Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Police evict university occupation

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A two-month long student occupation was broken up by the police in late October. Despite the setback the students have pledged to continue the fight.

In June this year, Sydney University announced plans to merge the arts college with the art and design school at the University of NSW amid claims that the college was becoming financially unviable.

This merger would see the college vacate Callan Park, where it has dedicated art studios, and move to as yet undisclosed facilities. Staff cuts would be implemented and the student intake for next year would be reduced.

Students have raised concerns about these changes arguing that the current environment, allowing the possibility of experimentation beyond commercial concern, will be jeopardised.

The campaign Sydney College of the Arts Resistance (SCAR) has stated that “Integration into the commercial world should not be the main criterion for an art school. Art schools should be allowed to foster collaboration between radical thinkers, creating a culture with rich interchange of critical ideas”.

These students oppose the arguments put forward by the university that the college is financially unviable and that the geographical location is detrimental.

To fight back against these changes students organised a 65-day occupation of the school and barricaded themselves in.

This action helped to put the issue right up on the agenda and has put pressure on the university management. Seven weeks after the students occupied the college administration offices, deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Garton conceded to a six-month reprieve.

He said the college would remain at its Callan Park campus next year. The university has however said that “there will be no new student intake for the Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2017”.

While the reprieve is welcome, the students are steadfast in demanding that the college stay in its current location with no cuts to staff, facilities or courses. They are also calling for the Bachelor of Visual Arts to accept new students in 2017.

As we go to press SCAR has plans afoot for more protests and actions in the coming months.

By Amy Neve


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