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Students Run for Refugee Scholarships

The Monash Student Association has launched an initiative to raise funds for the Monash Asylum Seekers Scholarship by asking students to participate in the 5.7km run at the Melbourne Marathon and consequently seek sponsorship for their participation from friends and family. Monash is completely subsidising the registration cost of $40 so that students can participate for free and focus on their fundraising efforts. Monash University currently provides 2 scholarships which pays the recipient’s tuition fees as well as providing $3,000 per year for the duration of their course. Additional scholarships for asylum seekers and refugees on temporary visas are currently funded by Monash alumni with four more made available in 2017. The money raised by this effort will be going towards funding more. Headed by the Welfare Department of the MSA, the ‘Degrees for Refugees’ fundraiser will take place on October the 15th at 11:30am. It aims to show the University the student support for assisting refugees who have little access to a tertiary education, as they are not eligible for a Commonwealth Supported Place or deferred fees through HECs with the hope the University will also increase their funding for the scholarship. Students can express their interest through a Google form available from the MSA Welfare Facebook page or their website. Only 13 tertiary institutions provide scholarships for asylum seekers or refugees on temporary visas. The University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney do not offer such scholarships.

 

Winterfest

Monash campuses will host WinterFest from August 7 to 13 with events such as the secret cinema, silent disco, glow yoga and comedy lounge with Tommy Little, which’ll take place across the week. The MSA will be hosting ‘Chill’ at Monash Sport on the Thursday night which will involve drinks, music and dancing, with tickets available online from $20 for MSA members up to $40 for access to a VIP lounge and bars. The Winter Carnival on the Friday will have 10 food trucks, entertainment and fireworks from 7:30pm with the winter concert series on the weekend playing at the Music auditorium to wrap things up.

 

August 8 Protests

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) is holding a National Day of Protest on August 8th to protest the higher education cuts by the government and to highlight the impact it’ll have on staff. Simultaneously, protests at universities will be occurring nationwide in response to the Federal budget changes to tertiary education. At Monash, the protest will also mark the start of negotiations for a new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for academic and professional staff. The Monash Student Association is joining with the NTEU to hold a joint protest on the Lemon Scented Lawns with a BBQ and speakers before heading off to a National Union of Students (NUS) protest at the State Library of Victoria. The NUS protest will be in response to drastic fee increases, the $2.8bn higher education funding cut, the recent cuts to penalty rate and changes to the HECs debt threshold. The overarching message of the protest will be the call for free education.

The NTEU protest is set to highlight opposition to the Turnbull government’s plan to cut higher education funding. This loss will result in an average of 10 per cent less funding per student to universities under the Commonwealth Grant Scheme, resulting in 10 per cent less public investment in Commonwealth Supported Places (CSP). Despite a 7.5% increase in domestic student contribution to the CSP, the decrease in funding to the Commonwealth Grant Scheme (which universities primarily receive their government funding from), will mean less overall funding towards tertiary education. The NTEU has branded this as students having to “pay more but get less”, as larger class sizes, increased rates of casual staff, less courses offered and less face-to-face learning is likely to be the result. The NTEU is concerned that the decreased tertiary funding will lead to further job insecurity and increased pressure on university staff.

As for the new Monash EBA, the NTEU is seeking improvements in working conditions, improved job security provisions that include permanent employment opportunities for casual academic staff and equality of superannuation contributions. Casual and some fixed-term staff currently receive a substantially lower percentage of superannuation.

OECD statistics show that Australian students pay the third highest amount of fees for tertiary education, whilst public investment in tertiary education is the 6th lowest, at 0.9% of our GDP. The government’s higher education package includes lowering the HELP threshold to $42,000, an increase to student fees of 7.5 per cent by 2021, a 2.5 per cent ‘efficiency dividend’ in 2018 and 2019 to universities and ending access for permanent residents and New Zealand citizens to Commonwealth supported places, moving them onto domestic full fee places with access to HELP loans.

The changes are set to be voted on in parliament in mid-August. So far, Labor, the Greens, and Jacqui Lambie have stated they will oppose the legislation in the Senate whilst Derryn Hinch and David Leyonhjelm have announced their support. One Nation and the Nick Xenophon Team have yet to finalise their positions. Universities Australia and the Group of Eight are both in opposition of the changes.

