Honi Soit http://honisoit.com News, Culture, Comedy, Opinion, and more since 1929 Sun, 30 Nov 2014 05:54:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 University to conduct sexual harassment survey http://honisoit.com/2014/11/university-announces-sexual-harassment-survey/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/university-announces-sexual-harassment-survey/#comments Sat, 29 Nov 2014 06:33:44 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13110 At the November meeting of the University of Sydney Union’s (USU) Board of Directors, Vice President Bebe D’Souza announced that a “non-staff funded independent inquiry” in response to sexual harassment on campus would commence early next year, following a meeting of the University’s Senior Executive Group (SEG) on the 5th of February.

The announcement comes after discussions were held between the Vice Chancellor, Student Support Services and various student representatives, including D’Souza and the 2014 SRC Women’s Officers Julia Readett, Georgia Rose Cranko and Phoebe Moloney, to lobby for reforms in the University’s sexual harassment policies and procedures.

They began last month, after a female student revealed that she had been left without University support for more than six months after another student circulated a naked picture of her without her consent.

“The University, the USU and other student representatives are continuing to develop a roadmap for policy reform. Though the roadmap is still being developed I look forward to continuing working with the university on this important issue,” D’Souza said.

Previously, D’Souza outlined a number of measures including a university-wide survey, campus forums, and awareness campaigns being discussed with the university to address concerns of sexual harassment.

In his speech at the USU’s Annual Dinner last Thursday, the VC said the University would continue to work with student organisations to develop a proactive approach towards sexual harassment on campus. A University spokesperson has since confirmed that a survey will be conducted by someone independent from the University, however they did not provide any other details.

“The University has agreed to conduct a survey into the unwanted sexual experiences of students on campus,” said the spokesperson“It is not doing this because it believes there is a problem greater than anywhere else in society at the University but because it is proactively concerned about the welfare of its students.”

The Director of Student Support Services Jordi Austin told Honi that although there was clear indication of partnering on programs in 2015 at a meeting earlier in the week, no timelines, nor any action, would be taken without a paper going to SEG for endorsement.

Honi understands that the Vice Chancellor has undertaken to take the paper to SEG, and that when the paper is discussed the students involved will be welcome to contribute to the discussion.

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Newman escapes conviction over Whitehouse “hacking” scandal http://honisoit.com/2014/11/no-conviction-recorded-against-newman-over-whitehouse-hacking-scandal/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/no-conviction-recorded-against-newman-over-whitehouse-hacking-scandal/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 23:16:07 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13088 21-year University of Technology Sydney student Freya Newman has been handed a two-year good behavior bond after entering a guilty plea to charges of unauthorised access of computer data. Magistrate Theresa O’Sullivan declined to record a conviction against Newman.

The data accessed by Newman revealed evidence of a secret $60,000 scholarship that had been given to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s daughter, Frances Abbott, by Sydney-based private college, the Whitehouse Institute of Design.

Online news site New Matilda first exposed evidence of the secret scholarship in May and reported the institute’s owner Leanne Whitehouse had lobbied the PM last December to extend federal funds to non-university institutions (such as the Whitehouse Institute) at a private function held by the school.

Magistrate O’Sullivan handed down her judgment a month after hearing submissions from the prosecution and counsel for Newman.

O’Sullivan said Newman’s unauthorised access of computer data was “towards the lowest end of the scale”. The offence carries a maximum of penalty of two years imprisonment.

“[Newman] did not access highly sensitive or commercially sensitive data, such as a residential address or banking details”, she said.

Further, O’Sullivan accepted that Newman was “motivated by sense of injustice rather than personal notoriety, greed, or embarrassment of the [Frances Abbott].”

The Magistrate took into account the need to deter other offenders and the harm to the community that unauthorised access of data could cause, but held that recording a conviction against Newman was not necessary to address these concerns.

In October, police prosecutor Amin Assaad argued a conviction should be recorded against Newman to deter others from taking similar actions to Newman.

Newman’s barrister Tony Payne SC sought leniency from the court, asserting she held good intentions despite committing a criminal act.

“It was this sense of injustice, not a desire for personal notoriety that motivated [Newman’s] access,” he said.

“In her view, it was in the greater public interest. It should not be taken by the court as a willful breach of the law.”

The $60,000 Chairman’s Scholarship was awarded to Frances Abbott in early 2011 when Abbott was Leader of the Opposition. It was alleged the scholarship had only been given out once before to Leanne Whitehouse’s daughter, Billie Whitehouse, but the institute has since clarified Billie did not receive the Chairman’s Scholarship, but instead had her $68,182 tuition fees waived.

