University censors ‘pro-Palestine’ messaging in the Graffiti Tunnel

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The University of Sydney has admitted to removing “pro-Palestine graffiti” from the Graffiti Tunnel. 

In a statement to Honi on Monday, a University spokesperson declared that “political messaging has been removed from Graffiti Tunnel for a number of years, irrespective of the content; recently that has involved both pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine graffiti.” 

Any tags, artworks or signs created in the Graffiti Tunnel are “subject to University of Sydney policies, as well as additional controls including that messages that cause complaints will be removed,” the spokesperson said. 

Honi first broke this story on Friday as part of a weekly encampment report. A source told Honi that the University has instructed maintenance teams to paint over all works calling for a Free Palestine in the Graffiti Tunnel. Workers were seen removing these slogans on Friday. 

The spokesperson noted that the University is “revising this approach,” to how it approaches graffiti in the tunnel. 

“[The University] will now leave graffiti unless it is in breach of the law or our policies and codes of conduct.” Noticeboards are also in place across the campus where the spokesperson confirmed political messages were not removed.  

On its website, the University advertises the Graffiti Tunnel as a “place of interest” and celebrates its activist heritage as a “living work of art.”

Recently, the Graffiti Tunnel has been a centre of protest calling for a Free Palestine. On the evening of April 23, the first night of the encampment, student activists spray-painted the entire tunnel. 

As of Tuesday morning, fresh paint calling for a Free Palestine covered the Graffiti Tunnel. Writing emphasised the education situation in Gaza which included statements like “Gaza’s class of 2024 is dead,” and “there are no universities left in Palestine.” The graffiti called upon certain individuals; ‘Mark Scott your hands are red’, and ‘@Albo @PennyW condemn the 76 years of genocide’. 

The tunnel has been renamed ‘Refaat’s Tunnel’ in recognition of the late Palestinian poet Refaat Alareer. Activists from Stand For Palestine Aus, UNSW’s Muslim Students’ Association, UTS’ Muslim Society declared this was the students sending “a message to Mark Scott” in light of Friday’s meeting between encampment organisers and management, where no deal was agreed upon.

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