 

Sexual Assault Survey

Results from the Australian Human Rights Commission survey into sexual assault and sexual harassment in university is finally set to be released on August 1st. The results will reveal the extent to which the issue has proliferated on campuses, after the survey received 39,000 responses. All 39 Australian universities have committed to releasing their specified campus data, which has been recognised as a positive step in addressing this issue. Universities have recently been struggling with cases of sexual assault on campus, specifically in disciplining perpetrators, assisting victims with access to timely counselling and the repercussions for colleges which are often self governed. St Paul’s College at the University of Sydney was recently criticised for a Facebook post describing sex with larger women as “harpooning a whale”.

The process has been heavily criticised after the Australian Human Rights Commission said it would not publicly release individual campus data itself. It has also been criticised for a lack of any enforceable recommendations on the findings and a failure of the survey in seeking full ethics approval. Further condemnation came from student advocates in scrutinising the links between Universities Australia and the Commission.

In an email addressed to staff, Monash Vice-Chancellor Margaret Gardner outlined the steps Monash has taken in regards to tackling sexual assault on campus in preparation for the survey release. The primary campaign that she highlighted was the Respect. Now. Always. project from Universities Australia, that included the creation of a consent video, training for student leaders in off-campus events, an online training module and screening of The Hunting Ground documentary with panel discussions. Monash will also be releasing a smartphone app dedicated to informing students and staff of processes, and enabling better responses to incidents. Gardner has also committed to reviewing Monash’s student discipline policies and procedures in order to separate academic and research misconduct from general misconduct, the category sexual offences fall in.

In a submission made to the Commission, advocacy group End Rape on Campus Australia has alleged that universities are ‘failing’ their students and “actively covering up sexual assaults”. They state that there have been only six expulsions despite over 500 official sexual assault reports in the last five years. This is based on information gathered from five years worth of Freedom of Information requests that show 575 official complaints made to universities detailing sexual assault and harassment. 145 of these related directly to rape. The submission details widespread cases of “hazing” and at times a vitriolic campus culture, for example, a case where one university residential hall was known as the “slut alley” and where there were chants of  “no means yes and yes means anal” to another female student. Examples where residential college heads, staff and students have not acted in accordance with sexual assault reporting procedure are also prominent in the submission, with additional criticism on the often inconsistent and confusing reporting mechanisms within universities.

Monash University has been under fire in numerous occasions regarding sexual misconduct. Most recently, they have received criticism for an incident that occurred on an off-campus club weekend away, after a Monash student was allegedly raped and sexually assaulted by a fellow student. The delayed reporting process that was condemned has been perhaps a catalyst for Monash to introduce mandatory reporting protocols as well as mandatory training for students in dealing with these incidents. This follows the story of student Emma Hunt, unsatisfied with Monash’s processes, who told her account on Channel 7’s Sunday Night after Monash refused to cooperate with their Freedom of Information investigation into rape on campus and the disciplinary actions that universities took after reported cases.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said universities had embarked on the sector-wide initiative Respect. Now. Always to prevent sexual assault. In addition to this program, Monash University’s Safer Community Unit runs a number of initiatives to enhance the safety and wellbeing of all at Monash. This includes the Respectful Community Initiative aimed at preventing sexual and interpersonal violence. Other recent campus measures include the consent workshop Sexpectations run by the Monash Residential Services (MRS), consent posters, and better lighting on campus.

Monash and their Campus Community Division have also been a supporter of the White Ribbon campaign, regularly running White Ribbon events. This includes the MRS White Ribbon Night last year, when 125 males took the ‘White Ribbon oath’ for zero tolerance for violence against women, raising over $2700 in the process as well as workshops to “upskill staff regarding sexual assault and family violence”. They have become a White Ribbon accredited workplace after an assessment to ensure Monash’s culture and procedures were adequate in preventing and responding to violence against women. Although some of these measures may be beneficial, there has also been much criticism surrounding White Ribbon in its one-dimensional approach, especially centred around the fact that it prioritises males and marginalises women, and that it is sometimes tokenistic and draws attention and much needed funding away from front line services like legal aid and women’s shelters. Simultaneously, the campaign has been praised for placing emphasis on the perpetrators, by encouraging people ‘not to rape’, rather than placing emphasis on potential victims to ‘not get raped’.

