14 February 2023

ANU students petition campus pub for the 'Schmitty Schnitty' in honour of resigning Vice-Chancellor

| James Coleman
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Brian Schmidt and a schnitt

ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt and the Badger and Co chicken schnitzel. Photos: ANU and Badger and Co.

The memory of the former Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU) could live on in the form of a crumbed slab of chicken if an online grassroots petition gets its way.

During his State of the University address on Tuesday, 2 February, Professor Brian Schmidt announced he would be standing down from the role at the end of the year.

“I am profoundly grateful for what you have achieved over these past seven years and for giving me the opportunity to be your Vice-Chancellor,” he said.

“I only hope I have served you well.”

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Doubtless his portrait will be added to a hall of fame somewhere, and perhaps a campus square will bear his name, but one student has come up with the ultimate honour to remember the 12th Vice-Chancellor of the ANU.

Gabrielle Meiklejohn is studying a double degree in Science and Arts, and no sooner had she heard news of Professor Schmidt’s resignation, she started a petition on Change.org for the campus pub and bar, Badger and Co, to rename their chicken schnitzel the ‘Schmitty Schnitty’.

“When I was a first-year student at the ANU, I knew two things,” she wrote.

“One, Badger was the place to go for a cheap and good feed on campus; and two, Brian Schmidt is our university mascot and must be protected at all costs.”

Badger and Co

Badger and Co at the ANU. Photo: Badger and Co, Facebook.

The ‘Schmitty Schnitty’ has bounced around in the student community for years, including on the ANU Confessions Facebook page, where it gained massive support.

“Brian Schmidt’s announcement of his upcoming departure from the VC role at the end of 2023 seemed like a natural point to start a petition to honour him, taking that idea from ANU Confessions one step further to actually bring the idea to fruition,” Gabrielle says.

“To keep the memory of his perfect TikTok dances alive, to add to the cultural fibre of our university, and finally, to make ordering a good feed just a bit more of a tongue twister.”

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The petition has been promoted among the ANU’s various student groups, including on the Facebook page ‘ANU Schmidtposting’. When it reached 200 signatures, Gabrielle took it to Badger and Co itself with no response as yet. The goal is 500, so she’s not giving up anytime soon.

“I’ll email them with the results of the petition and ask them to take action,” she says.

Other suggested names for the chicken schnitzel include the ‘chicken schmitzel’, which Gabrielle will also take to Badger and Co as another option.

Brian Schmidt

ANU Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt during his 2023 State of the University address. Photo. ANU.

Professor Brian Schmidt was appointed Vice Chancellor of ANU in January 2016, with a reputation as one of Australia’s most eminent scientists. He won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 and spent most of his local academic career as an astrophysicist at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“Having arrived as an agent of change, for the university’s sake, I want to leave before I become ‘the status quo’,” he said during his speech.

“It is both the most rewarding and the hardest job I have ever undertaken … And, personally, after eight years, I will be ready to get back to my research and teaching and a somewhat more balanced life. My love for ANU is undimmed. My zest to see it improve hasn’t changed. And I always said that when I stepped down as Vice-Chancellor, I wanted to hand on a university I would be happy to continue to work in.”

Mr Schmidt will remain a regular sight on campus as a Professor of Astronomy.

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Some will likely call it the Schitty Schmitty Snitty.

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