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Statue of former SRC president proposed, students say: “I don’t know who that is.”

Ruby Ritchie reports on controversial SRC statue set to turn heads....

DISCLAIMER: The motion proposed by the Student Representative mentioned below is true. However, the following content is entirely fictional and exaggerated for comedic effect. Enjoy the humorous nature of the article and understand that any resemblance to real individuals or events is purely coincidental.

Members of the SRC have introduced a motion to allocate $5000 of student funds to install a statue of former SRC president, Rameez Parkar. However, when we asked students about the current proposal they were confused as to who Parkar is.

The former SRC president finished his term late last year and has been praised heavily by two SRC members in particular, who put the motion forward as an homage to their beloved leader. SRC Online Student representative Caitlin Marlor, the mover of the motion, says:

“Understanding the importance of acknowledging exceptional leadership and the positive impact it can have on the student body, we propose the allocation of $5000 from the SRC funds towards the creation of a statue of Rameez Parkar at Parramatta South Campus …

Rameez’s tenure as President has been exemplary, marked by his dedication, achievements, and commitment to serving the student community. Through this motion, we seek to honour Rameez Parkar’s remarkable leadership and recognise his significant contributions to the Western SRC.”

The motion was seconded by Laine Fox, the Parramatta City Campus Representative.

Whilst exemplary to some, there are students who never knew of Rameez’s existence. One student was puzzled over why they’d make a statue of someone living and even thought of alternatives.

“Yeah nah, I don’t know why they are making a statue if he isn’t dead. Aren’t they [statues] for dead people? Anyway, I reckon they should make a statue of the garbo at Parramatta South, guys a f***ing legend he helped me get my vape when I dropped it in the toilet,” one student said.

W’SUP polled 100 of our Instagram followers, asking what statue they would prefer with the categories chosen by the students we interviewed. The results were shocking, to say the least.

Figure 1 – Graph by Coolmathsgames.com

Only 3% of students surveyed wanted Rameez Parkar to be glorified through a campus statue, whilst at least 37% of students wanted the unidentified garbageman of Parramatta South to be bestowed the honour. Our data analyst could neither confirm or deny that the three accounts who voted for the former SRC president were Marlor, Fox and Parkar himself.

Interestingly 32% of students wanted ‘the couple I saw having sex in the campus bathrooms’ to be memorialised as a statue. One student stated their reasoning for the choice of this statue was “If I had to be traumatised by that, so should every student. I can’t battle it alone. We should memorialise these degenerates to spread awareness that students don’t want to witness anyone getting freaky before their fundamentals of finance tutorials.”

Figure 2 Source: Wallner | Pixabay

There have also been whisperings in the SRC about what the council may introduce next. A source from the SRC, who would like to remain anonymous, revealed a radical motion has been drafted.

“Now they want to add a portrait of Rameez to every classroom in all of the campuses to make sure the students know ‘who their loyalties should lie with’.

I heard them discuss how they want to make the student cohort swear a Pledge of Allegiance to Rameez at the start of every tutorial. I’m thinking of filing a grievance, but I am afraid of persecution.”

Ultimately, the motion was not supported by the majority of the SRC. Representatives, including the now-former SRC president Crystal Ram, cited concerns about the misuse of SSAF funds.

If you have any on-campus related issues or concerns you want to raise to the SRC or require further help as a student, reach out to the SRC at src@westernsydney.edu.au

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SRC’s $10,000 Secret Santa event takes students (and Christmas) by storm

SRC’s $10,000 Secret Santa event takes students (and Christmas) by storm With over 200 registrations for the cross-campus event, the SRC showed ...

SRC’s $10,000 Secret Santa event takes students (and Christmas) by storm

With over 200 registrations for the cross-campus event, the SRC showed their Christmas spirit again by bringing back the old tradition of Secret Santa. However, while Parramatta made a solid start, Campbelltown ended the year with a bang, bringing students together one last time before the new COVID-19 variant got out of hand (again).

