Letters //

A Statement from the editors of Honi Soit

Regarding the recent censorship of our live blog

Last week, a section of Honi Soit’s annual USU Election live blog was censored by SRC President Jacky He. The censored content implied He had engaged in aggressive behaviour during campaigning. Honi witnessed behaviour by He that suggested the content of these allegations was grounded in truth.

He instructed the Publications Managers of the SRC to remove the post without consulting any of the editors. When asked about his decision to do so, He stated, “If I haven’t done something, I haven’t done it and I don’t think it is right to report rumors [sic] before they are even confirmed.”

Honi always strives for the highest standards of accuracy in its reporting but is not afraid to admit when it does not reach that bar. We should have disclosed the source of the allegations in the post and extended the opportunity to He to comment on them. However, this shortcoming did not warrant a dangerous overreach of executive power.

There were reasonable steps that He could have taken before deciding to censor the Honi Soit live blog. He could have provided comment to Honi in his defence against the allegations or requested an amendment to the post. However, all of these steps were bypassed so that He could regulate and remove content portraying him in a negative light.

Censorship is no doubt symptomatic of a corroding democracy, even one confined to a university microcosm. That the SRC President would use the power afforded by his office to control the narrative around his own behaviour is one that is  disturbing and dangerous. He’s function in relation to Honi Soit is to check the paper for defamatory content, and nothing more.

The value of Honi Soit lies in its ability to chronicle the actions of those who go on to yield an enormous amount of power in the Australian political landscape. On its pages, the conduct of Australian prime ministers and High Court judges alike has been held to account. No student politician should be able to strike their own faults from the record.

He’s most recent actions have not occurred in isolation. They exist in a context where, along with Vice President Dane Luo, he has supported the expansion of censorship powers over Honi’s election coverage. Not only are such powers grossly at odds with the democratic ideals that the SRC leadership purports to stand for, He and Luo also attempted to enforce them in breach of regulations — two simultaneous motions were attempted without consulting the Standing Legal Committee minutes.

We are often left to deal with student leaders who are ineffective and unresponsive. We persist through this because we love the paper. We will not stand idly by while the same paper is desecrated in order to serve the short term interests of career politicians.

Undersigned are previous editors of Honi Soit:

Alex Downie (2015)

Alexi Polden (2015)

Sophie Gallagher (2015)

Rebecca Wong (2015)

Peter Walsh (2015)

Patrick Morrow (2015)

Dominic Ellis (2015)

Tim Asimakis (2015)

Subeta Vimalarajah (2016)

Natalie Buckett (2016)

Naaman Zhou (2016)

Max Hall (2016)

Sam Langford (2016)

Victoria Zerbst (2016)

Tom Joyner (2016)

Kishor Napier-Raman (2017)

Maani Truu (2017)

Justine Landis-Hanley (2017)

Aidan Molins (2017)

Lamya Rahman (2018)

Andrew Rickert (2018)

Liam Donohoe (2018)

Lena Wang (2018)

Millie Roberts (2018)

Janek Drevikovsky (2018)

Zoe Stojanovic-Hill (2018)

Alison Xiao (2018)

Nick Harriot (2018)

Elijah Abraham (2018)