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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 Affairs

Women in Law: Interview with Abby Sullivan

Women-in-the-Law–Interview-with-Abby-Sullivan-(Erica-Gage)

Last year, Susan Kiefel became the first female Chief Justice of the High Court in its entire 113-year history. For women in the law, equality is still a long way off.

The legal profession is one of the worst places to be a woman: the pay gap is significant, jobs are inflexible with the demands of parenthood, and women are greatly underrepresented in senior roles. It makes female law students like myself often think about why we bother competing in a rat race we’re constantly disadvantaged in. In 2015, 14,600 graduates entered a job market of just 66,000 lawyers. If the excessive workload and very little support as a student wasn’t enough to deter us – we’re constantly told that we’re probably going to end up unemployed too.

Abby Sullivan is a female lawyer who doesn’t believe she’s personally been disadvantaged in the legal profession for being a woman. I thought it would be great to gain an insight from someone whose legal career hasn’t been shaped by the notorious boys’ club ruling the legal world.

 

Can you tell me a little about your career, and what work you have done surrounding women and law?

I graduated from Monash with an Arts degree majoring in Japanese and psychology before I moved to Japan to work. I was always interested in the law, but I wanted to get life experience for myself before studying law. I lived and worked in Japan for almost 6 years. When I returned to Victoria, I completed the Juris Doctor at Monash. By then, I knew definitively that I wanted to pursue a career in law, and I wanted to work directly with people in the community.

Before studying law, I had no idea that community legal centres (CLCs) existed and I didn’t know much about Victoria Legal Aid (VLA). However, a friend from my Arts degree told me about Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV) and I grabbed the first opportunity I could to volunteer there. I volunteered at WLSV for about three months as I completed my practical placement, and was then offered a position as a paralegal then junior lawyer once I was admitted to practice.

Working at WLSV was a fantastic starting point for my legal career. I had an abundance of direct client contact with women from across Victoria and from all walks of life. All of my work at WLSV has revolved around legal issues that affect women. At WLSV my work focused on family law and family violence cases. I was fortunate to gain experience in the Magistrates’ Court, the Federal Circuit Court and in family dispute resolution. I was also exposed to policy work, contributing to our submission for the Royal Commission into Family Violence, project work and education. I have worked on projects around women with disabilities, women’s leadership and designing legal information sessions to make family law more accessible. The years of experience I had at WLSV in both legal and education roles set out the foundation for progression to working at Victoria Legal Aid (VLA).

 

Victoria Legal Aid is chronically underfunded, and many disadvantaged people cannot access the legal system. Do you think our government undervalues the importance of providing lawyers for those who need them?

There is an abundance of Victorians who rely on the legal information, advice, support, referrals and representation that is provided by VLA along with our practice partners from the private profession and community legal centres. The work done by the dedicated staff throughout VLA strives to ensure that Victorians with complex life and legal circumstances get quality legal representation. VLA’s commitment to supporting vulnerable Victorians access to the legal system is something that makes me proud to work at VLA. There is significant need in the community for the services provided by VLA and our practice partners that continues to grow as Victorians become increasingly aware of their legal rights. The VLA service provision is affected when there is an increased focus on law and order in the community.

 

What do you think of the current legal advice and refuge services available to women facing difficult circumstances in Australia? Are we doing enough to support women in this way?

In many ways, it will never feel like there are enough services to support women facing difficult circumstances in Victoria, if we do not also invest and support prevention work. In an ideal world, there would be no need for these services. How will we know if we are doing enough? I guess when there comes a time that our services are no longer needed and myself like many others working in the sector are out of a job. But that reality is not one that I see occurring any time soon. Progress is incremental.

We have family violence legislation that tells us that family violence is not limited to physical or sexual abuse, but also can be emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse, behaviour that is threatening or coercive or behaviour that controls or dominates a family member. The Royal Commission into Family Violence helped bring family violence further forward into our collective consciousness. People are talking more about family violence and recognising that it is an issue that shouldn’t be. There are options and support available for victim/survivors and perpetrators.  

 

Family law can be a controversial topic of conversation. Many think the Family Court discriminates against men by giving women too much. But I disagree, it seems like the time and energy that childcare and housework requires is underestimated. Do you think the public have a misconception on how family law operates?

Many people have their own deeply personal experiences of relationship breakdown and it would be unfair of me to diminish their experience of the legal system and the impact that it may have had on their lives. Family law is an area of law that many have had some sort of experience with. It may be their own experience, a friend’s or a family member’s. It is also a highly emotive area of law where people sometimes feel like they have some sort of expertise, simply because they are part of a family.  

When relationships do break down, people shift from working together as a team for the success and growth of the family, towards a winner takes all mentality of punishment and power. It becomes ‘us versus them’ and in the middle are the children whose lives are turned upside down. Raising children also costs a significant amount of money. Dividing property after a relationship has ended is also tricky. Legislation is designed in a way that acknowledges that contributions to the financial circumstances of a family can be both direct and indirect. This means that earning money is not the only thing that is recognised as a financial contribution. Raising children and maintaining the household can both be non-financial contributions.

 

Why do you think women are so vastly underrepresented in the legal profession? How much can we consider to be the result of a disproportionate expectation on women to be child bearers and housekeepers, and how much is due to sexism and discrimination in the management of law firms?

I have been lucky to work at places with a strong female workforce. I would encourage female lawyers to push for leadership roles within their organisations. At VLA, we have several women in senior management roles. VLA also provides opportunities for flexibility in work practices that supports women returning to work after maternity leave and allows staff to balance their work and their home lives. The more legal practices recognise the value of providing flexibility in work practices, the more women we will see progressing through the ranks.

