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On 4 September, Grok Magazine reached out to Curtin’s Revive party to gain some insight into their party’s platform and priorities.

The responses provided several days later did not adequately answer the proposed questions, and as a result, the party was emailed with a follow-up.

Two days later, James Wilson of Revive informed Grok that they would no longer be communicating with the magazine.

In response to two articles—one published on the priorities outlined in Revive’s candidate statements and the other on political affiliations within all 2019 Guild Election parties—Wilson stated that the party had “collectively decided to cease media engagement with Grok for the remainder of the election” as they were “unsatisfied that Grok coverage has been and will be conducted fairly and impartially”.

In what could be the least transparent act of the election, Revive cut off the student magazine before campaigning had even started.

Grok expressed their disappointment with Revive’s decision, explaining that all student politics stories are run through the student engagement manager to ensure impartiality, and the past two were no exception. An offer was made to discuss any concerns the party had on with these articles, however, no response was been received.

Among other things, the role of student media is to hold the student guild and it’s representatives to account, and as such, the relationship between magazine editorial staff and student politicians has always been a fickle one; but there has always been an open line of communication.

Regardless of how content is received by the candidates themselves, student media is here to report on the issues that they feel are of interest and important to students. When parties refuse to communicate with them, that task is made near impossible.

Elected employees of the Guild serve the Curtin community first and foremost, and in particular, the students of the University. Upon entering into a position with the Curtin Student Guild, individuals’ must sign a Code of Conduct, which emphasises accountability, engagement and consultation and cooperation with both internal and external organisations that offer benefits to students. As such, they are bound by the principles of the behaviour stipulated in this code and are entrusted to look after the interests student community.

When contacted for comment on this article, James Wilson of Revive asked for the following statement to be “published in full, unedited and unabridged”:

“Revive is not satisfied that Amber Weir’s (and Grok’s coverage by extension) is unbiased and fair. Amber has left supportive comments on illuminate candidates election posts and has consistently displayed overly-friendly behaviour towards them on the booths, this was not reciprocated to candidates from other tickets.”

In responding to this, I dispute the second half of the statement as I have not made conversation with any candidate campaigning at the voting booths.

As expressed to Wilson, being friendly towards a candidate does not mean that my journalistic integrity is jeopardised.

Grok has a history of holding the Curtin Student Guild and student candidates to account, regardless of their respective party. In the past this has contributed towards a hostile relationship, which is something that this year’s editorial team has actively tried to change. As Editor I am proud of our current relationship with the Guild and all of its employees, but this does not by any means jeopardise my editorial integrity. Whether it is on or off campus politics, it is essential for politicians and media to have a good working relationship—Stupol is no exception.

The nature and responsibility of being in a political position, which is what every candidate in this election has signed up for, means that they cannot pick and choose when to engage with media.

Revive have been unwilling to provide us with the information needed to give students a reasonable idea of their party’s platform and priorities, and despite offering to run through the party’s concerns, this remains the case.

It is my personal belief that Curtin University needs more competition for positions within the Guild, and I have immense respect for any student who nominates to represent the interests of the student body. However, roles within the Guild and the responsibilities that come with them need to be taken seriously—part of that is treating student media with respect, not shutting them out without justification or providing them the chance to respond.

If candidates refuse to be held to account during elections and are only willing to work with independent and autonomous student media when it suits them, the transparency of their actions should be called into question. However, we note that Revive’s presence on campus has been a welcomed addition to the election; the needs of our student community are incredibly diverse, so too should be their options for Guild representatives.

 

Note: Election polls are open from 16 September 2019 at 10am to 19 September 2019. For more information on Guild Candidates visit the Guild website.