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Hitting racism for six

Ashok Lavaasa with staff and students

 

The year was 1996. Pauline Hanson was emerging into the political spotlight and race relations in Australia were being tested. To counteract this tense political climate, Southern Cross students, staff and the International Office devised a limited-over cricket match to 'Hit Racism for Six'.

The inaugural International Challenge Trophy was held in December that year, with the Southern Cross team made up of staff and guests playing the ‘Internationals’, a team of mostly Indian students, captained by Southern Cross international student Ashok Lavasa.

Several years later, Ashok, a MBA graduate and the 2011 Southern Cross Business School Alumnus of the Year, recalled the environment in which the game was played. “There was a general concern in Australia that Pauline Hanson’s racist comments were affecting the image of Australia. It was thought a cricket match between international students and the University staff would send a message that there is harmony in the student community,” Ashok said. 

"The international team was comprised mainly of Indians because other students from Indonesia, Thailand and China were not much into cricket - it was a friendly match but keenly contested.”

The visitors narrowly won the match which was held at the Sam Trimble Oval at Bexhill near Lismore. Ashok went on to a distinguished civil service career in India and was appointed as an Electoral Commissioner to the country in 2018.

Today, Southern Cross is home to students from more than 50 countries. The annual Fusion Festival celebrates this cultural diversity with music and activities that encourage cultural exchange and connection.