SMAD. An Organ of Student Opinion. 1934. Volume 5. Number 3.
Farrago Explains the Melbourne Embroglio — Academic Freedom in Australia
Farrago Explains the Melbourne Embroglio
Academic Freedom in Australia
Mention was made in our last issue to the banning of "Farrago." In reply to an enquiry by "Smad," the present editors of "Farrago " explain that the paper was not banned, but that the editors of the number which caused the offence were dismissed.
The "Farrago" Incident.
The first issue of "Farrago" was distributed among freshmen at a special welcome to them a few days before the term began. The expression of the sentiments was not of the choicest, though the actual ideas were sound, if unoriginal. The issue roused not the slightest interest among those who had passed the fresher stage, but several weeks later, like a bolt from the blue, a Melbourne daily suddenly burst forth with a gratuitous and particularly violent at-tack on the whole article.
Babbit being thus aroused, was not easily laid to sleep again. The controversy, or rather the attack (for University opinion was given little expression in the press) raged for several weeks. Eventually the Professorial Board withdrew its approval of the editors, who consequently lost control of the paper. Naturally enough, there had been a petition for their removal drawn up in the University itself, but there had also been a strong counter-petition.
Still Enjoy Freedom Of Speech.
This, however, may have given you a completely false idea of academic freedom in Melbourne University. We do, in fact, enjoy freedom of speech, to quite a remarkable extent. There is a Labour Club which is frankly Communistic, and a strong Anti-War Council, which is certainly self-communistic, the remainder being at least strongly anti-capitalist.
There is not the least restriction placed upon the utterances of members of these societies, either in their own meetings or in public.
Moreover, the Labour Club publishes a magazine, "Proletariat," which is completely communistic, and is eagerly read by a much wider circle than mere members of the Communist Party.
"Farrago's" True Purpose.
The action of the Professorial Board simply means that "Farrago," which exists to represent all students, has no right to assume dictatorship. To use it for dissemination of one's own pet theories, whether they be concerned with revolution or T. S. Eliot, has the ruinous effect of limiting Its appeal to a smaller circle.
We trust that you do not interpret the dismissal of the former editors as a ban on freedom of speech. It is definitely not so!