Macquarie University censors student media critical of response to sexual assault and harassment

The censored article outlines instances where student activists had pushed for responses to sexual assault and harassment in the face of University inaction.

The page in question.

In the latest issue of Grapeshot, Macquarie University’s student magazine, one page stands out against the rest.

In the magazine, which came out this week, two lines of small text sit centre on a blood red page: “This was an article about assault and harassment on campus. It was blocked by the university.”

The censored article, titled ‘Every inch: on student activism and sexual violence’, outlines instances where student activists had pushed for responses to sexual assault and harassment in the face of University inaction.

“Clearly, student activists are streaks ahead when it comes to the discourse surrounding sexual harassment and assault,” it reads.

Grapeshot Editor-in-Chief, Angus Dalton, said, “The article simply sought to give credit to our Women’s Collective for being at the forefront in advocating for policy change, and the efforts of my predecessor, Angela Heathcote, in investigating the mishandling of sexual harassment cases on campus.

“Apparently, this was too much for the university to bear.”

When asked for comment, a University spokesperson refused to answer why the article was blocked.

They stated: “Macquarie University’s student magazine Grapeshot is produced with the publisher’s guidance. Grapeshot has its own editorial guidelines and the University, as the publisher, works with the editorial team to ensure publications are consistent with these guidelines.”

According to Dalton, the reason given by the University was that the article needed a comment from the Vice Chancellor, S. Bruce Dowton.

Dalton refused this request to seek comment, stating that, “the piece was a comment article written in the first person from a student’s perspective, and it would be inappropriate and unnecessary to integrate a comment from a university executive or staff member.”

Following the paper going to print on 17 August, a day after the article was officially pulled, Dalton received an email from Kim Guerin, CEO of Campus Life, outlining the reasons for pulling the article.

“I believe the article is detrimental to the strong relationship that has been formed between the student community and the University on this issue,” the email read.

Dalton hit back, claiming that the decision had been made on the basis that “it apparently isn’t a strong article.”

“I am the Editor in Chief. The editorial team and I decide which articles are strong enough to go to print,” he responded.

Dalton told Honi, “I believe that the publisher pulled the article because of an unwillingness to shed bad light on the university and its executives.”

At most universities, student publications are published under student organisations, such as student unions or, as is the case with Honi, the Student Representative Council. Grapeshot is published by Campus Life, a wing of university management that deals with student organisations. This means that a university executive is responsible for approving articles.

Dalton told Honi that Grapeshot plan to publish the censored article online next week.