n dit magazine ! 1
STUDENT LIFE, OPIN LAIDE ION, P ADE OLI
TICS , AND
Reflection has climate activism failed ?
Campus Feature Has O'week sold out?
Photo essay VĂŠra Ada's "I Studied linguistics"
Campus feature Union Hall & the wrecking ball
Primer the situation in Afghanistan
Culture adelaide music 101, vinyl renaissance etc.
campus hughes plaza, ecoversity, o'week etc.
columnists what scares you the most?
Illustrations by Margaret Lloyd
EDITOR S’ NO T
want to contribute?
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 08 8303 5404 Web: ondit.com.au
Hi there. Nice to meet you!
Please, don’t be scared; we’re not going to bite. We’re going to bring you a shiny, very readable magazine every fortnight instead. Long-time readers: this year, On Dit will be a little different, offering an entirely new perspective on all the crazy/amazing goings-on at the University of Adelaide and around the city itself. Expect well-written, long-form articles, controversial columnists, original illustrations and photographs, and a renewed focus on the kind of stuff that, like, actually appeals to you. On Dit has been around since 1932, making it the third-oldest student paper on this whole gosh-darned island. It’s changed a lot since those musty, sepia-toned days. It’s become smaller. Less frequently published. A lot of people seem to think it ain’t what it used to be. With your help, we want to give this ailing instituation a good ol' kick in the pants. Do you write?
Draw? Take photographs? Well then, help take the load off our weak li'l shoulders and get on board. Make us a pitch. We’re open-minded. The only thing we’ll insist on is no Twilight-related submissions, thank you very much. So, here’s to an exciting year. We hope to bring you all the news that’s fit to print (and some that probably isn’t). If you’re itching to contribute, email us at email@example.com. Or come in and say hello to us in the office (down the stairs, next to the Barr Smith Lawns). And you should totally have a look at www.auu.org.au/goto/ondit, our page on the AUU website, and our own newly launched website: www. ondit.com.au. Forever yours, Connor, Myriam, and Mateo
editors: Connor O'Brien, Myriam Robin, Mateo Szlapek-Sewillo Writers: Joel Dignam, Sam Deere, Dennis Coleman, Lavinia Emmett-Grey, Michael Norris, Seb Tonkin, Walter Marsh, Noby Leong, DanIEL Brookes, Anna Tallis, Maureen Robinson, Alexandra Easling, Elizabeth Flux, Alexander Gordon-Smith, James Gould, Myriam Robin Copy-editors: Nicholas Perry, Tom Diment, Georgina Falster, Chris McMichael Photographers: Véra Ada, Christopher Arblaster, Matthew McDermott, Steph Lyall Illustrators: Nayana Rathmalgoda, Katie Barber, Margaret Lloyd, Daniel Brookes, Connor O'Brien With Special thanks to Lillian Katsapis, Robyn Mill Printed by Graphic Print group
cover Illustration courtesy Sam Coldy / samcoldy.com
2d win ouble ning pa Aus sses to t Sam ralian awar dSim c H m ome Our a four nnah G ons + dians theedit favouri adsby. te e or 27th win! Su mailsto b of F ebru mit by t he ary.
On Dit is an Adelaide University Union publication. The opinions expressed within are not necessarily those of the editors, the University of Adelaide, or the Adelaide University Union.
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fear & loathing in copenhagen The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, from the inside.
ecember 5th. It's the 318th anniversary of Mozart's death, it's International Day of the Ninja, it's 0°C, and I'm stepping off a plane in Copenhagen, Denmark. I get through customs in moments, taking the line marked out for COP15 participants, board an overpriced train to the city, and set out through the cold towards the Copenhagen YMCA. Lost, four drunken locals point me on my way, and I soon arrive, heavy bag in tow, after 25 hours of flying, at the conference of youth. In two days, the UN Climate Conference is to begin. The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was first signed in 1992, but in 2007 the Bali Road Map instituted a process aiming to create a binding global treaty limiting CO2 emissions from 2012. The situation could hardly be more urgent, with the most up-to-date science telling us that to have a 2/3 chance of avoiding global warming of more than 2ºC, we can only emit 650 gigatonnes of CO2 - a budget that at current rates would be consumed in two decades. John Schellnhuber, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, called this event “the most important meeting in the history of the human species.”
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e ho at th the yc ( l T l a e e). t/ 15 Th r y H COP renc mot r a e fe len ing cD on e P r dur te C w M h a a he Br ente lim att a C gen C y M .com l l s r Be nha r te gge u ou pe Co phs c reeH T a gr ot o Ph
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I'm at Copenhagen as part of the Australian Youth Delegation (AYD), a group of 20 young people representing a broad cross-section of Australians as part of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition. Having had no idea what my involvement would involve, since my selection I had been engulfed in a slowly accelerating snowball of conferences, strategy weekends, international networking, media work, fundraising, and information gathering. The process could be compared to what Neo undergoes when he is released from The Matrix. That is to say, I came to know climate kung-fu. In the weeks leading up to my departure, friends filled me with words of support. Some were long-time climate advocates, who had spent considerable time working on this issue. Others were closer to spectators regarding the climate crisis, but who trusted me in what I was doing. Less than a week before I flew out, a friend of mine who had attended the Montreal negotiations shared the contents of her notebook from that trip. I soaked it in and thought about the notebook that I would soon be crafting, the people I'd meet, the actions I'd undertake, the victories and the defeats that I would face. I had no idea. December 7th, 2009: the conference begins and I'm looking around in wonder. Inside the massive Bella Center, delegates line up for their passes and I humbly accept a security pat-down as I enter. As it's the first day, it’s not too frantic yet, but it's still a whirlwind around me. I glance at badges as people pass, seeing reporters, party negotiators, and heads of international NGO's. It's all a bit much. On this day I lead a 'flash dance', a staple of the youth climate advocate. Gathered outside the plenary hall, just as the delegates are leaving, hundreds of youths from around the world move in glorious sync. “Ooh, it's hot in here.” As I pivot and thrust atop a chair, struggling to maintain my balance, I’m surrounded by a bat-
tery of video cameras. “There's too much carbon in the atmosphere.” A horde of bodies copy my recently-learnt dance moves. “Take action, take action, and get some satisfaction.” I'm in an absurd, surreal sea of people – media, profes-
Lord Monckton, "probably the most refuted disinformer there is."
sionals and negotiators from all over the world. “Take action, take action, and get some satisfaction.” Damn right, us young people are making our presence felt. Over the next ten days, I take part in a bedin on the anniversary of Lennon's death, and a picture of two American girls and me preparing signs ends up on Reuters. We meet Louise Hand, Australia's chief negotiator, and later Penny Wong, whom I neglect to tell about the time I took part in a sit-in in her Adelaide office. We do, however, show her our Abbott spoof video, and she laughs appreciatively. When Tuvalu, facing rising sea levels, walks out of the negotiations in objection to the lack of transparency, a swarm of us takes part in an unpermitted protest supporting them. I am filmed putting a '350' sticker on the back of Lord Monckton, probably the most
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refuted disinformer there is. Will Steffen (Executive Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute) shares a cheeky grin, and we agree that it has gotten past the point where we can pretend that climate sceptics have any sort of credibility. We make a video that rapidly attracts hundreds of vitriolic comments, and over 28,000 views, including a video response that the creator was so kind -that is, creepy- as to send to me personally. On the 12th, about 100,000 people march through the streets of Copenhagen in support of 'climate justice'. The march is peaceful, vibrant and creative; it features bands the envy of Womad; eerily well-made picket signs; and inexplicably, somebody dressed as Frank from Donnie Darko. It is so long that one can stop in a bakery, grab a bite to eat and then join back in. Rapt, I mill through the crowd, climb a pole and am awed by the numbers, passion, diversity, and sheer humanity of this gathering. That evening, I hear how the police arrested over 900 protestors - all but a handful are eventually released without charge. The centre can hold 15,000 people, but 45,000 have been accredited for admission. In the second week, as Heads of States arrive, everybody except for party delegates and the press has its admission numbers cut. With our reduced access, we cluster in a distant hall, watching the conference on large screens. Then it happens. I'm at Klimaforum, the people's climate conference, dancing to the best musical combination of accordion, saxophone, clarinet, trumpet and drums I’ve ever heard, when my phone rings. I'm not sure what’s happened, but it's urgent – some sort of pathetic deal has been reached. There's no time to lose. I farewell my dancing buddy, sneak one last look at this amazing band, and make my way back to our accommodation. I have a mental image of the AYD, a network of sky-blue dots spread out across central Copenhagen, rapidly converging on our hostel. We convene and get down to business, hardly 20 minutes after the Accord was
even announced. It has hardly hit the news, nor reached the ears of all the negotiating parties. After two years of preparation, after two weeks of negotiations, Obama flew in, and the USA, India, China, Brazil and South Africa went outside the UN process to produce the 'Copenhagen Accord' in the last two hours. The three-page document makes for disappointing reading. I'd realised a while ago that the climate crisis is the epitome of the 'tragedy of the commons', where countries won’t act individually without shortterm benefit, but I'd harboured a hope that they'd all come together and use this opportunity to actually aim at a scientifically adequate response. No such luck.
Hunched over on her bed, a fellow delegate begins crying into her hands in what has to be the most poignant moment of my life. My heart is breaking.
Her response brings home the implications of the Accord – I'd been so busy thinking about how to respond that I hadn't given myself a chance to actually think about the consequences. The Accord could potentially mean that those on low-lying islands would lose their homeland and culture; the already egregious impacts of food and water insecurity would be exacerbated; our world would likely become beset by war as conflicts broke out over resource shortages. More people would die, more people would suffer. So seventeen of us roll up our sleeves, open our laptops, and get to work. Some are ringing Australian media so that Anna Rose, AYCC codirector, can provide comment, and her soundbite is played on Triple J straight after Obama
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and before Abbott. Others are planning actions, gathering intel, or helping island nations to get a response together. Two rapidly film a video for the AYCC database. I make a tepidly-received suggestion that perhaps we can refer to the event as 'accord-gate'. Twitter is ablaze with comment. In these wee small hours of the morning, we learn that Kevin Rudd was in the room as the Accord was drafted, Kumi Naidoo, CEO of Greenpeace, describes the city as a “climate crime scene”, and a few hundred grimly determined, grimly cold protestors take up station in the cold outside the centre, bearing witness to the travesty that has just occurred. Eventually, I at least feel I have done everything useful that I can, and retire, resigned. Waking a few hours later, it's morning and I am witness to the aftermath of a battle. A dull snow is falling from the sky. The atmosphere in the hostel lobby is mournful. It's over. Maybe it had to be this way. The casualties will be untold. For the AYD, it's our last day together, and we spend most of it in Øksnehallen. That afternoon, we sit and share our experiences and reflections. There is laughter. There are tears, recollections, admissions. Hopes and fears are divulged, revelations and realisations told. None of us are unscarred, but we have been hardened and, aware of the work that remains, we are every one of us ready for it. We're not done yet.
