because I said so

telling it like I think it is: sunili’s blog

Posts Tagged ‘Notre Dame Au

on the University of Notre Dame Australia and academic disappointment

with 5 comments

UPDATE: apparently some people @ ND are ticked off at me for writing this post.  In a perfect world, they would stop Googling themselves (with disparaging search terms, no less) or writing patronising emails and get back to supporting students and academic staff. But whatevs. That’s just my opinion, and no-one listens to me. (Anyone who is listening to me: um… may I suggest therapy?) I have made one change, and one change only to this post, and kudos will be awarded to the first person to pick what it is (hint: nothing in the text of the post, other than this update, has been changed). xoxo SG

So I am applying for this Thing (no specifics; that way, when I don’t get it I don’t have to admit to my rejection) and I need super-dooper undergrad grades, which I have, but I worry that the Thing-chooser people will look at my Notre Dame transcript and snort with derisory laughter before throwing my application out the window.

I hear the new VC is getting inaugurated this evening, and I totally hope she has lots of plans for making the place less of a joke.  When I started there, way back when, people who didn’t know me looked at me with a horrible mix of sympathy and disgust upon finding out I was going there.  The people who knew me to be generally intelligent, of course, looked at me with abject confusion:

“Why the HELL is she going there? Surely she got the grades for UWA law?”

Yeah. I did. But I thought ND would get better, cause there were all these cool lecturers there and, you know, I like being little different.

So what happened?

FAIL.

All the staff members who I was impressed by as a curious Year 12 leaver have since vanished into thin air (or, more accurately, better institutions) and I graduated with two lots of first class honours yet feeling like a complete tool.

I was googling my Arts honours supervisor (cause he’s flown the ND coop and I needed his new contact details to ask for a reference for aforementioned Thing) and I discovered that he’s recently co-authored a book on terrorism. It looks like a good one, too:

Responding to Terrorism

Political, Philosophical and Legal Perspectives

Robert Imre, University of Newcastle, Australia, T. Brian Mooney, Singapore Management University, Singapore and Benjamin Clarke, University of Notre Dame, Australia

This volume, which focuses on Australian perspectives on terrorism, provides significant new dimensions. Four main areas are treated in this intriguing analysis: responses to uses of torture, legal approaches, terrorism as a consequence of globalisation and counter-terrorism. There is a nice blend of the heterodox, theoretical and concrete cases. Without doubt this is a challenging, perceptive and useful book that must be essential reading in the sometimes hyper-ventilated field of terrorism studies.
Alan O’Day, Greyfriars Hall, University of Oxford, UK

Terror does not respect disciplinary boundaries. In confronting the global reality of terror from philosophical, political and legal perspectives, Imre, Mooney and Clarke, open the way for deeper and more considered responses to our age. Their message is one of totality, of the need to consider terrorism as a crisis of ideas, of politics and of laws. In this they offer a wealth of insights to both researchers and policymakers.
Kieran Tranter, Griffith University, Australia

The co-authors were also lecturers of mine. The three of them were right up there among the best academics ND had to offer.

Ben Clarke lectured me in Crim, International Law and Human Rights Law, and while he kinda needed to work on his over-reliance on PowerPoint at the time, he’s totally bloody interesting and committed and passionate about the international public law field and I will always admire him.

Brian Mooney was part of the reason I decided to go to Notre Dame.  He gave a talk to us in Year 12 Religion & Philosophy (by the way, I am still so effing impressed SHAGS implemented that. So impressed) and I was blown away by him.  He was hilarious, he was interesting, and he was bloody thought-provoking.  The thought of going to a uni with lecturers like that was highly desirable, so I did some research, went to the open days, signed up and then I got the scholarship and it was a done deal.

Rob Imre, what can a say… What a bloody legend. The man reminded us that we were there to THINK, not just hand in some arbitrary assessment to get an arbitrary grade to get an arbitrary qualification to get an arbitrary job. It would piss off the idiots to no end when they would ask him a question, expecting the answers to the exam, and he would reply, “Well, what do you think?”

Which makes perfect sense considering that thinking, if I may ever-so-lightly generalise, is the whole fricking point of a university education.  But he was treated like shit and off he went.

