Letters //

Semester 1, Week 2 Letters 2016

In defence of the University Mardi Gras float Dear Honi. I’m writing this letter very much sleep deprived after what was a late and exciting night. Last night was the Mardi Gras and it was the first Sydney University Mardi Gras Float. However, last week there was an article titled ‘Queer students consider boycott of…

In defence of the University Mardi Gras float

Dear Honi.

I’m writing this letter very much sleep deprived after what was a late and exciting night. Last night was the Mardi Gras and it was the first Sydney University Mardi Gras Float. However, last week there was an article titled ‘Queer students consider boycott of University Mardi Gras float’. I think there are a few things to clear up in this article.

To say queer students boycotted the float is problematic. Yes some did, but many other students involved in the AQSN (Australian Queer Students Network) were on the float. Perhaps a title that could also have been used was ‘Queer students consider being involved in the University float’?

It’s important that students, staff and the university administration are seen as important actors in creating change on campus individually but at times collectively. Creating further divide only does that, divide. If the university wants to make a change, do something positive – who are we to judge?

I contacted Evan Jones and Marcus Wong as the Queer Collective convenors about the float. I wish to stress that no decision was actually made by the collective, as no formal collective meeting had been called. I put a poll up myself, that of which most people didn’t do. I worked with Evan and Marcus to have a meeting on Christmas Eve. I made sure the collective had input even though individuals in the collective thought it best for inaction. Five people including myself attended the meeting in December. What was up for negotiation was how the float would go, and from this meeting we concluded queer students would be prioritized, and the details of the float and what students would wear.

I want to break down this usage of ‘allies’. An ally is a term from the queer community that refers to people who support queer issues who may not fit in the LGBTI categories. For example, questioning people, men who have sex with trans women, closeted people, MSM/ WSW etc. Let’s not assume they are all straight people.

Lastly, to say that it might not be appropriate for university management to be on the float is troubling. As a young person I feel very humbled that I can be so involved in the activism I do. It’s because of those who did the work before me that allow me to do it. LGBTIQ people in my generation stand on the shoulders of those who came before them and it’s best not to exclude them from the Mardi Gras parade.

Jack Whitney

USU Board Director and Queer Portfolio Holder

Arts/Social Work


The USU doesn’t want us to talk with our #mates 🙁

Dear Honi,

One would think that, through the multitude of controversies the USU has shuffled between over the years, the Board of Directors would both attempt to stop further controversy and be able to enact some sort of effective damage control if one ever did happen.

It only took the first academic week of 2016 to prove that wrong.

Last week’s excellent letter from Brendan O’Shea pointed out the changes to C&S funding arrangements and the poor communication with clubs over them. As far as I can see, there has been no official response from any branch of the USU clarifying the changes, or asking for further feedback. Instead, Club executives were sent an email from the President of the USU the day Honi was released, reminding them they can talk directly to the Board or the President they have any issues. It might as well have said “please stop talking about our problems to Honi, we’d much prefer not to have any outside scrutiny” – well, at least, that’s how many of us read it. If the USU thinks “damage control” is the same as “please keep all of our problems out of the media” then, well, they really have learnt nothing from the past.

Worse still is that the Board ended the week with another controversy; a far more boring one on the surface but important all the same. In 2015, a landmark change to election rules meant that Board Directors could not endorse or campaign for any prospective Board candidates – a fantastic rule intended to even the playing field for those without a current factional buddy on Board to coach them through the arduous campaign. It had teething problems as all major changes do – many Directors found ways around the rules, like sitting at stalls without wearing any campaign apparel, doing preference deals on behalf of candidates, and still giving advice only to their own heir apparent candidate. So for any rational Board, the simple solution is to tighten the rules and allow for reporting of such behaviour by other campaigns, right? Instead, all the new rules were scrapped because some Directors (many of them from political factions that would benefit from such a change) thought they were impossible to police. Disappointing but extremely unsurprising. Expect the winning candidates this May to be the ones with current Board Directors wearing their shirts.

But the best (worst) thing about all of this is that this is now Week 2 – there’s still a lot of 2016 left, which means a lot more time for the USU to impress and entertain us by continually falling foul of controversies they make for themselves, and for Honi to report on it all.


Cameron Caccamo

The biggest problem facing Catholicism in Australia

Dear Honi,

I have a bone to pick with the Catholic Society. You aren’t alone on this but are definitely the worst. Why is it that every year you insist on coating the uni in crappy chalk messages? If Sunday School ain’t rustling your jimmies anymore and guerrilla graffiti is the only way to get your kicks, at least follow these few design tips to improve your marketing department.

Do literally anything else but use chalk. It’s not impressive or eye-catching, the colour palette is abysmal and when people are walking over it it’s impossible to read. It just looks shit.

If you have to use chalk, ‘chalk it up’ first and make sure it actually fits. Starting off 3000 pt and ending up 12 pt makes it look like you were that one kid that never got their pen license.

Find someone with slight artistic talent, spend some time designing something cool, and get them to do an actual piece instead of scratching ‘Praise God’ a million times across everything. (Heads up: The cross in the ‘O’ makes it look like you are trying to sniper God.)

The phrases are neither witty or interesting. ‘Have you heard of Jesus?’ is like the Chocolate Society saying, ‘Have you heard of chocolate?’ We all have. Mainly because both have been rammed down our throats from a young age, one is just slightly more enjoyable.

Maybe your PR team might want to play publicity a bit low key for the moment… just in light of recent events. Summed up quite well by Cardinal Pell, ‘it’s not of much interest to me.’


Disgruntled design student