Students at the University of Sydney have occupied the uni administration building, saying they’re “not planning on leaving” until the uni commits to reversing staffing cuts.
Around 100 students stormed past security on Wednesday afternoon and made it to the top floor, where they’ve been chanting at management for hours.
The students are demanding the uni reverses proposed staff cuts to the Medical School and commits to no other cuts in the near future. Despite the coronavirus pandemic and the drop in international student enrolments, the student revenue has actually increased by $65 million over 2019.
“This is just one of many cuts that have been across the university this year that have been justified by the smokescreen of COVID-19 revenue loss,” the students said in a statement.
“We know that this is erroneous: the university is running a revenue surplus this year.
“These cuts are disgraceful and the staff feedback in response to these management decisions have been overwhelmingly negative.”
USyd students are currently occupying the universities administration building, where senior management, including Michael Spence, have their offices. Students are refusing to leave until the university commit to reversing all staff and course cuts. #Auspol pic.twitter.com/dnEBFPXg7l— jazz (@opinionatedleft) October 28, 2020
Students entered the building at around 2:30pm after attending protest earlier in the day. They managed to make it all the way up to the top balcony.
“I don’t think that students have ever gotten this far up into the building before,” USyd SRC Education Officer Jazzlyn Breen told PEDESTRIAN.TV from the occupation.
“Everyone was quite shocked. Security didn’t really know what to do.
“They tried to stop us. There was one person trying to stop people walking up the stairs, but there was about 100 students, so that didn’t work.”
The action comes after several peaceful protests against education cuts were repeatedly, and sometimes violently, shut down by police. However, at the time of writing there was no police presence at the building.
Students could be heard chanting about Vice Chancellor Michael Spence, including: “Michael Spence, get out, we know what you’re all about! Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses!” and “Come on out and face us!”
However, staff eventually told them that Spence was working from home.
“We’re not sure if that’s true or not, but regardless, our occupation is more about management in general,” Breen said.
Of the 100-odd students protesting in the afternoon, around 20 to 30 plan on staying for as long as physically possible.
Students have now taken then top floor, the crowd on the ground has grown significantly since this was taken! Come along now if you’re free!— jazz (@opinionatedleft) October 28, 2020
No cuts! No fees! No corporate universities!! #occupyF23 #auspol #nswpol pic.twitter.com/YrsNjMMScS
Morale was still high by Wednesday afternoon, according to the students. Hours after the occupation began, others gathered at the base of the admin building in solidarity, doing call-and-response chants with those up on the balcony.
Breen said the mood has been nothing short of “energetic.”
“This is the most militant it’s been.”
We’re not going anywhere ✊ pic.twitter.com/NPhRHW6XhK
— jazz (@opinionatedleft) October 28, 2020