Sydney College of the Arts was being occupied by furious students not wanting the facility to close. Picture: Carly Earl
October 25, 2016 2:15pm
STUDENTS occupying the administration building of the Sydney College of the Arts have been forcibly removed by police and security guards this morning.
Students said that at 6.43am, 15 police officers and 20 security guards forced entry to the building and evicted occupiers, who have been occupying the space at Rozelle for 65 days.
The students refused to budge from their occupation to stop Sydney University from closing down the Callan Park campus, savage staff cuts and drastic changes to degree programs.
“Police officers and security guards broke down the door to the occupation and dragged the occupiers out,” a student said.
“They then continued to go around campus and tear down all posters and banners even those that weren’t protest works.
“This is a perfect emblem of what they want to do to SCA as a whole.”
Police have been contacted for comment but have not provided a statement yet.
A large number of students have been living in the building since the university escorted academics out of the building and heavily barricaded the doors shut.
Students from Sydney College of the Arts gathered at the University of Sydney’s main campus in August to protest the closure of the Rozelle campus and savage planned cuts to staff numbers and degree options.
A University of Sydney spokesman said they had escorted protesters of the campus and said the institution has affirmed the right of students to protest about proposed changes.
“Unfortunately a number of the occupying students, and some of their off campus supporters, have shown little respect for people or the laws governing safety for themselves or others, despite numerous formal requests,” the statement said.
“In addition, the protesters have refused a number of polite, informal and then formal requests for the university to relocate personal possessions.”
The statement said some students and staff had been “distressed” by the occupation and the impact on their studies and working environment. And they warned people could be banned from campuses.
“The university has the right to exclude anyone who has been party to the occupation from its campuses,” the statement said.
“It has chosen not to do so at this stage, but students and their representative groups have been warned that any further attempt to occupy could see the university exercise this right.”
A banner installed during the 65-day protest.
The protest group has had several small wins since they marched into the college’s administration building in August.
A proposed merger with UNSW’s Art and Design School and the National Art School was taken off the table, and embattled dean Colin Rhodes resigned.
The administration building was transformed with lists of rules for respectful occupation lining the walls, red flags hanging from the windows and a sign that says “Under New Management”.
A university spokeswoman told the Inner West Courier last month that no decisions had been made about future staff numbers or courses.
“All current students will be able to complete their degrees in the majors and media they have selected,” the spokeswoman said.