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“ YO U R E N V I R O N M E N TA L LY F R I E N D LY P R I N T E R ”
state of education first-generation students
focus on architecture innova 21, student hub
federal election 2010 class wars & lobbyists
culture rockstar philosophers, scrapbook
photo feature students making space
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perspective cheerleading, deconstructed
Columnists sudoku, sabrina, & dirty rotten fish-killers
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Editorial Architecture is all around us. And while few of us can begin to design ’em, we’ve all been around enough buildings to know what we like and what we detest. In this issue, Danny Brookes explores the freshly-unveiled Innova 21 building. On Dit regular of yore Jiminy Krikkitt returns to allow us to at least relish the fact that our buildings are better than those at Flinders (ah, unavoidable Group of 8 snobbery, how we’ve neglected you). Yours truly takes a closer look at some of the more controversial aspects of the Learning Hub currently being built in the most inconvenient location possible, and newcomer Harry Laughland writes about an entirely different kind of student space. There’s also a Federal election coming up, and despite most commentators dismissing this as a thoroughly uninspiring campaign, we’ve taken the opportunity to look at the issues behind the spin. Paris Dean gives his Tory-bashing take on the history of Australian industrial relations. Michael Norris returns to beg for some rationality to be injected into the asylum seeker debate. And Dominic Mugavin asks whether youth-based interest groups are the best way to influence our political decision-makers. Finally, it’s worth noting that this issue was compiled with one man down. Mateo is on the run from PETA after killing no less than three pet fish. If you see him, call the authorities, and try to keep him away from any type of waterway or aquarium. Forever yours, Myriam (& Connor & Mateo)
editors: Connor O'Brien, Myriam Robin, Mateo Szlapek-Sewillo cover image: Margaret Lloyd
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.
new kids on the block Words, Sarah Bown
Making education accessible.
hat did you want to be when you grew up? A ballerina? A veterinarian? Or perhaps you were like me and wanted to do it all? My dream came crashing down when I realised there wasn’t much of a market for pirouetting animal healers. The average child will have a long and decorated list of dream jobs, but it’s not until they grow up that they learn that they might just need a university degree. It is at this point that the dreams of so many potential doctors, accountants and psychologists are never realised. For some students the goal of attending university is a no brainer: their parents did it before them, whose parents did it before them. But for a significant proportion of students in this country, university is not the obvious option and is perhaps even a terrifying one. They are brought up in families that perceive uni as an alien ground, guarded by pearly gates that only accept the descendants of Albert Einstein or Roland Barthes. Generally these students are from low socio-economic, indigenous or rural backgrounds. The reasons behind their choice not to enter into tertiary education are var-
ied. The financial burden of university, misconceptions about tertiary education, and a lack of support from their family and school environment are often noted as the biggest obstacles. Interestingly, these attitudes can also be influenced by a more illusive source, namely, broader society itself. Ms Jen Hill, the Prospective Students Officer at the University of Adelaide, believes that a lot of the negative perceptions of higher education can be attributed to entrenched social patterns. She notes that “for some students, university is never spoken about in their environment and this reveals a bigger ingrained social issue.” Nonetheless, with Prime Minister Julia Gillard promising that the proportion of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds enrolled in Higher Education will be raised from 15% to 20% by 2020, the pressure is now on, more than ever, to deliver. In 2009 the South Australian Department of Education and Child Services initiated their ‘School to Work’ program with three goals in mind. Firstly, to encourage more students to undertake further education. Secondly, to promote science and mathematics degrees, and lastly, to assist students in entering the work place after High School. Part of this three year state funded project is the First Generation Program. The program is rumoured to be the brainchild of former Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith, who attended a disadvantaged southern suburbs High School and was aware of the preconceived ideas some students have regarding University. All three South Australian universities were invited to participate in the execution of this program, an offer the University of Adelaide happily took on. Adelaide’s ‘Myth Busters’ program was created to inform students and encourage enthusiasm about tertiary education. Ms Hill has been at the helm of the program since its inception in 2009 and is very proud of its success, commenting on the “great feedback from the schools and students, especially those who did not have a previous relationship with the university" that the program has received. Students are selected for the program at the discretion of their schools, which must meet certain criteria in order to participate. The schools are selected in accordance with the University’s Fairway Scheme that aims to provide special access to University education to students from a country or under represented metropolitan
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schools. 2010, however, saw the program take a different approach, accepting only students of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander descent. The University believes that this movie will aid their commitment to Reconciliation and social justice. "The First Generation Program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students was designed to help to reduce the educational disadvantage faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by increasing their participation in higher education," Ms Hill said. The Myth Busters program runs for four days and endeavours to provide students with the most accurate and informative view of campus life. The students are invited to sit in on lectures and tutorials and to attend special seminars that target the problem areas of finance, career development, time management and study skills. Each participant in the program is paired with a trained mentor who can share his or her experience as a First Generation student. The students are asked to participate in a surveying process, before and after the program. This, Ms Hill says, is one of the most important indicators of the program’s success, as the University can “use the surveys to gauge if the program is having effect, helping [the University] to better design [the program] to cater to the specific needs of the students.” So far the feedback has been very healthy. Across the board, teachers, universities and students alike appear to have embraced the program as a positive addition to the Australian government’s fight to address equal opportunity issues in university enrolment. The Australian Technology Network of Universities lists first generation students as a high proportion of current enrolments in tertiary institutions. So apparently University is the new black. First generation and third year Psychology student Joanne O’Connor acknowledges the difficulties some students face when attempting tread the unknown path to University. She says it was the support from her family that drove her to make the big step. "My family were really encouraging and understood the value of education". Joanne moved from rural NSW to an Adelaide High School where she found the school support services remarkably different. "University was very much part of
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the culture of my] High School, I found it more nurturing than the country [school] which just didn’t give me the support I needed". Joanne was a student mentor for the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander participants this year. Joanne speaks very highly of the program, observing that “it is really important to expose [the students to tertiary education] while they’re still in school – it makes it more than just an abstract idea.” Perhaps the most common obstacle faced by First Generation students is the cost of a university education. The 2008 Bradley Review of Higher Education found Australian undergraduates are paying “amongst the highest levels of tuition fees in the world.” Whilst the payment of fees are themselves often deferrable, many other financial burdens associated with university are not. The ever-increasing costs of accommodation and relocation (in the case of rural or interstate students, or those for whom living at home is not an option) are often the straw that breaks the metaphorical bank for first generation students. Third year Viticulture student Huon Fechner listed the financial cost of university and accommodation as his biggest barrier to tertiary study. Hailing from the Barossa Valley, a complete relocation was the only option for Huon and this bought with it an enormous financial burden."I took a year off to work in order to qualify for Youth Allowance – it wasn’t so much a choice as a given; money is a big deciding factor for rural students". Huon also highlighted another factor that often restricts the choice of courses for a country student. "Choosing viticulture
was fine as I was able to defer my offer and take a year off in order to become independent. However, there are many courses you can’t defer, and without the opportunity to work and [therefore] get Youth Allowance it is much more difficult". So what does it mean to be a First Generation Student? Is it about realising you’ll have a better chance in the dog eat dog world of employment or about conforming to today’s status quo of ‘going to uni’? In his experience, Mr Fechner believes its part of the reality of the current job market. "After Year 11, I decided I was going to go to University, simply because I felt it could help to get me a better job". This is a sentiment shared by many High School participants in the Myth Busters Program, with one student commenting in the Annual Report produced by the University that “it has made me realise that I will need to complete some kind of University studies to be able to follow my career goals.” Opposition to this opinion is, however, readily available. In 2008, an Australian National University poll was held, with 1200 people surveyed on their attitudes to higher education. The poll, featured in The Age, found that only 46% of participants believed High School students should enter into tertiary education because it will improve their job prospects. This is compared to a whopping 87% in the USA. Are first generation students just the newest in the line up of lambs being lead to the, albeit gilded, slaughterhouse? With many other options for entering the job market such as TAFE courses, apprenticeships and on the job training, is the assumption ‘no uni degree = crappy job’ all an elaborate money making scheme? Of course a university edu-
cation is essential for many professions. But as the Australian government encourages training for more skilled workers to achieve long term economic stability, is the understanding that tertiary education leads to vocational success justified? Could the education university offers be becoming, dare I say it, obsolete? The rebuttal to this argument is that of course there are other reasons why a first generation student might decide to go to university. Personal fulfillment and the development of life skills are both admirable and acceptable reasons. But let’s face it. The hallowed halls of university have become today’s new trendy rite of passage for 17-25 year olds. It’s like the Vanuatu tradition of land diving – but less painful and life threatening. Do prospective students now value society’s perception of a university degree as much, if not more, than the actual education it offers? It would seem today’s graduate diploma is now more than just a piece of paper – it is one’s membership to the ‘tertiary educated’ club. And, whether it is fair or not, society has taught us that this a club to which we should want to belong. The last question remains: does any of this matter? If first generation students continue to aspire to attend University, and the government and universities are promising to do everything in their power to help them to do so, who are we to complain? If they want cake, let them eat cake. They say old habits die hard. It would be difficult to tear Matt Preston from his ever-lovable cravat collection or stop Ellen DeGeneres’ impromptu dancing. However, what the Government and universities are attempting to do has been described as a feat that reaches beyond the likes of both. They are working to change the perceptions of University education that are present in many parts of our country’s education system and culture. The First Generation Program can only be viewed as a positive catalyst for the beginning of such change. After the success of the program over the last two years, Ms Hill hopes the University of Adelaide can continue the MythBusters program into the future. “We are currently lobbying for the University to take over the funding,” she says, “and we hope this will be successful as we feel the program really works and there are so many who can benefit from it.”
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Building Personality. What does the Innova21 development say about Adelaide?
