Here are some prompts to get you thinking about what you’d like to write for us. It’s by no means an extensive list, so if you come up with your own idea, feel free to pitch it! If you’re keen to write something, shoot us an email at email@example.com as soon as possible. Include a few dot points with the angle you’re planning on taking—we’re open to anything as long as you’ve given it some thought. From there we’ll discuss things like word count, research, interviews, etc. And, as always, if you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to get in contact.
The submission deadline is Sunday 4 May.
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).
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.
Postgrad funding: The government-commissioned Report of the Review of the Demand-Driven Funding System was released recently. Among other things, it has recommended that universities overhaul the current system of funding for postgraduate courses. How is the University of Melbourne planning to respond to this?
BIP and NTEU: The university’s National Tertiary Education Union branch just released its concerns about something called the Business Improvement Program. It’s connected to human resources issues and a complex new university document, “Managing Transition into the New Operating Model”. The NTEU says it has concerns over consultation and lack of detail—and some of its website commentators have already called for a staff strike. Find out what the issue is, what the debates are and how they’ll impact students.
Free-market universities: The same report has also recommended that universities open themselves up to the free market. This would mean student fees would increase in order to cover the cost of expanding the university sector. Investigate what Melbourne is planning to do about this. Are we about to see an increase in fees?
Keep It Clever: Universities Australia recently launched the ‘Keep It Clever’ petition in order to help Australian universities “keep up” with global competition. What’s it all about? Where is the petition going? What exactly does UA want to come out of this?
Rural students: The Victorian Parliament recently conducted research on access to education for rural students. There are some recommendations in the review on how to help rural students get to higher education. How is the university working to combat these?
University of Melbourne annual report: was recently tabled in the Victorian Parliament. It contains information about the university’s investments and activities. This could be useful for multiple stories. Have a read of it, see if there’s a story in it. (As a sidenote: the annual report’s PDF is missing from Parliament’s website. Why?)
Chinese spies in Australian universities: Apparently, China has spies inside the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney. The report alleged that the informants were monitoring students and lecturers—with officials even then taking action against certain people. Get your investigative hat on and see if you can track them down.
China-Australia university relations: The University of Melbourne and Tsinghua University in China have collaborated to deliver joint classes and ‘e-subjects’ for students at both institutions, starting with advanced courses on separation science and technology in chemical engineering. Find out about the program and what students thoughts are, particularly those who study in these areas or those taking Chinese as a language.
New university handbook: The university is considering a complete shakeup of its handbook. Used by tens of thousands of students a year, the handbook is one of its most crucial documents and the key student resource for picking subjects. The university and UMSU will now work together on the shakeup, organising upcoming focus groups. What’s going to happen—and how much will change?
Pavilion upgrade: The university has spent $6.3 million upgrading the main oval pavillion (in addition to funding from the AFL). The surrounding colleges had “concerns” about the renovations, but Melbourne University Sport maintains that the upgrade is vital for sport at the university. The pavillion is set to officially open later in the year, even though the oval is in use for games. Ask around, see how they’re going with it all.
Rad Sex and Consent week: UMSU just held its annual Rad Sex and Consent week. It’s been controversial in the past—notably being at the centre of heated debate over a “fisting” workshop in 2012. What happened this year? How did students reach to it—and what did people learn? Was there controversy around this year’s fisting workshop (which even had Jesus references in its RS&C description entry)? We’re only looking for a short one on this—good if you need the experience!
Libraries: How controversial can library management be? Well, to a fair extent, actually. Heated debates regularly break out over everything from seating to 24-hour libraries (a staple of student union election debates). At Melbourne, the Brownless Biomedical Library has just been nominated among many other libraries for Australia’s Favourite Library. Meanwhile, the Baillieu Library has taken the step of colour-coding all its books. Take a look at the crucial if quirky world of libraries—with a special look at your favourite and not-so-favourite libraries at Melbourne.
Academics in controversy: In early March, senior University of Melbourne academic and SPSS director Timothy Lynch caused massive controversy over an article related to Russia. He received a backlash from parts of the Russian community over his comments. A petition calling for a public apology from Lynch has just topped the 10,000 mark. Investigate what’s happening and look the broader realities for academics causing controversy. How do Lynch and students feel about it? Will it affect his career or the School?
