Snooze lounges and cheaper textbooks: Together lobbies for student votes

By SELBY STEWART

Together has returned to this year’s MSA elections under new leadership, but with the same ambition.

After ending the 12-year reign of Go! at last year’s election, the party now has a new presidential candidate in former Mannix College vice-president Henry Fox.

OTHER REPORTS
• MSA Elections: ‘New and fresh’ Activate ready to take on Together heavyweight
• Activate Go! by another name?Battleground over future of Lot's Wife

Mr Fox said he didn’t start out with leadership ambitions.

“It wasn’t until I saw things come to fruition and we actually did a lot of the things that I realised this is actually really powerful,” Mr Fox said.

“It was the first time I realised the power and impact the MSA can have and now I’m just keen to do my best to keep growing that impact and have a say in more diverse areas of the MSA.”

Together say they want to make “lasting changes” to campus life. Among the party’s 2018 big ticket items are: snooze lounges around campus, an online e-textbook model capable of reducing book costs by up to 40 per cent, emergency housing on campus and a compulsory training module for all university students beginning in 2019.

Mr Fox also confirmed Together would continue — and grow — its trademark live music event Wednesday Sessions.

“For us it is about impacting students as much as we can,” Mr Fox said.

Together is under new leadership.

 

 

“Wednesday sessions provide a social environment and peer networks, facilities are really important because we are here every day and campus safety is a big issue for us as well.”

The party said it had an “in principle commitment” from the university to roll out “snooze lounges” across Clayton campus.

“The idea is you can go in, lie down, get up and then someone else can come in and use it,” Mr Fox said.

“We have an in principle commitment from the Vice-Chancellor, she is very on board with the idea and now it is just a matter of figuring out where and what it looks like.”

In an Australian university first, compulsory training on “respectful relationships” will also be implemented for all Monash students starting in 2019, the party said.

“The training module will be available on Moodle for all students who start from 2019,” Mr Fogarty said.

“It will be mandatory so if students want to access their exam results they will first have to complete the training module.”

Together will also implement online training in responses to sexual assault and harassment for over 1000 leaders on campus.

“It will include hall leaders, societies, residents, clubs, colleges — anywhere we can identify a community leader that can have access,” Mr Fox said.

Together is campaigning on the issue of campus sexual assault.

 

“Nothing on this scale has been done here before.”

Together has also promised to reduce textbook costs by 20-40 per cent, if elected.

“The idea is we will shift more textbooks to an online e-textbook model,” Mr Fox said.

“We will work with the provider and give them exclusive access to the market and in turn they will reduce the cost.”

Together have also begun negotiations with Monash for on-campus emergency housing for in-need students.

“Students can access the housing if their home is not safe, or they’ve been made homeless or for any other reason,” Mr Fox said.

“It has been raised, and warmly accepted, by the university and it is a policy we are looking to undertake.”

However, rival party Left Action have questioned the Labor Right affiliations of several Together members.

“Labor Right are the main brains behind the operation,” Left Action presidential candidate Daniel Taylor said.

“(Labor Right) benefit in the long term, and in a sense they’re just using the other people on the ticket.”

Mr Fox and authorising officer Jett Fogarty their political affiliations. 

“Some of our members are loosely connected to the Labor Party but to say we all are is not true,” Mr Fogarty said. Only “two or three members out of over 100” are linked, he said. 

Mr Fogarty said he had worked for Labor MP Richard Marles.