Words, Danny Brookes Photograph, Connor O'Brien
I’m walking up Bourke Street to meet a friend of mine at RMIT’s Swanston Street campus. I’m not great with directions, I am quite happy to admit, but there is no way I could ever miss this meeting point. In a bustling part of the Melbourne business district, RMIT screams for attention, with a provocative fluorescent green architectural ensemble that is
both loved and hated, and little in between. This is an institution that is not afraid to stand out. Whether you like it or not, architecture says a lot about who we are and what we value. As a more local example, take the SA Arts Building on Light Square. Externally, the building has a confident sculptural quality, with raw, uncompromis-
ing industrial materials on the interior – much like a studio space. Compare this to the new ANZ Bank headquarters on Waymouth Street. Through its shear mass, the building evokes power, wealth, and a glossy newness, but to some eyes it may also represent anonymity and a certain corporate blandness. So then, what does the latest addition to our University campus, the new Innova21 building, say about Adelaide as an institution? As a university, what is it we value most, and is this new facility an accurate representation of this? Ask any student what they like about Adelaide University and no doubt there will be mention of the campus environment. The old sandstone icons, the Barr Smith Lawns, and the proximity to the CBD are defining features of our North Terrace grounds. The architecture is a critical contributor to our experiences of the campus, and Adelaide has a history of high quality building design (although admittedly some are in need of better maintenance).The Mitchell Building and Elder Hall along North Terrace, the Barr Smith Library and Bonython Hall by Walter Bagot, Louis Laybourne Smith’s Union Hall, Robert Dickson’s Union House, and the more recent North Terrace landscape upgrades by Taylor Cullity Lethlean are all excellent examples in their own right. The university certainly knows this. In the lead up to its Open Day, Adelaide released a short video online, taking advantage of the design of the North Terrace campus as a drawcard for future students. In the video, current undergraduates are interviewed about their experiences of Adelaide University. “I always wanted to go here [Adelaide] because of the campus… it’s aesthetically pleasing”, one student notes. Another student comments on the “beautiful grounds… [and] beautiful historical architecture”. But with the need for new facilities, the university has change demanded of it. Our university is currently being transformed at a record pace. As well as the Innova21 Building, there is the major new Learning Hub (cur-
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rently being constructed on Hughes Plaza), the Professions upgrades on Pulteney Street, the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences, a new Plant Accelerator and a recently announced science precinct intended to replace Union Hall. The Innova21 facility is important because it is the first new building to open as part of this round of major upgrades. It brings much needed facilities for the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences, adding 14,000m2 of gross floor area over eight levels, including a basement level. New teaching suites are integrated on the ground and basement floors, as well as 24-hour access computer rooms and a permanent café, to be serviced by Aroma. Upper floors contain staff offices and study areas, with a number of ‘break-out’ spaces for informal group work and socialising. Certainly, Innova21 provides useful space for staff and students in the maths and engineering disciplines, but it also integrates a number of unusual features to improve its environmental performance. In fact, Innova21 was awarded six stars in environmental ‘Green Star Design’ ratings – the highest rating currently achievable. This is the first building in any Australian university to score this well. The building was featured on the cover of The Adelaidean (‘Our star Attraction’) and was also published in the South Australian architecture journal, Place. ‘Green’ building design is a contentious issue in construction industries. In the case of Innova21, many of the ‘green’ features reduce the need for ongoing consumption of electricity whilst the building is in operation. Using glass on the exterior maximises daylight penetration, reducing dependence on electrical lighting – which itself is computer programmable for maximum efficiency. In case you’re wondering about the glass in summer, the architects specified a lowemissivity double glazed product, which provides more effective resistance to heat transfer. The rather stocky columns along the north façade are ‘thermal chimneys’, which, through
Certainly, this is a piece of architecture with a highly functional agenda. It's a machine. But while Innova 21 has all the latest technological features, it lacks in personality.
convection, naturally draw hot air out of the building to help keep it cool. Other technologies include hydronic cooling pipes within the concrete floor slabs – in which water is chilled underground and pumped through the concrete floors – as well as an in-floor fresh air ventilation system to provide naturally cooled, fresh air, year-round. There is also a tri-generation plant on the roof, 500,000 litres of underground rainwater tanks, new bicycle storage facilities, a digital Building Management System to reduce energy expenditure, a number of recycling bins, (soon to be) indoor plants for air filtration, and sustainably sourced timbers and low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints have been specified throughout the interior. There are some nice details in the Innova21 building. “One of the design features was transparent services”, says Paul Duldig, referring to the sleek glass elevators in which users are able to see the lift mechanics. The winter courtyards – complete with glass floors – are also a nice touch. Duldig is the Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Services and Resources for the University. “We have a commitment to ensure that there is a teaching and learning approach to the building itself”, he tells me. “We’ll be using the building as a teaching tool”, with information such as the building “stresses, strains... and
energy usage” recorded and displayed for student interest. Perhaps the most defining visual aspect of the building is the impressive cantilevered staircase which lightly wraps around the west façade. The new atrium is also surprisingly pleasant, with a large LCD screen display and potential to house small-medium sized events such as student exhibitions. Another screen, closer to the entrance, will display building data. The university should be commended for taking on this approach to its building design. The consideration of connectivity and campus planning, the fact that priority has been given to central student spaces, and the introduction of a number of innovative, energy efficient technologies is great to see. Certainly, this is a piece of architecture with a highly functional agenda. It’s a machine, complete with working parts and tick-off-the-list ‘green’ features. In-slab cooling? Check. Low-e double glazing? Check. Sufficient rainwater tanks?... Check. But while Innova21 has all the latest technological features, it lacks in personality. Talking with Paul Duldig makes me realise that the university has been so caught up in the pragmatic ‘measurables’ – connectivity, energy loads, efficiency – that it seems any ideas of form or spatial quality were thrown out the metaphorical window (Innova21 windows don’t open). From just about every angle, the building has a particular awkwardness about it. The form is simply boring: rectangular in plan-view, and rectangular in elevation. The thermal chimneys and window shades slice up the façade to produce even more rectangles. A whole ugly grid of rectangles, in fact. In an article in Place journal, the architects justify this design in order to “provide a soft transition to its [Innova21’s] neighbours”. But do new buildings have to be in harmony with the old? Perhaps one of the poorly executed features of the building is the façade detailing. Rather than expressing the glass in its true form, the architects chose a printed maroon finish to tie in
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with the adjacent red-brick campus buildings. The pattern is boring and communicates very little, while the colour choice is conservative, to say the least. The architects claim “the materials are expressive while blending in with its overall context”, but I struggle to notice anything that’s “expressive” about this building. Even the interior is boring. The ground floor foyer is single-storey height, and to be honest it lacks any kind of atmosphere. While I understand the southern atrium has provided a more cost-effective solution to a grander scale internal entrance, the overall effect seems slightly underwhelming. The new offices upstairs feature a number of open ‘break out’ spaces – essentially informal lounge areas – which will no doubt be highly utilised, as will the new student lounges and computer suites. While these spaces are pleasant, with plentiful natural light, high quality air, and great views over Adelaide, they aren’t challenging. There’s no sense of the building’s purpose. No visual cues that relate to engineering and maths. When I’m in Innova21, I could be in any new building, in any city, anywhere. I’m not alone in thinking this. “It’s practical”, a friend of mine currently studying engineering tells me. “I don’t really look at it much”, says another friend, also from engineering. Neither friends knew I was writing this article at the time of our conversation. I try to ask some staff in the architecture school to comment. One senior figure simply shrugs, clearly frustrated at the development his office window now looks out onto. But this article is not to say that we should build like RMIT, or that Innova21 is a failure. Just as RMIT have unusual, contemporary buildings on their Swanston street campus, many of their classrooms are stuffy, poorly lit, and with few too many windows. As you can see, the complexity of architecture
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lies in the intersection between building form and function. Getting this balance right is where the challenge lies. Adelaide University has a reputation for its high quality campus design, and it has many beautiful buildings that contribute to this. The challenge the university faces in future developments is in more effectively marrying the ‘beautiful’ with the more ‘functional’ aspects - the things Innova21 does particularly well. Because those beautiful, intangible qualities are the very things that define our campus and our experiences of university. And we need those to advertise at Open Day.
A sidenote: The university has set the national benchmark for ‘green’ building designs with Innova21 receiving a 6-star rating. However, other current university developments will apparently not be assessed by the GreenStar rating tool. In an email to the writer, Paul Duldig explained that the “Plant Accelerator, Vet School and Learning Hub are each unique developments and as such our [the University’s] view is that they don’t fit into the GreenStar rating tool. However, we are building green features into these developments where we think this makes good sense”.
Danny Brookes is a 3rd year architecture student and freelance designer. Recent projects include FIX Student Kitchen Lounge and the 2010 O’Ball campaign.
the battle over retail Do food outlets have a place on the North Terrace campus?
Words, Myriam Robin Mockup images, Hassell
Once you take the politics out of it, the issue really becomes one of what you want the campus to be. Is it part of the city, blending into and shaping the broader Adelaide culture, or is it a self-contained unit, with a unique and independent society that needs its own space (and, crucially, itâ€™s own retail outlets)?
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f you walk for long enough through the multitude of sandstone and open spaces that comprise the University of Melbourne, you eventually reach a cross-shaped building housing MUSU, the Melbourne University Student Union. Otherwise known as Union House, you’re greeted by a help-desk staffed by students, who can point you in the direction of what you’re looking for. A food court, as well as several other retail outlets (pharmacy, newsagency, hairdresser, bike repairs) can be found on the first floor. The Basement is a lounge, suitable for, well, lounging. And the second floor houses the student union offices.