For those who know a bit about ND, you may or may not be surprised to know only one of those co-authors are still staff members at Notre Dame.

The other two have moved on, and frankly, left a giant effing vacuum.

For an institution so obsessed with the image they present to the outside world (I totally speak from experience here), you’d think the Media office is pretty darn pissed off they can’t claim all three authors as their own.

But they really messed up.

The thing is, right, I *did* enjoy most of my academic career there, and I learned lots of new skills (eg, How to Deal with Morons), and made some great connections that I will have with me for life (Hi, Matthew, darling) but that place… urgh, what a horrible fucking excuse for an institution of tertiary education.  And yup. I even didn’t change it to ‘effing’. It is THAT BAD.

The place was run by high school administrators AS a high school. I remember at one stage they tried to ban chocolate on campus cause it wasn’t healthy. And do NOT get me started on their attitude to mentioning any sort of reasoned discussion or debate on anything even slightly related to the s-word.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they seemed to have no conception of the fact that a university is there to educate students and that to educate students you need good staff.  Because, oh Mary Almighty, they sure as burning hell did not act like they knew they need good staff. Or knew that to keep good staff you have to treat them like human beings, and respect them for being bloody intelligent ones at that.

Instead, the University seemed to see academic staff as workers in a degree factory who only need to shove random bits of information into students so that people can pay their fees, get their unnecessarily large-and-expensive-to-frame bits of paper and go work in some schmucky job.

Or, at least that was what it was like in Law and when I did Arts.  I hear that this year they made an HONOURS STUDENT change her topic AFTER it had ALREADY BEEN ‘APPROVED’ because apparently a discussion of why Muslim women living in Western Australia choose to or not to wear a hijab is “too controversial” inappropriate for a politics/sociology honours thesis.

Oh yeah, and scholarship students were expected to serve food at university functions for free as a means of “giving back” to the university community.  Because it’s not at all like they NEEDED scholarship students to  contribute anything to the academic reputation of a student population consisting mostly of air-headed daddy’s-girls/boys and bored stockbrokers’ wives . Nuh-uh. Yeah, the university is doing the scholarship students a favour.

Urgh.

Who knows, it might be better in other schools. But I saw nothing but shitness, I just really, really hope it gets better in the future under new leadership.

From the way things went while I was there, it seemed like some of the best staff members (including, arguably, the best ever) got fed up, then packed up and left, and I hear from good authority that the floodgates are still open.

What a bloody waste.

When I enrolled there in 2002 there was so much talk of growth and development — visions of the uni growing into a great place staff, students and alumni could be proud of.  I ignored people’s pitiful looks when I told them I was going to Notre Dame because I was sure it would eventually shrug that reputation.

Sure, it grew alright; in a hurried and horribly-planned manner that may be rather familiar to people trying to rent a house or squish onto a bus in Perth. But has it made us proud?

Not yet.

Please Celia, please fix this mess.

Written by Sunili

4 August 2008 at 5:51 pm

why can’t the papists take a joke?

with 6 comments

Well, I’m highly relieved that the Federal Court has agreed to declare the Don’t Annoy the Catholics Law 2008 (NSW) unconstitutional.

Justices Catherine Branson, Robert French and Margaret Stone today ruled the specific clause relating to annoying and inconveniencing pilgrims went beyond the intention of State Parliament.

In 2006, the Parliament passed the World Youth Day Act which allowed the World Youth Day Authority to pass the annoyance clause in 2008.

… However, [Justice Robert French] said the annoyance clause was invalid because it could not have been the intention of Parliament to make such vague and extensive limits to free speech.

Thank heavens for rationality and common sense. (The full judgment is online here.)

But I am not impressed by this:

In dismissing the other points of the [NoToPope Coalition]’s claim, Justice French found that parts of the act banning the sale of certain items including stickers, badges and T-shirts did not infringe upon the right to free political communication.

Humph.

I personally have nothing against Catholics (both The Boyfriend and The BFF are both of that particular variant of the Christian faith) but, having seen the lameness of the high levels of offendability at The University of Our Lady No Fun, I think it’s crap that, first, s116 of the Consitution is as weak as fingernails after a nice long bubble bath (’cause then Frenchy could find the fact that the NSW and Federal governments are spending stacks of cash to appease a bunch of boring over-pious pilgrims is highly wrong) and secondly, that the NSW Government decided they needed a bloody law banning funny t-shirts in the first place.