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Student Affairs

Student Politics: A UK Perspective

Warwick 1

 

This article was written by a writer for The Boar, the student magazine of Warwick University. In return, we sent them back an article written by a Monash student which will feature in their magazine.

 

With an alumnus that includes two current UK Government Ministers, the Icelandic President, and a former President of Nigeria it is obvious that the University of Warwick would have incredibly active student politics.

From political speakers, to activism and our own SU elections it is hard to be a Warwick Student without a degree of student politics impacting your everyday life.

The most obvious example of Warwick’s participation in politics are the numerous high profile speakers to visit campus. Andrea Leadsome, most notable of those to visit in the 2016/17 academic year, is a current UK Government Minister and a former Warwick student. Her visit in 2017 was amongst the most controversial of the year, with Leadsome being a representative of the right wing Conservative Government that is unpopular amongst students.

A far less controversial guest speaker was the former Green Party leader and Australia native Natalie Bennett. Bennett, a far less controversial figure, shows the huge diversity of Warwick’s political landscape, having had representatives from across the political spectrum.

In addition to Warwick being in tune with the national politicians of the UK, Warwick also has an abundance of its own politics. One of the most notable weeks of the academic year is that of the Student Union elections, whereby the students have the opportunity to vote for who runs their SU.

Seven Student Union Officers are elected following a week of heavy campaigning in the lead up to Easter, each Officer having authority over a particular area of student life, such as societies and sports, with one further elected Student Union President.

The campaign week is unlike any other at Warwick, with students across campus emerging before 5am on Monday morning to find the best spots to put up their campaign materials before campaigning is officially allowed to begin at 8am that morning.

Warwick’s most politically active week is filled with campaigning, canvassing and fighting for votes, with the SU building also hosting a series of debates for each elected position in the SU, something that often gets heated, with candidates trying to one-up eachother.

This may be the most active week in Warwick’s student politics, however, the entire academic year is filled with active student politics.

One of the most heated events of the last year was the occupation of a University building by a fringe left wing activist group within the University, known as Warwick for Free Education.

This group is arguably the most controversial on Campus having been banned from attending the societies fair in 2016.

In November and December last year Warwick for Free Education staged a sit in protest and occupation of a new conference building on campus, protesting against Warwick’s involvement in higher education reforms and against a court injunction taken out following the societies involvement in a similar (but violent) occupation in 2014.

The groups did succeed in some of their aims, stating on their website that they caused ‘serious financial disruption’ to the University and also managing to get the injunction scrapped.

The ending of this protest also owes largely to the SU, who played a significant role in bringing both Warwick for Free Education and University representatives to the negotiating table.

Finally, the final term at Warwick saw many representatives take part in the National Union of Students conference in Brighton, on the south coast of England.

This conference is a coming together of representatives from Student Union’s across the country to vote on a series of motions for the National Union of Students to work on and also elect the leadership of this Union.

Representatives of Warwick’s SU are elected as delegates during the same week as the SU elections and are there to be the representative of Warwick’s voice within this national union.

The 2017 conference saw one of the more controversial figures standing, Tom Harwood, a centre-right Durham student, who wished to make the SU less hostile to non-left-wing beliefs.

Harwood received votes from several of the Warwick delegates at this conference, however, failed to break the mould of left wing NUS Presidents, receiving just 35 votes, compared to the eventual winner Shakira Martin’s 402, showing just how hostile student politics in the UK can be to centre-right beliefs.

Warwick has one of the most active and engaging political landscapes of any UK Universities and with the controversial Prime Minister Theresa May in power and the fears of Brexit looming, it is clear that this highly charged political environment is unlikely to change any time soon.

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SocietyStudent Affairs

Why Females Should Travel Solo

Why Females Should Travel Solo (Brittany Wetherspoon)

The Alhambra is incandescent, regal, lit up far below where I stand on the Sacromonte, surrounded by gypsies’ caves and listening to the distant howl of stray dogs in the valleys.  “And that’s the end of the tour,” says our guide.  The group quickly disperses and I am left alone in the square, under a low-hanging, sinister moon. I start walking – 30 minutes down the streets and alleyways of Granada, Spain, curving snake-like into each other.  It’s 10 o’ clock at night and I am terrified.

For most of my gap year in 2016, I travelled Europe without daring to ‘fly solo’.  I had heard the horror stories – the assaults, rapes, kidnappings, disappearances.  I had been incessantly warned by friends and relatives.  “Don’t go out at night. Avoid quiet places.  Always travel in a group.”  And wherever I went, I saw people look at and speak to solo female travellers with concern, surprise, even disapproval.  “You’re travelling alone? Are you sure that’s safe?”  

Growing up, I always believed – an unspoken, unchallenged truth of my existence – that there are inherent dangers in being female.  I could not fearlessly walk through life, do those everyday things men seem to take for granted: taking the train alone after dark, even jogging or cycling by myself.  “For your safety ”. “There aren’t enough people on that road”. “There are too many trees there”. “Didn’t you hear that story?” “Why would you put yourself in danger?”   

‘Your gender’, whispered the media stories, the police reports, the anecdotes of tragedy, ‘is an inescapable weakness’.  

Then came the media headline after the murder of Masa Vukotic in the same park where I had walked and biked with family friends throughout my childhood.  “‘Females shouldn’t be alone in parks’, detective inspector says.”  It was only then that I began to question this narrative of events: perpetually skewed against women, turned upside down, back to front.  