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This is the closest thing Melbourne University has to a general ‘student hub’, and it is difficult to ignore the obvious commercial and retail aspects of it. Nonetheless, the hub is inviting, the food options are varied, and the help desk students are friendly. Although it closes at 5pm every day, Union House is clearly a wellutilized indoor student space. Adelaide University also has a Union House. The redbrick building which houses the Mayo, Cinema and Unibar was at one point the centre of campus social life, but hasn’t been for some years. Many of its rooms are empty most of the day, and since the union sold off its commercial assets, its food and beverage outlets have undergone a period of upheaval. Furthermore, as the campus expands onto North Terrace and into the city, fewer and fewer students find themselves
Above: Proposed fourth floor student hub floor plan
at the North end of the university, and Union Houses’ lack of a central location means it isn’t much of a thoroughfare. Indeed, it is this that led to the development of the former Hughes Plaza. No one ever much liked the Siberian expanse of it. And few question the desirability of more student space on campus (even the university, which needs to improve its retention rates), meaning the project has a large base level of support. The Learning Hub Project, partly funded directly by a Government grant and partly through the university’s own reserves, will cost $41.8 million. It is intended to provide a new learning and cultural space for the students of the university. In an effort to make sure they get it right, as well as sell the idea, the University of Adelaide embarked on a wide-ranging and comprehensive student consultation process. This has been, for the most part, successful. Kendra Backstrom, one of the senior project officers in the learning hub project, says the “interest and the engagement we’ve got from students has been fantastic, and perhaps has surpassed what we actually thought.” David Collucio, the Adelaide University Union’s General Manager, sings similar, albeit more caged, praises. “The student consultation process has been comprehensive, well organized, and it’s been, in terms of its breadth, probably one of the better consultation processes that the university has implemented. Hopefully that type of model will be used continually.” There have, of course, been criticisms. I sit on the Student Reference Group (SRG – trust me, with so many different groups, its acronyms galore), one of several committees designed to provide feedback into the hub development. Such committees, as well as the use of many surveys, provide most of the student input. Other consultation committees, such as the Services for Students group, contain mainly support staff. In SRG, we’ve spent much time discussing interior design, and looking at pretty pictures. Which frankly, isn’t what I signed up for. The contentious issues were always going to be the allocation of space and what kinds of services are provided within the hub. It’s not that these aspects have been ignored, simply that we’ve spent far too long on design features. At the end of the day, I trust the respected architectural firm overseeing the project, Hassell, to get it right aesthetically. Apparently, I’m not the
only one which feels like this. David mentioned that “some of the feedback [he has] received from students involved in the process is that while there are lots of meetings and lots of information, the consultation focuses on some of the small issues, and issues around particular design features and so forth rather than some of the big issues around what the space will be used for. And I’ve gradually been sensing a feeling of frustration in some of the students involved”. Admittedly, I haven’t attended many SRG meetings recently. So the latest consultation, regarding food outlets in the hub, caught me by surprise. Slavka Kovacevic, the communications manager for the Learning Hub Project, explained that food options, and dissatisfaction with the current providers, were some of the things students consistently nominated as needing fixing in the hub. In response to this, a survey was sent out asking if students would rather a sit-down café-style selection of outlets or a food court (options 1 and 2, respectively). This survey had over 800 responses, a small majority of whom said they preferred option 1. Fifteen to twenty students responded saying they did not want food outlets, as they believed the hub should be a learning space. Slavka suggested that maybe some of them didn’t understand that the food outlets were to be only a corner of the hub (less than 10% of the floor space on level four according to Slavka and Kendra). Perhaps it is this misunderstanding that saw the rapid growth of a facebook group begun in early July by former AUU President Lavinia Emmett-Grey. The group, ‘I want a Learning Hub, not a carvery’ stated: “The original plans looked like a food court, which considering they're spending OUR HECS fees on building, lots of student reps said NO, we'd actually like student space and services. We thought we'd won. But oh no. Now I get an email that tells me I can choose between a licensed food court OR a food court with sliced meat (aka carvery).” The group, although it certainly rallied many in the SRC and union, appeared to highlight more than ever the different views regarding retail. Some students didn’t seem to understand that a carvery wasn’t actually what the university planned to do, only one of many examples offered for discussion as to the type of food outlets. Others didn’t realize that the proposed retail only took up a fraction of the fourth floor. Some were
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perfectly informed and spoke out either in favor of retail, saying it was what students had said they wanted, or voiced concerns about the proximity of North Terrace and the fact that food on campus would always be overpriced and frankly of poorer quality than that found in more competitive parts of the city. This thread of argument is easily picked up by David. “I actually think the university has missed a golden opportunity… [One] that is particular to the University of Adelaide North Terrace campus and not many others in the country. We’re adjacent to the Adelaide CBD… to a whole raft of food precincts, many of them offering real good quality food at an affordable price. So the question from many people, not just myself, is why the need to replicate such retail options on campus, especially given that the university is already spilling out onto North Terrace and into Grenfell St. The university is already spreading into the city anyway. Why not take the Rundle Mall precincts, and almost market them as part of the university campus. And that way save yourself the trouble of having to provide retail infrastructure on campus, and utilize that very valuable space on teaching and learning needs.” “People are moving off campus anyway, and you’d do better to embrace the realities,” he concludes. The issue is further complicated by the fact that food services on campus aren’t the easiest thing to run. Students, rather than being a captive market, often leave campus, and eat on their way in or out through the city. There’s no morning, after-hours or weekend trade possible. And any food outlets would only be operational less than 40 weeks a year. Overall, these conditions meant both the AUU and the National Wine Centre were unable to make a profit on campus food and beverage. Currently, the not-for-profit University Club manages the Mayo and Unibar, and didn’t reopen all outlets when it took over at the start of this year. All this begs the question, given the university would be charging commercial rents to external operators, what hope do they have of finding willing retailers? It’s these factors that lead David to describe the rush towards the commercialization of campus as “a bit of a fool’s gold”. The other bone of contention is that when the hub was first announced, many within the union felt that it was being marketed primarily as a retail hub. In response to the ensuing dissent, a consultation process
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was set up to hear a range of views. This ensured a period of calm and cooperation between student representatives and the university. Old suspicions were aroused however by the minimal space that appears to have been allocated for student services. Plans for a one-stop-shop to amalgamate the myriad access points of services such as counseling, accommodation and academic advice have given way to something resembling more of a first-stop-shop. The university claims that it is simply unreasonable to put all services in the hub, as some, such as counseling, may need to be more discretely placed for students to feel comfortable using them. This isn’t disputed by the AUU, but when the student services space is compared to the space that is allocated in the draft to commercial services, no wonder they feel cheated. Kendra maintains that no final decision has been made on how student services will be provided. I suspect that the ruckus caused by the facebook group means the university would now be reluctant to shaft student services too much, for fear of adding fuel to the fire. Ultimately, things seem to have come to a head. People like David and Lavinia are concerned that the final drawings look far too similar to the original concept they thought had been rejected, and so question whether the university has really been listening to the student consultation. On the other hand, the groups in charge of the consultation and planning say they are merely following student feedback which said going over North Terrace took a lot of time, and that food is only a small aspect of the hub. Both views clearly have their supporters and detractors within the student body. Identifying the relative proportions is nigh impossible with any scientific accuracy, as those who approve of the whole consultation process are more likely to respond to questionnaires or attend meetings, and those who disapprove of recent events are likely to shout the loudest. Once you take the politics out of it however, the issue really becomes one of what you want the campus to be. Is it part of the city, blending into and shaping broader Adelaide culture, or is it a self-contained unit, with a unique and independent society that needs its own space (and, crucially, it’s own retail outlets)? When it comes to commercial services, there is no obvious answer.
a (very short) history of the australian class war Some things in politics never change. Words, Paris Dean
n 1822 James Straighter was sentenced to 500 lashes, a month of solitary confinement and five years prison for "inciting his Masters' servants to combine for the purposes of obliging him to raise the wages and increase their rations". At the time, he was regarded as a criminal, but in today’s age he would be labelled an “organizer” by his relevant trade union. That kind of labour cartelling – which seemed to occur almost as soon as Europeans had invaded and decided to set up shop - is now, once again, the cornerstone of the great social and economic pact between labour and capital in our country. I was originally asked to write something about
Above: 15 November 2005 industrial relations protest, La Trobe Street, Melbourne. Courtesy Takver.
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the issue of Industrial Relations as it might play out in the next federal election. The truth is there are a lot of issues that are going to play out over the next few weeks, from who will stop the latest incarnation of the coloured hordes from undermining our way of life, to the price of bread. Most of these are momentary political fireworks, designed to be forgotten as soon as they have had their intended effect. Industrial relations, on the other hand, has remained an enduring subject of political debate, from the above-mentioned flogging of Australia’s first organized labourers to the most recent legislative reforms. The debate has at times been so furious that it has spawned whole political parties. Firstly and most obviously the Labor Party, the product of mass strikes of shearers and other pastoral workers in the late 1800’s, determined to organize a political union to prosecute their cause in the parliament. Much later, opposition to the Labor party was enough to unite the dichotomous Free Trade (briefly named the Anti-Socialist) and Protectionist parties into the forerunner to the “modern” Liberal party. The tension between the two parties, and the constituencies they represent seem so great that you might expect a bi-polar industrial relations system, forever lurching to left and right depending on who could cobble together the numbers in Canberra. In reality, Australia engaged in an ambitious and novel socio-economic experiment: arbitration. Over time, it was clear that there was no question that labour and capital must be allowed to fight each other - as is their nature - but their seemed no reason that this couldn’t be done in a fair and reasonably dignified manner. The deal was, labour and capital could continue to fight and chant - the labourer asking for an extra ration – or, in 1912, strike over the entitlement to wear a union badge – and the capitalist could continue to quibble and cackle, but where an agreement could not be reached it would be determined by a tribunal. And so something of a peace reigned over the legislative arrangements governing industrial relations. The Unions continued to fight for a living
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wage and whatever else they could take, and the bosses continued to fight back to ensure the ongoing viability of their business, yachts et al. Critically where the claim could not be resolved by civil conversation (and the more than occasional strike and lockout) the claim would go before the sober judgement of a tribunal and hopefully be swiftly resolved often to nobodies absolute satisfaction. The election of the Hawke-Keating Labor governments saw more Labor reform of the system, with capital and labour invited to briefly lay down their cudgels and come back into the tent. As part of a deal to fix structural problems in the economy, the industrial relations system was radically altered. Rather than centralized wage fixing, the labour-capital fight would now be played out at a local level; the advent of Enterprise Bargaining Agreements meant that the standing labour armies no longer fought pitched battles against their bosses together but instead would trend towards striking deals applying only to their workplace or employer. But then the unthinkable happened: the Howard government was elected. I had initially assumed that the Howard government would be remembered for its racism, backwards looking social policies or perhaps more fondly for it’s cooky front bench. Instead it has become the government of WorkChoices. It is hard to overstate how radical the Howard government’s changes really was. The Howard government ripped up the longstanding contract between labour and capital, and put very little in its place. Employers and employees were now encouraged to sit down and have a chat about what pay and conditions they might like. There was to be no collectivism, Joe Hockey openly stated there were probably not going to be any unions and there definitely wasn’t going to be any arbitration. But the destruction didn’t end there. The “unfair dismissal” laws, which prevented arbitrary dismissal and ensured basic principles of natural justice were applied in the workplace were all but torn up by a bogus “small business exemption”,
which applied to businesses “with less than 100 employees”. With the EBA and Award pay gone, a universally applicable basic minimum wage was pegged by a handpicked committee. Massive fines were introduced for unions who attempted to organize workers within the new system. Julie Bishop described it as “Australian”, Tony Abbott said the most important workplace right was being able to get another job and Kevin Andrews said anything and everything he had to. The labour movement was livid. The desecration of the socio-economic pact had robbed it of its main tools in it’s fight, and therefore of much of its work and ultimately, relevance. As we now know, the Tories had massively miscalculated the union’s strength. They may not have been quite what they were but their ability to bring people out onto the streets, blitz the airways and garner public sympathy was still considerable and the government was promptly dumped. Labor had won. The new government swept to power on a mandate of Industrial Relations re-reform and quickly set about restoring the independent arbitrator, unfair dismissal laws and recognizing the role of Unions in the workplace. Labor threw out the old act and, in a classic swing of the “liberal freedom vs fairness” pendulum introduced its “Fair Work Act”. This truncated and selective stroll through the past 200 years of industrial relations takes us to the present day. Hawke-Keating-Labor may have started fiddling with the IR system again - to the outrage of many Unions at the time - but that was different. WorkChoices set a modern precedent of parliament making substantive changes to the IR system to benefit a government’s own constituency, in the face of vocal opposition from the other side. What changes can we expect going forward? The Labor party will probably rest on its laurels: transitioning from the libertarian dystopia of individual contracts back to a collective approach to wage and conditions setting, restoring the independent umpire and moving to a national awards system is no mean feat, and probably enough re-
form for one government. The Tories have been burned once, and aren’t likely to leap back into the fire immediately. Before Abbott ruled out any changes to the new legislation he was talking about throwing a bone to his small business constituency, suggesting that taking the “unfair dismissal monkey” off the back of small business would be his priority. In plain-speak that probably means abolishing the right to contest your potentially arbitrary dismissal, but only if you work for a business with a genuinely small number of employees. Other “reforms” could be prosecuted through existing structures - a particular sticking point for the Lib’s at the moment seems to be “minimum engagement rules” in many industries that require people to be given 3 hr shifts. IR is an issue this election because the parliamentary class war is potentially on again; suddenly everyone is allowed to have and opinion again on how much who should get, and what they should have to do to get it. Until a political agreement is begrudgingly reached, and a mechanism for taking the labour-capital struggle out of parliament is determined, the issue will not disappear. For the Labor party, arbitration is a sacred tenant of the faith. It is viewed as integral to allow them to raise the living standards and conditions of working Australians, the raison d’être of the party. For the Liberal party - a marriage of convenience between the Anti-Labor conservative and libertarian movements - deregulating the labour market is probably one of the few areas of absolute internal consensus and for the first time in a long while they’ve convinced themselves it’s now acceptable to talk about it.
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& Brightly-Coloured Band-Aids Why single-issue lobbies arenâ€™t the answer.
