At the end of Week 11, the post-assignment, fatigue-ridden MUSA members gathered one more time before the semester wrapped.
Mr. President started off by giving an update on the current WiFi situation. Students can expect newer access points by the end of May, or early June. Health checks on the Wi-Fi connection are also carried out twice a day at locations with high usage. For students with an iPhone 6 and above, the bug where wifi gets disabled in sleep mode has already been acknowledged and is currently being solved. With regards to campus PCs, login issues may still happen as improvements are being carried out in stages.
To ensure that students’ democracy was in full effect, General Secretary Tharshini introduced the motion where any uncontested candidates in this year’s election onwards would be required to obtain at least 50% of the entire votes in order to become an office bearer. While it was in practice for previous elections, it was apparently not taken seriously by the candidates. In the event where the position is not filled, an appointment may be considered. Upon a few clarifications, this motion was passed.
During MUISS’ segment, the Heads shared with the floor that their ‘Chill with MUISS’ event was well-received, as students enjoyed the variety of themes and activities. Engagement from the student body was definitely improved by their increased turnout. They also managed to obtain feedback on their division and its offerings, such as MIMA (the international student-focused publication) and Monash Cultural Night (MCN). On the topic of MCN, this year’s ‘Odyssey’ theme—representative of the expedition through the various cultures on campus—was a wild success: 80% of the tickets were sold out on the first day. However, there were a few issues in ticket sales, with long queues and lack of receipts. Following MCN, the Monash Cultural Week that aimed to embrace and celebrate diversity on campus was met with a large turnout albeit its challenges in location and having more country representatives.
The Welfare Officers reported that their 3-Day F&B campaign helped compile feedback from the student population. The amount of 560 responses that was specific to different vendors will hopefully help improve the food quality on campus. Another student initiative that is slowly gaining traction is the Student Pantry, located above the MUSA Lounge, right around the MUSA Offices. Food placed in the fridge will be labelled with green and red stickers to help identify the names and when the food will be discarded respectively. On a more shocking note, dhal from the Sri Lankan stall was found to contain traces of E.coli, which could potentially indicate whether the food was contaminated with fecal matter. This was inferred by a food test done by both C&S Head Sharik and Science Rep Ethan in the microbiology labs. However, Welfare Officer Dilhara requested more evidence to be presented before this issue was brought up to the administration. She also reassures that the Food Safety officer, Mr. Terry is very strict with health compliances, and the issue will be treated seriously.
The Denim Dance, hosted by the W*men’s Officers’ to signal protest and misogynistic attitudes about sexual assault, was a big hit among its 130 participants. While facing catering difficulties, the officers eventually came through with vegetarian options. When asked by Activities Chairperson Siemone regarding the reason for the Gender Sensitivity Program which was mandatory for MUSA members, W*men’s Officer Melinda explained that while there was no formal meeting held between her team and their predecessors, plenty of derogatory comments were heard among MUSA members themselves, thus prompting the training. MUSA members should be trained and equipped to handle and direct cases surrounding sexual assault to the right people.
During the School of Business’ report, Zu Peng presented that there is still a lack of demand for lecture recordings in general. According to the SSLC, students should not be asked about their thoughts on lecture recordings directly, as they will most likely want it to occur. A more neutral method should be used to gauge student responses, as poor responses right now do not represent the student population (a minimum of 50% enrolled for said unit is required). Previous forms passed around during lectures were also not acknowledged by the SSLC as they believed it to not be representative. The improvement section under SETU can be used as a channel to suggest lecture recordings, too.
The other issue of some students having two papers simultaneously during finals will be resolved during the start of Semester 2 with Student Services. Students with clashing schedules will be quarantined to sit for their papers, as schedules have already been set by the university management in Australia.
ITS has also taken initiatives to quicken the computer speeds, as new computers will replace the current ones at the express printing terminals. They have also acknowledged the somewhat problematic computers in Comp Lab 3, and will provide a follow up to solve the issue.
With regards to lecturers, students from ECW1102 have provided feedback towards the disparity of information provided across the semester, and how lecture delivery could be improved along with increased proofreading before the release of exam papers. As for ETW2410, students encouraged further elaboration on subtopics with higher difficulty as well.
To help prevent repeated occurrences of how a student was almost hurt by a rusty table that broke, a special intelligence task force will be formed in collaboration with the management to help identify faulty facilities on campus, keep amenities turned off when not in use, and keep furniture in place. This task force will be recruited and compensated, preferably from the student population.
