Rachel, a girl in my class, lives on our side of Montpelier Street, The Big Hill. She walks home every afternoon and said I should walk with her. I told Rachel I asked for permission but my mother said no. We’re in grade seven, she said, it’s no big deal. Why’d you even ask? But I hadn’t asked at all. There’d have been no point and the question would only have gotten me into trouble.
Radical Hope arrives at an urgent moment in Australian higher education. As the world around us offers countless reasons to be terrified for the long-term wellbeing of universities, Gannon’s transformative vision is a welcome reminder of how radical and consequential education can be.
There are humanistic benefits to heritage, but it is also a concept that can be exploited for the purpose of ossification and stasis, and for the maintenance of a type of privilege that should be challenged, not set behind glass. The Eastern Freeway recommendation exemplifies these paradoxes.
I do not wish to defend Australian universities as they exist. But I do wish to defend the principle of public tertiary education as a good – not a product, but a good – that should be available to everyone.
I board the train heading back to my studio, backpack over one shoulder and a drawing I don’t like anymore, stuffed inside.