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Registry occupation at Canterbury is over

Registry occupation at Canterbury is over

Matthew Thomas

After some 53 hours, the student occupation of the registry building at the University of Canterbury is over.

The occupation ended at about 7 pm, after extended negotiations between student representatives, members of the Association of University Staff (AUS), University vice-chancellor Daryl LeGrew, and other University officials.

University of Canterbury Students Association president-elect Jarrod Gilbert said that Professor LeGrew had agreed to three proposals put forward by the students and AUS.

Firstly, vice-chancellors, students, and academic staff from all New Zealand universities will take part in a conference in mid-November, to present a united view to politicians on the subject of university funding.

Secondly, Mr Gilbert said Professor LeGrew had given assurances that student fees would not rise, between 2000 and 2001, by any more than could be excused by inflation or by a reduction in Government funding.

And thirdly, he said academic staff have been given assurances that cost-cutting moves carried out by the university will not affect lecturer-to-student ratios.

The registry occupation began at 2 pm on Tuesday, after a protest rally against what students described as a 45-percent average fee increase. A smaller increase, of between 6 percent and 33 percent depending on the course, was approved by the University Council on Wednesday afternoon. At a rally following the University Council meeting, students decided to continue the occupation for a second night.

Shortly after 9 o'clock this morning, in keeping with a prior agreement with the occupiers, University officials gave a warning that they were about to call the police. Students swarmed into the registry to help resist any eviction attempt, swelling numbers inside the building to several hundred. Some lecturers reportedly ended their lectures immediately and encouraged their students to join the occupation. The police never arrived.

A rally at midday today attracted more students to the occupation. It also attracted a number of politicians to speak, including the leader of the Alliance, Jim Anderton, as well as representatives from New Zealand First, Labour, and National.

The New Zealand First and Labour representatives were heckled by some students, and National's spokesperson, Christchurch Central candidate John Stringer, was shouted down completely.

Meanwhile, negotiations between students and the vice-chancellor broke down this morning, but were restarted at 2 o'clock this afternoon, resulting in this evening's agreement.

Jarrod Gilbert said he was pleased with what the occupation had achieved. `I think it's a great result', he said.

`We came to the negotiating table with three things ... we've got those three things. And the fees aren't as high as we were expecting, as well.'

The placards and banners have gone from the Registry building, along with the students. No longer is the sound of dance music coming from the sixth floor. No longer are all visitors to the Registry challenged at the door. And no longer are the rooms littered with sleeping bags, backpacks, and newspapers.

And now, the only people occupying the Registry are the security guards -- and the cleaners.


Related Scoop stories

  • Police threaten to evict Canterbury occupiers [Scoop Headlines, 1999-10-07 10:00 am]
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL9910/S00027.htm
  • Matthew Thomas (mpt@mailandnews.com) is a student at the University of Canterbury.

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