What began as an education rally called by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) today has turned into an ongoing occupation of the F23 administration building, outside the offices of Michael Spence and USyd senior management, in protest of cuts to staff in Medical Sciences and the Learning Centre.
The protest began today on the University’s front lawns. Despite the recent updating of the public health order to allow protests of up to 500 attendees, police vehicles were reportedly spotted at both Victoria Park and City Road.
After multiple speeches from the likes of USyd NTEU Branch President Kurt Iveson, local member for Newtown Jenny Leong and USyd SRC Education Officer Jazzlyn Breene, protesters began to march down Eastern Avenue, stopping outside F23.
The protesters eventually swarmed the building and began their occupation, which they say will not end until their demands are met. These demands are as follows:
(i) that the proposed cuts to the revised change proposal to the School of Medical Sciences are fully reversed and;
(ii) the university commits to no cuts to staff and courses.
“We are the university,” stated Breen during her speech. “This institution could function without its corporate management, but not without its staff and students. And if we wanted to, we could shut it down.”
The cuts in question include a large percentage of full-time positions in Pathology, Physiology and Pharmacology being shed. Additionally, a crucial resource benefiting international students has been stripped of several staff members.
Despite this, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that the University saw a budget surplus of over $46 million this year, which nullifies its use of pandemic-based excuses for the recent cuts.
“I don’t think it’s particularly an exaggeration to call the current actions of the School of Medical Sciences evil and machiavellian,” argued Oscar Chaffey, a 3rd Year Medical Science Student who also spoke at the rally. “The entire notion that you would attempt to fire large swathes of medical science staff in the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic is totally farcical.”
A speakout has been called for 5pm outside of the F23 building. Media are encouraged to attend.
Jazzlyn Breen (0488 714 301)
Oscar Chaffey (0451 880 892)