Words, Dominic Mugavin Photograph, Australian Youth Climate Coalition
In 2010, some of you will vote four times, covering every layer of representation. In chronological order state, federal, student and then local council representatives will be asking for your vote. But what issues determine the way you vote? This year, there are more groups asking for your vote than ever, and just I’m not taking about political parties. What I am referring to are single issue interest groups. Over the past few years we have the rise of various groups, especially focused on young people, who use a variety of media but mainly focusing on online action and mass actions like flashjams. You know who I’m talking about. The ‘Power Shift’s, the ‘GetUp!’s the ‘Vote 4 Students’ and the ‘MakePover-
tyHistory’s. In a discussion paper put out by the Whitlam Institute at the University of Western Sydney titled Putting the politics back into Politics: Young people and democracy in Australia, it was put this way “Young people, for diverse reasons, are participating in activities that deliver short-term, visible and efficacious outcomes, that eschew traditional hierarchies, operate through transparent processes and afford agency. These activities are often issues-based or have a local/community focus.” Although the goals of many of these groups are to be applauded, this does not render them above critique. On its website the, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, organisers of the various Power Shift conferences, include “media profile” and “partnerships” as key achievements. Like other similar groups, there is a clear focus on numbers, and a distinct lack of tangible outcomes resulting directly from political lobbying. These groups are an obvious reaction to the growing mistrust of politician and the political systems that exist in Australia. In this case, those under 25 are a lead indicator. Once again quoting from the Whitlam Institute’s paper, “there is a belief that formal structures and decision-makers do not take account of or encourage involvement of young people.” It goes on to say that many of the opportunities for input that do exist “are seen as mere ‘tokenism’ and part of a broader process of political and media spin”. Senator John Faulkner attributes the problems we see to too high expectations of politicians. In a speech given to the Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts in 2005, he said “Australians go to the ballot box with hopes too high, and fears too great…By
While we can’t blame everything on social networking websites, I fail to see how you can effectively articulate a reform agenda in education in 140 characters.
all means, let us be idealistic in what we hope to achieve. But let us be realistic in what we will be satisfied to get done. Let us be realistic in our expectations of our colleagues and our opponents. Let us be realistic about the distribution of altruism and selfishness in our fellow citizens.” Some might argue that whatever the cause of the disengagement with organised politics, if it is being replaced with these single issue, community-based lobbying bodies, there is no problem. I disagree. In my opinion, these groups are merely bright and colourful band-aids over wide problems in Australia’s democracy. Just like when you insisted your mother used Wiggles band-aids when you fell off your bike and tore your knee half open. The response seems like fun, but the results are questionable. Without a clear understanding of political structures and their inputs and outputs, real and lasting change is not achieved. To quote again that authority on all that is good and pure, Senator Faulkner, “without both an understanding of the practicalities of political change, and the confidence that the citizen can shape the state, Australians will drift further and further into disengagement and resentment”. What definitely hasn’t helped is the way political campaigns take place. Faulkner again: “Low-content, high-colour campaigning, slogans as vague as they are reassuring and the deliberate downplaying of ideals, vision and hopes for the country leave Australians with the impression that there's little politicians can do, and less they’d try”. While we can’t blame everything on the twenty-four hour media cycle and social networking websites, I fail to see how you can effectively articulate a reform agenda in education in 140 characters. These communication techniques only encourage a grave simplification on both the giving and receiving sides of the information conversation. As seen by various campaigns, community organisers are forced to conform to the quick messages of their opponents, whether it’s the Vote 4 Students pledges, or the voting cards of the given out by the AYCC. There is
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demand for simplistic summaries of complex issues. Both tertiary education and climate change are issues I am passionate about, but I question whether reducing them to little more that dot points diminishes their perceived importance. Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald has written “The election contest is starting to resemble Seinfeld, the show about nothing. It is hard to recall a time this close to an election when both major parties had no defined agenda, or anything else that could be remotely described as a vision.” It is hypocritical to criticise the leaders of our major political parties for simply putting forward a horde of policies without any clear vision for the future of Australia, while we do nothing but encourage them in this. By trying to turn students and young people into single-issue voters, whether it is on education or climate change, the advance of these policies may be marginally helped, but this outweighs the cost to democracy. When considering who to vote for on August 21st, don’t let anyone turn you into a single issue voter. The issues facing Australia and the world as a whole are large and complex, and should not be shied away from. So this election, don’t vote for students, don’t vote for climate change. Rather, vote for yourself, vote those around you, and vote for your democracy.
Single-issue lobbying seems like fun, but the results are questionable. Without a clear understanding of political structures and their inputs and outputs, real and lasting change is not achieved.
Books impressionable people should never read Words, Gemma Parker
I often worry that in my old age, my memories will merge with what I’ve read and I will spend long afternoons telling my grandchildren how hard it was to fight in Vietnam, what life was like after the Apocalypse and how exciting it was to be educated at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. For me, the fact that “afterwards it all belongs to you”, is part of the magic, and danger, of reading. Great novels will leave their imprint on you, whether you like it or not. This can be a wonderful thing. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance might ignite an interest in Zen Buddhism, just as Midnight’s Children may encourage an interest in the history of India. But some readers are more impressionable, and some books more dangerous, than others. The following is a list of books that impressionable people should never read. Some have been chosen
for the danger they pose to your physical and mental health, others because of the danger they pose to your reputation/personality and thus your relationships with others. Their appropriate literary antidotes have also been compiled, just in case. If you know anyone who read A Clockwork Orange and started wearing a bowler hat and getting misty-eyed about violence, this list is for them. Junkie by William Burroughs has been left off this list as there is no antidote known to humanity. Omitted for similar reasons were On The Road by Jack Kerouac, Delta of Venus by Anais Nin, Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Beloved by Toni Morrison, as well as anything by Arthur Rimbaud, Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski or Virginia Woolf. On second thoughts, forget it. Impressionable people have to learn somehow.
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Fiesta (a.k.a. The Sun Also Rises) by Ernest Hemingway Danger Rating: 8/10 No other book will make you want to drink cheap red wine in the hot streets of Spain, date prostitutes, get passionate about bullfighting and break hearts like this one. Don’t read this unless you like to get terribly and frequently drunk, speak with a pretentious English accent and use a lot of 1930s slang. This novel makes the most torrid nights of drinking, heartbreak and drama seem desperately romantic so long as you stay on your feet. Dreadful business.
Antidote: Cannery Row by John Steinbeck You’ll still want to drink yourself into a stupor, but you’ll be filled with an altruistic love for humanity as opposed to a nihilistic sense of hopelessness. Mick and the boys at the Palace Flophouse are much better for you than any of the characters in Fiesta.
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson Danger Rating : 9/10 As a novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a savage, intoxicating and often hilarious trip. This is because Hunter S. Thompson was a rare kind of genius, not because he took a lot of drugs. However, I know too many people who finished it believing that if they filled their body with every substance known to man, they too would be as fascinating as Hunter S. It quickly became apparent that this was not true, and now they’re dime-a-dozen ice addicts who can barely remember the plot.
Antidote: Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh This is what happens when ordinary people take drugs. Irvine Welsh is a master at his craft, but this book is almost unbearable to read.
The Dice Man by Luke Rheinhart Danger Rating: 9/10 This book was initially published with the subheader ‘This Book Can Change Your Life.' The plot follows the adventures of a man who decides to let the roll of a dice dictate his actions and decisions. Rheinhart is the pseudonym of George Cockcroft, whose theory was that the ultimate freedom was to “get away from habit and causality and make all your decisions by casting dice.” This has spawned a society of ‘dice people’ who religiously live their lives by the philosophy outlined in this book (including a friend of the bookseller who sold it to me, who felt it her duty to warn me). I stopped reading it somewhere around page six when he rolls the dice and it dictates that he head downstairs and rape his neighbour. Of course it turns out that he doesn’t rape her because she’s willing, which still made my skin crawl.
Antidote: Any recent interview with George Cockcroft, who now says that the dice were probably just a gimmick to have fun with, or to get from one place in your life to another place, “but once you got somewhere you were happy, you'd be stupid to shake it up any further...”
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler Danger Rating 7/10 Wise-cracking, dame-chasing, fast-talking, whisky-drinking, straight-shooting private detectives are almost criminally attractive. We all know that. But there have been countless Philip Marlowe copycats since Raymond Chandler first introduced him in 1939, and the world sure doesn’t need another one.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath Danger Rating: 10/10 The Bell Jar is the autobiographical account of Sylvia Plath’s emotional breakdown and attempts to kill herself. Plath killed herself a month after its UK publication. This book should come with a health warning.
Antidote: Dreaming of Babylon: A Private-Eye Novel 1942 by Richard Brautigan Possibly my favourite novel of all time, Dreaming of Babylon follows the misadventures of a private detective who can’t get his shit together because he too often lapses into daydreaming about his imaginary life in Babylon. In Babylon, he is a famous detective named Smith Smith with a sexy secretary. In real life, he can’t pay the rent, spends most of his time at the morgue with a man named Peg Leg, is out of bullets and can’t quite work out what to do with the corpse in the boot of his car.
Antidote: Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger Franny & Zooey is the funniest and sweetest account of an emotional collapse ever written. Franny suffers an existential breakdown in her parents’ lounge room in November, 1955. Her slightly older brother Zooey criticises her, upsets her and eventually goes to great lengths to share with her a piece of advice their older brother once gave him. The novel has been described as resembling a Zen koan and never ceases to make my heart soar. If Sylvia Plath had a Zooey, she never would’ve stuck her head in an oven.
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that it all happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.” - Ernest Hemingway
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thinking through the gaps in the world
Words, Brendan De Paor-Moore Illustration, Chloe Langford
Slavoj Zizek, philosophy's Mick Jagger?
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lavoj Zizek, love or hate him, has earned the dubious and paradoxical title of ‘academic rock star’. The persona and style the Slovenian philosopher has established is vital to understanding the position he’s opened up in the public intellectual space. Zizek’s oratory is a headlong rush of trenchant observation and exclamation, wrapped in a garland of ceaseless nervous tics (and a thick Slavic accent). His writings are similarly peripatetic and restless, driven by a commitment to Lacanian psychoanalysis and Marxist revolutionary politics. He’s easily intellectually distracted – the subject of each of his books is all and everything. (According to Terry Eagleton in the Times Literary Supplement, Zizek’s “forty or so books …are disheveled collages of ideas, ranging from Kant to computer science, St Augustine to Agatha Christie.”). Zizek’s wide range and rapid movement bizarrely replicates the hypertext ‘mode of consciousness’ – but his work is not so much a celebration of this multiplex mode of consciousness as it is an effort to show the way that truths are scattered and dispersed through this fragmented space of representation. Zizek shows a way to use the distractedness of popular culture to create an active and critical consciousness, as opposed to the atomised form usually created by such fragmentation. One of Zizek’s typically counterintuitive readings of culture is his off-hand reading of the Gap: Gap sells blue jeans to both upper class and working class people, and this coincidence of fashionable objects of consumption could easily be seen as evocative of the end of class antagonism in the so-called ‘post-industrial age’, but when you look at the attitudes taken by the different subjects we see that even in this tiny phenomena we find the formal basics of an antagonism remain. For the lower-class consumer, the jeans represent the emulation of the wealthy, the attainment of enviable status, and so on, but for the upper-class patron, the same jeans represent their informal attitude – the fact that even though they are wealthy they are comfortable in the same clothes as everyone else. Consumers buy the same item to purchase different kinds
of social identity. We can allow Zizek his satisfaction at the irony that the very name ‘the Gap’ is strangely suitable to this state of affairs. It would hardly be laudable if Zizek’s work was merely a reduction of political issues of class and identity to this kind of cultural analysis of signs in consumerdom. My feeling is that it’s the other way ’round – Zizek works to reconnect severed images and signs to fundamental political structures. If Jean Baudrillard was the theorist who declared that culture had unhinged itself from any fundamental symbolic features, and become dictated only by the drive to infinite and accelerating self-expansion, Zizek is the theorist who gambles on it being still dictated by the basic co-ordinates of capitalist society. These co-ordinates are defined by a basic antagonism between the drive of profit to infinitely maximise itself and the interests of other social structures and agents to both derive benefits and protect themselves from the damage that is often a consequence of the unburdened capitalist will to power. Hence, the seemingly flippant use of ‘the Gap’ actually indicates something far more significant: the fact that our society does not fit together into a harmonious whole, but is riven with cracks and fissures which are the domains of struggle. The basic identifying feature of ideology at its purest is the attempt to paint over these cracks with a harmonious portrait. Zizek is the first public intellectual whose mode of address corresponds fully with the globalised world. Because he himself is a media entity (the subject of two films – Zizek! and A Pervert’s Guide to Cinema – a commentator in several papers and reviews, and a constantly updated presence on YouTube) his very occupation of this specific domain enables him to appropriate it for a use against its own grain. Working in an absolutely postmodern style, Zizek insists on modern themes of fundamental social dynamics, struggles for emancipation and a fundamental ground of human freedom. In this way, he exposes the superficiality of the post-modern – able to sustain itself only as a style.
