Comments Off on We Can Grow in More Ways than Upwards
A few months ago, I discovered that I had a stress fracture in my pelvic bone from overtraining. My physiotherapist told me that when we increase our running load, the stress placed on our bones triggers a process of remodelling that strengthens them. However, before the new bone cells can grow, there is a period of about four weeks in which osteoclasts digest old bone cells. During this period, our bones are actually weaker than they were before we increased our running load.
This tells us that bone growth is not linear. Yes, placing stress on our bones results in them becoming stronger. But for that to happen, they must first undergo a period of decay. This seemed at odds with the way I had always thought of growth. I always assumed that the best kind of growth was the kind that looks like a constant, uninterrupted upwards trajectory.
Once I overcame the initial frustration and disappointment of my injury, I surrendered to the reality that I would have to allow this part of myself to lie dormant for several weeks to give my body the chance to heal. I assumed that this would be a period of no growth and that once I recovered, I would have to begin to grow again from the ground up. What I realise now is that we can grow in more ways than upwards.
The first way I began to grow was inwards. Acquiring an injury that would prevent me from running for at least a couple of months invoked a sense of loss. For a number of years I have considered running as a channel of connection to my body, to the environment around me, to people and my community. I have never been the fastest or most competitive runner, but it served enough purposes in my life that I considered it a core part of myself. What I needed to do was to deconstruct that narrative I had formed in my head about who I was as a person. My sense of self was based on external factors such as running, university, work, and relationships with my friends and family. While all of these things are incredibly valuable, any one of them can be taken away from me at any time. I had to trust that my ‘self’ is something that exists within me and remains constant regardless of external factors.
This does not mean giving up the objects and people around us and our achievements. It just means letting go of our attachment to them so that if we were to lose one of them, we can remain open-minded to other ways in which we can meet our human needs and not feel entirely doomed.
From growing inwards in this way, I was then able to grow outwards. I was able to find other ways of fulfilling the functions that I had previously assumed were only filled by running. Some of these were entirely new to me. Once I got over the awkwardness of my shocking freestyle technique, swimming laps at the pool proved an incredibly meditative pastime that helped me feel connected to my body in a way that was very different from running. When COVID-19 came to Canberra and the pool closed, I expanded my horizons even further by jumping into the murky waters of Lake Burley Griffin whenever the cabin fever became too much. I doubt I would have ever done this had I been able to go for a run around Black Mountain.
One morning during lockdown, I rode my bike to Black Mountain Peninsula and just sat in the grass for half an hour looking at the trees. These were trees which I had probably run past a thousand times but had never really acknowledged properly.
Alongside these new discoveries, there were also things that I realised had always been an important part of my life but I just hadn’t appreciated enough – like the sense of community I felt in my work at my college and the café, the satisfaction from pushing myself academically, and the relaxation that cooking dinner brought me.
If I were to ever lose any of these things, that would be okay, because I could trust the process of growing outwards and finding joy, community, connection and a sense of achievement from new sources.
One of my most important goals for this year was to be a strong role model as an Inward Bound coach. How could I possibly empower others, particularly the younger women at my hall, to run and challenge themselves when I was sidelined with an injury? I thought about stepping back from coaching for this reason, until I realised that watching first years finish their first ever mock drop brought me just as much joy, (albeit a different kind of joy), as running itself. Perhaps being upfront and vulnerable, demonstrating that I am still a work in progress, and continuing to show up and support the achievements of others made me a better role model than being invincible. We are not drawn to role models because they possess inhuman, unattainable traits, but rather because we see a piece of ourselves reflected in their imperfections, and this empowers us to believe that if they can achieve what they have and carry themselves in the world the way that they do in spite of their humanness, so can we.
Last week, I ran again for the first time in five months. I wish I could say that it felt magical, but truthfully it didn’t. I felt awkward and unfit, I couldn’t stop focusing on the fracture site, I was stressed that it hadn’t healed or that I would reinjure myself. I know that returning to running won’t be easy, and just like bone growth, it certainly will not be linear. But this is something I am now a little more at peace with, because I now understand that outwards and inwards growth are just as important as the upwards kind.