The institute’s website claims it does not give scholarships out for its Bachelor of Design course. Current and former Whitehouse students have said the school did not advertise the scholarship to them. In August, a former teacher of Frances Abbott’s told the Sydney Morning Herald he did not believe she “deserved” the scholarship.

Yesterday a Senate Inquiry into the regulation and funding of Australia’s vocational, educational and training schools was announced, led by the Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and backed by the Labor Party.

The Sydney University Students’ Representative Council moved a motion of solidarity in support of Newman’s actions earlier this year.

Barrister and refugee advocate Julian Burnside has previously lauded Newman as a “whistleblower”.

“For drawing attention to a matter of genuine and legitimate public interest, Freya Newman deserves our thanks, not punishment,” he said.

Newman, a communications student majoring in cultural studies and journalism, also holds the position of President of the UTS Wom*n’s Collective.

Newman has been a vocal supporter of the cross-campus activist group Students for Wom*n’s-Only Services and in 2013 co-established RU4MyChoice, a UTS student society and advocacy group for reproductive health and rights, with former UTS Indigenous Officer Alison Whittaker.

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Good golly, Miss Molly http://honisoit.com/2014/11/good-golly-miss-molly/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/good-golly-miss-molly/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 09:27:00 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13077 Louise Brealey is no stranger to interviews. As a former journalist and editor, she has interviewed the likes of Angelina Jolie, Jude Law and Helena Bonham Carter. But since her rise to fame as the endearing and lovelorn Molly Hooper in BBC’s Sherlock, Brealey now finds herself on the other side of the microphone.

“I’m not a brilliant interviewee,” confesses Brealey. ““But sometimes you know what to say; you know [to] give people what you know they need because you’ve been on the other side.”

Despite her claims to the contrary, the former journalist turned actress is a pleasure to interview – witty, candid and fiery. Brealey exudes a friendly and personal charm that dispels any awkwardness that may otherwise arise from a telephone conversation connecting interviewer and interviewee from Sydney to London.

At the age of 35, Brealey boasts a resume that would be the envy of many. After studying history at Cambridge University, Brealey went on to complete her acting studies at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in Manhattan, New York. Although Brealey worked as a journalist and sub-editor of a number of publications, including Wonderland magazine and Man about Town, she admits that acting had always been her main interest.

“I had a marvelous career in journalism,” says Brealey. “[But] It was just like a sort of infection, wanting to be an actress. It just wouldn’t go away.”

“Interviewing actors, directors and writers – I loved it, and I still do. But at the time it felt sort of like looking through a shop window. And eventually I thought I’d better give it a go otherwise I might end up wishing I had and it would be too late.”

She started out in stage productions, acting in a number of them since 2001 including Sliding with Suzanne and After the End, with which she toured the US and Russia. She has also starred in a number of television series, including the BBC’s Casualty, and also appeared in Bleak House and Law and Order: UK.

However, it wasn’t until 2010 that Brealey shot to global fame in the BBC’s Sherlock, a modern TV retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. In the series, Brealey plays Molly Hooper, the stammering pathologist harboring an unrequited love for Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).

It is common knowledge that Brealey’s character was initially not intended to be a fixture in the series. According to the series’ writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (who are also the brains behind many Doctor Who episodes), Molly Hooper was only meant to feature in the pilot episode as an example of Sherlock’s complete obliviousness to any interest or attraction shown by women.

However, according to Moffat, Brealey’s performance made the writers rethink their decision to only have Molly Hooper feature in the pilot episode.

“She’s really interesting, Molly, because she was an absolute one-scene character for the pilot but [Louise] Brealey was just so fantastic,” said Moffat in an interview with Digital Spy. “We went against our first decision which was ‘We will not add a regular that’s not from Doyle’. The first thing we did was add a regular character that’s not from Doyle!”

Molly Hooper began series one as a minor character purely of Moffat and Gatiss’ imagination. But, by series three, Brealey’s character had come to assume a role much larger than would ever be anticipated, with her timidity and relationship frustrations adding an emotional element to the series that speaks to audiences on many levels.

“It’s very gratifying,” says Brealey. “I’m very proud that they liked the character enough that they developed her and gave her more screen time.”

“I get a lot of feedback from women. I don’t know about ‘relate’, I always find that ‘relatability’ is overrated – you have to relate to all characters in some sense. But I think what [Molly] does do is that they feel a connection with her and she speaks to them in some way. They recognize her.”

The global success achieved by Sherlock and its actors could never have been anticipated. Its international fan base brought Benedict Cumberbatch to Australia earlier this year. Brealey will follow his footsteps in November, attending the Supanova pop culture expo to be held in Adelaide and Brisbane.

With fans eagerly awaiting season 4, Brealey has only one word to describe her reaction to the plans for the next series: “speechless!”

