Words || Katelyn Free
Welcome back to another beautiful semester at Macquarie University. There’s the sweet scent of mass construction in the air, the new winter chill ripping its way through the open-air Campus Common, and still best of all, we await impending transport doom. Winner winner chicken dinner. So, here’s a recap of all our favourite episodes of shady and annoying things taking place at MQ.
For a large number of students, NSW Trains is the bread and butter of their uni commute. So, when plans were announced in 2016 to close the Epping to Chatswood line for seven months, there was much internal and audible screaming heard throughout the campus. Well into late 2017 there were still very few details provided about the closure, and only after significant pressure was information finally pried from the cold, morally dead hands of the state government, who finally revealed the closure date in April of this year. Two years after the initial announcement.
120 new replacement buses have been promised to keep traffic flowing and allow commuters to circumvent the closed stations, with 110 services running to and from Macquarie. But even the most efficient timetabling will still add a minimum of 10 minutes to some commutes. Others will be doubled.
September 30 is D Day. And with the parking situation at Macquarie primed to go up in flames with more expensive pay-as-you-go parking being implemented, there appears only one option. Hoard your canned beans, make a tent out on the lakeside, take your patch of grass by adverse possession and call it a day.
R.I.P. Campus Hub
Wicked Mexican, Wicked Mexican where art thou $5.50 nachos? The Campus Commons has opened up, ready for business and hypothermia.
As reported in GRAPESHOT last year, independent businesses were booted out of the new Campus Common in favour of large franchises. This meant that student favourites including Thai Kiosk, Little Asia and Reuben and Earl Sandwiches were all lost to the franchise hungry shipping containers. Continuous student outcry at these changes was met with little to no explanation or transparency. The university simply stated that ‘All applications have been treated equally and carefully considered’. This may be true, but the disregard to student voices and a petition with 1,755 signatures still stings.
So far, the new Campus Common has been met with mixed reviews, least of all concerning its limited food choices. This was witnessed in attendance dips for recent Ubar parties. According to the Facebook event pages 151 people went to this year’s edition of Good Thursday, 353 to Toga and 162 to Summer Haze. This is compared to last year’s numbers of 469 for Good Thursday, 486 for Toga and 705 to Summer Haze. Bear in mind those are exaggerated numbers (because who is actually consistent with their event replies on FB?), which also means that likely less than 151 people went to Good Thursday this year. What used to be a staple part of university life is starting to die out, along with our circulation in the impractical open-air design.
Money, Money, Money
Ah the stench of capitalism, a regular feature in the MQ eco-system. We’ve got Billion Dollar Bruce running the show, who’s still got one of our favourite lines about student lifestyles to date, “To me, today, you try to plan your timetable so you can cram as much of your university time into three or three-and-a-half or four days a week, so you can preserve time for paid, outside work, to make money to support a party-living high lifestyle. Is that an accurate reflection?”. Touching, really touching Bruce. He really gets it.
Then budget cuts were announced which froze up scholarship funds faster than you can say HECs. The Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Professor Sakkie Pretorius and the Higher Degree Research office announced an immediate moratorium on scholarships due to a budget crisis. Master of Research and PHD students will be affected, with the potential long-term effect being fewer scholarships and great competitiveness between them.
Despite these dire budget times, Macquarie is starting up its own private medical school, which will charge students a modest fee of $256,000 for the degree. This was against the advice of industry leaders and was described by the Australian Medical Students Association as ‘devastating’ and ‘irresponsible’, due to the fact that there is currently an over-supply of medical students for the internships and jobs available.
Earlier this year, former Editor-in-Chief Angus Dalton dared to go where no GRAPESHOT editor has gone for years…into an SRC meeting. This was in an attempt to remedy the fractured relationship between the student representatives and the magazine (and to an extent the wider student body). After an escalating argument between Mr. Dalton and several SRC members
A potential win for student advocacy, turned instead, in the words of Mr Dalton, into ‘a fucking shit show’. Demonstrations of the Chair overstepping her role and a clear lack of genuine intention to create stronger transparency on the part of the SRC were achingly apparent. And to top it off GRAPESHOT was essentially accused of starting a cult conspiracy to create an underground student union. Wild stuff.
GRAPESHOT has previously aired concerns about the questionable state of our student representation. The SRC is fundamentally controlled by the university, with key members being appointed by Macquarie itself and transparency being continually avoided by closed meetings and limited reportage.
SRC Undergraduate Representative Caitlin notes that “Whilst the motions that the SRC carries through are beneficial, well planned, and in the interest of the student population, it would be ideal if more steps could be taken to increase transparency around the SRC’s election process and the way meetings are ran. Unfortunately both Grapeshot and the SRC have suffered from the views of individuals, however a more unanimous approach towards visibility is being established.”
The continuous domination of Alliance ticket in student representation has also been flagged as a point of concern. The group was formerly run by Damien Pace, Liberal Club president and member of the hard-right faction. And the proof is in the Academic Senate pudding, with all the undergraduate positions being won by the Alliance ticket.
Student representation at Macquarie continues to see student agency being limited and major decisions being made behind solidly closed doors. For a while GRAPESHOT has considered the SRC a little shady. But hey, we could be wrong about the SRC! If we were allowed to sit in on their meetings, maybe we’d know.
STAY TUNED TO FIND OUR WHAT ADVENTURES AWAIT OUR HEROES IN SEMESTER 2, 2018!