SCA students defeat merger but fight not over

The campaign to save Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) has dealt a serious blow to the University of Sydney’s plan to shut the art school, but the fight is not over.

The University of Sydney has ditched its plan to close SCA and “merge” it into the University of NSW. The Heads of Agreement with UNSW didn’t even survive two months.

But Sydney Uni still plans to close the Rozelle campus down at the end of the year and move remaining SCA students to its main campus. The campaign will now have to press the advantage and escalate to keep SCA at Callan Park.

“This is more motivation to keep fighting. The dissolution of the Heads of Agreement will not placate us and we will continue to fight to keep SCA at Callan Park,” SCA student Jemima Wilson said.

The campaign so far has shown that protest works.

Six weeks of campaigning saw students, alumni, the arts community and other supporters demonstrate at the University Senate and at the opening of the Archibald Prize.

Thousands signed petitions and prominent artists such as Ben Quilty voiced strong public opposition to the plan.

It was this pressure that killed off the agreement with UNSW.

What remains of the University of Sydney’s plan will still be a major blow to students, staff and the arts in general if it goes ahead.

In place of the UNSW merger Vice Chancellor Michael Spence said that SCA will be merged into the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in an announcement at the end of July.

He also said that SCA will be moved to main campus at the start of 2017.

A move to the main campus places jobs, the college’s facilities, and the curriculum at risk.

There have been no guarantees to preserve what students and staff have at Callan Park.

The university has also discontinued the Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) from 2017. According to Spence a “re-imagined” BVA would then be reintroduced in 2018. Discontinuing the degree means SCA will lose student enrolments.

A smaller number of students will be used to justify downsizing staff and the curriculum.

Michael Spence has said the move, “will avoid the unnecessary costs of remaining at Rozelle for more than a transition period”. This underlines the fact that the plan to move SCA to the main campus is part of a purely profit driven agenda that involves no regard for the arts, staff or students whatsoever.

The Let SCA Stay campaign must build on its partial victory and continue to fight until its demands are met.

Students will hold a General Assembly on 10 August to vote on holding a student strike during the major demonstration of staff and students on 17 August.

Escalation will be essential to killing off the rest of management’s plan.

Students need to go all out to strike and boycott classes to ensure the protest on 17 August is absolutely massive.

Show your support by joining the 17 August rally at 1pm at the Madison Building at the University of Sydney, Camperdown campus.

By Dylan Griffiths and Adam Adelpour

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