Misc //

NDAs of our lives

Like sands through the hourglass, so too are these the top five protests of the year, writes John Gooding.

5. End the Ban on Raue

The Cause: After being involved in an altercation with a security guard during Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s visit to the Quad, then-USU VP Tom Raue found himself on the wrong end of a one-month ban from the University. Incensed, the Left took to the Quad.

The Vibe: Got off to an awkward start when the Fairfax reporter and photographer turned up on time and the hundred or so protestors were fifteen minutes late. Got off to an awkward middle when the chant “Touch one, touch all, end the ban on Raue” made an appearance. After some research, your correspondent understands this lyric is from a union song, but this doesn’t change the fact that, to the uninitiated, it sounds pretty fucking weird.

4. The protest against Julie Bishop visiting the Quad AKA #bishopatusyd AKA #abbottatusyd

The Cause: One unassuming day on campus, unanticipated reports of Tony Abbott on campus quickly flooded in. Upon arriving, the prominent Liberal on campus turned out to be Bishop. Close enough, most thought. Incensed, the Left took to the stairwell.

The Vibe: If you measure the quality of a protest by the resulting amount of grainy, unstable video footage uploaded and then hurriedly deleted off social media as the police may or may not be able to use it to charge people with crimes, #bishopatusyd was a resounding success. End the Ban on Raue was orderly, quiet, and very pre-planned. By contrast, #bishopatusyd was chaotic, loud, and totally unforeseen. Truly an homage to snap protests of old.

3. The Leard Blockade

The Cause: Mining company Whitehaven has for some time been attempting to clear sections of the Leard State Forest in northwest NSW to create the largest open-cut coalmine in the country. Incensed, the Left took to the forests (repeatedly, over the course of the year).

The Vibe: Look, fixtures on the trot always attract a smaller crowd, but that crowd is all the more passionate for it. Any old punter can drag themselves to Eastern Avenue to rail against the latest exploits of the neoliberal agenda, but only true USyd believers have been willing to make the 500km hike to the Leard.

2. The Howard Cup Protest AKA #pyneatusyd

The Cause: The John Howard Debating Cup, founded in 2010, is a competition between university Liberal clubs across Sydney. This year the contest was held at St John’s College, and judged by Education Minister Christopher Pyne. Three weeks earlier, a federal budget including university fee deregulation had been dropped on the Australian people. Incensed, the Left took to the colleges.

The Vibe: There are many entrances to St John’s, and one fence extending perpendicular to the building. Protestors arrived before Pyne and the doors were sealed in response. In order to cover all possible points the Pyne-ster could breach, the assembled protestors had to alternate between jogging clockwise around the building, and then counterclockwise once they reached the fence. This was made all the more awkward as an ABC reporter and camera operator were in tow.

1. The NDA (the first one)

The Cause: Budget cuts and shit. Incensed, the Left took to Broadway (not that one).

The Vibe: Genuinely the biggest motherfucking protest Honi has ever been to, this NDA-shake brought activists and Regular StudentsTM alike to the yard. After the USyd contingent congregated outside Fisher Library, the decision was made to bypass Spence’s office before heading down to UTS and beyond. This turned out to be ill-fated, as the long snake of students politely obeying the ‘Keep off the grass’ signs ended up taking several minutes to pass through the Quad, meaning USyd was late to the cross-campus protest. Although the NDA lost many USyd hacks to the throes of the USU Board elections after an hour, it retained strength all the way to Town Hall. N-D-Yay!

The first NDA certainly set the tone for a big year of protests at Sydney University. But the sequels always suck.

Image: Mikaela Bartels