TIM MATTHEWS STAINDL
Volume 10, Issue 12
Shame! Two years as an editor of De Minimis and I’ve never written a single bloody word under my own name – as opposed to the trite inequities that can on occasion be found floating around the back page. So before departing, I thought it best to leave behind a few (four) parting thoughts.
1. De Minimis gets a whole lot of credit it doesn’t deserve
The number of articles written by De Minimis during my time as an Editor can be counted on the toes of a tapir (single leg). Without exception, they were the most uninspiring, uncontroversial, and (unsurprisingly) unclicked submissions that we’ve published – mostly they were ‘Welcomes’ or ‘AGM Notification’s or ‘Desperately calling for submissions’s. I think it’s fair to say that the least successful author of De Minimis is, in fact, De Minimis.
The corollary is that each and every article that has made you laugh, or cry, or think, or add an item to an LSS meeting agenda, was written by… not De Minimis. That’s because (and I do hate to repeat it): “we publish anything that is written by a law student, that is not defamatory or grossly offensive”. And DM is yet to reject a single article over the last two years. It’s a sad realisation actually, one that I came to some time ago, that those four pages are nothing more than an (almost) entirely unregulated community noticeboard. We’re not really even ‘Editors’, we just thought that ‘Online Facilitator’ or ‘Sub-Enabler’ sounded a tad dubious.
So unless it’s about the formatting or choice of image, DM deserves almost no credit whatsoever. Equally though, it bewilders me that on an almost daily basis we get emails and passing comments and Statements of Claim that scream the words ‘bias’ and ‘agenda’. The committee has maintained this open submissions policy – which I was recently told was a ‘convenient party line’ – for the very purpose of avoiding such assertions. DM relies on the students of the MLS to tell the students of the MLS how the students of the MLS are feeling.
Personally, do I think all seminars should be recorded? Nope. Do I think the law ball is an exercise in unjustifiable elitism? Nope, loved all three (and counting). But do I think law students’ views on these issues are relevant to other law students? Fuck yes. And I don’t even sleep with a picture of Senator Leyonhjelm under my pillow.
The only exception to the submissions policy is for anonymous articles – which now require a good reason before publishing. Here’s why I think they should stay: if they go, fewer people will feel free to honestly criticise the MLS, its community, and the industry at large. This isn’t a hypothesis, here is just one example.
In 2015, we were repeatedly asked by the MLS for the name of the author of the article Where’s the Men’s Only Room?’ The Menimists Respond, which satirically criticised the furore over the mere suggestion of a women-only study space in the MLS. Ultimately, the committee was forced to remove the article from the website under threat of academic misconduct. Shame on the MLS. But what would’ve been worse, is if the article were never published in the first place, which is what would’ve happened had we not allowed it to be published anonymously. Much the same can be said of the recent article Dear Prospective MLS Student.
There are real and present issues regarding the information given to law students about their degrees and their futures. I’m not sure there’s anything more worthy of filling the pages of DM.
3. The LSS do a shitload of great work
And De Minimis has published more articles on behalf of the LSS than it has on behalf of De Minimis. DM provides a platform for students to praise, critique, and raise issues with their representatives. Personally, I think the LSS should aim more to publicly question the MLS on the decisions it makes affecting students. To me, that is one of its primary functions. The disappearance of the Student Centre, for example, and the resulting difficulties for students should have been the cause of an absolute fucking uproar - and the LSS should’ve been leading the charge. I think Mourning Allens Linklaters MULSS Yoga poignantly questioned the appropriate bounds of corporate sponsorship. But these criticisms don’t mean I’m not hugely grateful for the opportunities our LSS reps have provided for us during our 3+ years here.
4. Please submit a crossword, a riddle, a limerick, or a picture
The other drawback of an open policy is the potential for saturation on a particular topic. For me it’s ‘well-being’, but I’ve also been told that Law Ball, Library Racism, and various other topics have outstayed their welcome. Something I think we don’t get enough of is not-words - or at least, not-articles. I used to write up crosswords for the back page when we didn’t have enough submissions. This year’s flood of articles rendered my puzzle-maker.com skills redundant, but if you send one in, it’s gotta be published! And who doesn’t like a cheeky crossword to mindlessly fill out during Corps?
Thanks a million to the outgoing Committee (picture below); we've had a fucking ball. And all the best to the DM2017 crew!
Here’s to many more fruitful years for this delightful rag of a ‘newspaper’!
Tim Matthews Staindl is a third-year JD student and the outgoing Online Editor of De Minimis. This article is written in his personal capacity and does not necessarily represent the ‘views of De Minimis’, however oxymoronic those words actually are.
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