The ANUSA Probity Team recently released their report on the 2022 student election. It summarises any contentious issues in the election, such as Grassroots’ announcement of their ticket in violation of ANUSA election rules and the controversy around Divorced Dads for ANUSA. However, the probity report also details each ticket’s finances, and it reveals a clear correlation between ticket success and the amount of money they spent.
In summary, Grassroots ANUSA spent significantly more than any other ticket, with their actual expenditure being $1,048, followed distantly by Blake Iafeta who spent $330. Grassroots ANUSA went on to win nearly all positions for which they put up candidates, and they now quite firmly control ANUSA’s executive, along with a substantial number of General Representatives. Blake Iafeta failed in his bid for the presidency, but ultimately won a General Representative slot.
Though other tickets spent money on their campaigns, it was substantially less than Grassroots, yet closer to Iafeta, as the graph above shows.
This is not to say that more money spent on campaigns must cause a better electoral result; it could be that tickets which are more committed contribute more money, but such commitment is evident to, and supported by, the student population.
However, ticket expenditure likely plays some role in eventual success, especially when tickets dedicate most of their money towards Facebook advertisements. The graph below shows that tickets that allocated the most towards advertising performed significantly better in the election.
This is not new in student elections, and using Facebook ads has been a common tactic for several years. Nonetheless, it could suggest that finance is playing a large role in ANUSA elections, as opposed to policy debate.
Additionally, a majority of these funds come from the candidates themselves. The highest contributors were Christian Flynn – the 2022 President – and Blake Iafeta, who budgeted $335 and $330 respectively. Each of Grassroots ANUSA’s candidates for executive positions injected $65, and Chido Nyakuengama, the 2022 Vice President, contributed $200. In fact, the only ticket not to use candidate funds was Get Going for ANUSA, which relied entirely on funding from the ANU Liberal Club. This raises concerns around the accessibility of ANUSA elections: are wealthier students who are able to put more money in the ones more likely to win? Some students have echoed this concern: the General Secretary for 2022, Ben Yates, reported worries amongst polled students about how “advertising created equity issues…” in the election.
Yates’ report also revealed how a major complaint from students during the election was the “…sheer quantity of campaign material.” While the election is open to all, some students are not interested and where once they could avoid campaigners on Kambri or candidate debates, sponsored ads on Facebook are far more pernicious, and for some, far more frustrating.
The ANUSA Probity Team recently released their report on the 2022 student election. The report also details each ticket’s finances, and it reveals a clear correlation between ticket success and the amount of money they spent.
Comments Off on BIPOC Report – A Collection of Responses from the Community
In September 2021, the ANU Students’ Association (ANUSA) Black Indigenous People of Colour (BIPOC) Department released its inaugural Racism Report. The compilation of de-identified disclosures highlighted that ANU BIPOC students have been the victims of covert and overt forms of racial abuse within ANU campus. These disclosures were received through “an anonymous form, direct messages to the BIPOC Department, social media pages, emails to the BIPOC Officer or disclosed at BIPOC Department meetings.” Not all disclosures received were included in the report. Hence the report only provides a snapshot of the submissions that the Department receives in addition to the large swathes of incidents that are never reported at all.
The purpose of the document was to “provide more clarity to the ANU community” about the nature of racism on campus as previously reported by Woroni. We spoke to the current BIPOC Department Officer, Chido Nyakuengama, who elaborated on the report’s conception: “During the handover process, I was told about how we had an anonymous reporting tool. I thought about where we could take this information, and after receiving a very serious disclosure at the beginning of my role, I got the idea of tallying them.” The discloser had voiced a desire to have “others … know about the incident” but to also maintain “a certain level of anonymity.” This perhaps speaks more broadly to the nature of addressing racism in that awareness is critical for change yet those affected may hesitate to identify themselves.
