Drunk, naked West Australian uni students hit the streets to sell racist hate-speech… all in the name of charity

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By Chris Graham
April 18, 2013

Some of the team behind Prosh, directors Maitlyn Hansen and Raymond Maujean and Prosh editor Sam Bayford (2nd, 3rd and 4th from left) with Perth’s Nova morning crew, Nathan (far left), Nat and Shawn (right).

– MORE than 1,000 West Australian university students – many of them drunk and at least some of them naked hit the streets of Perth early yesterday morning to help promote racist hate-speech which depicts Aboriginal people as lazy, alcoholic, petrol sniffers, and which attacks land rights, tent embassies and Aboriginal art.

But before you get offended, it was all just satire, and done in the name of charity.

The remarkable story comes out of the University of Western Australia, home to ‘Prosh’, an annual satirical magazine produced by the UWA Student’s Guild.

The publication is created over several weeks by a large team of university students.

It culminates in frenzied deadlines the night and morning before publication, known by students as ‘The Bender’.

While the paper is being printed, the Student Guild hosts a large outdoor party, and the from 5am students – many of them drunk – begin flooding the streets of Perth and surrounding communities in costume to sell the paper and raise money for nominated charities.

Last year, Prosh raised more than $140,000 for local charities, and this year was expected to bring in around $160,000.

But for 2013, the magazine decided to spice up its satire – and demonise an entire race of people – by adding ‘Aboriginal horoscopes’ to its editorial fare.

The column, titled ‘Dream Time Horoscopes by Nooloo Bily’, encouraged Aboriginal people to take advantage of low fuel prices for petrol sniffing, and to “shake up their daily routine” by changing the brand of beer they drink.

It also attacked Aboriginal land rights, suggesting that “large swathes” of land had been “gifted” back to Aboriginal people for nothing.

Under “Rainbow Serpent’, it reads: “It’s Wednesday and we all know what that means… low prices at the petrol bowser. Combine this with all those Woolworths coupons that I know you have been hoarding for a rainy day for extra savings…”

The horoscope for ‘Emu Spirit’ reads: “Don’t get stuck in a rut! Shake up your daily routine and grab yourself a block of VB today instead of Export to see your spirits rise.”

Under Mabo, Prosh students write: “You will find that success comes to you even when you don’t feel you deserve it. You will be gifted larges swathes of property. Use this opportunity to sink a few tinnies in celebration. Let your artistic flair show, rocks are a great substitute for canvas.”

Under the heading ‘Winfield Blue’, Prosh students write: “We’re at a critical point in the election cycle; why not assemble a Tent embassy? If you want to harass the hell out of politicians to achieve next to nothing, now is your best chance!”

Head of the UWA Students Guild, Cameron Barnes, pictured around 2am during the final deadline of Prosh magazine.

Head of the UWA Students Guild, Cameron Barnes, pictured around 2am during the final deadline of Prosh magazine.

The Prosh motto is “Never Apologise, Never Explain!”, but late this afternoon the head of the UWA Student Guild, Cameron Barnes, was both apologising and explaining.

“We have received a number of complaints and are aware of the distress caused by the article in question,” Mr Barnes said in a written statement issued to Tracker magazine.

“With the guidance of WASAC, the Indigenous Students’ group on campus, we are looking at how to remedy this situation through tightening the policies and guidelines in the production of the publication.

“We want to do everything possible to ensure that similar content does not slip through the editorial net in the future.

“We will be apologising to each of the people who have complained to us about the article individually.

“It is a real shame that something in such poor taste detracts from the core efforts of the event, which is to raise money for local charities and good causes.”

It’s unclear what, if any, involvement Mr Barnes had in the editorial process, although photos on Prosh’s Facebook page – which were removed this afternoon – show he was present during the final production hours of the magazine.

The co-directors of Prosh Day, students Raymond Maujean and Maitlyn Hansen, did not respond to requests by Tracker magazine for comment at the time of press.

