Words || Anni Lewis
In March this year, the SRC passed a motion seeking to allow one Grapeshot reporter to attend their meetings. This was so the student body could be updated on all decisions made during formal SRC meetings and would be given the ability to comment on proceedings. However, due to disagreements regarding the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), negotiations have been interrupted. Additionally, Grapeshot’s reportage of the MQU Labor stacking scandal involving the current SRC treasurer Lachlan McGrath, who happened to be leading the negotiations, has impacted progress.
Lachlan McGrath was in charge of the initial drafting of the MoU, following the motion passing during the SRC meeting held in March. A week after this meeting, Grapeshot was forwarded a copy of this draft.
When draft MoU was presented to Grapeshot, it was met with significant dissatisfaction. The draft proposed Chatham House Rules, which means that the names of individuals speaking could not be published, and also detailed that representatives had the unlimited ability to go off the record.
Additionally, the Grapeshot reporter would be asked to leave the room during Macquarie University Council reports and if other groups from the university wanted to present to the SRC in confidentiality.
McGrath and Grapeshot’s Editor in Chief, Angela Heathcote, could not come to an agreement regarding SRC representatives being able to go off the record. While Heathcote argued that this defeated the purpose of improving transparency, McGrath argued that the MoU was unlikely to pass if a clause regarding speaking off the record was not included.
McGrath and Heathcote agreed that it would be beneficial to have meeting where a significant amount of members from each party were present. However following reports that McGrath had stacked the most recent Labor AGM to win the position of Assistant Secretary, McGrath withdrew from the rest of negotiations citing a “conflict of interest”.
McGrath handed negotiations over to Alistair Booth, General Undergraduate Representative in the SRC. The next day, after the article about the Labor AGM stacking was officially published, Booth withdrew from negotiations citing “personal reasons”. He added, “The SRC is working diligently to forge a positive and collaborative relationship with Grapeshot and will continue to work with them, and the University, to find an outcome that is most beneficial for the students.”
Heathcote is equally optimistic, stating, “A Grapeshot reporter in SRC meetings has been a long term goal of mine for most of my editorship. Our team of editors agree that it has to be done once and has to be done right. Any clause that enshrines a representative’s ability to hide discussion and their decisions from the student body will never be agreed upon by Grapeshot. Despite that we were unable to agree with the current SRC on an MoU, we will continue discussions with the incoming SRC”.
Polls close for Council and Academic Senate positions close Friday 19 May at 3 pm. Read our interviews with the Council candidates before you vote: Alistair Booth, Cissy Shen, Masoud Nouri and Viraj Singh.