. The EAG has been building the student’s counter-summit extensively, and Tom will be co-chairing the event. To build for August 16th and kickstart the education campaign on campus we will be hosting a panel discussion this Thursday (12th August). We’ve spent the past few meetings working on building and sorting logistics. It is an important forum given the scope and severity of the latest attacks on this campus specifically. The latest cuts on SLAM have not yet been finalised, and we must continue the fightback that had so much energy at the end of last semester. Even online, it is imperative we do not let the dean and VC continue to gut the arts. Furthermore, university management have released their latest log of claims outlining the direction they hope to take our campus. They wish to abolish 40/40/20 splits for staff, which totally guts research and totally removes it from teaching. They wish to place teachers on fractional contracts (16 weeks for instance) and dramatically expand teaching roles without addressing the ridiculous workloads staff are currently under. We fight these changes, as they would be an unprecedented attack on the very structure of education on campus. Come along next Thursday and the Monday after that! Bosses are using the delta wave to put through some of the most egregious cuts to date, and so the fight for higher education continues. We may be forced online, but we will continue to fight!
Week 12, Semester 1, 2021
Over the past fortnight we have been organising against yet another round of course cuts and austerity. Management’s insatiable desire for profit over quality knows no bounds. The arts cuts have been rumoured to be in the order of $10 million. At the same time, 20% of Advanced Studies students in Politics and IR will be forced to miss out on the extended coursework that was promised as part of the degree. There is simply nothing left to trim. Staff are heavily overworked, underpaid and constantly left in precarious circumstances. As international enrolments decline, the University is desperately searching for more targets to exploit. These cuts come alongside a 9.3% decrease in Federal funding, incentivising the squeeze on students and staff. We spent our fortnightly meeting preparing for the rally in week 13 to oppose these cuts. The route and speakers have been set, and we will be spending this week building for that rally. Kimmy has put together a fantastic poster, so look out for it on Eastern Avenue and the Redfern run! This past fortnight was also a time of immense suffering, and we extend our full solidarity and support to Palestine. We condemn the University’s ties to arms dealers and those complicit in the violence, and similarly condemn any censorship of academics or students speaking out against the violent dispossession of land. Both officers and many collective members were at the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba last Saturday, and we encourage everyone reading this to continue to show up to actions on and off campus. From the river to the sea Palestine will be free.
Week 10, Semester 1, 2021
This past fortnight has been the busiest so far, and hopefully things are just going to get busier. The EAG had a speakout outside Fisher library against the 12-week semester proposal. There was strong turnout from both staff and students, with speakers from the NTEU, casuals network as well as students. Overall it was a good way to raise awareness about how detrimental these changes would have been. We followed the rally up 6 days later with a snap action on the day of the vote. There was solid attendance despite the rain and we stirred up a fuss outside F23. The efforts of everyone involved in the fight were rewarded that afternoon, with the proposal defeated with 69 votes against. This fortnight has not only been good news though. “Operation Blue Star” has been slated to cut $10 million from the arts, with Theatre and Performance Studies and Studies of Religion in the crosshairs for the draft proposal. We had a fantastic reportback at our EAG on Tuesday, and we are organising to fight against this shameless austerity. The win against 12 week semesters is a testament, in part, to the power of protest and the necessity of students supporting and uniting with staff. We hope to take these lessons forward in the “Save SLAM” fight. Our next meeting is in a fortnight’s time, week 11, on Tuesday and we have a rally planned for week 13 to protest the cuts when the details are made clear.
Week 8, Semester 1, 2021
This fortnight we’ve been focusing on the “No to 12 week semester” campaign. After the SRC survey showed how many students (out of 400 surveyed, 93%) were against it we decided that it had enough groundswell to organise a rally. Turning our semester to 12 weeks will be detrimental for the students and staff. It represents a massive pay cut for staff and will mean more stress as they adapt content to a reduced time period. For students it also means more stress, a higher rate of drop outs and a decrease in student uni satisfaction. Importantly, it is one step closer to the neoliberal trimester model that is notoriously bad. To build awareness for the 12 week issue, we helped organise and moderate a forum about this issue. This forum had a wide range of panelists from across the uni and was really well attended. We also talked to NTEU staff members organised in the Casuals Network who are highly active and keen to organise going in to strikes next semester. They said they would support our actions and we are working with them to organise a student and staff rally in Week 10. We’ve also been organizing a zine about strikes that will be published next week which will hopefully build support for strikes well before they happen. Apart from education organizing we’ve been involved in supporting the actions of other collectives. Students are affected by social justice issues and it’s important that we engage the student body in a whole swathe of activism. There’s lots to organise around and we’ll be having our next collective meeting in Week 9.
