The University of Sydney Student Representative Council (SRC) has condemned university management’s plans to “dismantle” the Koori Centre, which has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at the university since 1989.
The Koori Centre also coordinates the teaching of Indigenous Studies.
The university says the Koori Centre’s functions will be incorporated into a broader “Centre for Cultural Competencies”. Management has assured staff no jobs will be lost in the process, but many students and staff feel that have been inadequately consulted about the changes.
Koori Centre staff and programs will be spread across 16 different faculties.
In an August 1 motion, the SRC said it “condemns the dismantling of the Koori Centre, and that the SRC recognises that a politically independent space is essential for the support and retention of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students”.
It also called “on management to halt all changes until all staff and students have been genuinely consulted with, and are allowed to have their say in what occurs”.
The SRC said the Koori centre had “grown to be an important, safe and welcoming space for the community”, whereas Deputy Vice-Chancellor Shane Houston's plan to “decentralise” the Koori Centre’s functions was “not beneficial for Aboriginal and Torres Islander Students and is seen by some students as assimilationist in its design and execution”.
The SRC criticised Houston for failing to meet with concerned students about the changes and said students did not know enough about the role or scope of the proposed new “Centre for Cultural Competencies”.
It said: “This deliberate strategy of withholding information is designed to minimise any potential opposition to the changes.”