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SCRAPBOOK - contemporary and/or local culture, high and/or low -
Adelaide's Online miscellanea Yeah, we get it. The internet has been around for a while. But the fact that Facebook has essentially taken over the whole fucking place suggests that it should once again be pointed out that a wide number of web pages do exist that can and should be visited and, indeed, cherished, as one may cherish a tiny baby seaturtle. The web has launched two local 'personalities': humorist and all-round troublemaker David Thorne, of www.27bslash6.com (above left), and the ubiquitous Spoz, of spoz.blogspot.com (above right). It is rumored that Spoz has seen every local band in existence at least once. In fact, if you play in a local band and haven't been viewed by Spoz, it's safe to say that your band doesn't really exist, in the strictest sense of the term. Thorne, meanwhile, is responsible for the grade-A prank that was Kate's Party. If you see either of these characters, we advise extreme caution. Back away slowly. Also, because we're totally comfortable in our position as the preeminent magazine-ofchoice for discerning Adelaide students, we're totally cool with throwing a bone to our online rivals over at fivethousand.com.au (below right). Part of the Thousands network, these guys not only know how to party (and art fag it up around the wine-andcheese-platter traps), but how to write coherently about said partying and art fagging, every freaking week.
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Splendour in the Grass Mateo ended up snagging a media pass to Splendour this year, leaving the other two editors in the office, miserable and utterly resentful. We would like it be made known here that revenge will be exacted... Hmph.
Friends' Friends Ben Quici and his other friends have crafted the most engaging Adelaide punk album for some time. The simplicity of the songs belies a sophistication that calls on Shellac and The Jesus Lizard to devastating effect.
Deerhunter's Revival [single] America’s best psych-garagekraut-shoegaze revivalists return with a slice of airy pop unlike anything they’ve ever done, save their Rainwater Cassette Exchange EP. It is riveting... and just wait for the album, Halcyon Digest. Pachow!
Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma LA beatmaker Steven Ellison returns with his best release yet. Cosmogramma is the smoothest instrumental hiphop you’ll hear all year, and listen out for the free jazz and dubstep influences. Mateo recommends!
Also on the decks: • The National's High Violet (You know an album starting out with the line "It's a terrible love and I'm walking with spiders" is going to be a bit depressing. But also smart and funny and warm and beautiful. Listen alone with a glass of wine in one hand and J.D. Salinger's Nine Stories in the other.)
Students make space.
Words, Harry Laughland Photographs, Danny Brookes
A beautiful heritage-listed building in the heart of Adelaide University is being given a new life by an ambitious and driven duo. Ashleigh Lustica, president of the SRC and Danny Brookes, an architecture student at the University, have taken on the challenge of turning what was once UniBooks and, this year, an unused Café, into a fresh, vibrant, multifunctional student
space. Battling building contractors, health and safety issues, dealing with the Building’s heritage status, as well as continuing their studies and trying to enjoy the holidays they were undoubtedly left with an unenviable task. It is clear when talking to Danny and Ashleigh that this project really means a lot to them. Danny’s purpose was to “create a sense of community with a shared, free facility for all students” and the passion that he has put into this project is infectious. Fix really does feel like a space for students created by students, and one that will have a fantastic atmosphere when in full swing. By utilising the two levels to create a cooking and dining
Left: Fix architectural mockup.
area downstairs, Danny and Ashleigh have been able to ensure that upstairs is focussed on study. In terms of interior design, Fix is markedly different from the other university-built student spaces at uni. The interior is an eclectic mix of salvaged sofas and tables. Blackboards and a wall for advertising student events is likely to make this somewhere students can leave their mark. The installations and various wall graphics made by other students create a feeling that this really is a quirky, visually interesting place to study, eat and relax. It really is testament to the pair, and their team, that when I visited Fix it wasnâ€™t completed, yet I could see the potential and clearly see the result they were aiming for. They were originally given just $5000 to renovate, although this was increased a little later into the project, meaning the space is even more impressive for having been done on so little. Ashleigh and Danny both agree that they have been on â€œa very steep learning curveâ€? but ultimately they have come through and the result is a great addition to the university.
Right: Photographs of Fix planning and development.
Overland across old red Traversing the world's little-travelled expanses. Words and photographs, Peach Howey-Lenixxh Illustration, Alexandra Weiland
The train pulled into Moscow station at 4am amidst the unearthly mega-city calm. I was grateful for the 10 minute nap I’d managed to squeeze into the heavy excitement and anxiety now gripping me. Packing the belongings still resting on the over-head compartment, I woke my girlfriend and we exited the four-person train carriage with the finish line only metres away. Thirty seconds later we were out on the busy platform, breathing in old Leningrad. We’d made it. Our journey began two months and fifty packets of noodles earlier, on the afternoon of May 6, in South China’s dynamic Kunming. Kunming is the fast-developing capital of the Yunnan province, itself unique for encompassing 25 of China’s 56 ethnic groups. We climbed aboard our north-bound train and welcomed the only option for late-notice ticket purchase – crowded seats... for twenty-three non-stop hours. This, of course, proved the epic marathon it promised to be. We knocked up a healthy 20 minutes of light sleep between us, and my girlfriend Jordan, a student of the Chinese language, tried conversation with a skinny farm-boy who apparently had an accent on steroids. We were ok, though, for the raw garlic we shamelessly shoved down our throats. By the time we’d travelled so far north as to be on Central Siberia’s arresting Lake Baikal, I’m sure I’d finally convinced Jordan that my mum’s recipe of raw garlic for the prevention of the common cold was a sure thing. After all, we were yet to become ill. I invite all keen students of medicine to comment. May 7 and we were off the train and in the Sichuan
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province. Sichuan claims fame for three things: Giant Pandas, dialect and the most beautiful women in China. Two of these claims proved to be true. Anyway, soon we were on our way to the panda sanctuary, after Jordan had successfully managed to communicate despite said dialect to a local taxi driver. The Giant Pandas, record-breaking in their reproductive apathy, were a barefaced thrill nonetheless. The park provided, not very surprisingly considering the economic incentive, ample space and maintenance for animal life. Kangding, too, was magnificent. A six hour bus-ride west of Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu, through luscious green forest and along the one road leading to Tibet from China proper, Kangding is like a Vegas but in a world Tinker Bell might inhabit—if she were also a rogue. This was my first taste of the splendour of—what is for all practical purposes— West China and, more importantly, Central Asia. But it wouldn’t be long before we were in the Far East and atop the nation’s Great Wall. Its name, a grand attempt at translation, is in fact a heroic underestimate. The Great Wall, built two millennia ago as a fortress against invading southbound Xiongnus and later Mongols, is really a pantomimic masterpiece—a giant lizard lying sprawled across Northern China and laying claim to be the nation’s true dragon. With the wall being so breathtakingly long at over 8000 kilometres, and snaking through private as well as government land, it fails wonderfully fails bureaucratic interference. We thus not only saw, but even pitched a tent on the wall for the equivalent of fifty Australian cents. Needless to say, if you’re ever in China ignore those trying to sell ridiculously overpriced tours to see the wall. Actually, don’t ever take an organized tour full stop. Anyway, we were wrapped. It was now the 25th of May, and the China leg was almost complete. Back at the hostel in neighbouring Beijing, we had fun chatting to a young music festival organizer from New York, then an awkwardly fun time chatting to a group of adolescent Mormons who, all said, sure knew how to bust out Beyonce` on guitar. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut wrote. Hostels, however, weren’t our chief means of accommodation. That fell to the auspices of couchsurfing.com, a network connecting travellers and
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locals happy to provide free accommodation for good company. And it works, in every conceivable way. It’s not only on the house and a great kick, it’s perfect for getting a feel for the local way and meeting those with like-minds who you may maintain a close bond with. You might even snag yourself a free tour guide! And so it goes! A big thank you, here, must go out to the Muscovite Alexander, who’s scrumptious home-made Russian Borsch soup and warmest of all demeanours (and showers!) left us in raptures and sad to fly out of Moscow. What will remain our most memorable ‘couchsurfing’ experience, however, was one never prearranged in the first place. This occurred before we limped into Beijing, when we were still gallivanting back West—this time in a magical Tibetan village called Sangke that lies hidden in the geographical centre of China. We push-biked in from a nearby mountainside town, and were unlucky in our attempts to find a spot to pitch a tent for the night. Enter Lamasama, a 10-year extraordinarily perceptive Tibetan girl who whisked us off to her parents’ house for a night of the most selfless hospitality and mind-blowing cultural exchange. To make matters bittersweet, the Tibetan regions continue and will continue to become the dumping grounds of the rapidly growing ‘greater’ China, areas to the East populated by the ethnic Han majority. This should remain an adventure log; but I invite all Politics majors to comment. We left Beijing and headed north-East toward Mongolia in early June, blown away and with more questions than answers. Despite the stares we had to put up with, and the groping of what must have seemed my extraterrestrial dreadlocks, we were already making plans for a return some day. Taking the train through the Mongolian Gobi desert, we were stunned at not only the incredible expanse of it, but how much the barren earth reminded us of the vastness of central Australia. Mongolia regained its independence when the Soviet failure collapsed in the early 1990s, and waltzing through the streets of the only large city, Ulaanbaatar, we were reminded of its red past: old, imposing soviet buildings muscled up against us in the city centre, making sure we knew just how far from home we were. The
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more modern National History Museum proved to be a must-stop, explaining in part how under the 13th and 14th century Chingis & Sons enterprise the Mongol Empire expanded so far as modern-day Poland. Poor Poles. Once we left Ulaanbaatar, we were comprehensively taken by the enormous hand of the vast Mongolian landscape, where plains show-off such breathable open space you feel you’ve been given an extra lung. With our non-English speaking horse-guide Otka—comical in his bitching about the weather he must’ve been so familiar with—we horse-backed through the Terelj area, occasionally being greeted by a dreamy warm drizzle that shone if we passed sparkling waterways or whittled rocky outcrops. It was overwhelmingly refreshing spending these five days with nothing but packed food, a tent, and a silver bowl we applied to cooking whatever was pulled out the potato sacks after a day on the horses. These were honestly the best meals I’d ever tasted; though major credit must go to Jordan, whose genius cooking stood up to the oft-testy outdoors. Occasionally we relaxed with local farmers, who would open the door of their single-roomed gers (yerts) at the smallest request from a stranger. Mongolians, tough and raw like their Russian neighbours, are also traditionally nomadic and thus extraordinarily convivial to wanderers looking for a place to rest their wearisome parts. We pushed on further north, now, and so finally came upon Old Mother Red, the great Russian bear state. Siberia, covering almost 10% of the earth’s land surface, was our first stop. In the city of Ulan-Ude, our kind host Vladimir promptly took us to a Russian barbeque by a local river which flows into nearby Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on the planet. Before we ourselves impatiently ventured there, Vladimir had told us to “expect rain three times a day at Baikal”; we had ten straight days of blue sky. Unbelievable as our luck was, the Baikal water always remained, for all practical purposes, fucking freezing. Our baths were, well, quite quick. Everything in Siberia is big, from the military personalities to the Tran-Siberian to the everlasting forest upon woodland upon forest. But Lake Baikal is something else entirely, more like a silent ocean of possibilities for the traveller hoping to grasp anonym-
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...suddenly, we were there, walking the 4am streets of a Moscow so serenely quiet it seemed to be extending a warm handshake of congratulation...
