2023 Honi Soit profile: Flirt for Honi

Honi’s profile of the provisionally elected ticket, Flirt for Honi

Members: Zeina Khochaiche, Amelia Raines, Aidan Elwig Pollock, Valerie Chidiac, Sandra Kallarakkal, Hamani Tanginoa, Ariana Haghighi, Simone Maddison and Mae Milne.

Quiz score: 85%

Flirt for Honi has been provisionally elected to edit Honi Soit in 2024 following the withdrawal of all members from Rants for Honi — making it the third ticket in the past four years to be elected uncontested.

At this point in time, Flirt consists of nine members — a contrast with tickets in recent years which have had ten — although they admitted in their interview that they are looking to onboard a tenth editor. The ticket consists of Zeina Khochaiche, Amelia Raines, Aidan Elwig Pollock, Valerie Chidiac, Sandra Kallarakkal, Hamani Tanginoa, Ariana Haghighi, Simone Maddison (Grassroots) and Mae Milne. Flirt was represented by Ariana Haghighi and Simone Maddison in both the interview and quiz.

Flirt received an impressive mark of 85% for the quiz (effectively a High Distinction in Honi), surpassing many past tickets, displaying a strong understanding of institutional knowledge and Honi’s history. Flirt’s main reason for running is to “give back [to the paper], and give people similar opportunities to write the way that we did, and learn about themselves and learn about uni.” Their motivation largely stems from their own experiences writing for the paper, and wanting to have the “rewarding experience to be able to edit.”

While they demonstrated an understanding of Honi’s radical history, practical steps in maintaining and continuing it in practice were missing. Knowledge of current activist movements happening on campus was lacking. While Flirt was able to answer what EFRs were in the quiz, they incorrectly stated the NTEU was fighting for more EFRs — not less — despite this being a key feature of negotiations between the University and the NTEU this year. When raising concerns around the politics of the ticket — particularly as Hamani Tanginoa is the current president of the Macarthur Young Labor branch — Flirt said that “Hamani is one person in our ticket, and he’s very valued” but that ultimately majoritarian approaches will guide the ticket’s politics. Maddison stated that “I think that the one thing that we’ve already established in our ticket is that we very fundamentally will take a critical view of the Labor Party.”

When addressing how future political disagreements may be resolved, they deemed it as “not a huge issue because broadly we all agree on so many issues being all extremely left wing” and that they have and will continue to have those discussions “early on”. 

Ticket members Haghighi and Raines had previously run on the unsuccessful ticket DRIP for Honi in 2021. In terms of the difference between Flirt and DRIP, Haghighi acknowledged that DRIP “had a strong vision to sort of fill that niche that was lacking with sort of having a design-forward paper,” before PULP was revived. Whereas “Flirt’s vision is focusing a lot more on news coverage and analysis across universities and across campuses, which is not something that DRIP considered as much.”

However, only a handful of members on the team have news and investigative experience. Maddison added that this “expertise may be concentrated in certain parts of the ticket. There is an opportunity for sharing that knowledge [among the ticket].” They also stated that they would rely on networks with reporters, and would expect reporters to bring news to them.

A similar knowledge deficit is seen in the art experience of Flirt, with Pollock being the only contributing artist to Honi. Art is vital to the paper, playing a central role in the paper’s creation process. Flirt displayed a hopeful approach (and perhaps an overreliance) on unpaid reporters and artists in their responses to questions relating to the gap in their news writing and artist skills.

When questioned regarding their ticket member Amelia Raines’ inconsistent commitment to Honi — given she has only written one piece in the last two years — they highlighted Raines long engagement with Honi, working with various Honi tickets, and “writing since 2019.” However, Raines has only been writing since 2020 — where she wrote one article — with almost every other article being produced in 2021 in the lead-up to DRIP’s unsuccessful run for Honi.

Interestingly, Flirt displayed a lack of willingness to commit to a reduction in study or work commitments during their term as Editors. Aiming to not set any “hard and fast rules on deferral [or] to underload,” their approach to commitments outside of Honi is optimistic, though they have acknowledged they “haven’t started editing yet, so there is room for change in the next six months.” Given the expansive nature of the workload, Honi Editors traditionally underload and reduce external commitments in order to meet the requirements.

Flirt’s policy points are ambitious, with the ticket hoping to host a “Stujo Conference”, publish multilingual content, including features, and weekly photojournalism. Whilst these policy points have the potential to offer new benefits to reporters, like many Honi tickets before, time and financial constraints may mean these policy promises are not able to be fulfilled.

To platform diversity and creativity, Flirt hopes to “create more opportunities for multilingual pieces in the paper [or] a multilingual edition”. When pressed on the efforts required from external unpaid Editors to view multilingual content, they “would make sure that it’s not a really onerous responsibility on them” but rather a “quick check over”. While this policy is clearly well-intentioned, previously published multilingual Honi pieces have been criticised for being direct translations with poor grammar. When questioned on upholding Honi’s standards in other languages they added that “incorrect syntax tells its own story in the student’s relationship with the language, and that’s really important.”

Flirt hopes to host an “annual ‘Stujo Conference’ with universities across NSW and beyond” which will be achieved via pooling and sharing “resources between student media” through the personal connections they have established. How this conference would be funded, particularly when student media is consistently underfunded, was not mentioned. A current iteration of a national student media group is essentially inactive, with its last and only Zoom meeting being in late January, suggesting that Flirt would need to put in a large amount of effort, on top of Honi, to initiate working relationships state-wide, and nationally.

Overall, Flirt for Honi as a ticket has an established and comprehensive understanding of student journalist experiences and institutional knowledge. Their capability to continue Honi as a student focused medium is evident, though their political stance as a team is not clearly defined and their policy visions lack practical approaches. Although there may be a steep learning curve in doing so, Flirt will undoubtedly find their feet. Thankfully, without a campaign to run, they’ll have plenty of time to prepare for editing Honi. We look forward to seeing what they do with the paper.