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Campus activism stifled by venue booking delays

University Venues often takes weeks to respond to requests.

Activists on campus have said that their work has been stifled due to excessive delays by University Venues.

Under the University’s most recent COVID-19 event conditions, a venue booking request must be made 20 to 30 business days in advance, with more notice required for larger events.

However, SRC Office Bearers have told Honi that it often takes much longer to hear back. “University Venues can sometimes go for weeks without responding to emails, and must be prompted over and over again to respond,” Environment Officer Lauren Lancaster said.

These processing times are especially impractical given the fluctuating nature of activism, which often requires events to be organised quickly as causes and campaigns arise.

“We can’t simply organise everything eight weeks in advance,” Women’s Officers Amelia Mertha and Kimmy Dibben told Honi. “Two weeks can even be a push for snap events.”

Several SRC Collectives have already been impacted by delays in venue bookings including the Women’s Collective, which was forced to move its Radical Sex and Consent Week from Semester 1 to early Semester 2. 

“We’re glad we can keep these important conversations going in Semester 2, however months will have gone by since the peak of the national conversation around sexual assault and consent,” Mertha and Dibben said

“It has been quite demoralising at times to not be able to have a space at our own university when needed… These administrative hurdles are unnecessary and harm vital activism on campus.” 

The Environment Collective has also faced uncertainty organising its upcoming Student General Meeting — an event requiring quorum of 200 attendees — due to difficulties in securing a meeting venue. 

“Despite giving [University Venues] 21 days notice, we will probably have to make other arrangements as we have no confidence that we’ll hear back from them in time,” Lancaster said. “It feels almost hopeless.”

When asked what was causing delays, a University spokesperson said: “Additional checks — implemented to ensure our events are being held in a COVID-safe manner that align with Public Health Orders as they are issues — have caused delays in some instances.”

“We’re continuing to work to ensure our processes are working as efficiently as possible, as we engage with our staff and student community on events.”