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300 students protest SCA closure at USyd Senate meeting

Andrew Bell reports.

Protest pic

Approximately 300 activists have physically clashed with police and campus security outside a meeting of the University of Sydney Senate, protesting the announced closure of the Sydney College of the Arts.

Restraining barriers placed on the stairway were shaken down by a group of protesters, although there was no actual movement past the barricade of police officers towards level five, where the Senate meeting was to be held.

The group chanted on level four of the Abercrombie Precinct Business School for over an hour, before moving across campus towards the Quad.

The protest briefly entered a campus security office in the adjacent Services Building, after it was announced by an activist that Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence was in the building.

The protesters described themselves to Honi as as a grassroots coalition of students, alumni and activists.

The Senate is the peak governing body of the University.

Police on the scene declined to comment.

Andrew West, elected fellow of the Senate, spoke in favour of student protest and against the SCA closure at the rally.

West told Honi “The decision to abolish a democratic senate has led to this, and I will do all I can, but I cannot promise victory.”

Jemima Wilson, a central figure in the organisation of the protest, said that the announcement of the SCA Heads of Agreement was designed to avoid student attention and protest.

“They were counting on this not happening. They were counting on apathy,” she said.

“As of March this year, the University gave the SCA the go ahead for business as usual until 2020. We can’t rule out the possibility that this is part of a greater restructure,” she said.

SRC Education Officer Liam Carrigan said, “This rally was organised by the Let SCA Stay campaign group, which sprung up in response to the announced closure of SCA, [a] united front of students, staff, alumni and activists.”

“We organised this because the Senate undemocratically signed a heads of agreement which is unavailable to students,” he said.

The protest finished with the repeated chant: “We’ll be back.” This is unlikely to be the last student protest regarding the future of SCA.

Follow @honi_soit and @Bell_Andrew1 on Twitter for more footage.