Fer Chrissakes. A t-shirt or a few bumper stickers ain’t gonna kill anyone.

And if we have to see and hear the media flooding on and on about the Pope this and a few pilgrims got the flu (oh, horror) that, surely it’d be good to see some pics of funny t-shirts among the masses at the Masses.

But frankly, it’s fricking lame that the government feels they need to protect all the Catholic kiddies from a few amusing bumper stickers (why the heck didn’t they give them all a free bloody flu shot, that’s what I want to know).

Funny t-shirts and slogans are the shizz, and Pope Benny and his Vat-City homeboyz* clearly have a sense of humour. When confirming that the Pope’s hot red shoes were made by his personal cobbler and not, contrary to media speculation, Prada, the Vatican said:

The Pope, in summary, does not wear Prada, but Christ.

Ok, it totally coulda been funnier had they employed me to write their media releases, but the point is they tried. I’m sure they even think the pics comparing Benny with Senator Palpatine is amusing and clever. I bet they totally wouldn’t care about a few funny t-shirts that say “The Pope Touched Me Down Under” or “WYD/SYD… proof that the rhythm method is flawed” or “Abstinence makes the Church grow Fondlers” or these:

Lucy Carter)

"The Pope Annoys Me!" (ABC News: Lucy Carter)

But it’s probably even sadder that most of the pompous, pious poof ponces really would have had a boo-hoo cry-cry over jokes such as these. Someone I work with, who’s in Sydney for the festivities, was vehemently offended when I forwarded an amusing pic that said something like “Sponsor A Lion for World Youth Day”.  She’s not even Catholic; she just jumped on her boyfriend’s bandwagon. (Dunno if the Pope really wants to bless them, though. They live in sin.)

Chill the frick out, people. It just a joke.

But, ah well, at least the Court got it right here.

*Pope Benny is “clrly” a gangsta. Duh, he drives around with bodyguards and bullet-proof protection and has a thing for shoes, just like Kanye and Jay-Z et al:

via News.com.au

K Rudd meets his hero; old men wear dresses and hot-pink hats (via News.com.au)

Written by Sunili

15 July 2008 at 12:16 pm

Posted in law, politics

Tagged with , ,

stat fun

with one comment

Bloggers have a thing about checking their stats, and I’ll freely admit to being partial to checking mine (it was one of the — many, may I add — reasons I moved over here to wordpress.com) but, since my stats are always boring (seriously) I’d never thought I’d be posting about them.

However.

On one’s wordpress dashboard, they list the top searches on google which have resulted in people clicking through to your site. A few blogs list the funny ones they get on a regular basis (will go find the links later, I have deadline work to do, but I just REALLY wanted to post this…) but yeah, I neeeeever have any fun ones.

But.

Over the last couple of days, my stats have gone through the ROOF, and people have been coming after searching the following phrases:

  1. “celia hammond record”;
  2. peter tannock; and
  3. Professor Cecilia Hammond [sic]

Hrm. I should right about regime change more often!!

But I actually do worry why this has caused so much traffic… cause I’m neurotic and I have previously mentioned that I hate the to-be-ex-VC of Notre Dame Au and because I generally like being alive and having a job and stuff, I really hope no-one over there is pissed off at me. I’m just writing about my own bumbly thoughts on my own bumbly time (it’s 6:40pm people! I should be at home!!), but you know… Thems Catholic Mafia still scare me.

That’s all.

Written by Sunili

29 May 2008 at 6:42 pm

Posted in blogging

Tagged with , ,

change at the top

with 8 comments

I’m not exactly Christian, but I wish to take this opportunity to give Him many rounds of thanks and praise for the blessed event of Dr Peter Tannock (Grand High Douche-Bag) finally confirming that he is leaving ND.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

There had been rumours about this going around since I was in First Year, and excitement built around reports he’d anointed a successor last year, but even better news, the Uni’s PR Machine (the highest per-capita funded department?) has officially announced it!!