Brealey’s following is huge, and, with over 170, 000 followers on twitter and various social media fan pages, her fans certainly hang on to her every word (or tweet) – a responsibility which Brealey, as a self-proclaimed feminist, does not take lightly.

“I have really enjoyed being a part of something that speaks to so many people and I’m into talking with some women and girls about things that impact them,” says Brealey.

“That was something that I could never have predicted. The notion of being any sort of role model is laughable, so that whole side of things has been amazingly enriching. I’ve learnt a lot about myself and also about feminism through having those sort of dialogues all the time.”

A passionate advocate of women’s rights, Brealey is unrepentantly and unapologetically honest about what needs to be done to combat the numerous issues women experience, including pressures surrounding what Brealey calls ‘body terror’ and ‘body fascism.’

“We live in a culture which values the way we look above all else,” says Brealey. “I think it’s getting worse rather than getting better [and] I think the media has a huge role in reinforcing this.”

“Because I have a voice – by accident, because I happen to play a small part in a show that’s caught people’s imagination – because I have that voice, I take it very seriously,” says Brealey.

“There is a degree of power in having a huge following in the way that this show has and that feels like a responsibility to me. So, it’s my responsibility to sort of to try and, as far as I can, lead by example.”

Admired and respected as she is, Brealey admits to numerous doubts about her appearance, saying she is prone to comparing herself with others.

In 2012, Brealey wrote a piece on her struggle to deal with her nude scene for the stage production of The Trojan Women, for which she was playing Helen of Troy. In the piece, Brealey wrote: “I don’t want the young women who look up to me because I’m a feminist and I’m in a TV show they love to feel like they somehow fall short. So I should have stood on stage as Helen of Troy, flaws and all, and thumbed my nose at body terror and body fascism. But I couldn’t; I just wasn’t brave enough.”

Brealey says the piece is one of her proudest achievements.

“The responses I got to that piece – it is the thing I’m most proud of,” says Brealey. “I had these responses and I just sat and read them and bawled, crying my eyes out because people felt understood. They felt that I understood what it’s like to not love your body sometimes.”

“Acting is not a beauty contest, but it can sometimes feel like that. You can’t help but compare yourself, and that’s why it’s important to talk about it.”

Whilst Molly Hooper may have been the impetus for a sizeable fan base and following, it is Louise Brealey, and Brealey alone, who has amassed fans based on her honesty and her sympathy – her understanding of the shared struggle of women and her desire to make change.

Molly Hooper may not have the love of Sherlock Holmes, but Brealey has rightfully gained the love and respect of thousands of international fans.

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The secrets we keep http://honisoit.com/2014/11/the-secrets-we-keep/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/the-secrets-we-keep/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:33:15 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13072 In collaboration with the New York Times.

In ten years time, there will be no passwords.

Recently described by their inventor, Ferdando Corbato, as a ‘bit of a nightmare’, they will soon be replaced by more complex systems much like everything else in our lives.

For some people that will mean little. They will quickly forget their mother’s maiden name, and their six-year-old self will remind them that they never really had a ‘favourite colour’ anyway. Such people will revel in more secure tools to sign-in or open up.

For some of us it will mean more.

There is something very human about the ‘keepsake’ password. These passwords are not the products of random computer generation, or responses to inane security questions – they are reminders.

They are names and places and memories: old streets, past lovers, or lost friends.

We retain such passwords not for their safety, but for our comfort. We keep them in spite of being told not to, and remember them because they are hard to forget.

Passwords were invented in the early 1960s and are now an ingrained part of our lives. According to Bill Gates, they will mean as much to future generations as they meant to those which preceded us.

Our grandchildren will ask us what we used them for. We will tell them ‘everything’, and they will look at us like we look at our own grandparents when they talk about typewriters.

In collaboration with the New York Times, we are participating in an international project to tell the stories behind ‘keepsake’ passwords. If you have a great password story which you would like to share, please do so below in the comments.

This project is about sharing passwords which means something to you. For your safety, please don’t share a password you currently use or, if you would like to, please alter it to avoid possible security breaches.




It looks randomized at a glance. The numbers and sporadic capital letters could be a mere product of the stringent password instructions characteristic of modern life. But the string of letters does carry meaning. It’s a mixture of the word Godot – the omnipresent, yet tragically tardy, namesake of Samuel Beckett’s iconic play Waiting for Godot – and the number 42, presented in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

This story begins with my high school English teacher and ends with a prescription drug addict locked permanently in her own version of Estragon and Vladimir’s existential hell. My teacher – an Irish fellow who I will call Mr O’Reilly – introduced me to Waiting for Godot some years ago, and I immediately fell in love with the absurdist text. Mr O’Reilly led us through the humour and tragedy set down by Beckett with zest, gleefully emphasizing the existentialist aspects of the play to his wide-eyed group of teenage followers. He loved to tell us that our lives had no meaning.

