Education Officer’s Report – Week 3, Sem 2, 2016

Liam Carrigan and Dylan Griffiths

The success of the ‘Let SCA Stay’ campaign in beating back management and their attempts to merge the school with UNSW is the first major victory of collective action we have seen this year. As we approach the final months of our term as Education Officers it seems appropriate to reflect on why this particular campaign was so successful.

Previously, our efforts in the first half of the year were focused on building rallies to varying degrees of success, holding snap protests against the Liberals and attempting to maintain momentum in the lull after the shelving of fee deregulation. Whilst it was hoped the restructure would inspire a mass staff and student campaign, following a successful staff and student rally early in Semester One, resistance stalled as the University pushed ahead with their agenda. The changes to the senate, wherein elected alumni and staff positions were removed in pursuit of a corporate governance structure are now irreversible. Despite staff and student opposition, the Education faculty was moved into Arts and Social Sciences. The 2016-2020 Strategic Plan was replete with worrying suggestions, funneling students into expensive postgraduate degrees through limited undergraduate options, building links with the corporate sector and destroying honours. The University solidified its move away from a community of staff and scholars, pursuing a neoliberal model of tertiary education that is fast becoming the norm in Australia.
Against this backdrop, students at Sydney University should be aware that the myth of millennial entitlement our elders feed us is a fucking lie. Thanks to the Baird government our city has become a soulless ghost town. The changes hit us hardest: lockout laws, opal fare hikes and anti protest legislation are direct attacks on us. But under our neoliberal backdrop it is hard to notice the collective war being raged upon us. The capacity to organize against and recognize these attacks has been severely weakened by voluntary student unionism, the destruction of free education, inadequate government support and a precarious job market upon graduation.

However, at Callan Park, the attack was so obvious and vicious that the students of SCA refused to take it lying down. Upon being informed that they were to be shipped off to UNSW like unwanted furniture they channeled that anger into a strategic, organized and vibrant student campaign. They refused the logic of Steven Garton, chasing him and his cronies off campus. A visit to the senate snowballed into the biggest on campus rally since 2012. The vigil at the Archibald Prize was emblematic of the strong community support from across NSW they were able to rally to their cause. Although the Universities decision to abandon the ‘Heads of Agreement’ with NSW was a success, the campaign is not one. Let SCA Stay will not stop fighting until the BVA is reinstated and the future of SCA as a world class visual arts school is ensured.

Study. Be Silent. Die. I remember seeing this graffiti on campus in my first year, and believe its message is one that has been proven time and time again to students on this campus. We should all take inspiration from the students of SCA and continue to demand a better future, because we aren’t going to get one without a fight. Start by joining us on August 17th at the Rally to demand SCA Stays at 1pm at the Quad and on August 24th at the National Day of Action at 1pm outside Fisher Library demanding more money for Education, Not Corporate Tax Evasion.