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Words by Zoe Efron, Kevin Hawkins, Michelle See-Tho, and Sean Watson

It’s easy to feel selfish when you’re a Farrago editor. Without meaning to boast, the four of us are lucky enough to be getting paid to do stuff we love—putting together a beautiful magazine, making up April Fools’ Day scams, and exchanging our favourite Sandy Cohen quotes. But sometimes it’s pertinent to stop and ask ourselves, “Is this job just a bit of a wank or are we actually doing something meaningful?”

We like to think that the third edition of Farrago for 2014 is a very meaningful publication. It draws attention to a range of important social issues, namely the harsh living conditions of asylum seekers and the struggles they face seeking refuge in Australia. The phenomenally talented (and ever-reliable) Cameron Baker has highlighted this issue with a thought-provoking front cover. We’re also proud to feature Gajan Thiyagarajah’s profile piece on Fawad Ahmed and Mohammad Ali Baqiri, two former refugees who are making significant contributions to their communities in Melbourne.

Our intention in publishing these pieces is not to push a political agenda, but to bring attention to the human side of this issue and add an important voice to the conversation. The same can be said about Christine Li’s feature on the university’s investment in fossil fuels, where she goes beyond the moral arguments to assess the financial feasibility of the university’s current approach.

But, in true Farrago styleedition three doesn’t just cover the serious topics; we like to think it’s a lot of fun, too. Over the following 60 pages, Simon Farley attempts to play muggle quidditch, Jeremy Nadel joins the secret Cave Clan, and Will Whiten takes us through Myanmar. Oh, and Mia Abrahams helps us fulfil our number one goal for the year: publishing a Sandy Cohen quote.

Here are five things the four of us have argued about while making edition three:

  1. The fine line between humour and racism: In celebration of the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, our original plan was to publish a piece arguing for and against being Asian. Kevin and Michelle, who between them are 150 per cent Chinese, thought the piece was hilarious. But Zoe and Sean (both white) vetoed that decision, fearing that some readers might find the piece racist.
  2. Being partisan: The four of us each have strong political views. The question is, is it appropriate for us to yell them at our readers? Half of us shouted ‘YES’. The other half whispered ‘no’.
  3. Letter of the month: Zoe wanted Z; Kevin wanted K; Michelle wanted M; and Sean wanted S. We settled with a happy medium: ö
  4. Advertorial: We weren’t sure whether it would be a conflict of interest for Kevin to commission a piece about Live Below the Line, the charity campaign that invites Australians to live on $2 a day for five days from 5-9 May. Kevin worked for the campaign last year. (Ed: and you can donate to his fundraising page at lbl.com.au/me/hihathawkins)
  5. Who should write the editorial? As writers with big egos, we each wanted to be the author of this page. We even toyed with the idea of writing an editorial each and printing all four of them. For those of you playing at home, Kevin won this round. But the sentiments are shared by all four of us. Guess that’s one thing we could actually agree on.

Zoe, Kevin, Michelle, and Sean

Below are some content ideas to get your neurons firing. If you’re keen to write any of these, shoot us an email at farragomagazine2014@gmail.com 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).

 

REGULARS

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.

 

NEWS

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.

 

FEATURES

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.

 

CREATIVE

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.

 

FODDER

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?

 

OPINION

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?

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 farragomagazine2014@gmail.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).

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

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?

FEATURES

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?

FODDER

‘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

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.

OPINION

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.