And in even betterer news (can it get better, you ask? Oh hi-ho, yes, it can!!), his successor isn’t who we’d heard it would be, but rather is the wonderful Professor Celia Hammond, who was originally in the Law School and was really nice and cool back in the day.

If I may be so bold, tonight, before I Lay Me Down To Sleep, I shall pray the Lord Celia’s soul to keep, just in case, you know, after all the present celebrations, it, you know… ends up turning bad. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but, you know… you never know!!

CONGRATS AND GOOD LUCK CELIA!! We’re counting on you!!!

Written by Sunili

27 May 2008 at 5:51 pm

Posted in education

Tagged with ,

The Perils of Politically un-Popular Publication

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Hahaha so turns out the administration of my un-beloved Noter Dayme has more in common with dictatorial regimes than previously thought. As reported by news.com.au (the Woman’s Day of online “news”):

The closure of Moskovski Korrespondent, whose editor Grigori Nekhoroshev was forced to resign, was a sharp reminder of the perils of invoking Kremlin displeasure.

I thought we should run the story to help break the taboo,” said Nekhoroshev. He paid a swift penalty for his daring: the paper, owned by Alexander Lebedev, the billionaire tycoon, ceased publication immediately.

Its parent firm blamed “costs” and “conceptual disagreements with the newsroom” but insisted in a statement that “this has nothing to do with politics and is solely a business decision”.

Hrm, why does that sound so familiar? Because those Krazy Kats at Kremlin use the same lines to try and shut down press outlets for which they have no care as the Student Life Office gang!

Bless!

Update 22/4:
“So, the Uni learned it’s media-censorship tactics from the Kremlin?” a friend asked at dinner last night. “No,” replied Matt, “The Kremlin learned it’s media-censorship tactics from the Uni. Who’d’ve thunk it, eh?”

Written by Sunili

21 April 2008 at 1:29 pm

The War on Quasi

with 3 comments

My previous rant about my alma mater got me thinking. Now that I’m out of the system… I can bloody say what I want! And, more specifically, what I wanted to say last year when I was editor of Quasimodo, the University of Notre Dame Student Association’s student magazine.

In late 2006, I was honoured to be appointed as editor of Quasi. I had written several pieces for the mag in the preceedings years, and I loved what its existence meant: an outlet for students to write about what interests, or matters to, them and discuss ‘student life’ (as far as that term can apply at UNDA).

Then came the Bullshit.

There were lots of things that pissed me off. But what really got me upset was when they banned two versions of editorial I wrote for my first (ultimately only) issue.

The first version dealt with the reason why it had taken us longer than usual to get the issue out. I wasn’t “allowed” to talk about. Ignore it, they said to me, focus on what we have now. So I wrote on the importance of freedom of the press.

I guess it’s fair that I wasn’t allowed to publish that either. Cause we didn’t have freedom of the press!

Somehow The Sunday Times got wind of it. I had an “off the record” chat to a journo there, which, of course, got published that weekend:

Quasimodo editor Sunili Govinnage said the student association’s constitution ruled that the magazine be vetted by a review committee. She said the committee was meant to provide legal advice, but its student representative had been kicked off and its role was now “pure censorship”.

“They won’t allow any criticism of the university at all, even any analogies that might hint at criticism about freedom of speech,” she said.

Ms Govinnage said she was reduced to tears and felt “like an administration pawn” when the last edition was scrapped.

Ironically, its editorial was on the importance of press freedom.

“The university took it as a direct criticism of the vice-chancellor, which it
wasn’t,” Ms Govinnage said.

Hahahahahaha. That’ll teach me never to say anything “of the record” ever again, won’t it?

I thought I was going to get expelled. Seriously, I had probably never been so scared, or felt more like an 8-year-old who got caught stealing snakes from the Deli (which I have never, ever, done, by the way, this just felt as if I had, like I was falsley accused or something), in my whole life.

Here’s what I wrote about The Bullshit to appear in the Notre Dame Law Student Society paper, The Sundry Crimes, which is, of course, my version of the events:

Back in December 2006, the Uni admin approached the Student Association with a polite request that Quasimodo no longer be published. The concerns related to the cost of the publication and the fact that, in the past, the magazine had criticised the way things were done at Notre Dame without going directly to those responsible and giving them a chance to respond.