(In a different unit, during a study of Crime and Punishment, Mr O’Reilly assigned as homework that we plan a realistic murder, complete with target, method and – importantly – how we would have gotten away with it. The next morning, he spent fifteen minutes filling us in on a disturbingly meticulous plan to asphyxiate his ailing 86-year-old neighbour, dispose of her body into a pit at the abandoned building site across the road and use lime to ensure its rapid decomposition.)

One day, he told us a story that has long lingered in my mind about the initial stagings of Waiting for Godot in the mid-1950s. When they first performed the play – for a typical, privileged, theatre audience – it was a flop, said Mr O’Reilly. The audience was left bewildered by the play, in which, famously, “nothing happens”. But in 1957, it was performed in a prison. The inmates laughed, cheered and were left weeping. They were able to emphasise with the despair and the regret locked deep in Beckett’s characters in a way the crème de la crème of 1950s society could not.

I don’t know how much of Mr O’Reilly’s story is true to the letter. It is certainly correct that Godot was received well by the 1,400 inmates at the San Quentin State Prison in 1957 – so well, in fact, that a theatre group was founded at the Californian prison the ensuing year. It is less true that privileged audiences were uniformly unimpressed by the play. While it did flop in some areas, it excelled in others, and has, after all, become a literary classic.

Soon after school finished and I left Mr O’Reilly behind, I got a job in a shop and quickly discovered my boss was a smart, eccentric, and deeply unhappy woman. Although she was reasonably wealthy, family pressure had led her to run the store, and forgo her dreams of becoming an artist. Her addictive personality had led her to a number of substances over the years – some more harmful than others – and the vice of the moment was prescription drugs. She constantly popped these, which relieved her constant headache but left her dreamy, vague and prone to outbursts. She also enlisted her staff in their procurement, sending us out in an informal roster of sorts that included different pharmacies on different days.

I liked her company, and she liked me. But her existence alone was a tragedy, and I began to regard her as a modern-day Estragon and Vladimir. The shop was her withered tree, a distant future as an artist her Godot.  Like them, she was rendered immobile. Like them, she was losing faith her saviour would ever arrive. Like them, she was doomed to wait forever: Godot would never come unless she looked for him.

She said to me often that she would go, toss it all in, start over somewhere else. But after some months, I stopped listening to these declarations. They were her version of the most tragic line and stage direction ever put down on paper – “Let’s go.” They do not move. – and witnessing it in real life was unbearable.

Before meeting her, I thought my satisfactory mark in the relevant essay was enough to prove I understood the play, but I later knew I did not. I knew nothing of suffering, of significant regret, or despair. I was the privileged, bemused theatregoer, unable to grasp the emotions of the play in a way that the prisoners were able to. My boss may have never heard of the play, but I am convinced she would have understood it. I bought her a copy; told her to read it. I’m sure she never did.

I put the word Godot into my password to remind myself of two things. One, Godot doesn’t exist. We are our own Godots, and we ignore this at our peril. And two, there will always be things I think I understand, when actually, I do not.

As for the 42 – well, it’s nowhere near as interesting. I like Douglas Adams, and The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is a cracking read. This one’s a reminder that for the most part, none of us have a clue what we’re doing.



Isabelle Comber

I set up my first email address when I was 11 and highly pubescent. Caught at a time in my life when I had DD cup boobs, child bearing hips and absolutely no fucking idea what to do with them – I very much caught up in my ‘unsightly blobby’ phase. Later I would come to sympathise with my hormonal self – but at the time my only vice was pre-prepared cookie dough from a tube and self-loathing.

A constant reminder of this was my very email password – an anagram of ‘chubbyfuck’. Probably the best diet incentive – every time I would log onto MSN I would remind myself that I needed to lay off the nutella. Five angsty Myspace theme changes later and I’d find myself back in the jar, a thick chocolately layer congealing under my fingernails. Funny, in a chunky sad girl way.

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Why you should watch women’s tennis http://honisoit.com/2014/11/why-you-should-watch-womens-tennis/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/why-you-should-watch-womens-tennis/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 07:48:14 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13067 If you weren’t already planning on following women’s tennis in 2015, you really, really should.

In 2015, Serena Williams may match Steffi Graf as the most crowned Grand Slam Women’s champion in the Open Era.

