The Education Action Group and USyd SRC staged on Wednesday a demonstration protesting the University’s plan to enter into negotiations with the Ramsay Centre over a proposed new course in Western Civilization.
Protestors gathered outside Carslaw Learning Hub around noon to hear talks from SRC Education Officer Lily Campbell, NTEU USyd branch Vice-President Damien Cahill, and SRC Co-Womens Officer Jessica Syed before marching down to ABS, where the Senate, the governing body of the University, was holding a monthly meeting.
Damien Cahill, Vice-President of the NTEU USyd branch, stated the union did not support the University entering into negotiations with the Ramsay Centre. “Negotiations between Ramsay and the University of Sydney are a threat to the core values of a University—academic freedom, academic integrity, and academic autonomy.”
The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, funded by part of a $3 billion bequest by Paul Ramsay, was established in November 2017. The Centre plans to establish Western Civilisation degrees at two or “possibly three” Australian universities, with thirty scholarships at each institution. USyd Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence told a June academic board meeting that the University was preparing to enter negotiations with the Centre.
Cahill referred to ANU’s recent disclosure that the Ramsay Centre wanted representatives in tutorials to monitor how the course was taught. “This is the real political correctness, and it’s coming from the right.”
USyd SRC Education Officer Lily Campbell added, “Western Civilisation in this country is founded on the back of genocide, slavery, and still built on racism. It is racism pure and simple.”
Campus security blocked protestors blocked from entering the meeting room on Level 5 of ABS, but they remained directly outside, delivering speeches and chanting slogans. Eventually, the Dean of the Business School requested protesters to leave as students were still undertaking final exams. The request was ignored, but the protest disbanded shortly after speeches concluded.