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.

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!


24 March 2015

#March25NDA #BoardBBQ

Tomorrow is the National Day of Action (NDA), called by the National Union of Students for students around the country to protest against the damaging changes to higher education that have been proposed by the Federal Government – students will be rallying to demand increased funding into the education sector, not less, and a fairer student income support system.

As you might be aware, the 2014 – 2015 Board of Directors have stood firmly against the deregulation of university fees, which is at the crux of the Higher Education Research Reform bill that has failed to pass in the Senate twice now. Tomorrow’s action is in part a celebration of these victories – but the fight is not over.
Your USU Board protesting cuts to education

The Board stands against deregulation because we believe in accessible education for all, regardless of upbringing or socio-economic background. It shouldn’t matter whether you are the first in your family, or come from a long dynasty of University of Sydney graduates – you should be able to seek fair and affordable education, and be supported in doing so.

This policy is cooked – so the Board will be providing a cooked sausage to students that agree as part of the NDA festivities*

Come and celebrate the second defeat of fee deregulation, enjoy a free sausage with your choice of condiment (from basic choices like tomato and barbeque), and be part of the student movement!

Time and location: Botany Lawns from 11:30-12:30pm / any left overs will be taken to Fisher Library from 12:30-1pm


*Available for the first 150 students