The $10,000 celebration was funded by the SRC alongside the gate money from in the form of $5 entry tickets supported two fun-filled days of fantastic food, gift-giving to attendees, on-campus laser tag, socializing, games and more! So definitely a bang for your buck, considering the gifts alone were $30 each.

Cameron Chesters (VPA of the SRC) was inspired to host the event simply because he wasn’t aware of any other Christmas events happening at Western. WSU Staff and the SRC showed their support, so the team went with the idea, organized and then ran it – literally.

“Tiffany, Rob, Vicky, and myself were probably the biggest contributors from the SRC to the event I would say. But we have at least 6 SRC members contributing to the event at various stages… We gave away about 200 presents to students including putting some aside for the international students arriving on Christmas Eve which was a very nice initiative brought to us by Michelle Gillard from Peer Programs,” said Cameron.

For Bakar Mohamad (newly elected VPU of the SRC), the Secret Santa event allowed students to finally interact with people in the flesh.

“I met people from a range of schools, had some exciting convos and exchanged gifts… Being a little extroverted, that’s kinda my vibe! The food served was pretty good, catering for all different diets plus the desserts! There were some great activities from giant Jenga and connect 4 to laser tag and volleyball,” he said.

“Overall, the event was so refreshing! It brought together students that hadn’t interacted in over a year. It brought rise to a matching game of identifying others based on their zoom profiles, more challenging than you’d think! It helped us, as the SRC, to connect with students and show that we are a student board in the university, there to cater for the students,” said Bakar.

Source: Bakar Mohamad.

 

Despite highlighting her favorite moments of the event being a never-ending affair, the First Nations Representative, Tiffany Sharpe, said that the moment when the SRC and Student Community team came together, to create a magical Christmas party for the students at Western Sydney University had to be her favorite. After two years of lockdowns and virtual learning, the teams were able to shed light and share joy with the presence of cultural diversity.

“I encountered many students that I’ve only spoken with over zoom and social media. There were a group of ladies, that I made friends with over the year. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to meet them and get to know them more in person,” said Tiffany.

 

Ladies of the Science Society meets First Nations Representative. Source: Lauren McGregor.

 

“The moments to remember are the good times of fun, laughter, and friendships that blossomed. These memories were created, and I am glad to be a part of it,” she said.

Finally, for Sharmin Saba (SRC Residential Rep) this was the first face-to-face event after months of lockdown, adding that she also got the opportunities to meet other SRC reps for the first time.

“I would say all the social interactions I had were absolutely amazing…When I was helping out with the event, I had multiple interactions with the attendees. We were talking about our university experiences, our hobbies and interests and so on. But one conversation that stood out to me and became the most memorable experience was when a few attendees mentioned how happy they felt to see me there despite being from a different faith. I could see from their happy expressions that they genuinely meant it. This was the very first Christmas event I ever attended and I felt grateful to the kind and welcoming words I received from the attendees which made me feel inclusive within the community,” said Sharmin.

While the Christmas pudding was a hit or miss, the Secret Santa event was a huge success. SRC have had students ask how they can help and volunteer for next event and look forward to hosting it again next year – possibly with some assistant elves if anyone has costumes!

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Message from the president of the Student Representative Council

It is our mission for the year to listen to students and take action on concerns, suggestions and needs....

Mary-Pearl Chung, the president of the Student Representative Council.

Since the start of July, I have been in the role of president of the WSU Student Representative Council.

It goes without saying that this year will hold innumerable unprecedented challenges, not just within our university community but also globally and in our personal lives.

I am excited beyond words to represent and amplify the voices of WSU students— though I feel extremely humbled to have such invaluable support and guidance from my new SRC team.

Although we have only just commenced our term it is clear to me that the new SRC team is filled with outstanding talent, passion and experience of which I admire and am motivated by. It is our mission for the year to listen to students and take action on concerns, suggestions and needs.

 

Our vision for the council is that we will do our best to establish and maintain a more vibrant and inclusive university student experience.

