CONTENT WARNINGS: Mentions of Anxiety and Depression
At the end of a semester, it’s nice to take stock and have a good long look at your life. I endeavour to do this every semester, and though this year I’m divided more into chapters of a thesis than anything else, I constantly try to consider things I’ve done well with and things I’ve missed the mark on.
Have I done enough research? Have I done the readings for my classes? How many tutorials did I skip? Did I isolate myself from my friends during the stress of exam (or rather, for me, essay) season?
I ask myself these questions and consider the answers. Oftentimes, as a bit of a perfectionist, the answers aren’t as positive as I’d like them to be. I perpetually want myself to be doing more: to be reaching higher and pushing myself further. I’m constantly disappointed when I inevitably fail (at least in some part) to meet the unachievable goals I set myself.
Being a perfectionist can be tough. There are so many of us at uni constantly feeling guilty that we aren’t studying hard enough, disappointed in grades that aren’t high enough, pushing ourselves to breaking point. If we aren’t careful, as exam season looms large in our minds, we can push ourselves towards intense anxiety, burnout, and even depression.
Yet on a more positive note, at the beginning of a new semester rather than setting goals and making resolutions, I like to forgive myself for the previous one. I’ve made mistakes, maybe slacked off a little in some areas, but I’ve done my best. I’ve juggled my responsibilities, and have managed to come out the other side unscathed. At the end of the day, that’s what matters, and so I concentrate on letting go of my frustrations and gulping in my fresh start.
To the resident perfectionists out there, I say inhale and exhale. You’re doing great. Try to remember that you really are doing enough, that you’re doing your best, and that you’re doing something that’s hard. University is difficult, and it’s supposed to be. But we’re all struggling through, keeping our heads above water, and there’s not really much more that anyone can ask for.
So, rather than making new semester resolutions that we’ll inevitably forget about by second week, let’s all just forgive ourselves any weaknesses or mistakes from last semester. Let’s try to take it easy and let things be. After all, it looks like semester two is shaping up to be a doozy, friends, so all we can really do is keep swimming.
Comments Off on A new (and better) way of teaching humanities at ANU
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are not representative of the views of Woroni.
I’m in my third year of a double degree in PPE/IR. I’ve mostly enjoyed my time at ANU, but these two-and-a-bit years have not been without some frustrations.
Politics is supposed to be the ANU’s ‘thing’ – but I think we have a lot of room for improvement.
I spent a year at Macquarie University, and that wasn’t much better. So I am by no means singling out the ANU in how they teach politics — not by any stretch, I think the ANU is a great university with a lot of potential. But things aren’t perfect. Unfortunately, we students think very shallowly about these questions. Sure, we fill out our SELT review forms (sometimes) and we have the occasional whinge, but do we have any concrete proposals or suggestions? I haven’t heard or seen any outside obscure and ill-attended ANUSA meetings.
I’ve always thought that politics and international relations could be taught a lot better — which got me thinking, how would I teach it? Yes, me, a lowly undergraduate. I don’t want to be seen as lecturing the lecturers, but I guess that’s exactly what I’ll be doing (oh well)! Here it goes then.
What you’re about to read is just an idea. It’s not a cookie-cutter formula for success. I recognize that different courses require different needs. This is just an idea of what a good politics degree could look like.
For the record, when I say ‘politics’, I’m mainly referring to degrees like PPE, IR, Policy Studies, Development Studies, International Security and Political Science. But I’d imagine that some of my proposal could apply to other humanities degrees/majors as well.
Anyway, this is it, broken into six key parts.
(1) Firstly, tutorial participation should be worth 30 per cent of a student’s grade and (most) tutorials should be extended to 1.5-2 hours long.
This would force students to actually read the week’s readings and, more importantly, articulate them. This isn’t a big ask. You don’t have to be a champion public speaker to speak for 30 seconds in front of 20 people.
Beefing up tutorial participation would provide us students with the ultimate incentive to do the readings, study up and learn how to communicate and debate our ideas. After all, isn’t that what university is for?
(2) Students should be assessed fortnightly with 5 mini assessments worth 8 per cent each (40 per cent in total).
The word count for each should be about 500-1000 words and each should be a mini-essay response to the week’s lecture/readings. Students would be assessed on their writing ability, their understanding of the content and the originality of their ideas.
The problem with big essays worth 30-40 per cent is that they encourage students to understand just one week’s topic rather than the whole course.
Mini-assessments would ensure students stay switched on throughout the entire semester rather than just the last few weeks. It would provide the ultimate incentive to stay up-to-date with readings and lectures. I’ve enrolled in a few courses that have used this model and every time it is had this effect.
So if tutorials are worth 30 per cent and if the 5 mini assessments are worth 40 per cent altogether, that’s 70 per cent covered. The remaining 30 per cent should be up to the lecturer. They could go with an exam or an essay — it’s their call.
(3) The creation of a course titled “Current Events”, which students would have to take 3 times throughout their degree.
I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been taught game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma, or the amount of times a lecturer has explained realism, constructivism and liberalism. Theoretical approaches are important, but they should be coupled with an understanding of what is happening in the world right now.
Every Political Science, PPE, International Relations, Development Studies and Policy Studies student should have to take a news-focused course examining the relevance of real-world events. It would run every semester, so you’d have the freedom to take it whenever you want. There could even be 1000, 2000 and 3000 level iterations of the course.
Whatever’s important in the world (at the time) will fall within its purview. Think relevant political issues like Brexit and the Trump-Russia investigation. Or even just relevant political and global issues, like fake news, gun control or immigration. I could imagine guest lecturers being brought in to discuss their issue of expertise.
