By Tom Angley
What if I told you UniLife Magazine wasn’t the only student-run publication at UniSA? Yep, we officially have a ‘rival’ now. But rather than shun them, or corrupt them from the inside, I took the bold approach of interviewing Psychology Honours student Alex Stretton, the creator of Autonomous Intellect, to try and understand why he felt the need to start up such a magazine.
Alex’s answer is simple: “The idea came about from not being satisfied with the current UniLife Magazine.”
He explains further: “I was kind of aiming for something that was a bit more challenging socially and politically. I’m trying to emulate the old Entropy magazine that was around when I first started university that I got really into.”
Ah, yes. Long-time students might remember UniLife Magazine’s predecessor, Entropy – a magazine that was run by a former staff member, had a hefty budget, and, according to Alex, was renowned for its “tongue-in-cheek political analysis and no holds barred social attacks on certain individuals in the public life.”
Okay, fair enough. Some readers may have fond memories of Entropy. But many students, including me, are only familiar with UniLife Magazine. What’s changed?
“It’s just been a slow change in my mind from what Entropy was to something that is a little more ‘soft’. Things that I wouldn’t pick up the magazine to read, like reviews of Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga CDs,” Alex argues.
(If we ever publish a Lady Gaga review this year, I give you permission to burn UniLife Magazine there and then).
When I ask him about this year’s magazine, Alex hesitates slightly.
“I did enjoy reading the magazine in parts. It’s not like I hated UniLife Magazine. I’ve read some really good articles over the years when it changed from Entropy (in 2009), and in saying that I’ve got criticisms for Entropy as well,” he admits.
“I remember reading it (Entropy) and feeling perplexed because they had this environmental ideology and yet the next page they were pushing a full-page ad for free Hummer rides to the uni ball.
“You’ve got to be critical of everything in life.”
And, indeed, it seems some Adelaide University students are adopting this approach with Spur, a magazine recently started by those dissatisfied with On Dit.
Spur’s editorial team states: “When we enrolled at University we assumed there was going to be a magazine like this one…certainly, student magazines existed, but something was amiss.
“Enraged by the mediocrity that surrounded us, we decided to make our own publication.”
Spur also stresses that their magazine is not funded by a union, university or political party; interpret that as you will.
However, let me be clear. Yes, UniLife is UniSA’s student union and, yes, they fund UniLife Magazine. They’re also happy to provide comment on stories, and occasionally suggest events for us to cover if we’re looking for ideas.
But that’s it. There’s no ‘obligation’ to do X amount of UniLife-specific stories per issue.
Admittedly, we can’t cover everything. Independent publications, like arts and culture magazine The Adelaide Collective, can offer something a little different.
Collective’s co-creator and UniSA Media Arts student, Tanya Jane Brain, says more students are running alternative magazines because “they feel empowered enough to do so”.
“I think that is the biggest accomplishment the University could wish upon students, that they begin their own projects and grow into the professionals those Graduate Qualities are always so keen on,” she says.
Tanya wants more “authenticity” in UniLife Magazine, and is worried too many articles are being “tailored” towards students.
“The only thing more blatantly obvious than trying to tailor publications towards students, is trying to be an authentic alternative publication for students when missing the mark.”
Autonomous Intellect creator Alex Stretton is more forgiving, saying UniSA’s diverse population means everyone has different tastes.
“You’ve got to work together and put out stuff that’s interesting to everyone, and you can’t do that with one magazine,” he says.
“It’s about appealing to different students’ interests…you’re not going to appeal to everyone.”
As Alex heads out of our office (C1-67, by the way – come visit!), I contemplate if this is the end of UniLife Magazine as we know it.
But then I realise Alex’s decision was based on the fact he felt nobody really gave a shit.
Well, screw that. We’d rather you guys didn’t get to the stage where starting up your own magazine was the only option. We’re getting paid to be your magazine, after all.
Here’s where you come in.
If we’re not catering to your interests, submit something. Want more “tongue-in-cheek” political commentary? There’s nothing stopping you from submitting some.
Email us at email@example.com, check out unilifemagazine.com.au, like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Or *gasp* say hi to us on campus. If you’re not happy with the way things are going, let us know.
This is your publication. How can you criticise what you choose not to change?
And if you like what you’re reading…thank you.