As of the end of 2014, Serena has 18 major titles. Graf sits at 22. Such an accomplishment would make Serena the almost undisputed Greatest of All Time (GOAT) in women’s tennis. I don’t follow other sports (why bother), but even I know the title of GOAT is the first stat you look for, whether it be in soccer, hockey or men’s tennis.

Serena has it all on court. People who know nothing of tennis will tell you “she only wins on muscle, look at those biceps!”, or whatever other sexist and racist rubbish they want to cite to discount Serena’s achievements. But Serena is more than power; the technique on her serve is so flawless it’ll make you believe in fate. Her net approaches are horrifying and frequent, and her volleys are executed without a trace of fear or doubt. She can hustle as well as any defensive player, often coming back from impossible positions to win points opponents have already counted as theirs.

And you get to see these skills paraded before you in tense, prolonged rallies. This isn’t men’s tennis (which I have little time for) where aces end most points before they’ve really begun, and safe topspin shots are the bread and butter of rallies.  This is women’s tennis, where players mix up draining, intricate rallies with absurd, decisive risks. And when you see Serena win a game with an ace before walking the long way around the net to avoid interacting with her opponent (the only player known to do this), you know you’re watching something no other sport can offer.

In some hearts and minds, Serena is already the GOAT. She emerged into, what her father rightly called, the ‘lily-white’ world of tennis in 1998, came back from the murder of her sister, Yetunde, in 2003, and dominated at the 2012 Olympics after almost dying from a pulmonary embolism the year before. Serena has overcome more obstacles than any other top athlete the sport (maybe). And besides, Graf’s major count is inflated by the fact her main rival Monica Seles was stabbed on-court by a Graf fan while she was still a teenager. By that time Seles had already won 8 Grand Slams in only two and a half years. But that’s all speculation – Graf banked 22, so Serena needs 22.

Catching Graf in 2015 requires Serena to win all four majors in a calendar year; a feat even Our Lord Rena is yet to accomplish in her career. Such achievement is unlikely. Danger lurks around every corner: injury, rivals Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep, her on and off, good and bad relationship with her coach and maybe boyfriend (maybe ex-boyfriend) Patrick Mouratoglou, shitty umpires, Alize Cornet (the world number 19 whom Serena inexplicably lost to 3 times this year), BFF Caroline Wozniacki who may tire of losing to her cooler friend, immense pressure and good old-fashioned underdogs frothing for a win over the Queen.

Even if Serena doesn’t win all four majors in 2015, it is still a crucial year for her legacy. Despite speculation to the contrary, Serena will not play forever. She is already 33, and most of her contemporaries have long since retired. She is the oldest number 1 ever, and in 2014 she showed signs that the race against mortality was getting to her, slumping to uncharacteristic nervy losses at the French Open and Wimbledon. If she wants to catch Graf, 2015 is make or break. She could finish the year within a forehand of the GOAT title, or she could be 34 and slamless, preparing for a life of not being able to listen to Taylor Swift’s hit ‘22’ without ruing what could have been.

So there are your plans for 2015: The Australian Open, The French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Thank me when it’s over.

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What essay-gate is really about http://honisoit.com/2014/11/what-essay-gate-is-really-about/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/what-essay-gate-is-really-about/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 07:22:02 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13063 For those not up to speed, a few days ago one of the largest essay ghost-writing services was taken down. Now, obviously cheating is wrong and people who engage in these ‘services’ are just stealing from themselves and society at large. It’s something I myself would never do. But we all know what essay-gate (for want of a better term) is really about – yet another manufactured scandal designed to scapegoat a group of people who make for an easy target.

As soon as the story first broke, most of the conversation started to revolve around international students. It’s a lot of the same stuff I’ve been hearing since I came to this country over three years ago. Specifically about how we’re largely a brigade of spoiled brats funded by mummy and daddy, toting Prada handbags, being ‘functionally illiterate’, and on the receiving end of favouritism for the system as we go about not playing fair.

Now let me just get one fucking thing straight. There are more than half a million international students in this country and about half of that number in New South Wales alone. To date, only about a thousand or so students have been implicated in these essay ghost-writing cases: about a fifth of a per cent and that’s assuming these services were used exclusively by international students. The original article in the SMH never even stated how many were international or domestic students, but somehow people feel it’s safe to assume because they just know, right?

And most of us aren’t rich trust-fund babies who come here because we can just afford to pay 40 grand a year in fees, plus expenses. A lot of us took the best option that we had out of a bad lot so that we could have better lives. This is something that a lot of people born into cushy middle-class Western lives don’t seem to comprehend because they were lucky enough to start out from a position that so many of us are struggling so hard just to end up in. Most of us aren’t loaded and illiterate, but of course those are the ones you’ll notice. It’s called confirmation bias. Look it up.

