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Edition Six Content Ideas

Thursday, 24 July, 2014

The submission deadline is Sunday 3 August.
When writing, please remember to use the Farrago Style Guide.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Read an article in Farrago you disagree with? Not happy with something going on at uni or within the student union? Or perhaps you want to offer praise to your favourite writers and illustrators? Feel free to send us a letter (we accept anything between 10 and 200 words).

REGULARS

Calendar: Do you know of any key events coming up on campus next month? Let us know and we’ll pop them in our calendar.

Declassified: The University of Melbourne is an institution with a vast and bizarre backstory. Tangled in its folds are stories of East Timorese refugees hiding out in Union House, radio stations concealed in the walls, and eerie basement rooms overflowing with animals. Each issue we want to investigate a new facet of the university’s history. We’re always keen to hear weird Unimelb stories, even if you don’t want to write it.

For & Against: Every issue, we want two writers to face off against each other over a certain issue. We’re happy for this section to cover anything—from deep philosophical or religious questions, to debates about toasted cheese sandwiches.

Infographics: Do you know how to make infographics? If so, please let us know. We want you.

NEWS

SMOKING: It’s been almost six months six the Uni introduced a smoking ban on campus. Talk to students who have been affected by the ban. Has it worked? Are people using the smoking shelters?

UNIVERSITY ETHICS: The university’s Office for Research Ethics and Integrity (OREI) is reviewing and revising the university’s research ethics and integrity policies. The consultation period closes before the end of July and a large amount of information has been provided on it. Will this review actually change anything? What kind of process is OREI looking at – sweeping or routine? What does OREI, which appears to have over fifteen staff, actually do? More importantly – what is the university’s record on animal ethics and welfare, bio-risk and human research ethics?

COMING OUT STORIES: The campus Coming Out Group – run by Counselling and Psychological services and the Graduate Students Association – is producing a book of coming out stories. The stories will sit at around 300 words each and aim to represent a wide cross-section of the university. The stories are aimed to “inspire, support and give hope to those still in the process of struggling with their sexuality”. What is the situation for people coming out at Melbourne Uni? What impact will and do projects such as this have? Talk to the people behind the book and to a wide range of people in the university community.

TRINITY COLLEGE GATEWAY: The university will build a new building on Tin Alley to connect Trinity College and the Parkville campus. Trinity is the oldest college at the university – and is known for its foundation studies program that acts as a bridge for many to enter the university. The new building will be ready by 2016 – and will contain tutorial rooms, lecture halls, laboratories and even an art gallery. What is the relationship between college life and campus life? Does it need to be bridged? And what impact will this building have on the large amount of student it will cater for?

UNIVERSITY 3010 MAGAZINE: The university has just relaunched its official magazine, renaming it to “3010” (the university’s postcode). Universities around Australia pour millions into these magazines every year, using them as a fundraising and alumni connection opportunity. What does the new 3010 look like? Will it actually be read – or is it an exercise in questionable spending and PR? The university’s core responsibility are current students – what will it deliver for them?

ENVIRO WEEK: From 11-15 August, the Environment Department is running a week of activities, featuring a number of guest speakers. Find out what’s going on.

FEATURES

REEF IN DANGER: According to recent reports, the Great Barrier Reef is in its worst shape since records began. An investigative, research piece into the situation. We all vaguely know the Reef is suffering, but what exactly is causing this damage? What can we do about it?

EYE SPY: We’’d love to read an article about spy agencies and spies in Australia, particularly in light of all the spying scandals in Indonesia etc recently. How does ASIO compare to something like the CIA? Are there spies all among us? Should we be concerned? Is life in Australia secretly like a Tom Cruise movie?

MARGINALISED GROUPS ON CAMPUS: Are there any cultural or ethnic groups on campus that have little representation? Find out which groups and individuals are on the outskirts, and give them a voice.

ANTI-VAXXERS: Despite studies showing that vaccinating children has had a positive effect on human health, those against vaccinating still stand strongly behind their convictions. But what contributes to their fear of vaccines? From whence does their information come? Do some research to uncover the effect vaccinating really has on kids and populations and let us know where you stand.

DOUBLE STANDARDS: While we may well be riding a new wave of feminism, many double standards persist. For example, if a male politician had spoken about women the way Jacqui Lambie spoke about men in her talkback radio quest for suitors, he would be tarred and feathered. Without throwing around any big words like ‘misandry’, look at the ways in which men might face sexism (another example could be the practice of not seating older men next to unaccompanied minors on planes) and consider reasons why popular feminism might sometimes overlook these.

THE SENATE: Abbott and the gang were looking forward to July 1 and the ushering in of the new Senators, but things haven’t gone as smoothly as planned. PUP is proving to be unpredictable and erratic, Ricky Muir seems to be taking the job very seriously and the new Liberal Democrat is providing an emphatic injection of libertarianism into the upper house. What do the next few months (and next six years) hold for Australian politics with this Senate?