Easy philosophy: There’s access to a great lot of excellent philosophers on campus. George Brandis has likened himself to Voltaire in his quest to defend free speech. However, if one has ever partaken in dialectic or the socratic method properly, the conclusions that Brandis has come to reflect might seem to be a shallow level of thought. Talk to some moral philosophers or political philosophers on campus and see what their take on it is.
International student fatalities: There has been a high rate of international students dying in Australia recently. Investigate some of the reasons behind this, and if any University of Melbourne students have died within the past year. Is the University doing enough to support international students, in their studies and elsewhere? What more needs to be done?
Outstanding student debts: The Grattan Institute has recommended that the government reclaim outstanding student debts from deceased estates and those living overseas. Identify and analyse key issues, ethical or other.
The republic debate: According to the latest Age/Nielsen poll, “support for an Australian republic has slumped to its lowest level in 35 years. 51 per cent of Australians surveyed believe a switch to a republic is unnecessary, and only 42 per cent are in favour. Moreover, more younger Australians—those aged between 18 and 24—say they don’t want a republic”. What has caused this slump, particularly in the younger generation?
Corruption in Sydney: ICAC has sent shock waves through the Sydney political community, investigating corruptions on both sides of politics and making some disturbing revelations about some of NSW’s top politicians, past and present. Do some research and tell us whether there is a culture of corruption in Sydney, or whether ICAC is just extremely effective.
Trains and roads: The Napthine government has released a suite of policies relating to public transport and rail lines. Talk about public transport in Victoria in relation to the East-West link. Which is more of a priority? Also, is it a coincidence that these policies are being released in election year?
Bolt Jnr: James Bolt, son of Andrew, is is a Researcher for the Institute of Public Affairs. He is currently completing his Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Politics and minoring in History. What does he think about the controversial 18C repeal? Moreover, the IPA is pretty antagonistic towards not only the university structure, but also the fact that poor people can do it for free. How does he feel about partaking in government subsidised learning?
Budget: The state and federal budgets comes out in May. What is likely to change, particularly in an election year (in the case of the state, anyway)? Who are the winners and losers likely to be? How will this affect students?
‘Straya: Neighbours is not exactly one of the things Australia is proud of, and yet there are Brits across the sea who are completely crazy about it, amongst other similarly questionable exports. What is it about Australia that so fascinates foreigners? Is it the accent? The strange yeast-based foodstuffs? Soap operas? The way we’ve abbreviated every possible word to the point where the English language is almost unrecognisable? Do some interviews with international students and see why they love Australia. Or are you overseas at the moment? Even better.
Dark Web: There’s a new search engine to help access the Dark Web. It’s in beta at the moment, but you can use it. Try searching for something and see what you come across. Report your findings.
Grammarly: There’s a new website which finds and corrects grammatical errors, makes word choice suggestions, and identifies plagarism. How does this technology work, does it have any bugs, and will it be a helpful tool for students wanting to double check their essay before sending it off to TurnItIn?
Winter warmers: It’s getting wet and woolly outside. How do you guys keep warm? A funny piece guiding the average Melburnian on the ways to stay toasty, perhaps even drawing on a bit of history as to what people have done in the past (e.g. Emperors keeping dogs in their sleeves to stay cosy). Or stick with campus: With no more sunbathing on South Lawn, what else can we do on campus to pass the time?
Get Rich Quick Schemes: Explore some of the most creative/funny ways that people have earned millions of dollars with minimal effort. Maybe even see if any Melbourne graduates have come up with creative businesses that have been hugely successful.
Footballers on campus: A number of AFL players, including recent All Australian ruckman Will Minson, study at the University of Melbourne. How do professional sportspeople cope with the demands of sport and study? And are footballers smarter than what people give them credit for?
Free Is Better: A former Melbourne student has launched a free bottled water campaign, with the aim of disrupting the Australian water market in a positive way. Chat to the people behind it (we can help you with contacts) and find out their motivations.
