Sunday, March 29, 2015
 

Who runs Arc? Girls.

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Sophie Johnston

Opinion

We should all know what Arc is – it’s the student-run organization at UNSW, responsible for everything in university life from parties to clubs to advocacy to Tharunka itself.

But because of the diverse things Arc does, it makes sense that Arc’s board – elected by students and from all corners of our university community – should also be as diverse as it can be.

Right now, that’s not true. Women make up half of Arc’s membership, but only a quarter of Arc’s board of directors in 2015. Before this year, that number was even lower.

There are a lot of reasons this is the case – many more men than women run for Arc Board and while three students are elected for two year terms every year, there are no guarantees that any of those who get elected will be female.

It’s time we change that, and it’s time for equality. On March 24 we get that chance.

Arc will be holding an Extraordinary General Meeting where Arc members can vote ‘Yes’ to more women on Board, along with a lot of other changes to modernize Arc’s structures and make student life even better at UNSW.

The reforms mean students get to directly elect more Board members overall – eight instead of six – and every year, two of the four directors elected must be women.

It’s important to note, though, that students aren’t just getting more representatives for free. The cost is that the Student Development Committee convenor will no longer be a director.

I believe this is a worthwhile trade-off to make, and I hope we all will on March 24. Without making this change, we can never ensure true equality – we could only apply Affirmative Action to one spot in three, rather than two in four.

But I don’t just think removing SDC Convenor is good for this specific goal– it stands on its own merits.

Clubs get plenty of representation within Arc – running clubs and getting involved is the best way to meet enough people to get elected to positions, and there are full-time officers who exist to facilitate and respond to the concerns of students.Regular club general meetings run by Arc’s full-time Student Development officers mean that clubs have plenty of opportunities to get their voices heard, and structures will still be in place for club representation.

This isn’t a fight between clubs and women – I think both deserve good representation, and I think these changes are the best way to ensure both do get heard. On March 24, I’m one of many women asking you to get on board for women on board.

Together, we can ensure our organisation speaks for all of us.

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Staff and students demonstrate over working conditions

Alicia D’Arcy

lots of ppl

Members of UNSW staff were on strike today with support from students, picketing all 14 gates of campus over bargaining disputes.

Striking members from the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) were peacefully handing out flyers and talking to incoming students alongside members of the Student Representative Council (SRC) and other concerned students.

At 12pm, there was a rally at the Main Entrance that about 100 people attended. Speakers included NTEU State Secretary Genevieve Kelly, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon and SRC Education Officer Cara Egan.

Ben Golder, a picket captain with the NTEU, said the goal of the strike was “to progress on claims in our Enterprise Agreement. It’s been eighteen months which is a very long time.”

The most recent Enterprise Agreements for professional and academic university employees were achieved in 2011 and 2010 respectively, with the university seeing extensive industrial action in 2010.

At the rally, Cara Egan emphasised the importance of solidarity between teachers and students.

“On our picket line and on our campus we are part of a bigger thing. In our small way we are making our society fairer. That is the point of a university and it always should be.”

In her rally speech, UNSW Branch NTEU President Sarah Gregson said the key issue was employment security in response to an increasingly casualised workforce.

She said the NTEU is also advocating for an improved system of addressing workplace bullying, more accessible parental leave, a fairer system for managing flexitime and greater opportunities for professional development. (See here for more detail on the bargaining items).

Ms Gregson also criticised Vice Chancellor Ian Jacobs’ limited discussions with the NTEU.

“Fred Hilmer may have left the building but his ghost lives on,” she said.

hand sign

Previous to the strike, a University spokesperson from the UNSW Media Office, Denise Knight, issued a statement disputing the union’s claims.

“The University remains committed to finalising new agreements for academic and professional staff,” she said via email.

“We have made a number of commitments that build on our current agreements, which offer some of the most generous employment conditions in the sector.

“UNSW is not, however, prepared to agree to claims that will have a negative impact on the operations of the University. Less than 15% of staff at the University are members of the NTEU so we are confident the action will not cause significant disruption to students.”

Mr Golder said that there had been some limited progress in consultations with the university.

“We do acknowledge there’s been movement,” he said.

Mr Golder said that the union had won concessions like an extra ten days of leave for domestic violence sufferers and targets for Indigenous employees.

He stressed however, that these were “uncontroversial, low cost, aspirational agreements that look good [for the university].”

Golder claimed that the university statement was misleading.

