Category Archives: Honi Soit

Offence is no defence

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Ada Lee had an emotional Facebook conversation with the self-professed ‘soldiers’ of the Australian Defence League.

“Fuck anyone who defends Islam. They don’t deserve life, to defend those who align themselves with a death cult that has snatched life and joy and basic human rights away.”

It’s a hate-filled message, wrapped in the proclamation of defending human rights. This is one of the last things the Australian Defence League soldiers (ADL Soldiers) say in our Facebook conversation.

Inspired by the English Defence League and set up in early 2010, the ADL is a loosely defined group of extreme, anti-Islam advocates in Australia, best known for their provocative presence on social media. A quick Facebook search uncovers dozens of different pages, with different location bases and sometimes, different leaders.

ADL Soldiers was created to be a “more hard-hitting… information page”, according to Ralph Cerminara, page admin and President of the ADL. With almost 3000 followers, the ADL Soldiers page features videos of ISIS atrocities, declarations of war against Islam, Andrew Bolt reports, and defensive words about why they are not racist or bigoted despite what “loonie left wing mates” might say.

Our Facebook interactions are tumultuous, as multiple ADL members reply from the same account. At times, it feels like tiptoeing around an angry and volatile child, one that could snap
in an instant.

At one point, Cerminara reassures me that he hates racism and loves Asian people (“I am married to an Asian girl”). But when I ask if the ADL identifies as neo-Nazi, another user takes the reins and tells me his war veteran grandfather would shoot me if I asked him the same question.

They emphasise that they are not condemning a race but rather, an ideology they perceive as “a religion of war, of deception and slavery, of sexism, of paedophilia”. In organising a Sydney meeting, they remind followers that the ADL welcomes people “from all racial groups and from all religions excepting the death cult of Islam”.

As we have seen in the rising spate of Islamophobic attacks against Muslim women and mosques, more and more Australians are using the atrocities of Muslim extremists to define and justify punishment against all Muslims. For ADL Soldiers, there is no such thing as the moderate Muslim.

The group insists they “have never attacked anyone,” yet they do not condemn those who do. “If people verbally abuse people then that’s them, they are sick to death of islamists raping young girls, planning to blow up people at the AFL grand final, Sharia law, marrying underage girls, it goes on and on,” Cerminara says.

Just last month, Cerminara posted a video on YouTube (now deleted) threatening, “another Cronulla is coming, and I can’t wait until it does, because this time, we’re going to show you who’s boss”. He posted it after five Muslim men allegedly attacked him in Lakemba because he was taking photos of women in niqabs and posting them online.

Cerminara frames the 2005 Cronulla Riots using the discourse of war, emphasising the gang rapes and attacks on lifeguards that preceded it. “All wars have civilian casualties…Aussies had enough,” he says. “Bad thing like any war is there were acts that were not called for, but that’s war, and when a foreign body comes to your country and rapes your women, tries to blow up your buildings and more, we are at war.”

Maybe we are at war. When the West invades the Middle-East, when we hear endless stories of women in hijabs and niqabs being harassed on the streets, when we see images of 5000 flag-wavers attacking people of Middle-Eastern descent in Cronulla, it breeds the perfect climate for people from either side to recede further and further into the shadows of extremism, polarised and marginalised from the demonised Other.

At the end of the Facebook thread, there is a battle among page admins arguing whether to stop speaking to me. The words reek of paranoia, insularity and intolerance of criticism.

“Fuck anyone who defends Islam … We will never stop. We will never stop learning about this death cult.”

Published in Honi Soit, 21 October 2014.

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Not your Asian fetish

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“I’ve always had a thing for Asian women,” a British man writes to me on Tinder.

“I’ve always dreamed of sleeping with an Asian woman – will you be my first?” a French guy writes.

