Over one hundred people gathered outside the Carslaw building on March 16 to protest the planned restructure of the University of Sydney.
Michael Thomson, President of the USyd National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) branch, delivered the first speech. “Sydney Uni leads the sector in one way, the Vice Chancellor’s pay [$1.3M],” he proclaimed.
One of the biggest concerns raised was the newly proposed four-year Liberal Arts and Science degrees. Linda Connor, a member of the NTEU bargaining team, explained staff concerns regarding the plans. In particular, that there “would be no funding allocated to the teachers of the additional year”.
The rally moved from outside Carslaw, along Eastern Avenue and into the Main Quadrangle. It finished with more speeches outside the office of the Vice Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence.
Dylan Griffiths, Students’ Representative Council (SRC) Education Officer, spoke of the how the University had “more than enough money to keep the SCA (Sydney College of the Arts) in Rozelle”, which is due to be sacrificed as part of the restructure.
The final speaker, a member of the NSW NTEU delivered a scathing blow to University management. “What seems to underpin everything is the desire to jump ahead of the University of Melbourne on the world rankings,” he said.
There was a strong presence from activists across the University, representing a variety of different groups. The protest remained peaceful throughout and campus security did not intervene at any point.
The protest was organised by the Sydney University Education Action Group, in conjunction with the NTEU (National Tertiary Education Union).
Lachlan Ward, the General Secretary of the SRC, told Honi, “The rally was overall quite effective as it managed to engage students who had never been involved in student activism before.”