If you’ve ever passed by the cafeteria these days, you’re sure to notice students in blue and yellow about, engaging the crowd, standing for their believes, hoping to fill the shoes of whichever position they’re running for. It’s the annual MUSA election and this time around we have Genesis for yellow and Revelations for blue. On the yellow corner, running for president is Janesh Nathan from the School of Business.
When approaching Janesh, the first thing you’d notice is he composure; confident, reassuring, but without the lack of friendliness or warmth. His believes as a student, there is a lot of information asymmetry between admin and the students, often leading to miscommunication and inaccurate details passed down. Wanting to change that and be a part of MUSA is why he runs.
Originally not the intended presidential candidate, a rather last minute requirement was implemented, whereby any running candidate must have a Weighted Average Mark (WAM) of at least 60; Genesis lost two candidates which resulted in some confusion and turmoil within the party. However, a decision had to be made and Janesh took up the mantle.
A few questions were exchanged and words were said:
What do you feel about the students and their lack of interest in MUSA?
The students are aware of how MUSA organizes event or manage their complaints, but MUSA was formed to be the bridge between students and the admins running Monash, directing any discomforts or complaints towards the people running Monash, get the message and response across clearly, also implement some changes to better the issue. However, many students do not realize MUSA isn’t only all fun and games. A lot of behind-the-scenes work is being done, where restrictions and policies have to be followed despite the wants and needs of students. And the challenge of bringing satisfaction to both parties is a tight rope job.
Do you feel the current MUSA committee can improve in any way?
As a student who experience the whole election process last year, the candidates were enthusiastic about coming up to students and explaining their plans, what issues the students face. After the election however, yes the committee no doubt is active during event, friendly and always leaving their door open both physically and online, but that relatable approach seen during the election was nowhere to be found and I feel that could help improve the current situation of how students see MUSA.
How do you feel about the 60% WAM implementation?
Although there are conflicting views on the rule and when it was formed, I personally feel that it is a fantastic move. You are the MUSA committee and you represent the students, meaning there is a sense of need to perform at par in the academic and non-academic field, and if a friend was sacrificing one of the fields, I would recommend that they should reconsider as it affects your priorities. And with the 60% WAM, it would only supplement the already fantastic CV of being a MUSA committee. Losing two members was hard but in the end a plan was executed.
How do you feel about the synergy between different party members being elected?
At every election, you don’t know who could be elected, it’s a 50-50 percent chance of either getting your own or not. And despite the results, if I do get elected, this is no longer my party but this is our student council. The elections are a platform for us to reach out to the students and promote ourselves but after the votes, a recurring issue that all presidents face, is that everybody is aligned together and see the same goal then only can synergy be achieved. At the end of the day, it comes down to seeing the bigger picture and if one were to run for the wrong purposes because there is a lot of effort and sacrifice just for a certificate. I do feel it would be disheartening if fellow members weren’t elected and the same for the other team, but everyone running are definitely talented and even if anybody doesn’t get elected, I would highly suggest that they bring their talents to MUSA from other avenues.
How do you feel about the event being organized by MUSA and could you better it?
Well there are students who attend these events, but they are always the same hundred to two hundred students from the student pool of over thousands from seven different schools, meaning the appeal isn’t there for everybody. I believe that the school representatives are the first line of interaction between the students and MUSA, and should gather what excites the students of different schools. There really no point if a very good product is on the market but there isn’t a demand for it. Of course there has to be a sense of practicality when realizing the wants of the students.
Why do you feel that the debate wasn’t attended by many students?
If you attended the debates, basically there are only two groups of people, candidates from Revelations and Genesis, friends of the ones going on stage, however only a handful of neutral attendees who come to the debate and have a clue on which candidate is better after the debate. I feel like majority of the people who come for the debate already predetermined who they are going to vote despite how the debate goes. I am quite saddened about this fact. Yes, the debates were running during class hours, but students aren’t able to realize that their single vote can affect their university life for a year. Every year, only a combined vote of around 1500 only. What happened to the other thousands of students out there? Because if anybody were to win the election and go on to represent the student council, you have to realize that out of the thousands of student studying in Monash, the student body voting for you only consists of a mere 1500; but then again what if everybody else also placed their votes? Throughout the two weeks of campaigning, I feel that some students are aware that they have the right but rather not exercise their votes and would give up their choice to others.
If you were a student going to vote, what would you look for?
I feel that both teams are extremely capable, but I’ve been told that the election if often more of a popularity contest, call me naïve, but I would prefer not to belief so. Because a student should vote based on how capable the candidate is, and you could change your entire university year with one vote. Of course any great ideas by the candidates also has to be practical that they will be accountable for. The students who vote for their candidates should have the rights to measure the performance of said candidates, and if unsatisfied, students should be given justifiable answers.