On Tinder, and life generally, any woman is bound to be subject to feeble sexual propositions. But these racialised gems tend to be saved for women from minority groups. There is nothing more empowering than knowing someone is attracted to you because of your race. As I told the second guy, it is every girl’s dream to be objectified and fetishised for her race.

Not.

Online dating studies of heterosexual interactions have found Asian women are one of the most popular groups – while Black women tend to rank the lowest. Conversely, White men are the most popular group among women, while Asian men rank the lowest. It’s easy to simplify these findings to mere physical preferences. After all, you can’t help who you’re attracted to.

But, after watching a cringe-inducing episode of SBS Insight, I’ve started to realise that our preferences are often shaped by power dynamics and gender stereotypes.

It’s not uncommon to hear of the middle-aged Aussie bloke who travels to Bali or Thailand to find a (significantly younger) wife. John Carroll sits in the SBS Insight studio with his Filipino wife, explaining why he prefers Asian women: they’re “very attentive,” he coos.  “One of the stereotypes is Asian women treat Western men better than a white woman. Yes, I believe that to be true,” he says. Thanks for the seal of approval pal.

He’s not the only one. At an Asian women speed-dating event, one guy admires how “Asian women definitely look after the partner.” Australian expats in Bali with Indonesian wives tell The Australian how, “Asian women treat men like men.” One 44 year-old explains the difficulties of dating Western women: “It’s because of the independence, the nagging – they’re high maintenance. It’s much easier with an Asian girl”.

According to sociology expert, Jennifer Lundquist, there is a desire among some Western men to find women who come from more family traditional cultures and who subscribe to more conservative gender roles.

The attitudes of these men reflect Patriarchal assumptions that Asian women are domestic and docile. But don’t worry, John Carroll is here to defend us from the misguided stereotype. Peering over at his wife with a fawning grin, he says, “as far as Asian women being docile, I’m sorry to disappoint you but they’re not docile, they’re definitely not.” I’d rather not imagine what he means by this.

In the arena of stereotypes, the Western conception of ‘Tarzan masculinity’ is defeating quiet Asian masculinity while docile Asian femininity is winning against loud Black femininity.

I’m not saying every guy who’s dating an Asian girl has some Patriarchal complex. Nor am I saying every guy who’s dating a black girl is looking for his own Beyoncé fantasy. There is nothing wrong with interracial couples or being attracted to certain attributes. But there is a fine line between appreciating difference and fetishising someone for their race.

Most of us aren’t from a generation where the fantastical ‘Other’ exists only on some remote, exotic island. More than ever, we have grown up alongside different cultures and from this, we’ve learnt to respect and embrace diversity. Still, it remains important that we question the historical power dynamics and gender stereotypes that shape our attraction towards some and our exclusion of others.

Published in Honi Soit, 7 October 2014.

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Georgian villa delays student housing development

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The discovery of historic architectural remains has halted construction on a student housing project, writes Ada Lee.

The remains of an 1859 Georgian villa have been discovered inside St Michael’s College, bringing student housing construction plans to a halt.

Owned by the Roman Catholic Church, St Michael’s College is an 80 year-old abandoned building on City Rd, with broken windows and graffiti on the greying walls.

Plans were underway by private contractor, Urbanest, to transform the decaying site into an 11-story accommodation building with 80 percent of beds promised to students.

Heritage architect, Otto Cserhalmi, discovered an 1859 Georgian-style villa known as Cyprus Hall encased within the college. His discoveries included an Archimedean spiral balustrade, a Georgian revival fireplace and mantelpiece, and a French door.

”Within 20 minutes we realised we had a building within a building,” Cserhalmi told the Sydney Morning Herald. ”[The Georgian building] would be considered of heritage significance.”

Project managers indicated that construction plans will be pushed back by almost a year with completion date predicted to be May 2015 instead of July this year.

Lack of affordable student housing has been an ongoing concern for students and the University of Sydney. Under its Student Accommodation Strategy, the University is aiming to deliver 4,000 affordable beds to students within the next three to five years. Difficulties with St Michael’s College construction apparently should not affect this target. A University spokesperson told Honi the college is a “separate project”.