You’d be assessed on your ability to recount events in the news, analyse the significance of certain events and forecast what you think will happen in the future.
A Current Events course would do something very important: equip students with an understanding of how to interpret and fact-check the news, whilst also giving them an opportunity to apply the theoretical frameworks which they are taught so frequently about.
In the Internet and fake news age, nothing is more important.
(4) We must standardise how lecturers prescribe readings across subjects.
Lecturers should only be able to give an absolute maximum of 45 pages of compulsory readings per week. Lecturers should still be able to give recommended readings that curious students can read on their own volition. But there should be a cap on the readings that students are actually expected to read.
Readings are also far too often poorly structured and poorly prioritised. I’ve taken courses where long lists of readings are lazily listed without any organisation or prioritisation. Lists of readings should be separated into compulsory, recommended and supplementary readings.
Without organisation and prioritisation, how are students supposed to know which readings are important and which are not? Or which readings will be discussed in tutorials? We need certainty. If lecturers prescribe 100 pages of readings, students are unlikely to do any of the readings out of sheer uncertainty about whether the one reading they did will actually be discussed in tutorials.
(5) Lecturers should submit an assignment report upon the completion of each assessment.
The poor quality of assessment feedback is a common target of complaint from students. When grades are released, lecturers should publish on Wattle a one-page report on what the average mark was, what a Pass response looked like and what a HD response looked like.
They could even publish the exact number of Passes, Credits, Ds and HDs.
These reports would supplement individual feedback, and be a more general summary of how the cohort went in the assignment. Lecturers could even publish, with permission, an example of an HD response so that students have an example of excellence to strive toward.
(6) First-year subjects should focus on extremely specific academic debates rather than broad overviews.
I knew a lot of people that dropped out of politics-related degrees because of how vague first-year politics courses were. Not only should first-year courses be more difficult but they should also be more specific.
Both POLS1005 and POLS1006 gave broad overviews of issues like human rights, terrorism, trade and the environment. These overviews are so broad they’re rendered pointless and unmemorable. If someone’s taking a politics-related degree, they probably know the basics of these topics.
Instead of doing a week on terrorism, there should be an entire week outlining the various perspectives in a single debate within the terrorism literature: like the link between poverty and terrorism, or what role religion plays in terrorism.
Or instead of what doing a week on a broad overview of human rights, there should be an entire week on the debate over the Right To Protect (R2P).
That’s it. Like I said, this isn’t a cookie-cutter formula. I recognise that not every politics subject could adopt this model, but I’d say most could embrace at least some of its precepts.
What does everyone think?
Comments Off on Thinking About Honours? Look No Further
If you’re nearing the end of your undergraduate degree, you might be asking yourself: should I do an honours year? As it got towards the sticky end of my third year, I was asking myself the same question.
There are a tonne of upsides to doing honours: you get free reign with a topic of your choice all year, it puts off having to enter the dreaded real world, and it’s an added bonus to your resume. But there are other things to consider as well. Honours is hard. It seems like it’s going fine, and then all of a sudden you have to have a chapter of your thesis to your supervisor. There are difficulties.
For me, I was heading towards the second semester of my third year. I was set to graduate at the end of December and… well, the plans were a little sketchy from then on, but I was looking at moving home and Figuring It Out. But, as I considered moving home for an indefinite period of time, and entering the Real World as a fully-fledged Adult with a Degree,
I wasn’t looking forward to it. My friends were all pursuing four-year degrees, and I was polishing
off the final third year of mine. There were jokes to have and mistakes to be made in the next year that I would miss out on. I won’t lie to you and say that that didn’t play a huge part in my decision making.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do in any clear sense, all I had was a vague idea of what I didn’t want. Which basically was missing out on a tonne of stuff, and to set off at a mere 20 years of age into the professional world. I wanted to put it all off just that little bit longer, and honours let me do that.
Now, I was lucky, which meant I had the GPA to be accepted into honours even though it wasn’t something I’d really thought about. I talked it over with my parents, spoke with one of my favourite professors about whether it’d be smarter to pursue a masters instead, and ended up with a freshly minted application to my honours year, all within the space of a month or two. I had a sparkling, vague idea of a thesis topic, a supervisor who’d signed off on me, and I waited with bated breath for my acceptance.
And honestly, this may end up just being an ad for honours, because so far I’m loving it. I get on with my supervisor, I’m writing a 20,000-word thesis on a topic I’m excited about, an experience which is so new and refreshing that I don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve written essays I’ve enjoyed before: I chose my entire degree based on my interests rather than more practical choices, and I enjoyed my undergrad so much that I did more courses than were necessary to complete my majors. But for my thesis, I got to choose entirely what I’m interested in: I chose the era, the focus, the texts, everything. It means I’ve dived in headfirst, and have written the first chapter already.
Not to mention that I’ve made friends in my honours classes that I get on with and understand. There’s
a bonding moment when you realise that you’re all facing the same trials and tribulations: all of my classes are spent with the same group of people, and we all share the same interests, since we’re all doing honours in the same thing.
Of course, honours isn’t for everyone: if you’re ready to leave and you’re done with your degree, if you know what you’re doing and you’re excited about it, then there’s no need. If you’re ready, then fly the nest, and best luck with it all.
