In fear of being one of those authors who puts their life story in the introduction to a recipe which no one will read, I’ll just say this: potato and leek seemed pretty underwhelming a combo to me when I first heard my coworker rave about this amazing soup. I was wrong to be doubtful though. This soup is creamy, hearty, simple, cheap and can be made vegan! I know what you’re thinking; say less.
60ml olive oil, plus extra for use as you see fit
1 brown onion, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic (or do 1 fresh garlic clove, minced, if you’re fancier than me)
4 medium desiree potatoes (these are the purpley red ones) peeled and chopped into approx. 2cm cubes
2 leeks, pale section only, thinly sliced
1.25L vegetable liquid stock
125ml thickened cream (optional, really has minimal effect on flavour and texture)
+ Whatever bread moment you’re vibing right now, toasted or not, to serve
I personally love to add some fresh, chopped thyme leaves; fresh parsley; and crushed black pepper. Due to the salt content in the vegetable stock, it is usually not necessary to add salt.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is translucent and garlic is fragrant. Now is generally also a good time to add other seasonings. Add potatoes and leek and cook, stirring, until leek begins to soften and separate.
Add the stock and bring this to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat back to medium and let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring every now and then, until the potato is soft.
Obtain a blendy tool – this could be a blender, hand-held masher, or any combination/variation of these. Blend the mixture until it resembles a conventional soup texture. Be thorough in this! No one likes a lumpy soup.
[OPTIONAL] At a medium heat, add the cream and stir to combine for 5 minutes.
Add any other seasonings you’re really frothing. This is the point where I add pepper – my coworker tells me she adds a drizzle of olive oil. Grab a slice of toasted bread and serve.
The soup keeps pretty well and can easily be made in mass amounts. The ingredients are cheap, easy to come across, and generally represent something you may already have in your cupboard.
After living the last few years of my life, there is no doubt in my mind that resilience and coping is a skill. Our strategies are incredibly personal and often will have been refined over many years of turmoil and stress. However, sometimes they won’t always be that deep! Some people’s go-to (mine included) represents an innate instinct we have to protect ourselves. Whether your coping is productive or not, sometimes it’s necessary to indulge, and sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective on how to continue moving through life dealing with stress.
Over the past few weeks I’ve sought out a kaleidoscope of people to discuss this with. Listed below you’ll see the names of good friends of mine, uni peers, kids I babysit, and even my grandmother. Interestingly, everyone had something different to say. I realised for everyone I spoke with, their go-to coping mechanism reflected something very individual to them. Some of us mentioned escapism, while others preferred to tackle things head on. I hope that when you read this, you’ll see one thing that you hadn’t thought of before, and that that thing will help you even just a little the next time you need it.
My deepest and sincerest gratitude to all those who spoke with me for this article. Without you insightful coping masters, this piece would not have been possible.
“I really like going for a walk or driving if I’m feeling emotionally overwhelmed and blasting music. If I’m stressed about uni stuff, making lists and talking out my plan to myself helps.”
– Sarina, 20
“I like to put in my headphones, listen to music, and walk around the city people-watching. The big buildings towering over me really puts my problems into perspective. I am strangely comforted by how tiny I am in this big world and this reminds me to not take things too seriously and to just relax and take life one day at a time.”
“I like to read or walk Maggie (my dog) or finish my homework and then do some more reading.”
– Sanda, 11
“When I’m feeling depressed, I usually make a plan for allowing myself to feel shitty in a way that doesn’t let me spiral into lying in bed for three days. Firstly, I pick a thing to do that allows me to sit with my emotions, for example making a cup of tea, having a shower, listening to music; followed by a task that will make me feel better like reading a book, putting clothes away or even brushing my hair. I find that allowing myself to feel full and valid emotions within parameters means I’m not suppressing what I feel, but also not letting it control my life.”
– Ella, 21
“I like to play on my iPad. I also like to hop in my bed.”
– Thu, 9
“Talking to people and talking through things helps me put things in perspective and see that it’s usually not as bad as I think. When you look around, you’ll realise you’re really quite lucky compared with a lot of people around you. For instance, I have reasonably good health and a lot of people my age don’t – that’s something I am happy about and feel grateful for. Also, creative pursuits are therapeutic for me. I like craft work and cooking. Tea and coffee are relaxing, as is a good gin and tonic.”
– Dalma, 82
“It depends on the situation, but I always enjoy having a bath! It just helps me to relax and spend some time being alone and processing my thoughts or how the day went.”
– Maddy, 20
“I am on the autism spectrum, so pretty much any kind of stress I feel, no matter how small, is amplified by a factor of like 50 percent. Stress can really, really shut me down. To try and combat that I have to take myself out of that situation and go to a safe space where I can process everything slowly. I use music, drawing, or even just talking to someone I can trust. For the most part I generally tune out and listen to music in a quiet place where I can collect my thoughts. I use this time to figure out what the actual issue is, and how I’m going to address it.”
