Honours students have successfully campaigned to continue researching in the Medical Foundation Building, weeks after being told they would be forcibly relocated. Professor Sarah Young, Head of the School of Medical Sciences, informed affected students in an email on Monday that the decision to allow students to remain was taken after having “considered all the feedback we have received.”
The backflip comes after weeks of uncertainty for affected Honours students, who were informed on 13 April that they could no longer conduct research in the building “due to an ongoing police investigation.” They will now be permitted to remain in the Medical Foundation Building, with any who wish to move out of the building to be “accomodated.”
“This situation is complex and we have been consulting with a large number of stakeholders … thank you for your patience,” wrote Professor Young in the email.
It is unclear why consultation with affected students was not undertaken before the initial decision was made, given its disruptive impact on students’ projects, and the fortnight of uncertainty and stress which it has caused.
Students say earlier requests to remain in the building and for greater transparency regarding the initial relocation decision were repeatedly rebuffed in meetings with School leadership. It was only after students sent a letter to leadership outlining their “feedback” that the new decision was made.
SRC President Swapnik Sanagavarapu noted the cooperation between the SRC and National Tertiary Education Union in the campaign, telling Honi: “Management’s quick reversal of their position as soon as any scrutiny was applied to them suggests that the entire process of excluding students on the grounds of ‘WHS risks’ was a vexatious one.”
“When students organise together, as these students did with the help of the SRC, they can demand their rights … it shows the power that can be exercised when staff and students work together and advocate for their common interests.”
“Management’s bullying, cruelty and deception will never be tolerated nor meekly accepted by students and staff.”
The reversal represents a successful campaign against a decision made by Faculty of Medicine and Health management. The Defend Medical Science Education and Save the Anderson Stuart Building campaigns have previously protested cuts to the School of Medical Sciences and the eviction of researchers from the Anderson Stuart Building.