Projects that are incorporated in the University’s strategy for affordable student housing include the Queen Mary Building and Abercrombie Precinct.

Published in Honi Soit, p. 6, 3 June 2014.

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Cooking up racial expectations

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Chefs can find it hard to escape cultural stereotypes, writes Ada Lee.

The doorbell rings. You wait at the strangers’ door, not knowing what to expect. When it opens, two small Asians stand timidly before you, their eyes bright with excitement and fear. You might not say it or even think it, but your tastebuds are expecting oriental dishes for dinner tonight.

“Talking to all the other contestants, they all expected, the minute they saw us, that we’d cook Asian food,” says Shannelle Lim, recalling her team’s first round instant restaurant on reality TV show, My Kitchen Rules (MKR).

Advertised as the “Newlyweds”, Shannelle and Uel Lim were the only Asian team on MKR 2014. They represent a small but growing minority of people of colour making their way onto Australian reality TV.

Despite expectations, they cooked Western food in the first two rounds. Both times, they received poor marks. That’s when the “hints” from judges, Pete and Manu, started emerging.

“They kind of said, ‘Cook from your tradition, cook flavour combinations that you’re comfortable with,’ so we kind of thought, you know what – if you really want Asian food that bad, we’ll cook it for you,” Uel says.

I asked them what food they actually are more comfortable with. “Well, now, Asian food,” Shannelle says.

From then on, their Asian cuisines received high praise, taking them as far as the top nine.

Shannelle, 23, was a North Shore private school girl, born and raised in Sydney by Indonesian parents. Uel, 25, was born in Singapore to missionaries and spent half his life in Tasmania and Spain before moving to Western Sydney 10 years ago.

As embodied through their lemongrass soufflé and Uel’s recent photography exhibition, the “Modern Australian” is from a variety of ethnicities and backgrounds.

“We thought we’d be able to break out of the mould and cook a variety of different things but I guess on a whole, even looking back on the journey, our Asian food was received a lot, lot better,” Shannelle says.

Uel agrees. “I think after a while, you’re kind of afraid of cooking anything but Asian food because you’re not sure if they’re going to take it well and Asian food just seems to work.”

This expectation seemed to weigh heaviest upon Shannelle and Uel. No one assumed the Greek twins, Helena and Vikki, would cook Greek food. In fact, when they did, they were sometimes criticised for playing it safe. Similarly, no one ever questioned why the two Caucasian surfer dads, Paul and Blair, often decided to cook Balinese cuisine.

Shannelle and Uel, when asked why they think this was the case, share a long pause. “I don’t know,” Shannelle finally says. “I think the twins, no one really expected them to be the Greek twins that cook Greek food and because of that [lack of] expectation, people were like ‘Why are you always cooking Greek food?’ Because it’s not as blatantly obvious in terms of appearance and things like that maybe.”

Overall though, Shannelle and Uel loved being on the show. When Queensland contestant David asked early on why they weren’t cooking Japanese “Tem-pan-yaki”, they laughed it off. “I didn’t really feel offended by it by any short stint,” Uel says. He seems optimistic about Australia’s multiculturalism. “I think the racism, in Sydney particularly, has been broken down to an extent. Maybe not in the wider Australia but in Sydney particularly, I feel really comfortable calling myself Australian.”

Published in Honi Soit, p. 10, 29 April 2014

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Staff super funding detention centre contractors

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USyd staff unions have called for investment in detention centre contractors to cease, writes Ada Lee.

Last Wednesday, the University of Sydney branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) unanimously passed a motion calling on UniSuper to withdraw its investments in companies linked to asylum seeker detention.

UniSuper are the superannuation fund for the majority of USyd’s 7500 staff. Staff super contributions are part of Australia’s detention supply chain, with UniSuper investing in companies such as Transfield services, Serco and Decmil Group Ltd, who build and operate Australia’s detention centres.

