Australian National University (ANU) students have set an example in the fight against cuts.
A proposal to cut tutorials in the College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) met with zealous resistance. As a result, the university administration were forced to listen to us and have backed down from the tutorial cuts.
In true Orwellian fashion, a review released in September found “no evidence that the College intended to abolish tutorials or compel staff to adopt forum-style teaching”. Back in August they had announced their intention to “move to different delivery models” instead of tutorials.
It was this announcement that prompted a rally in August that ended with a fiery occupation of the Dean’s office. Students poured into her office through the fire escape, chanting, “bullshit, come off it, our education is not for profit.”
Students kept up the pressure with a theatrical “die-in” at the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s open day address. We showed that we are not afraid to disrupt and embarrass the administration. We showed the power of students when they mobilise to defend their education. The administration is on the backfoot. But while we may have won this battle, there’s still a war going on.
CASS will lose up to $1 million next year from budget cuts. And the cuts are not isolated to CASS. A preliminary university budget will slash $686,178 from CAP (College of Asia Pacific) and a staggering $1 million from the college of Medicine, Biology and the Environment. (This includes the Climate Change Institute and the Fenner School of Environment and Society).
We need to learn from our success fighting for tutorials. To challenge the VC’s slash and burn attitude to our education we need to mobilise. The Education Action Group held a successful speakout in October. When students return to class next year we need to be ready to fight to secure tutorials and defend courses and lecturers from these cuts.
By Geraldine Fela