A student has chastised her university after not being invited to listen at a G20 speech given by Barack Obama - explaining she had even watched all seven episodes of the West Wing.
Ashley Chandler, a student at the University of Queensland, posted an open letter on Change.org urging the institution to "admit that you done f**ked up the Obama speech", and it's perfectly spot on.
I am writing in regards to the recent uproar over President of the United States, Barack Obama’s upcoming visit, and more specifically, in regards to your decision not to invite me. This seems to me to be a scandal that would rank somewhere between Watergate and the 2011 Greenfield incident.
I am, naturally, upset/outraged/hurt/offended/aggrieved by UQ’s decision not to invite me. From what I can tell, I tick all the boxes. I study law and political science, I hold a leadership position in the university, I am a scholarship student, I have represented UQ internationally, was once on Millionaire Hot Seat, have seen all seven seasons of the West Wing, and hell, I even went to College. Given that I have satisfied all the criteria – well, so far as I can tell as UQ hasn’t actually given information on the basis they allocated tickets– you can surely accept that I am justifiably upset/outraged/hurt/offended/aggrieved. I mean, What about me? It isn’t fair. I’ve had enough and I want my chair at the Obama speech.
This is not just about me, though. I write on behalf of the scores of deserving UQ students who have been thrown under the proverbial bus (I say proverbial because, of course, actual buses are not running thanks to this). There are many, many students who have contributed much to the UQ community who should have been offered the opportunity to attend, some even more deserving than me (maybe). How about UQ Ambassadors who whore themselves out at Open Days and every other weekend to spruik the benefits of UQ to young, naïve high school students who don’t realise that they’re about to enrol in an elitist, nepotistic university with little regard for its students or the practical skills they need to develop in order to thrive in their chosen career? From a marketing stance, surely you should have kept these guys happy so they could rave to prospective students about the opportunities UQ has offered them? Now they’ll have to awkwardly (and probably bitterly) answer questions about Obama’s visit with ‘Oh, no, despite the enormous contribution that I make to UQ,I was not invited to this event. You can rest assured, regardless of what you do for UQ, you will probably be treated with the same contempt and utter disdain by the administration. But QTAC closes soon so make sure you put UQ first!’. There’s also those in the UQ Advantage programme, those studying disciplines directly relevant to this speech, student leaders in clubs and societies, the list actually goes on and on and on (and on).
With countless deserving and sensible-choice students excluded from the list, it leaves us in a position where we are unable to do anything but assume there must be some ulterior motive at play, some great conspiracy or discrimination. I’m inclined to think it is probably misogyny. After all, I am a woman and I was not invited and we all know that correlation is always causation. Furthermore, I have an ethnic friend who was not invited. Seriously, UQ? We all know that you make a killing off international students. Perhaps this institutional racism is not the best way to sure that up for the long term? Although I suppose you’re probably less concerned about international student revenues given upcoming fee deregulation.
Apart from this, the only conclusion I can draw is that you guys are just idiots and when the White House told you that Obama wanted to speak to ‘college students’ you forgot that in America that just means university students and gave 400 tickets to those who just happen to reside on campus (Chris Withers, 2014). Not only is this stupid and unfair, but I think it’s also probably unwise to further perpetuate the divide between college kids and ‘day rats’. Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that segregation was a bad thing. I wonder what Mr Obama’s views are on it. While it was nice of the Vice-Chancellor to finally deign to speak to the plebs who pay his wages in a statement today, it is definitely more than a bit rich to claim that this allocation was ‘based on the logistics associated with exceptionally tight timeframes’ given that there are guests attending from other universities who clearly do not reside within the exclusion zone.
This is a choice that smacks of UQ being too lazy to allocate tickets based on merit. It’s like you guys just put fairness in the ‘too hard’ basket. But I ask you, my friends, where we would be if Martin Luther King Jr had put fairness in the too hard basket? If Vida Goldstein had put fairness in the too hard basket? If Reform had put fairness in the too hard basket? (Okay, I was joking about that last one. They did #thanksreform. Though, to be fair, I am inclined to believe that this claimed ‘consultation with the student union’ is just Pete passing the buck).
Perhaps the worst thing about this entire process is that it seems to fly in the face of everything Barack Obama stands for. He was the one who told us all that ‘Yes, we can’, but, literally, we can’t. We can’t attend his speech because you won’t let us and have insisted upon the most ridiculous and inequitable way possible of doling out tickets. I mean, come on, even Griffith and QUT seem to have done a better job. On top of it all, you’re also restricting the access of students to their campus and important academic resources during the middle of final exams, all so that you can get your name in the international media. You’ve subordinated needs of students at a crucial time to your desire for fifteen minutes of fame and you’ve also closed the gym. I shudder to think of all the gains that stand to be lost. For shame, UQ, for shame.
I’ve always been told that it is good to follow constructive criticism with a compliment of something that has been done well, so I must commend your sense in ensuring that the speech takes place out of firing distance of the Grassy Knoll. Your handling of this event in all other respects, though, leaves a lot to be desired. I can assure you that I intend to appeal your decision to exclude me to the Senate, and would encourage all other students to do the same. I have also received legal advice that should the Senate go against me I have recourse to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and that all I’ll have to do is run up there, put my case, and you can go and get stuffed.
Sour grapes aside, I, and the students I have presumed to speak on behalf of, of course, understand completely that only a limited number of tickets can be offered to such an event. Indeed, as once pointed out by the preeminent economist, Jonathan Black, pie is a scarce resource. However, it is my passionate belief that just because there is only a limited amount of pie, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a better way to cut it.
A concerned student, with the support of other concerned students"