What is your current relationship with the Arc Board and how do you plan on growing it?
“I don’t think the Arc board is the most important thing for students at the moment. The Arc board can be a barrier to getting stuff done. University and SRC funding, as well as posters and other aspects of the university are all dependent on Arc. It’s somewhat threatening that they control so much of the SRC. On the arc board, they share the same interests that the university does – which is using students to make a lot of money. We had a rally on Wednesday about the ICAC submission on Attila Brungs, who received a big bonus from student fees, and we want to come out and fight around that kind of stuff. We want to work with Attila Brungs, share same vision for running university, big barrier around links to the SRC. We’re not for letting students know more about this giant bureaucracy. We’re for students knowing about the SRC and letting them fight for student interests. We want to fight for SSAF fees to be more controlled by student bodies, and ensure the university takes less student money.”
What is your current experience in the SRC or other bodies?
“I was a councilor this past year, before that I would attend meetings as a student with Left Action ticket. This year I have taken up a lot of rallies and campaigns around LGBT and women’s rights as well as abortion rallies post-Roe v. Wade, have fought against the religious discrimination bill, and around restricting women’s access to abortion medication. I’ve done a lot around housing which is quite relevant for women as they’re the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness. I’ve used the SRC to mobilise students and advocate for student needs and wants”
Tell me about Left Action and why does it have to be this way?
Left Action is an activist ticket, so everyone on it has fought around a campaign or progressive issue. These include the housing crisis, cost of living crisis, LGBT rights, for management taking a large pay cut and more money going back into student services, $10 lunches, and healthy nutritious student meals, stop unpaid internships and facilitate paid internships being provided, student housing making 40% profits should be cut to $100 per week, want free education and for students to learn whatever they want not dependent on employment. Lots of tickets can say the same kind of things but the real difference between us and them is how you’ll win all of that. It takes a buildup and large concerted action from the left of society to be making these things happen. Bosses and managers are making society worse, but so is the labor party who are responsible for all these student issues – Chris Minns not giving a pay rise, making gender pay gap worse, knocking down public housing. These people are the real evil in society and that is a long-term project left action are committed to doing. Revive are for sitting in rooms with people like Attila Brungs, most of (their candidates) are labor members, let housing motions fail and share interests of caring about labor party, have tried talking to Attila Brungs about housing and not looking for other students but are just sitting in rooms with people in power because care more about labor party affiliations and management jobs
Why do you think so many students find the SRC irrelevant?
Because people who have run it for last 4 or 5 years are the same ticket today – Together which became Revive, has strangled SRC to death, exact same people want to revive it which is ironic, there are people running it who dominate it, care more about future jobs like climbing the ladder and cozying up to management posing attacks to education. They are more about that then using SRC to student’s benefits; some kind of actual strategy to win anything. The more this goes on, the quite literally SRC doesn’t mobilise any demands, does inaccessible meetings, Revive had candidates who barely came to SRC meetings and multiple meetings didn’t make quorum; [they] couldn’t be bothered to attend. Whereas left action has attended nearly every meeting, calling on motions for SRC to support different meetings. Tried to move motion criticizing labor based on climate concerns. Had to be moved to 2 different meetings because Together allowed it to fail and took out all criticism of labor. Why would students look to this body which censors own councilors for advocating for women in today’s situation?
Are you currently a member of, or are you affiliated with any political parties?
A member of socialist alternative – many people want to make a fuss about people being secret member of parties, but we are quite proudly and openly members of Socialist Alternative. Socialists have been the best fighters at pushing things forward, stands in long tradition of people doing that – any strikes, anti-Vietnam war movement, all of these were pushed and led by socialists. Doesn’t mean not happy to work with other forces to the right – have collaborated with Together ticket who are a part of Labor right. [They] mostly don’t want to meet at the table because they care more about relationship with labor party and don’t wish to argue with Minns government on climate. Grassroots are on the same ticket – best activists and fighters in SRC and running with some labor left people. We wish to work with multiple people on political bodies to advance student rights and those of workers.
Should you take over as Women’s Officer what would be your number one priority?
Like I said, I am an activist and think SRC should take up more social issues and themselves do things to enable more students to become activists and come out and fight. I have led abortion rights protests in Sydney. I would fight to end unpaid placements as contributes to gender pay gap and makes it hard for female students; nursing, teaching, social work predominantly female and unpaid placement expected while holding a job, paying for housing and degrees so you’re already on back foot financially to go into workforce where you’re paid less than men. I have attended nurses and teacher’s strikes and supported them around those kinds of fights. Those are the strategies we should look towards – empower them to fight sexism in the form of the gender pay gap by challenging the government. Other things include free on-demand abortion by campus health clinic using existing resources. Expanded health for women, like a campus gynecologist, or access to better healthcare for women and LGBTI people. Increased availability for hormone therapy especially in regards to trans people. Free education as well, to reduce giant debt 7% increased with inflation. That becomes harder to pay off with being paid less- again, in SRC we want to identify an enemy and who’s responsible for all of this. We don’t want to sit in rooms and ask nicely- Attila has cut many courses across UTS and has not given into strike demands at UNSW, he would never be convinced by things I said to him and conditions for staff and students. We are rebuilding the left in society and convincing people to put forward a strategy that can unite students.
Do you think UNSW cares about its students?
No, I don’t think it does care about its students- in the same way I don’t really think bosses care about their workers. UNSW cares about what money it can make from its students, what free research it can send out to mining corporations, making students work towards an impending war, how many international students it can get to go here just because international students are cash cows. Part of the university is publicly funded which could go towards ameliorating students costs and go towards health and other areas. They care more about buying lots of properties and want to turn the university into a degree factory – can’t really care about quality of courses and if students have available cheap food and accommodation, which ties into penalties for late assessments and special considerations because they want to make casuals mark them in a certain time frame and churn out more profits. They don’t care about students or staff since the massive bloodbath of pay cuts during the pandemic which they aren’t recouping due to inflation.
What global issue is currently on your mind?
This is hard because there’s so many. The world is just really bad at the moment – it’s not to the point of pre-women’s liberation, women on paper have more rights today but the overturning of Roe V. Wade as well as anti-trans legislation republicans are trying to pass. The Italian government letting immigrants die, many places attacking LGBTI rights and women which Australia is not immune to. Religious discrimination bill- same people doing that are attacking indigenous rights by creating a racist no campaign and argue that indigenous people aren’t oppressed and same people coming out to fight. People like Catherine Deeves, Scott Morrison, Pauline Hanson, like Tony Abbott as well. So fighting them wherever they come about is what I care about doing at the moment, sometimes most responsible for doing that. Want to fight Albanese govt because they’re also responsible for this, could legislate housing reform and strengthen indigenous rights, overturn indigenous rights act in Queensland to not let them have bail, Chinese coal and gas, etc. Awful cost of living crisis – rent has gone up 20%, $80 a week at the moment. Will eat into education, thousands of students experiencing same thing 30% increases or more also happening. Fighting around that not buying into stuff like wages going up causing inflation- companies and govt responsible for this crisis.
What is your favourite TV show?
At the moment – the last thing I really enjoyed was Succession which is funny because Murdoch stepped down today or yesterday. You watch that and the people who rule over us and have these giant industries are all total idiots who don’t deserve this kind of power. It made me want to win a better world for people in power. They don’t get to be the Harvey Weinsteins and assault women, don’t get to attack LGBTI people in the media.