Today, a Student General Meeting to stop further proposed cuts to the Arts was officially launched by SRC President Swapnik Sanagavarapu, after 200 students signed onto a petition calling for the meeting planned for 27 October.
At the SGM, USyd undergraduate students will vote on a motion to oppose the continuing cuts and school restructures which staff and students are facing in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
A Draft Change Proposal outlining these changes was recently released after months of “consultation,” creating only the illusion of a democratic process with staff. The result of this process hasn’t been a mutually beneficial agreement, but rather a boost to university management’s bottom line.
Any non-essential undergraduate unit with fewer than 24 students will be cut, while several departments including Writing, Asian and Indian Subcontinental Studies will be merged into larger existing departments to save on administration and staffing costs.
Moreover, new mandatory units for Arts degrees will be imposed and the standardisation of the curriculum will be used to justify fewer elective options, as Dean Annamarie Jagose said in the DCP announcement: “Student choice is poor pedagogical practice.”
Staff in the Schools of Business and Dentistry are also being threatened with the humiliating “spill and fill” tactic, described by NTEU representatives as a “perverse game of musical chairs,” whereby they are made to compete with one another for fewer jobs, dissuading solidarity among staff.
Students have vowed to oppose every cut and restructure, and stand in solidarity with staff who are currently amidst EBA negotiations fighting for better wages and conditions, particularly showing support for casuals whose jobs are still at risk in the restructures.
It would be the second SGM this year after the Enviro Collective called one in April to support the climate strike, and the fourth in the University’s history.
Student General Meetings are the most democratic decision-making forums available to students, and are being held across the country. This year, Defend Democracy at Monash amassed 800 signatures for an SGM in opposition to a ban on campus student union campaigning, and at La Trobe it’s been the tactic of choice for voicing student opposition to the fake management-imposed student union, the La Trobe Student Association (LTSA).
Click ‘going’ to the event here and be sure to Zoom in on the day as SGMs need over 250 students to attend in order to reach quorum. Come along to any open organising meeting with the Education Action Group which you can join here.