ity deep inside a Northern Hemisphere summer. Thick, honeyed sunsets and sunrises were 10.30pm and 4am respectively, and we yearned to catch most all of them, making inspired love on the side of what seemed a timequake. For the entire length of our stay we camped on the shore, occasionally hiking out for supplies or for the pleasure of meeting some amicable Siberians: such as Yura, the mining engineer / amateur connoisseur who introduced us to delicious endemic Baikal fish. “Just a little salt” was always important. But it’d be two weeks spent in Russia, we well on the way to the more European parts, before we’d be sleeping in proper beds—and this in the village of Chemal, where the dreamy Altai Mountains cradled our tired bones like mamas. Days we’ll never wish to forget. And suddenly, there we were, walking the 4am streets of a Moscow so serenely quiet it seemed to be extending a warm handshake of congratulation. We’d managed the now dead communist ideal by land, from South China to European Russia, with only the Kremlin to see—where Lenin’s embalmed corpse appeared dead as cold rock; there was no going back now as tourists queued for Soviet memorabilia on what used to be a much more, for better and undeniably worse, Red Square. Such are the times. Such are the times, too, that the old red states are opening up. There is a wealth of natural and cultural experiences to be garnered and new perspectives to be gained that will stay with one forever, particularly because they remain unobstructed by the touristy scene. I urge you to go. And I urge you to enter with a mind for anything: I wanted to keep this an adventure log and not divert too much, for we both came out from the lesson with far more questions than answers; but we know enough now to always keep it that way.
u.g.l.y. On the trail of the feral university.
You can track a feral animal by the traces it leaves—footprints, broken branches, dung. I’m still not sure where in that list the new Flinders University campus in the C.B.D. would fit, metaphorically speaking, but I’m certain it’s in there somewhere. Most “education providers” (a grotesque phrase, but then language is the least of the industry’s problems) in this country have a wild, desperate streak in their drive to attract more students; Flinders isn’t by any means the worst. But their new rooms manage to illustrate the nasty side-effects of this approach in a space you can walk through in two minutes. Now, anyone who's been to the main Flinders campus knows that no building there is going to be winning any beauty contests anytime soon. They haven’t quite outdone themselves in choosing a place in town, but height notwithstanding 181 Victoria Square wouldn’t took too far out of place in the brutalist village at Bedford Park. (181 is the tower on the northeastern corner of the Square, the old Reserve Bank building. Flinders takes up part of the ground and all of the first floor.) The first hint that something is wrong comes as you walk past. The ground floor, brightly lit through the street-facing windows, is entirely devoted to selling the university, as opposed to the university itself. There’s a large, friendly, open-plan office for helping out with potential student inquiries, four touchscreen displays for working out which of the lucrative courses available you want to ask at the counter about, an old-school scrolling LED sign for straight-out advertising of university events, and a dozen computers ostensibly for student use. No expense or trouble has been spared to make this place look good to what I’m sure the marketing department responsible for the place at least has the decency to call “prospective” students rather than “future” ones. In other words, everything else, besides looking good,
Words, Jiminy Krikkitt
is secondary. If a genuinely useful feature happens to be pretty, then great, if not it’s likely to fall by the wayside. This approach is only tenable to start with because the inside of the building cannot be seen from the outside. For example, there are twice as many computers downstairs, visible to the passing public, than there are upstairs where students actually study and use them—computers which themselves are an afterthought if the plans the University uses to advertise the campus on its website are anything to go by. Only two were present the first time I came through, on a quiet Tuesday afternoon during the holidays, and both were in use. A note above the lone student printer there explained that it cannot be accessed from the downstairs machines, and invited students to print from their own laptops instead. Never mind, it was out of toner anyway. You shudder to think what it's like come assignment submission time. The study rooms themselves—a mere four, all upstairs—are uniformly well-equipped, with the projectors and flat-screens for the de rigueur PowerPoint presentations all shiny and too new to have broken down yet; the campus’s real test will come when bits start failing, since it’s plain that no other lecturing methods besides PowerPoint have been taken into account. (The courses taught include public policy, law, business, and not much else, so this is probably a safe bet, more’s the pity.) Rooms three and four are rather cramped—better hope they don’t overenrol—and the round rotating desks on the lecture seats prettier than they are functional. The problem isn’t that the “campus” is soulless. If it were, it would be utterly inoffensive, a bland background against which lecturers’ content could stand or fall on its own merits. Like the Napier Building. No, the campus has a soul, but it’s the soul of Frankenstein’s monster, or perhaps the one from a Thank God You’re Here parody skit set in a plastic surgery. It's a grotesque, ill-conceived
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horror, where the relentless pursuit of attractiveness is the very thing that made it ugly. And it knows it. Take the interior design. Rather like the tricoloured exteriors at UniSA City West, it’s hard to tell if this is the fault of genuine aesthetic bankruptcy on the designer’s part or, on the contrary, a heroic effort to make an appalling brief workable. The frosted glass room dividers are pretty standard nowadays, though trying the echo the interlocking-capital-I pattern from the suicide grille outside was misguided. As attempts to work with the existing building go, however, it’s still better than the lifts, in which modern controls and voice announcements sit awkwardly next to wall tiles apparently recycled from an early-seventies nightclub toilet. Faux-wood patterned particle board in a matching shade in the student kitchen is forgivable, and might have even qualified as pleasant if they’d left it there. But the worst is the paint and the carpeting, which blends harmless greys with wide stripes of colour; corporate blue, astroturf green, a tan and a yellow most readily described in terms of bodily excretions, and a headacheinducing shade of red. The latter two are the nadir; any of the others would be tolerable on their own, though the (literal) broad-strokes combination makes things needlessly worse. The yellow is inexcusable because the marketing department would have known better than anyone that Flinders has a far more serviceable shade in its coat of arms, not to mention most of its advertising material. Looking at the red, on the other hand, gives the impression of being trapped inside a fire extinguisher. Or a Westpac branch. It looks good in digital photos. In real life, though, getting a seat near the window is advisable. “Headache-inducing” wasn’t a metaphor. Just make sure you can’t see another seat, because at no small expense they’ve carried over the tan and red motifs to the furniture, as if the visual cacophony wasn’t bad enough already. The campus has its good points, of course; no real disaster is unmitigated. As with many real disasters, most of the good points have to do with getting away. Bus stops are close by, the tram a short walk; the nearest bar (The Treasury) is a tad posh for the average student, but any port (or beer, or vodka) will do in a storm. A liquor licence application notice in the vacant half of the ground floor offers further hope for the future. Best of all, once you finally can’t take any more of the strange corporate training centre, and need an actual academic environment,
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the Barr Smith Library is a mere fifteen minutes’ walk away at a leisurely pace, and your Flinders ID card is good to borrow. The walk there can be cut to a little as five minutes if you put traffic lights at a lower priority than a timely escape. Nobody would blame you if you did. Just like nobody could blame Flinders for doing this, no matter what the crimes against taste. The funding model of the Australian university system depends on ever-increasing numbers of students, preferably international students coughing up the big bucks to study in sundrenched comfort, and it’s understood that international students want to study in the city centre. Flinders can now say they have a city centre location, and the concentrated marketability of the place ensures it pays, both for itself, and for their more livable main campus in the foothills. Restricting the courses offered to postgrad students, mostly fee-paying and fulfilling at least one definition of the word “mature”, ensures the facilities stay in decent condition; six months after opening, the student kitchen (sorry, “hub”) still has a full complement of coffee mugs. (This may not seem remarkable, until you talk to someone old enough to remember when the Mayo provided real cutlery and crockery. They switched to disposables about ten years ago for one reason and only one: the theft rate.) The photos on the web site will look good, and they’ll even be up-to-date. And the enrolments will roll in. And I’m one of them, still going to go even if I have to wear sunglasses in class to not see that awful red paint everywhere. The university can hardly charge for courses the students themselves don’t expect to make money from, and my B.A. pays no bills.
The problem isn’t that the “campus” is soulless. If it were, it would be utterly inoffensive, a bland background against which lecturers’ content could stand or fall on its own merits. Like the Napier Building. No, the campus has a soul, but it’s the soul of Frankenstein’s monster...