If you’re thinking about it though, then it can be hard to tell if honours is the right decision for you. That said, it opens more doors into whatever you want to go into, and honestly, what can it hurt? At worst, you spend an extra year doing something you maybe shouldn’t have, end up with an “(Hons)” attached to the end of your name/degree, and put off real decision-making a while longer if that’s what you’re looking for. It also lets you think about post-graduate programs and qualifies you for any overseas programs you like.
And if it goes well? You make and cement friends, spend a year chasing your passions, get an added bonus on your resume, and may end up having one of the best years of your degree.
I’m only a quarter of the way through, so check back in with me when the stress of September thesis polishing hits, but so far, things aren’t looking too bad at all.
As it got towards the sticky end of my third year, I was asking myself: should I do an honours year?
The weekend before O-Week 2014 blazed hot enough to fry eggs on the pavement. Temperatures soared above 40 degrees as my parents and I scrambled to furnish and stock my studio in Davey Lodge. A dozen hours, one trolley load of groceries (with more fresh food than I would have in my pantry for the next year or so) and a few Big W pickups (including my trusty 15 dollar fan) later, and I was alone.
I was 18 years old. I had never drunk alcohol before. I knew one other person in Davey, and only a handful on campus at ANU. I was alone, and I was exactly the same as thousands of other first years.
Davey is essentially a giant concrete brick without air conditioning, so in that first weekend we found ourselves in the only part of it that was air conditioned – the common room. It was that Sunday night, gathered around a table as we attempted to cook pasta for a dozen or so of us on Davey common room’s solitary, temperamental stovetop that I first felt what this place, and its people could mean. It was then that this place first felt like home, and the people I shared it with as one community.
Amazing how a shared meal can turn strangers into family.
A week later, we made some pancakes on that stove. By the following week, I’d managed to secure some money from UniLodge’s Community Spirit Fund – short of 200 bucks, to make pancakes every Saturday morning for anyone who wanted to come. We picked up several slabs of pancake mix and a jug of maple syrup from Costco and away we went.
A week or two after that, I ran for first year social representative for the UniLodge Residents’ Committee. Nearly five years on, I’ve been many things and held many roles since. But it’s on that shitty stovetop that I began, and when I think back, it’s those glorious February and March Saturday mornings flipping pancakes among friends and strangers as we stumbled through the whirlwind that was our first term at ANU that I loved the best.
Firstly, if you are reading this, there is a good chance that you are an ANU student. It’s not guaranteed, but this is a student magazine, so I’m reasonably confident. Secondly, by virtue of even clicking on this link or picking up this magazine, you are at least vaguely interested or curious about ANU as it exists as a community. Thirdly, if you’ve made it this far, you don’t find me intolerably dull (which I appreciate).
If you stay with me a bit longer I’m going to try to convince you to serve. I’m going to attempt to persuade you to unironically, passionately, fearlessly, and genuinely give yourself to something beyond self-interest. I don’t know what that thing is – we each have our own shitty stovetops, the catalysts of human empathy and value that call out to us “this matters”, and maybe you haven’t found yours yet. But you will.
I’m asking this because the future of our Commonwealth, and our world, depends, and has always depended on people willing to strive for something more. Every work of art, every lasting contribution to human knowledge, every moment of compassion, justice, or kindness, or love has been the result of that choice.
Our society is sustained on the service of countless individuals – teachers, firefighters, police, nurses, judges, engineers, builders, community workers, public servants who make the decision to put the public good first. It is improved by the efforts of activists, advocates, academics and citizens who dedicate their lives for a more just society. All that is good in this world is the result of the choices of people to make it so. We are it. There is nothing and no one else.
This might seem obvious. But in a world of 7.6 billion people, it’s easy to feel individually insignificant. It’s easy to fall into a sense of insular apathy, to imagine that our capability to help begins and ends at our tax bill, and to assign moral responsibility for solving problems to some government department that we pay a few bucks to a week.
And it’s easy to imagine this world as natural, the arc of history inevitably bending towards what we have today. A world where we carry the sum of human knowledge in our pocket. A world where we have light whenever we want it. A world where we have clean water on demand from pretty much anywhere we are. A world where our personal liberty is an assumption.
The Romans marvelled that a citizen could walk from one end of the Empire to another without being accosted on the road. Today it’s such a basic assumption that it doesn’t even need to be voiced. Even the brightest minds of the Enlightenment would have been floored by the scale, comprehensiveness and rights of the modern legal system.
But human progress, knowledge and civilisation is not some natural, inevitable force. It is a city, built, rebuilt, expanded and maintained by constant human effort. Person by person, brick by brick. And without maintenance of our foundations, the city crumbles.
We live in an age of almost unprecedented public cynicism. The assumption that others are motivated by self-interest, partisan tribalism, or ideological combativeness is rooted so deeply that it’s almost impossible to shake. This cynicism started in politics, but it’s slowly stained every aspect of our society and our public life.
But above all else, cynicism is safe. If the system is broken and the people involved in it are tainted hypocrites acting in self-interest or some moral vanity, then we can justify not getting involved to ourselves.
Every party member in politics is a self-interested psychopathic hack. Every church charity is out to moralise and convert. Every international NGO is full of professional voluntourists who only care about feeling good rather than doing good. Every lawyer that takes on a pro bono case is only doing it for optics. These are the stories that we tell ourselves to justify our own inaction.
This is because to do is to risk being criticised for doing. To have and declare principles is to be held to them. To serve is to expose yourself. To try and set an example is to be compared to it, and to fail it.
Because you will fail. You will fail in ways great and small: you fail because of circumstances and chance, you will fail because of others, but most of all you will fail because of yourself. Not just the mistakes you make but because of the actions you do not take.