“It’s depressing to hear that response, we [UNSW] should be leading. We can always do better and this is an opportunity to be a rich, leading uni. The university often makes this claim, often regarding parental leave.”

The NTEU’s problem with the current parental leave agreement is that is only accessible to staff members who have been working at the university for 5 years.

To compare to the University of Sydney, their current enterprise agreement allows one week of paid leave for every month worked for staff who have been working for less than a year.

Ms Gregson said that the next step was to talk to management tomorrow. “We hope that they will see reason”.

Mr Golder said that a success for the union would be a Vice Chancellor that takes them seriously.

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Put Your Hands Up for Detroit

Laneway in Detroit? Inspired or insane? Adrian Pedic gives his verdict.

detroit

When you think of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival (or just Laneway), there are a multitude of first impressions you could have. If you haven’t yet been, maybe it’s a solid line-up, or the pictures that flooded Facebook a few weeks ago (that only made you a little jealous). If you have been, then maybe your first impression is of the day itself. Even then, it’s hard to settle on any one concrete representation. For me, it was the day I touched Mac DeMarco’s butt, but that’s a story for another time.

What I’m trying to scratch at is that even though music festivals are a fairly well-known and understood quantity these days, Laneway seems to stand out for a few reasons. Firstly, it’s impossible to slap it with a genre label, or its attendees with a culture label. Laneway is distinctly missing its “Soundwave metal heads” or “Stereosonic bros”.

The line-up is diverse and acts as a good cross-section between the established heavyweights and the up-and-comers. While it would be adorably naïve of me to say it’s a mostly independent selection of artists, that would also be wrong. Pond, the Australian psychedelic mango-loving band, is in fact signed to a major label. FKA Twigs is easily beyond the level of indie artist, even if that still seems to be the appeal for some. Future Islands conquered the world last year, and their performance on Letterman went viral and even became a meme. Cultural fringe bands? Doubtful.

Now here’s where things get interesting. Take that whole concept, and apply it to the festival itself. Laneway, which began in as a glorified street party in Melbourne, is now held in every major city in Australia, as well as Auckland, Singapore and now Detroit.

It’s the decision to hold it in Detroit that seems to be the most interesting one, because it’s one that’s almost impossible to justify. Just imagine it: your successful music festival is about to take its first excursion into the Land of the Free, and you need to pick a location. Keeping in mind, for its debut in America, you are going to want to make an impression. So New York? Los Angeles? Maybe Las Vegas, with an up-yours to Coachella?

Or Detroit, industrial ghost-town, with the subtle connotations of a wasteland and robocops? It seems insane when you consider the crime rate and poverty of the city. However, with a bit of research and thought, it’s actually quite smart.

First of all: Laneway does pride itself on consistently producing line-ups featuring the fresh and hippest artists of the time. In America, where festivals like Coachella reign, what chance does a small show like Laneway have? Instead, take the collection of cool artists, and invite all the cool people to a music festival off the beaten track. It does add some undeniably great ‘indie’ appeal. But more importantly, it manages to give Laneway its own distinct brand, which is impressive for its first time in the US.

“Detroit is having its rebirth and as Laneway continues to evolve, we can identify with a city that is continuing to evolve as well… It seemed like a great fit and this line-up seals it,” said co-founder of Laneway, Danny Rogers, in an interview with MusicFeeds in 2013, when he announced the decision.

It’s certainly a valid point, and has some interesting historical precedent to draw upon.

Perhaps the most relevant is that of Seattle in the 1990s. What was Seattle before the grunge culture, and what was it after? I don’t know, because who cares about Seattle if it’s not the 90s?

Unlike cities like New York, San Francisco and London, where there is a new cultural movement every other generation, cities like Washington DC, Baltimore, Seattle and now Detroit are of interest because they mark a significant expansion of efforts in culture and arts. Rather than depending on the inevitable upswing in major cities, the “rebirth” of Detroit is a concentrated effort by a few individuals, which begins to grow.

Which is why Laneway is a perfect fit for a city that is a growing cultural hub, and why the seemingly insane idea to hold it there begins to make a lot of sense. Now, what’s the first thing you think of when you hear Laneway?

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Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Feelings

Resident philosopher-cum-theologian Aym Randy elucidates.

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In the beginning, people spent a lot of time thinking and new things happened all the time and they meant something and meaning had a meaning at that time and time was something that people questioned because asking questions means more than just putting a question mark at the end of a series of words and a series of words is much more than just a specific composition of letters meant to impart meaning it’s a sentence and a sentence can be something you say to someone or it can be something you do to someone. Like a death sentence.

