To the Editors
No Maze of Secret Rooms at St Paul’s:
Honi p 14-15
Dear Natalie and Victoria,
You have a weaker view of the adult powers of 18 and 19 year old women who attend the Women’s College than I have as a man living next door. I sometimes ponder this picture of the former bullfighter from Spain, Christina Sanchez.
The final paragraph of your article says it all really, and should have been your lead paragraph. I repeat what you actually wrote:
“When we started this piece, intrigued by a maze of secret rooms and scandalous rumours, we expected to expose a world of sexist college tradition. But instead of rituals, the sexism we discovered was casual, and untraceable, more likely to take place in private Facebook groups than private parties. For us, and the women we spoke to, this was far more insidious, and far more damaging, than any bone room.” (Honi p.15)
So as 2016 starts, I have consulted my inner Minotaur and found to my sadness that there is no maze or labyrinth beneath St Paul’s.
I also note that you noted ‘untraceable sexism’ and claimed this was more deadly that anything traceable that you did not find. Channelling Donald Rumsveld and the unknown unknowables may be exhausting.
Last year College men were attacked for having an ‘appropriated’ Camel at a social function and were chastised by Honi.
As 2016 begins, I am reminded of Ern Malley who wrote:
“In the twenty-fifth year of my age/I find myself to be a dromedary/That has run short of water between/One oasis and the next mirage.”
I look forward to reading Honi and wish you well.
St Paul’s College
OWeek a diversion for sneaky C&S changes
The USU loves to trumpet its own horn – after all, we’ve just emerged from “how amazing is the USU” week, also known as “OWeek”. The guest appearance of Shannon Noll on the Wednesday will probably be a talking point for the rest of eternity, so the ickle firsties settling into their new university would be forgiven for thinking that the USU is pretty rad.
That’s a bubble that sadly has to be burst.
On January 28 the USU announced changes to the C&S program placing new restrictions on societies, which will affect the wallets of students. The way these changes were announced was pretty shit to say the least – the initial mail-out to society exec quoted that this would be “for a trial period (Semester 1, 2016)”. In subsequent correspondence between exec and the C&S office on February 9, what one would reasonably infer as a semester-long trial period turned out to be more ‘10 free-for-ACCESS events throughout the year’, NOT a ‘10 events per semester’-long trial.
Students are now required to pay for events of societies they’ve already paid to join, on top of the ACCESS card they paid for in order to join the society in the first place. It’s like the USU has transformed into Scrooge McDuck – except it’s not the stingy old duck, it’s a student-run organisation preying on the students they supposedly represent. It was once very easy for those students who were scraping by financially. They could grab lunch on the way to class from any of the societies running free barbeques, or join in free weekly drinks after finishing for the day. Many of these are likely to either vanish or require money, charging students for having fun and being poor. It’s like the USU’s very own “fun tax”.
Union board elections are only a couple of months away, and most students are only going to hear promises of all the good the hopeful candidates are going to do. There are genuine people out there who will run for board, but StuPol can be incredibly corruptive – it’s best we realise this now, because once elected, we’re stuck with those promising kids for two years.
Must Rhodes Fall? This article was a violent waste of space.
#RhodesHeadShallRoll is about resisting the “legacy” of past and current ‘Rhodeses’: Decolonisation. Not “historical revision”.
The author’s concern that this would open the flood gates for “historical revision” disregards the ubiquitous revisionism which maintains the colonial narratives that support the continued dispossession and disadvantage of peoples in the present.
Further, the article’s crass attacks on a South African student for taking advantage of the scholarship seem extremely myopic when one considers that the scholarship is funded by an organisation descended from Rhodes’ personal estate; itself the embodiment of the slave labour which built his fortune. In this context, offering a handful of scholarships to students from South Africa should be uncontroversial; perhaps even considered only partial compensation.
The author’s arguments do not lead anywhere helpful, implying a withdrawal from the ethical analysis of history. By contrast, we are unapologetic in our commitment to employing historical understanding in contemporary struggles for justice. The issue is not whether or not colonial figures should be remembered – of course they should. Rather, the issue is their continued canonisation by the academy.
Sincerity in decolonisation,
Katie Thorburn (Arts III) and Andy Mason (Arts/Science IV)
Attack on Ethnocultural event
During O-Week, the USU Ethnocultural Portfolio held its first event for People of Colour-identifying students. Autonomous events are not new to the USU or O-Week, the Wom*n’s portfolio and the Queer Portfolio have been running them for years.
The event was publicised as an autonomous event, which faced a lot of online attacks and racist comments. Our space was also violated by racism and harassment during the event itself. Numerous people attended the event with the intent to harass attendees or protest autonomy. These individuals have previously expressed their distaste of autonomy online and felt that they had the right to disagree with the premise that white people should not be allowed to attend the event.
The individuals were [names redacted for legal reasons]. These people are so attached to the idea that race ‘no longer matters’ and that diversity should include all people that they attended as protest, some refused to leave our event. After having comments like, “crawl back into the fucking bush then” directed at Aboriginal people on our event page, to having actual white people violate our space in protest, what does this say about the state of racism at USYD?
USU events have a larger reach through their public marketing team, making events like these more vulnerable to attack and racism. Next time, security will be needed to protect us.
This disrespectful racist behaviour is just one example of how USYD is not a safe space for people of colour, but let these people remember that they will be documented, named and shamed. The internet is a double-edged sword and easily exposes those who disrespect us.
*This letter was mistakenly attributed in print to the Autonomous Collective Against Racism