Students from the University of Sydney have recently launched The Survivors’ Network as a “peer-led support group for survivors of sexual assault- run by survivors, for survivors”.

Further, the Australian National University have recently employed a full-time specialist sexual assault counsellor to assist students. The counsellor is funded 40 per cent by their student union and 60 per cent by ANU, and will mean students have access to this service five days a week. The ANU consulted with the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre for this move which has been widely praised, after over a year of criticism regarding their handling of sexual assault and harassment on campus.

 

Past Exam Database Closed

The Library has closed its past exam database in response to the changes in university policy. Students will no longer have access to past exams through the Library Search in accordance with the university’s preference for exam preparation material provided by Unit Coordinators. This was a result of the University’s desire to shift away from reliance upon past exams for exam preparation, and on to new preparation material provided by educators. Further justification for this move was to encourage the creation of new tailored practice exams in the context of each unit and even out the availability of exam preparation material. In 2015 and 2016, there was extensive variation in faculty provision of past exams, ranging from 0 and 1 for four faculties, all the way to 136 for Engineering whilst other faculties generally provided between 10-60. This change occurred as part of a number of policy changes to the Assessment in Coursework Units Policy and Procedures, that was approved in 2016 by the Academic Board and Learning and Teaching Committee (LTC). These bodies both have student representation.

Assessment changes adopted last year were developed by the University’s Assessment Working Group, a working group of the LTC that sought to better relate assessment to the teaching and actual curriculum. More specifically, the new Security and Record Keeping Procedures has changes that include “a move away from the release of examination papers and subsequent emphasis in Examination Procedures on ensuring appropriate guidance is provided to students to encourage preparedness for examinations. This has facilitated the removal of previous requirements around the publication of examinations via the University Library….” (quoted from the submission to LTC meeting 7/2016). These policy changes have resulted in the removal of exams from previous years and the discontinuation of publishing any future papers. The now inaccessible database did not hold every past exam for every unit, only a partial small subset due to the reliance on the explicit release of the papers by each Unit Coordinator with many old exams being out of context. The Monash Library has provided a long lead time for implementation from the actual policy change to allow for adequate time for faculties to develop new approaches to assessment and more pedagogically appropriate preparation methods such as through class practice tests and updated exam practice questions. Provision of adequate assessment preparation materials including exams, now rest entirely with each relevant Faculty and Unit Coordinator. The Monash Library also provides online resources, workshops and drop-in sessions to assist with studying techniques.

Other academic policy changes have included the end of the Cancellation of Exams process, and that exams are now stated to be a minimum of one and a half hours according to Monash Policy. The cessation of cancelled exams means that students who attempt their exam on the initial date can no longer defer due to an unforeseen circumstance or illness occurring during the exam but may still apply for special consideration through their unit teaching faculty. The implementation of this change was contentious in that it was communicated in a confusing manner and due to the unclear process replacing the original Cancellation of Exams that states that the dean of the unit teaching faculty may still approve deferred examinations given exceptional circumstances.

 

Chinese Student Complaints

A human resources lecturer has been suspended pending an investigation following complaints by Chinese students over a Moodle quiz question that indicated as a correct answer that Chinese officials were only truthful when drunk or careless. Aaron Wijeratne, who was behind the quiz, based it off the textbook used for the unit which will also be dumped for semester two. Human Resource Management by Raymond J. Stone, commonly used in other universities will no longer be in use for the unit as part of Monash’s response to concerns over the questionable quiz which were voiced over Wechat, Monash Stalkerspace on Facebook and through China’s consulate-general in Melbourne. Chinese students complained that the questions were not reflective of China’s current society and disputed the validity of the saying. The Chinese phrase of officials only speaking the truth when drunk or careless was cited as an example in a section on cross-cultural ethics where other countries were also discussed. Robert Brooks, Deputy Dean of Monash Business School responded to criticism of the quiz in a Moodle post, stating “Some of the questions are unsatisfactory and do not reflect the beliefs and views of Monash University”. The quiz was immediately withdrawn thereafter. Critics of the move have advocated to lift the suspension as the lecturer followed the textbook in creating the question and that as a tool for education, contentious examples are at times, beneficial.

