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Please Do Not Eat This Issue

EDITORIAL

Written by Liam Hansen @liamhanse.n | Editor-in-Chief


Illustration by Chloe Bagayas (she/her) @lilclodoodles | Contributing Illustrator
Illustration by Chloe Bagayas (she/her) @lilclodoodles | Contributing Illustrator

We’re releasing our kai issue as students start to really settle into uni. Assignments are starting to knead together, your brain feels like it’s been put in the oven, and all you really want to do is sit on the couch like a loaf of bread and do nothing (sorry, I’ll stop with the food metaphors). You knew that university would be stressful - but for many students, the academic workload is just the tip of the iceberg of the stressors in their life around this time of year, as their savings run dry, and affording groceries becomes harder and harder.


Students need food. I could make the point of how it helps your brain stay alert in lectures, keeps you sustained while working on essays, and serves as a way to relax after classes: but in the grand scheme of things, these benefits of kai are nothing compared to the fundamental need for humans to eat. It isn’t an optional part of life, or something that’s “nice to have” - it’s a human right. And yet, students across the motu are skipping meals and starving on a daily basis. It gets to a point where it doesn't matter if it’s affecting their assignments - what matters is if a lack of food is affecting their livelihood.


Let’s start with the state of kai in student lives; According to the People’s Inquiry Into Student Wellbeing 2022, nearly a third of students can’t afford food on a fortnightly basis. The inquiry, put together by the New Zealand Union of Student Associations (NZUSA), also claimed that students who were Māori, Pasifika, or disabled were more likely to struggle putting food on the table. This has in part come from the cost of living crisis, with food prices across the country rising by 9.6% from 2022 to 2023 - but neither Labour nor the incumbent National Government have given much thought to how it affects students. I’ve reached out to Penny Simmonds, the current MP for Tertiary Education, to see if she has any plans to decrease the amount of students struggling to afford food - she has not responded at time of writing.


If you’re struggling to afford food at uni, AUTSA has a few options for keeping you fed: Campus Kai runs fortnightly on Tuesdays at the North Campus, Wednesdays on South, and Thursdays in the city. You can also receive assistance from Tautoko, AUTSA’s financial hardship support programme: if you stop by their city campus office at WC210 with your AUT student ID, you can access their food pantry that houses essential items. If you need further assistance or want to learn more, you can contact tautoko@autsa.org.nz.


Content Warning:

The next 3 paragraphs contain discussions of eating disorders.


Secondly, university is a highly social environment where you feel like you have to prove yourself so much more than you did in high school. You tell yourself that you need to dress a certain way, act a certain way, look a certain way, eat a certain way. Disordered eating is incredibly under-researched in Aotearoa: the closest thing I can find to a definitive answer to the amount of people living with eating disorders in NZ is a line from Recovered Living NZ that cites their source to an app developers press release. What we do know is that 2085 people were diagnosed with an ED in 2023 according to the Ministry of Health (via 1News and RNZ); but Megan Tombs from the Eating Disorder Association of New Zealand believes there are many more cases that go undiscovered. “There’s this myth out there that it’s just rich, white, teenage girls that deal with disordered eating. But it’s a lifespan issue - middle aged women and AFAB people going through menopause often struggle as well.” This extends across the board, especially into university lives.


American myths of the ‘Freshman 15’, referring to the supposed weight gained in the first year of tertiary education, occasionally travel over to NZ, leading to what Megan referred to as ‘Anticipatory Anxiety’. This hit close to home - my own struggles with food spanned my last couple years of high school and the first year of university, as I went from panicking about my body during the pandemic to trying to forge a particular image of myself in first year. We’re done with High School Liam: that kid was a slightly chubby, maybe gay (??!?!?), awkward mess that barely spoke, but University Liam is a cool, creative, funny, bi, androgynous twink. By “androgynous twink”, I really just meant thin.


I spoke to Megan, somewhat hoping she would back me up on my hypothesis that social pressure and a desire to be someone new in uni can lead to eating disorders - but she made it clear that it was a lot more nuanced than that. “Through the University of Otago, Dr Cynthia Bulik has Identified specific genomes that contribute to anorexia nervosa.” While not necessarily being a direct cause, she agreed that the uni environment can expedite the development of those symptoms. That being said, it’s still possible for people dealing with milder forms of eating disorders to struggle with their conditions falling under the radar. It’s worth looking out for your mates at uni - if you’re concerned for a friend's health and wellbeing around food, EDANZ is available to assist people whose friends are struggling with an eating disorder: You can find more of their information on ed.org.nz, or call them at 0800 2 33269.


This is admittedly a downer point to open our second issue on - I can assure you, most of the rest of the mag is WAY more fun, with Shin Ramyun horror stories, odes to local restaurants, and recipes galore. I think it’s truly magical what food can do, when both you and your society allow yourself to enjoy it freely. To keep the positive takeaway going, here are a selection of tunes that you can listen to while strutting around campus, making everyone studying around you look up in awe at how cool you are and mutter to themselves “damn, they ate.”


Playlist for this issue:


Hybrid Rose - Dial Tone (NZ)


Family Band - Large Dirt Piles (NZ) (new release)


Jane Remover - Backseat Girl


Feshh - Acetone (NZ)


Carb on Carb - 2009 (NZ) (new release)


Wednesday - Bull Believer


Grecco Romank - 2 Hot 2 Hunt (NZ) (new release)


Geneva AM - T(M)²I (NZ) (new release - find my chat with her HERE)



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