No fees campaign grows at Melbourne University

May 21, 1997

No fees campaign grows at Melbourne University

By Ray Fulcher and Marce Cameron

MELBOURNE— Following the successful student day of action on May 8 and the militant occupation of Melbourne University administration, students there have been planning an ongoing campaign to force a back-down on up-front fees from the university council.

On May 12 an Education Action Group meeting of more than 40 people decided to build a campus rally the next day.

The rally drew a lively crowd of 250 people, including students from other campuses and high school students. Students marched to the Baillieu Library and staged a peaceful sit-in, at which speakers demanded that library cuts be reversed.

The next destination was the vice-chancellor's house, which was "auctioned" by the rally.

Meeting again on May 15, the EAG voted to build a student general meeting on May 22 to continue pressure on the vice-chancellor by adopting a list of demands. In addition to rescinding plans to introduce full up-front fees in 1998, other demands include a pay rise for staff and an end to fees for postgrad and overseas students.

EAG also resolved to build a campus rally on May 29 at 1pm, Concrete Lawns, in order to keep up the pressure and draw more students into the no fees campaign.

That rally will be joined at 2pm by students from around Victoria in a Student Unionism Network-called statewide day of action against fees.

Jo Williams, student union education officer and Resistance activist, believes that students can win their primary demand. "If we can build a long-term, sustained campaign that shows a majority of the university population is opposed to their plan, and we can draw in other sectors of the community, then we can place enough pressure on the council to back down."

Williams said that for this to happen, "We need a diversity of actions that will draw in as many people as possible and allow them to participate in and direct the campaign".

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