On Friday the 30th of April, students and staff stood in solidarity with the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) to protest change at the ANU regarding staff and course cuts, and the University’s climate position. The protest fell on the International Workers Day (May Day), and the NTEU led a Speak Out regarding a “range of … frustrations across campus.”
In a media release, Simon Copland, the NTEU ANU Branch President stated that although last week saw the ANU welcome news of a lower than anticipated deficit, there was “no change to the planned job cuts”. He stated that staff are “already overworked, with 10% of non-casual staff gone already, plus hundreds of casual jobs. Continuing to cut will only increase the stress on workers.”
Student advocates from the ANU Education Activism Network (EAN) spoke out against the cuts, calling for a University that is representative of its students, stating that the “University is not for the students.”
Alongside protests against staff and course cuts, student advocates from the ANUSA Environment Collective (EC) pushed for divestment from the ANU’s fossil fuel investment program. The ANU had previously acted on its promises to divest from fossil fuels, but this progress was largely reversed with financial difficulties brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.The EC stated that the ANU is prioritising fossil fuel companies over “our education”, calling for “drastic actions … to solve the climate crisis.”
An EAN member stated that “divestment is winnable at this University,” a sentiment echoed by other speakers, who claimed that “divesting from fossil fuels is sending a political statement … to our politicians, our universities and other powerful institutions.” The EAN argued that there is the potential for a mass movement of staff and students to speak out against the ANU’s position on the fossil fuel industry.