Words || Max Lewis
Did you know that Macquarie University has another publication? In fairness, I haven’t contributed to it, so it’s little wonder it may have passed you by. It’s called myMQ, and it’s an online newsletter thrusted every Monday into your student inbox. Like Grapeshot, it’s student contributed, so we get to read about issues and stories that would interest us, from a neutral and unbiased viewpoint, right?
In theory, yes. But if you wanted to read about the Islamophobic attack on a Muslim woman on campus, or the sexual harassment and assault of countless women, again, on campus, you’re shit out of luck. Instead, there’s stories about the “quiet success” of the SRC (spoiler: they put up some lights and that’s it), what Macquarie looked like to an old white man in 1967 (spoiler: black and white and shit), and hot tips for students like how to use iLearn (spoiler: click on stuff) or getting a head start on your studies (spoiler: do actual work). For an allegedly contributor-based publication, every article has the bright and fluttery yet nondescript writing that reads like a press release or an advertisement. None of the articles I could find were attributed to anyone – yet the “Contribution” page welcomes students and staff alike.
“But Maxwell!” I somehow hear you screech. “Obviously it’s a different style of publication to Grapeshot! Students want to hear what their University is doing, not a bunch of thinkin’ about stuff!” Firstly, don’t call me that. Secondly, for a publication called myMQ, wherein the ‘me’ implied is mostly students ranging from 18-25 who care about things that affect them, MYMQ is the writing equivalent of masturbating to yourself in the mirror – the “chancellor’s wank rag” if you will (joke credit: not me). It’s something for the suits upstairs to pat themselves on the back and say “boy howdy, aren’t we doing a good job!” before lighting their cigars with 100 dollar bills pulled directly from my HECS debt.
The frankly unnecessary existence of myMQ makes a little more sense when you look at ?Speculum – a medical instrument used for investigating orifices, but also the bizarrely named student magazine that ran before Grapeshot, which ran for just 8 issues before the editorial staff resigned in 2008. In a letter directed to “the board of U@MQ”, Speculum staff cited “increasingly divergent ideas about the nature and direction of the publication”. This was a subtle, dignified way of saying “those fucks fucking fucked us over”.
Contracts between Speculum and U@MQ specified that although funding would be provided by U@MQ, they would not be the publisher, and as such would not have control over the magazine. Only two pages of corporate advertising and two quarter pages of U@MQ promotions were allowed per issue. The stands holding the magazines every month were to be painted with the magazine logo, not that of U@MQ. If you passed Year 12 English, you can probably sense my foreshadowing. U@MQ kept to almost none of these promises, instead choosing to dick around with Speculum with promises like corporate advertisers “lining up around the block” for a slice of the Speculum pie, when in reality, U@MQ wanted the advertising space all to themselves. This reduced the budget for each issue, despite U@MQ taking every opportunity to increase costs, by printing double the agreed amount of copies, and printing on needlessly expensive paper – again, without Speculum’s knowledge.
A student employee of U@MQ was asked to “keep tabs” on the Speculum staff, even being given access to files, unbeknownst to the editors. The tipping point was when U@MQ began to flex their money muscles at Speculum, demanding increasing amounts of editorial control over the content purely because they funded it. Long story short, Speculum fell apart because U@MQ kept wanting to take control, influencing it more and more until it turned into a masturbatory exploration of advertising and self-congratulation.
Having only started last year, the MYMQ newsletter is still in early days. Whether these are the first steps of a gurgling, privileged corporate baby in gold-lined nappies remains to be seen. But as it stands, myMQ is bizarro world student publication – it looks like Grapeshot but it has a pointy moustache, a goatee, and totally-not-devil-horns poking from its scalp.