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Students occupy office of SCA Dean to protest job cuts

Eden Faithfull reports on the latest in the campaign to save Sydney College of the Arts.

Eden Faithfull reports on the latest in the campaign to save Sydney College of the Arts.

Sydney College of the Arts students have occupied the offices of the school’s administration this afternoon. The occupation is in response to the decision to close the Callan Park campus and enact major staff and course cuts by University management.

Students announced at a rally last week that if Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence failed to meet student demands, the campaign against management would escalate.

Around 13 students have barricaded doors of the SCA administration building from 1 pm this afternoon, and a rally has been organized on the campus for 5 pm. The occupation is projected to last for three days.

Today’s action comes after the University proposed, in an email distributed to students on August 9, staff cuts of up to 60 per cent, closure of the ceramics, jewellery, and glass studios, and the loss of the Rozelle–Kirkbride campus.

The students in the occupation announced five demands, including that the Dean of SCA, Colin Rhodes, be removed and replaced with a new team more “fully representative of the staff of SCA”.

They also requested that the Bachelor of Visual Arts be reinstated in 2017.

“This occupation has happened because over 5,000 students have signed a petition that has simply been ignored. The student consultation group will not work around questions of staff facilities,” said Dylan Griffiths, Education Officer of the USyd Students Representative Council.

“We’re making a statement loud and clear to the administration office that they have neglected staff and students,” said Kelton Muir, a member of the occupation. “We are now taking over that administration, and we will be electing the students that are here as our new deans and representatives of the student body to coordinate how the campus flourishes.”

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon and NSW MP Jamie Parker will be lending their support to the protest early this evening.

Today’s action comes after months of protest following the University’s announcement that SCA would be moved from Callan Park, including a mooted but then botched attempt to merge with UNSW’s art school.

Occupiers are welcoming any supporters to join them over the next few days, and can be contacted here.