Below are some content ideas to get your neurons firing. If you’re keen to write any of these, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. Include a brief pitch (even just a few dot points) with the angle you’re planning on taking. From there we’ll discuss things like word count, research, interviews, etc. Feel free to play around with them and mould them as you please—they’re just prompts! And, as always, if you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to get in contact.
The submission deadline is Thursday 3 April.
When writing piece, 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).
Calendar: Do you know of any key events coming up on campus next month? Let us know and we’ll pop it 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.
Fossil Free Melbourne: Over 1400 University of Melbourne staff and students have petitioned the university to stop investing in fossil fuels. Currently, the campaigners are waiting on the university’s Finance Department, who seem unwilling to reveal the extent of the Uni’s current investment. Is the university trying to hide something? Investigate, and report on how this campaign is progressing, both locally and worldwide.
Internships: The university charges students up to $5,200 in fees to undertake internship subjects as part of their coursework. That’s five thousand big ones to work for free. Is this ethical? Is it really worth paying that much money, on the off-chance that students might get better careers?
Readers: Why do they take so damn long to appear in the bookshop? Can you think of one class where you’ve actually received your reader on time? This is a great way to avoid doing work for the first two weeks, but it’s also pretty inefficient. Find out why this is the case.
Uniwireless: Yup, it’s bad. But why? Farrago has done a couple of articles on this before, including this one on infrastructure improvements. Why is it so difficult for the university to get its act together? Ask around in the IT department, see how those improvements are going, and when we’ll be able to get wifi access in Union House.
Unimelb Banksy: Find the best graffiti on campus. Look at the best stuff on carrels in the Baillieu, or on-toilet art. Take pictures. Also, talk to the staff who are responsible for cleaning the graffiti or painting over it. Ask them what they think about removing either blatantly offensive things, along with removing a really nice quote or lovely picture of something.
Bio/ag review: The university is currently consulting over a review into its biological sciences, agriculture and land and environment programs. The review made 23 recommendations. One proposal to close and merge the MSLE has already generated controversy and university downplaying. Look at the current state of the departments and the review’s key recommendations. Examine the university’s sometimes-forgotten agriculture programs and satellite campuses—and the review’s effect on these thousands of students.
Wellness Week: From 5 – 9 May, UMSU’s Education and Welfare departments, along with Wellness@Melbourne will be holding Wellness Week (replacing Stress Less Week). Get the lowdown on what this week involves, and what value it holds for students.
International students and the job market: The Australian published this article on the difficulties some international students have faced trying to find jobs in Australia. Profile a couple of international students at Melbourne—ask them about their experiences trying to find work here. Also investigate the various ways the university and the union are trying, or not trying, to help them.
Activism: Is protesting still an effective way of creating social change and lobbying powers? If so, what does a successful protest look like? With the recent protest March in March gaining giant crowds to protest about whatever the hell they wanted, how does the future of activism look? Is it too broad? Or is bigger better when it comes to collective action?
On the Margins: Interview the candidates for the Victorian state election in some of the marginal seats following last year’s redistribution. Get their thoughts on the trends at the federal, Tasmanian, and South Australian elections and, obviously, the upcoming Vic state election. Seats with notional margins under one per cent include Yan Yean, Wendouree, Bentleigh, Frankston, Carrum, Eltham, and Albert Park. Pick a seat and interview some of the candidates.
Sharman Stone and the Shepparton Preserving Company: Liberal MP Sharman Stone (federal Member for Murray) has publicly opposed the Abbott government’s decision regarding financial assistance packages for SPC. Speak with Stone to see why she has publicly opposed her party and the potential ramifications of this. Will we see another independent campaign in Murray like we saw in Indi?
Democracy in India: In the upcoming election in India, a change in government is on the cards. The long ruling Indian National Congress looks set to lose to the conservative Bharatiya Janata Party. Find out what the central issues in this election are and investigate the potential increase in support for the minor parties.
The forgotten revolution: While most of us have been fussing about the Ukraine, there has been a not-so-quiet civilian uprising in one of Venezuela’s regional centres San Cristobal. What are they protesting for, and what are the stakes?
Indigenous Education Standards: What is the University of Melbourne doing to assist Indigenous youth in gaining a higher education? Is this enough? Examine the rates of Indigenous Australians engaging with higher education? What is the government’s response to this? Is there a way students can get involved? What does the future look like in this area?
Scott Ludlam: His speech regarding the re-run of the WA Senate election went viral. Who is Scott Ludlam? Do some research and tell us about Parliament’s latest celebrity.