We live in a world where you can do death to someone else and that’s just something that you have to live with. Unless someone does death to you. Then you don’t have to live with anything because you aren’t alive. Sometimes I wish they would just dig me a grave and let me lie there. Because it’s impossible to keep living and not tell the truth because the truth always seems to come out because coming out isn’t just something people do when they have to announce themselves because the world is designed to assume a million things about a person before they’ve opened their mouth. Opening your mouth is sometimes honestly the worst thing you can do, because everyone knows that the mouth is the arsehole of the face. Actually some people don’t know that and I guess that’s why most conversations make me want to give up.

In conclusion, nothing really gets concluded until death. Orgasm is the foreshadowing of death and probably the only real full stop other than death and literal full stops. And I guess that’s the idea behind feelings. Sometimes thinking makes too much sense, so you have a feeling instead which is like a bunch of inarticulate thoughts written in italics in the word document that is your soul.

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The Vancouver Manoeuvre

For Jack Riisfeldt, exchange didn’t just introduce him to new places — it reintroduced him to old ones. 

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Two days deep and I’m overflowing with nostalgia. It oozes out of me like an impossibly fluorescent tar, pooling around my ankles, rising to my waist. I’m bursting with memory, doing all that I can not to tear apart. I’ve fed greedily these last six months, indiscriminately wolfing down Vancouver in all its grime and beauty. Now I’ve found myself in a familiar world with an unfamiliar appetite.

It’s not that things haven’t changed at home, of course they have. But while my experience was conveniently flanked by international flights, my friends had days like all the rest. They’ve progressed, but it’s subtle and unnerving, like static without white noise. Now I’m a blind man in a ball pit with fingers coated in glad wrap, fumbling with colours I can’t see but know to exist. Hell, I can almost feel Admiral Ackbar’s squid-y breath sliming the back of my neck, poised for the illusion to shatter.

I figured out some tricky shit on exchange. I’ve always been more comfortable living in my head; my time away helped me realise that’s perfectly okay. I’m not running anymore, so I’m not angry all the goddamn time. That’s why coming home is so fucking scary. Because it’s not just a trip, it’s my life, and I don’t want to lose who I am now in the familiarity of what I knew before. So I’m going to have every conversation again, talk to my friends like strangers and know them like I never did.

A friend said to me, ‘exchange is over’. Exchange doesn’t just end, it has infected me for life. It’s in my colonial oppressors, wherever they are, just outside of London. It’s buried deep down the coast, and modestly explicating the strengths and weaknesses of Nelson. Godverdomme! There’s too much of it in the Netherlands. When I walk it squelches between my positively phosphorous toes. Whenever you can see I’m not here, I’m there.

That’s why you should go on exchange. Let it sink its claws into your mind until it’s rooted like some cerebral relic. You’ll be covered in wrinkles with a soggy peach for a head before it lets go. It will haunt you forever, and you’ll love it for it.

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Patricia’s Passion Paints a Pretty Picture for Randwick Artis

Cameron Reddin profiles the founding President and matriarch of the Randwick Art Society, Patricia Reid.

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Patricia Reid (left) and RLI Manager Marian McIntosh (centre-right) showcasing works with Randwick Art Society members

Matriarch of local arts and crafts Patricia Reid has seen the joys of a few become the passion of many as her beloved Randwick Art Society closes in on its 100th member.

Patricia, founding President of the Art Society, equates the growth of membership to the positive impact it continues to have on local artists.

“We do have some very talented artists here. I just feel that it’s great for Randwick to have this Society,” Patricia said.

Founded in 2009 with a member base of 14, the Randwick Art Society (RAS) became the first dedicated Art society in the Eastern Suburbs. Patricia steered RAS into becoming the focal point for local artists to hone their skills across various disciplines of arts and crafts.

“[The RAS] is very important [to its members]. We all feel the same that it’s a good thing we are community-minded,” she said.

Through RAS, Patricia works towards greater recognition and appreciation of all mediums of Art, along with sharing companionship with artists from the Randwick community.

Patricia believed prior to the RAS’s formation that an Art society would earn greater prestige than the preceding network of smaller groups. She also saw openings for local artists that could only be achieved through a larger organisation.

Identifying as an Art society allowed RAS to join the Combined Art Societies of Sydney (CASS) group. The annual CASS exhibition displays 300 of the top artworks from 14 societies across Sydney, and has yielded prizes for RAS members on three consecutive occasions.

