Letters from Brian

In the first edition of Woroni, students wrote a collection of letters to Brian Schmidt, the new Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University, advising how they would like their university to be run. In this edition of Woroni, for each letter you can find Brian’s reply. Enjoy.

Dear Matthew Ventura –

I have visited the School of Music on February 2, and I hope you have seen our program to undertake a broad consultation on the School of Music. I, like you, want a School of Music with an academic program that is relevant and of the highest quality – and I want the School of Music to be a department which can thrive here at the ANU. I urge your support and patience with the process.

Dear Tom Kesina –

Forefront in my vision for the ANU, is one of equity – equity in access to people across the entire nation independent of who they are. This include disability, but also gender, religion, culture, race, sexual orientation, and SES. I look forward to discussing with ANUSA what we can do to improve all of these things, including the access we provide to students with a disability.

Dear Concerned Rural student –

Being referred to as ‘Your Excellency’ is a first for me! I, like you, grew up in small towns in a rural part of the world. I want the students at ANU to reflect the entirety of the country, and be given an education as good as anywhere in the world.

So I hope my behaviour is completely in line with an ideal we seem to share in common. To enable student from around the country to come to ANU, we need student accommodation – definitely for students who are not from the region, but I would argue for everyone so that all can share the same collegiate experience.

I think the national university needs to provide an education with a difference – an elite – but not elitist! – education. An education that brings together a representative cross-section of Australia through its most talented people, to a common purpose of learning, and using what we have learned to make Australia and the world a better place into the future.

A real problem we have right now, is that the people who are able to attend the ANU, are those who live in Canberra, or are those rich enough to move here. We need to provide the means by which anyone who is admitted into ANU, can come here – independent of their own personal financial circumstances. This will take time, but is something I am passionate about. So, yes, it will be harder to get into the ANU in the future, because more people will want to come here than there are available places – but our incoming students will be more diverse and will better represent Australia than they do now.

Dear G.G. Bo –

As a great university, we need a student cohort that is equally great and diverse – and this includes students from around Australia and around the world. The individuals who attend this university are responsible for their own actions – and I strongly believe it is unhelpful to stigmatise poor behaviour based on anything other than personal responsibility. It is imperative that we ensure all of our students, regardless of where they from, understand that they are buying into the collegiate environment of the university that is based on respect, trust and responsibility to each other.

We are all citizens of the world these days, and as part of a great university experience, we all will benefit from a diverse and exceptional international student cohort who can help us understand what happens outside of Australia, while we help them understand what happens within. I encourage you, and all other students, to befriend students from very different backgrounds than yourself. Everyone’s a winner then.

Dear Albert –

The good news is we have more wine from 2014 and even more from 2015 on the way. I will see what we can do with respect to getting some wine, for those in the know, at the ANU-bar. Boffins often carry it – but they are sold out until next October!

Dear Caitlin McLeod –

Your rhyming couplets with their requests
include Drinking Games to be at your behest.

But are drinking games so much fun,
When afterwards you forget what was done?

As for swings and slides and other playthings
Let me have a think of what we might bring.

Perhaps something not quite as you envision
Like a piece of art that serves your mission