Fairshare: A University of Melbourne media student-turned-programmer has started up an app called Fairshare, which gamifies the experience of living in a share house. Let us know if you want to interview him. Could be part of a broader piece about startups in Melbourne.
Facial Recognition: Facebook’s facial recognition algorithm is now running with 95.25 per cent accuracy, which means its omnipresent eyeballs have become almost as sharp as their creator’s. An article in Hazlitt used this unsettling statistic to argue that in an age of constant surveillance we are showing an increased tendency to use “obfuscation as a mode of individualism”; to make ourselves illegible online, rather than express ourselves transparently. With the increasing prevalence of ultra-intelligent online monitoring, will you change the way you behave and carry yourself on social media? What are the consequences of simply accepting these new technologies?
Dark Chocolate: You wouldn’t think that chocolate would be linked to child slavery, but according to the International Labour Organisation, up to 200,000 children are pressed into labour in the cocoa growing industry in the Ivory Coast alone. Roughly 12,000 of these children are victims of human trafficking and slavery. What kind of conditions do these children face, and are these numbers set to rise in future? Have there been efforts to alleviate their plight?
A Double Shot of Love: There’s more to House of Cards (née Kere Kere) than just a good cup of joe. Not only do they provide employment for disadvantaged youths, they also donate a share of their profits to local charities. Interview their baristas about their background and how they ended up working for House of Cards. Also, profile some charities which have recently been supported by House of Cards.
Real Women: There’s a lot of talk at the moment about what constitutes a real woman, particularly focusing on how loaded the term ‘real’ is. What is society’s perspective on this? How are we challenging it? Why are women categorised in this way? What can be done to shift the way society constructs the physical appearance of women? What are some contrasting arguments on this topic?
Homeless students: Are uni students experiencing homelessness (all types – not just sleeping rough)? Talk to some that have about their experiences, including what caused them to go through this, what support structures could have prevented it, and how they coped.
Classifieds: A wordy wasteland of notices filled with lonely hearts, grieving widows and people desperate to sell their old lawn mowers. Is your next character “male, 29, good listener who likes to walk on beaches in the winter”? Hopefully not. But somewhere, amongst the clutter, may lie your next story. Find a notice that sparks your interest and follow the trail of inspiration.
Extract: Sometimes the perfect sentence can coil, curl and bend itself out of shape and away from the heart of what you intended to convey. The truth in the line can easily become convoluted when the idea behind it is complex, or when it is a vague, almost inexplicable feeling or idea. These notions can be the hardest to express clearly but, with a bit of unpacking, they can become some of the most beautiful in any piece. Take 10 sentences from the story or poem that you are working on that sound a little muddled and untangle them. Rewrite them until they reach their clearest form and watch your piece slowly morph into something more powerful.
Remembering memory: Have you ever had an extremely clear memory stored away in your head that has turned out to be completely, utterly fake? One that you recounted to your parents to looks of total confusion and distress? Take one of those memories and write it alive.
Intoxication investigation: Where is the cheapest alcohol within a 15 minute walk from campus? Detail some venues, what the deals are, and how many millilitres of beer we can get per dollar. This could be organised into a happy hour timetable, with a map so we know where the best boozy venues are.
New television channels: Every time I pick up the remote to change channels, it seems as though there’s a new infomercial station has sprung into existence. Watch each of these channels, and tell us what’s on them. Also, how do you even start your own TV channel?
Twitter Version 2.0: Twitter has undergone a makeover. What do you think of the changes? Why do social media channels change their look so often when nobody wants them to?
Selfies: Following the popularity of ye olde ‘selfie’ and its induction into the Oxford Dictionary, it seems to be a good time to cover this egocentric trend. A step-by-step beginners’ guide could be fantastic, with plenty of opportunity for sarcasm and a bit of humour. Also consider these: are picturesque backgrounds important? What do we hashtag? Do we really need to have an express version of Photoshop?
Shoplifting: Lots of people shoplift, and many for complex and diverse reasons. Some students shoplift simply to save their limited dollars—how do they justify this? Is it okay to shoplift from a monolith supermarket, but not from your local grocery? Other people shoplift for the thrill. Do some thorough research on students who shoplift, why they do it, the shop owners who’ve caught shoplifters in the past, and whether it really does pose a threat to enterprises.
Oh hey, look at my crotch: There is a new photo series on Vice called ‘Groin Gazing’ and it’s exactly what it sounds like—a bunch of gratuitous crotch-shots. Is this the beginning of equal opportunity sexual objectification? Do likers of men even find this stuff attractive?