I have to say, though, that I completely empathise with those kids who paid for the essay services. There is tremendous pressure on you if you’re an international student. Obviously there’s the hugely expensive yearly fee that you have to pay up-front. But there are also other issues. You will never get concession pricing for public transport. You will never get Centrelink (I barely even understand what it is). Unless you can afford to pay for private, health insurance consists of trying not getting sick. You can legally only work twenty hours a week, can never take a lighter uni load, and basically have no local experience or contacts to call up on. This means most international students can’t find decent jobs to support themselves and are at the complete mercy of shady, unreliable employers who can and will exploit them. If your parents aren’t loaded money is always going to be a constant, constant worry.

It’s also easy to forget that these are students who’ve come to a foreign society to them where they customs, language, and norms are completely different. It’s bad enough that you will have almost no social network to rely on, but once you do end up setting down roots and building a life for yourself you will be shown the door at the end of your degree unless you happened to study for a profession that the government deems ‘valuable.’

The universities themselves do almost nothing to ease these students into this life, or give them the kind of academic, emotional, or even financial support that they need to flourish. These are students who shown so much courage, resilience, resourcefulness, and intelligence to be able to take this kind of leap – they’re the cream of the crop and the university would be able to tap into their potential if they didn’t just see them as an easy cash cow to be squeezed.

Essay-gate really isn’t an issue about the international students; it’s about the robber baron uni administrators who only see us as BSBs. With all the obstacles that stand between international students and the successful completion of their degrees, it’s a testament to their character that cheating isn’t even more common.


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Wright still in USU after bureaucratic error http://honisoit.com/2014/11/wright-retains-usu-membership-due-to-procedural-error/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/wright-retains-usu-membership-due-to-procedural-error/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:24:26 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13057 The University of Sydney Union (USU) has annulled a set of resolutions expelling Alexander Wright from the Union due to “inadvertent procedural inadequacies” in the Board’s paperwork.

At the most recent Board meeting, recommendations to expel Wright (who in May 2013 took a naked photograph of a female student and showed it to other students without her permission) and debar him from exercising his rights as a member until the expulsion had resolved were passed unanimously. However, in an email from USU President Tara Waniganayaka to Wright prior to the meeting notifying him of the motions, Waniganayaka incorrectly advertised the date of the meeting at which the motions would be heard as November 28 instead of October 31.

There is no explicit mention of a ‘notice period’ in the USU Constitution, but “the Board is committed to abiding by due process and procedure in all affairs, and in light of the above, has formally rescinded the resolutions,” said Waniganayaka.

Identical recommendations are set to be heard by the Board at the next meeting, on 28 November; according to Waniganayaka, this time around Wright has been given both due and correct notice.

“I would like to emphasise that the rescissions of the resolutions had absolutely nothing to do with the substantive content, but only the procedure around the matter.

The woman affected by Wright’s actions discovered the photograph had been taken and shown to multiple people eight months after the incident, when she was showed the picture by a third party. As there is a six-month limitation between when an offence is said to occur and when proceedings are commenced, Wright could not be charged by police with committing a crime.

Two days after Honi first reported that Wright had taken and shown the photograph, Wright then appeared at a Union event which the female student was also in attendance. Wright was then asked to leave after reports of intimidation of both the female student and other attendees.

“The conversations that ensued raised questions of the extent to which, by remaining silent, the Union was abrogating its constitutional responsibilities to provide and maintain safe spaces,” USU Board Director Liv Ronan wrote in a USU blog post shortly after the October 31 meeting.

“These resolutions stand as a crucial reinforcement of the Board’s commitment to protecting the safety and welfare of its Members. Where Members have their welfare jeopardised, it is the duty of the Union to ensure that this is not perpetuated or worsened in its own spheres.”

UPDATE: This story previously did not specify who within the USU was responsible for advertising the incorrect date to Wright.

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Opinion Competition 2014 http://honisoit.com/2014/11/opinion-competition-2014/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/opinion-competition-2014/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 06:17:47 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13055 The prize-winners in the 2014 annual Honi Soit Opinion Competition.

1st place: Ezreena Yahya, Australia’s endangered languages

2nd place: Alex Gillis, The death of Newtown

3rd place: Alexandros Tsathas, Right to refuse

Highly commended: Anonymous, Death of a sex offender

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The death of Newtown and the Weekend Warrior http://honisoit.com/2014/11/the-death-of-newtown-and-the-weekend-warrior/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/the-death-of-newtown-and-the-weekend-warrior/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 06:11:53 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13051 The actual point in time is debatable. Chris Martin traipsing down King Street as some pop troubadour, his back laden with a one-man-band and his voice laden with reverb, is probably one of the more universal. Could be the Sando finally shutting or the opening of yet another speakeasy. While lining up for hours at Sydney’s best gelato, you would hear many attribute it to the recent influx of froyo. Regardless of whether icy sweet dairy is a cause or merely symptomatic, the truly on trend all say that Newtown is either dying, dead or buried in a pile of gentrified trash.

