Amelie Vanderstock writes an open letter to the student protester

Dear Students on the picket fence,

We are all at university to learn. We are able to do so because we are fortunate and intelligent enough to be to here, to expand our minds and think about the ways of the future. We hence understand that academic freedom, ant-discrimination laws and job security are fundamental to an equitable, quality teaching and learning environment. We can’t possibly disagree with these endeavors. But, we still allow ‘political neutrality’ or fear of short term academic disadvantage to stand in the way of our value for a worthy and fair education institution?

Striking is a polarizing choice. There is no politically neutral ‘grey zone’ when it comes to crossing a picket line.
It is easy not to go to class when our classes are cancelled. That choice is made for us by our lecturer who is striking in solidarity with a majority union vote to stop University operations.

The choice comes when our classes are running. Perhaps, like me, you are of a faculty such as science, where university corporatization is less threatening because it is more ‘economically profitable’. As such, these staff may feel less personally endangered, so choose to continue teaching. But although these subjects are vital, they need not run at the expense of future working conditions of all staff on campus.
Still, as students who value our education, concerns with missing valuable classes cannot be overlooked. Unrecorded lectures, compulsory tutorials, assessable laboratories…we feel by skipping these we’ll miss out on core content, or be unfairly disadvantaged.

The Vice Chancellor capitalized on these concerns when sending every student an email painting the strikes as an “inconvenience” to our studies. Of course administration wishes to isolate students and staff when they are the very body placing the educators, and quality of our education at risk.

But even the Vice Chancellor’s debasing email cannot mask our right as students to support the strike:

“No student will be penalized if their class does not take place or if they are unable to attend their class”

Striking is a legitimate reason for being unable to attended class. We cannot be penalized.

The SRC is here to support you make the choice not to cross the picket line. If you feel you are being unjustly disadvantaged, the SRC Case Workers can help you. Email help@src.usyd.edu.au  or come see us in the SRC office (Basement of Wentworth building).

The SRC values your education as you do, and hence asks all students to choose to stay home, or join the picket on an NTEU strike day. If the University continues to refuse negotiation with the NTEU on fair teaching conditions, there will be another.

To cross or not to cross a picket line is an active, polarizing choice, and we ask you to choose to act in solidarity with your teachers.

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