Why was it her fault – our collective faults as females?  Why this mandate to women ‘should not’?  Why the R-rated fairy tales for adult women, every graphic, gratuitous detail designed to frighten us into passivity: ‘The big bad wolf in the woods’?  Why, on the other hand, the half-articulated warnings, ‘You don’t know what might be there,’ dripping with menace?  We are in the 21st century, past the age of chaperones, living in a society that happily sells the message of gender equality – and yet, a female cannot walk safely in a park by herself.   

So was this to be our fate?  Cowed by fear; weighed down by the ludicrous responsibility of having to prevent others from targeting us.  Never to walk in a park alone, never to have the independence to choose where, how long or when to walk.  Never to sit and watch the sunset and take your time doing it, without your brother wanting to go home, or your friend nattering in your ear.  It was unthinkable, unfeasible.  The alternative?  To take a risk in the face of everything we are told.  

So in defiance of everything I knew, I started to travel solo– first taking day-trips and hiking without my friends, and then spending a week in summer travelling across Europe alone.  It was a series of baby steps to some; but to me –who had avoided the park for months after Masa Vukotic’s murder, for whom a walk around the neighbourhood towards dusk carried unspeakable anxiety – it was a leap of faith.  

I can’t ever forget the moment I boarded that train out of Lisbon, where my friend and I parted– when I was alone for the first time. The exhilaration and the utter sense of freedom that struck me left me breathless.   I saw everything through new eyes, learned the art and joy of travelling solo.  Where I used to avoid solitude like a disease and saw it as a mark of my social failure and vulnerability as a woman – I now grew to love it.  One night, at a restaurant in Edinburgh filled with couples, I realised that even the act of eating alone didn’t frighten me anymore.  I didn’t need a companion to validate me socially, to protect me.  I didn’t need a mobile phone or a book to look busy. I didn’t even need that time-honoured trick of putting my jacket on the opposite chair to make people believe I was with friends.  For the first time in my life, I was comfortable being alone.  

But fear still stalked me down every street even in broad daylight.  The sheer thought “What if?” “What if I disappear?”  “What if I am attacked?” would stop me when I was wandering alone on a quiet country road, halfway up a mountain on a solo hike, or on a bus at 1am, its headlights slicing through the darkness.  More than once I seriously considered turning back, catching a flight home, ending this mad foray into the unknown.  I never did, and each time I moved on to a new city, the fear receded a little and my courage grew a little more.  

As I climbed mountains, visited palaces, wandered cities, basked in the kindness of perfect strangers, I was encouraged by the growing number of female solo travellers I met, and the messages from my friends who were soloing in Russia, Northern Africa and Eastern Europe.

My friend sent me a picture of her riding camels in Morocco, her shadow etched into the dunes.  She told me stories of getting lost in the labyrinths of Istanbul and being rescued by locals who gave her a lift on their motorbike.   

Another friend hitchhiked over the border between Bosnia and Croatia, then walked three hours over hills and through forests because buses had stopped running.  She loved solo travelling because it gave her complete autonomy: moments of exquisite, uninterrupted aloneness that we rarely experience in a society of cliques, cocktail nights and competitive socialising.

But solo travelling isn’t always as euphoric as it sounds.  There were days when I was unwell, on my period, or simply exhausted, when I wanted to cry on someone’s shoulder, or needed a friend who could give me tissues, pads, Panadol, hugs.  There were times when I was sick of my own company, hours on end where I longed to talk to someone but there was no one around.  I learned to wait out those days, to accept and cherish both the spontaneity and brevity of friendships formed between travellers.  I learned that solo travellers are never completely isolated; that just as some people can be treacherous, malicious, hostile, others are unexpectedly kind, friendly and generous.

There is no tried and tested formula for women travelling alone.  There is no guarantee of safety because risk is associated with everything we do in life.  There are things we can do to protect ourselves, but these are things that every traveller can and should do.  These are not lessons to be taught to women in the wake of tragedy; not fail-safe solutions that shift the focus and responsibility from the perpetrator to the victim.  

Retrospectively, I would not choose to walk alone at 10 pm again, but the question of personal judgment is never clear-cut.  We can’t fully know the circumstances, calculate the risks or judge the outcome for every other traveller faced with the same choice (or lack thereof) in the moment.  

I would therefore describe solo travelling as a calculated risk that is well-worth taking.  Travel writer and blogger Kristin Addis from “Be My Travel Muse” writes: “Travelling alone is all about trusting your intuition, behaving abroad as you would at home.” She advises fellow travellers to “talk to the locals at your guesthouse about what you should watch out for, and practice common sense.” Staying in well-lit areas at night or walking in groups, if possible, are common-sense things I personally tried to do when travelling.  

My friend’s top tip was to act like a local (as much as you can), to avoid looking like a lost and clueless tourist, and to always walk purposefully as if you know where you’re going (even if you don’t).

I love the idea of “walking purposefully” in particular – not just in the literal but also the metaphorical sense.  We solo-travel for many purposes: maybe to discover something about ourselves, to grow in confidence as I did, planning transport links and navigating alone.  

Maybe it is an act of subversion, defying the archaic yet enduring belief that women should not travel unchaperoned, rewriting the account of events where females are innately susceptible and blamed for our ‘poor choices’.  

Maybe it is advocacy for a new norm where women can walk in parks safely, where the sight of a solo female traveller becomes commonplace rather than exceptional.  