We were interested to learn more about the reaction of the ANU BIPOC community to the report’s release. For some, this was a validation and confirmation of their lived experiences. For others, these findings were a new and confronting spotlight on an aspect of campus life of which they had been previously unaware.
We sourced responses from the ANU BIPOC community through a survey distributed through ANU Schmidtposting and ANU BIPOC Department Social/Alumni’s Facebook page. The survey encouraged participants to share their reflections and feelings after the release of the Racism Report. We would like to thank everyone who submitted responses and recognise that due to the vast quantity of received responses we were unable to include all of them. We would also like to acknowledge that the responses within this article represent a sample of the ANU BIPOC community. Thus, the collated responses are not reflective of the entire ANU BIPOC community.
How Do You Feel After the Publication of the BIPOC Report?
I was very disheartened to see so many recorded incidents of racism. It was also validating at the same time though, because it felt that my experience wasn’t unique and I wasn’t ‘imagining it’ as I had been sometimes led to believe.
Exhausted. The BIPOC report is a strong and damning summarisation of our experiences, and it surprised me how many of those experiences I had also experienced at some point or another while at the ANU. I can’t imagine how many more incidents haven’t been reported – and I’m guilty of this, I haven’t reported incidents I experienced too. I’m exhausted because it is so difficult to comprehend how much trauma our community experiences on a day-to-day basis. Yet, it is always somehow our responsibility to educate basic respect. It’s exhausting.
I was initially doubtful that the report would make a difference, but I think a lot of BIPOC students appreciate that attention is being brought to our experiences.
I feel really let down by ANU and non-BIPOC students. ANU advertises itself as an ultra-progressive university, however, this report highlighted that ANU is not as woke as it pretends. I’ve been surrounded by Caucasian people who consistently virtue signal and pretend that they aren’t racist whilst being racist. I am appalled to hear of lecturers throwing around the n-word in class. I am distraught to hear what my peers have suffered. The non-BIPOC students at ANU have belittled us and even hate-crime us. I felt so disgusted reading that non-BIPOC called BIPOC ‘Monkeys’ and ‘Gorillas’. ANU Campus now seems like a scary place. When I return, I’ll just be hoping I don’t get verbally assaulted with racist bullshit again.
It’s certainly disheartening to read about what other BIPOC students have had to face and to know that there are so many other occasions that aren’t included. I’m glad it was compiled, but it honestly makes me feel distressed at living on campus and attending this uni. I’ve been expressing these issues and my concerns for ages, and I hope this finally makes someone pay attention.
I’m quite shocked that ANU students can be so racist.
I am shocked and disappointed that compared to other Group of Eight universities, ANU is severely lacking in services and support for the BIPOC community.
If the contents of the BIPOC report made you uncomfortable, then know that this is how myself and probably other members of the BIPOC community feel on an ongoing basis whenever we experience racism, be it online or in-person, on-campus.
Unsurprised, but it has renewed the sense of solidarity I feel with my BIPOC siblings.
I feel heard and that people can’t get away with saying racism doesn’t exist at ANU.
Be better allies, be active bystanders, learn how to support your BIPOC friends, peers and colleagues.
Angry. Why are these things still happening, and why do I have to watch myself and my peers suffer through them?
Reading the BIPOC racism report brought me to tears almost immediately. I was aware of my own experiences at ANU, but reading and seeing just a fraction of countless instances of racism made me feel helpless and distraught about my future studies. Especially reading about post-graduate student experiences. I hoped that it would get better after undergrad, but it’s just as bad and even worse. Feeling the pain, frustration and helplessness in the stories made me wish there were more safe spaces and communities for POC on campus.
It was enlightening. As a BIPOC international student, I could never put a finger on whether or not the discomfort I had were related to racism. I was able to echo some of the experience’s students had and felt that the report was educational as much as it was representative of the voices of BIPOC students at ANU. Would love to see more reports like the BIPOC Report, although this is not to imply that there should be more negative experiences on campus.
Unchanged – the report was pointless as it didn’t highlight any remotely valid or realistic solutions.
