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March 20, 2017 | by  | in Editorial |
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Editors’ Letter

We hope you’re more settled here and finding your momentum in going to class, doing readings, starting assignments, and taking care of yourself throughout.

It is hard thing to read about, let alone talk about, but this week Cavaan Wild confronts our shockingly high youth suicide rates and his personal experience of tragedy, economic decline, and despondence in Taranaki. Tied into Cavaan’s narrative is the legacy of colonisation which frames the experiences of both Māori and Pākehā.

The anger that runs through his piece targets the culture of silence that surrounds suicide — silence that envelops our past and our present; silence that takes lives. The piece is confronting and we have included a trigger warning but we implore you read it if you can, and to talk about mental health issues with your friends and whānau, and combat this deadening silence.

In our interview with Pacific artist collective FAFSWAG, a similar message is repeated: “The literal cost of not doing this work is human life.” FAFSWAG address the external silencing of Pacific peoples by the coloniser, but also the internalised silence within Pacific communities when it comes to gender and sexuality.

In such a prestigious institution as a university, certain forms of knowledge are systematically excluded and devalued. There are ways of knowing that cannot be found in printed words in dusty libraries, or from your highly qualified and eloquent lecturer. There are voices that are missing from this place, narratives that don’t live here. Yet.

***

Despite this institution holding the core ethical values of “respect, responsibility, fairness, integrity, and empathy” and being committed to “civic engagement, sustainability, inclusivity, equity, diversity, and openness,” it continues to exploit the labour of prisoners. In a behind closed-doors, rub-shoulders type, informal contract with the Department of Corrections, the university employed people to clean laundry over the summer on wages between $0.00 and $1.00 per hour.

This issue was exposed by Salient in 2015 and the university said it would cease exploiting prison labour; come 2017 the practice continues. In the name of responsibility, fairness, integrity, and empathy, and in the interest of civic engagement, equity, and openness — take a stand and challenge the Department of Corrections over their slave wages for prisoners. Act in accordance with your principles.

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