Call me an optimist – I won’t mind, I’m sure that I’ve been called worse.
What I’m asking is that you would entertain the thought for the moment: what if it were actually possible for ANU to become something more than other universities?
After all, we are a different university from other universities – why on earth should it be, as though we were all the same?
When I look at the ANU, I see how we are a veritable goldmine of assets (and no, I’m not talking about the university revenue).
As a student body, I think we have a unique constellation of human traits.
Give me your ears for yet a moment longer, and I’ll try to explain precisely what I mean… and exactly why you should care.
If you and I want to enough, we can have – wait for it – genuine conversations.
When we care enough about the people around us, we can leave unwelcome, unfounded prejudices completely outside the door.
We can speak with those in authority over us, as their human equals; we can challenge our lecturers, and yet with no disrespect towards who they are, as people.
We can understand the perspectives of those around us, even if they should consider us their intellectual enemies.
We can accept differences in creed, because we are already decided upon the single point: we are all deserving of one another’s respect – whoever we are, whosoever we may be.
In our culture, I think we tend to say that someone needs to “earn” the respect that others will give them.
Well, that is just not true, at least not in the fullest sense.
For there is a certain amount of respectfulness, that is due every person, in an entirely unqualified sense.
Honestly, I don’t think this point can be laboured enough; indeed, whatever is true, surely bears repeating.
If you don’t think that respectfulness towards all of your peers is not a prerequisite for effective communication, then quite honestly you are a fool.
So here’s to making ANU what we never even imagined that it could be… because we all of us deserve that much from each other.
The ANU we leave should be something more than the university we came to.
Maybe you are a classical sceptic, and you’ve literally got to see the change I’m hoping for, in order to believe it.
Even so, the potential scepticism of another is most assuredly no reason, for me to stop believing in the vision that I have.
Oh, you’re more than welcome to call me an optimist – I won’t mind, I’m sure that I’ve been called worse.
If the winds are changing, as I think they are, anyone can call me anything they like.
Just don’t leave the ANU, persisting in the thought that real, radical, and positive social change is either altogether impossible, or unsustainable.
Because that thought right there is the only thing that ever made it so.
I won’t be at uni for that much longer, but to those of my friends that I leave, Adieu.
ANU needs the best of us, to make sure there aren’t so many lonely kids at ANU in Semester 2, as there were in Semester 1, 2014.
‘Cos university administration sure ain’t gonna do that job for us.
And it’s not their job, anyway.