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Save Our Staff Organising Protest In Canterbury

April 2006

Save Our Staff Organising Protest In Canterbury

In light of the recent refusal to meet student demands by Vice Chancellor of the University of Canterbury, student group SOS (Save Our Staff) finds further action necessary. They plan a 24-hour “Teach-In” from noon on Thursday April 6th to noon on Friday April 7th.

Lecturers have been invited to speak on interesting topics in their field of expertise, preferably which relate in some way to the current situation at the University of Canterbury. “We are showing that we do want to learn, that we do care, and that there is more to a university than money flowing one way and bits of paper with degree marked on them flowing in the other,” says SOS member Alexandra McKubre. Talks are scheduled from noon to midnight, and following this there will be music and other activities.

On Wednesday the 22nd, SOS hosted a rally outside the university registry, attended by hundreds of students, staff and other concerned individuals. The crowd cheered wildly as they listened to speakers, including a member of SOS, academic staff from a variety of disciplines, and Green Party MP Metiria Turei.

They spoke about the proposed staff cuts in the College of Arts, the importance of the Arts faculty to act as critic and conscience of society, and about problems with the business model by which the university is being run, specifically the college model which pits colleges against each other and undermines the university’s ability to run as a unified whole.

In little more than an hour, over 800 people signed a petition which read “We, the undersigned, demand that the scheduled forced redundancies of academic staff are frozen, and the provision of a public forum with the students (open to the media), in which the Senior Management Team responds to the concerns of individual students and any arguments against the cuts”. However, at a meeting with SOS representatives on Monday the 27th, Roy Sharp gave his refusal to meet these demands. In particular, he was adamantly opposed to media presence.

Students are appalled by the staff cuts and the system the come out of. “I just can’t figure out why the management would want to sack people if they are sitting on a huge surplus. Its not their education that’s going down the drain, its mine!” says philosophy student Sagar Sanyal, referring to the unprecedented $9 million dollar plus surplus made by the university last year.

Save Our Staff representative Daria Wadsworth agrees: “A general disregard for academic values and freedom is being displayed by the Vice Chancellor and other senior management, and with this Teach-In we wish to show them that academic staff and students are united against these management decisions.”


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