After 10 years without a student protest, two in the space of six weeks! UWA has returned to the simmering voice of student dissent, what next? Burning our draft cards? Armed takeover of the Chancellery? With these thoughts in mind I turned up to today’s protest expecting the Revolution to begin. When I saw that Campus Security had bought in extra hired muscle, the anticipation was palpable.
And then I turned the corner. On arriving, I noted the thirty-odd students who had turned out for the protest. Apart from the two mature-aged students who actually appeared to be concerned about the issue and left once the rally started, who did we have? Mainly the usual suspects, you know, the friendly red flag wavers. Surprisingly a couple of STAR heavies were there as well, pressing the flesh, shaking hands, kissing babies, the usual. Who would have thought, maybe there is a guild election on or something. But they left when the speeches started as well.
The most interesting part: why all the suits taking photos? Have these crazy kids pissed anybody off lately? There were a lot of hard stares at our intrepid democracy-loving, peaceful protesters. There wasn’t too much said before the main event.
We marched around to the side door to confront the Academic Board. When we travelled the 50 metres to the entrance we were greeted by a wall of security that stopped our advance, either that or maybe some old guy with a funny hat saying ‘you shall not pass’. So we stopped, and had a couple more speeches. Some talk about how the Guild was taking credit for this action and sabotaging it at the same time, claims of victimisation and harassment of students by Security. Only one call of ‘outrageous’.
Most fun was had when the Board turned up. Firstly, our intrepid Guild President, then the VC, Mr. Johnston. I expected rotten fruit to be thrown, for him to be denied access, to see him on the ground being savagely kicked for his affront. No, he was let in without being accosted. Do we even know how to protest?
Overall, it was a nice event, pleasant even. The students were well-behaved, they treated Campus Security with respect and humour (thumbs up kids!). It was just nice. If you want your protests without argy-bargy, this was perfect for you. Come along next time. Maybe the Guild can get it approved as a volunteering activity.
Words by Mark Smith