To be fair, once or twice Quasi got some little things wrong. The uni wasn’t impressed by the fact they were giving tied-grants to the Student Association (for other purposes) but that the Student Association was in turn spending a significant amount of cash (their own) on a publication which was bad-mouthing the uni.

Bottom line: either Quasi went, or the money went.

The Student Association and the Quasi Committee spent considerable effort getting more sponsorship, cutting down the costs of publication and making an effort to improve the way we write about things happening at Uni. Annabel Hay’s article on the new credit point/fees structure was well researched and all the facts were checked and signed off by the Registrar, who provided us with further information and his responses to our concerns.

But apparently it still wasn’t good enough … until we begged them to actually read the magazine. It was eventually ‘authorised’ for publication (although we’re still not sure what gave them the authority to authorise it or ban it) on the condition that the Vice Chancellor’s delegate gets to censor all inklings of profanity, references to sex, and the story behind the uni’s attempted ban of the mag itself.

Because we just had to get the thing to the printers due to our contractual commitments with our sponsors and the fact we had been fighting over this for months, we capitulated and just said ok to it all … it was more important to get the mag out before exams. Looking back now we’re not proud of it but it felt like we had little choice.

Here’s what we don’t get … we appreciate that we’re a private uni, and that there are something things that are off-limits, but we’re not a primary school. We reckon that our standard is pretty gosh-darn high in comparison to the other uni papers, and to censor the word ‘arsehole’ and ban us from using the common phrase ‘short and curly’ seems a little over the top.

And in terms of commenting, and even criticising university policy, we believe that as the constitutionally-created publication of the Student Association we’re allowed to talk about it in a reasonable, rational way and we shouldn’t be expected to be part of the Uni’s massive Public Relations machine.

‘Freedom of speech’ is a phrase that most of us have accepted into our vocabularies. Without getting into nitty-gritty arguments about human rights (whether they exist, are enforceable, should be legally/constitutionally recognised…) when someone talks about the freedom to express opinions and comment on social and political appenings in a democratic society, most of us probably take it for granted.

While we do not have a Bill of Rights which entrenches freedom of speech in the popularly-known sense, the High Court has recognised that ‘freedom of political communication’ is a fundamental right implied in the text and structure of our Constitution. This right is derived from the fact that we have a Parliament that is “directly chosen by the people”. We, the people, have a right to know everything about whom and what we’re voting for.

CEO of WA Newspapers, Ken Steinke, recently said that while “every government would prefer to have a compliant media which simply recycles the government’s version of events … that is not how The West Australian or any other ‘credible’ nedia organisation operates.”

“Many journalists and critics have encountered the inappropriate pressure applied by some government politicians and staff in an attempt to manipulate news coverage,” he said, but “that pressure has been ineffective and will continue to be resisted by all media.” [link]

It is with shame that I read those words. And from that shame I vow to never let our magazine, your magazine, be unnecessarily censored again. Sure, I agree with Jim McGinty that The West can be shonky (I only ever read the Today section, anyway), and I know Quasi isn’t a beacon of enlightened journalism, but what really is? We’re just a student newspaper, for crying out loud!

Regardless of concerns over quality, which can and in terms of Quasi, I believe has been fixed, I think it’s more important to have criticism and questioning in order to create a real dialogue and work towards improving the way things are done, rather than have the government and other authorities go on doing things their way without batting an eyelid or taking a look at themselves.

Suprise, suprise, this wasn’t allowed to go to print. The Law School didn’t want to risk The Admin coming down on them too.

But at least now it’s in cyber space. The editorial I wanted to print will be here shortly, too.

Written by Sunili

19 April 2008 at 5:47 pm

The Editorial That UNDA Banned

with 3 comments

So this is what They didn’t want anyone to read…

Dear All

Welcome to the first issue of Quasimodo for 2007! It’s been several weeks in the making, but we’re really excited to finally have it out. Hurrah! We think the celebrations are warranted because it is so important to have Quasimodo at Notre Dame.

A vibrant student paper is one the hallmarks of a vibrant student community. It promotes a sense of belonging among the students, encourages debate on important issues, lets us put analytical skills we learn in the classroom into practice, allows us to vent about things that upset us and also gives us a laugh despite our increasingly stressful lives.