STUDENT POLITICS: A small minority of students vote in student political elections every year. Why do student politicians care so much? What’s the big deal? Discuss the student population’s general apathy towards the elections and the disproportionate fuss that student politicians make.

RED PARTY: Write an article about the largest medical student run global health initiative in Australia, Red Party. “We are a not-for-profit initiative aiming to raise funds and awareness for HIV/AIDS. Since our inception in 2007 we have raised over $300,000 across 22 medical schools all over Australia. In Victoria we are proudly helping raise awareness of the issues people living with HIV face through sexual health workshops, fund raising events and public lectures. Our medical student volunteers have put together a number of free events around the largest medical conference ever hosted in Australia, AIDS2014, to help local Melbournians engage with the conference and become more aware of this enormous global health issue.”

G20: Australia is hosting the world’s largest economies in Brisbane later this year. What will Tony Abbott and co. do with this opportunity? And what can Australian lobbyists do to influence the decisions and motions put forward at this event? 

HOMELESS PEOPLE: Melbourne has a significant homeless population, but what classifies somebody as homeless and what is the extent of the issue here? What are the ways in which Melbourne’s homeless population are lifting themselves out of poverty? Investigate.

FODDER

DID YOU KNOW?: Do some research and see if you can find out any strangle, weird, or interesting facts about political roles, anything from ministers to the prime minister, or overseas presidents etc. For example, did you know that in a US president’s motorcade there is always an ambulance that is stocked with the presidents own blood?

STUDENTS WITH SKILLS: There are hundreds of students at Melbourne Uni who are doing amazing things outside of the classroom. Find that incredible friend of yours who is a part-time opera singer or an Olympic netballer and interview them for us.

UNIMELB FACEBOOK PAGES: Students are divided about pages such as University of Melbourne Confessions, Melbourne Uni Memes, and Hotties of Melbourne Uni. What do these pages tell us about Melbourne Uni and its students? How do they affect the Uni’s reputation?

STATE ELECTION: What does this election mean for university students? Talk to the main candidates for the seat of Melbourne (or maybe another inner city seat like Richmond) and see what they can offer us.

TATTOOS: It seems like every man and his dog has a tattoo, or five, these days. Will our generation come to regret their tattoos? Does having a tattoo make it harder to get a job, especially if it is highly visible (e.g. on the hand)? Do tattoos have a notable impact, positive or negative, on other aspects of life?

HELLO ESSAY: There’s a new startup in town that connects students with experts who edit and proofread academic essays. Hello Essay claims to be an “effective and ethical writing support” service, filling a hole that university staff do not have the time or energy to fill. Is this the future of essay editing? Let us know if you’d like to get in touch with the organisation’s CEO and founder.

HACKERS: Digital technology is becoming more integrated into everyday items – baby monitors, refrigerators, even toilets. Hackers can also turn on laptop webcams without users knowing. What happens when hackers get ahead of security and safeguards, and what are the IT security guys out there doing about it?

EFFECTIVE CHARITIES: The way we look at charities and their expenditure is misleading. Check out this video and write how it applies to charities in Australia.

FUN WAYS TO CHANGE POLICIES: A library in America created a “Book Burning Party” to change a local community’s opinion on its future. What other fun and creative ways are there to affect policy?

TOO MANY DAYS: There used to only be Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. Now everybody, and everything, has a day, from World Down Syndrome Day to International Day of Happiness. How do these days come about? Is there a regulatory body that decides who gets a day and when?

HOW TO GO VIRAL: Have you ever produced something that took on a life of its own on the internet? How did it happen? And what’s the secret formula, if there is one?

UNIMELB FACEBOOK PAGES: Students are divided about pages such as University of Melbourne Confessions, Melbourne Uni Memes, and Hotties of Melbourne Uni. What do these pages tell us about Melbourne Uni and its students? How do they affect the Uni’s reputation?

BREAKFAST: It’s supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but what is the perfect home breakfast? Review the options available – is muesli as good as its hyped up to be? Or are Weet Bix still the way to go?

THE PEOPLE WHO TRY TO SELL YOU PAINTBALL STUFF: Get inside their minds. We’re sure they have souls, but how crushed are they? And do their tactics work? Who does actually take them up on their offer?

ARTS & REVIEWS

THE REVENGE OF GRUNGE: Violent Soho are one of the biggest bands in Australia at the moment (at least among Triple J listeners), despite unashamedly taking cues from widely shunned genres like grunge and hardcore. Is this part of the much-discussed, little-seen ‘return of rock’? Are they the Silverchair of our era – or something more? Or something less? See also: the even-heavier Amity Affliction.

KOREAN FILM: The new sci-fi blockbuster Snowpiercer was directed by South Korean Bong Joon-ho and last year the 2003 Korean film Oldboy was given the dubious honour of a Hollywood remake directed by Spike Lee of all people. To be direct: South Korean cinema seems to be becoming a Thing in the West. Can someone give us an overview?

