By SALONEE MISTRY
A last-minute decision by the Monash University Student Union (MONSU) at the Caulfield campus has alienated international students from running in the looming election.
The decision implemented a minimum of 22 working hours to nine out of 13 portfolios, which instantly ruled international students out of the political race, as they cannot work more than 20 hours per week without breaching their student visas.
Political candidate nominations were set to close on September 2 at 4 pm, but MONSU adopted the change during its council meeting that morning.
Students, who had already filled in their nominations, received an email on September 5 informing them they were now ineligible to run if they could not work the newly-adopted minimum work hours.
Six international students were eliminated from the political race.
Malaysian student Nidzam Shah Hussain had been running for Vice President on the Go! ticket.
He slammed MONSU for passing a policy that meant elected candidates would not be representative of Monash's multicultural student body.
“We got an email from [the] Returning Officer around 45 minutes before polls were to close informing us of the changes made to the Roles and Regulations by the current student council and when we looked at it, the hours for most of the portfolios were changed,” Mr Hussain said.
“We had a full ticket and the new decision took away several of our candidates, which now means that people have to flip the book and individually vote for us as opposed to simply just ticking the entire Go! Ticket.
“We were fighting for better multicultural representation and more international students on board, which is currently lacking. We got a good mix of international and domestic students.”
The ticket standing in opposition to Go! is Forward, all of whose nominations have been accepted.
Forward candidates now stand to be elected unopposed in the following roles: Vice President, Activities Officer 2, Marketing Officer, Education Officer and Welfare Officer.
Five of these roles would have had Go! candidates running for election, before the work hour restrictions were implemented.
MONSU president Anthony Eid said eliminating international students was not the intention of the decision.
“We put down the minimum hours since in the past we have seen people in these positions work these long hours and it was a way to inform the students of the demand of the role they were undertaking,” Mr Eid said.
“The honorarium offered to the various remains the same and the working hours will usually exceed 22 as well.
“It wasn’t our intention to eliminate the international students, and the thought did not even cross our minds while making the decision, that was a decision of the Returning Officer,” he said.
A Monash University spokesperson said the university was aware of the decision and was concerned about it.
“Monash University is communicating with the Monash Student Association Caulfield (MONSU-Caulfield) regarding the forthcoming election and recent changes to the Student Role Regulations,” the spokesperson said.
“The University is concerned the recent changes may impact the eligibility of international students.
"While the university recognises the legal independence of MONSU-Caulfield as an entity, it also must ensure its recognised student associations continue to fulfil their requirements to represent the student body.”
Students will go to the polls between September 16-18.