By Madison Lee
Calling a Referendum
Trying to stop staff and course cuts in 2021 comes with many barriers, and it seems at times impossible to do the right things to penetrate the ivory towers that UWA management hides in. When the idea of calling a referendum was raised, it was soon realised that it would take a lot of coordination and dedication to get a successful result.
Firstly, 500 student signatures were needed to call the referendum at the UWA Student Guild Elections. This was achieved, but then it needed to happen a few more times after discrepancies with the wording of the question, which ended up being: “Do you reject the UWA Vice-Chancellor’s $40 million restructure which will result in course and staff cuts?”
Nevertheless, sufficient signatures were collected, and students got the opportunity to answer that golden question at the 2021 Elections.
89% of students who voted were against the $40 million restructure, which has been posited under the guise of ‘improving student satisfaction’. This speaks to the appropriation of language in the arguments made by management to justify the unsubstantiated suggestions of inefficiency, and to the fact that most students can see through it. The referendum results alone have no power to directly stop the cuts; however, they clearly demonstrate widespread student opposition to the restructures and how management has approached them.
The Vice-Chancellor’s Response
Vice-Chancellor Professor Amit Chakma has been asked to respond to the referendum results, but so far there has been no response. There have been attempts to call a Town Hall meeting with the Vice-Chancellor to discuss concerns surrounding the restructure, but again there has been no response.
The Ordinary Guild Meeting
Following the referendum, a motion was put forward at this year’s Ordinary Guild Meeting to demand that the student representatives who sit on the UWA Senate present the referendum results to Chakma and the rest of management in person. Students who are members of the Guild had the opportunity to debate ideas surrounding this motion, and vote for or against it. The votes were almost unanimously in favour of the motion.
In addition, students have organised a second major Senate protest, scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday the 18th of October at Winthrop Hall. This protest will occur towards the end of the Senate meeting that day, and organisers have stated that the purpose of the protest is to ensure that Senate members are fully aware of the student dissatisfaction surrounding these cuts. The organisers have created a Facebook event and are encouraging all students and members of the community to attend. Those students who wish to attend have been encouraged to “bring friends, family, or even that one classmate from three years ago who they stop and chat with on the ground floor of Reid Library”.
Editor’s Note: Breaking news on updates to the School of Molecular Sciences restructures can be found here.