I was interested to read Renee Griffin’s article about shark finning. Every night I sleep with a stuffed plush shark named Huckleberry. I also sometimes draw cartoon sharks in my spare time. As you can probably tell, I am fonder of sharks than the average person. As a child I occasionally ate shark fin soup with my parents, but I gave it up once I learned how cruel it is. Eventually I became a vegetarian, both because I like animals and because the industry selling their flesh is somewhat evil.

It’s great that Tharunka is raising awareness about shark fins. However, there are myriad other foods entailing equivalent if not greater cruelty. Broiler (meat) chickens grow so fast and are kept in such cramped conditions that 20 million birds die each year from illness, being trampled on, or starvation because they are too lame and weak to reach their feed.

Pigs have their teeth clipped, their tails cut off and are castrated without anaesthetic. Even sharks face less exotic threats than the Chinese demand for their fins. Most fish and chips is really shark meat. As a rule, if it’s unspecified or listed as ‘flake’, it’s probably shark.

In this context it seems slightly odd to focus on shark finning. Given the demographics of Tharunka‘s audience, I doubt that many readers have ever had shark fin soup in their lives.

Thus Griffin’s article is unlikely to alter anybody’s purchasing decisions. If Tharunka were to call on readers to give up fish and chips, or to have one less chicken dinner a week, that would have a far greater impact than asking them to reject a practice they’ve never tried in the first place.

Two wrongs don’t make a right, I know. Still, it seems disingenuous to focus on wrongs committed by Wongs whilst ignoring the equivalent cruelty perpetrated by Whites (sorry.) All over the world, people are complaining about how brutal, unfeeling foreigners are murdering innocent, lovely animals.

Australians slaughter pigs but can’t bear to kill horses, the French eat horses but would never touch dogs, the Swiss eat dogs but would never cook a frog… The one thing we all have in common is hypocrisy. What if we turned the same level of scrutiny placed on foreigners upon ourselves? I think there would be a lot of happy animals.

Su-Min Lim

Renee Griffin’s article (Vol. 58, No. 4) reflected feelings I’ve had regarding the recent changes in university staffing, program structures and developments. As I’m doing BFA/BA (Politics), I’m lucky enough to have only eleven people in my core fine arts classes, allowing each of us a lot of access to our teachers and more individual attention which is crucial at a third year stage. My politics classes, however – being in the Arts stream (don’t say it) – are comparatively huge. I know in ways this can’t be helped, due to student interests and enrollment (as well as the appeal of having some incredible lecturers available to us in certain courses), but honestly – it doesn’t make sense to have a maximum of two teachers to three hundred students.

Griffin’s acknowledgement of COFA keeping students up to date with opportunities compared with the FBE was interesting to me also. In ways, I feel COFA has held back in some areas. It would be wonderful if internships or work placements were mandatory for a semester or summer break, for example, as anyone involved in a design or art-based degree at university (rather than an arts school) would agree that although university provides foundations, knowledge and certain skills, actually experiencing the industry is priceless learning in itself. In saying that, we have an abundance of avenues open to us that I haven’t found so much in other areas of my degree. It has taken me two and a bit years to fully realise and appreciate this, but it’s not too late to use it.

Griffin’s article highlights some unfortunate truths that develop as a result of your university becoming UNSW Global Pty Ltd. Perhaps, maybe, the shortcomings have always been there, but there has been chance enough to smooth the creases from the system, even if it’s an ongoing process.

UNSW is experiencing so much change, some good, some bad. I don’t plan to let the next two years of education slip by, and finish a double degree with no real knowledge of fine arts or politics. But that is up to the student – to challenge the system, remain idealistic and expect more from an institution whose purpose is to educate us.

So in response to another recent article – I agree, student activism isn’t dead; we should involve ourselves in it no matter the way or scale.

Gabriella Sulfaro

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