On the topic of Movie Nights hosted by the respective schools, Engineering Rep Crystal pointed out that their decision of letting a postgrad student join their movie night caused dissatisfaction among the rest of the students. As a response, President Thush mentioned that while MUSA events are open to all, priority should be given to undergraduates, as postgrads have their own separate budget. Suggestions from the floor include selling the tickets in batches in order to have information cross-checked by the CMO.
Moving on, a few motions that were discussed with all school reps beforehand were raised by IT Rep Skyler. His first motion was for the MUSA Treasurers to publish financial transparency reports on the MUSA Facebook page on a bimonthly basis, which would include budget breakdowns of events. While Skyler believed that the reports would gain higher credibility if they came from the Treasurers, Treasurer Jaesivan suggested financial reports to be attached with their event reports instead, which will then be presented during MSCs upon stressing that transparency has been established with the publishing of the MSC meeting minutes on MUSA website itself. The motion itself also sparked the debate as to whether the MUSA website has created substantial visibility, as compared to the reach of the Facebook page. However, C&S Officer Sharik cautions the floor for a strict process, as students could potentially be unsure of the budget allocations within MUSA and potentially blow the figures out of proportion. When asked about the intentions for this motion, Skyler mentioned that MUSA members are mostly unsure of the actual figures for other events as they are not shown to anyone else but the Treasurers. This to which the Treasurer Jae clarified that his departments’ no secrecy policy would allow anyone to view said reports. While VP Ryan believed that having the reports on Facebook would get lost in traffic along with the other announcements, Sharik emphasized that students may not be able to interpret such large figures to their actual context. After a round of heated discussion, Gen Sec Tharshini decided to fail the motion as there was a lack of general consensus regarding this issue.
The next motion presented by Skyler was a request for the Treasurers to set up two consultancy days to ensure that there is a guaranteed period of time where the Treasurers in office to receive important documents, as it has been said that they are not in their office all the time. When asked by Activities Chairperson Siemone as to why the issue could not be resolved by calling or texting them, Science Rep Ethan claimed that it was rather frustrating for the Treasurers to not be around when the reps are free, and later claimed that Kelly would not show up to scheduled appointments. Business Rep Zu Peng further chimed in and claimed that the lack of the Treasurers’ timetables outside their office makes it harder to see when they’re actually free. The other discussion that was formed among the school reps when the motion was presented has brought upon by fellow student Benjamin Goh suggesting the student reps’ decision felt like talking behind their colleagues’ backs, and how they aren’t channeling the issue towards the right party. In the Treasurers’ defense, Jae explained to the floor that albeit there is a separation of work between him and his partner, Kelly, there has been no complaints from fellow departments, and calls or texts are usually suffice to reach him. He also stresses that documents can be submitted to him instead, which will then be passed over. When asked if the issue was brought to Kelly’s attention, Skyler realizes that they haven’t, and that itself was an issue. However, he still stresses the importance of the consultation hours to present process delays due to their absence. This was then questioned by Activities Chairperson Ryan who believed that the issue could be resolved through a direct discussion with Kelly. Similar to the previous motion, this one was lost as well due to the lack of consensus.
Next up, the motion of removing the system of firing MUSA members via 3 warning letters was passed. The current system will be replaced with a ‘Vote of No Confidence’, which means that upon receiving 3 warning letters, a motion to remove said member will be raised during the MSC, which requires ⅔ of the entire council to carry. Any lesser, the member gets to stay. As the current issuance of warning letters is based on the General Secretary’s best judgement, another motion was raised by Skyler as a form of safeguard. This time, an office bearer can be removed through MSC meetings without any warning letters, which grants MUSA members the democracy of determining whether another office bearer should be retained or terminated under compelling reasons to convince the General Secretary. The person in discussion would also have a chance to defend him or herself. This motion was passed as well.
One of the last motions of the day was to remove the Constitution clause where members of the Executive Committee may only be removed through a student referenda (basically a student poll) to ensure equality for all, as other members can be removed through referendum and extraordinary general meetings. This means that executive committee members can be removed through MSCs as well if this motion passes in accordance to the previous one. With no members voting against, this motion was carried.
The eventful Friday night gathering adjourned with much anticipation for the upcoming Semester 2. Rumbling bellies and tired eyes aside, it’s safe to say that each department still carries a sense of eagerness to do better this upcoming semester.
If you would like to obtain a detailed idea as to what went down in the meeting, kindly make your way to the 5th MSC MEETING MINUTES!
Article by Ling Jie Tuang
Photos by Desmond Chin