A concerning new precedent has been set for how university managements can deal with student activism.
Students from the Education Action Group (EAG) have been organising to support staff at the University of Sydney, who are fighting attacks on pay and working conditions.
The EAG created large posters to inform students about the strike, which has been organised by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) for 13 September. The posters, urging students to respect the picket and encouraging them to get involved, were put around the campus Thursday morning.
However, management deemed the posters “damaging [to] the property of the university” and directed campus security to harass those who were seen with them.
One security guard entered the Student Representative Council building – the first time campus authorities have done so – and confiscated the remaining posters.
The fact that campus security was able to steal materials kept in a student institution is a blatant attack on student rights. It’s a way of cracking down on campus protest and is an attempt to undermine the staff strike by hindering student solidarity.
Campus security guards increasingly police many aspects of student life. We need to fight back against the encroachment on our right to organise politically at the university. This means rejecting the presence of these forces on campus and recognising that they don’t serve students or staff – they do the work of the university bosses.
Management isn’t going to get its way this time, however; the NTEU will be helping the EAG to print more posters so that activists can continue to publicise our solidarity with university workers in the lead up to the strike.
All supporters are welcome to join the picket line at the City Rd entrance, from 7 am on Wednesday 13 September.
Hersha is a member of the Sydney University Education Action Group