Spark: our Honi Soit electoral ticket in 1999. Roozi Araghi: our aspiring editor who was destined to shine. We crowded in a pub in Glebe in mid-1999 to cement not only an electoral campaign but a vision for Honi Soit. Our ticket name, which was reminiscent of its 1905 Russian namesake, was true to what Roozi stood for: electricity, energy and revolutionary zeal.
Roozi was a member of Activist Left whose university life was characterised by activism predominantly in the queer, anti-racist and education spaces. He was never shy and always a leader: organising campaigns, serving on the SRC Executive and eventually running for SRC President. And as Roozi confessed one night, “Spark” also happened to be the name of a truly excellent Tori Amos song.
Upon victory, and the obligatory celebrations, we set to work in 2000: taking very seriously our task of “reportage” as we fairly pretentiously called it. No one was more committed to this responsibility than Roozi. Uncovering student union scandals, exposing the white privilege underpinning the Olympics (and Barbie), and calling for the shutdown of the World Economic Forum, Roozi took no prisoners. The latter article has the by-line: “Roozi Araghi tells you why you should and how you can play an active role in telling the peak-body for corporate scum to get fucked”. And all this passion would be let loose in front of a square Mac, in the bunkers of the Wentworth Building, in our beloved SRC. It would be released over Roozi’s much-loved frozen Sara-Lee cake, over Eurovision tape lists, and over reflections on high fashion and pop culture. It would be released at 3am when cars on City Road were being towed, pizzas were being delivered, and, on one occasion, extreme right students graffitied on the wall and poured urine all over the entry and carpet of the SRC’s foyer.
Roozi was always there to edit the last edition, to give us a lift home, to raise or lower the journalistic bar, as required. He was always there to give counsel on topics ranging from fashion to music to politics to relationships, all offered in quips while tapping out his latest article. The simultaneously cool and daggy sides of Roozi manifested in his writing for Honi Soit. Articles on boy bands, Eurovision and fashion would feature in the Roozi Araghi Honi Soit repertoire. Weekly Simpsons and Madonna trivia sat alongside charged articles about S11 and queer politics. In Roozi’s eyes, that stuff was never mutually exclusive.
This was important because in our large team there was, ever so occasionally, a polite and carefully-expressed discussion regarding the balance between satirical and activist content in an edition of Honi. During these exchanges, the epithets “dull-but-worthy” and “entitled, grammar-boy glibertarian” were certainly not employed to abuse others’ articles or fellow editors. But Roozi, in both his writing and his being, flatly refused to recognize the distinction, let alone the opposition, between these commitments. He roundly insulted us all, crashed our Macs, fed us simple carbohydrates, hydrogenated fats, coffee, Red Bulls and vodkas, turned up some truly awful music (All Saints “Pure Shores” was a 2000 fave) or something truly amazing, and defended us trenchantly to outsiders. One night when he felt particularly sorry for one of us, he even condescended to kick around a football in Victoria Park at 3am. It was, as a spectacle, pure gold.
Most of us spent that year in the bunker pretending that we weren’t obsessed with what was wrong with us. One of the glories of Roozi was that he was thoroughly and unapologetically himself and compassionate and irritated, in equal measure, by our insecurities. The Honi Soit editors of 2000 – Roozi Araghi, Thalia Anthony, Richard Cooke, Anna Clark, Aysha Pollnitz, Anna Boucher, Jamie Hall, Dorothea Anthony, Chloe Burnett, and Aaron Timms – can never be changed in our composition and in what we did and set out to do. But we are now changed in light of Roozi’s passing. A passing that was premature and unfair. We are saddened for his family and his hordes of friends and loved ones. But we are also saddened by the fact that this very special person who left a huge mark is not part of the writing of our last collective article for Honi Soit.
Spark have collected some of Roozi’s Honi mentions here.