At this University we fear failure, perhaps more than anything else. We are the end product of a culture that prioritises success above everything. For many of us, our entire lives have been a never-ending pressure to excel at this exam, or this instrument, or this job.
In doing so, the appearance of being successful becomes more important than the magnitude of success. We become risk-averse, focussed on what is reliably achievable rather than what is valuable, obsessed with maintaining a facade of perfection. We want to be successful but not at the risk of being held responsible for mistakes. We want the reputation of someone who could do great things if they put their mind to it, without the risk of ever actually attempting it. Potential energy becomes more important than kinetic.
We become strangely insubstantial, with few, inoffensively held public views, a handful of carefully cultivated hobbies, and curated experiences designed to give the appearance of being a idealised stereotype. In this digital world that forgets nothing, we too often strive to avoid saying or doing anything memorable.
It is the strange curse of our generation. We are the most capable and educated set of elites in the history of humanity. The overwhelming majority of us that hail from the upper middle class have spent our entire lives being prepared to excel, each the product of close on two decades of formal education and extracurricular experiences, a huge investment of resources intended to allow us to compete and win in a ruthless meritocracy.
We have tools none of our predecessors enjoyed, carrying around the sum of human knowledge in our pockets. For us, to research, absorb and synthesise information into an argument is almost as natural as breathing, something we do in every argument on the internet or around the dinner table when we resort to Google to settle a disputed fact.
We have everything except purpose. Much of the formidable talent of our generation lies idle, paralysed in a malaise of apathetic nihilism that views the world and their place in it through mute cynicism. I disagree with the majority of millennial gaslighting literature that attempts to paint us as lazy and entitled, but there is a kernel of truth when Yale Professor Emeritus William Deresiewicz calls us “Excellent Sheep”, and when Senator Ben Sasse questions our conviction as he did in the Vanishing American Adult.
This is not to say that we don’t have an idea of what a better world and society would look like: many of us do, some of us passionately. Often we have a well-reasoned and researched basis for believing what we believe. We can imagine a more perfect society, that human city called progress, but we struggle to imagine how we, as individuals, can meaningfully contribute to bring it about. Then it becomes easy to be a cynic, a critic, a person to point out how things could have been done better in the privacy of our own thoughts, while remaining passive, silent and unmoved.
But as Theodore Roosevelt aptly noted in a speech to Paris’ own elite student population some 109 years ago, “it is not the critic who counts”. The world turns on those who strive “valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming…”
The challenges facing our generation and our world are serious and they are real. Climate change, automation, wealth inequality, drug resistant pandemics, decaying infrastructure, privacy in a digital era, the omnipresent threat of nuclear apocalypse, a globally ageing population and an increasingly grim international security situation are among them. If these challenges are to be met, they will be met by us, uncynically, pragmatically and tirelessly pursuing a more perfect city.
So find what is good and true. Imagine your perfect city. It will not be the same as others, and in many important ways it will be wrong, and other people will tell you that it’s wrong, and then in the fires of debate and research prove it to you. Always keep yourself open to revisions upon new information, because while our values and goals should be immutable, our methods must never be. Decide what matters and then hold fast to it: if you refuse to move, eventually it’ll be the world that does instead. But the city has never, and never will, be built by cowards who know neither victory nor defeat.
Be unironically, earnestly passionate for the terrible, incredible and bizarre experience that is human existence, and always remember that you have the unique and significant ability to make it better: not tomorrow, not next year, but today. It starts with a choice.
“Love is free and when one is honest with themselves, they are liberated in this digital world. We’re more sensitive to our peers and everyone’s opinions due to the rate that we are bombarded with them.”
– Miguel at his concert in Dallas, late 2018.
Hello, I’m your subconscious.
Make no mistake: getting to university is a big deal. It’s not only about the one or two years of work which got you that special number to apply to your degree. It’s about the entire life journey you have had up until your entrance to university. It’s about the childhood memories; those episodes of ‘Arthur’ which provided the foundation for a need to make good friends and a desire to visit something similar to The Sugar Bowl (Koko Black or Mookie, anyone?); the complaints about year seven assignments; the hormones in your teenage years; the stress of your penultimate year of school and choosing the perfect outfit for formal and graduation. Getting to university is a big deal, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise, no matter where you came from. If you’re from the Bronx of Canberra, aka Tuggeranong, or the northern suburbs of Sydney or the Apple Isle, you will be perceived by your peers in a certain light. That’s okay! Trust that most of the fun of university comes from you defying your own expectations and the assumptions that your first year peers had of you in O Week. Petty? Maybe. True? Definitely.
Don’t be afraid.
You might meet people in O Week who are the embodiment of all of the crushes you have ever had. You might meet people in O Week that embody all the traits of people who made you run away from your hometown. From anecdotes and personal experience, it’s pretty rare to find your lifelong best friend in O Week. That’s okay too! Prove me wrong if you can, though. For those who don’t want to go out and party in the first semester of university, join the club (ha ha… irony) and find the lit things that daylight-hour Canberrans get up to: like studying at the National Library on Sundays or walking around Lake Burley Griffin or going to Enlighten. If you don’t have that new group of friends by the end of first semester, good. You have used your judgement wisely, and second semester provides new opportunities to warm up to good people.
I am yours and yours alone.