During elections, I had three campaign promises that I remain committed to achieving with the role of the council;

  • To push for full transparency of SSAF funding and more student consultation into its decision making,
  • More events, initiatives and student societies across all WSU campuses (including online students),
  • Greater social justice involvement from the university through extracurricular initiatives and advocacy.

I believe that equity within the university community and a greater sense of belonging are so important in having a positive and memorable university experience. I am proud to be a student at WSU, a young university that has so much potential because we can draw from the successful implementations of other universities and be better to enrich our diverse and unique Western Sydney communities.

Over the past few months some new council members and myself have been working alongside the previous council to address various issues such as COVID- 19 student support, student concerns against ProctorU, the BLM movement and solidarity with Indigenous communities, among several other issues at hand.

However, I know that there is so much more that we as the SRC can do especially during these trying times deeply affecting so many of our students. As the President, my vision for the SRC in the year ahead is to have stronger relations and consultation with the student body— I want WSU students to feel like they can just reach out at any time to the SRC or myself for any concerns, suggestions or enquiries.

I know how I had imagined my uni life might be like, with all the excitement of clubs, societies, events and networking— and I want to be able to create that experience for as many students as I can. Remote online study has made this vision a little more difficult for sure, but I hope that we can work through this eventually.

Again, please do not hesitate to contact the SRC for any concerns, issues, suggestions or feedback related to your experience at Western Sydney University. You can also find us on our social media to keep updated with our work and ways to get involved in uni life.

I look forward to hearing from you all in the coming year.

Sincerely,

page2image12696

 

Mary-Pearl Chung
SRC President | Western Sydney University
president@westernsrc.org

src@westernsydney.edu.au
http://westernsrc.org
Instagram: westernsydneyusrc
Facebook: Western Sydney Student Representative Council

 

 

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NUS: to affiliate or disaffiliate?

For the second time in a year, discussions over disaffiliation from NUS has resurfaced, causing frustration amongst the SRC....

For the second time in a year, discussions over disaffiliation from NUS has resurfaced, causing frustration amongst the SRC.

In March this year, during the fourth meeting of the Student Representative Council (SRC), a major point of interest was regarding whether Western Sydney University would affiliate with The National Union of Students (NUS).

The NUS is the representative body that advocates for the rights and interests of students around Australia. This includes campaigns regarding sexual assault and harassment, climate change, student welfare, funding cuts to higher education, and many more.

Mr. Frederick Bekker, who is the General Secretary for the 2019/2020 term, put a motion forward suggesting the SRC hold a referendum and allow the students to decide whether Western Sydney University affiliates with NUS in 2020.

The agenda item outlined that NUS had been a focal point during the SRC terms of office. Fred also outlined the significant conflict of interest, as several reps including himself are NUS delegates. Fred, who is also the Campus Representative for Western Sydney University at NUS wishes to see this decision be left up to the students, a decision made by a binding student referendum.

 

Here we go again!

W’SUP archives indicate that Western Sydney University SRC has been affiliated with the NUS since 2016. The then President, Mr. Michael Wright said, “The National Union of Students has come under criticism in recent years. In NSW, voters remain sceptical of unions, and student politics more broadly remains the domain of die-hards and hacks. While these claims aren’t totally unfounded, reform and change can only come from inside NUS, and affiliation gives us the best chance.”

As some of you may recall, this is not the first time that Fred has attempted to push Western Sydney University’s SRC away from the NUS. Toby Hemmings, former WSUP editor, reported on this issue last year. Toby’s article identifies Fred as the representative who requested the special meeting to discuss NUS disaffiliation.

After the meeting Fred said, “With the Chair of the meeting contesting an elected position which requires remaining affiliated, and 4 of the sitting SRC members being sitting NUS delegates, the impartial nature of requiring to make to decision to affiliate comes into question.”

 

Fred also said NUS had previously lied about their financial situation, claiming the organisation is misspending SSAF money. Fred said there was drunk and disorderly behaviour at NatCon and even claims of threats of violence.

Sarah Cupitt, the 2019/2020 Vice-President of Undergrad and an NUS delegate, strongly opposed the motion. However, this was not always the case, Toby’s article states Sarah was in favour of disaffiliating. Sarah said that 2019 was her first year of student politics and she was aware the NUS had come under criticism in recent years.