Bring it on? Deconstructing cheerleading. Words, Sarah Borg
"We're wanted, we're hot We're everything you're not We're pretty We're cool We dominate this school!"
team of competitive cheerleaders from Adelaide walk into the stadium where the annual National Championship competitions in Melbourne are being held. Another team from their club is warming up to go on stage, and so the boys and girls, dressed in their green club tracksuits start to cheer them on, "Feel the beat, who are we, we are Visual Energy!" Another club from Adelaide walks past in purple tracksuits and the team members exchange friendly greetings. The teams then go backstage and remove their jackets and track pants to reveal their competing uniform consisting
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of a long-sleeved, midriff-covering top and pleated skirt (and pants and a top for the boys). One of the girls' stomachs then grumbles loudly and she asks their coach, "Why does everyone have to go on a diet?" who replies, "Because! In cheerleading we throw people into the air. And fat people don't go as high." No, just kidding. This is real life, not a movie, and I just quoted Bring It On. Cheerleaders don't really speak in rhyme, use words like 'cheerocracy', or constantly act like they think they are the greatest thing to grace the Earth's presence - well none of the ones I've met do anyway. When people think of the word cheerleader they usually imagine the movie Bring it On or a group of scantily-clad "popular" blonde American girls in a cheesy high school TV show. I'm a cheerleader and what I have discovered is that while this stereotype is obviously exaggerated and fairly ridiculous, it's really not that far from what people actually imagine â€˜cheerleadersâ€™ to be like. Unfortunately the thing I can best compare competitive cheerleading to (because no one really seems to be sure what exactly it is) is, Bring it On. There are cheerleading teams that cheer for sporting teams like gridiron, basketball and Aussie rules football. These teams perform dance routines at games with or without pom poms. Competitive cheerleading is much more of... a sport, similar to aerobics, dancing, and gymnastics. In fact, AUS Cheer, the association that organises all of the cheerleading competitions in the state is a branch of GymSA, as cheerleading has such a close association with gymnastics. However, our teams come from clubs and not high schools, with team members ranging from school students to full-time mums, law students, engineering students, and carpenters. We don't have a school to "dominate", and being "hot" and "pretty" aren't prerequisite requirements. Just in case you were wondering, competitive cheerleading teams perform routines at competitions against other teams in their division. Points are given to each team for things like execution of dance technique, synchronisation and timing, spacing, difficulty and creativity of choreography, jumps, tumbling, and so on, and the team whose routine receives the highest score wins their division. There are two main divisions: pom (dance) and cheer. In pom the routine involves predominately dancing and jumps (like toe touch jumps and pike jumps) whilst holding pom poms. Cheer is probably more what people imagine when they think of cheerleading. The routine is based
Left: Vintage cheerleading postcard 40
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around stunts which involve a group of team members lifting up one or more team members into the air (flyers) and sometimes throwing the flyer up in a 'cradle' or 'basket toss'. In between different stunts there is a routine much like pom but also with added tumbling. Tumbling is the gymnastics side of cheerleading involving cartwheels, handstands and all kinds of flips. There are a few other divisions including partner or group stuntwhich involves just stunting and no actual routine between stunts. "So do you actually cheer?" Some teams do actually yell things out during their routine, but especially in Australia, this is a bit outdated. After running around on stage for 2 minutes the last thing you feel like doing is shouting, and it's not like we're cheering for a sporting team to win. We do have a few of our own club cheers that we use to promote team spirit, usually when we are waiting for results to be announced or when supporting other teams in different divisions from our club. Cheerleading is, of course, nowhere near as big in Australia as it is in America. The club I am part of was the first competitive cheerleading team formed in South Australia and it was only formed in 2005. A lot of schools here aren't eager to have cheerleading teams because of some of the associated stereotypes. In America, most cheerleaders start very young and are also experienced gymnasts. They join a team in school and can get college and university scholarships if they make it into college teams. They take cheerleading as seriously as other well-known sports like basketball and baseball. "Do you have any boys on your team?" Yes we do have boys on our team. One boy to be more specific. That's one of the major differences we noted at the international competitions between American and Australian teams. The American teams had an equal gender balance whereas most of the Australian teams were all girls or only had a few male team members. Having guys in your team just makes life easier for everyone. A strong tall guy lifting a girl above his shoulders is always going to find it easier than another girl who is only slightly bigger than the girl she is lifting. However, not too many
Aussie blokes are keen to be labelled as a 'cheerleader'. In America, people know that guys who do cheerleading generally need to be quite strong and get to spend their time lifting and throwing up pretty girls into the air, before doing a few awesome back flips. So I assume it is a bit more acceptable for guys to say they do cheerleading over there than over here. Recently, our team, two teams from Brisbane, and one from Perth got to travel to Hawaii to compete in the International Aloha Spirit Championships. I'm not going to lie, a huge part of the attraction to compete in this was the chance to get to holiday in Hawaii. After a billion training sessions and pleading to the university to let me take some time off, we went to compete. The competition went over two days and had teams from many different countries from around the world. The American ‘division six’ cheer teams (in Australia, the highest division we have is five, in America it can go up to seven) amazed us as they performed routines even better than the showcases in Bring It On itself. We of course, having had nowhere near as much experience or opportunity cheerleading-wise, competed in a lower division. Our team had members competing in Open Pom and Cheer Division three (the highest cheer division in South Australia). It was an amazing experience to be immersed in the American cheer culture and get to compete at a competition attended by what I would describe as elite cheer athletes. We even came away with first place in both of our divisions! It was a huge moral boost to get to say that we received gold at an international American cheerleading competition. Cheerleading is definitely a lot harder than most people would think. It requires fitness, flexibility, strength, endurance, and more often than not you end up getting kicked in the nose or punched in the eye by a falling flyer. Not to worry, no one's ever been seriously hurt (I think) and you get to meet some wonderful people of all ages from all walks of life (our team consists of girls and boy of ages 14-36), and if you’re lucky, you even get to go to Hawaii!
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Federal election: Sorting fact from fiction.
Primer : Your Guide to the Modern World
Words, Michael Norris
Another federal election, another gaggle of vote-hungry politicians looking to appease the masses. Sounds harsh? Perhaps, but in the case of the perpetual asylum seeker/refugee debate, appeasement often translates into fuelling the fires of irrationality and xenophobia. Never fear, Primer is here, to sort the fact from the fiction.
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Hysteria item #1: “They’re arriving in droves!” Before 1989, Australia received fewer than 500 refugee applications annually. After the Tiananmen Square incident, this substantially increased to 16,248 during 1990-91. Since that time, there has been a general decrease in the number of visa applications, falling to 3200 in 2004-2005. Comparatively, Australia receives a very low proportion of refugees. In 2003, Australia received a total of 4,295 applications for asylum. Canada, in the same year, received 31, 937 applications, Germany received 50,563 applications, and the UK received 60,047 applications. In sum, Australia receives fewer asylum applications than the majority of industrialized countries. In fact, in absolute terms, Australia receives roughly 0.0001% of the world’s refugees (i.e. not a lot). In March 2010, the total number of asylum seekers under the Rudd government reached 4386, which was claimed to be indicative of a soft stance from the Government. At that rate, according to Julian Burnside AO QC, it would take 20 years for the number of asylum seekers to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Hysteria item #2: “Weak refuge policy = more boats” The increase, or decrease, in numbers of asylum seekers generally mimics worldwide trends. Dr. Mark Thomson, author of a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute entitled ‘The Human Tide’, states that “the principal cause of people seeking refuge is events which cause them to seek refuge.” Conflict, famine and drought act as instigators for the desperate and persecuted to flee their country, rather than news of a revised immigration policy in Australia. Recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Iraq have resulted in large-scale upheavals. The UNHCR’s global trends report (2008) estimated that 42 million people had been uprooted by conflict. It is only natural that a proportion of those will arrive on Australian shores. The contention that “pull factors” such as domestic policies outweigh the effects of conflict is just not backed up by evidence.
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Hysteria item #3: “Turning the boats around is the best option” The debate regarding boat arrivals misses two crucial points. Firstly, 98 per cent of illegal arrivals into this country do so by plane, overstay their visa, applying for asylum later. The policies deliberated over by the Government and Opposition therefore simply kowtow to the xenophobic inclinations of the Australian people, whilst simultaneously failing to tackle the real issues, such as plane arrivals and people smuggling rackets. Secondly, humanitarian aspects are simply dismissed in the contest to attract votes. As their respective pre-election proposals unfurl, it becomes a race to the bottom in terms of accommodating those genuinely persecuted by the harshest regimes on the planet. Andrew Bartlett, a Migration Law Research Associate at Australian National University, states that, “[t]he worst excesses of the Howard era are now being surpassed by countries like Italy.” Australia has an obligation as a global citizen to ease the pressure on developing countries, who host 80 per cent of the world’s refugees. As they prolong the pain of the persecuted, through detention or refusal, these policies are a sad indictment on Australian society. Time for principled discussion It is worth quoting Andrew Bartlett at length here: “[t]he policy dilemmas thrown up by this issue are huge. In one sense, there is no full solution, short of world peace and an end to poverty globally. But the least we could do is stop pretending we can just block them out.” It is genuinely saddening to see the absence of a principled discussion on asylum seekers in this federal election. How Australia and the developed world will be able to cope with an increased number of migrants due to climate change (projected to be 200 million by 2050) is dependent upon the accuracy and openness of domestic debate. Unsustainable solutions are being paraded in front of the Australian public. I don’t not advocate an “open door” policy; rather, I campaign for a debate with less misinformation and hysteria. The marginalized deserve far better than what both major parties offer.
culture With your host, Elizabeth Tien An Flux
The in-between, the home of the boatman, and the place where Achilles didn’t cool his heels…is a library? To my left, a small boy was playing a beloved computer game I have not seen for at least seven years. Moments earlier, I had passed a display dedicated to that book I felt guilty about never finishing. Sorry Garth Nix – all I remember about your ‘Abhorsen’ series is something to do with bells, icebergs, and some kind of uncomfortable sexual tension. With this many past blasts, which could totally only mean something to me, my natural conclusion was, of course that clearly I must have died in the night. However, before I could get fully stuck into the philosophical, personal and psychiatric implications of my ‘place between’ being a library (for instance, what about my subconscious was manifesting itself as a similarly dressed couple excitedly thumbing through ‘magazines for sale!’? Does everyone have a serene gentleman quietly reading the newspaper somewhere in their mind?), a wave of logic struck me. It was damp, and full of SuDoku. If this was the void, then it wasn’t reality, making it all some kind of dream-state. Dreamstate opens up the floodgates to using ‘Inception’ reasoning. Thus, the fact that I could remember how I came to be at the library meant that this was NOT a dream state…possibly meaning that I now cannot use ‘Inception’ reasoning…landing us back at square one. Or maybe negative square
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one. Or possibly the square root of negative one? Then we’re dealing with a lower case “I”, so maybe the non-existant thing in this scenario is me. MY BRAIN JUST HIT THRESHOLD But no, seriously, on the walk to the library, my dress was seduced by the wild, wily wind and threatened to retroactively audition for the role of the house in “Up”. The painfully awkward (and strangely boring) attempt to weigh it down coupled with the lack of both Jensen Ackles and pirates served to convince me that I was, in fact, living in reality. Furthermore, at no stage in my memory did I have a big flashback montage about the important things in life. Thanks to mass media, I now picture that phenomenon as a series of videos playing on the side of the train. In this same scenario, I also picture myself as a man. Cheers, road safety commercial. However, with reality as firmly established as it can be without the aid of a perpetually spinning thing, my Saturday morning experience did raise some interesting questions. I don’t really think, if there is an in between, that it would be a library. Possibly a hallway lined with doors of all shapes and sizes, each opening onto a defining experience. Along with the obligatory graduation, first day of school, and broken bone doors (damn my enthusiasm to get into the investigator science centre as quickly as possible), there would probably the “smell the roses” type doors (i.e. that time you and your best friend simultaneously realised a transient but strong hatred of popcorn), and of course the awkward experience doors. In my case, the largest of these opens into the bra section of a department store, where a younger me fervently tries to remain invisible to all the people within a 50 metre radius. Because, you know, it’s awkward when people know you’ve hit puberty. …though maybe not as awkward as zoning out in your local library. Seriously. By the time I was done thinking, the lights were out, the blinds were down, and a friendly cricket was chirping. Well not really, but the man with the newspaper had moved on to the crossword.