Phones of the future: Apparently Google’s new modular phone should last users six years or more without becoming obsolete. How regularly should people be upgrading their phones, and is the need to have a new $1000 phone every year or two an necessary cost for money-poor students?
The Simpsons: Having published a piece about The OC in edition three, we’re now super keen to publish a piece on everybody’s favourite yellow family.
ARTS & REVIEWS
Rowdy Laughter: Melbourne Uni comedian Ben Volchok is running a series of comedy nights at Rowden White library, which will feature some prominent Melbourne names. Let us know if you’d like to chat to Ben about this initiative.
Transmission: In July, an exhibition is taking place at George Paton Gallery that will document the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Melbourne from the early 1980s to the present day. If you’d like to chat to the people behind this exhibition, let us know.
Arts within Union House: Interested in interviewing a playwright for Union House Theatre, or an artist behind an exhibit at George Paton Gallery? Perhaps you want to chat to one of the Melbourne Uni-based bands that are playing at North Court? We’re trying to integrate more UMSU arts content into the magazine – let us know if you’re keen to help out.
Old New Zealand: Okay so Lorde is a big deal and that and some of Australia’s greatest musicians are originally from New Zealand (the Finn brothers, Kimbra, Evermore, Russell Crowe) have been Kloset Kiwis, but surely there must be more to the history of New Zealand music than that. Dave Dobyn, anyone?
Miles Franklin: The longlist for the Miles Franklin Award was recently announced. Give us a rundown of each of the books. Why did certain authors make the cut while others didn’t? You could even do a general analysis of the Award. It’s supposed to reward literature that “presents Australian life in any of its phases”. What does that even mean?
Creative non-fiction: Truman Capote is often celebrated as the father of “creative non-fiction” thanks to his novel “In Cold Blood”, which investigates the 1959 murder of wealthy farmer Herbert W. Clutter and his family. In a 1966 interview with The New York Times, Capote said, “I did at one time feel an artistic need to escape my self-created world. I wanted to exchange it, creatively speaking, for the everyday objective world we all inhabit.” We live in a mad, mad world where enormous planes go missing and dolphins are enlisted in the military. Trawl through the latest headlines and try taking a creative approach to a story based on the weird and wacky truth.
Mix it up: Do you like to write prose and poetry? Well so does A.S Byatt. In her novel Possession she uses an imagined Victorian poet to sneakily weave her own poetry throughout her prose. Byatt’s attempt won her the Booker prize, so why not give it a go?
Image generator: By clicking the “generate random image” button, this site will continually present you with images in the hope that one will set your creative flame alight. Are they mostly lame photos? Yes. But that does not mean you can’t take a lame image and turn it into a cool story. You could have the literary version of an American teenage movie on your hands. So go forth, take the glasses of that photo and make it popular!
The Shame Game: Your writing is at its best when you face the dragon, and boy are there dragons aplenty in your cache of embarrassing memories. Write about all things cringeworthy from your past or the past of a “friend”. Make the reader squirm like you do whenever you remember what you said on the playground when you were fourteen.
Everything is a performance: You are performing, they are performing. All the world, as the saying goes, is a stage. Who is your audience?
Hush: Write about an argument, a passionate debate, a job interview, or some other scene or exchange which centres around conversation—but without using any dialogue.
Memento: Write a story backwards, revealing the outcome at the beginning and then moving back in time to progressively reveal more about the circumstances that led it to arise.
Chinese Whispers: Write a short flash fiction piece. Then, rewrite the same piece—but change the style, voice, tense, or other integral element(s). Repeat the rewriting a few more times, each time changing it substantially without altering the essential plot. See Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style for an example of how this can work.
Leadership changes: In the past few years, there have been two changes of an Australian Prime Minister while in office. But this isn’t just a federal phenomenon. Discuss the resignation of Premier Baillieu, the instalment of Adam Gilles in the Northern Territory and more recently, the resignation of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. Is Australia the country of leadership change? Tell us what you think.
Hillary Clinton: Is she running for president? Or isn’t she? What is the deal with the Hill!? Either an informative piece bringing us up to speed with what she’s been doing in her downtime and if she is preparing for an election, or else a more satirical, political piece analysing her tactics and discussing her potential to succeed as the first female President of the US.