2021 Honi Soit profile: Bloom for Honi

Bloom will edit Honi Soit in 2021.

Bloom for Honi have been provisionally elected to edit Honi Soit for 2021, as the sole candidates in an uncontested election. They scored 63% in our quiz. This is our profile of them:

Birthed through a tumultuous merger of two tickets, Bloom was automatically elected. The ticket comprises Shania O’Brien, Vivienne Guo, Claire Ollivain, Jeffrey Khoo, Deaundre Espejo, Marlow Hurst, Juliette Marchant, Max Shanahan, Alice Trenoweth-Cresswell and Will Solomon.

All ten incoming editors have reported regularly for Honi this year with Claire and Shania also contributing art to the paper. Bloom also has considerable experience editing autonomous editions of Honi, in addition to campus journals, including the Arts Society’s 1978 and Law Society’s Dissent. The team have somewhat less formal experience within the SRC than recent Honi editorial teams, with only Vivienne (current Councillor and co-Women’s Officer) having held positions within the student union. This is something that Bloom framed to us as an asset, in being able to “approach things more objectively.” 

Yet, this inexposure to student representative bodies is certainly something that Bloom will need to get a grasp on fairly quickly, as one of the first things they’ll be tasked with as editors is covering the National Union of Students’ National Conference (NatCon). When pressed on whether they’re sufficiently prepared for coverage they answered with an unsatisfactory: “We haven’t really thought about it, to be honest (…) I think it’ll be like any other event.” Unfortunately, anyone who knows anything about NatCon knows that it’s not like any other event.

BLOOM were interviewed by Chuyi Wang and Lara Sonnenschein.

Bloom received a sound score of 63% (almost a credit :P) in their quiz, demonstrating proficiency with regards to basics, including recent Honi history and who’s who on campus. Despite this, they struggled on questions which either didn’t feature in previous presidential / Honi quizzes or required decent general knowledge. Of particular concern were their incorrect answers around higher education and staff unionism, especially given the spotlight on such issues at the moment. Bloom didn’t know the National President of the NTEU, named Dan Tehan as the NSW State Education Minister and answered “2025” as the year in which the Sydney University enterprise agreement expires. Given enterprise agreements last no longer than four years, and USyd’s expires next year with the potential for strike action, the ticket must plug the gaps before taking the reigns come December 1.

Bloom has framed their vision for next year’s Honi in direct contrast to our 2020 output. Critiquing the current editorial approach as being “intensely news-centric”, despite Honi being a student newspaper (after all), Bloom wants to place extra emphasis next year on cultural writing, visual art and polished print design. Indeed, when looking at the Honi articles published by the team over the past few years, culture or creative pieces are clearly a strong suit of the ticket, suggesting they certainly have some potential in bringing their colourful vision to life.

When asked about their political stances and direction for the paper, however, Bloom was almost incoherent. Despite labelling themselves as a “progressive” ticket in their policy statement, Bloom were unwilling to specifically “define [their] political leanings because there’s 10 of [them]”, eventually settling on “progressiveness” as their “broad vibe”. When asked specifically about which recent Honi year they felt most politically aligned with, Bloom responded equally vaguely: “I don’t really know. I’d say that Honi is generally fairly left.” 

Another important part of Bloom’s vision is the broadening of Honi’s visibility and impact on campus, pitching increased engagement with USU Clubs & Societies, social events and lecture bashes as ways of expanding its demographic. However, such promises are perhaps too optimistic – the chances of the current pandemic restrictions being lifted by the start of next year are looking very slim.

Bloom’s policy statement largely reads as a recycled list of fan favourites including greater “digital-focused” content, more live reporting and holding management to account. Where Bloom’s policies aren’t lifted directly from previous tickets, they’re unclear at best. Claiming to make the reporter-editor pitching process more “discursive”, it was evident in our interview that Bloom had not yet formed any concrete strategies to do so. Other policies, such as sports coverage and alumni content, were also muddled: Bloom didn’t seem sure whether they wanted to cover sport generally, or provide sporting reports for on-campus rugby games.