 

“Upon attending NatCon, meeting new friends and sharing all the heated policy drama on twitter, it came to my attention that reform and change can only come from inside NUS and affiliation gives us that power. A power that all students deserve,” said Sarah.

 

Ms. Cupitt also told me that 30 percent of students are on welfare, which would be approximately 9000 Western Sydney University students who are receiving some form of government assistance. She noted that as a result of the NUS campaign, students on welfare are now receiving an additional $550 per fortnight for the next 6 months.

 

During the meeting, a heated discussion took place with Daniel Bonatti, the 2019/2020 Vice-President, Post Graduate; expressing his concern that Fred did not address this issue with the NUS delegates before filing the motion.

Daniel also highlighted that this is an issue for the newly elected SRC to make as their terms of office begin. This was a sentiment that was repeated by various SRC members. Sarah, calling it undemocratic for the SRC to rush this motion on the last day of elections; a decision that would impact the new SRC.This was something that Fred was quoted saying, the affiliation payment of $2,500 was made ‘without any consultation’ of the incoming SRC, back in 2019.

 

Hollie Hammond, who was present at the meeting as a student observer, said, “I think a lot of reps were becoming frustrated, as Fred insisted repeatedly the proposed referendum wasn’t for or against NUS, but many of them remember him leading an unsuccessful motion to disaffiliate just last year.”

 

She went on to say, “I think other reps were getting quite annoyed as he kept insisting NUS is too political, as though student politics, higher education, and unions are somehow supposed to exist in an apolitical vacuum.”

 

Final comments

Fred said, “I knew moving this motion was always going to be unpopular among the other SRC members and would never have passed. However, I firmly believe in strongly standing up for the students that you have been elected to represent, and am proud to have made a stand for my Western Community.”

SRC President, Mr. Matthew Bojanic, said, “The National Union of Students is an incredibly important partner organisation to the SRC. Its work during COVID-19 Pandemic has been invaluable so far in securing additional safeguards and support for our students at Western, and I feel this speaks to the importance of maintaining a strong working relationship with the organisation.

 

“The reality is that there are many areas that still need to be addressed during this crisis, including support for international students, and so it is essential that we continue to work together to advocate for all within our student community. As such, now is not the time to be driven by ideology and partisan political views. Now is not the time to even discuss disaffiliation. Because we must work together to overcome this crisis for the sake of our students, and this involves collaborating with the NUS.”


Your thoughts

Whether you love or loathe the NUS, what do you think on the matter? Should the SRC start putting votes on the student body? Should we go to a referendum? Would this mean the end of the SRC as their role is to vote on your behalf? Let us know what you think below!

 

 

 

Edited by Shayma Abdellatif 

 

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Is WSU forcing students to install software that invades their privacy?

Surveillance in the wake of coronavirus is forcing students to decide between privacy and their grades....

Surveillance camera peering into laptop computer. Source: Thomas Jackson

A wave of surveillance in the wake of coronavirus is forcing students to decide between privacy or their grades with online exams to be monitored with a software called ProctorU. In a time where people want to protect their online privacy and security more than ever – it’s no wonder that students are concerned.

One can argue that the testing service protects exams and ensures academic integrity – but at what cost? It’s a system where students are cheaters until proven innocent – selling a narrative that students can’t be trusted. The outcry of the student’s voice has been seen in both email correspondences to staff and student leaders. Western SRC Representatives have already sent emails to the VC and Vice President Academic on behalf of students to voice these concerns.

There are two ways your exam may take place: Live+ means a real person will supervise your exam in real time via your webcam and Review+ means you and your screen will be recorded and reviewed by Proctor U after the exam session.

Read more: Online Exam Proctoring – FAQ

Third-year ICT student Daniel Grech said that he and other students would prefer if WSU were conducting the remote exam rather than a third party. The main issues with ProctorU being data gathering, such as geo-location data, biometrical data, IP address’ and the troubling possibility of data retention.

