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A Cardinal Sin: Lot’s Wife Torn to Shreds at Mannix

Mannix photo 3

Lot’s Wife is the official student magazine of Monash Clayton. It is a free publication that volunteers commit hours and hours to every week, so that we can provide news to the Monash community, and showcase the voices of our fellow students throughout the year. As an Editor of Lot’s Wife, I am immensely proud of what our community has achieved this year, and I have given this magazine nothing short of my entire heart and soul. While holding a public position means that you open yourself up to negative feedback from time to time, that is something that I have expected, and been accepting of. However, I saw a post on Instagram recently that was more than just the expected negative feedback. I saw something that was really, truly hurtful.

On Saturday the 7th of October, Monash student Jan Morgiewicz uploaded a photo of himself on Instagram, lying in a pile of shredded up copies of Lot’s Wife at Mannix College, the Catholic residential college for Monash students. The following day he uploaded another photo of more destroyed copies of Lot’s Wife, this time with a whole group of Mannix students present. Jan was a Committee Member of the Mannix Student Society this year, and has just been elected as President of the Mannix Student Society for next year.

On Friday the 13th of October, it was then brought to my attention that the cover of latest edition of the The Pigeon was a photo of Jan and Jack Johnston, another Mannix resident, lying in a pile of Edition 3 and 4 of Lot’s Wife.

Lot’s Wife Magazine is funded by the Monash Student Association (MSA), which is in turn funded by a small portion of the Student Services and Amenities Fee that students pay.

These magazines cost about $3 per copy to print.

As a Lot’s Wife Editor, it broke my heart to see the hard work we have poured into those magazines shredded up on the floor. The photos featured many torn up copies of the Feminist Edition, which was made in collaboration with the MSA Women’s Department. Both Lot’s Wife and the MSA Women’s Department funded this issue of our magazine. When these students decided to take so many copies and tear it all up, I immediately thought to myself that it wasn’t just any student money going down the drain, it was money directly aimed at women. Ripping up all those copies of a publication that advocated and provided a voice for women felt like a huge slap in the face for women at Monash, especially as the publication was made in light of the recent Australian Human Rights Commission enquiry into sexual assault on campus.

Jan is a vocal supporter of ‘Together’ – a new clubs-orientated ticket that has just been elected onto the Monash Student Association, and has a profile picture on Facebook with the frame “I’m voting Together”.

The group photo on Instagram contained multiple Residential Advisors (RAs) and elected Committee Members from the Mannix Student Society. One of them, Henry Fox, is the 2017 Mannix Student Society Vice President. He has just been elected as the MSA Activities Officer under the Together ticket, a position which involves management of a large allocated figure of student money.

Coincidentally, this incident occurred shortly after Melis Layik’s story about Mannix College went viral. In Semester 1, Melis lived at Mannix and was targeted by bullies for being a vegan. People at Mannix snuck into her room at night and threw offal at her while she was asleep. A horse heart was left outside her door and chicken mince was smeared onto her window. When Melis complained to Mannix about the incident that made international news, she was simply informed that they had undertaken meetings with the perpetrator and that the matter had ‘been resolved’. As Mannix College exist independently to the university and are not run by Monash Residential Services, they do not have to comply with the standards of behaviour the university sets for Halls of Residence students. A student from Mannix told us that it was full of cliques and was ‘a lot like high school’. Based on this description, the American ‘frat culture’ came to mind.

A Halls of Residence student told us that she is often disappointed by the behavior of Mannix students and the ‘toxic culture’ many seem to express when going to Dooley’s Irish Bar, the nearby venue they often attend on Wednesday nights. She also mentioned that students from Mannix call them “Halls rats”.

We have contacted Mannix about the incident and are also yet to receive an apology from the students involved. What we do know however is that with a tight print budget that has now been completely used up, we will never be able to get those precious copies of our beloved student magazine back.

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Student

The Myth of Apolitcal* Student Unions

Apolitical Student Unions (Maria Chamakala)

In recent years, many once thriving and politically active student unions in Victoria have fallen to groups of students that treat them merely as vehicles with which to propel themselves up the right-wing ranks of the Australian Labor party, pad their CVs, or recruit particular, affiliated unions from the right of the ALP. Ironically, these groups often win student elections under the pretence of being an apolitical* ticket, or with a promise to de-politicise a union seen as too left-wing or radical in its activity and agenda. But what good is a student union if one of its key priorities isn’t to stand up for students rights when the government makes decisions that adversely affect us, or back queer students by taking a progressive stance when important social issues like marriage equality come to the fore of political life and public debate? After all, unionism is all about coming together and using collective power to achieve common goals, an idea that is political at the outset. And what does a student union devoid of advocacy actually look like?

