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Peace in the Middle East-ern Avenue

An accord to last a thousand semesters has been brokered, writes Christina White.

A pair of titans clashed last Monday morning. Like Batman and the Joker, Kerry Packer and the ATO, and 50 Cent and Ja Rule, USyd’s notorious rivals met in a crisis confrontation on campus.

Socialist Alternative (SAlt) President Omar Hassan and Sydney University Drama Society (SUDS) member Yitzi Tuvel clashed whilst postering on Eastern Avenue. The crisis began when SAlt placed their posters over SUDS’ posters. SUDS members were “fuming”, Tuvel told Honi.

“Tess (who plays the tragic decline of Ophelia with consummate pathos) had been up at midnight the night before, covering billboards in posters for Hamlet,” said Tuvel.

He alleged that SAlt had postered over them at six o’clock in the morning, describing the weather at the time as a “fair and sunny day of winter”.

The location of the posters was particularly important to the rapid escalation of the conflict. “For societies attempting to catch the coveted student eye, the prime patch of real estate is the billboard facing the City Rd footbridge,” Tuvel explained. However, Hassan believes that student revolutionaries are the “rightful heirs to the bollard space.” He explained the hardships they face: “Activists who endeavour to change public opinion and organise mass demonstrations … are constantly oppressed by the better funded forces of the Christian Sects and Band Nights.”

Hassan remains determined, despite the strength of other campus postering bodies. “We valiantly resist, using all means at our disposal.”

The rivals differ, too, on the role played by USyd senior management in the ongoing poster wars. According to Hassan, the conflict was triggered by Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence. “Since the imperialist Vice-Chancellor took away half of the bollards, a conflict has emerged between the various student clubs.”

“Posters belonging to the drama society and the Socialist Alternative club had happily co-existed for thousands of hours prior to the VC’s unwanted intervention,” he added.

Tuvel disagreed. “I want to go on record as saying that I do not blame Michael Spence for the lack of postering space,” he said.

“Michael Spence has been taken to task, over the past few years, for a great many things … but I think it both dishonourable and unhelpful to ascribe to one’s enemies additional sins which they did not commit,” said Tuvel.

In an unlikely resolution to their clashing desires, the rivals reached an admirable compromise.

Tuvel and Hassan agreed to share the board with each group’s posters visible on one half of the space. Neither party would comment on how the vertical dividing line was decided on.

“It’s an agreement which demonstrates respect for the integrity and humanity of both sides,” swooned Tuvel.

It appears peace became possible when SUDS informed SAlt that they were not profiting from the production. Tuvel explained that “[Hassan] had taken us to be a corporate troupe of players” as SUDS’ name had been cut off the posters in a printing error. Tuvel felt that Hassan had “treated [them] with the especially disdaining eye he reserves for successful capitalists” until the clarification, at which point he called Hassan “magnanimous”.

Whilst Tuvel remains unwaveringly positive about the solution, Hassan called it a “temporary truce”. “From our perspective the status quo is stacked against us activists,” he said.

However, Hassan was eager to offer an ambitious long-term vision. “We passionately believe that the solution to this eminently modern conflict is not to have the SUDS and SAlt existing as separate entities, but to have a democratic, secular theatre company producing (and distributing) socialist literature.”

Tuvel told Honi that “one of [Salt’s] posters was very well-designed” but the other “didn’t impress [him] as much”. Both Hassan and Tuvel assured us that aesthetics of poster design played no determinative role in the final outcome.

The adjacent garbage bin declined to comment.

You can read Yitzi Tuvel’s contributions to Honi Soit here.