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.
MSA Election Returning Officer Gavin Ryan held that the author of this article, 2017 Lot’s Wife Editor Sophia McNamara, campaigned publicly using an article she wrote in 2017. The article was in breach of Election Regulation 26 and it was forced to be taken offline. All copies of Lot’s Wife had to be held by the RO until the close of elections due to the breach. Furthermore, the RO held Sophia breached Election Regulation 26 again through a Lot’s Wife day update on day three of elections. The RO banned Sophia from campaigning or taking part in campaigning or any election-related activities for the duration of the election period.