03 April 2015


Now that the mid-semester break is upon us, you might be thinking about running in the University of Sydney Union Board Elections, planning your campaign, and developing your policies - so the current Board wish to impart a bit of advice...

"Make sure you get in touch with your lecturers and tutors about any upcoming assessments and your class attendance! They can be incredibly supportive and helpful, and your best friends when it comes to balancing the campaign and your studies."
"TARA ON TOP" 2013

"Have fun! Be yourself, ignore the haters, and run on policies that you are passionate about. Also, invest in a couple of good bottles of red wine (not $4 Bowlers Run) to help you wind down at the end of a long day of campaigning."

"Remember to take care of yourself! Have a core team of 5 or 6 people that you can rely upon for two weeks to run you red bulls and sandwiches. That will keep up your energy so you talk to as many students as possible."

"Two pieces of advice. First (and most important) pick a good psych up song for those early mornings. Secondly, talking to staff of the Union and current or former Board Directors is a great way to get an insight into how some of your ideas and policies could actually be implemented if you're elected - it's a great resource to challenge and refine your thinking before you have to 'sell' your policies to students."

"Save up now so that at any point during the campaign you can splash out on some self love & get a foot massage. Also make sure you break in whatever shoes you’re gonna wear before the campaign - you’re gonna want to be comfy!"


"Rolling a piece of PVC pipe over your legs after a long day of campaigning rocks. Also, stock up on lemon and honey."

"I think probably the most important thing in the election is to remember how amazingly brave you are being! You're putting your hand up for something, you're putting yourself out there - and it's terrifying and fun all at the same time. Find a song that makes you happy and every single morning put that song on and dance your way in to the day!"

If at any point you have any questions, feel free to contact Tara Waniganayaka via president@usu.edu.au and be sure to come along to the USU Board Elections Information Session - https://www.facebook.com/events/1573242026286561/

30 March 2015


The 2014-2015 Directors being "cute" post Board Induction
Spend your days jumping from society event to society event?

Passionate about the student voice?

Or just love having a beer at Manning?

Well, you might be interested to know that nominations for the 2015 Board Elections are now open at www.usu.edu.au/election - having the opportunity to be a Board Director of an organisation with a turnover of over $20 odd million dollars a year is an incredible, humbling, and highly-challenging experience as a University student.

What’s the role of a director? 

As a member of our student board we are charged with making decisions at monthly Board meetings on high-level strategic decisions – from giving the green light to a new infrastructure project to tabling our own policies and initiatives to make change to the organisation.

In my seven months as a director a short list of work by our Board includes:
  • Overseeing the completion of Courtyard CafĂ© and the much-needed renovation of Engo Grill near PNR.
  • Establishment of the Equity Access Scheme, which has seen 118 students from low socio-economic backgrounds receive free ACCESS cards.
  • Publication of ‘We are Women: 100 years, 100 stories’ – which celebrates one-hundred years since the establishment of the Sydney University Women’s Union.
  • Action on the 2014 Transparency Review in the form of new feedback mechanisms, publications of Board documentation and the publication of Board expenditure. 
  • No EFTPOS minimums at USU outlets (excluding Manning and Hermanns)
  • Engaging staff and directors in diversity and sensitivity training 
…and as recently as last Friday the Board has enshrined a breastfeeding policy into our suite of governing documents.

What are the elections like? Is it worth it?

Fun + yes.
USU elections are just one of the very busy and very colourful times that add to the vibrant fabric of the unique University life we are so lucky for at Sydney Uni. Running as a candidate is a big commitment, very challenging but ultimately incredibly rewarding.
Come along to our information session on Monday 13th of April for more in-depth information, there are also autonomous session for women-identifying students, queer students and international students with info provided at www.usu.edu.au/election

USU Board Candidates' "Oscars Selfie" at Soapbox 2014

Former directors of the University of Sydney Union include:
  • Edmund Barton – First Prime Minister of Australia
  • Michael Kirby - Former Justice of the High Court of Australia
  • Adam Spencer - Radio Presenter
  • Meredith Burgmann – Politician
  • Malcolm Turnbull - Politician
Not bad hey?

Electoral Changes

We’ve also put through a raft of electoral changes that aim to make it easier to run in 2015:
  • Current USU Board Directors can’t directly campaign to electors i.e. no wearing shirts, changing display pictures – so that it’s what you know, not who you know.
  • One dollar from each vote will be going to the USU Charity – headspace. This is in place of a drink voucher.
  • Shorter election (just two weeks) – kicking off with a barbeque on the Wednesday rather than the traditional Monday.
  • And every candidate is still eligible for $500 election grants – so you won’t have to stress about money.

If you’d like more information about running for Board, want to have a chat with a Director or just learn more about the Union and our elections – please don’t hesitate to zip an email through to our President Tara Waniganayaka at president@usu.edu.au

Vote early and vote often!


29 March 2015


Hiya Everyone,

On Friday 27th March, the Board passed our new Breastfeeding Policy. This is something that I, as Wom*n’s Portfolio Holder, am immensely proud to have written and put forward for the Board’s consideration. This forms one crucial part of the Parenting Review that I’m working on at the moment. I’m investigating ways that students whom are parents are treated on campus and how accessible services and spaces are to them.

The Breastfeeding Policy comes in two parts; policy and procedure. 

1. Policy:
  • Breastfeeding is welcome in all USU public, student and designated spaces.
  • It is at the feeding parent’s discretion whether they choose to cover or not cover exposed breasts; either is welcome.
  • In addition to public, student and designated spaces, the USU will seek to provide spaces to address the needs of persons to breastfeed eg. Wom*n’s Room (Manning Building) and Parent’s Room (Wentworth Building).

2. Procedure:
  • Elements of this policy will be contained in the Staff Handbook and available for access on the USU intranet.
  • Elements of this policy will be included in all relevant staff training sessions.
  • Signage stating that breastfeeding is welcome in USU spaces will be made visible in all USU buildings.
  • The USU will seek to maintain listing on the Breastfeeding Welcome Here venues list provided by the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
  • New requests for parent spaces will be governed by the Dedicated Spaces Policy.

Breastfeeding isn’t restricted to parents’ rooms or designated facilities, parents can breastfeed at all USU spaces including public and student spaces.

The policy is effective immediately.

So what does this mean?

In June 2011 amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA) established breastfeeding as a new separate ground of discrimination. Breastfeeding is defined as the act of expressing milk and includes a single act of breastfeeding and breastfeeding over a period of time. Despite this, we know that mothers regularly experience discrimination in open areas and on social media for choosing to breastfeed in plain sight. Facebook and Instagram have both been attacked for removing photographs of mothers feeding their children. [1] This has resulted in fantastic campaigns such as #normalisebreastfeeding[2]
As such, this policy seeks to further iterate the Union’s commitment to fostering a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all. We believe that it is a mother’s right to feed their child anytime, anywhere and that’s why we passed this policy. Its practical applications pave the way for more parent-specific rooms across campus and we look forward to working with the SRC, SUPRA and the University to make this happen.

As I said, this is just one part of a big Parenting Review that I’m currently working on - so stay tuned for more!