Letters //

Letters – Week 4, Semester 2

The groans and moans of readers from Week 4, Semester 2.

letters 1

Elementary, my dear Watson

Dear Honi,

I was rather displeased with your article on the University erroneously misplacing some of its funds. It was not the content I was displeased with (anything that highlights University fuck ups is ok with me), but rather, I was incredibly disappointed in your graph.

At first glance, it is a rather hilarious depiction of the disaster. However, upon closer scrutiny, the graph is seriously flawed. First of all, choosing the rather unconventional method of adopting a logarithmic scale as opposed to the more widely accepted linear scale, seems to me to be a decision purely made to trick the reader into thinking that the University’s disaster was much closer in scale to the Hindenburg and Titanic disasters than it really was. Not to mention the fact that neither of the costs of those disasters had been adjusted for inflation. According to the website “R.M.S. Titanic costs”, the Titanic would have cost approximately $400,000,000, which, just in case you can’t do the maths (as your mistaken graph might have me believe) is 800 times more than the University’s fuck up.

I’m not saying that $500,000 is not a monumental mistake. It is. I’m merely saying that I’m not falling for your trickery, Honi. And now I hope the rest of the student population isn’t either.

Kind regards,

Lucy Watson

Arts (Media and Communication) VI (though I do have a maths major, which so far in life has really only helped me pull apart your articles and sound smarter than I really am)

It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son

Dear Honi,

Both Tim Asimakis (‘Opaque Senate’, August 5th) and Patrick Massarani (‘Letters’, August 12th) make a significant mistake in referring to the two student Fellows of Senate as our “representatives”.

Statutory duties of Fellows are laid out in Schedule 2A of the University of Sydney Act 1989 (NSW) and the first duty demands that every Fellow acts in good faith in the best interests of the University as a whole. (The fourth duty deals with improper use of information, which is relevant to the suggestion for student Fellows to ignore confidentiality.)

The alternative – some kind of factional model in which each of the University’s stakeholder groups elects or appoints one, two, or four representatives of their own – would significantly impair the functioning of the Senate and could easily be worse for students, who could ordinarily only rely on two out of 22 votes (<10%).

I agree with Mr Asimakis that the student body ignores Senate to its detriment. My recommendation, to the student representative bodies in particular, is that we start doing much more to influence all 22 Fellows. Given their accessibility and sympathies, the two student Fellows would be an obvious place to start.

It’s great to see Honi Soit taking an interest in Senate and wonder if it is time to offer a regular column to the student Fellows, and perhaps the Chancellor herself? The Senate papers are often less interesting and relevant to students than you might hope, but if we really cared to, we students could set our own agenda and advocate much harder on the issues that are most important to us.

Benjamin Veness


Former Fellow of Senate (2010-11, 2011-12)

Stop your bloviating

Dear Honi,

I, like Mr. Massarani, also remember the 35-minute phone interview that he endearingly thinks “generated” my piece, ‘Opaque Senate’. Regrettably, it was conducted the day the piece was due and after it had largely been written.

Unfortunately for Pat, my article that apparently accused him of many things wasn’t actually about him, as he would have realized had his ego permitted him to read it. Rather it was an examination of the institution he is but one member of.

I, like the litany of important persons that Mr. Massarani reeled off, do not doubt his engagement or commitment – I was impressed both when I spoke to him on the phone and when he showed off the size of his list of achievements in his letter. But I did and do doubt the level of transparency that exists within Senate.

If Mr. Massarani is to be believed, then amidst my “self-indulgent ‘progressivism’” were calls for anarchy. If asking for the timely publication of Senate minutes, the provision of consistent reports to students, and a website that has been proofread is either progressive or anarchical then maybe his claims are true.

I did indeed suggest electing a candidate “who, where necessary, can explain the need for secrecy, or one who may even be willing to provide information… irrespective of its confidential status.” But that is evidently not the hardened call to parachute in Julian Assange that Mr. Massarani took it to be. Rather it was an invitation to a conversation about what students might want in their next Senate candidate, irrespective of the glowing performance of the current one.

And that is the tragedy at the heart of Mr. Massarani’s letter. In choosing to hide his own insecurities behind passive aggression and bluster, Mr. Massarani chose not to engage with any of the issues I presented. If he thinks Senate’s current approach to transparency is adequate, he could have said why. If he thinks that Senate Fellow candidates should not be subjected to more scrutiny, he could have said why. If he thinks that it is fine that Senate doesn’t make minutes available, he could have said why. If he thinks that it is good that students cannot know about the most important decisions affecting them made by the body that governs their university, he could have said why.

Instead he filled your paper with clichés and tired insults.


Tim Asimakis

The Village Idiot

Crouching tiger, hidden Spence

Hi Honi,


I refer mainly to the article by Christina White, entitled ‘Desperately seeking Senate’, in the week 3, semester 2, 2014 edition of Honi Soit.  I cannot understand why she attended the Senate Meeting or why she had to sit outside for three hours.  She  states that the Vice Chancellor (VC) ‘explained the University’s financial structure to her in a one-on-one lesson’.  However, she provides no information about what he said or how it relates to any funds provided by and/or for students.

As a Glebe resident, former lecturer at Sydney Uni. and Alumni member, I mainly look to Honi Soit to find out what is going on in student and university management, as the Uni. of Sydney Union (USU) magazine, ‘Bullmag’, which I would have expected to contain this information, never appears to tell anybody anything about the rationale and process for the expenditure of students’ money.   Going to the USU website and reading the strategic plan, etc. left me with more questions than answers.

A Students Representative Council (SRC) Meeting is discussed in the week 3 edition of Honi Soit which also left me wondering how the SRC elections are ideally related to the running of the USU.  I note from the SRC website that it relates only to undergraduate students and wondered why.

Christina White states that the next Senate Meeting is on September 8th and asks if anybody wants to accompany her.  It would seem more informative, however, to ask the VC to write down what he said to Christina White for publication in Honi Soit.  One wonders why he said something to a person presumably expected to be a student representative if he did not wish it to go further than White.  Honi Soit editors should ask the VC to write down what he said to her, for publication in Honi Soit.

Speaking as one of the most ambitious, socially conscious and politically engaged Australian leaders and revolutionaries referred to by Milly Ellen,  assure Yi Jian Ching he is not the only one bothered by all the giant sewing machines looming in the sky over Sydney Uni.  Their operations have driven me nuts for decades.  I hope Honi Soit can at least fix this smaller mystery of what the VC said to Christina White.


Carol O’Donnell

Why not both?

Hi Honi,

I wrote you a poem which I can’t decide whether to call ‘Honi Soit’ or simply ‘The Future’.

Bigotry no more

Tolerance for all

Cis white scum.

Kind Regards,

Angus Palfreeman

Medical Science II

Vice Chancellor Michael Spence.

Michael Spence

Michael Spence: the fair controller?

The Vice Chancellor has been in the role for almost a decade; his drive to reshape the University seems to have only grown.