Or maybe we do it for the sheer fun and adventure: the sensation that you get while crossing borders, flying through airspace, looking down from a mountain, that, in the words of Virginia Woolf: “As a woman, [our] country is the whole world.”

Artwork by Brittany Wetherspoon.

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SocietyStudentStudent Affairs

A Woman’s Place is in Her Union

Women in the Workplace (Nicole Sizer)

A woman’s place is in her union. Not in the kitchen chopping onions.

Unions (author’s note: it’s not pronounced “onions”) and women (also not pronounced “onion”) seem inseparable forces nowadays, but it wasn’t that long ago that women had to fight to carve a space within the union movement. Just so everyone is aware, we really love unions. One time, Jess got this Ballarat Trades Hall polo from her dad, and even though it wasn’t that cool, I (Caitlin) wanted one too so I made my brother drive and get me one the next day. But back to the point. Women are awesome and the union movement has progressed immensely since they were first allowed to say the word union without a man’s permission (that’s a stretch but you get what we mean).

We will be only scraping the surface of the immense and undoubtedly important contributions women have made in the union movement. We also acknowledge that the history of the women’s labour movement has been predominantly written by white unionists. Women of colour and indigenous women have also been just as, if not more so, active and powerful in the labour movement. Just like men locked out women, white women also locked women of colour and indigenous women out of the fight too. Just like onions, the history of women in unions has many layers. So buckle in for some facts, some myths, potential hearsay, and us mostly just fangirling over women and unions and onions.

The world has always been one big boys club, and once, this was even reflected within the union movement. This isn’t to say the union movement hasn’t been an integral power for women, but in a reflection of the times, even women were had no space within Trades Hall. Men were everywhere (like literally everywhere, gross, like eating a raw onion), and so naturally they dominated another facet of life, unions (and onion farming too).

Focusing closer to home in Melbourne, a second home to many student activists – Trades Hall was once not a home for women activists. It was in the late 1880s that women unionists after a successful Tailoresses strike had built enough power and size to call on the Trades Hall Council to approve construction of a “Female Operatives’ Hall”. At this time, women still hadn’t won the vote, and couldn’t enter a public bar – or even a ladies lounge without a man accompanying her. Although still not granted a space within Trades Hall itself, the Female Operatives Hall was a win for female unionists of the time, and an important step forward for all unionists (and onion eaters).

These women unionists were at the forefront of many important pivotal movements in history. The threats of conscription during WWI, WWII and the Vietnam war, saw women, unionist and unaffiliated alike, come out in numbers to support anti-conscription and anti-war movements. 1916 saw a Women’s No Conscription demo and rally take place, where the 5,000 women marching swelled to a crowd of 80,000. As pro-conscription and war activists came to fight the women (onions may or may not have been thrown, we can’t confirm), male and female unionists alike came to their defence to protect them. Women were making themselves heard in great numbers, and finally, men were hearing them.

As men began coming to the table (potentially bringing onions) on women’s issues and equality, the women’s organising and separate unions amalgamated within men’s unions, and by 1960s the Female Operatives Hall was demolished as we all finally stood under the same roof in solidarity with each other for our shared and separate fights.

By the late 1960’s, two world wars had passed, which saw women finally entering all sorts of fields of employment. Zelda D’Aprano, a Meat Workers Union official within Trades Hall, began to take up the fight for women within Melbourne to take up the fight for equal pay. She chained herself and two other women workers to the Commonwealth building in protest, demanding to pay only two thirds the cost of a train fare since women were only paid two thirds of a man’s wage (approximately worth 4 onions if the conversion rates of the day are applied). Zelda was forefront in the pay dispute campaign, and with her establishment of the Women’s Action Committee, she believed women had to stand up and fight for their own rights because everyone else sure as hell wasn’t going to do it for them.

Just as we were in the 1880s, women are still incredibly active within their unions to this day, especially at their workplaces. In 2011, an ACTU survey found women were making up nearly half of all union membership, and were slowly tipping the scales within leadership roles, with 45 per cent of delegates being women. We’re still fighting to see women in higher levels of leadership within major unions. It’s nevertheless exciting to see amazing women such as Ged Kearney kicking ass as the President of the ACTU, and Sally McManus now punching down gender role walls as Secretary of the ACTU.

In closing, we really love unions, but we really want you to love unions too. The only way change happens is when people stand up for what’s right, when they become involved and have their voice be heard. Join your union, get involved with Trades Hall campaigns, become a delegate, fight for better rights for yourself and for all women to come after you! Add to the layers of history that is the Women’s Unionist Movement.

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StudentStudent Affairs

Restricting Gender Uniforms

Restricting Gender Uniforms (Nicole Sizer)

Gendered uniforms have always been restricting to women and incompatible with alternative gender identities. Schools are now creating gender-neutral uniforms to combat these issues and hopefully bring an end to gender-based uniforms.

It was only when World War Two made it necessary for women to have the freedom to move and work like men that it was considered normal for women to wear trousers. In the case of gendered uniforms, giving women an uncomfortable and restricting uniform that differs from her male counterparts is undeniably symbolic of the inequality that still exists between men and women.

School uniforms around the world still require female students to wear skirts, but schools without uniforms have even harsher restrictions on female dress code. Schools defend these restrictions on the basis that they reduce ‘distraction’ in male students and increase safety. Such arguments echo those used in victim blaming cases and suggests to male students that they are not completely responsible for their actions. These schools are also well known for sending their pupils home to change, demonstrating that their appearance is held as more important than missed schooling. Unless you believe that sending girls home protects the poor male students’ schooling from distraction.