– Max, 18
“I find taking myself into a different reality helps me cope. For example, quietly reading a novel set in another time or going to see a controversial film with an insightful movie buff (read argumentative!). Ringing a friend that you have not spoken to for a long time is energising, as is going for a brisk walk in cool weather. And don’t underestimate the stress relieving power of animals!”
“If it’s a simple stress I can deal with it pretty well, whether that is by blocking it out or not confronting it at that particular time. I’m more of an expressive person so if it is something a bit more significant then I will seek out somebody close to me to talk to, or listen to music, or maybe stress eat. Tea and coffee are good too.”
– Lauren, 19
“When I’m stressed, I want to sink my teeth into something more story-heavy for a bit of escapism, whether that be a book or a video game.”
“A good cup of tea represents unadulterated luxury and is so soothing in any context. You will always feel at least 5 percent better about any situation after a cup of tea. Escapism is also very therapeutic. When I need a bit of TLC, I’ll grab my luscious cuppa and sit down with some immersive simulation/role-playing games like Minecraft, Skyrim, or Animal Crossing. Sometimes the best way to cope is just to run away for a bit, and that’s okay.”
– Rose, 20
The Thursday of O-Week I went out by myself, with the intention of running into some friends and joining them. Living off campus as I do, it is not possible to wander into a common area and find people, and my housemates had their own evening plans. I caught an Uber into Civic and stood in line outside One22, a party of one.
This would have been unimaginable two years ago, in my first year. I was apprehensive, felt foreign to myself and everything around me. Now, I felt good. Sure, I was getting looks from other groups, specifically ones made up of young men, but it was all mostly harmless, and it had little effect on my mood.
I walked up the all-familiar stairs of old Wolf, bid the bloke I was casually chatting to a good night and lined up for water. It was going to be a sober night.
And so, for the next 40 minutes I drank my water, asked random groups of girls to dance with them and kept my eyes peeled for any friends I could join to appear. I was sober, technically alone, and having a fantastic time. I felt whole, grounded, and confident enough in being a proper, full, and settled person to be able to do this, unlike first-year Karolina.
Growing older means you settle into yourself. You connect with who you are internally and carve out a little space for yourself among the nearly eight billion people who walk this earth. Your existence becomes your own. You learn to claim it and revel in it, wholly and absolutely.
Whenever I tell people I regularly go out sober, they usually respond positively saying “I wish I could do that”. I meet strangers and explain that my friends haven’t come yet, or that they left already, and they are almost always welcoming and friendly. Through my independent adventures I’ve realised that everyone is searching for connection. Everyone wants to feel comfortable within themselves.
The formative moment occurred after Laneway in February 2020. After a beautiful 10 hours of live music at the Old Mill in Port Adelaide, a friend and I headed into town for the afterparty. Tiah and I giddily ran up the stairs to Rocket, which anyone from Adelaide will know as a more indie version of One22 and danced the rest of our energy out. She went home at 2 AM and I decided to stay – the DJ was sick, I felt electrically alive and dancing was an expression of truth.
Hence, I stayed, by myself, in a crowd that was already thinning. At first, I just stood by the bar, sipping water, trying to find an inconspicuous corner I could claim. I wandered over, and immediately looped back to the bar. Too scary. I noticed a small group of people dancing like they meant it, I approached, explained that my friend went home, and asked if I could join them. Yes! Welcomed with enthusiasm, I danced with them until 4 AM, until my body gave way, and my energy was spent. I thanked my companions and got home safe.
The moment that I returned to Rocket after seeing Tiah off, I was strengthening my connection to self. When I walked over to those kind strangers, I was affirming my place in the world, and quietly saying “I exist”. When I felt the bass pulsating through my veins and my body moving in time, I was grounding myself in my own existence, taking ownership of who I was and what I stood for. I was becoming a real, full, and settled person.
Nothing really prepares you for the debilitating existential angst of realising ‘holy shit I am an actual person who is meant to have values and thoughts and a proper life’. You enter the world as an 18-year-old– fresh faced, and unable to internally answer if you even like yourself. Everything comes at you all at once, and you walk down Uni Ave feeling like a meaningless speck that is at the same time bursting with a desire to have a space in the world, to be meaningful.
The changes I’ve experienced in my sense of self over the last two years have been beyond what anyone could have explained to me. It’s like the dust has settled, and instead of frantically looking around and being uprooted from the everyday, each foot on the ground is filled with intention and with conviction.
This space you create for yourself is one you must fill, occupy, and take full ownership of. Doing so requires an understanding of yourself and enough tenacity to claim said space. It’s your little meter-squared surrounded by everyone else’s and a way to affirm your existence amongst them. Your personhood fills your body, transcends it, and grows its roots through the space. I think growing up is the process of making and cultivating that space for yourself. While maybe it always exists, you need to become whole, complete, and full enough so that you can step into it and make it habitable.
I want to get to a point in my life where I only say and do things I mean and believe in. There is a quote in the film Frances Ha, where the titular character Frances says, embarrassed, “I’m not a real person, yet”. I guess my way of living with intention is going out sober and being assured enough to dance with sweaty strangers in the dark. My space is my own, stable enough in its foundations to allow me to stand alone in the line to One22, the perimeter strengthened by my values, goals and confidence that has been through more rejections than approvals.