On the 12th, about 100,000 people march through the streets of Copenhagen in support of 'climate justice'. It is so long that one can stop in a bakery, grab a bite to eat and then join back in. Photograph courtesy Joel Dignam.
about the writer
Joel Dignam is a rag-tag misfit with a penchant for the unconventional and a growing unease with regards to the lack of response to the climate crisis. To relax, he delights in various arts, most particularly literature, music, and capture the flag. Joel is in the second year of his degree in Sustainable Energy Engineering, is Environment Officer of the SRC, and is active in SA's Climate Emergency Action Network.
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An Education In
What business does big business have entering the hallowed grounds of a university? And who let them in?
ould you give your phone number to a stranger? How about your email address? Discounting those who find themselves doing so late on a Saturday night, most of us have reservations about giving our details to people who we don’t know. However, as soon as that stranger tells us we could score a free drink or a novelty inflatable baseball bat, or go into the draw for the ultimate party adventure with three friends while meeting your favourite sports star and consuming copious quantities of a certain product, we’ll hand out our phone number and email like it’s going out of fashion. Of course, in contrast to the drunken 3 a.m. exchange of details, this stranger isn’t interested in your amazing personality and witty conversation. They want to subscribe you to their marketing list, so they can inform you of the latest specials on flights or toothpaste or whatever wares they’re peddling. Well done – you’re another satisfied customer ‘engaging’ with a brand. Image by Daniel Brookes
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Here at the University of Adelaide, O’Week is about two things. There’s the actual orientation – meeting tutors, having the Vice-Chancellor tell you how lucky you are to be a part of this great institution, finding your lecture theatre, finding the quickest route from said lecture theatre to the bar– and then there are the events. Everyone gravitates to the lawns, because that’s where the fun happens, and of course, that’s where the marketers hang out. But why are they there? Who let them in? What business do they have entering hallowed university grounds, where nought but lofty thoughts and academic excellence should be allowed? Clearly, someone stands to gain from the arrangement, but who? Leanne Bruno is Events Coordinator at Adelaide University Union. She’s a busy woman. This time of year is taken up largely with organising O’Week. Hundreds of companies apply to be a part of O’Week – the usual suspects being banks, government departments, food and beverage companies and travel providers. Most operate stalls or give out samples, but some also sponsor activities or get to be part of the O’Week ‘showbag’. Leanne mentions that she knocks back dozens of companies, as there just isn’t enough space. She also confirmed that previously some companies have marketed on-site without AUU permission. Clearly, the benefits of foisting your product on potential customers outweigh the possible risk of a reprimand from Security Services. So, what is it about the university set that inspires marketers to go to such lengths? Obviously, the more people know your product, the more potential customers you have. But surely there are easier ways than going on campus and handing out flyers and product samples? Well, perhaps not. University students are often regarded as their own demographic, as distinct from other 18-25 year olds. According to Roger James, CEO of the Australian Marketing Institute, students in this fast-paced modern world are far more critical of marketing than their predecessors: “One of the challenges is that we all know that you guys are a lot [better] than we were when we were young at recognising what you think is a scam, or seeing through ploys that you don’t think are honest.”
Tim Addington, Editor of the advertising trade magazine B&T adds: “[The student market] isn’t necessarily harder to crack, but [marketers] have to go about it in slightly different ways. Students are more cynical towards the traditional advertising messages, so marketers have to come up with slightly different ways of engaging that audience.”
Both Addington and James concur that the best way to engage students in a brand is through ‘experiential marketing’. Experiential marketing is about getting the demographic to interact with your brand, through someone handing you a product sample, like a can of drink, or giving you a role in shaping the brand. Anyone feel like some iSnack 2.0? The traditional advertising media of TV, radio, print and billboards just don’t cut through like they used to. So if the student market is difficult, or at least costly to crack, why are marketers interested? Addington and James suggest that students are such an important demographic because they straddle the line between being in control of their spending, but not being set in their ways (as opposed to, say, the 30+ demographics). Brand loyalty means repeat customers. If a student has a ‘positive brand experience’ while
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young and impressionable, chances are they’ll lean more towards that brand when the superannuation pays out. Furthermore, Addington notes that engendering brand loyalty in students pays off, as people with degrees tend to have higher incomes. Andrew Maloney is the Managing Director of Student Services Australia. SSA has an arm called Student Marketing, which is Australia’s largest campus-focused marketing agency. He agrees that the traditional marketing avenues just don’t work anymore, not necessarily because students are cynical, but because they aren’t heavy consumers of TV or print media. Despite Leanne Bruno’s claim that Adelaide University attracts more than enough sponsors, Maloney doesn’t really buy the idea that companies are beating down the door in order to market directly to students during O’Week. “Theoretically, it should be easy [to convince corporates to market to students]. Roughly a quarter of the 18-25 demographic are on campus. The problem is that it’s extremely fragmented. So we spend a lot of our time trying to convince corporates to come to campus. They look at it and say ‘my God, this is complicated’. For example, O’Week isn’t during the same week around the country. Every university has different policies, different pricing. It’s an incredibly complicated thing to do a national O’Week campaign. It’s the same with student media – if you want to run a full page ad in a student newspaper, they’re all different sizes and you’ll have to do the ad in ten different ways, with ten different prices, on ten different dates and ten different people to contact.” Can’t you play the brand loyalty card? “That’s crap,” says Maloney, “corporate Australia now is based on quarterly results. This idea that students are future purchasers… If I went to a company and started talking like that, they’d look at me like I was an idiot. They want a result in the next 12 weeks.” Apart from a few exceptions such as The Australian, which is heavily subsidised on campus, companies don’t seem to take the long view. According to Maloney, the extra effort of coordinating a marketing campaign across 30 campuses means companies are more likely to phone Nova and spend $300,000 on an ad campaign that can be rolled out in hours, instead of waiting a week for Student Marketing to tailor a
cross-campus package. Life’s tough for marketers. Well, so what? Big companies finding it hard to push goods on the student demographic isn’t exactly the stuff that makes your heart bleed. In fact, couldn’t we do without them? Of course, that logic belies the reason that a student organisation would take on marketers in the first place. The problem that students and student organisations face is having enough money. Adelaide University Union lets companies market on campus because without their money, most events just wouldn’t be possible. University administration actually requires the Union to run events at O’Week as part of its funding arrangement (cynics might hazard that this is because activities are the only way to get students to attend the more boring orientation events). Leanne Bruno says that without extra funding, the week just won’t go ahead. Moreover, while O’Week has the highest concentration of events and marketing, campus culture persists through the year. Funded through the AUU via the Clubs Association, clubs on campus must find a way to subsidise events if they are to put a student-friendly price tag on whatever drinking session they’ve thinly disguised as a masquerade ball or games night. Alex Arney is sponsorship manager for the Adelaide University Engineering Society and AUSki, the snow skiing club. He says that sponsorship is about helping the members: “The sponsors themselves help subsidise events. For example, [the AUSki] Snow Ball would have cost us six grand, but sponsorship took a couple of grand off. Most events you have to run at a loss, sponsorship just goes toward making sure that you’re not charging the members as much as possible.”
Additionally, the AUES has a much more professional focus in terms of sponsorship, with companies coming on board for careers nights. These arrangements are a way of exposing members to less obvious career pathways. Perhaps the starkest reminder of the benefits that marketing confers is the concept of ‘student discount’. If student organisations disengage from corporate marketing, corporates will disengage from students, and take their cut-price
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flights, low-fee bank accounts, two-for-ones and 10-percent-offs with them. Maloney sees the trend as worrying. “In the last two years neither Telstra nor Optus have been on campus. That’s amazing. Ten years ago, Telstra and Optus would sponsor O’Week, and now they’ve withdrawn from campus. Where’s the Optus or Telstra deal for students now? They’ve gone.” What of the effect of voluntary student unionism, recent bane of Australian student organisations? Leanne Bruno thinks that sponsorship is more important post-VSU because of funding cuts, but Andrew Maloney notes that the promotion on-campus and in student papers has dropped dramatically as few student organisations can afford a full-time marketing manager. Ultimately this is a double blow, and as a result there are far fewer events for students. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne has its O’Week completely run by university administration. As the Adelaide University Union has both an Events Coordinator, and a Marketing Manager, campus culture has suffered less, but no organisation can go from having a budget of $9 million to $1.2 million and provide the same level of service to its members. Sponsorship, then, provides part of the backbone of services to students. Without it, campus culture would be a shadow of what it is now. However, such reliance on external parties with vested interests comes at a price. One problem is that having an event sponsored by one product tends to preclude student choice. If your major sponsor is Red Bull or Carlton Draught, you don’t want to tread on any toes by allowing V or Coopers on-site at the same time. Furthermore, developing an event with marketing in mind can significantly change the tone of things, or at least the activities that are on offer. This year there will be no free barbeque, as it draws too much focus from other activities, limiting advertising exposure. Paying a dollar for sausages might still be a pretty good deal (and
the money supports the clubs who volunteer to cook them), but one can’t help but feel like students have lost out. Another troubling aspect of acquiescing to sponsors could conceivably be a compromise of student media independence. While it might seem like a far cry to suggest that On Dit could manage to uncover a web of deceit and dodgy dealings perpetrated by a sponsor, and then be forced to suppress it, it would be a shame if people couldn’t speak frankly. The care taken in this article to only talk about Union sponsors in the abstract is a case in point. However, ultimately marketing on campus provides positive outcomes for students. This isn’t to say that constant branding isn’t annoying, but it is at worst a necessary evil, particularly in a post-VSU world. Marketing off-campus is perhaps a thornier issue. The recent debate surrounding advertising junk food to children raises concerns that marketing may be contributing to serious health problems (small wonder that marketing tobacco products has been illegal in Australia since 1992). Nevertheless, despite the notorious excesses of national or global corporatism, campus marketing appears to be mostly benign. Without it, students wouldn’t have the anything like the range of events and services currently available on campus. And hey, at least you got that free drink.
about the writer
Sam Deere is rumoured to be studying politics and have shadowy connections to the SRC/Student Media underworld.