The NTEU’s USyd branch has asked the NTEU to pressure UniSuper to reveal any further connections to the detention network and to withdraw all investment.

Michael Thomson, NTEU USyd branch President, was adamant that UniSuper divest from these companies and that Manus Island be shut down.

“Transfield is playing a role in jailing people who are fleeing poverty and persecution and Transfield is making profits from it. As far as I’m concerned, we want to take as much social action as we can to stop them from doing this,” he said.

In February, Transfield Services entered a $1.22 billion contract with the federal government to operate both the Manus Island and Nauru offshore detention centres. UniSuper also has almost 780,000 shares in Decmil, a mining contractor awarded nearly $200 million worth of government contracts to build and expand the Manus Island detention facilities.

The motion, passed at the NTEU USyd general meeting of 50-80 people, calls mandatory detention “wrong and harmful”, and points to UniSuper’s investment profile as a “major point of influence for the NTEU”.

“A decision by UniSuper not to invest in firms that collaborate with the Australian Government in the mandatory detention regime can make a significant difference to the capacity and willingness of those firms to participate in this abusive regime, as well as the capacity of Government to find commercial partners through which to implement the policy,” the motion stated.

The union branch’s move comes after the Sydney Biennale severed ties with Transfield earlier this month due to pressure from artists pulling out. “We have listened to the artists who are the heart of the Biennale and have decided to end our partnership with Transfield effective immediately,” Biennale organisers said in a statement.

The NTEU has one representative on UniSuper’s board. The campaign is only in its early stages, with Michael Thomson holding discussions with NTEU members across NSW and Australia. As to the sway NTEU holds over UniSuper, Thomson says we will have to wait and see.

Published in Honi Soit, p. 4, 25 March 2014.

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Pork roll pandemonium after salmonella outbreak

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Ada Lee was at ground zero when shit hit the fan.

The Vietnamese roll section of Café Azzuri has been shut down after 21 customers received salmonella poisoning from its pâté.

Last month Honi Soit reported that a Wentworth-JFR food outlet was under investigation for allegedly causing salmonella infections with several hospitalised as a result.

Though authorities had not conclusively linked the infections with the food outlet, Honi Soit can now confirm that there were 21 confirmed cases and two suspected cases of salmonella, based on figures from the Sydney Local Health District.

Café Azzuri’s owner Nick Ana informed Honi Soit of the NSW Food Authority’s findings. The official report is yet to be finalised, but it can now be confirmed that one batch of chicken liver pâté made and served by Bun Me, a part of the cafe, caused the infections.

“The most likely cause is that we purchased contaminated chicken liver and failed to kill all the bacteria during the cooking process,” Ana said.

A couple of days after the contamination, the pork rolls were taken off the menu. Soon after, the entire section was shut down. However, this course of action was not enforced by the NSW Food Authority as a result of the findings.

Ana said Azzuri shut down Bun Me of its own accord, on 10 February. He plans for it to remain closed until Azzuri can source pâté from a supplier approved for food safety.

Following this decision, the USU officially asked the store to cease selling Vietnamese-style rolls until the investigation was finalised.

Azzuri’s other coffee and food services, however, remain open. University of Sydney Union CEO Andrew Woodward justified this on the basis that the contamination was limited to one aspect of the operation. The café has been a tenant of the USU for over 20 years, and the USU is not currently looking for a new business to replace it.

Ana described the incident as “most regrettable”.

“I offer my heartfelt apology to the people that fell ill. My overwhelming priority is to ensure this does not occur in my operation again.”

For the future, Ana has identified several critical risk areas of Azzuri’s food handling procedures. The final NSW Food Authority report is expected to be released within two weeks, and Azzuri is likely to be found on the Authority’s “name and shame” website.

