Letters //

Semester 2, Week 4 Letters 2016

Letters from Semester 2, Week 4

Rainbow Letter to the Editors

Dear Honi,

Honi Soit has broken it’s silence on almost 12 months of LGBTI organising by the Rainbow Campus campaign. It’s in this watershed moment that I, harbinger of rainbows, descends upon the campus to decide which fork in the road we collectively should take.

This year’s editorial team has taken hesitancy to report on these issues, which means we’re already fairly uninformed. Thus I would like to congratulate Eden Faithful, Justine Landis-Hanley and Erin Jordan for finally reporting on it, albeit with some major corrections.

Jordan’s piece on sanitary bins was a riot of misunderstanding. As an author of the Rainbow Campus Policy, I must clarify two points on the Rainbow Campus’ membership and it’s content around bathroom facilities.

Sanitary bins and sharps containers have been a discussion since day one of the Rainbow Campus campaign. In meetings with management, they were seen as a necessary to all bathrooms, but have been stalled due to lack of action by the Queer Action Collective.

QuAC is known for sluggish behaviour to responsibility, but ultimately seems to be correct in it’s current reaction. This petition is a response to the state of bathrooms at Sydney University, not just for their lack of facilities in men’s bathrooms but also for their lack of upkeep and repair across the board.

Transgender students face enough problems on campus, as harassment in bathrooms is anecdotally frequent. But the way to fix this problem is simple, I need to put five students in contact with the Director of Campus Infrastructure and Services who in May agreed to collaboration with the Rainbow Campus campaign. Contact me if you’re interested.

This consultation will create new gender neutral bathrooms, update all bathroom facilities, and work towards more LGBTI spaces on satellite campuses such as the Conservatory of Music, Cumberland, and potentially the College of Arts if it’s not shut down.

Secondly, Jordan’s comments on the USU’s Resistance club judgement and control of the campaign are sorely misplaced. One of five contributors to the Rainbow Campus organisers is involved in this club, two others come from the Australian Labor Party, and two are non-factional and represent state and national LGBTI student networks. This reductive breakdown doesn’t include the regular LGBTI students who jump in and out of the organising group. As an author and a co-founder of this campaign, I can affirm that this campaign comes from the obvious solutions LGBTI students see to barriers this university has put between us and graduating.

The LGBTI movement on campus is lacking, and must evolve and engage. Insular and cliquey, it often fails to provide a visible and active presence on campus. Now that the Rainbow Campus campaign is here, I’d like to encourage you to join our Gay Agenda™ (and report on it, correctly) so to fix this campus so I can get back to my studies.

Andrea Zephyr, she/they pronouns.

Ideas concerning the direction of Honi Soit

I’m not too sure how to start this letter. Submitting my first piece of writing to an established paper of fellow open minded students shouldn’t be this daunting. Or should it? I guess I should start at the beginning.

I am writing this letter in order to encourage a certain kind of journalism in the offices of Honi Soit. What kind of journalism you ask? Am I requesting a resurgence of millennial gonzo journalism which romanticises substance abuse and mental illness? Sort of. Honi Soit should model itself on VICE Magazine. Recently I found myself taking a shit in Carslaw bathrooms.

Ironically, I was reflecting on the privilege I have due to my sex, gender, skin colour and socioeconomic background. This was due to an expose (stuff the fucking accent) I was thinking of submitting to VICE magazine about the marginalised individuals who write advertisements for blowjobs on the cubicle walls. It stuck with me that these people seemed to be of East Asian and Indian descent. Someone opened a window and eased the building atmosphere of bodily fluids. Then it hit me. Students should take a grass roots approach to their articles about uni life, and should submit them to a student paper which is ready to embrace the ugly face of university life today.

Call me “edgy” all you want, but I feel Honi Soit could take specific tips from VICE magazine and allow itself to take on the duty of being a unique outlet of the truth. For example, editors should encourage writers to: dangle profound sentences in the space between hard hitting paragraphs; to swear a little bit but not too much, usually saying shit or fuck to set the mood; open articles in the middle of a perverse and/or comical scenario; not be afraid of addressing journalistic tropes head on; create exposes around seemingly obscure and irrelevant parts of day to day life, revealing interconnection and abhorrent immorality; use adjectives like “haunting”. Here are but a handful of ideas.

Sorry for dragging on, call me crazy but I am a supporter of progressive journalism and democracy. Feel free to do with this what you will. I appreciate your tolerance and abundance of good will and ideas, hopefully you now have a better idea of how to use them.

Sincerely, T

Something short and very sweet

Hey Honi,

I just wanted to let you know that your article on exchange was masterfully written and a really good read! (Smile emoji)

Keep up the good work friends!

Kindly, Brendan Colnan Sent from Mail for Windows 10

Lucky I’m not sensitive or anything.

Dear Honey Suet,

As a stickler for correct language usage, I was appalled to see that one of your editors, Victoria Zerbst, referred to the act of giving birth as a “retched act of recreation”. That is not correct. The wretched act of recreation was what took place nine months before the wretched act of procreation.

Semantic shift is a well-known phenomenon in language, and there was once a seismic shift in spelling when the Great Vowel Shift played havoc with spelling standardisation in the 15th and 16th centuries. There is no reason, then, why in this Meta-modern Age we should not see a whole raft of spelling changes based on cultural needs.

A switch from wretched to retched, however, will never happen here even though it seems logical to think of a wretched occurrence as “retch-worthy” or vomit-inducing. The reason is because retching is an honourable rite of passage in Australia where “beers does flow and men chunder”. Ergo, if something is held to be “retched”, it will of necessity be something excellent and worth boasting about. If your editor, then, attempts to claim that she was using a pun with “retched”, you can point out to her that it has been misapplied.

Further to the point, the slang term, “wrecked” – as in “I was wrecked after that party” – does not derive from the Middle English “wrecched” (the source of wretched) but from the Middle English “wrek”, coming from the Old Norse, “rek”.

It is therefore not semantically tautologous to proclaim oneself “wretchedly wrecked” after a pub crawl, and even though this would inevitably involve some retching, this would be a boast, not an announcement of “retchedness”.

If Zerbst gains no semantic traction here, she might be onto a better thing with “recreation”. Here, there is no obstacle to a spelling shift from recreation to “wreckreation” when one is specifically thinking of having fun by “getting wrecked”. Then there is the intellectual act of spotting someone’s egregious spelling error, which may now be labelled an act of critical “wreckognition”.

What do you wreckon?

Jeffrey Zerbst, PhD