ON GET THE
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Are you a new student from interstate or regional South Australia?
Welcome BUS TOUR of Adelaide City 22 February 2010 @ 1.30pm
It’s your chance to discover the City’s:
Services & IES
To register your seat on the tour, visit www.cityofadelaide.com.au/study or phone (08) 8203 7203
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I studied Linguistics A selection of personal photographs.
Cracked, broken When I became interested in deserted locations and urban decay, one of the first places I discovered was this art studio in the middle of Hindley Street. My friend Annie and I spent an evening trying to get in, but failed. A few days later I came back on my own, and found an unlocked door that went by unnoticed on my first attempt because it was dark. This photo was taken when I returned once more with Annie to look around inside the place. We both brought our cameras, the main purpose being to photograph the building, but I took photos of Annie while she was exploring the upstairs area. This is one of the film shots I took that day, a double exposure with a texture of a cracked wall. I think she was loading film into her camera at the time.
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Feel Good Lost This is a bit of an old photo of Grace, a girl who used to be in my Italian class. I took it about three or so years ago. It was one of the first times I mustered up the courage to ask someone I didn’t really know to model for me. We became pretty good friends and took photos all over town in graffitied alley-ways and side-streets – she was great to photograph. This particular image was taken in a brilliant spot between Synagogue Place and the car-park next-door. It was obviously being lived in at night, but during the day it was just a cool little area surrounded by tall buildings, a couple of trees and a lot of street art and tags. Sadly it’s been fenced off since, but we got some good shots in that day.
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Sniezynka Early last year I met a Hungarian girl called Fruzsi. We actually first talked on-line, then decided to meet. She is a crazy, talented artist who paints, photographs, sculpts, creates jewellery and does glass-blowing. Despite my initial shyness around such a bubbly and active person, we got along well. We’ve met up several times for photo-days, mainly around the city and Botanical Gardens. This image was taken on our most productive get-together, when we discovered an empty warehouse with a stage and a bunch of chairs. It’s another double exposure (I have a bit of thing for those), possibly my most successful one yet. Fruzsi told me that when she was little one of her nicknames in Hungarian was Fruzsika. This reminded me of the word ‘sniezynka’, hence the title. The word actually means ‘snowflake’ in Russian and Polish.
about the photographer
Véra Ada Daye is a 20-year-old language student interested in photography and linguistics. Whilst the latter is the main focus of her career, she considers picture-making as her creative self. As an experimental photographer, she works with as many formats as possible, including digital, 35mm and 60mm film cameras, as well as instant. She processes her work both on computer and in the dark-room, and is fascinated by multiple exposures and expired film. You can view her work online at veraada.deviantart.com.
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Union Hall, a lecture theatre and former performance space located at the heart of Adelaide University's North Terrace Campus, has been slated for demolition. In two controversial pieces, an Adelaide arts writer explains why we need to fight for the theatre, and a former student union president explains why the theatre's gotta go.
Piece #1: keep the hall!
ross Victoria Drive from the Torrens River embankment and enter the grounds of one of Australia’s oldest universities through a beautifully elaborate wrought-iron gate. This impressive Victorian structure bears a crest with the motto of the University of Adelaide: ‘Sub Cruce Lumen’ – The Light (of learning) under the (Southern) Cross. At once, visitors would recognise this as a university precinct – a place of higher learning. The buildings which flank the park-like setting are the trademarks of a well-respected university of international stature. The gabled Barr Smith Library, with its ornate red brick and stone dressings, freestone portico and classical columns, has been thoughtfully extended in various decades. It is complemented to the north-east by the Mawson and Benham Laboratories (built in a similar period) while the arches and pillars of the Cloisters to the north-west sit comfortably with more red brick and paned glass understoreys. Together with1970s red-brick extensions and concrete awnings and balcony railings on the upper levels, all this provides candy for a roving eye seeking visual stimulus.
Union Hall has been submitted to the Heritage Council for consideration as a protected heritage building. If this is successful, the demolition will be blocked. The outcome will be known after the 8th of February.
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Proudly to the east stands Union Hall: the fifty-two year old building facing demolition, invoking outrage from some of Adelaide’s prominent academics, architects, visual and performing artists, and critics. Media luminaries Samela Harris, Peter Goers, and Tim Lloyd have led the public debate. The Adelaide City Council has unanimously passed a motion against the demolition. The current state government has, at best, been un-co-operative. On a searing 40-degree day in November, a significant smattering of performing arts, heritage and political players joined the hundredplus crowd. With Peter Goers leading proceedings, politicians from all ends of the spectrum mingled with broadcasters and playwrights as a ballet group performed for the crowd. Former Vice Chancellor Dr. Harry Medlin, who gave a rousing speech at the gathering, called the decision to demolish a disgrace and “more corporate than collegiate.” He lamented a change in the ethos of the University in recent years, and he has a point. Take a glance at a selection of paragraphs extolling the virtues of campus life on the University of Adelaide website: “The University of Adelaide's vibrant campus life and close engagement with its community provide social, cultural and intellectual stimulation, an appreciation of diversity and an openness to enquiry that makes an impact on both students and the community as a whole.”
And where is the nerve centre of much of this ‘vibrant campus life’ and ‘close engagement with its community’? Yes, it’s right there in this leafy-lawned area flanked by a library, bookshop, communal refectory, the Uni Bar, union offices, uni clubs and a theatre. Sandy Biar, a recent Adelaide graduate and a media officer for David Winterlich, spoke at the rally and described this precinct, theatre included, as ‘the hub of university life’ and said that demolition of Union Hall would seriously
disrupt the fabric of the student heartland. There is something else to consider, however, as Peter Goers discussed in relation to the proposed demolition in the Sunday Mail, on October the 11th, 2009: “Now we are to lose the grand old Union Hall to the bulldozer…there will be a crucial lack of theatres. There is already a desperate search for Fringe venues.”
Goers relates how Festival of Arts director Paul Grabowsky fears that future festivals will be severely compromised due to the critical shortage of theatre accommodation. In terms of architectural excellence, Union Hall, designed in 1958 by the acclaimed Laybourne-Smith, is a significant example of the 'Functionalist’ style. Examples in Adelaide are rare. The Church of Christian Scientists building on North Terrace and Adelaide High School stand out as other excellent examples. There is a conversation going on between the buildings of the northern part of the University. Union Hall is a modern reflection of the fussy grandeur of the classical-inspired Barr Smith Library. Frosted paned glass on the latter is reflected in the former with larger panes in a curved fronted, less ornate structure. Red bricks are prominent in both structures. Fluted classical columns in the Barr Smith are reflected by cubist columns in Union Hall. Ornate crests opposite are supplanted by a modern fresco reflecting classical drama in the theatre foyer. Linear elements of the concrete section of the ramp railing defer across to an almost identical structure in the lower sections of the Barr Smith building. Alone there, early one evening, while penning notes, I felt an unearthing of the dialogue between architects of different eras. But it is not just architectural heritage that is at stake here. Union Hall was partly funded by public subscription, corporate donations, and
OnDitmagazine ― Features
university funds derived from benefactors. It was a foundation venue for Adelaide's first Festival of the Arts in 1960 and was the venue for the first 10 Adelaide film festivals and numerous festival events thereafter. Samela Harris recalls Patrick White’s Ham Funeral being performed there vividly with the latter ‘sharing a bed with her dog’ at home. Dramatic Recital with Dame Sybil Thorndike and Sir Lewis Casson, The Caretaker by Harold Pinter and Toda-San by Hal Porter are but a few of the hundreds of international standard of performances involved at Union Hall. Samela Harris also remembers delivering a talk as 1965 editor of On Dit as well as reminiscing that ‘my greatest claim to fame there was that I wrangled dogs for Peter Goer’s production of Eureka Stockade.’ Despite claims by those involved with the proposed new Science building that the Union Theatre is totally unfit for use as a theatre and hasn’t been used as such for some time, hundreds of schools and community groups have either used it for performance or sought to use it and as recently as 2006 it was used as a Fringe Festival
venue. The State Heritage Council and Department of Environment and Heritage are currently considering two applications for Union Hall, one on architectural merit and the other in terms of performing arts heritage and usage, to be given preliminary listing on the register of the National Trust. The internationally respected architect, Romaldo Giurgola, designer of Parliament House in Canberra, has joined the fight. "The possible elimination of Union Hall will be an act of irreparable destruction in every sense and there will never be a substitution to its value," the 89-year-old architect says.
Whether the combined clout of thousands of dissenters can hold back the spectre of this despicable act of cultural vandalism is yet to be seen.
Piece #2: demolish the hall! by
'W eek – over 4 days, an estimated 6000 students, new and old, will descend on the Barr Smith Lawns to get the last real taste of summer freedom before the academic year begins. But as you sign up for the Flash Mob Club and sidestep the puddle of milk vomit on the lawns, glance over at Union Hall and reflect for a moment on the quiet rumblings of warfare over its demolition.
