02 November 2014

EXPULSION OF A UNION MEMBER

EDIT: DUE TO INADVERTENT PROCEDURAL INADEQUACIES RESOLUTIONS 2) and 3) REFERRED TO IN THIS POST HAVE BEEN RESCINDED. IDENTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS WILL BE CONSIDERED AT THE NOVEMBER BOARD MEETING.​

At the Meeting of the Board of Directors on 31 October 2014, the Board unanimously resolved to expel a Union member for the first time in recent memory.

Context

On October 14, it was reported in Honi Soit that a current Union member had had nude photos disseminated throughout the University community by Alexander Wright (AID: 728288). This was a series of actions that Mr Wright had admitted to both the survivor and her family. She has suffered in public spaces and amongst Union members and events in ways that have been devastating for her welfare. On October 16, Mr Wright then attended a Union event alongside the survivor. Following concerns and reports of intimidation of both the survivor and other Union members, he was requested to exit the venue by Staff.

The conversations that ensued raised questions of the extent to which, by remaining silent, the Union was abrogating its constitutional responsibilities to provide and maintain safe spaces. We are bound to work "at all times towards creating an environment free from all forms of discrimination and harassment,” and this is a commitment that must extend as much as possible beyond autonomous spaces and events.

Given that, the Board unanimously resolved the following:

Recommendation 1: That the Board voice its commitment to maintaining environments that are safe and free from harassment.

Recommendation 2: That, pursuant to section 9.2(f)(ii) of the USU Constitution, the Board expel Alexander Wright (AID: 728288) from Membership of the USU.

Recommendation 3: Following Recommendation 2, and pursuant to section 9.2(f)(iii), that the Board debar Alexander Wright (AID: 728288) from exercising the rights of Membership until it resolve otherwise.


Procedure

As noted, Recommendations Two and Three were moved according to the following sections of the USU Constitution:

 9.2(f) Should any Member neglect to pay any sum to the USU or in the opinion of the Board be guilty of misconduct, the Board may:
(i) take legal action;
(ii) expel such Member from Membership of the USU; or
(iii) debar such Member from exercising the rights of Membership for such time as it thinks fit provided that:
A.     such Member of Members shall have the right to an appeal to the University;
B.     the Board may not delegate its authority in such a matter;
C.     such Member shall be informed of the matters to be raised against that Member;
D.    such Member shall be given a reasonable opportunity to be heard but shall not be represented before a decision is made.
                                    
Recommendations Two and Three were moved under an interpretation of the text that subsections (ii) and (iii) were not mutually exclusive. Moreover, the absence of a definition of expulsion was found to require a time period, provided in Recommendation Three.

One week prior to the Meeting, Mr Wright was given notice due under s 9.2(f)(iii)(C), and was offered the opportunity to speak to the Recommendations under s 9.2(f)(iii)(D). He retains the right to appeal to the University Senate under s 9.2(f)(iii)(A). 


Towards a safe campus community

These resolutions stand as a crucial reinforcement of the Board’s commitment to protecting the safety and welfare of its Members. Where Members have their welfare jeopardised, it is the duty of the Union to ensure that this is not perpetuated or worsened in its own spheres. We should actively enter debate and tirelessly pursue the avenues available to us to uphold the values we are bound to.

If you or someone you know has either experienced harassment or feels unsure about an unwanted experience and would like to speak with someone, please contact the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on (02) 9515 9040. The University’s Counselling and Psychological Services can also be contacted on (02) 8627 8433. Alternatively, the Board are always available to put you in contact with the relevant resources and service providers.


OLIVIA RONAN
BOARD DIRECTOR


21 October 2014

SLUT SHAMING

Recently I did an assignment about the invention and legalisation of the contraceptive pill in the U.S, combine that with the hugely successful inaugural Radical Sex and Consent Day hosted last month, and the disgraceful celeb nude photo hacking scandal, and I’ve had a lot of thoughts bouncing around my feminist head.

I’ve been thinking how great it is that we’re so lucky to have access to contraception, and sex education here in Australia. Woo hoo! We’re free and we can all have great sex with each other, and express ourselves sexually in any way we want to, and the only thing that matters is that it’s completely consensual and safe. And in an ideal world, that would be it. But sadly, that isn’t where we live. We live in a world where when wom*n’s nude photos are leaked they are told that it’s their own fault for taking the photos in the first place.

