By SALONEE MISTRY
Monash University architecture students have shot down claims students seen sleeping outdoors in beds on campus were protesting heavy student workloads, or climate change.
Monash student Facebook group Stalkerspace was yesterday filled with speculation about the odd Caulfield campus-sighting.
While some believed they were protesting on behalf of overworked university students, others thought it had something to do with global warming.
In fact, the outdoor slumber party was a public display of art created by two architecture students for their mid-semester evaluation.
Third year students Leia Parascandalo and Ellen Chick said their mid-semester evaluation was in no way politically motivated and they were surprised it had been interpreted as such.
“We had to create a piece of public art on campus with an identifying theme and we chose ‘mundane’ for it,” Ms Parascandalo said.
“Our idea was to show the mundane was a part of our everyday uni experience and it was never supposed to be a political statement of any sort," she said.
“We wanted to see how people responded to a very familiar setting in a completely different context."
Ms Parascandalo and Ms Chick put up a bed with a mattress, blanket, a table lamp, rug and re-created all the elements found in a typical bedroom setting.
The students then set it up in four different locations across campus. They started in the courtyard in between the library and Building G; then moved to the middle of the oval; from there to the stairwell in Building F and, finally, to their architecture studio in the same building.
Ms Chick said, while they wanted to see how people would react to a familiar setting in an unusual context, they did not anticipate they would be branded political activists.
“We were reading the comments online and were wondering who were these people who were claiming ownership of our project,” Ms Chick said.
“We then thought the protest angle might have stemmed from a climate change protest at Clayton campus a few days before, where people slept in the campus centre and probably people thought there was a relation.
“No one really came up to us and asked us anything. There were just the occasional comments of people saying that what we were doing was 'cool' and that was it."
The comments on social media had Ms Parasacandalo and Ms Chick excited as they said it gave their project an unexpected depth.
They were anticipating to wait for a panel on Thursday before letting their peers know what the odd art installation was in aid of.
However, a few hours after they began, Ms Parascandalo posted on Facebook to take ownership of the project as they felt things were getting out of hand.
“It was getting out of hand and becoming too political for Ellen and my comfort,” Ms Parascandalo said.
Sightings of them in the bed led to a Facebook poll being created to garner how overworked students thought they were.
The poll read “the point of these protests is to say that students don’t get enough sleep because they are studying round the clock. Over the coming weeks more protests are planned”.
Ms Parascandalo and Ms Chick are confident they will have plenty to report on during their panel on Thursday.