While one may expect adults to be free to wear what they please, gendered uniforms are still regulated, with women being forced to wear heels to work. There are many reported complaints of this, a notable English example being Nicola Thorpe, who was fired for refusing to wear heels to work. A popular response to these complaints was to point out that men’s uniforms are also regulated, as men must wear ties. Ties, like heels, give no practical advantage to one’s work and in fact have no use. However, unlike heels, wearing ties should not physically hurt or limit one’s movement.

The physical limitations that gendered uniforms can cause begin at a young age. Skirts can even make sitting cross-legged, as we all have done in school, an uncomfortable position for girls. It can also discourage young girls from playing, as climbing on jungle gyms could be immodest. This could even result in them being reprimanded, as young girls are taught to link modesty with safety. Meanwhile the boys enjoy the freedom their uniform provides.

A further issue with gendered uniforms is that they may not be appropriate for people questioning their gender. This can make identity issues more difficult, especially while students are still developing their identity in school.

Dunedin North Intermediate School in New Zealand is working to resolve this issue by starting with the youngest generation. Students are now able to choose between shorts, trousers, and kilts, allowing them to explore their gender identity without being self-conscious of their clothing choices speaking for them. The school has stated that they hope the ‘flow-on effect’ of gender uniforms being abolished, will be that students are comfortable with questioning their gender, even in the difficult school environment of low self-esteem and high social pressures.

These changes stemmed from students’ complaints against being ‘forced’ to wear skirts. This movement towards non-gendered uniforms could mark the first generation of women lucky enough to avoid being ‘forced’ to wear heels to work. Abolishing gendered uniforms will be a step towards reducing the expectations and limitations that gendered uniforms can cause, particularly for women, as gender neutral uniforms become the norm in future generations.

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StudentStudent Affairs

Hungry, For Likes

Instagram (Selena Repanis)

It is not at all uncommon today to check out a café or an eatery’s Instagram before heading over for mouthwatering (or rather, Instagrammable) grub. If you are someone whose hunger is driven by Insta-likes rather than appetite, do read on. All of us, at some point or another, have found ourselves weeks deep in an individual’s Instagram, scrolling deeper with each upload. This media is an apt homage to food, travel and fitness–buzzwords of the 21st century. As an increasingly popular photo-sharing platform, it has steadily replaced Facebook to become the new ‘cool’. Communication today is facilitated through the Insta-intelligent channel of hashtags.

I agree that language undergoes chronological evolution, which is definitely positive. My worry is that #foodgasm, #goals and #fitspo are increasingly considered the ‘ideal’. Fourth year Monash Law student Kylie explains, “A person’s Instagram account is basically utopia for its followers”. She believes (and rightly so) that individuals lead different lives, have different goals and different personalities. Instagram has the uncanny knack of merging these into one timeline and presenting them as a glossy, filtered photo album.

Speaking with reference to the university cohort, if one has a look at random Instagram accounts, chances are 9 out 10 it will be littered with messages that speak to our self-esteem. Let me explain. A friend of mine joined the Instagram community a few months ago. Given her sporadic posting, her recent post of camping in Mongolia received an influx of comments such as “Hey, your Insta is coming along well!” or “Working on our feed, are we?” That was all she needed to jump on to the #aesthetic bandwagon. The likes increased from a trickle to a steady stream. It grew awkward when a stroll in the city could not be completed without her posting a mandatory #Melbournedoneright photo. Over lunch, I asked her if she’d had a good day. “Yeah, it was fantastic”, and she thrust the phone in my hand to show me the +200 likes on her photo against the Royal Exhibition Building.

It struck me then. Social media teaches us to prioritise quantity over quality. Happiness and satisfaction arise from the number of likes and comments, and the more the merrier. This also illustrates the rise of a new millennial generation simply known as ‘followers’. They may or may not include your mates. Some, you might not even know personally. Others, you might hesitate to approach when at the movies or a club. Yet, they are your followers, whose opinion can make or break your mood – through the amount of ‘likes’ of course. They bless your feed by idly scrolling through the dozen or so photos you upload and randomly liking them, because, hey, as followers, granting mutual approval is a must! New media, new rules.

Understandably then, when approval is closely linked to the amount of followers, every like further convinces us that indeed, the renovated bedroom with the world map wall décor is ‘bedroom goals’. We live in an age of likes. I like to refer to them as ‘validators’, exactly the purpose they serve. Seeking validation from others is a safe road to disappointment. Likes, reactions, comments, are surely a self-esteem booster but they should not be what one’s self-esteem is based on. To give an example, I overheard a conversation while on the bus the other day. Two friends were gossiping about their mate Jack’s trip to Europe and hungrily browsing through his Instagram feed. Jack had been hobnobbing across lesser-known cities and had a marvelous feed, said Friend A. Then he laughed, “What a life, man, lucky bastard!” The other, B, gave a limp smile and shared that his gig as a barista didn’t bless him with that kind of cash.

I felt sorry for B. He was indulging in unwarranted comparisons. As social animals, we do have an evolutionary tendency to evaluate ourselves with respect to others. Social media accentuates differences between our lives more clearly than ever before, such that we are no longer evaluating ourselves: it is now a matter of competition. Filtered images or some unfiltered ones captured most meticulously – these are only samples of an individual’s life. They include the best and happiest moments that might, at times, be manufactured just for the sake of Instagram. We tend to wrongly generalise these circumstances to understand them as the person’s ‘life’, which is highly misleading and often the cause for depression associated with social media use. Undue comparisons begin creeping in and these are damaging to one’s mental health.