 

Budget Protests

Nationwide student protests occurred in major cities on May 17 in opposition to the Turnbull government’s proposed changes to higher education that would see an overall $2.8billion cut to funding in the tertiary sector. As organised by the National Union of Students and student unions, the Melbourne rally saw a turnout of over 800 students on estimates. Other proposed changes that students were fighting against include a 7.5% fee increase to domestic students, lowering the HECS repayment threshold and moving permanent residents and New Zealand citizens from Commonwealth Supported Places to full domestic fees.

 

Longer Terms on Academic Board

Changes to student membership on Academic Board now mean the two year terms will be introduced rather than the one year terms that are currently in place in to better facilitate handover for student members. However the current student members on the board (Matthew Gebert, Cindy Ho, Peter Hurley and Lawrence Lee) have recommended the terms return back to one year in response to concerns about the overall reduction of student representation and diversity of such as well as that “unproductive members” would be serving longer terms that would then “negatively impact the board”. The current student members have also recommended that student elections for Academic Board are moved forward from the current period of the end of the year, after exams to the start of semester 2 to facilitate greater student engagement and allow for a crossover period to instead assist the transition of the newly elected board members.

 

Uni Rankings

More university and subject rankings have been released recently with Monash ranked 12th out of 243 universities in the Asia-Pacific region and 5th in Australia in the Times Higher Education Asia-Pacific University Rankings. In the ShanghaiRankings’ 2017 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects which rated 52 subjects in 4000 universities, Monash was placed in the top 50 of 16 subject areas including Education, Pharmacy, Law and Chemical Engineering and placed first nationally in 11 subject areas. The rankings used the same criteria as in the THE World University Rankings where Monash came in 74th, both times behind the University of Melbourne, ANU, UQ and the University of Sydney. This follows the recognition from Reuters naming Monash the most innovative university in Australia and the QS World University Rankings where Monash came in 60th.

 

Relaxed Visas for University Staff

The government has made amendments to the April immigration reforms that now result in international academics and university leaders being eligible for four year visas and a pathway to permanent residency, however university tutors have completely been removed from skilled occupation lists for visas. The initial immigration reforms announced earlier affected temporary foreign workers in replacing the four-year visa system with more restrictive two or four year visas which removed many academic positions from being eligible. The Turnbull government has now done a backflip and restored lecturers, vice-chancellors, faculty heads alongside other scientific and technical roles to the skilled migration list, allowing these workers to have four-year visas and a permanent residency pathway. Universities Australia has secured a government commitment that the time PhD students spend studying towards their doctorate will be counted at work experience when applying for a skilled visa.

 

M City Monash

A $1bn mixed-use development has been announced in Clayton which will include 635 apartments, a hotel, offices and a retail precinct. Monash University students are a major target for the project as it is only a 20 minute walk away on the corner of Blackburn Rd and Princes Hwy. Construction is slated to begin soon and is expected to be completed by 2021.

 

Matheson Library Refurbishment Complete

Navigating around the seemingly endless construction has become an integral part of the typical day at Monash. However, part of the barricade separating us and a detour free pathway has been taken down, in the long awaited reopening of the Matheson Library. The refurbishment has brought Math a long way from the 1970s architecture chic, lined with asbestos and musty stairwells. It now features touch screen maps, self-serve book checkouts and even a cafe serving up caffeine and sweet treats sorely needed during a study break mere metres away instead of leaving books unattended while making the hike to campus centre. Come on down to study or just revel in the fact that one of our libraries is actually pretty cool, modern and hip with the times.

 

Joe’s Pizzeria Opens

In food news, Joe’s pizza has finally reopened, bigger and better after a semester long hiatus. Not only can you grab one of their infamous mouth-watering pizza slices to go but Joe’s has now expanded to serve up a range of gourmet pasta, trendy main courses and your daily coffee fix. In their first day of opening, they were serving up $1 slices, many students taking advantage of this deal and lining up to get entire pizza boxes filled. Find them on Sports Walk next to Schnitz.

