Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella, A Christmas Carol, centres around Ebenezer Scrooge, a selfish and cold hearted miser who goes about making little kids’ lives miserable while they try to spread some cheer.
The children beg the man to spare some change, but all he does is jeer and flaunt his wealth in their starving faces — until he is paid a timely visit by the ghost of Christmas past. Today, in the Vertigo office, the ghosts of our very own past gathered to spread their wisdom.
Vertigo: Do we want to give our readers a quick introduction of ourselves?
Evlin DuBose: Yeah, my name is Evlin. I was an editor and video producer for the
2020 Vertigo team, and I later became the 2021 DSP.
Angela Jin: Alright, I’m Angela, I was one of the 2021 editors and I’m the 2022 DSP.
Joey Chalita: Hi, I’m Joey Chalita, and I’m the current Editor-in-Chief for Vertigo 2022.
V: Evlin, what sparked your interest in Vertigo and what was your dream when your ticket ran to edit the magazine in late 2019?
ED: Vertigo in 2019 was so involved on campus. They had been printing beautiful issues and I had classes with some of the editors. Lilly Cameron was one of the fiction editors, and she encouraged me to go for it. At the time, I was dealing with a lot of other stuff and I didn’t feel like I was capable of becoming an editor because it’s a big commitment. But then I went to the closing party at the end of the year, and the fact that there was such a presence on campus made me realise that maybe I could do this. I mingled with people at the info night that they hosted and then I kind of fell into one of the groups that ended up being the 2020 team.
V: And what legacy did you want to leave on the magazine?
ED: We had very long conversations about that. Ultimately, we wanted it to be a very fun and expressive place for all students. We had an engineering student on the team who didn’t know what she was capable of or what she wanted to do, so that really opened our eyes to expanding the scope of the magazine while also being very expressive and playful with what pieces we chose and the design that we went for. One of our volumes was called ‘Trash’ and was just the designers breaking as many designer rules as possible — Comic Sans everywhere — and they probably wouldn’t have had that opportunity in an assignment. So it was a great room to play but also a compassionate space as well, where we could use the platform to advocate for things that mattered, like Black Lives Matter, Indigenous voices, and queer rights.
V: What about you, Angela?
AJ: I always wanted to be a contributor, but I was always too much of a coward. It wasn’t until I was stalking someone on their LinkedIn and they said that they were previously an editor of Vertigo that I jumped on Vertigo socials, and found out that info night was that night. I was like, “Oh, this is destiny”. I knew that 2021 would be my final year at uni, so I thought: fuck it, why not? I really had nothing to lose, so I tried and then formed a team, campaigned, and somehow won — sorry, Joey.
JC: (Laughs) Thanks, but it all worked out.
ED: Were you on the losing side of the 2021 Election?
JC: Yeah, we lost by one vote.
ED: Oh, I remember that actually! We were like losing our minds in the 2020 Facebook chat. We were all so concerned about who would inherit our baby.
V: So, what was your vision for the magazine Angela?
AJ: I was really pushing for Inter-faculty involvement. While campaigning, you realise how few people know what Vertigo is, but I really wanted to get it out and make more of a name for it on campus. In terms of content, we wanted to produce something very universally relatable.
ED: Oh, yeah, accessibility was a big thing for us, too. You just reminded me of the multimedia aspect of Vertigo that we really wanted to push before the pandemic. There was Vertigo TV, and you guys also started the Vertigo podcast that was wonderful to listen to. We even had a library exhibition for our second issue. Yeah, that was super fun to do that stuff and the library staff were
so supportive of us being able to do that.
V: What interactions did you have with Shirley Alexander during your terms?
ED: I remember she had a lot of complaints, particularly about the design. Personally, I never once spoke to her directly.
AJ: I’m not sure how it was with your team Evlin, but no one in my team had any experience with student politics, and we were very, very upfront about that, which might have been a bad idea. We kind of said to the UTSSA, “Hey, we’re happy to have you guide us, we have no experience,” and they might have taken advantage of that because they immediately started intimidating us by saying, “No, never approach Shirley, you must talk to surely Shirley through us”. They would always come back to us with the results of our proposals saying, “Nope, wasn’t successful”, and we eventually couldn’t help but think, “Did you even try?”. We were very aware of how much power the SA had over us, so we were afraid to push back. So yeah, we never dealt with Shirley directly.
V: Did you feel that the UTSSA during your term was supportive of Vertigo?
ED: Oh, we definitely did not feel supported even if there was some in the background. I think we were surprised when, towards the end of the year, Sam Silcock (UTSSA President 2020) stepped in between Shirley and us as much as he did. I remember we were arguing to have ‘Trash’ printed after lockdown and we kept asking if we could speak to Shirley directly. He was like, “Don’t do
that, she will assume control over the magazine if you do that”. Previously, there had been zero communication between us and the UTSSA. There was an incident with our Black Lives Matter stickers, there was an incident with our issue ‘Body’ in which we essentially had a giant penis in the centrefold of the issue. It was an illustrated penis — it was making a comment about queer male gazes — but you would have thought we had printed literal porn by the way that the SA carried on. We ultimately had to get our DSP, Georgia Wilde, to step in on our behalf. They were silent from then on out, but they frequently used their power and the constitutional bylaws, which often didn’t exist, to censor us and get us to do what they wanted.
JC: That’s an excellent point because as a reader, those were two of your most noteworthy moments. ‘Trash’ is my favourite issue from 2020 – it was amazing, especially how you guys just went off the rails experimenting and showing people what Vertigo is. Also, yes, that penis spread was confronting, but it also encapsulated the zeal and passion of the magazine and the potential for students to express themselves. You wouldn’t see that Sydney Morning Herald because we’re not the Sydney Morning Herald. So, those were standout moments for us.
V: Before we wrap up, what does the perfect Vertigo look like for you?
AJ: A stipend for the DSP would be good. Right now it has no compensation whatsoever.
JC: It also doesn’t make sense that you guys have less power than the UTSSA General Secretary or the President in determining student issues.
AJ: I don’t think I’ve had a formal conversation about this with the SA, but we were saying that if anyone should dictate what the quota covers, it should be Evelyn, not Erin, who has no interest in Vertigo and who doesn’t have an editing background.
ED: I would love see a revival of the podcast and also Vertigo TV I think that would be really cool, but it obviously comes down to money and the time that the student editors can afford to dedicate. I would love to see a more independent Vertigo that had a better control over their own budget.