Image description: The Pelican banner for 2020, featuring a camel-coloured background, and minimalist writing.
By Bayley Horne and Stirling Kain
We have been receiving a lot of messages recently, asking why Pelican hasn’t covered the STAR/Spark split as part of our election coverage.
For students who are unaware of what has caused the STAR/Spark split, we understand that tensions brewing around the pre-selection period for Presidential candidates caused disagreements among people involved with the Guild. A certain group of students involved in these disagreements decided to form their own party, which is now Spark.
We were made aware of the party split back in May of this year, when we were approached with documents relating to the reasons for the split. We did not read those documents nor take them into our possession.
Since then, we have thought very carefully about how we should cover the split, if at all. After much deliberation, we felt it would be best if we did not launch an investigation into the split.
There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, every person who we could interview for more information will obviously have very strong biases, and this will influence their version of events. This is not to say people would purposefully lie to us – although it would be ignorant to suggest that people are always wholly truthful in recounting these kinds of events anyway. The biases in the split were so strong, and emotions so tense, that we feel we would never be able to garner an accurate understanding of the split. Any article we write would be based purely on conjecture.
Secondly, the media landscape at this time is fraught, as many of you will generally understand. By suggesting a cause and actors involved in the split, we open ourselves up to a defamation case from invested parties. We simply will not risk the Guild’s legal position, nor our jobs, to pursue an investigation into the STAR/Spark split.
So, we aren’t publishing an article. What does this mean?
We think students should focus on party policies, rather than the discussion surrounding potential controversies. When you vote (remember that you don’t have to), think not about why these individuals went their separate ways, and more about what they can do for you, within the Guild. When you’re going to classes next year, buying food on campus, and attending university events, it will matter more about what these experiences look like – which is shaped by policy – rather than tensions and controversies behind the scenes.
We understand that this decision, and our justifications for it, might be seen to best suit Spark, compared to other parties. We can assure you that we have no political affiliations with Spark, nor any other party. We have conducted correspondence with Spark between May and the time of publication, and representatives of Spark have gone between wanting us to publish articles, to not wanting us to publish articles at different times. Spark’s desires have had no bearing on our decision to publish or not publish an article.
We think it is worth underlining once again the strong biases of all the parties invested in this issue. Some parties may use these events to leverage support for their tickets, whilst others may fail to disclose some details about the split due their closeness with this issue, and intense emotions involved. You have a right to inform yourself, but keep this in mind when you come across information concerning the split.
Students are always asking for petty in-fighting to be set aside, in favour of focusing on what’s important. Let’s do that now.