Open letter: whose university is University of Sydney?
I am one of the community members arrested at the first day of the 48 hours strike of the University of Sydney workers. I am now indefinitely banned by a university board from the university, after closely filming the assaults against my friends and others in the community who participated in the strike, and being arrested and assaulted myself by police. This is not an allegation, it is a truth.
The questions I want to ask are:
1. Who should be involved in making decisions about who can and who can't be at a public university? I am not the only one who had such a notice handed to me while being held in a police cell at Newtown. Who is happy about leaving such decisions to a board, and why? Globally, it is common practice and result of grassroots struggles, for cops to be banned from campus (such universities are called autonomous universities, there are lots around), instead of sitting back and accepting when dissenters and observers are banned. Cops have been granted the role of deciding arbitrarily when dissent has 'gone too far', it is important to question that.
2. Who should be involved in making decisions about working conditions of the educators and those that work to support this education system? The strike is about working conditions, and not sitting back and accepting as 'given' whatever is decided top-down, that only has profit and neoliberal interests behind the decisions.
Ultimately, it's worth looking at the whole education system, of top-down decision making by some board, instead of people actively shaping our education. It shouldn't be impossible nor utopian, to imagine debating how to change the way we participate in education. To have grassroots debates leading to transformations. Debates-driven-transformations to education, that liberate us, help us grow, to dream and create the futures we want. Education without the constraints of ways we have known of how education works, that have been imposed for so long as to stop us from thinking of other ways. Imagine education that gives the space for us to see and critically act about the status quo, instead of reinforcing it. This would be an education shaped by a democracy that is participative.
There are things we can do to create and spark participative democracy, take ownership of things that we are part of. Question and question, visualise and visualise, and share. Reflect. I am part of this university community and in relation to the ban, I emphasise that there is no process or space of community discussion behind this decision, of who is and who is not welcome on campus.