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Lying to Lateline and other college pranks

Eleanor Gordon-Smith pens at open letter to Sydney University’s colleges.

St John's College, University of Sydney. Photo: J Bar, licensed under GNU Free 1.2

Dear Colleges,

Do you understand that my dog has a better understanding of basic societal rules than you? Rules like “don’t almost kill people” and “don’t shit on the furniture”.

She’s 21 years old. The same age as you. And not once has she set fire to a couch or forced someone to drink poison.

If you’re an old boy with a law practice and a yacht who took your boy home after he was suspended in March, if you’re a college kid staying silent right now, I want you to know that my deaf, blind, Jack Russell-cross is a better behaved member of society than the person you’re protecting.

George Pell and Michael Spence think you’ve gone too far. One ordained squillionare telling you you’re insular and anachronistic has got to hurt, but two?

You’ve pushed your fair share of boundaries this year.

I have walked into college bars and had strangers in $4000 suits put their hand up my skirt. I have sat at intercollege boxing and watched every single one of your “sportsmen” make rape jokes. Not rape jokes like this or this where the mutual assumption is that rape is bad, but jokes that would only amuse an audience that thought – like you did – that rape is funny.

I watched your casual racism and I watched you close ranks around the people responsible for the O-Week hazing that left a girl in the hospital.

But last night you sent one of your number on to my television to tell one of the worst lies I have ever seen. Georgie Carter, a third-year member of the St John’s house committee, told Lateline she was a fresher who’d “never been intimidated or forced into drinking anything”.

And my brain finally exploded.

I sincerely hope that some of the pressurised face-splatter that follows wrecks one of your dinner shirts and make your parents reconsider taking you to Aspen this year until you go to an authority and tell the truth about what you’ve seen.

I want to take a moment to speak directly to Georgie Carter.

Girlfriend, I’m so sorry you got found out. Who hasn’t been recognised at a bad time? On a walk of shame, in a drive through Mickey D’s or, you know, while lying about your identity on national television.

The whole being-recognised thing got a bit much for me after the tenth time somebody yelled “HEY ELEANOR” at me just as a bouncer was about to believe I was the crown princess of a small island and for religious reasons could not carry ID, so I compiled this Handy Guide To Not Being Recognised. You might like to borrow it for the next time you and your St John’s House Committee mates settle on a plan that involves lying to an audience of several hundred thousand people and an organisation that employs professional fact-checkers.

St John’s College, University of Sydney. Photo: J Bar, licensed under GNU Free 1.2


1. Identify Face

It is the thing attached to the front of your head. Your ponytail’s antipode is your face. I’ve included a picture of yours here in case anything goes wrong with project locate-face.

2. Recall that yours is recognisable

Magpies can recognise faces so it’s a decent bet anyone who’s seen you more than once might be able to as well.

Now ask yourself: “am I using my face to say things that are not true?” Because given that faces are recognisable (we JUST talked about this, Georgie) you will probably be found out.

3. Reconsider need to lie on national television

Is it possible your lies will:

a) Protect a group of misogynists who almost killed a girl your age?

b) Prevent enquiry into a culture of wealth, entitlement and privilege that encourages disregard for basic human decency?

c) Damage your prospective employability, integrity and principles?

Did you answer yes to any of the above? Do you want to just come over and we can watch real housewives instead?


1. Identify your name

Your name is the sound that people make when they are trying to get your attention. If you are struggling to identify your name, look at some Photo ID. Your name is the thing next to your face. See part one for help re: face.

2. Don’t lie under your own name

Georgie, you told Lateline your name was “Georgie”. But your name really is Georgie. This confuses me. There are lots of names, but you went with your own. I can only assume this was some kind of double-bluff where you thought people would fact-check every name but yours.

Georgie, do you understand how search engines work? I do, because I recently bought the internet. You will now too, because people at The Sydney Morning Herald spent yesterday making sure “Georgie Carter” delivers results about this incident all the way into the murky bog of pages 9 and 10 of Google results.

Failure to properly pseudonym has undone some of the best liars in the business so for next time I got you a list you can pick from.

I hope that this guide helps you in your next attempt to mislead hundreds of thousands of Australians.

Colleges, we’ve known for decades that you are sandstone pockets of obscene privilege that jettison the overdressed children of an outdated elite into positions of immense political and financial power.

That was worry enough when you were concealing and justifying rape, dragging first years through horrifying ordeals on an annual basis and creating a Sargasso Sea of vomit on University grounds.

But with this latest stunt I am honestly concerned you might just not be that clever.




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