 

‘Uni Dropout Rates’

New data has shown that one in three Australian students are not completing their university degree within six years. The Education Department has recorded that Monash had a low dropout rate, with just 11.15 per cent of first-year students leaving their courses. Swinburne University has the highest dropout rate in the state, with nearly 30 percent of first-year students leaving their courses.  Federal Education and Training Minister, Simon Birmingham, has stated in response to around one in three students failing to complete the course they initially enrol in, “that it’s a reminder to students as they consider university offers now to think carefully about what the course is and what the university is and make sure it is a good fit for them for the future”. Studying online is a major risk factor in dropping out, because people who study online are likely to have many competing demands for their time. When Swinburne launched Swinburne Online, their dropout rates rose. Completion rates are also lower for Indigenous students, external students, students over 25 years, remote students and students from low socio and economic backgrounds. What institutions, governments, facilities, departments and teachers can do to reduce attrition can include:

  1.   Develop Students’ involvement and sense of belonging: Many students feel that they create a sense of belonging from participating in extracurricular activities such as joining a sport. Other students affiliate a sense of belonging with a specific place on campus where they can congregate with the fellow students for example an indigenous common lounge.
  2.   Support student transition and interaction: Students are better integrated into university with a clear comprehensive orientation and introduction into their studies.
  3.   Give early and frequent feedback on progress: Allowing students to have a strong understanding of what is expected of them and offer encourage and support if they are not meeting their learning goals can result in more students persisting in their course.
  4.   Improve student funding and support: Disadvantaged students are more likely to drop out because of pressures concerning finance, family obligations, health or stress.

 

Jaywalking Fines at Monash Bus Loop

There have been reports that police have fined Monash students caught jaywalking at the bus loop. Students were issued on the spot fines if found to be crossing the road illegally. The Road Safety Road Rules 2009 state that if a pedestrian light is red or orange and a pedestrian has not already entered, they must remain until the light turns green. If a person is caught within 15 metres of a traffic control signal and does not obey that signal they can then receive a fine. A jaywalking fine generally amounts to $72 and does not affect demerit points. This is not the first time at Monash that police have patrolled for jaywalking, as it has also occurred in 2011, 2013 and 2016.

 

Petition to ‘Fix Parking’

Monash Student Association has launched a petition to the university, regarding the parking situation at Monash. It calls for the carpooling fee to be abolished, cheaper fines, expansion of free parking that is closer to Clayton campus in addition to “more affordable parking permits and daily tickets”. The MSA argues that permit and ticket prices have continued to rise when students are already struggling financially, labelling the cost of parking at Monash as “ridiculous”, as parking spots on campus for those even with a permit are highly competitive. They also propose that the fee on carpooling greatly hinders its ability to reduce its intended effect, to reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number that individually drive and that the current infringement system has not only very expensive fines but also unfair processes, highlighting the rigid appeal process. The cost of the yearly Blue permit rose from $400 to $405 this year, selling out very early into semester. At the time of writing, the petition has 283 signatures.

 

Ongoing issues affecting students ability to study: Charging devices and lecture recordings

Due to the lack of adequate power points in many lecture theatres and tutorial rooms, many Monash students are unable to participate fully and receive the best of their education. This is a pertinent issue, particularly in older lecture theatres such as the Rotunda where R1 has about 2 power ports for roughly 300 students. If a student forgets to bring their charger for a device with short-lasting battery, there are also currently very limited options to gain access to a charger short of asking Monash Stalkerspace. Law students are yet also still disadvantaged in comparison to other faculties with a large portion of subject lectures not recorded.

In order to address these issues, it is reported that the Vice-Provost of Learning and Teaching and the Buildings and Properties Division (BPD) have planned a few measures. It is understood that older buildings including the Rotunda and Engineering rooms are built on concrete slabs, and as current power supplies are not sufficient for increased power points, there is an inability to re-route any systems to accommodate these requests. Perceived simple fixes such as an extension board are also likely not possible due to safety and building regulations. All new constructions aimed for educational purposes however will have power supplies at a ratio of 1:3 students per power point. We can also expect that any new lecture theatres will continue to have power points for each student as is in C1 or South One.