OnDitmagazine ― Features
The University is growing at about a rate of 1000 students per year. These students have to go somewhere. And the University doesn’t have many options – it can acquire more land or it can build upwards. It knocks down a building which only seats 400 at any one time and it will see the creation of 7 stories of lecture, tutorial and research space. When Australia finally gets its shit together and becomes a republic, maybe the University can take over government house, but until then, buying more land is a far less economical option than rebuilding. Paul Duldig, the bigwig of University’s Property Services, is under a lot of fire for the furore that has arisen. Duldig is no hero of mine, but through some bizarre accident, we’re actually on the same side in this. However, the Senior Citizens Against Change Brigade, more commonly known as the Save Union Hall lobby, have successfully gained some community and media support, enough to get the University Marketing Department’s knickers in a twist. 24
here seem to appear to be 3 main arguments against the Union Hall demolition: it’s old, it’s one of Adelaide’s few large performance spaces, and it holds cultural significance to the University campus. I value the 100+ year history of the Adelaide University Union. When the development was announced in September last year, I found myself in quite a moral quandary. On the one hand, I assume that 90% of the time, the University is doing the wrong thing. On the other hand, one of the most common complaints I received from students during my 2 years as AUU President was about the lack of space on campus. I was pissed off that I’d been hearing rumours about a demolition since May and there was no student consultation, but as a Law student, I have attended lectures where students had to sit on the floor or leave because there were not enough seats. Union Hall was built with money from the AUU, the University and donations in 1958 ( just as a side note, when did 50 years become heritage? Does that mean my dad qualifies?). In the 1970s, the AUU decided to build extra levels on Union House and it handed over its right to Union Hall to the University. In this the Save Union Hall lobbyists are correct – Union Hall was once a thriving theatre space.
n the 30th of October last year, when I was still President of the AUU, I received a memorable phone call from Peter Goers from the ABC and Sunday Mail. Goers proceeded to scream down the phone at me, berating me for not publicly condemning the demolition. He proceeded to call me a “toadie of the university”. One of his mini-rants concerned me enough to write it down. Goers referred to the “plague” of international students [Editors' note: use of the word ‘plague’ was vehemently denied by Goers] whose lack of appreciation for theatre was behind this demolition. He then continued on a tangent about how, “If I ever went to the hospital and the doctor came out and they said they were a Malaysian international student, well, I’d demand another doctor!” [Editors' note: For Goers' account of what was said, see end of article]. In Bob Lott’s open letter to the Vice Chancellor about Union Hall, he makes a strange statement: “In recent years as overseas student numbers increase and the ethnic mix changes there is a greater percentage of students now whose backgrounds don’t have the emphasis on what would be termed Australian/European traditional theatre performance.”
To me, there seems to be a disturbing
the arguments of two of the Save Union Hall’s key campaigners.
Asia and India, the two key regions from where most international students in Australia come, have long and proud theatre traditions. Personally, I think that local students should bow down and thank international students whose exorbitant fees have been propping up the Australian higher education sector for around a decade, rather than draw a long bow and assign blame to them for the demolition of what is a rather ugly building. David Winderlich, SA Legislative Councillor,
OnDitmagazine ― Features
has also thrown his weight behind the Save Union Hall campaign. The man is looking for re-election on March 20 and since leaving the Democrats, he’s been jumping on the bandwagon of any community campaign who’ll take his calls. Fact is, the Save Union Hall lobby might pack a bigger punch than the Australian Democrats put together, but that’s not saying much at all. On January 18, the Adelaide City Council’s Development and Assessment Panel voted unanimously rejected a report recommending the Hall’s demolition. This doesn’t actually mean anything, as the development doesn’t need local government consent. If Adelaide City Council has such an obsession with performance spaces, then why doesn’t it build its own? On November 7, in his regular column in the Sunday Mail, Peter Goers wrote this about me: “Recently, a prominent student unionist at Adelaide University pledged to do nothing to help save Union Hall from the bulldozer. This great advocate of progress described me as "having a bourgeois preoccupation with heritage".” I stand by that statement. Because, in all of this petty drama, there is a distinct absence of what is in the best interest of students. While some get caught up in the debate of how old is old enough that you can’t fart near a building, I care far more about the fact that Little Theatre’s lighting rig is not OH&S compliant. After 18 months of asking the University when they were going to fix it, in December of last year I was told they were getting a quote. Every student performance I have ever seen has been in that space. More than that, while I respect that Scott Theatre needs to be used as an interim lecture theatre during the Union Hall demolition, I would call on the Vice Chancellor to make a commitment to the University community that Scott will be returned as a performance space once the development is complete. The University have been deliberately vague on this issue, because while they say that it will be used for performances, they seem to be referring to evening performances. For any theatre groups and particularly music students,
the real issue is being able to use it for daytime rehearsals. There seems to be a distinct lack of student focus in the Save Union Hall’s campaign.
y big question for all of the Save the Union Hall folk is, if you’re so pro-campus culture, where were you when voluntary student unionism saw the Adelaide University Union’s income go from about 4.5 million to $500,000 overnight? This had a far more devastating impact on the support, financial and otherwise, that went to a variety of student groups. And where have you been for the past 12 years while student income support has got progressively worse, which means that 80% of students are working part time or more? If you truly want a vibrant university theatre culture, then students need the time to get involved in either attending or performing, but with many struggling on income far below the Henderson Poverty Line, this is almost impossible. The heart and soul of any university is its students – any changes to the campus should have that at their core. This development will see more space for the students of the University of Adelaide and that is an outcome which has my support.
Editors' note: Peter Goers has said to On Dit that Lavinia misunderstood him. He has nothing against Malaysians, but rather, “[has] concerns about foreign students. Not if but when I have a quadruple bypass, the first question I would ask of the foreign doctor is, 'Did you pay to go to the University of Adelaide?' The fact is, most foreign students who are paying for an education in SA, they may not be good enough to get into their own universities." Peter Goers considered the conversation he had with Lavinia to be private, and did not name Lavinia when he recounted a part of it in his Sunday Mail column.
about the writer
Lavinia Emmett-Grey was Adelaide University Union President from 2008-2009. She is currently the undergraduate student representative on University Council.
OnDitmagazine ― Features
James McWha, Vice Chancellor of the University of Adelaide, is largely responsible for the developmental direction of the university. We speak to the Vice Chancellor on Union Hall and its intended replacement: the Institute of Photonics and Advanced Sensing.
Why build on campus? Why not move this away?
What of the Adelaide arts community and their need for theatres?
Photonics and some of the other groups that will be using the new facilities are interdisciplinary. That’s one of the things we’re trying to promote, so that activities aren’t just focused in one discipline. Most of the big advances in research are coming at the margins, between disciplines. Say, photonics and biology, or photonics and medicine, and engineering. And if we move the photonics institute away, we’ve lost half of that. We’re very keen not to have that happen. We’ve got 41 heritage structures around the university, so it’s not like we’re short of them, and we put a lot of effort into sustaining them. The downside is that we don’t have vast acreages of ultramodern facilities.
We host more festival events on our campus than any other physical location except for the Festival Centre. More happens on this campus than anywhere else, but they haven’t wanted to use Union Theatre. So you have to think, well, is it really that vital? The only people who used it were people who wanted a cheap location, because we largely subsidize use of it for a lot of the groups who were using it. The truth is that there are quite a few theatres around Adelaide. What I do appreciate is that there are quite a lot of people who have a strong sentimental and emotional attachment to it for historical reasons, and that’s perfectly understandable. But it was never updated because nobody wanted to use it. Basically, it isn’t our job to provide theatres for the general community, especially when we have to do it out of money we are given for teaching. If we do it, what we’d be doing is saying 'We’re not going to spend the money teaching our students, we’re going to spend it maintaining a theatre for whoever wants to use a theatre.' That’s pretty hard to justify.
What will students gain from the development? The Institute is attracting world-leading figures to work in it, and they’re teaching the students, and the idea then is that the students can be trained in these sorts of areas, and the job opportunities if you have training from a world-class group of this sort in something like photonics, then the job market just opens up to you worldwide. So our students, those who are directly involved, will get tremendous opportunities for future careers. Those who are taking it as a subject for interest will get expose to technologies which offer them, whatever area they go into, terrific opportunities to interact in those areas. The research students of course will be located in the facility, and the idea is to have a large core of post-graduate students working in the facility. And that should give them some tremendous opportunities. And there will of course be undergraduate teaching in the department, perhaps in some labs or depending on what we do then.”
This is an extract from a longer interview. The full transcript is available at: ondit.com.au/mcwha
OnDitmagazine ― Features
Primer: Your Introduction to the Modern World
Afghanistan international analysis
All General Stanley McChrystal, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, wanted for Christmas was 40, 000 additional troops. The need for additional forces stemmed from the dramatic increase in violence over 2009, which saw record numbers of Afghan civillians and NATO troops killed. Barack Obama approved a 30,000-troop increase last November, taking the US military commitment beyond 100,000. Although Obama’s increase was 10,000 less than McChrystal requested, the latter believes that NATO will make “tremendous progress” with the new numbers. It is hoped that the surge will enable NATO forces to quell the Taliban-supported insurgency long enough to recruit and train local Afghan troops, who currently number just 50,000 due to high rates of desertion and difficulties in recruitment. Kevin’s ruddy choice What does this troop increase mean for Australia? Given the US is Australia’s foremost strategic partner, pressure will be placed on Kevin Rudd to bolster Australia’s commitment, which currently stands at 1,550 following a sizeable increase in April 2009. The Rudd Government repeatedly stresses that Australia’s contribution of the ninth largest troop contingent in Afghanistan is proportional. What Rudd doesn’t say, however, is that Australia was one of the first three countries to pledge support alongside American military action. Australia is a senior partner in the war, and our contribution should arguably be proportional to the leading role we played in its beginnings.
