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How Right is the Left?

The short commercial advertisement by Monash University called “Change it” became ammo for the Left vs Right debate, when it was released on 25 May 2018. It can be found easily by typing “Change It” on various social media channels like Youtube and Facebook. The advertisement appeared to disturb a hornet’s nest as one could see various articles being written about this clip be it on 3AW or a scathing piece by The Institute of Public Affairs, who went to the extent of calling Monash a “Marxist University”.

Being an international student makes me a neutral party who is not that much moved by the reasonings given by both the sides. Rather allowing me to formulate an opinion on the advertisement from the filmmaker’s perspective, attempting to understand the true purpose of the piece removed from the political ideologies present in Australia. The topics raised in the film are nothing that’s hidden from the public. They are problems that have been passed on for generations and the effects of which we can very clearly see and experience now. India, where I grew up, also debates the very same questions that have been raised every night on various news channels. We never get the solutions to these questions, but we do complicate the issues and confuse the viewers more.

Based on this advertisement, the Herald Sun has labelled Monash as a supporter of the Left. That is a really powerful media house, which is being read by a large part of the Australian population. Interestingly, the Herald Sunitself openly admits to being right-wing. A powerful right-wing media house commenting on a university for trying to raise some questions is downright ridiculous. This is not an advertisement simply asking students to protest, but a film inspiring the students to help answer these looming social issues with their education and to fight for something that they are passionate about.

It is one thing to be a critic and another to be judgemental or a bigot.  What are we really complaining about in the film? The protests? The melting of the ice caps? The sight of a poor polar bear witnessing his species slow and painful death?The friends and relatives of a deceased in a war-torn land are crying over his death?

These are things we should be looking to change, not labelling anyone who wants to seek change a Leftie. We should start demanding and trying to find answers to these questions. We owe a response and action to better our society. We as the next generation are the ones who are witnessing this, and our future generations will be the ones inheriting it from us, so it is up to us to ask some uncomfortable questions.

One thing that baffles me is the criticism for the protests shown in the film and that it encourages the students to protest about causes. This seems very counter-intuitive and against what universities are meant to stand for; the development and challenging of ideas.

Since when has standing up for what you believe in been seen as the wrong thing to do?

The Arab Springs was one such movement which was widely supported by the popular media and people alike, protesting played a key role in that. There are many nations where the voices of activism are muffled by governments and these countries also tend to have the greatest social problems. That is why it is integral for a democracy to listen to the Vox Populi.

The advertisement, I agree has received a mixed reaction from the students and people alike. However, branding the entire university as a left-wing institute has not been liked by the most. Institutes should not be divided on the basis of their political leaning. Debates between the Left and the Right should be saved for parliaments, protests, and classes where these differing political ideologies can lead to positive change. Let’s not stigmatise a university for trying to inspire our future generations to change the world.

There is no end to this particular topic, but what I believe is that we are the generation that could make a difference. It is this very group which still has the power to reinstate what is lost, missed, and broken. From the people in powerful positions to the ones protesting against them, we all have to move over a single advertisement and instead work together to build a better society.

Nachiket Behera

The author Nachiket Behera

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