You only have to look to a union like LTSU at La Trobe to see that when groups claiming to be apolitical* take over, it’s not only student activism that suffers, but also the key services and support for students that unions provide that falls to the wayside. Since an apolitical* group won the union two years ago office-bearers have been absent in their roles, not shown up to student council meetings and failed to organise events or run any campaigns that make a difference to students or their university experience. The Women’s Officers at La Trobe this year have not offered any sort of response to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s landmark report on sexual harassment and assault on campus, despite the report indicating that the situation at La Trobe is one of the worst in the country. The Education (Public Affairs) Officers have not participated in the national student education campaign for two years running, and recently spent $800 of student money commissioning a chalk mural. That’s money that ought to be spent on projects or campaigns that aim to better the educational experience of students. The job of a student representative is, ultimately, to represent the interests of students (who’d have thought), or advocate on behalf of a particular demographic of students depending on the role or office a student is elected to.

You’d hope it was a good chalk mural…

La Trobe is by no means the only example. Similar narratives have played out at other campuses across Victoria in recent years. You may be asking yourself: ‘but if these groups – who have no genuine interest in doing the work of a real student union and who have turned once strong and vital student representative bodies into shells of their former organisations – don’t really have the interests of students at heart, how do they get elected?’ What has tended to happen in recent years at various campuses is a deceitful game of negotiating and manoeuvring to secure ‘stack votes.’ These are large voting blocs of students that have been directed to vote for a certain ticket because some incentive has been given for their taking part in the election. Often a club president or a popular or well-networked individual will be offered a position with a ticket contesting the elections, or promised more funding for their club in exchange for them turning out a large vote of students.

A lot of the promises made in these negotiations will be empty or completely unfounded and impossible, but will give the apolitical* ticket the political capital and advantage of being purportedly endorsed or seen to be supported by a plethora of clubs and organisations on campus. This makes it easy to attract voters, as large academic and cultural clubs serve as networking hubs, with connections to huge numbers of students. And so very, very politically involved individuals** – sometimes tasked and paid by unions affiliated with the right-wing of the ALP to take over student unions and turn them into union recruitment agencies – end up winning student elections through a platform to de-politicise a union or under the guise of being apolitical*, with the backing of clubs that have been duped and misled into providing the necessary votes. Who wins? The politically motivated individuals that get to bolster their CVs with an executive position on their student union. Who loses? All other students who end up with a weakened student union that no longer fights for them and a less vibrant campus life and university experience.

While many students may not want to be involved in student politics (probably the wisest ones), whether we like it or not a portion of the SSAF we pay as part of our degrees will go to the student union, and what the student union does (or doesn’t do) can affect our lives in serious ways. I’m sure even the most politically apathetic of us will come to appreciate that it was strong, activist student unions around the country that stood up and defeated $100k degrees by generating public outrage at the government’s plan to deregulate the higher education sector and persuade crossbench Senators to vote the legislation down. I’m sure that victims and survivors of sexual harassment and assault on campus appreciate that determined, progressive student unions spearheaded the push for a survey into sexual harassment and assault at universities and are now working tirelessly to hold universities to account and ensure all of the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations are followed through. Good, student-focused and unashamedly political student unions have the power to genuinely improve students’ lives and university experience. We should all think about what we want our unions to look like, and be wary of anyone in student politics that claims to be apolitical. 

*[read: very politically motivated]

**let’s face it: mostly white boys

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Student

Life Advice with Bilal

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Dear Bilal, how can I get in with the cool kids? And by cool I mean rich.

As a student, the more networking you do the better it is for your future so being friends with rich people can be a privilege and beneficial to both your social life and academic life. Although, that doesn’t mean rich people are your one-way ticket to success in life, it just means that if you find rich people then you have a good amount of resources, that on availability, can assist you when the time is right.

What makes rich people different to ordinary people is quite prominent and obvious, due to them having excessive amount of dollars in their bank account, they carry themselves with more pride, they portray themselves as busy, definitely care about what they wear and where they eat, and lastly, they show their high tech gadgets with ease on a daily basis. However, despite rich people having a dollar sign stamped all over them, there are some humble rich people as well, such as Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. Then again, it isn’t easy to find someone as rich and humble as they are during university. On the bright side, you can be a part of that community by tweaking something’s you do in life. As the common catch phrase goes “you gotta fake it till you make it.” This means that you have to pretend to be one of them and show as though you have achieved what you’re after until you reach your goals and ambitions. Let’s have a look and see you can do to become friends with rich people;