MELBOURNE UNI LAW REVUE: The Law Revue is happening in late August. Interview some of the actors participating this year and chart the history of this Melbourne Uni institution.

JOSEPH BROWN AO OBE: Joseph Brown was a prominent collector of Australian art in the late 20th Century. In 2004 he donated his entire collection to the Ian Potter Museum of Australian Art, on two conditions: that his name appears as a collector’s credit under every piece in the exhibition, and that his own artwork is displayed alongside the Australian classics he collected. Find out about this man. Is his art even any good? Is he as eccentric as he sounds? Tell us his story.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION: There have been heaps of popular young adult fiction books around recently like The Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars that adults are enjoying too. Is it okay to be reading books that are written for children? There is clearly something appealing about them, so what is missing from adult fiction?

KIDS & REALITY TV: Already irritating shows, The Voice and Masterchef, have been successful with kids versions too. What do you think? Isn’t is enough to watch adults cry onstage, do we need to watch kids too? Or do you enjoy these shows? Write about reality TV and what you think of this new phase of kids shows.

TALK SHOWS: Why can’t Australia produce any good Stephen Colbert-esque talk shows? Why are we so good at producing comedians yet so sucky at producing good TV personalities?

FILMMAKERS ON CAMPUS: There are students at both Parkville and VCA who are making amazing films and going on to big things. Find them, chat to them about their projects, and work out what it takes to get a film into an international festival.

ART V PORN: Do we need tougher or looser regulations around art and pornography? Where is the line drawn?

SEINFELD: Seinfeld memes are becoming a thing. Write us a tribute to this excellent show.

CREATIVE

TIME OF YOUR LIFE: Much fiction written by university students centres around the experiences of, well, university students and young adults. Go beyond this and write the experience of a radically different time of life. Inhabit the perspective of a very small child, or an elderly person nearing the end of their life. Try to imagine how differently the world is experienced when everything is new, or all has been seen before. How might the sensory experiences of a baby or a very old person differ from what we’re familiar with?

NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS: Every day the media brings us a new slew of headlines from around the world. Pick a random news story from today and use it as the inspiration for a story. Get inside the experience of the story’s key character(s), whether they’re politicians or refugees, a good samaritan or a radio shock jock. Bring all your empathetic skills to bear on the facts.

SLIDING DOORS: Choose a moment from your life where you made a significant decision (cheating on your partner, quitting your job, selecting a uni course). What if you (or a fictional character) had made a different decision? How might subsequent events have unfolded differently? Play with the outcome and imagine an alternate reality for yourself.

CHANGING PERSPECTIVES: Understandably, we often write creative pieces from our own perspective. This can be great, because we know our world so well, our imagery and analysis of said world can be spot on. However, it can also be limiting and monotonous. Have a go at writing from another perspective with this exercise.

1. Make a list of famous people (dead or alive)
2. Make a list of emotions
3. Eenie, meenie, mini mo each list, picking a famous person and an emotion
4. Write from the perspective of this famous person in whatever emotional state you’ve picked. For example, Marie Antoinette and embarrassed.

FRACTURED FAIRY TALES: My sister did this exercise with her class of year 3 boys and I think it’s genius. It’s another kind of changing perspectives exercise, but this time pick a fairy tale you’re familiar with and tamper with the characters, the setting, the point of view or the plot. Make sure you keep enough of the original tale so it’s recognisable, but by changing a key element you can transform the familiar tale into your own wacky version. If you want examples just google “fractured fairy tales”.

MUSICAL MUSE: Grab your iPod or jump on Soundcloud and listen to a few different genres of music. Write a stream of consciousness while listening to these different genres. Look at how your writing changes with the music. I find music to be incredibly liberating and stimulating while writing. Hopefully, this exercise will help you find what kind of music gets your words flowing.

OPINION

FAAASHUN FAUX PAS: Birkenstocks are back in a big way this season. With many a different version, be they fuss-free, furry, or feline-inspired, are hitting the catwalks right now (to the horror of many!). Yes, that’s right, the shoes that make you look like a hobbit are trendy again. This calls for a humorous opinion piece about such fashion faux pas. What do we love to hate, and yet the moment they hit the catwalks, we must have them? I’m thinking drop crotch hammer pants, peplums, Crocs, jeggings, even this season’s fad of jeans with runners… You know the drill.

COMMONWEALTH GAMES: By the time edition six is out, another Commonwealth Games will have come and gone. Are these games still relevant? What is the purpose of a sporting contest that only features a small sample of post-colonial countries? What other sports events are arbitrary?

WHAT DOES THE WORLD THINK OF US?: Tony Abbott and co. aren’t particular popular at the moment within Australia. But has he made a good impression anywhere? Do conservative countries look up to Australia? Assess Australia’s reputation on the world stage and how it has evolved over the last decade.

STATE GOVERNMENT: Is it relevant? Why do we have it? Argue for or against its abolition or augmentation.