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Having spent the last few hours laying out food, placing drinks on ice and carrying chairs awkwardly up and down neo-Gothic stairwells, a number of SULCers and a friend from UNSW were enjoying some fresh air just outside the entrance to St John’s College.

Copies of Liberal Review and Mon Droit had been layed out on a table for guests to pick up on their way in. Everything was in order.

Slowly but surely the sounds of traffic on Missenden Rd and polite banter were supplanted by the thud of frantic footsteps on the lawns and the clattering of flags, effigys, and other paraphanalia of a distinctly red hue.

One fellow bystander uttered… “socialists”. I turned my head towards the oval to see a hoard of said ideologoues – quick footed and employing a purposeful, menacing silence for maximum surprise.

One of our protectors from the NSW Police Force yelled “GET INSIDE!” We promptly complied.

I was the last to get in before the doors were shut and the socialists washed up against the sandstone walls of the College. One of my friends was not as lucky. Stuck on the outside, his drink was poured over him and the glass bottle smashed at his feet while he was pushed up against the wall. Thankfully, police quickly intervened to save President of the UNSW Freedom Club, Taylor Gramoski. The chanting of “Liberal Scum. Here we come!” surely constituted a threat of physical violence – the SULC is incredibly grateful for the professional and measured assistance of the Police in preventing any escalation.

Despite this early excitement, it was not long before the remainder of the guests were securely ushered in and the event got under way. The juxtaposition could not have been more severe. Outside, a contingent of malcontents behaved – as one well-loved columnist has put it – like it was 1969. Unaware of their privilege, they hollared and screamed, in the end neither disrupting nor signifying anything. On the inside, their fellow students relished the opportunity for civil debate on issues of the day.

Two debates were held simultaneously. Mon Droit reporters in attendance have detailed the course of each debate in the following pages.
By the time Minister Pyne offered his closing remarks, the vandals outside had either gone home or to the pub. Pyne lamented the relative laziness of “youth these days” – they hadn’t even lasted to the end. Despite their lacklustre efforts, Vice President of the Union, Tom Raue, will no doubt be under pressure for organising an attack on one of the USU’s own clubs.

Pyne implored all to avoid the implicit undervaluing of vocational training, which the hysteria exhibited outside lends itself to.

For Liberal students, he said “remember the salve for all shortfalls in performance is competition.” Above all, that’s what the budget hopes to encourage in higher education.

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