“How many times have we been told that our ideas are idealistic, unrealistic, principle-driven ambitious, naïve?
How many times have we been told that we’ll understand when we get to the real world, whatever that is?
We are in the real world. Our ideas are valid.”
Harita Sridhar (LLB/BA '17) was the student speaker at the ANU College of Law Conferring of Awards Ceremony today.
She told her fellow graduates to challenge those who dismissed their ideas because of their youth, and in doing so she earned the support of Vice Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt and alumni guest speaker Martijn Wilder AM.
“Our ideas come from a place where we can see systems and we can understand them, but we’re not yet so embroiled within them that we may lack perspective,” she said.
“The truth is that our ideas threaten the status quo, and they scare them, and this is why we are told that our ideas are trivial.
“We with our shiny new degrees, and dangerous ideas about justice, are powerful. Our freshness from our degrees does not put us at a disadvantage, if anything it gives us a unique vantage point from which we can be both disruptive to the law as a tool of oppression, but uphold it as protection for those without.”
During her studies Harita volunteered with a number of organisations, including ACT Greens, Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services, and Shine for Kids Prison Play Group. She also had the opportunity to work as a legal intern in the Top End Women's Legal Service in Darwin for five weeks in winter 2016.
Harita also acknowledged the support ANU Law’s academic and professional staff have given the students throughout their studies.
“To the lecturers, the tutors, the mentors, who listened to us and didn’t tell us to sit down, you gave us your time, your energy, your nurturing, but most importantly, you let us see that there were others out there who felt as we feel,” she said.
“To the cleaners, admin staff, counsellors and countless other invisible protectors of ours, today we thank you and we acknowledge the impact of your work on our lives.
She ended her speech with a rousing call to action.
“The next time that somebody tells us that our ideas are good but they’re naïve and ambitions and value-based, we’ll say thank you, and we’ll push forward with them anyway.”
Listen to her full speech here.