When Rudd met the President in November 2009, Afghanistan dominated the agenda. Rudd pledged an additional 200 support personnel for the war effort, but no additional combat troops. He managed to dodge a bullet in November, but it’s unlikely he can continue to do so. Eventually, he will have to make a choice between the USAustralia partnership and his political image. Just the two of us Rudd’s decision will be based on the credit he gives to the US-Australian alliance. Australia’s relationship with the US extends well beyond the Bush-Howard era, to the Australia-New Zealand-United States (ANZUS) Treaty in 1951. Since then, Australia has supported US military endeavours in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan. The alliance between Australia and the US owes much to joint combat operations, as well as Australia’s keen understanding of the benefits of following the US on the global political stage. To increase, or not to increase, that is the question… It is within Australia’s interest to prevent Afghanistan from returning to a breeding ground for terrorism, so our security interests are closely aligned with those of the US. The attempt on December 25th, 2009 to detonate liquefied explosives on an aeroplane flying to Detroit demonstrated that the threat of terrorism is alive and well. Moreover, Afghanistan’s role as a safe
OnDitmagazine â€• Features
OnDitmagazine ― Features
haven for the insurgency, which threatens to destabilise nuclear-armed Pakistan, provides another reason for an Australian presence in South Asia. Shopping for votes Domestic politics is the eternal counterweight to international policy. Support for Australia’s involvement in foreign combat operations is steadily slipping. We’re not alone: recent polls show that support for the war in Britain and the US is also waning, following high casualties in 2009. If Rudd were to increase Australia’s troop contingent, it is likely to damage his prospects of re-election. Rudd’s reluctance Rudd’s hesitancy may also be based on the indecision of the current US President. Obama has long described the war in Afghanistan as a necessity, but is struggling to justify prolonged US participation in the country. Indeed, the eagerness of Obama to exit from his predecessor’s war is evidenced by his timetable to withdraw US forces, beginning in 2011. To begin withdrawal next year
jeopardises the chances of a successful outcome, military commanders tell us. At present, NATO forces are not only battling insurgents and the influence of the Taliban, but are also engaged in training the Afghan armed forces and physical and political rebuilding. NATO forces can only achieve these goals if they are there for a sustained time period and follow coherent strategies. Without the genuine commitment of NATO leaders, the efforts in Afghanistan will fail. Peace returns slowly The increase in US forces alongside the timetable for withdrawal sends the wrong message to the Taliban and the Afghani people. It shows the power of electoral concerns over effective policy-making, it inspires insurgents to persist with their attacks, and it deepens cynicism of the Western world in the Middle East. Long-term approaches, although unpopular, are the only way to secure victory – or at the least, credible draws – in theatres like Afghanistan. Success in Afghanistan is in the Australian interest, but Rudd should send more troops only when and if NATO’s strategy in Afghanistan is for the long haul.
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OnDitmagazine ― culture
If you had a choice of two months of the year to be in Adelaide, you’d pick February and March. There’s a surge of activity in the air, and things are happening. Live music, theatre, visual art all abound as the Fringe and Adelaide Festivals roll into town. Of particular interest is the Writers’ Festival, which runs until March the fifth. Elsewhere, indie royalty Pavement hit the Thebarton Theatre stage, but not before much-vaunted MC Lupe Fiasco. But, as always, keep both eyes firmly open, as this list is much abridged.
The Chronic Ills of Robert Zimmerman a.k.a. Bob Dylan (until Feb 27) at Bakehouse Theatre [THEATRE]
So You Think You Can Get Fucked Up at Tuxedo Cat [COMEDY]
Let’s go for a Walk (until March 14) at Botanic Gardens [ART]
Pavement at Thebarton Theatre [MUSIC]
Future Music Festival 2010 at Garden of Unearthly Delights [MUSIC]
Fuse Festival at Rymill Park [MUSIC]
The Face at Bull and Bear [MUSIC]
The Polyphonic Spree at Thebarton Theatre [MUSIC]
Hannah Gadsby – The Cliff Young Shuffle (intermittently until March 9) at Rhino Room [COMEDY]
9 David O’Doherty – David O’Doh-Party (intermittently until March 13) at Arts Theatre [COMEDY]
The Honey Pies / The Keepsakes / We Grow Up at Jade Monkey [MUSIC]
Soundwave 2010 at Bonython Park [MUSIC] Servant of Two Masters at Armoury Lawn [THEATRE]
An Awkward Seduction (until March 13) at Lion Arts Centre [THEATRE]
Street Dreams Festival – Walking Tour at Format [ART]
Street Dreams Festival – Launch Party at Format [ART]
Charlie Pickering at Rhino Room [COMEDY]
Elephant Casino at Metropolitan Hotel [MUSIC]
Skitch Tease at Garden of Unearthly Delights [COMEDY]
Photograph by Steph Lyall
Amanda Palmer at Garden of Unearthly Delights [MUSIC]
Late Night Improv at Sugar [COMEDY]
Beatburger at Arcade Lane [MUSIC]
OnDitmagazine ― culture
Mapping the Scene Most local musicians have shared not just bills with each other, but have in the past shared stages. by
oes Adelaide have a music scene? It’s startling how little the average Adelaide resident knows about the kind of music that is happening on their own doorstep. At venues like the Metropolitan Hotel, The Jade Monkey, Jive, The Grace Emily, and Rocket Bar, week-in week-out, there exists a small, familiar and damn vibrant musical community. A crosssection of the “scene” would show a few key groups, vaguely linked by genre and friendship circles that overlap and intersect, share members and rub shoulders with each other at gigs, with the vast audience majority of most shows composed of other musicians. When I consider it this way, it is a little sad to think, in the grand scheme of Adelaide’s otherwise magical nightlife, how little attention the dynamic live music scene receives from the average Adelaide party animal and dilettante. Catchy-named, over-hyped club nights fill spaces far better than local bands, even ones who have been consistently playing for up to three years (a milestone by Adelaide standards). So, for the average young South Australian hesitant to venture out from the holy trinity of Red Square, Dog and Duck, and The Duke, here is an attempt to introduce you to your local scene. On the surface at least, there seems to be little competition or animosity between bands, save for the occasional rush to snare a high-profile interstate touring slot. “It’s no different to any other small city scene; its not hugely competitive because there just
isn’t enough money around for anyone to compete for anything,” says local musician Ben Revi. That seems pretty true. There exists effectively no label infrastructure for making and releasing records outside of the trusty old “local artist” shelf at Big Star Records, and shows alone are rarely so lucrative to wholly support a band’s costs. That gets compounded with the fact that most medium-level international and interstate touring bands of the kind that would warrant local bands to support them often pass over Adelaide due to a mix of financial and geographical disincentives and the unfortunate uncertainty of whether or not anyone from Adelaide will turn up to a show. A word that gets thrown about a lot is “incestuous”, which is something that, frankly, is an utter necessity in a town as small as Adelaide with such a consequently small pool of enthusiastic musicians. One could probably map out a family tree of inter-band relationships (both musical and otherwise), that would be so convoluted it begs belief. Just as an example, Jeremy Lake plays drums in, at present, 20th Century Graduates (with whom he also sings and writes the songs) and The Keepsakes, but a few months ago actively played in another two. This might make sense,
OnDitmagazine â€• culture
OnDitmagazine ― culture
as most musicians know, since practically every second person you meet will ‘dabble’ in guitar, but competent drummers are harder to come by. Through Jeremy however, we meet guitarist Anthony Wignall, who at present leads The Keepsakes, as well as actively participating in Melbourne based synth-pop outfit Deja Entendu. How he does that I’m not sure, but this current workload is perhaps one of his lightest, as he also played in Zeta and Oh My Guard!, and has been known to play up to five gigs across a single week. Then there’s the aforementioned Ben Revi, who plays a lead role in two bands, Humble Bee and Cheer Advisory Council, who both share the same seven- member lineup. People just can’t seem to sit still in this city. Then there’s the generational life cycle of local bands: they form, play consistently for a year and a half, begin to assert themselves as a quality band and win the favour of the small musicloving community, and release at best a couple of EPs before breaking up. Then, soon after, members of that band will resurface in a whole bunch of new bands with former members of other acts who have similarly packed it in around the same time. Generation Zeta, Lumonics, The Warsaw Flowers and Poly&TheStatics die and reemerge as Steering By Stars, Sunsettler, 20th Century Graduates, The Honey Pies and Billy Bishop Goes To War. It’s kind of like Doctor Who in a way. Okay, maybe not. This certainly ties into the sense of insularity and intimacy of inter-band circles, where most musicians have shared not just bills with each other but have in the past shared stages. While
one could easily contend that this phenomenon is found in all cities, and not just in music circles, the intimacy and small scale of Adelaide’s musical contingent makes the trend all the more prominent and obvious. Of the many local bands I can think of, only a few have been going for more than 2 years; Fire! Santa Rosa, Fire! could be regarded almost as elder statesmen, but have in fact only been around since 2006, and have been through enough line-up and stylistic changes to be in effect an entirely different band. I’m wary of painting this as a negative picture. The scene is friendly, vibrant, and always changing and reinventing itself as a result of all these factors, which makes for an interesting little melting pot, the prolificness of which defies its size. Invariably, I would say that if you went to say, three separate shows featuring at least two local bands on the bill, you would have met or seen a substantial proportion of the musician and active music lover population, and still find new things to be amazed about by the fourth. So my advice to you, the young, almost inevitably poor Adelaide student and music fan: save your money from that one Big Day Out ticket and spread the same cost across a whole year; you’ll see bands that are at times just as vibrant, lively, edgy, catchy and hilarious, with a significantly reduced risk of sunburn, bogans and Powderfinger.
about the writer
Walter Marsh plays guitar in solo project Tantivy Fair and local band We Grow Up, and blogs at prosepurple.blogspot.com.
OnDitmagazine ― culture
Where's Your Music? Shelves or hard drives? by
t’s not as silly a question as it might sound. Forty years ago, if you asked a music fan to point out their collection, they’d gesture towards an entire wall of vinyl. Even a decade ago, people would point to a rack of CDs (even if most of them were burnt). Today, it’s a little more abstract. If you’re lucky, there’s an iPod or laptop hard drive within reach, but if you’re using Youtube or Myspace, well, good luck. The ‘00s began with half-hour waits for single tracks on Napster, continued with high-profile copyright lawsuits, and ended with almost instant downloads of entire albums – for $10 from iTunes, for $? from Radiohead, and for $0 if you know where to look. Ask someone where their music is, and you’re likely to be answered only with a confused stare. Technology drives sales, sales drive technology – downloads are on the up and up while CD sales continue to drop at a rate that sends record executives into a terrified collective sweat. Wipe away those pathetic tears – physical music isn’t dead just yet. Bucking the overall trend is a format that should have died yonks ago. Vinyl sales have more than doubled since 2007 – the biggest numbers since measurement began in 1991. Let’s not be misleading here: vinyl still makes up only
a small percentage of music purchases overall. But considering it was a dead technology twenty years ago, its growth is pretty remarkable. What is it about this relic that’s proving so popular in the digital age? It certainly isn’t convenience. Turntables are still around (both new and used) but a decent one will cost you a bit, and that’s not the end of your troubles. You can start an album on iTunes in less time than it would take to confusedly splutter out terms like ‘stylus replacement’, ‘pre-amp’, and ‘anti-static brush’, let alone put them into practice. The records themselves are often pricier than CDs or downloads – though not as much as one might guess. Shopping at a local store it’s easy to find new indie releases for $30. If you venture to online mail order, depending on shipping and exchange rates it’s possible to pick up three or four albums for about twenty bucks apiece. And of course, if you’re into used vinyl, you can pick up a lot of interesting music for mere pocket shrapnel. It’s commonly stated among audiophiles that vinyl ‘sounds better’. This is, basically, bullshit.