Week 6, Semester 1, 2021
We successfully organised our first education protest against the cuts on the 24th of March. This was a vibrant rally and although numbers were smaller than expected (building was deterred due to rain) it was a great to see familiar faces from the campaign last year. The rally marched down City Rd and converged with the UTS rally at the UTS Tower. It was excellent to hear the speeches from both USyd and UTS and to see the similarities. Both campus management’s are going on the attack despite high enrollments and surpluses. We met up with Rob Boncardo from the left of the NTEU to discuss plans for the rest of semester, in preparation of the EBA negotiations and strike. This was really helpful and it was encouraging to see that there is a mood among staff that they deserve better conditions. We drew up a rough plan for actions for Semester 1 that include a staff and student forum, a student rally and then a staff rally. As we write this we have organised an EAG meeting on the 1st of April to discuss more concrete plans. We really want to build awareness and enthusiasm for the strike among students. We’ve seen so many attacks and this EBA is the best way of fighting back. Having students on board can be the difference between staff striking and not! There are also so many other campaigns to get involved with. We’ve been coordinating with the other collectives to organise a Panel on Police Abolition in preparation for the Stop Black Deaths in Custody on April 10th. There are other initiatives in Environment and QUAC that are similarly important to go to.
Week 4, Semester 1, 2021
This past week the EAG has been busy building for our upcoming rally. Sadly our banner paint was a bit of a flop. However, we have had a number of successful days of building since then. We’ve been giving out flyers, postering and doing digital building for the 12pm rally, and will continue to stall over the next few days. We’ve got 250 or so posters to put up with a new design and a roster for Monday and Tuesday. Speakers are locked in and it is looking positive. We are hoping the rally will offer an opportunity to push back against the 12-week semester proposal. Management is tabling a new model of shortened semesters, and increased optional winter school, which we see at this stage as yet another cover for more austerity, with students and staff worse off. We strongly oppose this change. There have been a number of important demonstrations over the past fortnight that we’d like to draw attention to. The Myanmar solidarity rally was a great showing of support, and the Women’s Collective speakout was a very significant action to follow on from welcome week. Mardi Gras was a success, with organisers again winning their case and protesting down Oxford Street. Looking forward, the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement period has been set for June and the NTEU is currently organising working groups. Staff working conditions are student learning conditions, and the struggle for quality education extends beyond the boundaries of “teacher”, “researcher” and “student”. Finally, in the past fortnight the university has formally appointed a new VC, Mr Mark Scott. Mr Scott oversaw the gutting of the ABC and seems to hold a track record as a vicious manager. We share the concerns aired by Sydney NTEU Branch President Kurt Iveson, that he will treat University as a business, and offer no warm welcomes. Education must be free of the tyranny of exploitation.
Week 2, Semester 1, 2021
The past fortnight has been a very busy and significant one. Library and learning centre staff are still facing austerity, and staff at Macquarie Uni are also facing cuts. As campus resumes we are seeing the extent of the new normal, recorded lectures, limited contact hour, barebones staffing and even more pressure applied to the foundations of the university, the staff and students. USyd is continuing its year-long train of intensified exploitation under the guise of COVID, and we have been organising against it. Welcome week was a success with signups and good uptake for the rally on the 24th. The tote bags and shirts were very well received, and all given away. Stickers arrived late however we plan to give these out on stalls and at future actions. We promoted our week 2 meeting/banner paint for the 24th, however our speakout had to be postponed until week 3. We’ve also created a testimonial form for education-related issues that can be distributed out to staff and students, where anyone can flag localised cuts to courses or jobs that might fly under the radar. The march on the 24th has two staff and two students planned to speak from 12:30 before we head towards UTS. We’ll be continuing our building efforts in the coming weeks, taking the momentum from welcome week forward. If you’re reading this report, come along! Fisher library, March 24th. Both officers were involved in the Mardi Gras protest on Saturday, and it was great to see a strong turnout of USyd activists to the march, especially regular faces to EAG meetings and the collectives. Happy Mardi everyone!
Welcome Week, Semester 1, 2021
This break has been an eventful and busy one. My main projects over summer were attending the NUS National Union of Students National Conference (NatCon) getting Countercourse published and building and planning protests. This year the future we face is dire; a global pandemic, environment catastrophe, economic crisis and attacks at a local university level. I think mobilising against these attacks is what the EAG and the SRC at large should put it’s resources into. To this end, I tried to intervene into the National Conference to secure the NUS’ resources to organise a nationally coordinated campaign against local uni cuts. Although these motions were voted down at the conference, NUS will organise a national campaign in the fourth week of semester. Organising Countercourse I similarly wanted the focus to be on activism; the crisis of last year but also the inspiring resistance we’ve seen spread across the globe. On the this note I threw myself into organising activism during the break, building Invasion Day and the Climate Rally. I also organised an EAG meeting where we decided on a “no cuts” rally for the 24th of March. Last year proved what the Education Office can be capable of when socialists use it. The campaign to defend the right to protest and defend our quality of education was highly engaging for students. It’s clear that this year the university are continuing their blood bath and are using the cover of COVID to continue making attacks. In a recent Guardian article it was cited that the university owes its workers up to $42 million. This is endemic, and last year’s crisis has increased the uni’s exploitation of staff. Staff working conditions are student learning conditions, and so this directly impacts our quality of education. Although we’re facing many attacks, the protests from last year and previously show how students and staff can resist together. Furthermore, this year is an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement year, enabling the union to mobilise staff into strikes for better pay and conditions. I want to make it a priority that the EAG will rally behind staff and mobilise students in this important fight.