Awful, scared, anxious about who might have been looking at me or my friends and saying things like these about us without us even knowing
Do You Have Any Messages to the Non-BIPOC Members of the ANU Community?
This report was not created for BIPOC people – it was made to give our non-BIPOC community members and the ANU administration an insight into the reality of many BIPOC students on campus. The simple existence of this report doesn’t solve any of the issues detailed in it, but hopefully it can be the push the university needs to take these issues seriously. Please don’t forget about this report and the experiences of racism on our campus because your BIPOC friends and family don’t have that luxury.
If you read the report and found a lot of the incidents to be a stretch and that ‘they probably aren’t racist’, please understand that the report was only formulated on reported incidents and in my opinion, didn’t truly reveal the racism at ANU, especially in residential halls/colleges.
To the non-BIPOC please stop messaging me. Start just listening to others who have the emotional energy to share. I can’t keep having educational conversations. And don’t let this go. It’s important now, and it will always be important.
Why are you so comfortable and okay with supporting women’s issues and LGBTQ+ issues with ANU implemented programs and support like the mandatory consent module and the ally support network email signature, but when it comes to racism you are often silent?
How hard is it to just not be racist??? Also, if you see any of these behaviours subjected towards your BIPOC friends and peers, speak up for them/call the perpetrator out. BIPOC are perfectly capable of speaking for themselves, but it always feels nice to have some reinforcement around you when you’re slapped in the face with racist bs.
Like… be a little more woke.
Call out your friends. This shit is dangerous. Fetishism & taboo words are real racism. Do your research and learn what’s right and wrong.
We are human beings, equal to yourselves. Just because we aren’t white doesn’t mean we are deserving of your racial abuse. Heaps of Caucasian people get angry when they’re called racist. But imagine how it feels to be constantly demeaned for the colour of your skin. Or to be called phrases that were used in eras of genocide and slavery. Please unpack your racial biases. Please call out your Caucasian friends who are racist – racists are more likely to listen to a Caucasian person than a BIPOC person. Why do you want to be on the wrong side of history?
I hope that you will carefully read and reflect on this report. It’s more than just being not actively racist, but rather ensuring that you are actively inclusive too. Things can seem small, like having an all-white, male panel for a research conference, but they can have subtle effects on the BIPOC community. We can feel that we don’t belong and that our achievements are insignificant. Sitting with these things and reflecting on how you might directly or indirectly contribute to racism is really, really hard. I’ve had to do it too, even as a BIPOC person. But it makes our community a better place.
Be better. Do better. If you hear something, report it, stand up for your BIPOC peers. The onus is on the victim far too often. Take some responsibility and do your own research.
As of 19th October 2021, the BIPOC Department has not received a formal response from the university. In response to the release of the report, we received the following statement from a university spokesperson:
“The University has received a copy of this report and noted the concerns it raises. ANU denounces any form of racism. There is no place for racism in our community. ANU is committed to stamping out these unacceptable behaviors. ANU would like to thank the ANU BIPOC Department for calling out racism. If members of our ANU community experience or witness these behaviours the ANU has a range of support mechanisms in place and ways to discuss or report these behaviours. There are many options for support available for students, the ANU Wellbeing and Support Line which is available 24-hours a day. The ANU is committed to students’ safety and wellbeing and will take all steps necessary to protect students. ANU values inclusion, equity and diversity.”
The BIPOC Department intends on releasing an annual report and advocating for the fourteen recommendations stipulated in the document. The responses we have received are reflective of the need to meaningfully address the experiences of BIPOC students here at ANU. An acknowledgement and understanding of the problem are the first steps to fixing it.
If you or someone you know has been affected by this, please contact one of the support services below:
13 11 14
1300 22 4636
Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service
(02) 6284 6222
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Crisis Line
(02) 6247 2525
(02) 6125 2442
1800 737 732
ANU Women’s Department
ANU Queer* Department
ANU BIPOC Department
ANU Respectful Relationships Unit