The shocking image of a campus cop at the University of California (UC) Davis coldly circling in front of a line of seated protesters, taking aim and pepper-spraying them at point-blank range has now been seen around the world. The November 18 assault has become a new symbol of the vicious crackdown on the Occupy movement, from one end of the country to the other. In the face of widespread and growing outrage, UC officials are scrambling to explain why their police thought it was necessary to assault peaceful demonstrators with chemical weapons.
Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin released the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Report on Consultations on October 18. The federal government facilitated “community consultations” across the NT between June and August, discussing future policy toward Aboriginal communities after the Northern Territory Emergence Response (NT intervention) legislation expires in June next year.
On October 18, about 200 students held a “Save Political Economy” demonstration at the University of Sydney, organised by the Political Economy Students Society (EcopSoc). The university administration is considering abolishing political economy as a separate department. The department was established in the 1970s after a big campaign of protests and occupations by students and staff who wanted economics courses that taught a wide range of theories — not just the right-wing orthodoxy.
Teachers say the Barry O’Farrell Coalition state government has divulged its plans to cut TAFE wages and conditions and then likely privatise it by splitting TAFE teachers away from the collective bargaining power of their primary and secondary teacher colleagues. Education minister Adrian Piccoli introduced changes to the TAFE commission act into the NSW parliament on October 11 without notice or consultation with the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF).
The University of Sydney Political Economy Students Society released the statement below to explain its Save Political Economy campaign. * * * The Department of Political Economy is under threat of amalgamation into a school of Politics and International Relations. The School of Social and Political Sciences is undergoing a review. In the draft proposals for School restructuring, two of the four proposals result in Political Economy being amalgamated into a School or Department of Politics and International Relations, and losing academic and administrative independence.
NSW education minister Adrian Piccol has announced a process of “community consultation on the reform of TAFE and the vocational education and training sector in NSW”. The NSW Liberal government plans to repeat its Victorian counterpart’s attacks on public education and further privatise vocational education. The government plans to encourage private colleges and universities to undercut TAFE providers. It will offer a publicly-funded student voucher system to achieve this.
As part of its attacks on the NSW public sector, the O’Farrell Liberal government will begin charging parents up to $40 a day for each child they send to the once-free public preschools run by the Department of Education and Community Services (DEC). The fees will be introduced next year to the 100 DEC preschools across NSW. These preschools were established to improve the educational opportunities for students in poor socio-economic areas, including communities that may be isolated, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Over the past month, humanities and social sciences students at Adelaide University have successfully fought back against attempted cuts to their tutorials. In July, deputy vice-chancellor Professor Pascale Quester announced cuts to tutorial numbers from 12 to 10 or nine. The lost tutorials would be replaced by optional one-on-one consultation time with tutorial teachers. On August 24, at a student-management forum organised by Adelaide University Union (AUU) president Raffaele Piccolo, Quester tried to justify the cuts on educational grounds.
Students from the University of Wollongong have campaigned over the past three years for the university to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2015. They have collected more than 3000 signatures from students in support of the plan. The university administration has instead begun plans to build a trigeneration plant on the campus, which would generate electricity through burning natural gas.
These days, there aren’t many victories against attacks on working-class people by neoliberal governments and greedy, ruthless corporations. This makes the victory in the campaign to save Melbourne’s only Aboriginal school, the Ballerrt Mooroop College in Melbourne’s northern suburb of Glenroy, especially important. Late on September 12, the state education minister Martin Dixon sent an email to campaigners saying that he had agreed to the compromise plan that had been negotiated between the Ballerrt Mooroop College and the Glenroy Specialist School for disabled children (GSS).
“The future of the education struggle in Chile is uncertain, but we are very hopeful of the outcome," University of Chile academic Dr Leonora Reyes told a September 15 forum at the Queensland University of Technology. "But for sure, after this cycle of student upsurge, our country will not return to the past.” The forum was sponsored by Australian Solidarity with Latin America (ASLA), the National Tertiary Education Union (University of Queensland) and the QUT Student Guild and was chaired by Socialist Alternative's Rebecca Barrigos.
Since May, Chile has been rocked by sustained protests, occupations and strikes by students and their supporters in a huge struggle for free, public education. The fight is part of the struggle to overturn the legacy of the 1973-'90 Pinochet dictatorship. From the very beginning, students and educators were an important target for the dictatorship. General Augusto Pinochet led a US-backed military coup against the elected left-wing government of president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973.
To: All the female and male Chilean students, and to their families. In the face of the attacks on education by the Chilean government and the accompanying pressures of national and international financial corporations, a strong, sizeable and inspiring student movement exists. Student activists are doing everything possible to protect public education because education is a right for everyone and should not be sold. We state that: We sympathise with and we fully support all Chilean students. Education should be free and accessible.
“At least 87 [Greek university] departments were under student occupation, with the number increasing by the hour,” OccupiedLondon.org said on August 31. “General Assemblies are happening all of this and next week and it is very likely that the number will increase dramatically. “There seems to be a completely unprecedented agreement between students across almost the entire political spectrum for mobilisations against the voted law: this is rapidly becoming a stand-off between the Student community and the Parliament.”
Students rallied on August 29 against RMIT’s decision to terminate the Bachelor of Applied Science (Disability) course in 2012. The course is the only disability specific degree available in Victoria and provides students with a professional education and a platform to offer leadership, innovation and quality service to community and disability-related groups. In a statement on its website, RMIT said the course was cancelled because: “Interest in the degree has diminished over several years, resulting in the lowest ever number of applicants in 2010.”
There were amazing scenes in Chile on August 21 when 1 million people marched in Santiago chanting: “The people united will never be defeated!” These were awe-inspiring scenes of mass mobilisation. The acute trigger is the privatisation of the education system. The underlying trigger is relentless and ever widening social and financial inequality. If the people know about neoliberal policies, it is the Chileans.