As you might be aware, the University has today acted to evict the students occupying administration offices at the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA). I understand that some time before 7am this morning around 20 police officers and a dozen or so University security staff first broke down the door, and then surrounded the students who were there and insisted that they leave immediately. I understand that security then proceeded to remove all visible posters, banners and signs of dissent on the Rozelle campus. We’re disappointed that the University has resorted to taking this action against its own students. You can read Honi’s account of the eviction here: http://honisoit.com/2016/10/police-bring-end-to-65-day-sca-occupation/
The student occupation has been an important part of the campaign to save SCA. It has attracted widespread community support, including support from our union, the broader union movement (including Unions NSW), and local resident action groups among others. Over the past several months, University Management’s approach to change at SCA has been nothing short of appalling. After announcing and then retracting a ‘Heads of Agreement’ with UNSW which would have seen SCA disappear and most staff out of work, Management subsequently released a hastily constructed Change Proposal that lacked a detailed justification for change, and proposed a relocation away from Callan Park to an unspecified location, the closure of several key disciplines, substantial job cuts, and the 2017 suspension of enrollments in the Bachelor of Visual Arts.
The NTEU stands with students and staff who insist that University management should reset and rethink its plans for SCA. Rather than offering students advice about how best to express their dissent, we urge University Management to rebuild trust with the students and staff who are passionate about the SCA’s future. It can do this by owning the distress its actions have caused to staff and students, and committing to an on-going future for SCA as a full-bodied art school, with its unique studio-based education across the range of visual arts disciplines, and job security for current staff.
Students have organised a speak-out at 5pm today at SCA, please do attend to find out more about what has taken place and to discuss the next steps in the fight to save SCA.
The NTEU remains in the Fair Work Commission over this dispute. We have a further report back this Thursday. Following that we will hold discussions with affected members to ensure that we continue to take the most appropriate action.
Yours in union,
NTEU, University of Sydney