An Anti-Grapeshot Alliance?

Alliance ticket members run on

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A source which wishes to remain anonymous has provided Grapeshot Magazine with two screenshots from the Macq Liberal Club (not absolute) Freedom Forum (‘Freedom Forum’). The first post being made by former Alliance campaign manager Damien Pace detailing plans to create a video “making fun of Grapeshot”, and the second made by Zedekiah Sparks which links “Our ticket Alliance” to plans to “fuck shit up with Grapeshot”.

This only seems to be further corroborated by the tagging of SRC candidate Dan Roberts in the first post, who is running on a platform of “transparency on university construction” and a “Grapeshot Magazine students want to read”. Raising the question as to why members of the Alliance ticket are so concerned with regulating student media on campus?

When approached for comment campaign manager of the Alliance ticket Alexander Hablutzel noted an awareness that it is the Student Services and Amenities Fee (‘SSAF’) which pays for the publication of Grapeshot Magazine. The SRC and Grapeshot are independent bodies, both working with Campus Engagement to provide services to the students of Macquarie University.

It is perplexing that an SRC ticket would run on a campaign of improving Grapeshot when the student publication of Macquarie University is not regulated by the SRC. Grapeshot operated through a given budget and the volunteer work of a team of student editors – with the potential for those editors to obtain honorarium for their work after each semester. The work of the team is the result of passion and a desire for industry experience in the media field, not for the opportunity to be paid staff members writing “political activist pieces”.

Hablutzel as campaign manager was contacted by Editor in Chief of Grapeshot Magazine, James Booth, following the surfacing of these screenshots to Grapeshot Magazine. Booth asked for clarification and comment in regards to three concerns:

  1. Why was Dan Roberts allowed to include the phrase “a grapeshot magazine students want to read” on his campaign poster. Is this the view of the Alliance ticket as a whole?
  2. The proposed creation of a video “making fun of Grapeshot”, and whether the intention of the Alliance ticket was to “fuck shit up with Grapeshot” as seen by Sparks post in the Freedom Forum.
  3. Should your ticket be elected, can Grapeshot in good confidence expect the SRC to work with us and not against us?

On the 5th April, Hablutzel approached EIC Booth on campus in regards to the claim that the Alliance ticket was the ticket with independent and Liberal members, and Grapeshot would like to take the opportunity to admit error for the miscommunication. Hablutzel informed Grapeshot that “Alliance has never just been a Liberal Club ticket, it’s a combination of different people who share the same expressed goal…of our eleven candidates for this election, only five are members of the Liberal Club”.

Grapeshot would like note that despite the strong historical presence of Macquarie University’s Liberal Club in the Alliance ticket this does not mean the 2019 ticket is a “hard right” Liberal ticket. Comments made by Sparks describe the Alliance ticket as “our ticket” and actively distances the ticket from the university’s Labor Club and the moderate liberals of the Freedom Club – who Sparks calls clowns.

In regards to the first point of clarification, Hablutzel did not confirm whether or not it is the views of the whole Alliance ticket that the university needs a “Grapeshot Magazine students want to read”. He did however inform Grapeshot that Alliance does not see the magazine as “institution that is beyond criticism or improvement…we’d like to see accurate and responsible reporting from Grapeshot where all people and sides of an issue are allowed the opportunity to contribute. Not one sided, sensationalist and misleading hit pieces”. Further stating that the vision of the Alliance ticket for Grapeshot is “more content for college students, international students, more focus on events on campus, more apolitical content and fewer progressive political activist pieces, which we feel have a limited audience amongst the student body”.

These comments leave a lot to unpack. Firstly it should be noted that none of this feedback had been provided to the Grapeshot Magazine team at any point before this comment. The team very much agrees that Grapeshot is not beyond criticism or improvement, however would have been open to holding discussions on this external of SRC elections. Moreover, it should be noted that a majority of these concerns have actually already been addressed internally and are in the process of being integrated into the Magazine. The Grapeshot team has two international students, a team member living in on-campus accommodation, and there are a number of independent contributors who are international students or college students writing for the magazine already.

Hablutzel continued noting that “all people and sides of an issue” should be “allowed the opportunity to contribute”. Grapeshot would love for the Alliance ticket to find a contributor callout event, in which it states that non-progressive opinions are not allowed to be a part of Grapeshot Magazine. All callout events are open to submissions, yet none of the individuals on the Alliance ticket have submitted articles to Grapeshot. It would be advisable that if there are particular issues they wish to see covered, they could do what other students do and submit articles to the publication.

Hablutzel provided comment that there is a “limited audience for progressive political activist pieces amongst the student body”. This seems to disregard growing trends in Millennial and Gen Z political alignment. A recent 2018 study by the Pew Research Centre in the United States, found the highest level of support in Millennial and Gen Z demographics on issues such as racial equality, the use of gender neutral pronouns, and the existence of climate change. Given that the student body is primarily made up of these generations, in a digital age it is not that much of a reach to expect similar results here in Australia. Progressive politics are being driven primarily by young people, so it is no surprise that the majority of submissions from Macquarie University students align with the more progressive views of our generation.

This statement also seems to ignore that Grapeshot is a magazine with several sections, we are not a campus newspaper alone and the Feature section is a fundamental opportunity we offer for students to gain experience writing opinion. It is confusing as to why the Alliance ticket has provided comment on Grapeshot’s “one sided” reportage, when so much work has gone into diversifying the representation for minority groups in having their stories and representation shared for other members of those communities on campus.

The intention of the current editorial team to provide opportunities for equity groups to have their side of the story shared, their experiences heard, and the space to educate other members of the community of their lived experiences. It seems unfair to expect people to share the opinions of people who are against their communities, for the sake of being apolitical – particularly when for so many minority groups being visibly in disability, queerness or ethno-cultural status doesn’t provide the same opportunity to identify apolitically. Moreover, there are some instance – such as climate change discussion – where the majority consensus of our population and scientists is in favour of its existence, and there will be very little point in acknowledging the 1% of scientists that disagree in a discussion on its effects on our planet.

In providing clarification for the second question, Hablutzel has confirmed the intention of the Alliance ticket to publish a “humorous video in the next couple of days where we talk a little bit more about the content we’d like to see in a student newspaper”. With the call out seeming to go out only in the Freedom Forum, and not publicly, it is unclear whether this video will provide a “one-sided” opinion on Grapeshot’s ‘progressive nonsense’ – like following what many other student publications have done for decades and creating a women’s issue, and you know the crazy radical stuff like providing a platform for greater representation of people of colour.

In regards to the third question, Alliance has confirmed that if elected “Alliance would like Grapeshot to have full access to SRC meetings…we would like Grapeshot to set aside space in their magazine for student representatives to engage with the public directly, and we would like to work hand in hand with Grapeshot in promoting and exploring issues of concern to students”. Grapeshot hopes that alliance will hold true to its intentions to work with the publication should they be elected.

We encourage you to explore deeper into policy when considering your election votes. Whether it is Alliance or other candidates who have your vote, it should be noted the ill intentions of individuals linked to the alliance campaign against Grapeshot Magazine. Considering their failure to attempt to engage with the publication, and the stated intention to “fuck shit up” with the magazine, we are left unsure as to the value that an anti-Grapeshot platform will offer students voting in this election.

Until we find out, we’d like to remind the members of the Alliance ticket that if they’re concerned about the content of Grapeshot Magazine, they still have a few days to submit articles for our third edition “Goon” x

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