“That was why I wanted [an Art society in Randwick] – the nearest one was in St. George, Kogarah. I don’t know why no one else ever wanted to do it. It was just a dream I had,” she said.

Randwick Literary Institute has played host to RAS meetings each Monday since February 2010, and has hosted numerous exhibitions.

Manager of the Literary Institute Marian McIntosh says she has enjoyed watching the society grow to be one of the more popular activities held at the venue.

Having stepped down as Society President at the end of 2012, Patricia has continued her involvement as public officer and historian. She remains a regular participant in weekly RAS events.

“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t [enjoy it],” she said with a grin.

An 84-year resident of Randwick, art has been a central part of Patricia’s life since she began taking art classes at Randwick Public School.

While Patricia was pleased by the successful grades she scored, she truly realised her love for art through another childhood pastime.

“When I was very young they used to have art contests at all the theatres and I always entered those,” she said.

“They would give you a sheet of whatever movie you saw – you’d take them home and fill them in – and I was always winning those. It was just colouring-in but I always loved it, it was just natural.”

She joined the South Sydney Juniors Intra Art Club in 1968, winning several awards for her artworks.

Over time, she experimented with various disciplines before settling on oil painting as her medium of choice.

“I’d tried everything else. Water-colour [artworks] are more difficult – if you muck a water-colour up, you just screw it up and throw it away,” she said.

“If I did an oil painting of anything and didn’t like it, I could paint all over it and make a completely new painting. I love oils, they’re lovely to work with.”

Patricia’s Art regularly fills the walls of the Literary Institute alongside other works from RAS members.

While all artworks are replaced after a few weeks to ensure each member gets their time on display, two smaller paintings have remained on display over summer in memory of the society’s late mentor and founding member Peter Schanzer.

“Peter left his paintings to the [Prince of Wales] Hospital…we decided to leave the ones he had on display,” Patricia said.

Patricia’s hopes for the RAS in 2015 have not changed since she first began.

“I hope the society grows,” she said.

“I hope our members keep coming back and I hope it grows more.”

 

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The Importance of Politics

Sam Moran reflects on why you should care about politics.
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I recently had a discussion with a friend who told me that he was sick of all of this talk about politics. He did not care and it had no impact on his life. I was shocked. It still bothers me to think that someone in Australia who is well educated could ever presume that politics is a distant part of our life. But I increasingly realise that this is a very common perspective.

In the most recent federal election the estimated enrolment participation between eligible Australian voters aged 18-24 was 76.3 per cent. This number is primarily indicative of the engagement between Australian university students and the government falling shamefully short of what we should expect. This is problematic for two reasons.

Firstly, it falls well below the Australian Electoral Council’s (AEC) target of 80 per cent which alone is concerning given the nature of compulsory voting in Australia suggests that target should be much closer to 100 per cent.

Secondly, it demonstrates an overwhelming trend of disinterest amongst young Australians with the political system. This is exhibited in an active dislike of student-politics, which is often alienating, confrontational and largely ineffective. However, the divisive frustration of student politics is not the problem, the issue is disingenuous political debate at all levels of government. As I foreshadowed earlier, we are seeing a growing perspective amongst young people that politics holds no value for them and are unimportant. Such a perspective is wrong, but stems from societal frustration with the inability of the politician to answer a straightforward question, to make the general public feel included and to explain why policies matter. This is important for politicians since voting is compulsory, but also for the public because voting is the primary means by which we exert control over our own governance.

For example, a large proportion of UNSW students understandably feel little connection to the implications of electoral shifts in Queensland recently. However, people in this position demonstrate the problem currently facing Australian politics, the failure to articulate why these events have tangible impacts.

The Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) suffered a major defeat in what was presumed to be a relatively safe election. The Labor Party has formed government, which is a staggering shift given Newspoll predicted at best – a swing of 11 per cent towards Labor, whereas Labor required a shift of over 12 per cent to attain government. The ramifications of such an unpredicted change, almost 14%, are significant and should be heeded nationally.

The first implication is that Queensland now has a Labor minority government. This means a dramatic shift in policy. In the context of the Queensland’s $80 billion debt the difference is; Campbell Newman’s government promised to sell of state assets or to lease them out in long term agreements and pay off as much as $37 billion of debt. In contrast, Labor’s Shadow treasurer proposed to grow the economy and produce 32,000 jobs by spending a further $1.7 billion. This is an example of the tangible impact of politics upon peoples’ lives.