“I think the university should ditch the use of ProctorU and use their own software such as vUWS (which they are using for my other units). And possibly the use of zoom if deemed necessary,” says Grech.

Nearly 3,500 WSU students have signed the petition created by third-year honours civil engineering student Mark Ibrahim opposing the use of ProctorU. Other petitions, include the University of Queensland with nearly 7,000 signatures, UNSW with almost 2,500, and uSYD with nearly 4,500.

 

Samantha Pamplin is a second-year student at WSU studying her first year of Bachelor of Social Science and recently sat an exam using the proctoring software – and assures it isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

“Sure, there are privacy concerns, but I looked away plenty of times and spoke to myself to collect my thoughts, and I was fine. And all the permissions it requires, such as having control of your screen are reversed at the end of the exam,” Pamplin said.

Students with a disability using their AT will render them liable for misconduct with this software. For a student to receive accommodations for a proctored exam, they will need to register with an exam facilitator so that they can provide a form to disclose a request before the exam. ProctorU does not require any information about your disability. If you have questions about accommodations, please email support@proctoru.com.

 

Actions and behaviours that will be flagged during an exam. Source: ProctorU Website.

 

However, some students have reported that the software is buggy and crashes their computers. There are also concerns about not having access to webcams and stable internet now some students have moved back home due to COVID-19.

Macquarie University who have chosen not to use ProctorU has handled their exams by offering alternate assessments such as essays, carving the path for other universities to follow their lead. However, students of WSU may be forced to approach the media or seek legal representation, as those affected at USyd have done.

“The proposed alternatives to using ProctorU include alternate assessments; options for browser locks, using Zoom (if all you’re doing is recording people to be sure they’re not looking at other devices to search answers). Some options are less invasive but still maintain a reasonable level of academic integrity without students having their privacy invaded,” says Hollie Hammond, Academic Senate Representative.

Pamplin wasn’t sure what students expect to do instead of sitting a monitored exam. However, she would’ve preferred the test to be changed to an assessment she could complete and then submit.

“I truly believe the student experience with ProctorU will vary depending on the person watching you, and I did get lucky, but if students have any issues, they can contact the exam board. I did, as I was using my mum’s workspace, which has extra monitors. And stuff like bathroom breaks, I was told by my disability advisor at the university that I would be allowed those and on the day the guy watching told me the same thing before I even asked,” she said.

 

Read more: UQ students raise privacy concerns over third-party exam platform

 

NSW Education Vice-President James Newbold from the National Union of Students shared a template for students to use for those who’d like to express their concerns to university executives, deans of schools and unit coordinators.

Currently, the university will be going ahead with ProctorU to provide this service to students for exams scheduled to be held in this year.

Read more: How to Prepare for your Online Exams

If you feel you need further support, please contact the services below:

Technical problems (vUWS) itservicedesk@westernsydney.edu.au

Examinations team examinations@westernsydney.edu.au

 

 

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Dramatic days for SRC: President resigns as union disaffiliation is discussed

It's been a wild few days in WSU stupol....

The WSU student representative council will discuss disaffiliating from the student representative peak body, the National Union of Students (NUS), at a special meeting tonight. The meeting comes following the surprise resignation of SRC President Naomi Hastings last Friday.The push to disaffiliate comes from Frederick Bekker, the SRC General Secretary and one of the six elected WSU delegates to the NUS. The special meeting was requested following Bekker’s initial tabling of the motion at the last SRC meeting on July 17.

In an interview with W’SUP, Bekker claimed that the NUS does not serve the interests of the students and repeated his claims that the union was “internally defunct” and “a display of ignominy in action.” Bekker also claimed that five of the six Western Sydney’s University’s NUS delegates, including himself, strongly wanted to disaffiliate.

W’SUP contacted the five other NUS delegates to confirm this. Three did not respond to requests for comment. Of the two who responded, Adeem Jiwani declined to comment and Daniel Bonatti stated that he wanted a meeting so that everyone could voice their concerns.