The Vice-Chancellor of The University of Western Australia, Professor Paul Johnson also issued a written statement, and acknowledged the newspaper had “clearly breached acceptable community standards”.

“The University does not condone its content and regrets the offence caused to students, staff and the broader community,” Professor Johnson said.

“I am heartened the UWA Student Guild – an independent entity based at the University – has taken prompt action to apologise.

“The Guild is generally supportive of Indigenous students.

“The University strongly encourages the continued development of that relationship and particularly the Guild’s work on campus with the Western Australian Students Aboriginal Corporation.”

Ironically, one of the charities which was set to benefit from the fund-raising drive this year is ICEA (Indigenous Communities Education & Awareness) Foundation, a small but respected youth-driven not-for-profit organisation that works closely with young people in remote Indigenous communities in north Western Australia and high schools in the Perth metropolitan area.

Some of the offending 'Aboriginal Horoscopes' that appeared in the 2013 edition of Prosh magazine, a satirical publication produced by the University of Western Australia's Student's Guild.

Some of the offending ‘Aboriginal Horoscopes’ that appeared in the 2013 edition of Prosh magazine, a satirical publication produced by the University of Western Australia’s Student’s Guild.

Founder of ICEA, Lockie Cooke, told Tracker magazine he was stunned by the actions of the newspaper, and had already arranged an urgent meeting with University officials.

In past years, Prosh has restricted its editorial content primarily to toilet humour and political satire, although the way it’s distributed has often sparked controversy, with numerous reports each year of motorists and pedestrians being harassed by drunken, often naked, students.

This year’s fund-raising was reportedly cut short after a student from another university sparked a bomb scare, resulting in an evacuation before all of the magazines could be distributed.

Tracker magazine is still trying to make contact with the directors of Prosh to establish who edited the publication, and how such an overtly racist column came to be published.

Sponsors of the magazine include: Westpace, Subway, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia, Rural Press Printing (owned by Fairfax), Croissant Express, Guild Tavern, Clydes, La Galette de France, Ace Security and Event Services and Kyocera. The publication was also heavily promoted by Perth’s Nova FM morning radio program.

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5 thoughts on “Drunk, naked West Australian uni students hit the streets to sell racist hate-speech… all in the name of charity

  1. Oh how classy people, just goes to enforce the thinking of my generation that this generation ‘Me’ has no class, no imagination and no idea.

  2. Yeah, Prosh is quite a tradition here. Most people are amused or only slightly annoyed with the dressed-up students that suddenly appear everywhere so I don’t think that’s much of an issue, but I think with each passing year people are less and less amused by the content (or maybe it’s just that I’m getting old).

    My ex was heavily involved with it close to 10 years ago so she was an avid defender of it but even back then I wasn’t sure. Some pretty offensive stuff would appear each year. Sure, that was kind of the point – to be a bit shocking and uncensored for the sake of comedy … but you also have to use your brain a little, and y’know, actually be funny. This year Prosh failed big time on both accounts (at least with this horoscopes section).

  3. Sad that educated people feel the need to single out certain marginalised members of the community for shits and giggles. Having said that I am pretty sure most would genuinely have felt that satire, not insults were the goal for the paper. It is a fun read, and it is for a good cause. No matter though the fact remains that people need to take into account the history of the people they might choose to use, the history of Indigenous Australians is unfortunately one of sadness and neglect, of exploitation and contempt for their rights, traditional practices and even languages (most Noongar dialects are one generation away from extinction). The fine line between acceptable and not, has been crossed, the apology though is welcome. In the past they have taken the piss out of many people, groups and races so the Uni has probably grown complacent about it and their due diligence was not up to scratch due to that indifference and expectation that it would conform to the same standards as past issues. BTW my favourite was about 6 years ago with a Constable Care thought for the day placed on a page just like the WA papers has everyday. It had the constable looking seedy with a 5 o’clock shadow and the banner constable careless says, “Do it I don’t give a shit”. Always have a laugh at that one.

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