Alistair Kitchen is the University’s Convocation Medallist for 2015. Alistair was a BA (Advanced) student, who completed Honours in English (poetry) in 2014 with a very good First Class result. The Convocation Medal is one of the University’s most highly prized awards, and is given each year to a new graduate for academic achievement plus service to the University and beyond. The Convocation Medal has been won by a Pauline every year since 2011, except for 2012, when it was shared between two Paulines, and 2014 (but that year Ben Veness won the equivalent for coursework graduates, the Barton Medal). Martin Seneviratne was also shortlisted this year. Alistair has also won the College’s Lehane Medal for Leadership, 2014, shared with Edward Armitage.
While in College, Alistair helped to lead the Outreach Syndicate, the focus group for charitable
and philanthropic activities. Among other things, with Martin Seneviratne, he worked in Oro Province, Papua New Guinea, helping in the Oro Community Development Program, which has a long connection with the College.
In 2013 the College won a $36,000 grant under the University’s Widening Participation program, to explore ways of making the colleges more accessible to disadvantaged students. The need to live on or near campus is a major hurdle for many such students wanting to enroll at Sydney University. Two student officers were appointed to do the bulk of the work, one from Paul’s and the other from The Women’s College. Alistair was the Paul’s officer, with Alisha King, Senior Student of Women’s. They were both wonderfully keen, inventive and assiduous.
They worked on a number of fronts: with the University’s Social Inclusion Unit, with the various college heads looking at admission procedures, and with potential students. They went on excursions to schools, including in far-western New South Wales. There were large obstacles – more college bursaries are needed to give the effort permanent bite – but they made very good progress and raised awareness on all fronts. They have been pioneers in difficult territory, and they demonstrated that the colleges understood the need to contribute to an important University initiative.
The citation for the Convocation Medal also mentioned Alistair’s involvement in the campaign against homophobia. Since 2012 he has played with the Sydney Convicts, the gay rugby team founded by Andrew Purchas, Senior Student 1988, and that experience has given him a public voice. He has published and spoken in the media (Sydney Morning Herald, SBS, 4BC Mornings) on homophobia in sport, and he has been the lead author of a major international report, Out on the Fields: Uncovering Homophobia in Sport, which was published in May.
When he left Paul’s at the end of last year he gave a magnificent address in Chapel, setting out his views on the College, present and future, which will be published in the 2015 Pauline.