This is also why I dislike the term ‘goals’. The only goals we should set are our own, instead of using another’s life as a benchmark. However, this trend functions as a self-fulfilling prophecy. No, we may not really care about the time our friend Tim interned with the New York Times, but you look at the post for a while, see the likes filtering in, and note Tim’s toothy smile as he sits at a polished desk and wonder how well he is ‘slaaayying’. It affects us on a sub-conscious level although we hate to admit it. That explains why we consider such posts to be #goals. But remember, that was Tim’s goal. Is it yours? The more we dwell on it, the more ‘determined’ we feel to work on ourselves to post something bigger, brighter, better. The cycle continues. This ‘motivation’ arises from an external source and fuels unhealthy comparison instead of an internal source that serves to build genuine contentment.

The solution lies in treating Instagram as just another social platform and not a personal photo-diary that it has become. Every meal, every trip, every new purchase does not merit the world’s attention. It’s all right and advisable, if I may add, to enjoy life without clicking and uploading half of it. Be hungry, be ambitious, but not for likes.

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Society

The Monash Sleep-Out 2017

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The Monash Sleep Out is a student run charity event targeted towards raising awareness for youth homelessness. Every night, over 105,000 individuals are homeless, a quarter of whom are aged between 12 to 24. All proceeds from the night will be donated to STREAT, a charity dedicated to eliminating homelessness. Although this event is a fundraiser for a serious issue, the Monash Sleep Out will be anything but, with live music, activities and food provided, its going to be a night you wont want to miss.

STREAT is a charity focused on finding long-term solutions for disadvantaged and homeless youth. By providing work experience, training programs and short courses at their hospitality-based establishments, they have been able to help over 500 adolescent Australians find their feet and break into the competitive job market. Currently, the social enterprise offers 10-20 week programs and a Certificate I and II in Hospitality, all at no cost to the participants. The non-for-profit injects all the funds made from their six businesses back into supporting these initiatives and the subsection of the community so that they effectively aid. The work of STREAT is invaluable, assisting those facing a life of long-term unemployment in getting a leg up or a foot in the back door to a brighter and more promising future.

However, in order to both grow and sustain their amazing work, STREAT require grants, donations and the success of fundraising events. This is where the Monash Sleep Out comes into play.

The Sleep Out aims to network like minded people and create positive change within the community. Being supported by National Union of Students (NUS) and the Monash Student Association (MSA) giving the cause a generous donation, the charity event is already off to a great start. Headliners for the music acts will be soon teased out on the Facebook event page. A diverse group of speakers well versed in the intricacies of homelessness will also be discussing the challenges of said issue and will endeavour to debunk misconceptions.  This is an event with the primary focus on promoting inclusive, whilst being informative and fun.

As this is a charity event bring some spare coins to participate in the kindness jackpot with a chance to win! There will also be a puzzle corner, homelessness support wall, golden couch and street decoration. Education and support is the way forward. The food provided will be vegetarian and vegan friendly, as there is an emphasis on being all inclusive.

The Monash Sleep Out is on October 5th and begins at 7:30pm and will run later into the night. Early bird tickets are only $10 and are available to purchase online at the Monash Sleep Out website. There are also discount tickets for groups of 3 persons plus wishing to sign up together. Normal ticket prices are still only $13 dollars. Even if you do not wish to sleep out come down and donate, enjoy the vibes, participate in activities and show solidarity for our fellow young people.

For those sleeping out, the event will take place under cover and all details of items to bring will be listed on the Monash Sleep Out website. In the morning there will be copious amounts of coffee provided along with breakfast. A sweet deal considering tickets are only $10, and all proceeds will be going to STREAT.

All information about the event is on their website. Here you can donate, buy tickets and find out more about this event run by a group of passionate students.

 

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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 Affairs

Lot’s Wife: Journalism Workshop with Nina Funnell

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How privileged we Monash students were to have a talk from Nina Funnell, a journalist who has been igniting the fight against sexual assault on university campuses across Australia.

Following the Brock Turner sexual assault case at Stanford university, Funnell decided to dedicate a year to reporting exclusively on the subject. The result: an 1800 sexual assault hotline specifically for university students, a commitment from all 39 Vice Chancellors to release university specific data on sexual assault, free training for Women’s Officers on responding to disclosure and vicarious trauma run by Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and countless others. The most profoundly stringent outcome: showcasing a hidden epidemic within universities.

2017 MSA President Matilda Grey’s contribution to the photo campaign

Funnell, in her discussion, not only talked about her extensive research and the results of countless Freedom of Information requests (FOIs), but examined the problems with interviewing traumatised people and the vicarious trauma that manifests from reporting. Funnell expressed the idea of words, and how to choose them wisely so as not to abstain from the truth. On this argument she pointed out that there is a possibility of romanticising trauma when language is not utilised correctly.

2017 National Union of Students Women’s Officer and 2016 MSA President Abby Stapleton

Additionally, she discussed the importance of being wary of language, especially when finding a survivor to interview. Sensitive subjects require empathetic reporting.

Although Funnell was talking to a lecture theatre swimming with journalism students, the concept of vicarious trauma was a foreign term. It is a product of counter-transference after empathetically engaging with traumatised clients or reports of traumatic experience. She confessed to the underlying hardships of reporting over the past year and conveyed to us the importance of self, that a release of some kind is essential when interviewing and researching trauma.

