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Issue #1562      29 August 2012

Struggle at La Trobe

Against the backdrop of deep cuts to the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences (HUSS), La Trobe University management has introduced strict new anti-protest regulations. The directive issued by the Vice-Chancellor last week is unprecedented in Australia.

The directive is aimed at stifling two protests that are planned to take place at the Bundoora campus this week. The Vice-Chancellor, John Dewar, has directed that “any planned protest be notified in writing ... at least 24 hours prior to the commencement of any protest.” And that “A specific area of the campus will be designated for any protests ...”

The directive is specifically designed to discourage people from alerting potential students about the planned cuts which will result in hundreds of subjects being slashed, entire areas of study being abolished and at least 41 job losses.

Perhaps the most draconian part of the directive is “A failure by a student to comply with the requirements of this direction will be treated as General Misconduct ...”

Under the university’s rules this means students who defy the directive can face fines, suspension and even expulsion from the university.

Socialist Party member and Latrobe University student Chris Dite said , “The idea that students and staff should be denied the democratic right to protest on campus is not acceptable. This is a clear attempt by management to try and neutralise our campaign. We will not be told when and where we can say no to the deep cuts being inflicted by this administration.”

Socialist Party member and La Trobe University student Kirk Leonard said “If the university gets away with this it will set a very dangerous precedent. This is not just an attack on student rights but also on the rights of the campus staff.

“The only misconduct that is occurring here is coming from university management. They need to understand that there is widespread opposition to their plans. We are not living under a dictatorship; they need to accept that people have the right to defend public education.

“Regardless of the directive students, staff and supporters will protest on Wednesday and at Open Day with the plan to cause maximum disruption,” Kirk said.  

Next article – Nuke South Wales?

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