Becoming a person is scary. It’s a process that you have to completely commit yourself to. My way of navigating that process was giving up drinking in first year and carrying myself through social situations without the blanket of alcohol. It was journaling, failing two subjects, taking a year off uni and moving back home and doing lots of things alone and then with people. It was learning to smile and say “hi” to the person I kind of knew but whose gaze I always avoided. Your life is your process, and your space is waiting to be yours.
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Comments Off on ANU Librarians Face Cuts To Jobs And Hours
You wake up in Chifley library. Who knows how long you have been there, or the last time you ate a meal that wasn’t from a microwave. All you know is that you are cramming for your final exam tonight. You search the front desk and the desolate corridors, but there is not a soul in sight who understands the Dewey Decimal system. You boot up your laptop, but you can’t connect to ANU Secure. Feverishly, you scramble to the IT Help AskANU desk, but instead a message greets you: “for support please log a ticket”. How can you log a ticket when you can’t get online? You pinch yourself awake, but this is not some Kafkaesque nightmare. This is the Australian National University.
In response to lower-than-expected revenue since the outbreak of COVID-19, the ANU University Council has embarked on a campaign of cuts to courses, staff pay and positions to save costs. Recently come to light are the effects of these cuts to libraries. Library ‘stand-down’ workers, the staff who help us on weekends and evenings, have had their hours cut. One librarian reported that their working week had been cut from 19 hours in Semester One to three hours in Semester Two of 2020. These reductions occurred despite the fact that the staff are employed on a permanent part-time basis, and for many it’s their sole source of income.
Compounding the issue of fewer hours is that there are also fewer staff. As a result of ANU management’s campaign to reduce staff last year, 17 full-time equivalent librarians took Voluntary Early Separations. This semester, the librarians who remain will receive between three and nine hours of work each week. The question is: what happens to all of the important work that librarians at Chifley, Menzies, and Hancock used to do before COVID? Either it is not done, or it is shouldered by staff who bear increased workloads for the same pay over fewer hours.
How did we get here? It may seem that the recent crisis in universities was unpredictable. Our Vice- Chancellor Brian Schmidt wrote in his foreword to the ANU Recovery Plan: “Through circumstances largely beyond our control, our University has been forced to change dramatically.” To the extent that none of us foresaw a global pandemic, this is true. But for years, universities have relied on the hyper-exploitation of international students who are charged three or four times as much in fees as domestic students.
Before anything else, the university is a business. So instead of campaigning for free, publicly funded education, the university system rested on the laurels of its huge profit margins. Until COVID struck, higher education was the third-largest export in the Australian economy. Now their complacency has come back to bite Vice-Chancellors countrywide, but it is the staff and students who are being made to pay the price. The government, for its part, has been callous to university workers, explicitly excluding them from JobKeeper payments. In the last year alone, 17,500 workers in the higher education sector were sacked due to government and universities’ choices.
At some universities, management has exaggerated the scale of the crisis to justify the kinds of restructures (i.e. cuts) they have wanted for years. For instance, Monash University finished the year with a budget surplus of $259 million. ANU has justified its ‘pay freeze’ (due to inflation, really a cut) to staff as a necessary component of making $103 million in annual savings for the next three years. However, ANU aims to have $250 million in liquid assets in case of emergencies such as COVID, casting doubt on whether the quoted figure of $103 million is a genuine deficit. One thing we know for certain is that ANU is in one of the best financial positions of any university in Australia.
It is not fair to ask hard-working staff, who will soon have little prospect of surviving on welfare, given Morrison will reduce it to below the poverty rate, to prop up ANU’s shareholders with their jobs and their pay. While for any left-wing person, the injustice of this system is blood-boiling, it still raises the question: is there anything we can do? First, we need to recognise that students and staff are on the same team. Staff teaching conditions are student learning conditions.
Secondly, we need to get organised. Student power doesn’t come from making decisions in boardrooms. It exists only to the extent that we mobilise to make our voice heard. There are several ways we can start making this happen: signing the petition to reinstate our staff, participating in Education Committee meetings, and joining the ANU Education Activists. We need to fight back against university management, not try to appease it. Cutting jobs and hours from our librarians, as well as owning a private vineyard, indicates that Schmidt is no ally of our side. Any campaign to overturn these attacks will need to be centred around protest.
There are examples of students and staff preventing specific attacks. At Melbourne University, management proposed a similar pay cut as the one that was implemented at ANU last year, and it was defeated by a campaign of union organising. a whopping 64 percent of the workforce, that is 5,190 staff of a total 8,069,, voted to reject the cut. While their victory was exceptional in a year of job cuts, it set an important precedent: it is possible for our side to win. After all, the ivory tower is not an impenetrable citadel: the lecturers, tutors, and administrative staff form the backbone upon which these institutions run.