It appears that the Buildings and Properties Division will also be introducing some lockers where students can charge their devices in a secure area, some lockers are already functional but not many students have engaged in their use due to the lack of knowledge of them. BPD have conducted a power usage report finding that power supplies to some particular lecture theatres including E3 and Central Theatre were being underused, hence assisting in more effective allocation of power in the future. Eventually Monash will expect students to be able to “charge from the cloud”, potentially deeming power points to be redundant, however that is not likely to be implemented for as long as the current student body remains students for. There have been no developments on different laptop chargers being provided for students use, the MSA in the past have installed charging stations which may be a possibility in the future in the John Medley Library, but for all devices. There has also not yet been a sweeping change to the Law faculty’s resistance to lecture recordings but according to students, there has been a notable improvement on subjects that are recorded.

 

Satisfaction Rates Not Great

Data from the federal Department of Education show that students at private universities have rated the quality of their experience the highest of all universities as students from 6 of the Group of Eight (Go8) universities are less satisfied with their education than the national average with 80% of students rating the quality of their entire educational experience as positive. Bond University and the University of Notre Dame had the highest approval ratings, slightly above 90%. Edith Cowan University was the most highly rated public institution with the satisfaction rate of 85.7%. Students from the University of Queensland and Monash University were the only ones from Go8 to be more satisfied than the average with Monash scoring just above at 80.4%. Students at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) have the lowest satisfaction score at 72%, with a drop in the rating consistent with a change last year from semesters to trimesters and lectures to interactive tutorials.Other universities including Monash are expected to adapt their learning and teaching approaches similarly in a largely transformative time for many teaching and learning departments at universities, moving away from a predominantly lecture based teaching method.

 

#420UniMelb

A pilot program run by the University of Melbourne has been granted $466,000 by the Turnbull Government to research the best methods of extraction of the parts from marijuana plants that are effective in pain relief, whilst separating out the pychoactive components. Working in conjunction with Under The Three Biopharmaceuticals, the program will study which cannabis crops are optimal in Australian conditions. The research may lead to larger scale legitimate local production and allow Australia to become a “major player” in marijuana crop production as proclaimed by Professor Tony Bacic (director of the plant cell biology research centre) a member of the unimelb research team, eventually also allowing patients to legally seek treatment for medicinal cannabis. Education Minister Simon Birmingham said “we can see clear benefits of having local medicinal cannabis production and a local supply chain for the many patients that stand to gain from the use of medicinal cannabis products.” The first medicinal cannabis crop in Australia, grown in Victoria, should be available for treatment mid-2017 as supplies imported from Canada are already in use, treating seizures in 29 children.

 

Victoria University Facing Troubling Times

There have been concerns raised over Victoria University’s (VU) new pilot program whereby roughly 140 students are being enrolled in TAFE certificates, in order to prepare for university degrees for which the students are already undertaking. The expansion of the program is set to follow next year with a new separate college for first year students in order to attempt to curb student dissatisfaction, low retention rates and assist their poor financial situation. Scepticism has been expressed as this method, however, as students that are the most unprepared, with low ATARs and lesser academic standards would be expected to take on additional units.The program allows the university to receive both federal and state funding for students simultaneously, causing apprehension over VU’s double-dipping. The state government provides funding for the certificate IV in tertiary preparation which is designed as a bridging aid for students transitioning to university. This comes in the midst of large scale job cuts at VU, with up to 115 staff to be made redundant after VU has experienced heavy deficits in the past few years. The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) have criticised the move as cutting costs simply by degrading the level of skill for required for staff and therefore lowering the quality of teaching, and placing severe limitations on academic research. There will be about 50 new junior roles available for redundant staff to apply for at the new college. As reported by The Age, at this stage, State and Federal departments have expressed no issues with the program and the concurrent study of the different qualifications.

 

Campus Report

 

Stalking StalkerSpace

We all know and love StalkerSpace, the place that provides Monash students with all the memes and banter they could ever need. The page is a way for all students at Monash to feel connected to each other and part of a community. However, this has been upset with a recent increase in negative posts and comments on the page. There has now been numerous reports submitted to Facebook of offensive and aggravating behaviour on StalkerSpace.

This includes trolling – the act of posting inflammatory material online, in order to provoke or insult others. A small number of individuals and groups have unfortunately been given an online space that enables them to spread disrespectful messages to many. It can be particularly harmful in a place like Monash, where people come together from many different countries, cultures, and religions.