Editor’s note: Following initial publication, three NUS delegates (Vageesh Jhi, Sarah Cupitt and Adeem Jiwani) all went on the record with their support for disaffiliation from NUS. 

Former SRC President Naomi Hastings (second from the left) and VP Education Undergraduate Matthew Bojanic (second from the right) at the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue Out There Summit on July 2.

What is the NUS and why is the SRC affiliated with them?

The NUS is a contentious body with reports that its politically polarised National Conference has been marred by factional in-fighting, and allegedly, physical and verbal violence. In recent years, prominent affiliates such as the Australian National University Student Association (ANUSA) have refused to reaccredit on the basis of a lack of financial transparency in the organisation. Yet, there are limited other options for collective cross-institutional student representation.

Bekker stated that the reasoning behind his push to disaffiliate from NUS is that the money can be better spent on WSU students in other ways. In an interview with W’SUP, Bekker asserted that the affiliation payment of $2,500 was made “without any consultation” of the incoming SRC.

Minutes from April’s SRC meeting show that the decision to affiliate was one made by the previous SRC. According to SRC minutes, the initial cost was to be $5,000 but was successfully negotiated down. In emails seen by W’SUP, the invoice was sent through to Student Representation and Participation (SR&P) on May 16 in keeping with the approved motion. There appears to be no public record of Bekker calling for the affiliation fee to be discussed by the incoming SRC team or for the processing of the fee to be halted when the invoice was sent through on May 16. The discussion to disaffiliate is first recorded as being raised in the July 17 meeting, more than two months and two meetings after the fee had been invoiced to be processed.

Hastings had tabled the motion in the previous SRC in April to remain affiliated. She had also unsuccessfully pushed for WSU to host NUS’s National Education Conference in July. According to sources, Hastings was leading the fight to remain affiliated.

This changed on Friday when she handed in her resignation as president, citing personal reasons. While this has not been elaborated on, sources noted that there had been tension between Hastings and Bekker following the April elections. Hastings did not respond to a request to comment.

Why is there a special meeting of the SRC being called? Will the SRC disaffiliate?

The purpose of the special meeting is to assign an interim president and to vote on whether the WSU SRC is to remain affiliated. However, W’SUP has been informed that Matthew Bojanic, the SRC Vice President – Education (Undergraduate) will be tabling a motion co-written with Frederick Bekker acknowledging the issues with NUS and calling for negotiations with NUS to ensure greater support for WSU equity collectives.

A key part of this motion is the development of key performance indicators (KPIs) that NUS must meet in order to continue receiving the annual affiliation fee. It remains unclear what would be measured to determine the effectiveness of the NUS on campus. Other university student representative bodies have previously floated KPIs as a means of increasing transparency and accountability across campuses and to ensure NSU national office bearers communicate what activities they are undertaking.

W’SUP has been informed that this motion has been pre-negotiated with Bekker in an attempt to guarantee its passing and to appease the calls for disaffiliation. When contacted by W’SUP, both Bojanic and Bekker stated their desire for the SRC to remain within a cross-institutional body for the purposes of collective advocacy for the benefit of students. A key part of this is the designation that Bekker, as general secretary, will be tasked with exploring alternative student representative organisations to potentially affiliate with. It remains unclear whether this motion will be passed, but both Bojanic and Bekker believe that together they have the numbers to do so. This would prevent disaffiliation for now, contingent on continuing negotiations with the NUS.

So… who will be the SRC President?

The special meeting will lead to the appointment of an interim president. As for what happens now regarding the presidency, according to procedure the casual vacancy for the position is to be filled by the candidate from April’s elections who received the next highest number of votes.

This would be Bekker who received 209 first place votes, but as he currently serves on the SRC, he is ineligible. The next in line would then be Mandii Carr who received 206 first place votes, but as she is currently the Vice President Activities, she is also ineligible. The position would then fall to Carl Martin, who received 109 first place votes. As of publication, it is uncertain whether the position automatically falls to Martin or whether the casual vacancy is open to expressions of interest. Martin has not responded to a request for comment.