Inflation Theory: On 17 March, a team from Harvard University announced that it had recorded gravitational waves rippling through the universe whose existence strongly supports the ‘Inflation Theory’. These ripples, reportedly created by the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, were predicted by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1916. What does this mean for the Big Bang Theory and our current scientific understanding of the universe? Explain the significance of this discovery in words that everyone can understand.
Cosmic Latte: In 2002, astronomers from John Hopkins University determined that the colour of the universe is a “beigeish white”. This specific colour was named ‘Cosmic Latte’, as suggested by Washington Post reader Peter Drum after he noticed the colour printed in the paper was the same as the coffee he was drinking. Ignoring the fact that American lattes are apparently off-white rather than café au Lait in colour, think about the concision and accuracy with which the phrase describes its associated phenomenon. Also consider how other phrases do so with theirs—see “Weltschmertz”, “Mono no aware”, “Saudade”, “l’esprit d’escalier”. Try to come up with some similar words (in English) that perfectly encapsulate phenomena and see what you can build around them.
Live Below the Line: In early May, hundreds of students from the University of Melbourne—and thousands around the world—will spend a week eating on $2 a day. Have you done this challenge before, or do you know a friend who has? Are challenges like Live Below the Line an effective way to create social change or raise poverty awareness?
Crowdfunding holidays: A new website called Trevolta is offering eager travellers a way for them to travel overseas at the expense of others. Has crowdfunding gone too far? Why would you want to pay for somebody else’s holiday. Investigate this new phenomenon.
The OC: We are very keen for somebody to write thoughtful analysis on The OC.
The Simpsons: Likewise, an excellent article about something Simpsons-related would be awesome.
ARTS & REVIEWS
Comedy Festival: The Melbourne International Comedy Festival begins next week, and we’re still looking for interviewers and reviewers. Let us know if you’re keen to interview anybody (and who, if you have a preference) or review a live show.
No Lights No Lyrca – There’s a new ‘dance for yourself’ community starting up at Uni. More details are available here. Let us know if you’d like to interview the founder of this concept.
Next Wave Festival: A few Melbourne and VCA graduates have their work featured in the Next Wave Festival. Let us know if you’ve liked to interview them.
We Interview: A man named James Rose is hosting a new street-based improv/comedy/interview show on Channel 31, called We Interview. Let us know if you would like to interview him.
Drag queens of Melbourne: Many people have very limited knowledge about drag queen culture, and there are many misconceptions floating around. Where does drag culture come from? Are all drag queens gay men? Must all drag queens also perform on stage? Explore Melbourne’s drag culture, interview the people involved, and shed some light on the scene in a sensitive and thoughtful way.
South Park video game: The makers of South Park have created a video game that apparently makes players feel like they are in an episode. If you’ve played the game, write us a review. Alternatively, explore the relationship between television and video games – is it a marriage made in heaven?
Poetry Slam: Slam poetry is a little difficult to explain to people who have never heard of it. Go to a poetry slam and describe the event, the people and the vibe. You could also uncover all of Melbourne’s best poets and venues.
Science Fiction: Read some old-school science fiction and see if there are any connections to our lives. How do they compare to modern sci-fi and how have they infiltrated pop culture?
Death on Manus Island: Asylum seeker Reza Barati was killed at the Manus Island detention centre several weeks ago. Scott Morrison initially said that rioting refugees who left the detention centre put themselves in danger. It was later found that the refugees did not leave the detention centre and that Barati was killed while legally under Australia’s care. Discuss the implications for the way Australia is viewed around the world. What do our neighbours think of us? And what about Europe and the rest of the West?
Abbott v Racial Discrimination Act: Tony Abbott and George Brandis have introduced legislation to repeal parts of the Racial Discrimination Act that make hate crime and racial vilification a crime. The Act was introduced as an extension of Australia’s treaty responsibilities some decades ago and marked a turning point in the way we treat Indigenous people and non-white Australians. Is such a repeal likely to have a negative or positive impact on discrimination? Free speech is important, but are there limitations to what can be said? Is this just an opportunity for racial vilification?
Pollution in China: There seem to be countless articles and documentaries about it recently- what’s the deal? Research into this problem. What can be done about it? Or is it something that’s too far gone to be fixed? Should we be worried?
The Global Freedom Network: The Global Freedom Network was launched by iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest on the 17th of March, 2014. Led by the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt, the organisation aims to free the world’s estimated 30 million slaves by 2020. Is this goal achievable in such a timeframe? In what ways are the goals set by the network idealistic? Are there potential improvements or revisions that could be made to the network’s set goals in order to make them more achievable, or to have a greater effect on slavery?