If students show solidarity with our librarians who are currently in the firing line, there is every chance we can fight for their hours to be restored. Whether we can overturn these latest attacks remains to be seen, but one thing we know for certain: if we don’t fight, we won’t win.
Nick is part of the ANU Education Activism Network. You can sign their petition here.
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I recently came across a TikTok by a primary school teacher. She responds to the weeks of summer vacation that teachers get and how some complain that this makes the profession easier. “I didn’t choose your career for you. Sub for my class one day – just one day! See what I do for 180 days.” One user commented, “I can do your job for a day. You talk to first graders on a computer… I’m a psych nurse dealing with serial killers. Do my job for a day.” Others responded similarly. The comment section was a battle of professions – people sitting at home, behind their screens, competing to prove how difficult their work was. The video creator, Miss Franklin, later responded with the following: “What everyone should learn from this trend – EVERYONE’s job is difficult and has their own advantages/disadvantages. Respect one another’s profession.” The whole argument seemed so silly to me. Why was this teacher associating “respect” for a profession with how much others acknowledged its difficulty?
In our introductory lecture this semester, my Psychology lecturer mentioned that the subject could arguably be considered more difficult than some natural or life sciences. This is because it studies human beings who change their behaviour following new research they read, speculations, and predictions. I learned from my Economics lecturer that famous physicist Max Planck supposedly told John Maynard Keynes that Economics was too difficult for him for similar reasons.
Why are we so fascinated with proving the difficulty of our work? Is it because we need to show that we can do work that is harder than what the ‘average’ person can do, if such a measure even exists? Is this how we channel our yearning to reach our full potential, leave a mark that transcends us, and ‘be special’? After noticing this trend, I began to suspect that the need to prove the difficulty of our work is rooted in toxic hustle culture.
“I am so burned out. I barely slept this week.”
“I’m such a typical stressed college student. I had to drink a bunch of coffee to cram for my finals.”
“Who says an Arts degree is easy. I’ve been studying all day.”
Let’s stop looking at stress and burn-out as badges of honour. Let’s stop the “I’m so overworked, it’s terrible” while secretly feeling hints of satisfaction at the thought that we have “done enough” or done things that are “hard enough” to feel worthy. Let’s stop trying to validate the amount of time or money we have spent on honing our craft by convincing others of its difficulty.
I feel very privileged to have been brought up knowing that my parents will support me regardless of the subject or career I choose. I know not everyone can afford that freedom. We often hear from relatives and family friends who think differently. Some question or look down on my decision to pursue the social sciences instead of a STEM subject. Others assume it is because I didn’t have the skills to do anything ‘better’. In the past, we have gotten caught up in defending our choices and agreeing that difficulty is subjective. All professions and subjects are difficult, and difficulty depends on each person’s skill set.
Recently, I’ve started realising that by feeding into this discussion, I may subconsciously be contributing to the idea that difficulty matters. Even if there were one objective measure of the difficulty of subjects and professions, would it indicate value? If being a first-grade teacher was ’easy’, would it be any less important? By protesting against the idea that STEM subjects are more difficult, more valid, or more respectable career choices, I may end up feeding into a culture that assumes that difficulty is equivalent to value or worth. That acknowledging difficulty is somehow equivalent to respect. It is not hard to understand why. Many of us have been conditioned to work harder, put in more hours, and push ourselves to reach our full potential. We sometimes fall into the trap of assuming that competing in fields that are traditionally considered difficult is the best way to achieve, fulfil, and realise our potential.
The value of a profession and the worth of the human who pursues it does not depend on how little vacation they get or how many hours they have worked overtime. By associating pride with difficulty, we blind ourselves to the fact that our lives are being swallowed by a culture that rewards placing work above all else. Instead of trying to one-up others and glorifying exhaustion, we should start shifting the conversation.
We should redirect our focus to the satisfaction we get after our work has made its desired impact or the fulfilment we feel at the end of the day. We should stop comparing how ‘difficult’ our jobs are and appreciate that teachers are just as crucial as electricians. We should understand the joy that actors bring to our movie nights and thank humanities students for studying the storytellers who have enriched our past. We should thank psychologists and doctors for their contribution to health and still recognize the importance of journalists, homemakers, and museum curators. Hustle culture, toxic productivity – whatever you want to call it – has dug its roots deep into our conversations, language, and behaviour. By recognising why we say and do things, we could start freeing ourselves from it.
Underground, over Parkes Way, lies one of the largest archives in Australia. Unknown to most students who walk over or drive under it, the Noel Butlin Archives houses an extensive collection of Australian archival material ranging back to the 1820s. Alongside the archive’s rich collection of Australian trade union records, Pacific Island materials, and National AIDs epidemic collection lies the official archives of the ANU. Yet, among these records of committee meetings and key ANU documents, one set of documents are missing from the ANU archives: proof of student life.
Stephen Foster and Margaret Varghese’s The Making of the Australian National University: 1946-1996, details in-depth accounts of the development of the ANU. But they only dedicate two of its chapters to students, with one relying mostly on official ANU records and statistics. While such omission has its reasons, what is a University and its heritage without its students? With its (relatively) small numbers and tradition of residential halls, ANU has a rich student life on campus. Much, however, is ephemeral and undocumented, with many memories graduating away with each new cohort of students. If we are to remember our stories and our life on campus, where better to start than the archives?