Not the same as it used to be

The rent is steeper and the shops are all freshly painted. The veneer of a bustling and commercial suburb throws those looking for something edgier, even gritty, right off. Where are the artists, where are the musicians? I was assured they were here, but this clearly average suburb must have changed. The nostalgia is so real, so cemented that the whole place may as well be rose tinted. Ringing through the streets are reactionary apoplectic sobs at the invasion of the DINK di to the inner west. Sydney council and real estate both delight at this vibrant community precinct, with an Arts Scene, Quaint Coffee Shops and Quirky Retail. Foot high letters sprayed on a vaguely decrepit building read; “fuck off yuppie scum”. Suitably, the block was recently demolished to make way for a boutique but unique set of apartments.

Newtown has changed, you’d hear if you stopped to ask pretty well anyone. You hear it from the bartenders, from the shopkeepers, from the carefully presented artists on street corners. Most of all, you hear it from the weekend warrior.

Vegan Housemate Wanted, Fixed Gear Preferable

The weekend warrior doesn’t live here, or necessarily know anybody that does. They turn up on Saturday mornings and hungover Sunday afternoons for trendy markets and to gawk at the fabled Newtown Local. They read with growing interest about Chelsea of Chelsea’s Hotel’s protracted and increasingly schizoid battle with, of all places, the button shop. So quirky! They shared the story about those bemused wildebeest stumbling down the highway. Only in Newtown!

The weekend warrior bemoans gentrification, travelling an hour by train to spend money – taking photos of niche alleyway graffiti and leading their friends to a little café that they ‘discovered’. The weekend warrior saw the Dunerats support FIDLAR at Oxford Art and talked about it while lining up to see Alt-J at the Enmore. They much prefer Alt-J’s earlier, less mainstream work. They come in remarkably cohesive outfits – a style most accurately described as “soft as fuck punk”. They don’t skate but happily borrow some vacant suburban rage in the form of Vans Authentics, messy tattoos and a hat from a friend’s street-wear brand. Tapping on an iPhone in fresh Nike Frees, they decry sweatshop labour and advocate buying vintage.

Sweating down King St, trying to establish which of the junk shops discernible through the leather jacket induced heat haze will develop lomography. The lo-fi cult that digs Lana Del Rey while calling Triple J out for being too commercial. She wears a Sea Shepherd t-shirt while flicking her cigarette butt into the gutter, and he wears distressed jeans and a self-ripped singlet while stepping around a homeless bloke. He privately wonders why they can’t move the smelly old bastard out of here – this is, after all, vibrant Newtown.

The weekend warrior was schooled early on. Sydney is trite, Sydney is corporate, Sydney is for bankers – but Newtown. The alternative haven, the indie enclave.

The lesson

Breathless high schoolers looking for style, looking for where things are cool, are indoctrinated into bohemian Newtown – where the hipsters live, where the op-shops are trendy. It was undoubtedly happening. So cool it evoked that standard of all Australian trendiness, gasped softly from Nowra to Toowoomba – Melbourne. Even, even in the depths of our cultural cringe we still leap to the defence of our most European city with its ‘cold’ climate and trams. We still leap to our inner city Newtown cafés and cinemas and second hand shops. Just like they have overseas – quasi-foreign styles quashed into a few klick strip

No wonder we’re disappointed. Point to the newly painted shops and decry their commercialist failures! Dr King proclaims his dream on the centrepiece of an allegedly street culture suburb fifty years later, on the other side of the world. Our insipid meep of culture is drowned in self-consciousness. In the midst of this dire deficit, we see a town being developed. We duly apportion the blame to the great commercial remodeling – the working class cum artist borough made into a zoo for squares.

Newtown’s perceived stilted atmosphere doesn’t reflect some influx of capital or a change in real estate pricing. It results from the same cultural cringe that leads our bars to be American and our cafés to be Italian.

“Keep Newtown weird!” come the plaintive cries of the weekend warriors, grasping at their vintage shirts and junk shop typewriters. Listen to the approaching strains of Elvis, emanating from an elderly fellow on a mobility scooter, his eyes tired and cold. Some Sisyphus condemned to roam the street and entertain. So quirky, so Newtown, so alive and kicking.