Take care of yourself, food-wise. It is very easy to neglect your health and your stomach while you worry about your readings or assessment. Listen to your body and its cravings for actual orange and green vegetables and fruits when you need it. Google or test your Medical Science friends on the impact of alcohol on your system within one hour of consumption. And please, complain about how expensive food is as much as you can and hopefully someone will open a Student Soup Kitchen (but also definitely check out the Food Co-Op!).
I am the projector and you are the projection.
Whether you are a first year student or a final year student or a staff member, remember what a big deal it is to be at university. A significant part of this big deal is the education, right? We are all going to learn so much, both from our education and the events surrounding university and the outside world. Hopefully this year brings us greater knowledge and understanding of each other and of the world. No point learning in a vacuum! Try to get outside and see how your degree has real-world impact.
And I am always supreme.
Buzzwords like self-care might have come up a lot during your summer holidays. It’s great that we are talking about mental health more and about the ramifications when we don’t talk about it. University brings its challenges – both from people and the stress of the degree itself – but I promise you, it is nothing you can’t handle. You never get dealt a card that is too much for you to handle. Please be kind to everyone, and give yourself space when you need it. Reach out for help and be receptive to helping others. University is a big deal. Your mental health is an even bigger deal.
Woroni has a proud history of being the ANU’s student media outlet since 1950. This organisation, now in its late sixties, has constantly succeeded in its goal of promoting open public dialogue and debate in the university community. We produce interesting, entertaining, informative, recognised and regular content, as per the goals enshrined in the association’s constitution. The diversity of opinions, stories and authors published within the pages of the paper has grown and changed to reflect that of the student body and the changing times and makeup of Australia. Social values, accepted norms and cultural understandings have moved forward in over half a century and likewise Woroni today is not what it was, it is a product of its time to be viewed as context for the fabric of student society. But we cannot stagnate and hold on to tradition for the sake of tradition alone, nor is the continuing development a bad thing. And so, we are moving forward, but don’t fear ANU Students – we’ll still be your Woroni who you know and love. So we’re moving! Not just to a new office; at the beginning of next year our print publication will become a monthly magazine. All of the things you love about the content we produce, the art we showcase and the stories we share will be the same, they will just be printed on different paper. We will still work to discover and develop the creative talents of students at the University in journalism and the media arts, even without a dedicated degree in journalism at the ANU. We will still provide events, professional development and a platform for your voices, we are just going to be doing it better. We’ll have more time to work with you on your pieces, more ability to showcase your art, news delivered to you faster, and more capacity to support you when you work with the organisation.
Jobs and Growth
And Woroni remains a growing organisation. With the addition of Woroni Radio in 2012, and Woroni TV in 2017 ANU Student Media remains the only successful multi-platform, independent student media organisation in Australia. Woroni maintains a team of 70 regularly engaged volunteers across our platforms, nearly 100 radio presenters and literally thousands of contributors to the paper.
Print is Dead. Long Live Print.
The newspaper has been the cornerstone of the organisation since its inception, and an icon for many generations of ANU students. Nonetheless, the media landscape is now changing and evolving to reflect the interests of the community and adapt to new ways in which people interact with news and media. Across the country, newspapers have edited their production processes and formats to respond to these changes. Student publications too have responded by transforming their printed format from the tabloid newspapers to producing magazines and emphasising creative content, leaving Woroni as one of the last student newspapers in Australia. We should take pride in what the newspaper has achieved and how far it has come. We should take pride as ANU students that our student media organisation has for almost 70 years reported on, and held accountable the university, the government, and student groups for their actions. News reporting is an integral part of what we do, and it’s not going away any time soon. But to continue bringing you effective reporting, we need to ensure our news is timely. To this end, we are going to enhance our news platform by focussing on online news.
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
Woroni is more than just a news-paper or the content that is created, it documents the evolution of the Australian National University from its inception in the early 1950s to the leading university in Australia and ranked in the top 20 in the World. The oldest Woroni in the Trove online at the National Library of Australia is from June 14, 1950, only six pages long, and under the masthead, “Journal of the Canberra University College Students Club.” By 1961 under a new masthead reads “The newspaper of the ANU Students Association,” and thus Woroni was incorporated into ANUSA until 2011 when it became fully independent. Independence has been a process of figuring out where Woroni’s place is as the student newspaper, how we engage with students and has resulted in the multimedia platform we have today.
Moving Woroni Forward
With growth and change comes challenges, and structures and practices must be revisited. Woroni has gone from an eight-page paper disseminated before the internet, to a major fortnightly publication focussed on amplifying student voices. We are going to create timeless publications, with greater relevance for longer. Which won’t yellow and age in only a year. Which won’t be known for the events of the time, but instead will give a snapshot of the student body’s thoughts, values and challenges being faced. We won’t shy away from controversy. We won’t hesitate to draw the line. And we won’t be going away any time soon. But we will be moving with the times. And we will still at our heart be Australian National University Student Media.
Respect Your Elders
I’ll end by giving thanks to the thousands of writers, editors, artists, designers, contributors and, most importantly, students who have been part of the creation of hundreds of newspapers over the years. We commit to continuing the legacy of print as we move into the next chapter of Woroni’s history.