Published in Honi Soit, pg. 5, 9 March 2014.

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Wentworth-JFR food outlet under investigation for Salmonella poisoning

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Allegations of food poisoning have been made against a food outlet in the Wentworth-Jane Foss Russell Building area, prompting an investigation by local authorities. Ada Lee reports.

In the last week of January during university holidays, professors, employees, and students have reportedly gotten stomach sicknesses after consuming meals from the same food outlet on campus.

The food outlet in question has now been reported to authorities. The Sydney Local Health District (LHD) and NSW Food Authority are currently investigating the “likely cause” of 12 confirmed cases and six suspected cases of Salmonella infection, according to a Sydney LHD spokesperson.

USU CEO, Andrew Woodward, informed Honi Soit that the investigation has found Salmonella bacteria in one of the ingredients used in food preparation at the store. “However, we are awaiting confirmation that the strain of salmonella found in the cases matches the salmonella found in the [ingredient name omitted] served by [shop name omitted].”

Salmonellosis is a form of gastroenteritis caused when Salmonella bacteria are ingested. Symptoms include diarrhoea (which may contain blood or mucous), fever, headache, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and dehydration.

Alex Mouzone, third-year, mature age, B. PESS student, spent almost a week in hospital suffering from salmonellosis. Mouzone believes his illness was caused by his lunch from the Wentworth-Jane Foss Russell area on Friday, 24 January. The next week, the outlet stopped selling the item Mouzone bought in response to requests from the USU.

After lunch, Mouzone returned to work. He had salad, a cheese wrap and chips for dinner before heading to Newtown to watch the Federer versus Nadal Australian Open semi-final. Around 8pm, he was drinking his second beer when he started to feel a stomach ache. Symptoms of salmonellosis usually occur six to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria.

Mouzone went home, where he experienced “the worst stomach cramps I’ve ever had”. “Basically, when that match was going on, I was just getting progressively sicker”, he said.

Mouzone spent Friday night at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. On Saturday, he stayed home and saw a home-visit doctor. “I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t drink”, he said.

From Sunday to Thursday, Mouzone was admitted into Concord Hospital where they discovered he had salmonella infection. They put him in an isolated room to contain the infection and fed him fluids through an IV drip.

The accused shop has been a USU tenant (distinct from a USU outlet) for 20 years. When assessing a store’s suitability for tenancy, an external, professional leasing agency looks at food safety history, business practice and customer service. “Based on the check, their 20 year association with the USU and their popularity with the campus community, [shop name omitted] was assessed as an appropriate tenant at each opportunity, i.e. at lease origination and lease renewal,” said Woodward.

“To our best knowledge this is the first time there has been a complaint made against [the shop].”

All tenants serving food are also subject to regular inspections by the NSW Food Authority.

If the store is found guilty in the current investigation, the Authority may choose from a range of enforcement policies to use against the offender such as verbal and written warnings, correction action requests, penalties, prosecution, publication of names and if serious, action against Food Authority licenses.

As the investigation is ongoing, the food outlet’s owner has declined to comment.

* The Sydney Local Health District spoke to Honi Soit on the condition that the food outlet remains unnamed until the allegations are confirmed.

Published in Honi Soit, 10 February 2014.

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Student concerns rise with SUV rent

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SUV has again opted to increase its rental prices sparking accusations it is taking advantage of students’ desperation for housing, reports Ada Lee

Sydney University Village (SUV) is set to raise prices again in 2014, with the cheapest four or five bedroom apartments to cost $271.50 per week. The change represents a $14.70 or 5.7 percent increase on this year’s prices. The increase will mean that SUV’s cheapest rooms are now $60 more expensive than they were in 2011.

Many residents have been left worried and are asking why Campus Living Villages (CLV), the company responsible for SUV, has again boosted rates. Little explanation has been offered to students who are growing increasingly resentful, according to SUV resident Sophie Holt.