  1. Carry yourself with elegance – Everyone has their own view on elegance, but elegance is not being feminine or not being too arrogant, but it simply means to know when to say something and when not to do something. How you carry yourself shows your surrounding who you are and how you would like to be treated, if you carry yourself in a way that people see you as rich they will treat you like that, on the other hand if you carry yourself in a lazy and a careless way then you will be treated that way. A great example of being elegant is when you visit a friend and you stay for the right amount of time and then continue on doing other things that should have more preference in your life. This example doesn’t mean that you completely ignore your friends but it means that you are giving off the vibe that “Look, you are important to me and that is why I am here but now that we have enjoyed, it is time I get back to other important things as well.” On the other hand, a terrible example would be when you are on a date, with that special person in your life, to a fine-dining restaurant, and you are very confused how to order and what the terms mean. In this case, the vibe you are giving off is that you are not used to that environment and that you don’t have the confidence to be sitting in such a place. Rich people eat at breathtaking restaurants and go to astounding places to hang out, hence they have the confidence to be in such a place and know what is expected of them. So in this case, what you can do is know what the restaurant you are going to specializes in terms of cuisine, and also know the norms of things at any place you go to so that you can fit right in and look your part.
  2. Wear your best and carry accessories – What you wear does matter, however how you wear something matters even more because you can’t go to certain places in your everyday casual shorts or t-shirt. Some places require specific dressing codes. Rich people wear clothes from designers such as Zara, Gucci, Lacoste and so on. It is not compulsory for you to wear designer clothes to look rich, as stated in the previous section “how you carry yourself shows your surrounding who you are and how you would like to be treated”, which means that even if you wear clothes from an op shop you can still look stylish if you match the clothes properly and feel stylish from the inside. Though what makes rich peoples clothes stand out is the accessories they carry with them, for example a Louis Vuitton business bag or a Prada side bag. This implies for both men and women, as these big designers create products for both sexes. In addition, many people may name these bags feminine on men but then again people say all sorts of things especially when they can not get them, hence to become friends with a rich person you must start to accept their norm and sense of style.
  3. Tone of language – Talk in a way that everyone in the room stops and listens to what you have to say. Rich people always find their way to be the center of attention, and why do you ask? Because they are so good with the way they talk. They leave some imagination for people to wonder what it is that they can offer, because they sound that damn good. You must be to the point, no this-and-that, and most importantly you absolutely are not supposed to give anyone any sort of justification for your actions. You must at all times be proud of what you do and have the courage to believe what you did was right.
  4. Be smart and selective – Rich people are hunting for smart people so that they can extract all the knowledge to assist them in the future. Be smart to the point that you are great at studies but also excellent socially and are selective as to where you go and who you meet. Also, being studious only meant “nerd” in high school, whereas in university a studious person is a “cool” person. Having a good amount of knowledge means that you have a potential to be a big hot shot tomorrow, which is why rich people would like to keep you in their selective circle.

These qualities mentioned above are what attract rich people, as they expect these characteristics from other rich people. Overall what you should aim to have in order to be friends with rich people is confidence, courage, proper posture, know your priorities, selective and be smart. Also, these qualities are very useful in your professional life, as it tells your future employer or business partner that you are serious in life and know your priorities, making you the best person for the job.

Dear Bilal, how can I find a good role model? There’s so many amazing people out there!

Everybody has role models but what makes them so unique one may ask? Well every child at some point in their lives wishes they could be like their super hero. Although, what kids don’t understand, or at least are not told, is that there are role models all around us. Fictional characters are not the only kinds of heroes that can save a life, but rather ordinary people can be heroes too. By definition, anyone who does something extraordinary, such as helps save someone’s life and assists in their protection, is known as a hero.

“This focus on famous heroes comes from television and media, enforcing people to understand that there is someone out there who is not currently visible but will be when they need help and or people can be this imaginative person”, said Ismat, a mother of a 5-year-old child. Her son looks up to Superman to save him when he believes he is threatened, but does Superman exist? And does any known person on this planet, at least currently identified, contain any such powers? Obviously not!

Ethically speaking, portraying an image of a saviour is collapsing our thought about the “everyday people are special” concept. For entertainment purposes to imagine, create a story, and to have faith in something is fantastic, but is it reasonable to get entertained on the expense of forgetting that true heroes exist around us?

What makes a regular true existing hero different from the created heroes?  It is the truth! By the truth I mean, what a regular true hero can do is something that we all can do. Whereas what a created hero can do is something that no human in their rightful mind is capable of doing. For example, no human can fly, unless on an airplane or with a jetpack, or unless you are as rich as batman is and can obtain ultra technologically advanced suits and gadgets, then yes you can. But realistically speaking, an ordinary person doing extraordinary things, such as saving a life or just being extra friendly and helpful, are pretty heroic things in our current digital age where people are more about technology and self-growth that we sometimes forget that our surrounding community needs our attention.

In my case, my inspirations were not only Lady Diana or Priyanka Chopra, but also the people that were there while I was growing up. My inspirations, or heroes in other words, are my family, especially my mother, and my friends. As cliché as that sounds it is true. All our families and friends are our role models because whether we like it or not we will become like them at a certain stage. This could either be because of genes or maybe just pure observation. As someone growing up, what we see is what we do and we become like the people we are surrounded by. The point to reflect here is that having a particular famous role model is good to the extent that you feel like you have someone to look up to, so that you can become like them, but that does not necessarily mean that you forget your surrounding and ignore the fact that everyone around you has some sort of affect on your behaviour and attitude. This makes them your role models!

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