And, most importantly, it’s not like they can put the Cocktail Party photos in SLO Mail the same way we do!

Over the last few years, Quasi has come a long way. There have been ups, several downs, and more than its fair share of controversy. I hope that this issue signals a turning point in the history of our little magazine. I hope that everyone, from the students and staff to the Administrators of this fine educational establishment, can appreciate, enjoy and be proud of what we’ve put together.

This issue features a lot more uni-focussed material than we’ve had in the recent past. We’ve got stories from inbound and outbound study-abroad students, info on how you can join up to new clubs, an interview with Keith McNaught, who was recently awarded the Student Association’s prestigious Lecturer of the Year award for 2006, updates from our Sports Rep and the Physio Students Society, as well as regular faves such as the discounts directory (which is bigger and better than ever!) dnd a super-sized, bumper social photos spread.

Because we had to miss an issue this semester to due to reasons beyond our control, we’ve got photos from O-Day, Commencement, the fantastic Back to Uni Traffic Light Party and the Annual NDSA Cocktail Party. How fine and dandy, cotton candy!

What cannot be sugar coated, however, are serious social and political issues in the world around us. In addition to an article from a student who suffered horrific injuries in a high-speed car crash, we’ve also introduced what may be a regular ‘world issues’ section. This edition, we have articles from students and Dr Rob Imre from the

School of Arts and Sciences. Let us know what you think about it, if you’d like to see it continue and especially if you’d like to write about something which matters to you.

An article I’d been meaning to write, but which we didn’t have space for due to the extra photos and such, relates to current political happenings in Sri Lanka, the country where I was born. I may still call Australia home, but I ruefully admit that I cheered for the blue and gold in the Cricket World Cup (Gilly, love ya mate, but squash is just not cricket…)!

A couple of years ago, I wrote in these pages about my heartbreak at witnessing the coastal parts of the island nation six months after the tsunami of 2004. A current issue which now worries me is a political aspect of the brutal civil war between the majority Singhalese (of which I was born a part) and the minority Tamil insurgents, who are seeking an independent homeland.

In February of this year, the Sinhalese government arrested a Tamil journalist and the Singhalese publisher of the Sunday Standard and Sinhala-language Mawbima newspapers. They were not charged but remained imprisoned for weeks under anti-terrorist legislation, which allows for lengthy detention without trial.

The papers’ editors and the NGO Committee to Protect Journalists were disturbed that these arrests occurred after the papers published articles which criticised the Sri Lankan government and army for human rights violations. The journalist and publisher were finally released when the Supreme Court declared there was no evidence against the pair.

Subsequently, the Government froze the papers’ bank ccounts, forcing them to suspend publication and effectively silencing their criticisms. Journalists in Sri Lanka have told the Committee to Protect Journalists that coverage of political and defence matters has become increasingly difficult after the anti-terrorist laws were reactivated last year and that self-censorship is now a common occurrence.

As a writer, an editor and a student of politics and law, it is again heartbreaking to see something so fundamental as freedom of speech being violated by those with power and authority in a place which is such an important part of my life.

So there’s just something to ponder as your peruse these pages. Aside from the heavy stuff, which is supposed to get you thinking, I hope you enjoy! Please write to us at quasimodo@nd.edu.au so that next issue we can bring back the much loved “Dear Quasi” pages!

Finally, I would like to thank the Student Association Committee for understanding that this publication is one of the core services the NDSA provides and kudos sspecially El Presidente James and Pubs Rep Cara for all their hard work in helping to keep Quasi alive.

I would also like to express gratitude to previous editorial committees, including Sean Redden, Carita Kazakoff, Rob Corr, Tim Kennedy, Lauren Burwood, Laura Broadbent, Chris Bailey and Patt Vagg, for all their moral support in recent weeks and for bringing Quasi to where it is now. I really hope that Patt’s fears and worries for his baby are sufficiently quelled with this issue and those to come this year.

Cheers and best wishes
Sunili x

Now c’mon Was that really a thinly-veiled attack on the way the Vice Chancellor and his cronies who had tried to stop Quasimodo from critiquing the university administration by witholding funding from the Student Association?

*shrug*

Written by Sunili

17 April 2008 at 10:33 am