On 14 June, 1950, the student journal of what was then the Canberra University College announced a name change. In the search for something “more inspiring” than the original name, Student Notes, the editors decided to pick a title from an Aboriginal language, “because it is far more significant to us, particularly in the Capital City of Australia, than any word of foreign origin.” They chose the word ‘Woroni’, which they stated meant ‘mouthpiece’. Today, 68 years later, Woroni’s Wikipedia page repeats this etymology, declaring that the name “derives from an Indigenous Australian word meaning ‘mouthpiece’.” Over the past 68 years, a key question has remained unanswered. There are estimated to have been 250 different language groups in Australia before European invasion, 120 of which are spoken today. If Woroni is genuinely derived from an Aboriginal language, which of these 250 languages does it come from? Some past editions of Woroni have claimed that the publication’s name is derived from the Ngunnawal language spoken in the Canberra region. There is no evidence to support this claim, which appears to be based on guesswork. Woroni’s 1950 editorial team were following a long tradition of settler Australians appropriating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words to name a wide variety of things, from place names to literary journals such as Meanjin, as part of a broader search for an authentically Australian identity. A number of books were produced in the twentieth century to assist in this endeavour. One of the most popular was Sydney J Endacott’s Australian Aboriginal Native Words and Their Meaning, which went through ten editions between 1923 and 1973. Endacott praised “the use of musical native aboriginal (sic) names … with advantage to the furthering of the growth of a distinct national feeling.” He hoped to fulfil a “demand for a substantial and reliable list of pleasant-sounding words”. The Woroni editors most likely chose their publication’s new name from Endacott’s widely available compilation, where it is listed as meaning “mouth” – the extension of this to “mouthpiece” may be an example of the editors’ creative licence. Endacott gave no indication of the origin of the words he listed. Their cultural context was of no importance: what mattered was whether they could be used as a “pleasant-sounding” name. Uncovering the true origins of Woroni requires a little more digging. Endacott claimed his book was the result of “much sifting of lists of words, and a good deal of research among old books and journals.” One of the sources he would have consulted was Edward M. Curr’s four volume work The Australian Race, published between 1886 and 1887. Curr was a major landowner in Victoria, who was intimately involved in the dispossession of Aboriginal peoples on the colonial frontier. As a member of the Victorian Board for the Protection of Aborigines, he advocated for the incarceration of Aboriginal Victorians who had survived the frontier wars, likening them to “children” and “lunatics”. Simultaneously, he dedicated a considerable amount of time to recording Aboriginal language and customs, believing he was preserving cultural relics of a people doomed to extinction. A major part of Curr’s work were wordlists of Aboriginal languages he had collected from three hundred correspondents across Australia. It is in one of these wordlists, contributed by a Thomas Macredie, that we find ‘Woroni’. Here it is defined as meaning “mouth”, and is said to come from the geographical area of Piangil, in northern Victoria. According to the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), the language spoken in this area is that of the Wadi Wadi nation. Wadi Wadi country straddles the Murray River in northern Victoria. Despite the effects of the colonial invasion of their lands that began in 1846, the Wadi Wadi people have survived and continue to care for their ancestral country. Descriptions of their innovative land management techniques can be found in Bruce Pascoe’s influential book Dark Emu. What are the implications of this? The name of ANU’s student newspaper was not chosen as a result of consultation with Wadi Wadi people. It is highly unlikely that the editors at the time were even aware of the Wadi Wadi language. In the words of historian Samuel Furphy, the use of Aboriginal words for naming by settler Australians “has very rarely been the result of sensitive and meaningful cultural interchange.” Referring to the use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander words as Australian place names, the Koori novelist and historian Tony Birch writes that “Houses, streets, suburbs and whole cities have Indigenous names. This is an exercise in cultural appropriation, which represents imperial possession and the quaintness of the ‘native’. For the colonisers to attach a ‘native’ name to a place does not represent or recognise an Indigenous history, and therefore possible Indigenous ownership.” Words are a vital part of Aboriginal culture, but many settler Australians have valued them only for their novelty. At a time when government policies aimed to erase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, the Woroni editors of 1950 chose their publication’s name without concern for its origins or cultural context. Many questions arise when considering this history, including: Given Woroni’s stated commitment to standing with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, in what ways can it ensure that this careless appropriation is not perpetuated, and that the Wadi Wadi origins of its name are honoured? Given the intimate links between Aboriginal languages and country, what are the ethics of using a Wadi Wadi name for a publication produced on Ngunnawal and Ngambri lands? Would a collaboration with the Ngaiyuriija Ngunawal Language Group, which has been working to revitalise the Ngunawal language, produce a more appropriate name? There are no simple answers to these questions, but they should be carefully considered. Note on Sources This article would have been impossible without the assistance of Michael Walsh of AIATSIS and David Nash and Harold Koch of the ANU School of Literature, Language and Linguistics. Macredie’s wordlist is on pages 448-451 of the third volume of Curr’s The Australian Race. The quote from Samuel Furphy is from his article “Aboriginal place names and the settler Australian identity” in Melbourne Historical Journal 29 (2001): 71-78. The quote from Tony Birch is from his article “‘Nothing has Changed’: The Making and Unmaking of Koori Culture”, in Meanjin 51(2) (1992), 229-246. There are numerous spellings of Wadi Wadi: I have used that used by the Murray Lower Darling Rivers Indigenous Nations group.
Comments Off on In Limbo: Being New in Semester Two
With semester two starting this week, you may be finding it difficult to get back into the swing of things. However, what about those who are starting University for the first time? Although Bush Week attempts to help new students integrate into University life, the semester two intake can feel as though they are in an awkward limbo – as if their University experience is out of sync with the norm. I sat down with three students who started university in semester two, 2017, to hear about their experiences and any advice they have to fellow students who are new to ANU.
What were the challenges of starting University/moving to a new residency in semester two?