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Australia’s endangered languages http://honisoit.com/2014/11/australias-endangered-languages/ http://honisoit.com/2014/11/australias-endangered-languages/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 06:11:47 +0000 http://honisoit.com/?p=13052 On the fourth of August this year, linguist and qualified teacher, Yalmay Yunupingu, a Yolngu woman, had this to say on the ABC’s live Q&A from Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, :

“…my mother who passed away on the 13th of January this year, she was last Warramiri clan, she’s the honey people, that’s her totem, and there was two people left and she was the last one who lived longer and only passed on the 13th of January. Her language is no longer be spoken.”

It was a powerful and arresting moment, yet melancholy at the same time. It was a eulogy not just to a mother lost, but to a language dead. A language which once connected her to family and country.

The endangerment and extinction of languages is not exactly a new phenomenon. Imperial and migrational forces, the loss of interest among children of speakers of threatened languages have all occurred throughout history. But thanks to social forces of globalisation and modernisation, the pace at which these languages are disappearing is at an alarming rate. In Australia alone, there are more than 250 distinct Aboriginal languages and 600 dialects. Approximately 30 of these languages are still going strong and being spoken daily. Over 100 however, are in danger of being destroyed.

Language archives are in need now, more than ever. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies library and audiovisual archive hold some of the world’s most comprehensive materials on Australian Indigenous studies. But archives should not be treated merely as the stamping ground of linguists. Though there is scientific value in recording and documenting Aboriginal languages, for Aborigines themselves, their languages serve as links to their land, stories, Dreaming tracks, botanical, medicinal and navigational techniques, and historical experiences of colonialism, racism and prejudice.

In the first episode of the SBS’s new documentary series on Aboriginal languages, Talking Language, Banduk Marika shares how the passing down of Yolngu, her native tongue, has taught her how to care for her country and people. Marika reveals how whenever someone from her Rirratjingu clan dies, the whole clan will ‘sing’ them under the local trees, to bring their spirit back to the forest. The meanings of these songlines, I’d imagine, could never really be fully captured when translated into another language. There are reasons why Dante’s Commedia has been translated into English on nearly 102 separate occasions – and I suspect the reasons are not that dissimilar.

Language is knowledge and archives, its treasury. However, as indispensable as archives are, they must not be the only domain where Aboriginal languages are imbued with new life. Language revitalisation should also be carried through to the classroom. At Woolgoolga High School, in North Coast NSW, all year 7 students are required to learn Gumbaynggirr, a local traditional Aboriginal language. The school’s Aboriginal education worker, Jo Hine has noticed that Woolgoolga’s Aboriginal students have become noticeably more confident and “more likely to speak up in class.” At Chifley College in Western Sydney, Richard Green has been teaching students Dharug twice a week by looking at the Dharug root of Australian place names, games, songs and weather reports. Students also have classes with community Elders, speakers from other nations and fluent Dharug speakers. The school’s Dharug Language Revitalisation Program is a remarkable testimony of Aboriginal self-determination and reclamation of an oral tradition long considered ‘dead’ since the end of the 19th century.

It isn’t hard to see how a newfound pride in Aboriginal students for their culture, heritage and knowledge systems can translate into better educational outcomes and participation – which has been the case at both Woolgoolga High and Chifley College.

In 2012, the Our Land, Our Languages Report, the end product of a twelve-month inquiry included a number of recommendations such as the support and progressing of signage of place names and landmarks in local Indigenous languages; increasing funding for indigenous language support; and storing and digitising indigenous language materials. Some of these recommendations have been brought into effect. The NSW Office of Communities and Aboriginal Affairs have committed to five language and culture nests while the Muurrbay Language and Culture Cooperative has also received ongoing funding. These are welcome and commendable commitments. Nevertheless, more needs to be done. Few if any recommendations relating to language from the 2007 Ampe Akelyernemane or Little Children Are Sacred Report have yet to be implemented. As Associate Professor of Linguistics at Yale University, Claire Bowern rightly points out, a penchant for surveys, inquiries and reports, which the Australian government has commissioned and conducted a considerable number of, must be reciprocated with action.

Some of Australia’s endangered languages will continue to be spoken actively, daily, by many traditional speakers and their children. Some may even die out with or without active government intervention. But the point is not to raise our white flags just yet by declaring the loss of languages an inevitable process. We may or may not be able to revive the language of Yalmay Yunupingu’s mother’s language. But we can aim to emulate the successful reclamation and revitalisation efforts of Woolgoolga and Chifley. And more recently, the revival of Kaurna, the indigenous language of Adelaide that was once dormant for more than a century. Learning the approaches, pitfalls and challenges of these success stories is what will turn the revival and maintenance of Aboriginal languages into what Noel Pearson pens in the latest Quarterly Essay, more than just “a prayer on behalf of people fearing their future non-existence.”

Image: Jennifer Yiu.

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