We live in a world where Cosmopolitan magazine tells wom*n that to attract the man of their dreams they should be ‘flirty… but not too flirty, because he needs to know there’s still a bit of work involved to snag you’. We are advised to ‘lightly graze his arm’ and ‘when talking eye-to-eye, tilt your face downward while pushing your chin slightly forward, [because] research shows this angle makes your features seem softer and more feminine.’ Apparently ‘uberconfidence is practically catnip to men’ and we should ‘work just a sliver of skin into the ensemble [because] it’ll get his blood pumping, but leaves enough to his imagination that he’ll be dying for a peek at the rest.’ Oh and last but not least, when you’re parting for the evening, catch his gaze and coyly linger there for a few seconds.

It all comes down to this: we should be confident but not slutty. We should at all times remain a ‘lady’. We’re not supposed, or even allowed, to want sex.

Earlier this year, British TV-personality Stephen Fry claimed that: “Women only go to bed with men because sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship.” He went on to say that if women really did want sex there would be ‘straight cruising areas’ like there are gay cruising areas, and women everywhere would be in bushes shagging strangers. “But there aren’t, because the only women who have sex like that expect to be paid for it.” Said Fry.

I found a quote on the internet that says men are allowed to have bountiful sexual encounters because “a key that opens many doors is called a master key, but a lock that opens for many keys is a shitty lock." Enter Samantha Jones: seen by many as a sexual hero to wom*n everywhere. When Sex and the City was released it was heralded as a burgeoning sexual revolution that would lead to barriers being broken down everywhere. Wom*n could finally have sex like men!

Or can they? The evidence continues to stack up that wom*n whom are sexually confident are bad, evil whores. Take the following for example: In 2012, Rush Limbaugh, America’s answer to Alan Jones, called student Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute live on air when she argued that contraceptives should be covered by Obamacare. Earlier this year, Senator Abetz stupidly (and very mistakenly) said that wom*n who have abortions increase their risk of getting breast cancer.

·       And news headlines like, “I’ve slept with so many guys and am terrified my partner will find out,” make wom*n question; just how many is too many? Additionally, the following online lists continue to police wom*n’s behaviour in not only the public sphere of popular culture, but everywhere:
  • Top Ten Movie Sluts: including Mrs Robinson from the Graduate, Rizzo from Grease and Regina George from Mean Girls
  • Top Ten Celebs Who We Think Are Probably Sluts. The list is mostly wom*n, (the only man is Justin Bieber) and features Scarlett Johansson, Taylor Swift, Rhianna and Christina Aguilera. (Don’t worry Xtina you’re still beautiful to me)
  • Top Ten Favourite Movie Sluts. Kathryn from Cruel Intentions, Jenny from Forrest Gump and Lara from The Rules of Attraction; just to name a few.
When I googled "slut" this came up
I don’t know about you but I’m pretty unhappy with the ideas of having casual sexual partners and low standards of cleanliness being conflated. And this word ‘slut’ keeps coming up again and again. This idea is super damaging to young wom*n, just getting to know their bodies and are constantly being told how to dress, how not to dress, how to act, how not to act; a constant job of balancing being ‘uberconfident’ but not slutty.

I’m not pretending to know the answer. 

But I know that we need more articles like this:

And I know that wom*n can and should dress/act/dance however they want, whenever and wherever they want. The road to true sexual equality across the gender spectrum is a long one but I think we’re one step closer with festivals like Radical Sex and Consent Day. 

I turn now to the words of ever-inspiring Tina Fey,

KATE BULLEN
WOM*N'S PORTFOLIO HOLDER - BOARD DIRECTOR

14 October 2014

USYD RACE DIALOGUES AND THE INTRODUCTION OF AN ETHNO-CULTURAL SPACE IN THE USU

From our callous treatment of Asylum seekers to the truly terrifying prospect of re-deploying troops to Iraq, racial dialogues are propelling national discourse.