It is 1966 and Canberra needs more roads to accommodate its growing population. One plan was to expand Parkes Way west, through ANU, so to funnel traffic to Woden. Rather than cut ANU in half, Acton Tunnel was proposed to cover Parkes Way and house 300 underground parking spaces on top of the tunnel. Following the opening of the tunnel in 1979, ANU repurposed the proposed lots to house its archival collection (then based in Coombs). During the conversion of the new archives, known then as the ‘cataCoombs’, the ANU found that the weight of the archival materials exceeded the expected loads of parked cars, limiting the total space available. Despite the weight limit, the archives hold over twenty-two kilometres of archival material, with more held off-site.
A search of the ANU Archives for student material reveals disappointing results. While not devoid of records, the archives primarily hold documents created by the ANU, either administrative or for marketing, as well as organisations like ANUSA, the ANU Union, and the ANU Labor Club. The only consistent ‘student’ engagement, bar some minor exceptions, has been various alumni depositing their personal papers, decades after their graduation. While existing archives materials, including Woroni newspaper copies, give us a glimpse of student life back then, it does not fully capture the beating heart of what it once was.
Why does our history matter? Because it reminds us that we are not alone. Most of our university life and struggles have happened before, in one way or another. Reading Woroni articles written in the 60s, familiar dramas in student politics, student opinions about university administration, and stresses of study and life, all rhyme with our present dilemmas. Poring through documents on the establishment of various university organisations all reveal the hidden meanings and intentions behind many of the symbols and structures that surround us. Discovering stories behind decades of student activism all illuminate the progress and arena of which many of our existing fights with the university battle within. By remembering that we are not alone, we can learn from the past and situate ourselves among generations of students.
We are not the first to think about archiving student life at the ANU. Various others have tried, whether through journals, alumni groups, or by depositing records at the archives, to honour student life. These efforts, despite their limited reach, allow us to understand a world that otherwise would be unknown to us. But for archiving to be truly effective it must be more than a one-time deposit – it should be systemic and renewing. Systemic meaning a constant and organised effort to ensure that groups and organisations archive what they believe is important. Renewing meaning that these groups and organisations then make archives part of their operation. Whether a resource consulted or a historical memory project conducted, the aim is to foster a relationship with the archives, remember the history and structures that surround us and to reassure ourselves for the path forward.
While lofty in ambition, a student historical project is not unique. In the United States, various universities and student organisations have pushed for students to donate materials to university archives and to encourage them to use archival materials. These projects have also sought to recover lost or destroyed documents that record key moments of student life and activism. For us, it is important that such an effort centres student voices. Student organizations, whether residents’ committees, clubs, or informal groups, should all ensure someone takes on a responsibility of archiving what matters. Whether meeting minutes, flyers, photos, newsletters, Facebook group posts, or webpages, any record is worth preserving. Some organisations, like rescoms and ANUSA, even hold documents ranging back over the decades, in deep need of preservation.
By archiving our stories and retelling them, we take control of our history and place at the ANU. Already projects like the wall of student activism in Marie Reay and the history of ANUSA, available inside of its offices, allow us to truly understand our place and heritage. Even academic papers like Tim Breidis’ 2019 article in the Journal of Australian Studies provide a unique, detailed account of the 1994 Chancellery occupation and the power of student activism. But we must do more, throughout campus, outside of the strict realm of student activism, to tell our own stories.
The author thanks the Noel Butlin Archives for taking the time to give a presentation on archival work and a tour of the archives. Students and staff can arrange a lecture and tour by contacting the Noel Butlin Archives.
I’m trying to imagine my graduation. I won’t be there, but I can picture the line of unfamiliar faces, a smattering of friends and casual acquaintances. Each person is carrying their own jumbled collection of experiences in identical UNSW branded baskets. Up ahead a cashier in dignified robes checks our payment has gone through and, failing to even glance in the basket, hands over the receipt. There it goes, did you catch it? The whole point.
My purpose here, with this tortured metaphor, is to make a roundabout case that university should be free. There are many better arguments for this but having finished a bachelor’s degree at the University of New South Wales (a university which seems to be eating itself) this is the one I am well positioned to make. A degree has to be more than a product you buy. As attending university is increasingly seen through the logic of self-investment rather than education, its value is disappearing even as its price increases.
What do I mean by a ‘logic of self-investment’? Most of us have a sense, more or less vague, of the changes to Australia’s university system since the 1980’s. Reduced public funding, increasingly casualised staff, the introduction of fees. More recently the reliance on ‘exporting’ education to international students who, in 2020 particularly, receive extremely poor treatment at the hands of both governments and universities.
We might call these changes ‘neoliberalization’ with all its concomitant disagreement. But this change is not constrained to the structural and policy level. Increasingly, corporate management and the changing position of university education in the public psyche has transformed the ‘student’ from a participant or stakeholder to a customer.