Further, Bloom’s promise to “conduct extensive investigations” can hardly be backed-up by their actual investigative track record. No member of Bloom has ever been responsible for an investigative article. Moreover, having jointly pitched an investigation, several Bloom editors were unable to complete the piece and retracted its writing after it had already been approved and paginated for an upcoming edition. This followed another mishap the previous week, in which an article was submitted two days late and deviated from the original pitch. With both incidents occurring after Bloom’s automatic election, we’re left wondering whether the uncontested election has gone to their heads.

More concerningly, earlier this year Bloom member Vivienne Guo co-wrote an article for Women’s Honi which contained significant textual similarities to an article published in Growing Strong, of which she was editor-in-chief. In response to an allegation of plagiarism, Guo told Honi that she had a conversation with the other author and the two had resolved things, chalking up the resemblance to “a rare but unfortunate situation of having a phrase/idea stuck in your head and not knowing where it came from. (…)”

The full interview transcript can be found here.

Honi Soit Quiz:

1. In what year was Honi first published? [1]

1929

2. How many pages long is a standard edition of Honi? [1]

24 pages

3. Name the last five Honi Soit tickets in order from 2016 to 2020. [5]

2016 Scoop, 2017 Wet, 2018 Heat, 2019 Spice, 2020 Fit

4. Who is liable in the event of a defamation suit against Honi? [6]

President, editors, DSPs, Spotpress, author/s, SRC

5.Who is the current USU CEO? [1]

Acting CEO Jess Reed

6.Name the two student fellows on Senate. [2]

Francis Tamer and Lizzie Miller

7. Who is the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences? [1]

Annamarie Jagose

8. Which Board Director resigned this year? [1]

Zimeng Ye

9. When did USyd introduce a new Freedom of Speech charter? [1]

2020

10. Who is Gerd Schroder-Turk and explain why he has been in the news. [3]

Murdoch University Mathematics Lecturer, whistleblowing about international student welfare at Murdoch on Four Corners. The University then tried to remove Schroder Turk from his position on the Senate resulting in him suing the University. Murdoch counter-sued, though eventually legal claims were dropped.

11. What are the names of the student publications for the following universities: The University of Adelaide, the University of Queensland, Monash University [3].

On Dit, Semper Floreat, Lot’s Wife

12. How much money did ICAC security providers defraud Sydney University of? [1]

$500k

13. When does the University of Sydney enterprise agreement expire? [1]

2021

14. Who is the National President of the National Tertiary Education Union? [1]

Alison Barnes

15. Name the two Senate appointed Board directors. [2]

Jane Drummond and Marie Leech

16. What does TEQSA stand for? [1]

Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency

17. When did the University last consider a shift to a 12-week semester? [1]

2017

18. When did Michael Spence become the University’s Vice-Chancellor? [1]

2008

19. What was the projected covid-related revenue loss for the University this year? [1]

$470million; 200-$470million at time of quiz

20. Which former Honi editor died in November last year? [1]

Clive James

21. Name the universities involved in underpayment scandals that aren’t in Sydney. [6]

UWA, UQ, Melbourne University, Monash, Murdoch, RMIT

22. How many public universities are there in Australia? [1]

39

23. Who is the Universities Australia chair? [1]

Deborah Terry

24. Which NSW State Minister has the higher education portfolio? [1]

Geoffrey Lee

25. Under the government’s “job ready graduates program” the overall government contribution will fall from __% to __% on average [2]

58% to 48%

26. Which student newspaper famously published the art of shoplifting? [1]

La Rabelais – La Trobe student newspaper

27. In what year was “Vagina Soit” published? [1]

2013

28. Who is the chair of the Academic Board and what is the Board’s role? [2]

Tony Masters, responsibility for overseeing all academic matters at the University, formulating and reviewing academic policies.

29. What date is JobKeeper being reduced, and how much is it being reduced by? [2]

28 September, $300 

30. Who is the current National Union of Students NSW state branch president? [1]

Liam Thomas

Disclaimer: Iris Yao is not involved with this year’s coverage of SRC, NUS or Honi Soit elections. Nina Dillon Britton, Madeline Ward and Lara Sonnenschein are former members of Sydney Grassroots.

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