Despite the willingness Sydney’s student community to call-out overt racism at a federal level, when it comes to tackling racism at a campus level the response is often entirely lacking or insufficient. From the recent attacks on Islamic students on campus, to the insidious forms of learned racism that effect ethno-culturally diverse students daily one thing is clear; even the ‘best educated’ are not exempt from the racist culture we are socialised to accept. [1]


My Experience of Racism

Born in New Zealand and raised in Australia as the child of a white mother and Indian father, my understanding of racism must be contextualized. I can’t claim to have experienced many of the difficulties that come from having substantially different cultural practices growing up. I grew up in Melbourne’s equivalent of the inner-west and my parents were pretty lax on bedtime.

For whatever reason, at my culturally diverse selective high school I was quickly accepted as one of the other ‘white girls.’ At the time I was pleased that I had evaded falling into any of the other self-identified cultural groupings at my school - ‘the currys,’ ‘the asians,’ and so on and so forth. 

Looking back on it, I realize that it was the culmination of years of rejecting the non-white aspects of my identity. 

VP/Ethno-Cultural Portfolio Holder, Bebe taking part in ACAR's campaign
When I was eight I announced to my sleepover bedfellow that I was going to change my name to Sabrina. While my adulation of the Teenage Witch definitely played a factor in this decision my self-portraits at the time show a different story. Texta Bebe would often feature prominent blue eyes, blonde strait hair and white skin. To draw myself differently would mean conceding my right to use the perfectlypink ‘skin-coloured’ Connector Pen, in favour of its ‘poo-coloured’ counterpart.

My own tactical distancing of my ‘brown’ identity didn’t end there. When tasked with allocating Spice-Girls to my four closest friends I would take charge immediately. Defensively delegating Mel B to my blondest friend to avoid being Scary Spice ‘again.’

However, unwelcomed racialising didn’t end in the Melbourne schoolyard. As a Fresher at St Andrews College I was asked when I learnt English, and if my dad drove the taxi that brought me to orientation.  One resident jokingly informed me that ‘if I didn’t do a phone interview I probably wouldn’t have gotten in.’ The implication being that in-person interview would reveal the shame of my skin-colour. In the 2012 Law Revue I managed to score parts of Egyptian DOCs worker #1, the African continent AND Whoopi Goldberg. No prizes for guessing what those roles have in common.  


The Growth Race Dialogues at USYD 

However, despite my largely grim post thus far I think the discourse surrounding race-based issues at a campus level has improved dramatically in recent years. A trend I largely credit with my newfound peace with my non-white identity.

The creation of the USYD Critical Race-Discussion group helped to normalise race-based dialogues. Excitingly there are now four vibrant ethno-cultural focused collectives on campus; the Indigenous Collective, the International Students Collective, the Autonomous Collective Against Racism, and the Wom*n of Colour Collective. 
President, Tara Waniganayaka taking part in the ACAR campaign

Additionally 2014 will be remembered for the creation of the first Indigenous Edition and the first Ethno-Cultural Edition of Honi-Soit. [2]


The Creation of an Ethno-Cultural Space

I’m excited to announce that 2014 will also mark the creation of an autonomous Ethno-Cultural Space on campus, similar to the existing Wom*n’s and Queer Spaces. While this is pending the approval of the October meeting of the Board, USU facilities are already looking into suitable spaces.

Former President, Astha Rajvanshi, with current Vice President, Bebe
For those who don’t experience Racism please remember that racism isn’t just in ‘FedPol,’ or ‘Law,’ or ‘College’ or ‘some-school in Melbourne.’ Try to avoid distancing yourself from my experience.  Maybe you wore a Bindi once to a party, asked someone if they did ‘the Asian five,’ or asked someone where they “are really from.”


We all fuck up. It’s what you do after that matters,


Sabrina
BEBE D'SOUZA
VICE PRESIDENT - ETHNO-CULTURAL PORTFOLIO HOLDER


Survey Link for Ethno-Cultural Students:
If you identify as being any/all of the following: a Person of Colour, Marginalised by White Supremacy, Ethno-Culturally Diverse, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, please fill in the survey below to express what you would like out of the space; the survey also has space to express what other areas of the USU need improvement to be more inclusive of students who experience racism - http://goo.gl/forms/uaRsUUJkW6



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