2017 MSA Women’s Officer Shreeya Luthra

Funnell has sparked a flame across universities. During her year of intensive journalism, she was invited to a secretive demonstration at Sydney University information lecture for parents of prospective students. Here, a brave number of students protested, angry at the universities blatant disregard of sexual assault. The response from security, to turn off the lights as they began to speak about their trauma. Funnell’s voice softened as she discussed the narrative of one student who stood up and hauntingly summarised the response of Sydney University to reports of assault in one sentence: this is how the university deals with sexual assault, in the dark.

2017 President of Amnesty International Monash Tiffany Liu

During her talk, Funnell began to utilise the United States as a case study. Progress on sexual assault at universities is currently being undermined and reversed in the United States by their Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and the Trump Administration. Therefore, it is more important than ever to fight back here in Australia.

In a response to the alarming statistics from FOIs at universities, where the data illustrated that expulsions due to plagiarism is more widely common place than expulsions from sexual assault, a national photo campaign was instigated and created by Nina Funnell. The aim: to raise awareness about this unspoken epidemic and to push for universities to change their perceptions of sexual assault. The campaign became widespread and endorsed by 2016 MSA President and current NUS Women’s Officer, Abby Stapleton.

For a University student, the extensive work conducted by the passionate Nina Funnell has not only sparked outrage, but has instigated a call for change. Within the Monash context, the MSA women’s office created their SHIFT campaign: a series of events to not only raise awareness, but to provide resources and support for those affected by the results for the Sexual Assault on Campus survey.

In conjunction with this, as Monash began to introduce night classes and the issue of safety being more prevalent than ever in the media, the MSA women’s officer Shreeya Luthra worked tirelessly with the university to create more lighting around campus. An endeavour that proved highly successful. We now have streets to match our bright futures.

But this is not enough.

Nina Funnell while conducting her investigations began to work intimately with student associations, including the MSA, to create the 1800 hotline. In doing so there became an apparent and alarming need for more on campus support and full time councillors in order to shift perceptions. Casual councillors, although better than none, do not have enough institutional knowledge to give the students the help they need and deserve.

There is a unifying message to Funnell’s work: damage control tactics need to be dispelled. Instead, universities should be putting funds towards the safety of their students, not towards avoiding FOIs and retaining an image. The welfare of human beings should come before reputation.

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SocietyStudentStudent Affairs

The Far Right on Campus

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The far right is on the rise across the world—even here at Monash.

The first day of semester 2 saw the re-appearance of Nazi propaganda on campus, threatening the arrest and deportation of Chinese students, and calling for a whites-only Australia.

Last year, Donald Trump won the most powerful election in the world by promising to deport immigrants and ban Muslims, while boasting about his past sexual assaults.

In Austria, the Netherlands, and France, fascist parties have come dangerously close to forming government. In Greece and Hungary, the neo-Nazi thugs of Golden Dawn and Jobbik have attacked migrants, Roma and their political enemies, and have gained a footing in parliament.

And right here in Australia, Pauline Hanson is back in Parliament, denouncing Muslims, migrants, and autistic children. Fascist and fascist-sympathising groups, such as Reclaim Australia and the United Patriots Front, have been organising anti-Muslim street mobilisations since 2015.

Their beliefs are hardly radical. Flag-waving, Muslim-hating, migrant-bashing, homophobia and sexism are promoted everywhere from the Herald Sun to the House of Representatives. The “radical” right just amplify the prejudices already promoted by the mainstream, and take them to their logical conclusions.

The student world is no exception. Universities aren’t the enlightened havens of intellectual progress that some like to imagine. The snobbery and social privilege of many university students translates easily into far-right, and even fascist, worldviews.

Far-right activism is experiencing a mini-revival on some Australian campuses. In some places, it’s the pathetic and resentful antics of “Men’s Rights” clubs. Increasingly, it’s the vilification and intimidation of Muslims. At the University of Western Australia a severed pig’s head was left outside the Muslim prayer room in 2015. A few months later at the University of Sydney, the Muslim room was trashed and threatening racist notes left.

In New South Wales earlier this year, posters were put up around campuses celebrating the forty-year fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco, where tens of thousands of dissidents were killed, opposition parties banned, and women excluded from public life. For some years now, pro-Nazi leaflets have been distributed annually throughout universities.

At Monash this year, we’ve seen the emergence of the Monash Right, whose posters around campus have celebrated Trump and denounced alleged socialist conspiracies. And at the start of semester 2, “Antipodean Resistance” made a splash with their Chinese-language posters threatening to arrest and deport international students, alongside other, even more disgusting posters calling for all non-whites to be banned from Australia.

These aren’t all the same. There’s a difference between hyped-up conservatives and outright Nazis. But the right as a whole are increasingly promoting anti-migrant, anti-women, and anti-left sentiments on university campuses.

What to do?

Some argue that people who oppose fascism and the far right should ignore them and they’ll remain small and irrelevant. But we can’t wait for fascists to build up their forces before we take them on. If we do, it means those who stand up for egalitarianism and democracy are passive, while those who stand for oppression and discrimination promote their worldviews and organisations. The left, Muslims, women, LGBTI people and anyone else who oppose the Right have a reason to be concerned and take the threat of a growing right seriously now, not later once passivity has allowed them to grow to the extent they have in other parts of the world.

Others hope that we can bully the right into submission, or hide from them.

“Safe spaces”—including literal rooms devoted exclusively for the use of oppressed groups like women, LGBTI people, and people of colour—may be comforting to small groups of students, but they do nothing to stop the spread of right wing ideas in the world outside those tiny rooms. By retreating into our own inner lives, and ignoring the world outside, we give the other side free reign. We have to resist—not retreat.

