A uni tutor’s work is never done

My dream of being a portal between the academy and the outside world (particularly those components that are marginalised from mainstream discursive apparatii like the mainstream media, landline phone pollers, policy makers, lobbyists, law makers etc.) has been unravelling somewhat in the past couple weeks.

In brief, I have been a marking hound. I spent most of easter marking first year assignments and most of the past week marking second year blogs.

Meanwhile the Melbourne Free Uni had their website temporarily suspended last week for reasons that no-one knows or will ever know. It had something to do with the government, but was too secret for the government to tell anyone, why. Weird.

So the blocking of the website was a hassle, but many people could still access it, and the situation has now been rectified. Furthermore, if it had been permanent, then the MFU could have set up another website.

However, if the MFU people (including myself) just happened to be Iranian, Iraqui, Tamil, Burmese or from any country with documented political repression, then not only would the website be blocked, but we’d all be fleeing for our lives. I’ve met numerous political refugees, who have had their homes bombed, been arrested and tortured and threatened with death and death of their families for similar benign ‘radical’ activities, such as organising meetings and sharing knowledge, or organising foodshare cooperatives, or hosting political websites.

If the hypothetical free university participants ended up in Australia, and somehow survived 5 years in a detention centre enough to prove a successful claim for refugee status, then we would have been subject to another random, mysterious government security action. And in deed this is what happened to 55 detainees in MITA Broadmeadows last week. ASIO declared a group of successful refugees (who have already been subject to international police checks and character references) to be a ‘security threat’. No one can obtain information about why or what this entails, and no one can appeal it. 27 of the refugees in question have been on a hunger strike for nearly 7 days, and there has been a vigil outside of supporters.

I’ve been sick with worry and distress and rage, and have had to plod on with marking, all through my weekend, and through today as well. I haven’t had the time to take PT to Broadmeadows, to join the vigil, or negotiate with SERCO staff to maybe visit some of the inmates. All I have been able to do is write letters, and petitions, and emails…. and do the marking.

Fortunately, most of the blogs are heartwarming and inspiring. New knowledge! students wrangling with complex readings and reflecting critically on daily life!

Here are links to some of the student blogs (with their permission). enjoy.

This one starts with a great meme about Foucault’s repressive hypothesis!

and this blog nicely includes a Game Of Thrones meme to illustrate their discussion of Sarah Ahmed and sexual orientations.

This blog has a wonderful link to the trailer of ‘two spirits’ embedded in a discussion of intersex identities, as well as many other links to youtube clips and articles.

Good ‘ol cultural studies scholar that I am, I revel in the links between popular/alternative culture and high falutin theoretical extrapolation…..

As I get more permission from students to add their blogs to this one, I’ll add a blogroll of student posts. If anything else – they are a great record of how the beleagured field of Gender Studies actually goes about our ‘business’ of teaching people to look at the world in conscious, critical ways.

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