Shannon: Starting university in semester two was exciting, as it would be for most students starting university. I can’t say I had a very difficult time but I did face a few challenges that I don’t think would have been present if I started in semester one. Integrating into residential life was challenging. Although people were friendly, they weren’t always willing to invite you to coffee the next day. Friendship groups had already been established and the excitement I was experiencing had slightly faded for those who had already been at university for at least a semester. It was really until the next intake of first years that I felt fully settled.
Vegnesh: I wasn’t introduced to the concept of the Resident’s Committee, nor did I have an understanding of their roles until later on. It was harder to make friends as the new students all arrived at different times, and residents who had been here since semester one had already formed friendship groups. Trying to fit into a group that were already close friends was sometimes uncomfortable and nerve wracking. I found that Bush Week was not as helpful as O-Week, as it didn’t have all of the essential information that new residents need to know. Instead, I had to figure these things out over time. There were also less events, and understanding the whole college system and university took longer. Overall, it was pretty intimidating jumping into a cohort that already was familiar with one another and knew how university worked.
Marina: There were less activities in Bush Week to help meet new people, and everyone already found their good friends. There was also the trouble of trying to plan out your courses. For example, an introductory course usually starts in semester one, so when you start in semester two, professors assume you have knowledge you don’t actually have.
What were the benefits of starting university/moving residencies in semester two?
Shannon: I feel that starting in semester two meant there was a lot more individual attention on your university experience, unlike semester one intake with a very large cohort. Coming in semester two allows you to get an inside perspective of uni life, and then you can come into the following year, still as a first year, ready to hop on board every opportunity.
Vegnesh:The older residents were so nice and welcoming. It was easy to ask people for help, as people already had knowledge about College life and University. It was also easy to put yourself out there and be noticed, instead of being lost in a sea of over 150 new residents.
Marina: Since there were less people around, it gave me a better opportunity to get to know everyone. Although there are also downsides to this (such as everyone already having their group of friends), the whole experience was a lot more intimate compared to starting in semester one.
What would your advice to those who are in a similar position and are starting university in Semester two?
Shannon: My advice would be simple – despite being half a year behind those born in the same year as you, come into your first year with enthusiasm and a confident attitude. Know that although there is a difference between the first and second semester intake, this should not alter your university experience. University is what you make of it and the outcome of your experience falls largely on you, so try be open minded and make your time here a good experience.
Vegnesh: It takes time to get used to being a student when you start in semester two. Patience is key. Eventually, you’ll find your groove and your group of friends. Joining in semester two already makes you unique because you have a story to tell about why you joined in the second semester. You’ll get the hang of everything! Remember that although you want to step out of your comfort zone, don’t do anything that makes you feel really uncomfortable. Finally, always remember to be yourself.
Marina: Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to a group of people, even if it’s intimidating! You’re new, so this is your excuse to interrupt and join in conversations. Try not to get too disheartened when it seems like everyone already has a friendship group. You’re not alone in that feeling, just try your best, take a deep breath and put yourself in the weird situation of reaching out to others!
Shannon Viall is a first year Commerce/Design Student who started university in semester two, 2017. She calls Namibia home and currently residents at Burton and Garran Hall.
Vegnesh Ganesan is a first year Medical Science student who started university in semester two, 2017. He hails from Malaysia and is currently an International Representative at Burton and Garran Hall.
Marina Mito is a first year International Relations and Sustainability student who started university in semester two, 2017. She calls Japan home, and she currently lives at Burton and Garran Hall.
Comments Off on The Double-Edged Sword of Living Off-Campus
I am what they call a ‘townie.’ I’m a Canberran through and through and I have never set foot in a Residential Hall. This particular way of life as a student at the ANU provides me with a good set of advantages. Simply making the transition from studying at a secondary level to studying at a tertiary level was sufficiently anxiety-inducing for me. I cannot imagine how stressful it must have been for the students who had to leave their home towns, their families and their comfort zones and essentially restart their lives in an entirely unfamiliar environment on top of starting a degree. I consider myself incredibly lucky that I had my parents to guide me through this huge change in my life. Students who had to move on-campus might not have been so lucky in this way.
Getting to stay at home during my time at university has also meant that I have learnt to be an adult slowly and incrementally. Aspects of adulthood were introduced to me one at a time and only when I was ready for them. First, I agreed to wash the odd dish every once in a while. Then my mum taught me a couple of easy dinner recipes that I could cook for the family. After that, I learnt how to vacuum and take care of my cat. All of that was part of a slow-burning process, as if I were participating in a year-long program about how to adult. From what I’ve heard from some of my on-campus peers, they don’t have a year to learn these skills. They have weeks or days. Their learning curve is significantly steeper than mine and takes place in a completely new living situation.
I do genuinely like living off-campus. The balance between being immersed in campus culture on a regular basis and still having somewhere to go back to at the end of the day means that I don’t have as much of a risk of getting stuck inside of the ‘uni bubble’ that everyone talks about. But despite this, I believe that living off-campus – or rather, never having lived on-campus – has been detrimental in some noticeable ways.
Trying to actually get to campus can be a nightmare for me. I live in the inner-south, which is on the other side of the city from ANU. For a number of reasons, I don’t have a driving license, meaning that I have to rely on Canberra’s slightly dodgy bus system. On a good day, it takes me half an hour to get to uni, whereas for an on-campus student, it might only take 5 minutes. But this isn’t really anything more than a mere inconvenience for me.