Neoliberalisation, the definition of which I was taught four separate times, is as much a grass roots, subjective change as a structural one. The idea that an education is an ‘investment in social capital’ is deeply ingrained in what it is to be a student. This has ramifications for both the education we receive and the social fabric of universities. I reflect often on these changes as experienced by myself and those around me. Trying to explain the distinct feeling that university never really lived up to its promise.
If, like me, you study a vaguely ‘arts’ subject, the incessant phrase “and what are you going to do with that?” probably makes you equal parts annoyed and panicked. At one point I simply decided I was no longer going to answer. It’s not that I don’t ever want to be employed (god do I want that). Rather, it’s the way this question poses the choice of degree as the single important act, skipping three or four years of a student’s life, to connect a means to an end. This attitude is pervasive, from the adage that “Ps get degrees” to the Morrison government’s use of misleading job figures to justify hiking up the price of studying arts and humanities.
This wasn’t always the case. Starting in the 1970’s at the peak of government support for universities, students and teachers in the University of Sydney campaigned to secure a political economy course and ultimately a separate department. Successive generations of students cared enough about the content of their studies to actively challenge the programs they had chosen. Students and teachers understood their relationship as the collaborative production, rather than simply transferral, of knowledge. I personally have a hard time imagining something like that happening today. If all we have is the freedom of choice, we have no grounds to demand better – you should have chosen better.
We can also see in this the changed social dynamic of our Degree Mart. Despite the myriad of societies and groups, the steep campus at the University of New South Wales can be a profoundly lonely place. The social dynamic seems to have become limited to niche interest, resume building or colleges. I am sure some cohorts are closer than mine was, but equally I know many people who left university with few lasting relationships from their actual studies. I can’t help but see in this the single-minded pursuit of the end result, where classes and assessments become obstacles beyond which students’ interest rarely survives.
The other relationship stunted by this transactional mode of education is with our teachers. While lecturers speak wistfully of beers shared back in the day, the reality is that teacher-student interactions are increasingly distant and formalised. Almost every year at UNSW the procedures for attendance and special considerations become more constrained. Studying in Germany, I was shocked when lecturers asked how long we felt we needed for our essays; the one condition being that we came and talked through our ideas in person.
At the same time as teaching staff lose their discretion, marking appears to be losing almost all meaning. This may be unique to social sciences, but the essays I and my fellow students wrote came to seem totally decoupled from the marks we received. Feedback is rare and honestly, I would not blame most of my lecturers if they actually didn’t read our submissions given how overworked they are. At the same time as we cannot be trusted to work in good faith, we don’t seem to be trusted to pass. This is a formal integrity in which learning is marginal while ‘degree progression’ is sacrosanct.
I don’t mean to say I regret my purchase. Four years of university have radically changed my world view and the fundamental way I think, as it has for so many others. But it’s worth being honest about our disappointments. There is a wide world of arguments out there about the accessibility, independence and social responsibility of these institutions but collectively we have to be able to say what the value of education is. If our answer is simply the market price and return on investment it will cost us dearly.
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Comments Off on Radio Show and Podcast Applications Open for 2021!
Please note, applications for shows are currently closed. If you are still interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that wonderful time of the year again when YOU get to apply for your own radio show here at Woroni!
We are looking for new and returning shows to produce interesting, informative, fun and relevant content! You don’t need any radio or presenting experience to apply, all training is provided by our lovely producers. We can also provide you with resources to develop your show writing, podcasting or technical skills.
This year is a little different as we are splitting our content between live radio shows and podcasts. Live shows will record in the studio and air in real-time, whereas podcasts may be pre-recorded and can air at any time. Radio shows will suit presenters wanting to play music, as we cannot use music in our podcasts.
Your show will either be 30 or 60 minutes in duration, you can have multiple presenters and guests (up to 4 presenters total), can play music, have a talk show, do a DJ set or all of the above! Nothing is too strange to talk about on radio (as many of us have discovered), just make sure you can adhere to Woroni’s policies and be respectful. We are committed to providing a platform for ANU’s diverse voices, so no matter your show pitch, we will welcome it with open arms.
Applications close at 6:00pm Wednesday 24th February 2021, broadcasting begins March 1st 2021.
If you have any questions feel free to email email@example.com
Note: PLEASE be contactable via email or phone for updates about your application and your show time-slot.
Apply for a show here!
*PLEASE NOTE THAT APPLICATIONS HAVE CLOSED*
Woroni Radio is looking for new team members to join our ranks in 2021! We’re passionate about uplifting student voices and need your help to continue this work. There are three positions with vacancies; Radio Producer, Executive Radio Producer, and Events Officer. Read on to learn what each role entails! The link to apply can be found at the bottom of the page.
Radio Producers play a vital role in maintaining and improving the quality of Woroni Radio by providing moral and technical support to presenters over the course of the semester. The responsibilities of a producer include:
Providing assistance to presenters by helping them to develop their show ideas and hone their radio skills.
Offering basic technical troubleshooting for shows while on the air.