But this still does not answer the question of why people in NSW should care. There are two strong implications of Campbell Newman’s crushing defeat; the first is for the NSW government and the second, is for the federal Abbott government.

The impact upon the NSW state government, currently a firmly entrenched LNP that is expected to maintain office in the looming elections, is significant. Baird’s government has similarities to Newman’s that make the lessons learnt in Queensland essential; namely a desire to raise capital by selling or leasing state-owned enterprises. In particular, recent claims are that Baird’s government has been attempting to artificially prevent a drop in electricity prices to ensure the maximum value in each asset before sale. This policy is very similar to that proposed by the Newman government and, regardless of whether sale of state industries is a good policy, the failure of Queensland’s LNP is an ominous signal to the Baird government.

While distrust of leadership causes people to scrutinise more closely, it also means there is both a disinclination to allow governments to pass difficult legislation and simultaneously, a perverse inventive for politicians to pander to the masses by making short-term policies, avoiding difficult decisions on behalf of the majority. Of course a large proportion of policies should reflect the majority’s interests, but there should not be greater reasons for governments to avoid making tough decisions where necessary.

Newman’s loss has wider implications for Tony Abbott and the embattled LNP party. Tony Abbott will further struggle with the rippling implications of the demise of the LNP in Queensland. Putting aside that it is yet another state unlikely to now be amenable to the ideological agenda of the federal government, making cooperation between states and federal government more challenging. But the similarities between the Federal and Queensland LNP governments are striking and therefore the results faced by Newman’s government are particularly concerning for Abbott’s coalition.

Waleed Aly, writing for the Age on Friday 6 February, argued that the two governments were extremely similar in that they were both characterised by budgets with a “penchant for austerity politics”. As such, the Federal LNP should take a close look at the troubling similarities, and more concerningly the similar responses by the public to policies of Medicare co-payments, deregulation of university education, and austerity measures in the budget.

But why do we care about any of this?

Many students cannot be bothered with the infighting that occurs in politics, the generic responses or political spin in every politician’s answer to straightforward questions. However, scrutiny is important. Governments, like the Abbott government, are elected on undeveloped platforms and then attempt to reveal dramatic and unpopular policies which have implications for everyone.

If the Medicare co-payment had been allowed, university students everywhere would have been required to pay $7 a visit to the doctor. While that is not an obscene amount, the very frugal lifestyle of university students mandates that this be a strong disincentive from seeking early, preventative medical help.

All governments have good and bad policies; all politicians have particular ideological agendas. The only way to ensure that the best government is actually elected and then truly acts in the interests of the electorate is to be critical and engaged. We as university students, as a well-informed, educated body must be more interested, we must force politicians to direct policies at us and just as much demand that they explain why these policies aren’t just good for ‘single-mothers’ or ‘pensioners’, but also for university students, ‘people from disadvantaged backgrounds’ and any other group to whom we might choose to associate.

At the end of the day, democracy is about people power. But the people only have power as long as they fight to keep it. We must remain vigilant and aware of why these events matter, and why politics is important.

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Students asked to stay at home next Wednesday

Brendan Byron

Students have been asked to stay at home next Wednesday by the main staff union of UNSW and the Student Representative Council.

The UNSW Branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has voted to take protected action next Wednesday March 11 as they claim a range of demands are not being met by chancellery in negotiations over the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement.

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Growing Up Brown

Srestha Mazumder writes on traditions and change in modern brown Australia

Growing up in a brown family means growing up in a household filled with rules and regulations and where your father’s word is the last word. My family is the modern brown family. Modern meaning slightly more liberal than a traditional brown family: where the first rule is finishing medical school and where socialising with a person of the opposite gender is outlawed until you’re married. At which point you are expected to have sex with him/her.

Hence, I consider myself lucky.

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Leadership Spill

palmer

On February 9, at the height of the Liberal leadership spill, Tharunka sent correspondent Ned Hirst to the halls of Canberra to report on the excitement. Here’s what he saw.

At ten o’clock on the morning of the failed vote for a leadership spill, Philip Ruddock is asleep in the House of Representatives. I’m here to soak up the excitement of Liberal party in-fighting, but this serves as a brutal reminder that politics is rarely a spectator sport. This is a boxing match that takes place behind closed doors, affording audiences the replacement entertainment of the 71-year-old referee sleep an hour later.

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