It comes as the trend of trolling and cyberbullying increases everywhere, particularly in schools and university environments. The rise has been linked to a sense of anonymity that technology provides. The safety of sitting behind a screen means that it is a lot easier to insult someone, rather than being face to face. On Monash StalkerSpace, the issue may be exacerbated at times from contributors that are not Monash students but are able to join in on the ‘trolling’ due to the nature of the page. There have been consequences for people expressing extreme views on public forums on the past, a recent example is Kurt Tucker who expressed on a Facebook post that he would have joined the Nazi Party in Germany in the 1930s. A prominent member of the Young Liberal National Party (LNP) in Queensland, after media outlets reported his comments, he has now resigned from all party positions after a statement of apology. Students with leadership positions or even staff members on StalkerSpace are particularly at stake if they choose to publically troll, humilate or cyberbully.

So what can we do to save our beloved space from this troubling minority? While there are some options, none of them are guaranteed. When Deakin University had a similar problem several years ago on ‘Deakin University StalkerSpace’ (DUSS), it led to the switch to their current, private group. Those who wish to join must submit a valid Deakin email address, which is then approved by the administrators. This restricts those who join just to promote offensive behaviour, additionally it is easier to remove them. Otherwise, another option is to report an offending post to the administrators, which is a fast way to have something you find insulting removed. However, this is a method that is often not considered or is done too late for it to have any impact, especially as it seems like the admins of the group are not actively moderating posts or discussion. Some students or now ex-students that have been a part of the group for many years have expressed ambivalence as the transformation of StalkerSpace into an increasingly negative space, arguing that the group goes through cycles. We can support people who may be suffering from online abuse and encourage our friends not to engage in negative or derogatory conversations.

 

Sexual assault and inappropriate conduct on the rise

Apparently nowhere is safe now for uni students, and young women, no matter if it’s on the train or bus on the way home from class, or staying at uni to study in the library, minding your own business. If you use public transport on the Frankston line, be wary. Recently there have been reports of at least two sexual assaults in two separate incidents by the same unknown man. The first incident happened in November of last year, as the 21 year old victim was travelling by train, the perpetrator got on at Carnegie Station and sat next to her before sexually assaulting her. The same man is believed to have sexually assaulted another victim, a teenage girl in February this year on public transport. In other sexually inappropriate news, there have also been reports of a middle aged Asian man having his dick out in the open for anyone to see, in the lower level of HAL library. Both of these offenders have yet to be caught as security have been spotted outside campus libraries with photos of people, potentially looking of for the perpetrators.

 

Driving struggles: #JustDrivingThings

Driving to uni is always a struggle, whether if it’s on 3 hours sleep and 2 regular coffees to an 8am lecture, or trying to get a park anytime between 9am-4pm that’s on the first level at eng. Recently, driving has appeared to become more of a struggle for a few people in particular, with the infamous ‘dash cam incident’, that made it from top Stalkerspace post to an actual news article in the Leader. Long story short, Commerce and Law student Brendan Hui was driving and the Mazda in front of him attempted a ‘cheeky shortcut’ to get to their free car spot in mind, not once, but twice, seemingly undeterred by the pole that blocked the way between them crossing the threshold at a zebra crossing. In other news, other driving struggles that did not involve the struggling driver in question being at fault, was another driver who had the unfortunate pleasure of being the victim of a fallen tree onto their bonnet due to the crazy Melbourne weather and the fact that a lot of the trees on campus have been there since the dawn of humankind. Hopefully insurance covers both of these incidents – but to everyone else, safe driving!

 

Students shave for a cure

The Monash Residential Committee’s first event of the year – The Leukaemia Foundation’s World’s Greatest Shave took place on the 20th March out on the College Green. The aim of the cause is to raise awareness for Leukemia, of which 35 people are diagnosed every day. Individuals either volunteered to dyeing, cutting or shaving their head and waxing their body. The event of course also included quality music and a free BBQ. There was a crowd of approximately 80 spectators with 15-20 participants. The total amount raised was an incredible $6,153.65, which will go towards to support blood cancer research. This also marked more funds being raised than last year.

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