Updating the Jazler database at their discretion.
Attending team meetings with the Executive Radio Producers and Radio Editor.
The ideal candidate will be approachable, have well-developed communication skills, be a team player and possess planning and organisational skills. No past experience is required as long as you are keen to learn and passionate about helping our presenters create quality radio content! All training will be provided prior to commencement of the role.
This role is approximately 10 hours per week and the successful candidate will receive honoraria based on their commitment to the role at the end of Semester One.
Executive Radio Producer
This position reports directly to the Radio Editor, and has been created to better manage the creative direction of Woroni Radio. The two Executive Radio Producers will have separate portfolios and will be in charge of items such as;
Managing relations with national youth radio groups.
Exploring new platforms for broadcast.
Collaborating with Events Officers to create upskilling workshops for students.
Promoting Woroni Radio shows across social media platforms.
The ideal candidate for this position will be collaborative, ideally have had previous experience with Woroni, and most importantly be passionate about student radio. This role is approximately 10 hours per week and the successful candidate will receive honoraria based on their commitment to the role at the end of Semester One.
Woroni Radio was once known for its wild parties, and though COVID has put a damper on our ability to host big events, that doesn’t mean we’ll be slowing down in 2021. We’re looking for a motivated individual who is interested in developing workshop and other event ideas and has a knack for keeping events COVID-safe. As an Events Officer your responsibilities will include;
Creating events that benefit the student community.
Adhering to ANU policy in regards to events, including filling out Functions on Campus forms.
Ensuring COVID safe practices are in place for all events.
Creating safe and welcoming environments for students of all backgrounds.
The ideal candidate will be creative, conscientious and able to effectively manage their responsibilities. This role is approximately 5 hours per week and the successful candidate will receive honoraria based on their commitment to the role at the end of Semester One.
Woroni is committed to diversity in hiring. It is important that our team reflects the diversity of the ANU community so that we can better tell stories about our great student body. As such, Woroni welcomes applications from students that are from a range of diverse backgrounds and identities. If you identify with a diverse background, you are welcome to let us know in your application.
Applications for all positions will close at 6pm on Friday 29 January 2021. Interviews will be conducted from Sunday 31 January to Tuesday 2 February, times allowing.
Comments Off on How the ANU Spent $603,093 of Your SSAF Money This Year
If you’ve ever gone to a club’s event to snack on some pizza, snagged a goody bag (or two) during O-Week, or used any services by ANUSA and PARSA, chances are you’ve already paid for it. Every year, full-time and part-time students pay around $300 and $150 as a Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF). Pooled together, this fee amounts to roughly 5.5 million dollars that ANUSA, PARSA, ANU Sport, Woroni, ANU Observer, and the University then spend on student services.
University regulations require each student organisation to report how they spend this money. But three recipients, all university organisations, do not have such reporting requirements. The only public information on how the ANU spends over 10% of the SSAF pool are fourteen dot points on the SSAF webpage. Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, we now know where the money goes.
The three university organisations that receive SSAF income are: Student Engagement and Success, Student Learning and Development, and Research Skills and Training. I derived the figures below from each organisations’ 2020 SSAF bid estimates, mid-year financial updates, and their published allocations. They do not reflect exact spending, as the 2020 finances are only finalised at the start of next year, but they show how the university has allocated SSAF money to these organisations.
Three-fourths of the University’s SSAF funding goes to Student Engagement and Success (SES), totalling $440,225. SES spends around 70% ($305,325) of its SSAF on salaries for ANU staff, with two-thirds of this going to casual student positions, and 30% ($134,675) on program costs. These program costs include SET4ANU ($41,973), Griffin Hall ($28,000), Learning Communities $22,000), Student Research Conference ($15,000), ANU+ ($12,000), ANU Wellbeing Projects ($10,000), and the First Year Experience project ($5,927).
While the FOI documents do not show how SES distributed salaries this year, its 2020 SSAF bid notes an estimated breakdown in salary costs for 2019. Staff allocations include a professional full-time Student Wellbeing Co-ordinator ($122,000) and student casuals for learning communities ($58,000), the Student Research Conference ($42,000), orientation and transition ($17,500), Set4ANU mentoring ($45,000) and ANU+ ($27,498). Additionally, $8,000 was allocated to a Wilson Security bus driver for O-Week airport pick up. The 2019 salary estimates total $322,000, resulting in a $16,675 discrepancy to the 2020 SSAF allocation. In response to an email enquiry, the University did not confirm why there is a discrepancy but noted that there are differences between estimated and actual costs.**
Student Learning and Development (SLD) receives over two-thirds of the remaining amount, totalling at $112,868. SLD uses SSAF money to fund the Writing Centre ($81,868), English Conversation Groups ($15,500), ANU Undergraduate Research Journal ($8,500), and International in Focus ($7000). SLD spends 90% of their funding on student salaries, with the Writing Centre hiring six postgraduate students and the English Conversation Groups hiring three undergraduates. The ANU Undergraduate Research Journal costs pay for an Assistant Editor ($5,200) and cover other copyediting costs. The International in Focus program highlights international career opportunities for students, with SSAF funding covering conference costs.
