Issue 1, Volume 17
Ah, law school. How I’ve missed you.
Actually, maybe ‘missed’ is the wrong term. More, how keenly it is that I’ve noticed your absence in my life lately – not unlike the sudden relief one feels just after getting out of a toxic relationship. Our most recent separation has been good for me. I’ve caught up on my reading. I’ve learned to knit. But, like any good study in codependency, I just couldn’t keep myself away, and so here I am several months later asking you to take me back, convinced that this time you’ve changed. I do see that some things are different around here. The lobby has gotten a remodel. We’ve said goodbye to some old friends and said hello to some new ones. Well, De Minimis has undergone some changes too, such as the inexplicable decision to put a narcissistic hack in charge of its editorial board. I suppose the more things change, the more they stay the same.
So then, as self-crowned king of the narcissists (and grand vizier of the hacks), it is my privilege, on behalf of De Minimis, to welcome everybody back to MLS, and to officially open our little publication for 2020. Seventy-two (very much non-continuous) years since our first edition in 1948, De Minimis is proud to remain the officially unofficial newspaper of the Melbourne Law School, voice of the students, and custodian of the stories of 185 Pelham Street.
Because that is what I think we do here - tell your stories. After all, in many ways the law is a profession of storytelling - the famous cases we study, the narratives we advocate in the courtroom – we learn the old stories and use them to tell the new ones. But too often, focussed as we are on our education, we neglect our own tales. Sometimes we can tend to look at the law school as a simple tool to help us build our careers, but it’s more than that. During the years we spend here this place shapes us through forces, some obvious and others subtle. The politics of our student bodies, or the mechanisms of the university, but also the unwritten rules of the Mezzanine level, or the culture of our lunch areas. I’d like to think that this is the real role of De Minimis, to offer a glimpse into some of those thousands of stories that surround us every day.
Or at least I hope so in my aspirational moments. The truth is that reading through the history of this paper – it’s difficult to pin down what the legacy of De Minimis actually is. Are we a news organisation, or an opinion page? A gossip column, a satirical, a poetry journal, or a literature review? On our good days we like to see ourselves as the brave defenders of truth and transparency at the bloody crossroads on which journalism and realpolitik clash. On our bad days, we’re a den of jingoists, fifth columnists and communist-sympathisers manufacturing libel and propaganda out of whole cloth. We’ve had as many agendas as we’ve had writers, as many moods as we’ve had editors. A polite term for our editorial character would be ‘mercurial.’ A more truthful one might be ‘schizophrenic’.
Truthfully, we are all of those things, and that I think is the answer to the riddle. It’s never been the place of the editors to say what this paper is, because it was never our paper to begin with. It’s yours – the students of MLS. You are its writers, you are its readers, and never forget that you are its owners.
So, that’s it then, welcome to 2020. Maybe you’ll read us, maybe you’ll write for us. Maybe we’ll make you laugh, maybe we’ll make you sad. And just maybe, if we’re very good at our job – every now and then we might make you look at this place a little bit differently. To look past the hallways and classrooms of this building and see the world behind it. Its people, and its ghosts. The parts of our lives we live here, and the parts we leave behind.
And if you do manage to get a glimpse of that place, hold onto it and don’t ever let it go.
It belongs to you too.