My main stumbling block as a result of living off-campus is that I have struggled for both of my two years here at ANU to make friends. When you’re living in a residential hall, college or lodge, you’re around people all the time. Whether you cook with them in the communal kitchen, hang out with them at Hall events or even live with them in a shared room, you are constantly interacting with people. But for me, being not just an off-campus student, but an introverted off-campus student, has really taken a toll on my social life. Luckily, however, there are ways in which I am able to overcome this. Being involved with Woroni for the past year as both a writer and a sub-editor has enabled me to connect with other students from all walks of life through my love of writing. While I am not a part of Griffin Hall, ANU’s non-residential hall for off-campus students, this is great option for those in a similar situation to mine who want a few more opportunities to be part a community. If all else fails, making friends in tutorials is definitely something that happens! But I still can’t help but feel as if living on-campus would have given me a more immediate source for making friends.
Living off-campus presents somewhat of a double-edged sword. You get the comforts of living at home but can sometimes feel disconnected from the rest of the student body. But right now, I am comfortable with how I’m spending my time at uni. That’s all that matters to me.
For many of us, coming to uni is our first time living out of home and/or making big decisions about our lives with minimal structure and guidance. Whether it’s filing out our first tax returns, finding time to complete assignments, or keeping in touch with our loved ones, staying across everything we have to do is a scary part of “adulting”. As we become independent and form our own futures, the new things we have to learn and confront can be immensely intimidating. But life is full of potential and opportunity, and a way to balance what we want out of each aspect of our lives really makes all the difference.
Schedule, schedule, schedule.
Getting stuff done give us this incredible sense of achievement – a testament to our potential as responsible humans. Whether you prefer handwritten notes in a diary, or phone apps are your go-to, make note of every plan the moment you make them. This can help avoid double-booking, which can often cause confusion, disappointment, and tension in relationships.
In my schedule I have down social plans, meetings, appointments, and deadlines. This gives me an idea of how stressed I may be at a given time, and I can work my other plans around that. If I know I’ve got three assignments due on one day and I’m going to be too stressed to make food for myself, I might reach out to a friend and ask if I could come over for dinner one of those days.
Prioritise and have a to-do list handy.
Whether it’s laundry, booking a holiday, catching up on lectures, or sending out a single (but very important) e-mail, maintaining an ongoing to-do list can help relieve stress. When we go from tutorials to work and then home, our mindsets change with every activity – what this means is: work will be fresh in your mind, so you’ll be more inclined to follow up with work things, and forget about the tutorial stuff earlier in the day.
Jotting down a short dot point (“degree plan”, “bank”, “groceries”, “Josh”) is usually enough to spark your memory about that particular item; what’s important is to put it down the moment it comes to mind so that you don’t forget it altogether. It’s also crucial to prioritise the items on your to-do list: some things can wait, while others are time-sensitive. So when you find a pocket of free time, take a look at your list and think about what you could get done with the time, energy and resources you have. This is where scheduling and to-do lists come hand-in-hand, as you’ll be able to gauge how you might be travelling after a particularly exhausting day.
Communication and relationships* are so, so important.
From friends, to family, to professional working relationships, the way we relate to people around us can really make or break our experiences in the world. Keeping our loved ones close is one of those things that comes back to us in all kinds of wonderful ways when we need them. However, our time doesn’t need to be spent worrying about where we’re at with people in our lives. Communicate openly and genuinely with others: tell them you love them and when what they’re doing doesn’t sit well with you. Create a culture of honesty that comes from a wish to make things work, and talk about things before they become problems.
If you’re not feeling up to a massive hike you may have planned with someone, tell them, “It’s been a crazy week, and I don’t think I will have the energy to conquer the hike. But I would still love to see you in some capacity. Perhaps we could do something else instead, like go to the markets or bake.” This makes it clear that it’s not themthat you are bailing on, but the specific activity – and it makes them comfortable to do the same in future if they need to!
Pro tip: Combine your to-do list and maintaining relationships. Some of the most memorable hangouts with dear friends have been grocery shopping and hunting down Canberra’s cheapest petrol. When people want to spend time with you, they’ll understand not being able to take a chunk of time out – and chances are they’re on the same boat too – so it’s perfectly okay to suggest that someone come along to return your library books, or ask if you could drive them to the train station.
Keep asking questions and learning.
Nobody has it all figured out. If there’s something in particular that you’re struggling with, reach out to those around you who may be able to point you in the right direction. Whether that’s going to the gym for the first time, or putting together a project proposal and budget, seeking out the guidance of people around us is an act of great humility. Similarly, if you’ve got something covered and someone else is just coming to it, be wary of being dismissive, as they may bring new perspective and insight.
It is also important to keep pushing our comfort zones outward, and to seek out new experiences. This is the way we grow and learn. Trying an activity seemingly unrelated to everything else in our lives may end up opening up opportunities we’d never considered before, or we may meet people who teach us things about ourselves and the world that fascinate us.
The one thing to remember is to stick to things. Self-care is, at times, about sucking it up and getting stuff done – even if it may be the last thing we want to do. It is easy to find distractions and excuses – and sometimes we may really need that break – but it’s when I’ve pushed myself through a particularly rough time that I’ve felt the proudest of my achievements. Good days and bad days are a reality of our lives, but adulting involves being responsible to ourselves and others, and being able to continue with what we’ve got to do even at our worst. It doesn’t mean ignoring our well-being, but it means giving ourselves a certain amount of tough love and credit for how resilient we really can be!
*I speak of relationships, in this case, as those platonic and otherwise. I believe it’s really important to think about our friendships with the same weight and through a similar lens as our romantic ones, and give them the importance they deserve.