Research Skills and Training (RST) receives $50,000 for the Thesis Bootcamp Program. In their 2020 SSAF Bid, RST notes the success of the program in helping doctoral students, especially in targeting vulnerable students at substantial risk of dropping out. RST ran this program with PARSA until 2019, when the association cut funding to the bootcamp programs. Due to COVID-19, RST delayed the camps until November and December, but estimates they will spend all $50,000. RST spends 88% of the camp’s costs, totalling $44,000, on catering and other minor items, with ANU Staff volunteering time and taking no salary. RST spends the remaining $6000 on running online journal and thesis writing bootcamps.
We should not have to FOI the university to know how it spends our SSAF money. Yet, it is unsurprising that we must. ANU centrally manages the entire SSAF allocation process, with negotiation, bidding and distribution occurring in closed meetings between the University and the bidders. The University’s decision this year to do away with the SSAF bidding and allocate SSAF funding on its own projections is disappointing but not surprising given the overall lack of transparency.
Does the ANU have something to hide? Not really. Prior to 2020, SSAF bidders could scrutinise each other’s bids. The FOI documents do not show any fraud or mismanagement by university bodies. Some of the proposals even address student needs that other organisations have not prioritised. In comparison to most other universities, an 89% SSAF allocation to student-run organisations is exceptional. Yet, a potential reason for the University’s wariness is that transparency brings unwanted scrutiny.
A trip through the Woroni archives will unearth a decade of articles and debates on SSAF expenditure. Every ANUSA election, candidates clash over four-digit SSAF spending. Students regularly scrutinise student organisation budgets, whether through unfair calls to defund them to serious questions over corporate sponsorship. The financial transparency that these organisations provide even allow for in-depth critiques of their financial positions. While a few organisations receive more scrutiny than others, there is at least some scrutiny by students. That is not the case with the University’s spending.
In 2019 ANU Council minutes, the ANU maintains that its current method of consultation is adequate. If a student is not happy with SSAF allocations, they can email dissatisfaction to the relevant university executive. Yet, in a document publishing student feedback to SSAF allocations, the University barely engages with much feedback, with most comments ‘noting’ a response. In contrast, student organisations respond with detailed and empathetic comments. Notably, published responses for 2019 and 2020 are missing. Similarly, in an email inquiry, the ANU confirmed the survey helps guide priorities for SSAF expenditure. But they did not respond to ANUSA’s claims that the survey was irrelevant as SSAF expenditure for 2021 was already pre-set.
The Higher Education Support Act 2003 stipulates guidelines on how the University must formally consult student organisations on SSAF expenditure. In response to ANUSA’s claim of being ‘kicked out of the room’, the ANU stated it underwent several stages of informal and formal consultation with all SSAF stakeholders. The 2020 ANUSA President, Lachlan Day, noted that the ANU changed this year’s SSAF process to address delays in transferring funds and to acknowledge the difficulties of COVID-19. He maintains ANUSA’s position that bidding must take place since that, while the ANU sought feedback, it did not partake in ‘genuine’ consultation.
For 2021, ANU Council is deciding on a new SSAF process to distribute funds. This agenda item, however, was marked confidential. In comparison, the Council publicised the 2019 SSAF process. The 2020 Undergraduate Representative on ANU Council, Lachlan Day, confirmed that Council discussed a new SSAF process for 2021 but does not know why it was marked confidential. He notes that the ANU notified all SSAF receiving organisations and they gave feedback for this proposed process.
Advice from the Department of Education indicates that the SSAF allocation must be ‘transparent in process; visible; and consultative.’ Yet, this year we have seen no bidding, a pre-set allocation, and accusations of improper process by our student association. Even prior to 2020, the University showed signs of greater opaqueness over the SSAF process. The secrecy surrounding the new 2021 process and the lack of public information only further strains trust in what should be a fair process. In response to COVID-19, The ANU has shown it can be open and transparent with its finances. This should extend to the SSAF allocation.
The University needs to open its books to the same standard that it asks student organisations to. The SSAF ‘consultation’ cannot be pre-determined and should go beyond a student survey, publishing the proposed bids and inviting public submissions from the student body. Students deserve the right to question university organisations over SSAF expenditure and receive a fair and considered response. Without full transparency and democratic oversight over our student contributions, the University’s SSAF budgets risk inflating to levels found at other universities. It is up to us to make sure that does not happen at the ANU.
* I derived the number of casual student employees from the 2020 SSAF bid and the 2019 estimated salary expenditure. The University did not specify if this was correct in response to my email enquiry.
^ I used 2019 salary proportions as, while not exact, they are unlikely to massively differ to 2020 salary proportions. The University did not specify the 2020 salary proportions in my email enquiry.
**Editor’s note (24/12/2020): An earlier version of this article listed incorrect salary figures of ANU staff. This article has since been amended to correct this. We apologise for this error.
Kai Clark contested the position of Undergraduate Member on ANU Council (UMAC) in 2020.