Sometimes it is difficult not to feel that my student experience ended on an ordinary day in March last year. Likewise, it is difficult not to feel that my experience editing this paper ended on some ordinary day in June. I don’t remember the last time I sat in a crowded lecture theatre, or in our cluttered office full of memories, or at Hermann’s doing puzzles with a glass of beer in hand; there is nothing monumental about everything suddenly changing for the worse. What I do know is that since we were first plunged into lockdown last year, Honi’s community of writers and readers has been the only remnant of what a student experience once was for me.
At the very start of this year, three of us wandered the empty campus delirious in the early hours of the morning and sat in silence on top of New Law Building watching the sun rise. I remember thinking then how sad I would feel when the time came for us to say goodbye to the Honi office – I didn’t know then that that time would come midway through the year. All I hope for is that all ten of us can re-enter our basement for one last month and watch the sun set over Victoria Park.
It almost feels clichéd to write about the pandemic now, but the articles in this edition that tell stories of the crises currently unfolding are ones that often go unheard in the mainstream media. Writing about the Delta outbreak in NSW prisons, Deaundre makes a public health case for abolition (P. 6); we have stories on the experiences of patients and of nurses who are systemically undervalued in hospitals (pp. 7 & 12). There are also articles which are tinted by nostalgia for spaces currently beyond our reach: Queering the Map and Moonlight over City Road (P. 11) both made me long to be back on campus.
Reflecting on the catharsis of winning the survival of two Arts departments this week, Alana Bowden (P. 10) writes that we have been “existing, surviving but not living” in lockdown, yet assures us that we will all soon have our own moments of catharsis. In words expressing everything our hope is contingent on in the current moment, she writes: “It might present itself in the feeling of the sun on your maskless face, on the crowded dance floor of a rock gig, in the meeting of your skin with another’s as you are held by a friend or a lover for the first time, or in the sensation of wonder as you are unexpectedly moved by a work in an art gallery. These are the moments, the places in which we not only exist, but truly live — in experience, art, poetry, community, connection, culture.”
Collectively, we have the power to create another world where we can truly live: a world without prisons, a world where policing doesn’t divide the city by class and race, a world where nurses in hospitals and staff at universities are treated with dignity, a world where education is free, and a world freed from all of the systems of oppression that destroy life.
Shame upon anyone who thinks evil of those fighting to create this world.
With love and solidarity,