A spokesperson for CLV said that the company strives to deliver a safe and supportive environment that “provides value for money” to residents.

Along with market factors and customer surveys, CLV said “product upgrades” influenced pricing, pointing to various renovation projects such as repainting, carpet repairs, and work on the student common area, ‘The Well’.

However, long-term resident Camille* said these upgrades were “completely necessary” and should be “routine”. She did not think they justified the increases in rent. Camille reported seeing rats and cockroaches in the cooking areas during recent months. “The carpet was filthy, the walls were browning,” she said, “and The Well ceiling was literally collapsing”.

Considering that a five-bedroom apartment will cost a total of $1357.50 per week in 2014, Camille believes CLV is “ripping people off” even when taking into account Newton’s recent property market booms.

The University of Sydney owns 5-10 percent of SUV, sharing with other private stakeholders. Together, they set the rent. The CLV spokesperson said they recognised the cost of living pressures faced by students but did not specify whether this affected pricing considerations.

CLV are the “bad guys” according to Camille*. She doubts whether ‘affordable housing’ is actually one of their aims. “It’s really about what they can get. They know that students are desperate for accommodation near campus so they can drive the price up and they’re well within their rights to”, she said. “CLV needs to turn a profit and so that’s what they’re doing.”

Statistics provided by CLV show an 86 percent customer satisfaction rating but that only 42.9 percent of 2012 residents reapplied in 2013.

Another resident, Georgia Hitch, believes SUV offers a great student service and community but does not believe the “incredibly exorbitant” rent increases are justified. “Saying ‘oh it’s really good and people will pay it’ is not a good enough reason. That dispels the whole idea of equity among students,” she said.

Residents emphasised the importance of student housing in making university accessible, particularly for rural and interstate students. Even though private rent in outer suburbs may be cheaper, Ms Hitch, who hails from Canberra, said it can be too daunting for non-Sydney students to consider when moving to an unknown city.

The news of SUV’s latest price adjustment comes as the University looks to increase its stock of student housing and enter into an agreement with a second party to develop and administer the Queen Mary Building. The failure to keep SUV’s rates down will increase pressure on the University to come to an agreement that minimises the potential for future rate rises.

Last year over 100 students rallied and circulated a petition when SUV announced rent would increase by $18.30 per week.

*Name has been changed

Published in Honi Soit, 27 August 2013.

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Pranking Tharunka – is there a lesson to be learnt?

Published in Honi Soit, p. 9, Wk 10 Semester 1 Edition, 15 May 2013.

Click here to see it online.

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The demonisation of Government lecturer Peter Chen has been largely misinformed and misleading, argues Ada Lee

Recently, some Sydney University students were  given an assignment to submit a fake news article to UNSW’s student paper.

The purpose of the ‘Prank Tharunka’ assignment was to test whether the media is susceptible to manipulation. It was not attempting to raise up the next generation of lying, sensationalist journalists. GOVT2603 (Media Politics) is a politics, not a journalism, subject. Peter Chen is a media critic, not a journalist.

The majority of reactions have oversimplified the issue. At one end, we have the conniving, mohawked Dr Chen, setting out to destroy the media. The Australian suggests that “maybe the lecturer” is what’s wrong with the media. Again, this was not a journalism training exercise. At the other end, we have Tharunka, UNSW’s student publication, maliciously targeted and victimised.

Tharunka admitted to Crikey that they had planned to run a fake story on fare evasion.

Here’s a question for Tharunka: did you check the facts? Would you have noticed the prank if not for the whistleblower? The assignment’s task to post false stories only works if the media is not doing its job properly. Tharunka, if you fact-checked and sifted out all the false stories, then I salute you—for doing your job.

As journalists and editors, if all our sources were entirely truthful with no distortion, no attempts at manipulation, no deliberate omission of facts, then the media world would be a better place. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Journalists and editors have a responsibility to check facts, investigate and sift out spin. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it might suck. But spin happens and the media should be prepared for it.