OnDitmagazine ― culture
A record in decent condition can easily sound as clear or ‘good’ as a CD of the same album, but it can also suffer from pops and hiss that worsen with age and poor treatment. The sound from vinyl does have a noticeably different quality, which the audiophiles call ‘analogue warmth’. Some like it a lot. Is it objectively better? Nope. Vinyl is not the format for guaranteed fidelity. We reach an unavoidable conclusion. People don’t buy vinyl just to hear music (unless, of course, where the music wasn’t released on anything else). Products have changed. Digital downloads are now the means of getting music in its pure sense. They’re cheap, easy, and portable. If you can get, note-for-note, the same music in a cheaper, more convenient form, why would you pay more for something that just takes up space? With digital files everywhere, the tangible product has become a value-added proposition that has to offer something that downloads cannot. Artwork is one of those things. There’s some lovely album artwork out there, and it’s becoming more and more elaborate. Sure, CDs have their digipaks and whatnot, but vinyl is superior – and not only for its sheer square-footage. You have gatefold sleeves, coloured records, poster inserts, and picture discs. A good release of even a mediocre album can still feel like a genuine collector’s item. Because that’s what it is. But even artwork aside, there’s a certain something about a physical product with heft and inconvenience, about a music collection that takes up space in your room (not just on your hard drive), about a conscious effort required to play your tunes. It’s almost a ritual – taking the album out of the sleeve, placing it carefully on the platter, maybe giving it a brush down be-
fore dropping the stylus into place. You can feel the weight, you can watch the record spinning. Heck, you can literally see the music’s waveform right there in the wax if you look closely enough. It beats putting a CD in a tray. And when the alternative is pressing the play button in iTunes, there’s no contest at all. There’s the rub. No matter how immaculately tagged, a collection of MP3s will never compare to a tangible pile of albums. This ingrained attraction to music that we can actually feel, in a real and physical sense – this is what I think is driving the vinyl revival. To be fair, CDs are solid too. But how often have you bought a CD only to rip it and never look at it again? Vinyl, on the other hand, is a joy to come back to again and again. To put it simply: there’s a choice right now between downloaded music and physical music. Before MP3s, the CD was the choice of convenience. But now physicality is a luxury, not a necessity – and records are better than CDs at everything that makes a physical format worthwhile. Seen in this light, the sales trends make more sense. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve got my gigabytes as well. But when it comes to actually laying down the cash, I’m a bit of a Luddite. I’m pretty uneasy about paying real money for something that exists only on a hard drive. Maybe things will be different for the next generation – those who have known nothing but instant access to virtual sound. But right now, for me, and a growing number of others, when it comes to spending money on music, nothing compares to the first drop of that needle.
about the writer
Seb Tonkin hosts 'Midnight Static' Wednesday nights on Radio Adelaide, 101.5 FM.
OnDitmagazine â€• on campus
On Campus! On Campus Events Calendar
Choral Society Rebels Without a Chord, 7pm Cavern Club.
First day of classes. No better time to visit the Unibar. Or the Exeter if you want to avoid the Engies.
Student Radio starts! 11pm to 1am on 101.5 FM
Join a Club! Check out the Clubs Guide and email around.
Is the new Maths Building open yet? Go and check!
Waite Orientation. Med vs AUES Tug of War.
Lunchtime Concert (1pm) at Eldar Hall. Dualities Festival
It's a Saturday. Why are you on campus? See the Culture Calendar!
Music on the Lawns 12pm to 2pm
You should probably buy that O'Ball ticket soon
AUES BBQ on the Lawns
On Dit issue 2 comes out in two days!
OnDitmagazine ― on campus
Climate of change on campus? Can the university really call itself an 'ecoversity'? In late 2009, the University of Adelaide launched Ecoversity, an initiative to secure its ongoing pursuit of environmental sustainability. Ecoversity began as Sustainable Adelaide in 2007 as a way to formally reduce the University’s impact on Climate Change and promote the university as a sustainable institution. Libby Dowling, Environment Projects Assistant for Ecoversity, explains ‘the University made a commitment to reduce the University’s environmental footprint and risk through collective contribution and best practice systems and processes’. This culminated in the formation of Sustainable Adelaide, as well as a Sustainable Working Party and reference groups for Electricity, Water and Paper. But this begs the question, is the university just jumping on the bandwagon or can we really call ourselves an Ecoversity? It’s no doubt that most organisations are gearing towards an era of adaptation to climate change, with the State Government recently rolling out its Adaptation
Framework. Further to the point, in October of last year, all the universities in South Australia entered sector agreements with the Minister for Sustainability and Climate Change, Mike Rann. While not legally binding, these sector agreements strongly urge all universities to reduce greenhouse gases and demonstrate progress in mitigation and adaptation. As a brief rundown, the university’s current targets are slated as reducing electricity, water and paper consumption by 20% by 2012, and being carbon neutral by 2030. To put this into perspective, in the 2008/09 financial year, the university spent $6 million on electricity, used 339ML of water and consumed 50 million sheets of paper. This equated to 59,706 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to 15,255 cars travelling on the road for a year. In comparison to the Federal Government’s 5% greenhouse gas reduction by 2020, the university is doing well. In terms of reading its own targets though, the method of doing so has yet to be decided, with various proposals to ensure the targets are reached being considered. Among other things, these include the implementation of Green IT, organic and electronic recycling, sustainable transport and communication materials, purchase of green energy, and the standardisation of air conditioning. The uni is also keen on trialling some of its own home-grown research. As a point of interest though, the university will not be installing any kind of solar cells or power generation of its own, due to restrictions made by the Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA) on cogeneration within the CBD. So how does this all relate to the cohort? In a recent survey, 29% of students deemed the targets as weak, with 37% not knowing what goes on around campus, clearly highlighting the barriers that exist in establishing a solid relationship between the university and its students. It’s disenfranchising when we’re told not to turn off computers, not to recycle on campus and to have only
OnDitmagazine ― on campus
a single flush as a toilet option in some buildings. Even in conservation courses, we’re told to care about our environment while flipping through pages of notes on pristine, titanium white sheets. (It should be noted that the university does pay a higher premium to recycle all their on-site waste - 892 tonnes annually.) However, it is encouraging to know that Ecoversity is collaborating with student organisations such as the Environmental Collective of Students (ECOS) on decision making. It’s an opportunity for students to be engaged and actively decide on their future, rather than leaving it solely in the hands of policy makers. While this is no doubt a positive step, implementing proposed targets and encouraging behavioural change is another issue. Dominic Mugavin, ECOS member and student representative on the Ecoversity Energy Reference Group, says “for Ecoversity to really succeed, it needs every student and staff member to play an active role… The main challenge of many of these projects is empowering students.” One potential solution that Ecoversity is offering is solidarity through good old fashioned competition. The proposal is for buildings and faculties to have Energy Challenges. The building/faculty to reduce their consumption of energy the most, wins a prize. But as Mugavin notes, “With students often using many different areas, there is not a lot of ‘space ownership’ so students [won’t] feel like they can contribute”. The success of these competitions would no doubt be heavily influenced by effective advertising and a suitable prize for both staff and students. Aside from student and staff cooperation for on-campus mitigation, there are still many more factors to be considered before claiming ‘Ecoversity’ status. Transportation for students and staff commuting between home and campus is an issue that remains difficult to claim, cost and count. ‘Food Miles’ and ‘Eating Local’ are also fast becoming in vogue. However, monitoring the food sourcing offered on campus is difficult.
There are clear obstacles ahead that require open debate and effective policy, but the establishment of Ecoversity as a non-traditional, student-friendly alternative to tackling climate change is an opportunity in itself. While it’s easy to blame ‘The Man’ for all this, we can’t forget to scrutinise our own behaviour, especially now that we have a chance to actively offer remedies for ourselves and the university. Whether the University of Adelaide is really an Ecoversity depends largely on the continual cooperation of students, staff and management in ensuring effective strategies are embraced.
Centre point Construction has begun on a $34 million project to redevelop Hughes Plaza into a multi-levelled student campus hub. Let’s face it, if we want to catch up with friends, grab a quick coffee or get a bit of quiet study done, Hughes Plaza is probably the last place we’d think of. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve never minded passing through it en route to a lecture, dropping in to Bank SA or sussing out the odd promotional event, but generally the less time spent in that dreary concrete courtyard, the better. However, that’s all about to change – the
OnDitmagazine ― on campus
site is now well under construction, and eventually will form a new $34.5 million student ‘hub’. Late last year, plans for the development were unveiled to address an ongoing lack in student facilities. The preliminary designs provide new hang-out spaces, study zones, computing facilities, a new library entrance and other student services. The complex will be constructed over three levels, providing over 3000m 2 of flexible student space. Paul Duldig, Vice President of Services and Resources, promoted the development as aiming “to provide the best on-campus experience within the Australian national tertiary education sector for all students”. Early concept images offer a promising glimpse of this. The whole of Hughes Plaza will be roofed in with a transparent membrane, allowing natural light to pass through; various student services, retail stores and seating areas will occupy level four; and a staircase to the (underground) level three leads to quiet study zones and a new entrance to the Barr Smith Library. The project team are also considering adding a mezzanine on level five, connecting the architecture school to the student space below. But with construction underway, these plans seem a little vague, as the university’s project delivery staff are currently unsure exactly how the plaza will be fitted out. An ambitious building timeframe, beginning this summer and scheduled to end by O-Week 2011, means construction of the external structure will begin before the interior has been decided on. The university is currently exploring a range of options for the interior fit-out. Casual lounges, single desks, group work stations, laptopfriendly pods, and computing facilities are all being considered under a consultation process. Other considerations include information kiosks, entertainment areas, food services, student administration, and 24/7 wireless networks. “We realise students don’t just study regular 9 to 5 hours”, says Kendra Backstrom, a senior coordi-
nator of the development. She explains the team are looking to include services accessible outside regular office hours. The first stage of consultation discussed aspects of uni life that need improvement, and how the new hub could address these issues. Held during swotvac, the attendance to the student consultation sessions was not high, with only 25 students turning up. However, their suggestions included new admin services, computing facilities, and even food outlets. The consensus was that Student Services, or some central information desk, should be positioned in the new hub. The need for a manned IT-support desk was agreed upon, with the possibility of encouraging IT students to volunteer on the help-desk as a resume booster. “Most IT students know more about computers than the support staff ”, one student noted. Other strongly supported ideas included a quality café (specifically not operated by the Wine Centre), chill-out lounge spaces, a student union reception desk, and a new International Student Centre. A large scale projector screen to promote upcoming uni events was also suggested, as many students agreed they would rather view event details on a public screen than be constantly emailed. Admittedly, the attendance to the student consultation sessions was not high. In fact, about 25 students turned up in total. Although considering this was during the middle of swotvac, it was not entirely surprising.