And we can’t just try to turn the whole university into a “safe space” by demanding security guards and the university shut down our opponents. By calling on authorities to ban controversial speakers, leaflets, and meetings, we allow those who support oppression to act like martyrs of civil liberties.

And neither of these strategies increases the confidence and organisation of our side. Those of us who oppose discrimination and oppression have to collaborate to promote our ideas and activities with more boldness, confidence, and strength in numbers.

Ultimately, no matter how many speakers are banned and how many safe spaces are declared, the only way to defeat the right is by out-doing them on the field of organisation, argument, and activity.

That means we need to defend free speech and the right to organise politically on campus, because we need to use it. The ideas of the Right are promoted by the President of the USA and the columnists of the daily newspapers.

We have to use our resources to promote pro-migrant, pro-women, pro-LGBTI, and pro-equality messages that can win over students: our student papers, our student unions, our campus clubs, and our university spaces.

A battle of ideas is inevitable. The only way the broadly progressive forces can win is by taking a stand with confidence, organisation, and resources. That’s why it’s important to have our collective resources pooled to defend the rights and dignity of students and staff. It’s why taking a stance on controversial questions is important.

Clubs, societies, and student unions can’t afford to be be “apolitical” when Nazis are promoting their beliefs. And anti-fascist students can’t afford to be passive and leave it to others to sort out.

Luckily at Monash we are well equipped with a well-established student union; a number of broadly progressive political clubs; clubs and societies that represent LGBTI students, Muslims, and international students, and others; plus our student journalism and radio organisations, and many other resources.

All these groups, and many more—plus any interested student reading this—can, and should take a public stand against racism and the far right. If you don’t fight, you lose every time.

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NewsSocietyStudentStudent Affairs

AHRC Survey Results Released

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Last year, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) undertook a national survey about sexual assault and sexual harassment experienced by university students. In addition to the survey, which gained over 39,000 responses from a random sample of 60,000 students at 39 universities, nearly 2,000 additional submissions were given by victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

On Tuesday August 1st, a report was released detailing the results of this survey. The AHRC published a report titled Change the Course: National Report on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at Australian Universities. It can be found here. The national results published from the AHRC will not include data on sexual assaults or harassment at individual universities or campuses, leaving the onus on each university to release their own information.

After facing backlash from students about their initial decision not to release data specific to Monash, Monash University published its data soon after the release of the report. Data specific to Monash University can be found here.

Monash University refused to brief student representatives on specific campus data from the survey before the results were released. University administration claimed that Monash was under embargo until the public release of the survey, however other universities made exceptions to ensure student representatives were sufficiently prepared and informed of the data.  

The national survey revealed that 51% of students were sexually harassed at least once in 2016. One in five of those students were sexually harassed in a university setting. The report also found that 94 percent of those who were sexually harassed did not make a formal complaint to their university, and neither did 87 percent of students who were sexually assaulted. Female students were twice as likely to be harassed than their male counterparts, and three times as likely to be sexually assaulted or raped. A large majority of perpetrators were fellow students and were male.

The report also showed that students who identified as Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander, students with a disability, students who identified as bisexual, and students who identified as transgender or gender diverse, were more likely to have been sexually harassed or sexually assaulted. It then stated that a majority of students who had witnessed an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment failed to take any action in response. The report called on “universities to provide appropriate bystander education to equip students to take appropriate action when witnessing an incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment”.

The report concluded that the four main contributing factors to sexual assault or sexual harassment were attitudes towards women, alcohol, the perpetrator abusing a position of power, and residential settings. The report stated that “universities are in a unique position to prevent and respond to sexual assault and sexual harassment” and that the information contained in the report is a “call to action for universities to address these factors and ensure that they are providing students with a safe, supportive learning environment that does not tolerate sexual assault or harassment”.

In a questionable move, Universities Australia have taken credit for commissioning the landmark survey as part of their Respect. Now. Always. initiative targeted at improving university policy and services regarding sexual assault. Monash University has also come under fire previously for refusing to comply with the largest ever Freedom of Information investigation into reports of sexual misconduct at universities by Channel 7.

In response to the survey data, the Monash Student Association has launched SHIFT: A campaign to stop sexual violence at Monash. More information about that can be found here. This was also influenced by the fact the university does not have any policy or procedures in place to deal with cases of sexual assault that are reported to the university. This is particularly ironic considering Margaret Gardner is chairman of Universities Australia and launched the Respect. Now. Always campaign.

Separate to the AHRC survey, but related to Monash’s response to sexual assault on its campuses, the University refused to comply with a Freedom of Information (FOI) request issued by the media late last year. The FOI request asked for data around the number of reported cases of sexual assault to the university, and the number of expulsions that had been issued to perpetrators as a result of these reports. Eventually, all 38 of 39 universities complied except for Monash. The issue was taken all the way to the FOI Commissioner who began an investigation into the request and Monash’s refusal to comply. MSA President Matilda Grey worked with renowned journalist Nina Funnell to construct a news story around the matter, and when Monash was contacted 24 hours before the release of the story, they finally decided to comply with the FOI. This behaviour clearly defines Monash’s bureaucratic concern to act only to protect its brand, and not in the interests of students. With such a history of avoidance around the issue of sexual assault, it is difficult to trust that Monash will indeed follow through with its promise to implement all recommendations handed down by the AHRC following the release of the survey.

If you or anyone you know needs support, please contact Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, who provide a specialist trauma and counselling service on 1800 572 224.

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