It is not sufficient to use Peter Chen as a scapegoat. Journalists and editors are not infallible lie detectors, but they also need to take responsibility when they make mistakes.

The argument has been made that as a small university paper with few resources, Tharunka was an unsuitable case study for testing the media’s gatekeeping role. But perhaps there is a  broader point. With highly concentrated media ownership and fewer journalists to fill in a demanding 24-hour news cycle, are our major news providers really better equipped?

Has the journalist watchdog been overtaken by a pack mentality where certain stories are over-emphasised and others completely missed? Is it sufficient that the media often rely on carefully planned press conferences and written statements rather than hard in-depth interviews with our political leaders?

If the big papers were bombarded with falsified stories as Tharunka was, would they pass the test? And if not, can we still trust them to bring the important issues to the surface? These are the questions we were asked to explore.

I don’t know whether encouraging students to post fake stories was the most virtuous thing to do. But what I do know is that I’ve learnt an invaluable amount about the politics of media.

For more of my coverage on the Tharunka prank, click here.

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Student Housing Action Collective takes to the streets

Published in Honi Soit, p. 6, Week 12 Semester 2 Edition, 24 October 2012.

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Ada Lee reports from the front line

Last Wednesday October 17, around 100 campaigners marched from outside the Carslaw building to Sydney University Village (SUV), demanding affordable student housing. Accompanied by police, protestors carried ‘SHAME ON $UV’ banners, chanting “It’s not inflation, that’s a lie. The rent is too damn high!”

They demanded that SUV maintain current rent levels, provides greater transparency from administration, and that the University take over the Abercrombie Street housing project from a private company.

After the rally, campaigners sat on the lawns at SUV and discussed future actions. Undergraduate Fellow of Senate Patrick Massarani told protesters that to increase rent by 22 per cent over two years when inflation is at two per cent was “extortionate”.*

“It is unconscionable and we won’t stand for it,” he said.

Figures for September 2011 show an average rent increase of 11.6 per cent in Newtown, compared to SUV’s 2011 increase of 12.8 per cent. Sydney University Village’s General Manager Ron De Haan explained an independent market review indicated SUV was undercharging compared to the market. This year’s rental increases reflect management “catching up,” he said.

According to Mr De Haan, annual rents at SUV are set in consultation with the University as a minor financial co-owner. He believes the university’s presence on the management board has a positive impact in keeping increases lower than a totally privately operated facility.

But protesters are not satisfied. SRC Student Housing Officer, Eleanor Morley, told the crowd: “SUV proved what a disaster it is if the Uni sells to a private company.”

SRC Welfare Officer Rafi Alam told fellow campaigners their efforts must also be directed at the government, encouraging it to provide students with affordable housing.

Around campus, Mr De Haan points to a lack of beds driving the housing market. “If new facilities open up in the bracket of affordable housing,” he said, “people will gravitate towards the new beds whilst more expensive facilities will suffer.”

Not everyone is happy with the prospect of more university-provided housing. Residents’ concerns about the Abercrombie St Housing Project led the University into negotiations with community groups such as REDwatch (covering Redfern, Everleigh, Darlington, and Waterloo).

A spokesman for REDwatch, Geoff Turnbull, believes the negotiations haven’t been successful. Miscommunication had left residents with cold feet, he said. “Many residents feel manipulated rather than respected,” he told the South Sydney Herald. “The uni needs to revisit its approach if it really wants good neighbourly relations, not continued demonisation.”

Co-convener of the campus Greens and Student Housing Action Collective protestor Mr Wallin says something needs to be done about the situation. “University housing needs to go somewhere. The inner-west of Sydney is highly dense. There aren’t many free spaces. There is a way to strike a balance between [residents and students]… it certainly motivates us to do it better, to take into account their needs and rightly so.”

*Correction

For a previous story on the $UV movement, click here.

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