Columnist illustrations by Chloe Langford
crushing realisation From the amorous dreams of Emma Marie Jones It all started with Free Willy. I was ten, and Jesse was the most beautiful living creature I’d ever laid eyes upon. I mean, come on. He was a lovable street kid who freed a whale. Who wouldn’t pause the VCR whenever his face came on and kiss the TV screen? (Nobody? Oh… I totally didn’t do that… ever.) Anyway, thanks to Jesse and his adorable combo of orca and harmonica, I discovered the concept of a crush pretty early in life. I went on to have a crush on a number of unlikely figures throughout my nerdy preteens, including Drop Dead Fred and the second incarnation of Pete on Round The Twist. My highschool years heralded crushes both on the slightly more predictable (see: Seth Cohen) and forever nerdy (see: Orlando Bloom in full Legolas regalia). Let’s take a dictionary break to clarify the definition of the crush: an attraction, yes, but one with no real intention to act. Admiration from afar. The occasional far-fetched, lecture-length daydream in which I accidentally run into Zach Braff on Rundle Street and he instantaneously drops to one knee with a tennis-ball sized diamond in hand. In short, a crush is the perfect sentiment to harbour for a celebrity or
some other equally unreachable specimen of manmeat. Which is why it’s unusual that in recent years, my crushes have moved into a far more local arena. Tertiary studenthood brought very little change (see: Seth Cohen), but my passive passions have begun to manifest on those less famous and less fictitious (see: American Apparel Guy). It’s unexplainable, and it’s also hugely inconvenient. It makes buying unisex t-shirts super awkward. To make matters worse, these fits of amour pop up everywhere—and I mean everywhere. I moved house and silently farewelled 11:08 Train Guy. Boost Juice Guy must have quit or got fired, but damn, those All Berry Bangs were bangin’. And of course, there’s the ever-present Lecture Guy. He varies from semester to semester, but there’s always one. As I write this, I’m yet to attend a Semester 2 lecture, so the jury’s still out—but I’m sure someone will eventually catch my eye. And I’ll sit behind him, week in and week out, and learn more about the back of his head than the subject in question. Moving quickly past the fact that that last sentence makes me sound like a stalker, and hoping that no consequent assumptions are made about my vacant in-class expression, let’s delve into the reason behind this little shift. A lengthy psychoanalytical discussion with my housemate has led us both to the realisation that—shock, horror—we’re growing up. And with the passing of each decade comes a big dose of unwelcome realism. No longer am I content to lose myself in daydreams in which I happily run a killer whale sanctuary with my husband Jesse from Free Willy. This is because, ten years later, I have (however unwillingly) accepted that there is, in fact, no Jesse. His name is Jason James Richter, and his most recent acting accomplishment to date was a cameo in an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Not so enticing anymore, is he? Let’s look to Mr. Richter as a personification of my childhood dreams: they were freaking awesome at the time. Whale-freeing, harmonica-toting, denim-wearing awesome. But as I grew older, my childhood dreams grew, well, shittier. Depressingly enough, they often do. But it’s okay. With every poor, unsuspecting boy who is unlucky enough to be attractive to me, my tired childhood dreams become replaced, brick by skinnyleg-wearing brick, with shiny new twentysomething dreams. And what dreamy dreams they are.
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State of the Union. Words, Fletcher O'Leary: AUU President
What’s been happening? First week back we had Clubsfest, which turned out to be a fun filled three days. The Clubs Association did a great job with the event. In late July, members of the Student Affairs committee held a meeting with some of the University bigwigs about getting some commitment on the recording of lectures, providing course materials online (as an alternative to expensive and environmentally damaging reading bricks), and providing electronic submission of assessment pieces (instead of having to print it off and physically submit it). The good news is that all of these are possible for the University to do. The bad news is that they won’t agree to mandate anything – yet. We’re going to be having some follow up meetings and make formal submissions to some of the University’s committees to at least get the debate rolling. It is bizarre and archaic for the 46
ON DIT MAGAZINE August 9, 2010
University to not be using the technology that it has on hand to actually provide flexibility to students. Things coming up As always, you can check out the AUU events calendar at auu. org.au On this calendar you can check out all of the things happening on campus. The Student Representative Council is having a student meeting on August 12, on the Barr Smith Lawns. This hasn’t been attempted before, so come along and contribute ideas and opinions to the organisation that represents you to the University and to the community. Student elections are also coming up the week beginning August 30. This is something of a soul crushing experience for anyone who is running or campaigning during the week – it’s kind of like getting dumped three hundred times. Per day. For five days. So please be
gentle. Also, please get involved – talk to candidates, see why they want to get involved. Ask questions. And also vote. It matters. The Federal Election gets up the DUFF While education policy hasn’t been getting much of an airing in the election campaign so far, there have been a couple of clangers. The two most ridiculous policy announcements go to the Liberals – with Tony Abbott and Chris Pyne declaring that a Liberal government will reintroduce domestic up front fee places (‘DUFFs’) and will play politics with the lives of international students by targeting international students to cut immigration numbers. If you are worried about queue jumpers, then you need not bother whipping out your binoculars and head for the West Australian coast line look-
ing for leaky boats. Just look at DUFFs – if you don’t get a high enough score to be eligible for a HECS place in the course you want to do at university, you can simply buy your way in. When the Howard government introduced DUFFs, John Howard scoffed at claims that there would ever be such a thing as $100 000 degrees in Australia. By the end of the last government it was worse - you could buy your way into a degree in Medicine for $200 000 at some universities, if you were not able to get into a course by your own merits. Full fee places can be seen as one of two things: either the Liberals announcing that they will shirk their responsibilities to adequately fund higher education, or ideological pork barrelling for the wealthy elite of Australia. The Liberals have also come out with a plan to cut migra-
tion numbers – focusing on international student visas and family reunions. University and business groups have already publicly called on Tony Abbott to scrap this plan. It’s ridiculous and wrong. International students essentially prop up our higher education system – Universities Australia says that international students are worth $18 billion a year. International students also provide diversity and a culturally rich environment for the whole of Australia. In my four years at University I have had the pleasure of knowing many international students. From Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas, international students bring a breadth of personal and cultural experiences to be shared. I know international students from the ancient capital of the Qin Dynasty, Xi’an – home of the terracotta warriors. I know international students from Kenya and Germany, united by a passion for football.
I know students who have come here, fleeing compulsory military service in their home countries, who look forward to a better life in Australia. These are but a few examples. Each international student has a story to tell, and each international student contributes to our society. It is offensive and malignant to attack international students, or to create any policy in regards to international students, solely in terms of migration and population.
ON DIT MAGAZINE August 9, 2010
don’t eat beef jerky when you’re flying to turkey
Travelling with Rory Kennett-Lister My sister is halfway through a Gap placement at Christ’s Hospital School in East Sussex. As a result of this, my parent’s need to see her, and due to the potential for cries of favouritism had I not been brought along, I was lucky enough to visit the UK, Istanbul and Paris during the holidays that have just slipped too quickly by. While it would be easy to wax lyrical about the amazing beauty of the cities, their quirks and eccentricities, and the general superiority of all things European over little old Adelaide, one of the most enlightening experiences of the trip occurred in a plane, somewhere over Germany. On the London/Istanbul leg of the journey I was faced with something that is now permanently stained into my memory. Flying EasyJet — an airline that eschews the apparently arduous task
ON DIT MAGAZINE August 9, 2010
of seat allocation in favour of an all out stampede upon opening of the gates — I somehow found myself near in the third row of the plane, the closest I have ever come to First Class. While I tried to ignore the inability of the seat to recline, and imagine my self as part of the jetsetting elite, I was rudely blasted back from my reverie by the absolutely monumental, cheek-flapping fart of the man sitting in front of me. As my emotions ran from terror to uncontrollable hilarity I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt — perhaps it was just a fleeting lapse. But then I observed his position; with his back craned forward off the backrest to get the best angle for the expulsion of gas, rear end slightly lifted from the seat, this was no momentary loss of bodily control. While I sat in shock, I comforted myself with the realisation that thankfully, it seemed to have been all bang and no tang. Unfortunately for me, and the other 400-odd passengers travelling in the hurtling gas canister, the gallant gasman decided it was time for round two and dutifully fired another one off. At the risk of descending further into vulgarity, this one certainly did more damage to the ozone. The whole episode forced me to re-evaluate a number of things, not least of which being acceptable decorum on transnational flights. While I (and I assume others) become more uptight, squeeze my cheeks together and pray for silent release, the bald-headed trailblazer evidently took a more ‘relaxed’ approach to the passing of wind in public. And arguably, there are numerous benefits to such an approach. Firstly, it avoids the disapproving growl of a stomach forced to deal with an aborted fart retreating back up the small intestine when fear of shame overrides the functions of the body. Secondly, there’s something to be said for the confidence to completely disregard the opinions of those outside one’s field of vision. But I think I’ll wait for evidence of broader acceptance before giving it a go myself. An hour later the plane touched down and I alighted, enlightened, frightened and gasping for air, having survived my first ‘travel experience’ of the trip.
THE FUNNIES: It’s hard out here for a fish
think I’ve stretched the adage ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ to its breaking point. The badlands of the On Dit office are a veritable graveyard for the tiny, gilled numpties. Three have now passed through the semi-circle of death (it’s like the circle of life, but involves only death) under my stewardship. And yet there’s no one reason for my Harold Shipman-like frenzy. I don’t hate fish, powerful as the offending evidence may be. I like them, and am amused by their fateful sojourns around the hilariously oversized brandy glass they call(ed) home. The first one had no name. #1 lived out its final, painful days under the repressive yoke of Vonnegut, the bigger, faster fish. Vonnegut ate all of #1’s food, which promptly died. It provoked something of an internal conflict in me – just how sad do you feel about the
passing of possibly the world’s dumbest pet? A little sad, it turns out. I didn’t want to think about the pain of starvation, slowly dying without understanding why the hand of God didn’t drop food from the sky like so much tied aid. I did what any self-denying person does when faced with loss – got another one. The sleek, stately Kafka took #1’s place, and for a while, things were good. I imagined Kafka and Vonnegut swimming around in a sort of permanent ennui – endlessly figuring how the articulate the misery of the fish condition. Then Vonnegut died. Both of the Vonneguts dear to me are dead now. Perhaps the death of the gilled version provoked more surprise, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I knew when it died, and secondly, unlike the author, it appeared perfectly healthy right up until its death. When I saw it bobbing
belly-up on the water’s surface, I immediately though ‘insurance scam!’. Kafka’s death prompted this article. Three lessons, none particularly well learnt, have led me to take a sabbatical from keeping fish. What little blood they have is on my hands. Kafka’s death perhaps frustrated me most – it seemed to taunt me, meekly and silently. It wanted me to burn it and its details, but I did what any friend would do. I flushed it down the toilet. Perhaps it is a mistake to ascribe to the fish the literary characteristics of their namesakes. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. - Mateo Szlapek-Sewillo
ON DIT MAGAZINE August 9, 2010
! N E P O W NO SPACE, Y D U T S W E RN BY ‘FIX’ ISEYDOAUND CONSTRULCITDEADYS! DESIGNNTS OVER THE HO H PRESSES, IC STUDE -TAP, SANDEW EVENT IT BOARDS, G WATER ON
OILIN ROUP DESKS, WH S. WAVES, BID O R IC M AL/ G T INSTALLATION H IT W AS, INDIV U AR LOUNGE ARE NOTICEBOARDS &
GE R O E G E H T IN F NOWAOYPBENUILDING,JAUWSTNOSF MURERBARRSMITHL TH
Published on Aug 10, 2010
On Dit Magazine is a fortnightly Australian student magazine with an emphasis on exceptional writing, photography, and illustration.