Students seize Tasmania Uni building

August 27, 1997

Students seize Tasmania Uni building

By Kylie Moon

HOBART — Three hundred students rallied on Tasmania University on August 20 in protest at university plans to cut services. The planned cuts include the amalgamation of three libraries, a $5500 law prac fee, the de-funding of general user computer labs and changes that would virtually abolish the week-long pre-exam study leave and hold exams at night.

The rally heard from Jackie Lynch, the NUS national education officer; Sam Peart, a law student and activist in the Higher Education Action Team; and Gilbert Astorga, NUS state president. It then marched on the offices of Vice-Chancellor Don McNichol.

The administration was being guarded by campus security, so a picket was set up outside the building. Attempts to enter the building were eventually successful via a back entrance.

Once inside, students faced a wall of security guards. After some pushing, the students' determination outweighed security's, and the latter gave up.

Some 200 triumphant students spilled into the administration foyer. A list of demands was drawn up, including that the university account books be opened to allow students to see how the money is being spent. The students refused to leave until their demands had been addressed by the vice-chancellor.

Students also went lecture-bashing to encourage more to join the occupation. Small collectives were set up to organise food and publicity. A banner with "Honk against exam changes. Join the occupation" was hung on a busy street overpass near the admin building.

After three hours, Chris Chapman, the university's deputy principal, visited the occupation. He refused to answer questions, told the students to protest using "formal channels" and threatened to call the police.

Police then moved in, warning that they would arrest anyone who didn't leave. Following the suggestion of SRC secretary David Williams, students decided to leave as a group, chanting, "Fuck you Don, we'll be back, we won't pay no legal prac".

The next day many more people were grabbing handfuls of leaflets to build the next meeting and urging other students to help plan the next action.

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