Students protest with a tent university
By Emma Webb
ADELAIDE — Students have established a "tent university" outside the ALP state office following the No Fees National Day of Action rally on May 3.
The tent university — proclaimed Australia's only free university — is being organised by the SA Education Network (SAEN). Fifteen to 30 activists are camping there, with another 60 participating during the day. Besides being a highly visible protest against federal Labor's education policies, the tent university is also helping to organise future actions against fees and education funding cutbacks.
Banners, placards, badges, T-shirts and leaflets are all being produced there. Issue workshops have been conducted by Campaign for an Independent East Timor and HEMP, and more are being planned to involve the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement, the Native Forest Alliance, the East Timorese community, feminists, the CFMEU and education activists.
Throughout last week, trade unionists, local residents and shop owners, radio stations and activists from other campaigns have been dropping by, giving messages of support and donations of food and blankets.
Support activities have included a "honk for East Timor", a banner drop over the ALP office windows and massive chalk-ups all over the city and campuses. On May 9, a federal budget night rally and band night, which attracted 80 people, was held at the tent university.
Students have also been continuously leafleting Trades and Labour Council meetings and the unionists entering Trades Hall, where the ALP office is located. The CFMEU has hung a banner on its office windows, directly above the ALP office, that reads "Building Workers Support Students".
The Adelaide City Council attempted to force the tent university off "public land". However, TLC secretary John Lesses intervened to defend the students' right to protest. The council eventually backed down.
The tent university was originally intended to wind up on May 10. Inspired by the success of the action, and by news of other actions interstate, SAEN decided to relocate the tent university to the Barr Smith Lawns on Adelaide University on May 16. All interested people are encouraged to join.