I write in response to Nick Rowbotham’s article in the Week One Edition titled ‘Manufacturing Fun.’ The article primarily attacked the University of Sydney Union for engaging too many corporate sponsors with Orientation Week and other festivals and events throughout the year.
Mr Rowbotham begins by asserting that the ‘wrong people’ are in control of the USU’s events. It came as massive disappoint to me that Mr Rowbotham neglected to mention that O-Week was directed by two students studying law and that together they showcased 92 events – all student run.
Events like the Scavenger Hunt were made possible thanks to a chip-in from corporate sponsor Hijacked. And while the post-event photos, the bright colours or big smiles may have given Mr Rowbotham the impression of ‘sanitised student fun.’ I can assure Mr Rowbotham had he engaged with the O-Week activities he would have had some actual genuine fun. (I think the Scav Hunt may have clashed with his shift at the Access Tent)
I do not want Orientation Week to turn into an one big advertisement for Commbank or Officeworks. It makes me incredibly uncomfortable. However it is a practical reality that by letting some corporate sponsors hand out free mi-goreng, the O-Week budget is greatly greatly expanded. And we have to make some concessions in this post-VSU world.
Some students aren’t engaged. Some won’t be engaged until they see something crazy on campus like a Mechanical Bull or Inflatable Slide (a la Engineering Parties) If a student has a go on a Mechanical Surfboard at an event like Campus Culture’s FUNCH, then discovers the USU has a Surfing Society and makes friends through the surfing lessons they run – the student leaders behind it are doing their job right.
There are issues within the USU that need to be addressed. We need to be constantly keeping USU departments to account and ensuring that students continue to be in those offices shaping events. But amongst the smear-pieces and critiques, we do need to reflect and celebrate the fact we are members of an organization that connects so many students and creates endless outlets for student creativity and expression.
I look forward to reading more pieces in Honi this year focused on the latest MUSE show or the amazing production work done by students on their own radio shows at SURG FM (even if they took a donation from Durex to make it happen.)
Arts (MECO) III USU Campus Culture Director 2014