Last week was the national day of action for education! Despite the rain over 200 Sydney Uni students rallied outside Fisher Library to oppose Abbott and Pyne’s cuts to higher education. There we heard from a library staff member on the proposed restructuring and what it could mean for the workers in the library, and Sherry one of the International Student Officers in the SRC who spoke about the problems international students face at universities, stating pretty sharply that “international students are not ATMs for the government!”. Hear hear.
We then moved to the Quad, where we took to the precious grass to let our infamous VC know what we think of him and the decision of the Group of Eight universities to propose full fee places for Law, Accounting and Commerce. We also heard from SUPRA Education Officer Tim Scriven and SRC Enviro Officer Amelie while students chalked ‘education is a process not a commodity’ in solidarity with the Sydney Uni student facing suspension for chalking the same message at the strikes last year.
After that, we marched down Eastern Avenue pretty loudly, drawing in students along the way to UTS to join the main demonstration. Hundreds of students from Macquarie, UNSW and UTS were waiting there for us, for another lively rally and march into the city.
Across the country hundreds more students took part in the day, sending a strong message to the government that we won’t tolerate further funding cuts to universities, we won’t tolerate attacks on welfare, and we won’t tolerate the undermining of staff wages and conditions. The fight against Abbott and Pyne is just beginning though. Just last week the Liberals pledged themselves to implementing the conversion of Start-up Scholarships into loans when the take control of the Senate in July.
All in all, the first national day of action was a complete success, around the country and here in Sydney despite the miserable weather.
EAG activist Chloe Rafferty was quoted on the ABC declaring that “They’re carving up TAFE. They’re making the biggest cuts to university funding we’ve seen in 18 years…It’s protests like this and mass actions like the March in March that we need to challenge, not only this government, but the rotting system that brings about these corporate universities.
Hear hear. The anger and defiance that marked the protests put us in good stead to fight the Liberals the rest of their term.
Ridah Hassan and Eleanor Morley.