The University of Sydney SRC and its student publication, Honi Soit, have voted to stand in solidarity with UTS Vertigo, condemning the UTS Senior Executive for their decision to reduce the magazine’s budget in 2022.
The motion of solidarity was moved by Enviro Officer Ishbel Dunsmore at the SRC’s council meeting on June 3rd and was passed with unanimous support. It demands that UTS restore funding to Vertigo, allowing it to remain in print. It also warrants that the SRC share any relevant material from UTS Vertigo that pertains to the motion.
University of Sydney Women’s Officer Dashie Prasad was one of the councillors who spoke to the motion last Thursday.
“The encroachment from UTS management is a historical step for management at any university, to infringe on the autonomy of the SRC and the democracy of the elected team of Vertigo,” they say.
“If there are decisions that need to be made about funding, they should go to the UTSSA’s President and Vertigo’s team, it shouldn’t look like Management going in and taking half of what was expected to be [Vertigo’s] budget.”
The preamble of the motion cited UTS’s 2021 budget surplus as well as nation-wide cuts to student media, namely Adelaide University’s On Dit, as reasons to supporting the motion.
Dunsmore, who moved the motion, maintains that the actions being taken against Vertigo are relevant to student organisations and publications at universities across Australia.
“These sorts of things set a precedent, especially with the sandstone universities, for further cuts,” she says, “I think that UTS and the cuts to Vertigo will have some sort of impact on the climate going forward in student politics. It’s pretty dismal already that Honi Soit editors get $10 a day for what is essentially a full-time job.”
According to these councillors, the controversy around Vertigo funding ties into a much broader conversation around the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). Currently, this fee is paid into the hands of university management, who then distribute it among their university’s student union and other student services.
“At the core of SSAF funding is the need to give back to students, and who can do that better than students themselves,” Prasad says.
“It’s our money in the first place. Every university student individually has put more money into the SSAF than the Deputy Vice-Chancellor has, so why does she get to be the bank teller who decides who can and can’t get money?”
Since the motion was passed, Australian National University student publication, Woroni, has also established their support for Vertigo, calling the budget reductions “fundamentally wrong, and another step in the direction of universities underfunding student unions and media.”