Arts occupiers stand firm

September 2, 2016
Students occupy the Sydney College of the Arts.

As we go to print, the students occupying the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) administration building at Rozelle can proudly say that theirs is the longest occupation in the history of the University of Sydney.

It has now surpassed the 10-day occupation, in 1983, of the Department of Political Economy.

The occupiers want the university to guarantee it will let SCA stay at Callan Park, drop its proposal for a 60% staff cut and reinstate the Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA).

The university has stopped enrolling first year students in the BVA and has not yet budged from its promise to move SCA.

Support for the occupation is growing and now includes the former NSW Liberal arts minister Peter Collins. He condemned the university's “precipitous” decision to shut down the SCA, asking questions about the finances. Ben Quilty, renowned artist and SCA alumni, visited and told the occupiers not to give up.

Unions NSW passed a motion in support on August 25 and organised a community rally on August 28 which drew staff and local residents for a barbecue and speakers.

Activists are getting the word out to students at other universities, including the University of Technology Sydney, the University of NSW and Western Sydney University. A daily “Support the Occupation — Save SCA” marquee is also being held at Sydney University's Camperdown campus.

Occupiers also addressed a Maritime Union of Australia Sydney stop work meeting on September 1, another Unions NSW meeting on the same day and a Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association event.
Occupier and SCA postgraduate student Cecilia Castro told Green Left Weekly on day 11 that the protesters were not going to back down.

“We are not going away until the university sees sense. We keep getting more and more support. Radio Triple J rings us every morning for an update and there is not a day that goes by when a union, community or student group gets in touch about their support”, Castro said.

Susie Nelson, a postgraduate SCA student, called on everyone to support another rally on September 7 at 1pm at the Carslaw building in Sydney University. “We need to show [the university administration] how determined we are. We are inviting alumni and artists to stand with the students, unions and local Callan Park groups.”

[For more information call Cecilia on 0416 555 262 or Susie on 0422 161 166. Promote the University of Sydney rally here.]

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