You have to wonder whether design aspects will be compromised to meet to the tight deadline. In a presentation to staff and students in late 2009, one academic member queried the project’s “indecent haste”, while senior architecture
OnDitmagazine ― on campus
lecturer questioned how realistic the timeframe was. The construction of the new student hub will be inconvenient for many, and minimising the building time will make it as painless as possible. However, it does seem mysterious why consultation did not begin earlier. Of particular concern is the lack of greenery in the concepts. One of the few things Hughes Plaza had going for it was its plants, which softened the harsh concrete paving and adjacent architecture. When queried, one project delivery staff member suggested they would look at sticking in “a green wall or something”. Some academic members at the presentation became infuriated at the lack of consideration of this matter. While a roof garden is not feasible due to the state of the roof sealing, some form of potted greenery or green wall would be desirable in the new hub. Another concern is the acoustic quality of the interior space, as the floor plan appears somewhat like an airport departure lounge or foodcourt. However, Paul Duldig assures that the architects are carefully considering the matter. In all fairness, the development team seems genuinely keen to receive student feedback on the proposal. Volunteers including union representatives and interested students are providing ongoing feedback as part of a long-term consultation process. The initial design plans are up for display on the University of Adelaide website, and a new ‘consultation wall’ currently being designed by third year architecture students means everyone will be able to provide feedback on proposals. The wall will feature in the Barr Smith Library on level three, and is expected to be revealed mid-March. While there are points that need consideration, the new student hub is an important development for the university that will provide accessible student services and improved social gathering places. With the right facilities and exciting architecture, the complex has the potential to reinvigorate a particularly drab space into a lively communal centre.
Sports Association switches teams It's business as usual as the University takes the sports portfolio from the student union. University of Adelaide sports enthusiasts returning to the playing fields this autumn will scarcely notice the major turnover of administrative control of the University’s sports body which officially took place on January 1, 2010. The turnover, which relinquished control of the Sports Association (SA) from the Adelaide University Union (AUU) and handed it over to the University, marked a milestone in this institution’s 114-year-old history. It now joins the ranks of other G8 sports associations—all eight of whom are now disaffiliated from their respective student bodies. The turnover received majority support from members of both the SA and the AUU. Many supporters had advocated for disaffiliation for several years with an aim to secure and streamline funding agreements with the university and to obtain independence from the Union. Prior to January 1, the SA was considered one of seven affiliates of the AUU. Key players in the turnover explain that the major aim was for the SA to negotiate with the university instead of going through the AUU for
OnDitmagazine ― on campus
matters of funding and administration. “This was a very important decision for the SA, and not one that was made overnight, “said Mike Daws, the SA’s Executive Officer. “But we believe it’s time to stand on our own two feet and deal directly with the university on such matters as sports funding,” Daws stressed that the move does not signify a deteriorating relationship between the SA and the Union. “Direct affiliation with the university is not disaffiliation with the AUU. We will still have a mature, open and working relationship with the Union at both staff and board level to ensure the flow of information is maintained between the two of us... But we believe that having a direct relationship [with the University] strengthens our role as an advocate for sports on campus.” The sentiment is echoed by David Coluccio, General Manager of the AUU, who regards the perception of a rift between the SA and the AUU as a disadvantage faced by the two bodies. Coluccio notes that the SA is already functionally autonomous. “[The SA] has always been independent with its own staff and its own management. In terms of daily operations and staff, the AUU had no control over the SA. It only had a financial relationship.” Although the handover officially took place on January 1, 2010, the agreement had been finalized since early April 2009, and had been in the pipeline for many years prior. Prior to disaffiliation, the SA obtained its funding from the AUU’s annual budget. Post-disaffiliation, the SA will obtain its funding directly from the University, eliminating the AUU as the middleman and giving the SA officers greater negotiating powers. Although the SA ate up $267,000 of the AUU’s $1.8 million 2009 budget (taking 14.8% of the pie). According to Coluccio, the handover is not expected to free up extra money for the Union, “There is no extra money in the union’s budget because we are not receiving the funds that we normally get for sports from the university.”
For incoming students keen on picking up a sport, signing up for the gym, or joining a recreational league, it’s business as usual. The change is not expected to impact the management or funding of sports activities. “We see ourselves as just growing up,” says Daws. “[We’ll] sell our own message, or own stories, to the powers that be.”
O' Week 2010 Orientation Week is the annual student celebration for the beginning of the new academic year. This year O’Week runs from Monday the 22nd to Friday the 26th of February. A program of academic and social activities is concocted to involve all. Across campus, tents are set up to introduce academic services, sporting teams, faculties and clubs. O’Week officially kicks off at O’Camp. This two-night extravaganza is held annually for first year students. James McWha, the University of Adelaide’s Vice-Chancellor, starts the week with a new student welcome in Bonython Hall. The week continues with preliminary classes held in various
OnDitmagazine ― on campus
lecture theatres. These classes are organised through each of the different faculties, and you will be informed prior to O’Week as to which ones you must attend. Lecturers and tutors will outline your course, the assessment guideline you will be faced with, and which books to buy. Prior to O’Week students should go through their course timetables. These will outline the time and location of those preliminary classes. Between their classes students should check out On Dit and other AUU publications to make sure they experience all of the activities on offer. Excitement fills the air during O’Week as new and old students gather on the Barr Smith lawns. Cheap lunch always draws crowds. People lie around listening to the live music, with the odd Popeye cruise in-between sets (unlimited alcohol for the duration of the cruise makes this more popular than it sounds). Other iconic entertainments include the ‘White Fear’, where students race to see who can drink four litres of milk first (the human stomach can hold two litres – you figure it out). March screams warm summer nights, full of fun and drinking festivities. O'Ball, the annual campus concert, will be held on Saturday March 20. This festival is a fantastic musical event comprising local acts and some of Australia’s best performers. The first announcement brings New South Wales’ Space Invadas, Cloud Control and Queensland’s Yves Klein Blue. Further acts announced include the Water Slides and Hot Little Hands. Accprdording to O'Ball director Jonathan Brown, “This is one event to definitely keep your ear out for as the continually evolving lineup of great music acts and local DJs continues to impress.” Medical students are known for their drinking, and ‘Skullduggery’ is their opening event for the year. Like any experienced host, they provide a great atmosphere, superb location and excellent drink specials every year. Once held in the University Cloisters, its pop-
ularity has forced it to move to HQ nightclub on West Terrace. These quarters accommodate the large rowdy crowds and the multiple bars cater for the university drinking spirit. Prepare for a big night of drinking and dancing with all of your friends and fellow university students. Tickets can be purchased during O’Week at the Medical Students stand, or online through www.Skullduggery.org. Orientation week is a long-standing university tradition. The information sessions are educational and important, whilst the entertainment and activities are varied enough to provide fun for all. Previous years have proven to be a huge success with students and lecturers coming along to experience the campus culture Adelaide is famous for.
Aló Presidente Welcome everyone to Adelaide Uni for 2010! For continuing students, this is another year and another step closer to finishing that degree you’ve been slaving away at (or not, as the case may be). For new students, this will be the best time of your life. You’ll find friends that you will keep forever, you’ll discover new things about yourself and the world, and you’ll have fun doing it. Make the most of this time. 2010 is turning out to be a big year for students. The government may actually be getting serious about Youth Allowance reforms and
OnDitmagazine ― on campus
funding for student services. The University is redeveloping Hughes Plaza, and promising to convert it into a ‘hub’ for students. The welfare of international students is finally and deservedly being prioritised. And the AUU is going to be there, every step of the way, fighting for what’s best for students. My name’s Fletcher and you’re going to be hearing from me regularly on what’s happening on campus. I’m President of the Adelaide University Union, your student-run organisation. We do a lot more than oversee O’Week – we’re here all year round. The Education and Welfare Officers (EWOs) are there to provide completely independent help for you. If Centrelink is giving you a rough time, if you need an emergency loan, or if you need advice or advocacy, the EWOs are there to lend a hand. The AUU’s employment service has a regularly updated jobs database, runs ‘work preparation’ seminars, and can review resumes and cover letters. Free tax and legal help is also available, and check out the Resource Centre for all your laminating, binding, printing and photocopying needs. Of course, we aren’t just here for services; the AUU also provides funding and support to the Clubs Association, which looks after all the social and political clubs on campus, and the Student Representative Council – the activist body that will ramp up campaigns on education and students’ rights (check out the Counter Guide for more info). We also provide the funding to make sure On Dit and Student Radio happens. You’re already reading On Dit, and know how awesome it is, so how about tuning in to 101.5 FM from 11pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to hear students on the air? You can join up to the AUU by dropping in to Level 4 of Union House, or by coming down to the AUU stall during O’Week. With membership you get heaps of discounts and benefits, and you get to support the Union that’s here for you all year
round. If you want to find out more about any of this, go to the website at www.auu.org.au. Got a question or a suggestion? Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Good luck with the year ahead!
