Best of ‘really makes you think’ 2017

Most would agree that Honi Soit, and student media, is at its best when it's probing and thought-provoking. Here are the editors' picks for the articles that made us question the world around us.

What happens at camp: do the USU faculty camps provide adequate duty of care?

By Nina Dillon Britton

Some of the most important discussions start with two simple questions: how are we doing things now and can we do them better?

Analysing the practice of faculty camps — trips away organised and ran by older students for first-years new to a faculty — the article reveals a number of incidents where students had been coerced into unsafe drinking or sexual situations by camp organisers.

But more importantly, it raises what should be an obvious question: without adequate duty of care or proper training for camp organisers — who are usually only marginally older than the students entrusted into their care — are these camps safe at all? Maani Truu

Don’t be political and personal

By Kida Lin

Many of you will read this article and disagree. That’s a good thing. Many people expressed vocal disagreement in the comments section on Facebook. That’s also (sometimes) a good thing.

For many university students, the classroom is the most accessible discursive space there is. As with any discursive space, the issue of how we debate, and of which arguments and voices we prioritise is critical. I think this piece is worth coming back to because it is a bold take that challenges the (at times) dogmatic assumptions we hold about how we engage in discourse.

Much ink has been spilled over this issue. There is even more ink still waiting to be spilled. And that’s a good thing. Kishor Napier-Raman

Hell on wheels

By Robin Eames

There seems to always be something of a rumbling undercurrent of conversation about accessibility on campus — it’s an ongoing conversation, and often a deeply frustrating one. Students with disabilities are faced with a campus designed with only the able-bodied in mind. They regularly grapple with special considerations or disability services processes that are inadequate, inhuman or incomprehensible. The wider world, too, is slow to change, or unwilling – just the paragraph on the DDA and its so-called anti-discrimination laws will illuminate this fact.

Robin’s feature article brought this issue to light powerfully and eloquently; for readers in the know, it was a welcome public examination of the university’s failings, and for those new to the topic, it was thoroughly eye-opening. I’m proud to have published this piece. Ann Ding

Anti-abortion advocate calls for Serena Williams to be stripped of grand slam title

By Katie Thorburn

What just begun as a whimsical satire piece about a piece of news that must surely mean Serena Williams is the most incredible person on the planet, became a huge international news story when several social media accounts began to share screenshots of the article — without the tag at the top clearly marking it as satire.

What resulted was pandemonium as the article was shared tens of thousands of times, reported on by, the Sydney Morning Herald, and The Independent. Even the internationally trusted news source Kenyan Star fell victim to the fiasco.

However, the viral fervour that ensued really does actually make you #think though: if people are so willing to believe that a NSW legislator denounced Serena for receiving unfair advantage from her pregnancy, what does that say about people’s attitudes towards reproductive health in the real world that we live in? Aidan Molins

Dicks in space: sexual difference theory in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2

By Ang Collins

Filmic analysis is par for the course in high school English and many Arts undergrad degrees. Critics might see this particular deep-dive into the memetic subtext of a hollywood blockbuster as grasping for meaning where there is none.

It’s exactly for that reason that this piece is so entertaining. It’s mental gymnastics of the best variety: tight, lively, and self-aware. And by the end you’ll catch yourself thinking it’s all starting to sound worryingly plausible. Jayce Carrano

Virginity in a sex positive world

By Anonomous

In this piece, Anonymous adroitly notes that even confessional writing about uncomfortable experiences often requires a platform of power, so as to give the author distance from the subject of their piece.

In the world of sex positivity discourse, that has rendered sympathetic pieces about virginity unintentionally patronising. The basic principle of this article ought to start a larger conversation across more spheres of thought. Nick Bonyhady

The legally binding altruism at the core of the USU

By Sam Chu

For a long time, I struggled to define the USU to non-Usyd goers, generally tossing up between referring to it as a “union” and a “corporation”, before settling on the happy-go-lucky “student activities centre”.

But as Chu pointed out to me for the first time in this piece, the USU is legally defined as a “charity”. You wouldn’t be blamed for thinking otherwise, Chu explains; very little of the USU’s outward actions or internal culture reflects its charitable status.

As Chu points out: “The USU must focus on one thing and one thing only: ensuring that USyd students from all backgrounds can have the best possible time at university. That’d be the charitable thing to do after all”. Justine Landis-Hanley

Growing up Greek and gay

by Connor Parissis

As the recent postal survey results and surrounding furore demonstrated, discussing how homophobia exists in conservative ethnic communities can be quite the challenge. When media and popular culture is heavily Anglo-Saxon, it is unfortunately rare that people from within ethnic communities have a public forum to share their experiences and challenge this conservatism, with the level of nuance necessary to starting a proper conversation.

That’s why I was so excited when we received Connor’s pitch for this piece on what it was like to be gay while attending a Greek Orthodox High School in Sydney. The Facebook comments that rolled in swiftly affirmed why it was so important:

“Thank you so much for writing this wonderful article! You are incredibly brave and one of the few to publicly come out in what is still a heavily closeted diaspora community… It is about time the church and the community woke up to the fact that homosexuality exists in all faiths and ethnicities,” one person said.

“Loved reading this, It was overdue,” said another. “Good on you for having the courage to speak out about these issues. I stand with you,” was another comment.

All came from people with very conspicuous Greek surnames. It was great to see that, for myself as well as others, this was the first time we felt that our frustrations with an often uncritically conservative community were coherently articulated, and in a way that fostered empathy and compassion. Natassia Chrysanthos

Feminism for sale

By Lena Wang

I think many people could relate to the frustration of beauty companies jumping on the ‘self-love’ feminism train in a hollow attempt to appear progressive and rake in profits, particularly when their sales often rely on people feeling insecure about some aspect of their appearance.

This article tackles the corporatisation of feminism through the lens of Lena attending a TEDxLA conference about feminism that mostly focused on self-love.

“One panellist suggested that empowerment could be attained through regular meditations in a forest, as if we could dismantle the intersections of racism and sexism that cause said issues with self-love if only we, as a human species, breathed in more mildew,” Lena writes.

“Most disquieting about this expensive conference was my realisation that I had attempted to literally buy empowerment. I believed that, so long as I could purchase a ticket and passively absorb this knowledge, I would become a more active agent in the fight against sexism.” Lena’s writing is both bitingly funny and thoughtful. I would encourage anyone looking for an entertaining but challenging article to revisit this one. Siobhan Ryan

Cats are a gateway drug to neighbours

By Nick Harriott

There’s this white cat on my street who I see every now and again. It’s very fluffy, and very rotund, and sometimes when I go to get a Snapchat of it, it runs away. Beyond the amazing, and ridiculous, and amazingly ridiculous premise of this photo essay, it genuinely made me (and I’m sure, many others as well) wonder who owns the fat white cats on our suburban streets. And maybe next time I see it, I’ll make an effort to find out. Michael Sun