Warning: This article includes discussions of sexual harassment and assault. For support please visit www.mq.edu.au/respect.
Between an SRC election, human shit smeared on the walls of student accommodation, callously murdered ducklings and an on-campus marriage equality debate that descended into 40 minutes of chaos, it’s been a bloody YEAR for on-campus reportage. Here’s a selection of the top news, investigation and commentary pieces that made waves on campus and beyond.
Chain Reaction: The university is forcing out independent food outlets in favour of franchises
Perhaps our most popular news piece this year, this investigation unfolded when Grapeshot began talking to the business owners and employees affected by the impending demolition of the Campus Hub building. The story spoke to something important to students beyond cheap nachos and takeaway Thai Food – the uni was screwing over people who had been a part of the university’s fabric for over a decade, and students weren’t happy.
Given two of the food outlet spaces in the new Campus Common area remain starkly empty, the question remains: why force out loyal and successful independent businesses, when the feedback from students has overwhelmingly called for them to stay?
You are a Consumer: Brand Management and Sexual Violence on Campus
Combining an interview with Alison Sandy – the journalist who launched one of the biggest Freedom of Information requests in Australian history into sexual misconduct cases on campus – with Macquarie-specific investigation and analysis, this piece tapped into the problem of sexual harassment and assault on campus months before the AHRC survey on the subject was released to the nation.
The piece revealed that the university trained the SRC about ‘risk and brand management’ rather than prioritising education about how to mitigate sexual misconduct at university events and how to aid students who have been subjected to sexual harassment and assault.
As Sandy says, ‘it’s not the crime, it’s the cover up’, and this piece put pressure on the uni to stop trying to sweep the problem under the rug, like so many other institutions, but rather, tackle the issue head on.
‘Devastating’ and ‘Irresponsible’: Top bodies slam MQ Uni’s private medical school plans
When the Australian Medical Association called foul on Vice Chancellor S Bruce Dowton’s plan to open an expensive and unnecessary medical school, Grapeshot was quick to get in touch and find out exactly why the plan was so contentious.
As Tess Connery found out, many experts and medical students see it as nothing more than a cash-grab – if you can’t cough up the $250,000 price tag up front, no medical school for you. Way to further lock out people from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds from the medical field.
A ‘Dangerous Marxist Agenda’: Responding to criticism about proposed compulsory consent education
As the Women’s Collective lead the charge in suggesting policy changes and practical solutions to the high incidence of sexual assault and harassment on campus uncovered by the AHRC survey, one of their demands was the introduction of a compulsory module on consent and respectful relationships to be introduced for all students.
The idea was continually and publicly opposed by the president of the Critical Thinker’s Society, so Jasmine Noud, head of the Women’s Collective, took to Grapeshot to write a spirited defence. It’s a persuasive, passionate and polarising piece that provided much-needed debate concerning the university’s response to sexual misconduct among students.
We Only Speak English Here
As the government moved to introduce a stricter citizenship quiz and an English proficiency test, Isil Ozkartal’s personal take on the hostility of the government towards refugees and migrants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds struck a chord with many readers.
The article is sad yet hopeful, and we think everyone fell in love with the writer’s grandma, who serves Turkish tea with lamingtons on the side.
Lulu Jemimah: An example of how immigration laws work against Australia’s best interests
This profile of a recent graduate of Macquarie who was at risk of being deported to Uganda because of Immigration bureaucracy – and, in part, because of the wording of the graduation letter sent to international students – demonstrated how complex and ever-changing immigration laws can have potentially devastating effects on young graduates in Australia.
Despite national support and thousands of signatures on a petition addresses to Peter Dutton, Jemimah was deported earlier in the year, halfway through producing a play in Melbourne. After the incident, Macquarie changed the wording of the letter sent to international students that had complicated Jemimah’s visa application.
Every Inch: On student activism and sexual violence
This piece simply sought to pay tribute to current and past student activists who were campaigning for changes to policy about sexual harassment and assault on campus well before the AHRC forced executives into action. It was blocked by the university – so we ran a blank page with the words ‘This was a piece about sexual assault and harassment on campus. It was blocked by the university’.
Thankfully, students rallied behind the piece and decried the university for their blatant censorship on an extremely prevalent issue that had been covered up for far too long. Junkee supported Grapeshot with an article about the censorship, and when the article finally went live, it got far more attention that it would have if the university just let us publish it. Take notes, please.