- Fletcher O'Leary
Nefarious Union of Students There are two faces to the National Union of Students (NUS). One is that of an effective lobbying organisation that exists on the behalf of students. The other is that of a body at war, a training ground where the Labor Left and Right feast on the bloody flesh of their enemies' political careers. In this year's National Conference, the warlord threatened to overcome the activist. Disagreement on how many votes the Right and Left each held led to a failure to hold a ballot at this year's December Conference. With no office bearers being elected, a special meeting of NUS was called. The Left and Right agreed to split the spoils this time, and the ballot went ahead. Carla Drakeford succeeded David Barrow as President (both are Labor Left). South Australian State Presidency of NUS was transferred from Robert Fletcher (Labor Left) to Simone McDonnell (Labor Right). Despite fears it wouldn't make it, NUS lives on.
- Myriam Robin
OnDitmagazine â€• columnists
OnDitmagazine ― columnists
There is a spider on my ceiling, strategically positioning itself to drop onto my face whilst I sleep. Options? ‘Squishedness’ or ‘Catch and Release’. The former: potentially leads to bad karma, spider mob retaliation and/or dead arachnid in my bed. The latter: gives rise to possible future highpitched squeals and hiding in the shower... followed by recollection of the shower scene in Psycho and rapid escape, only to realise that horror movies have ruined all hiding places ever. Also mirrors. Small things can be rather more than mildly scary, whether they be eight legged creatures, changing lanes in busy traffic, getting caught watching Benjamin Bear, or bumping into a vague acquaintance who stops after the initial greeting and proceeds to initiate ‘The Generic Conversation’. Essentially, after “Hi, it’s been so long” it becomes a volley of “ohhhh”, “ahh?” and “really”, before excuses are made, and goodbyes are bade. Rhyming fail. However, in my opinion the grand master of small scares is ‘Mother With Pram’. Self-proclaimed ruler of all pavements, adorned with cardi and stern expression, society be DAMNED (prammed?) if you get in their path. Prepare your knees for a mild beating, as they WILL ram you. Anyway, the point is that life is filled with a whole bunch of mini scares (plus a few more if you’re neurotic) which, in certain places and situations, converge to create a scare much larger than the sum of the individual components. This is why walking down the aisle - supermarket style - is what should scare one the most. There are three stages of supermarket shopping: the Journey, the Browse and the Purchase. The Journey basically involves the drive, with a mild side dish of fretting over your clothing.
People like being overdressed for the supermarket about as much as they enjoy Miley Cyrus – some like it, but they’ll be promptly scorned by those who don’t. Pram wielding mothers are most commonly encountered in the browsing stage, alongside thoughts of “OH NOES what if it looks like I’m shoplifting” and “I’ve wrongly chosen a basket and now it is too late to get a trolley”. Other gems you might encounter include “I’ve knocked a product over, and now people are watching me retrieve it” and “there is a trolley in front of the item I need. Should I wait this out or risk asking a stranger to move?” Choosing the second option, you are usually rewarded with either mutual embarrassed awkwardness, invariably ending in someone’s foot being run over, or are put on the receiving end of a hearty scowl. Finally, before it all draws to a close, there is the purchase stage. You have thirteen items, some of which may be mildly awkward in nature, whilst the remainder consists of junkfood, stationary, and for some reason, metallic balloons. You place them on the conveyor belt, carefully distanced from the previous customer’s, lest there be mixed item confusion. The cashier turns to you, looks down at your items. Her eyes fill with scorn, and in that moment, you know. You are being judged. Before becoming severely decashed, you think... what if I didn’t bring enough monies? But you did. What you didn’t bring was a reusable bag. 15c is the cost of a hasty fleeing. Finally, it is over. Until you run out of artichokes.
OnDitmagazine ― columnists
The newfound ubiquity of digital media leads to the somewhat mistaken idea that we are better informed. In reality, the whole truth is rarely evident. What concerns me – what scares me – is that people make harsh and definitive judgements based on information that is likely to be incomplete or distorted. The public are generally aware of the scandal-driven sales objective of the media and yet for some reason this knowledge does not seem to alter the way that they perceive and judge media stories. Because people rarely open their minds to an alternative possibility, the initial interpretation of something is likely to linger, even when flaws are revealed. This means that false allegations can forever remain true in the public’s eyes, which is horribly unfair to those who have been wrongly accused. An example of a well-known case is the recent child-molestation case against the late Michael Jackson. In 2005 he was acquitted of all charges, yet people continued to refer to him as a paedophile. In the months following his death the media have taken a more sympathetic view, but the fact remains that the media and the public should have acquitted him at the same time as the courts. However, the image of Michael Jackson as a ‘monster’ was firmly planted in the public mind before it became clear that the jury did not see the same thing, and remained for months after his acquittal. Jackson was haunted by these allegations long after he should have been free of them. Of course, due to Jackson’s celebrity status, his case gained a phenomenal amount of attention and was pulled apart more thoroughly than any other smaller-scale case would have been. Take also, for example, the case of my uncle Tom Easling, an Adelaide foster-carer charged with
child molestation in 2004 and acquitted in 2007. The media coverage that this trial received would have appeared accurate and impartial to anyone unaware of the true details of the case. The public spectators took these scant reports and created a fallacious image of this man as a criminal. The issue was not that the media were withholding information in order to make their reports more shocking; a great deal of the details that could have changed the public’s perception could not be made available to the public. The issue was, and will always remain, with the narrow- minded manner in which people consider information. When you hear that a middle-aged foster father was accused of molesting the young boys in his care, you are unlikely to have an open-minded reaction. Upon reading or hearing about it, would the possibility of his innocence even cross your mind? It might if you learnt that these accusations came as a result of a malicious, improper investigation – but by the time this information is made public, the taint of sensationalised media reports might be almost impossible to ignore. It is frighteningly easy to simply accept the façade presented to you. People so often neglect to consider that there may be information of which they are unaware. I am not asking for people to change their minds about Michael Jackson or anyone else; much as I would like them to, it can never be asked of people to completely change their opinions. What I am asking, and hoping, is that people regard all of the stories proffered to them as merely versions of stories and fragments of truths. As you sift through the slew of information thrown at you on a daily basis, consider the alternatives before you make judgements.
OnDitmagazine ― columnists
What scares me the most? Well apart from the obvious - waking up in a fluoro mankini, covered in conservative, right-wing red back spiders that religiously vote for Australian Idol and are constantly calling for reform of cross media ownership - then I’d have to say KILL-BOTS. Kill-bots and ultra capitalism. I am scared of a world that values profit over the wellbeing of humanity and the environment. I am scared of Monsanto, the company that produces Agent Orange, DDT, Nutra-Sweet, and holds the patent to terminator seeds (crop seeds that do not reproduce), and is the largest supplier of genetically modified crop seeds and bovine growth hormone in the world. A company that seems to be on a mission to patent the world’s food supply through the genetic mapping and modification of the genomes of seeds, their genetic modification and ultimately their contamination of non-genetically modified crops. A company that advertised genetically modified seeds to Indian farmers, promising greater yields. And when the yields did not come, death did - the suicide of 4,500 farmers. I am scared of a country that allows a man like Tony Abbott to lead a political party. A man who can not seem to separate his religious beliefs from his role as a spokesperson for his electorate, which I am sure are not all socially conservative monarchist Catholics with 1950s values. A man who has described abortion as “the easy option”, anthropogenic climate change as “absolute crap”, and a fellow parliamentarian as having “a shit eating grin”. I can only hope that the Liberal party has set Mr. Abbott up as a lame duck for the next election while they get their shit together. But the cynic in me is scared... scared of Australians at election time.
I am scared of the infection of pseudo-patriotic nationalism that has reared its ugly head as a legacy of the Howard years. Southern Cross tattoos, Australian flag shorts, Australian flags waved at music festivals, race riots in Cronulla, and race bashings in Melbourne. Unhealthy pride is not a virtue. Australia may like to think that it has an easy- going history of mateship, but the truth of the matter is that Australian history is riddled with dark times that continue to this day. The attempted and ongoing genocide of the Aboriginal people, the Stolen Generation, the White Australia policy, Pauline Hanson, the racially motivated rapes in Sydney and the Howard policies on refugees. When this nation’s government openly passes racist legislations, it encourages the latent racism in its citizens to come alive, àla Cronulla. I am scared for humanity’s future. Will there ever be an enlightenment that will see us live in balance with, and maintain a balance between our environment, community and selves? Will our inherent drive for self-destruction ever be subsided? They say the fear of something comes out of not understanding it; unscrupulous corporate greed, unashamed blatant racism, sheep mentality and Tony Abbott. I don’t understand, and don’t wish to understand these things, so…
THE FUNNIES: R.I.P. Hughes plaza
Above: Another glorious day at Hughes Plaza
Today, comrades, we farewell a masterpiece of modern architecture. A place hitherto untouched by entrepreneurial greed and the evils of stimulus cash. The place I refer to, of course, is Hughes Plaza, the bustling hub of the proletarian paradise that is Adelaide University. Hughes never cared for decadent aesthetics, prefering the Socialist Classicism of the Ministry of Highways, Tbilisi, and Lenin Square, Ekaterinburg. However Hughes distinguishes itself from its noble comrades by uniting its ugliness with a total lack of functionality. The end result, while being a horrific under-capitalisation of prime city land, is one of the world's best examples of a style now dubbed by architectural and psychological ex-
perts as bruto-depressivism. Always striving for greatness, Hughes was not content to merely occupy space; its ambition has been, indeed, to brutalise that space with grand artistic and political statements. Lately it became a de-facto contemporary gallery. Its sole acquisition, a series of multicoloured metal mesh grids woven into an indeterminate polygon, is a powerful statement against the shallowness of aestheticism. And remaining true to its Marxist roots to the very end, Hughes has continued to be a leading venue for the AUU Elections, South Australia's lengthiest and most frustrating socialist mating ritual. But, as one door is closed by the force of free market trade, another opens, and as
the sun sets on old Hughes Plaza, we now await the arrival of new Hughes Plaza, described by the University Bureau of Propaganda to be one of Adelaide's most dynamic interactive spaces for students, staff and the general public. Students for whom three nearby food courts and an on-campus refectory/dog-food factory are insufficient will find a variety of new options upon which to lavish their untoward capitalist wealth. Hughes Plaza is survived by several of its comrades: brother, Ligertwood Plaza, parents Napier and Schultz, and its only child, Union Hall (recently sentenced to death by capitalist oppressors for its political beliefs). - James Gould
Published on Feb 15, 2010
Published on Feb 15, 2010
On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.