Thandiwe Bethune, who will embark on the second year of a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2017, said uncertainty about the future of the art school had affected her studies.
Sydney University’s student legal team, the SRC Legal Service, has launched a formal complaint against the Sydney College of Arts for alleged mismanagement and unlawful conduct by university leadership, Andrew Taylor of the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The embattled university’s College of Arts students have been occupying administration buildings this past month in protest of the provost and deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Garton’s failure to reveal that the university had received a $45 million subsidy for its use of the historic building that housed the arts school at Callan Park, his decision to divert million of funds from the art school to the Royal North Shore Hospital, and the underestimation of the art school’s financial viability—the university had estimated that the art school would operate at a $5 million loss in 2016.
Solicitor Thomas McLoughlin said, “The omission of the $45 million in the draft change plan shows a deliberate omission of the fantastic capacity of SCA to fundraise from government or others.” He added, “It reinforces the false view SCA is financially unviable. Nothing further from the truth really.”
Verity Leatherdale, a spokeswoman for the university, claims that the school did not receive a $45 million subsidy. According to Leatherdale, the school gave $36 million to support government projects in exchange for the title of its Law School building seven years ago. The $45 million is merely that sum plus an allowance for inflation.
She claimed the Callan Park campus was meant to be the home of a number of arts and cultural organizations. “When that vision failed to materialize, the university was left with the SCA as the major tenant and the university footing the bill for maintaining the site.”
Students are also still irate over the previously proposed merger between the SCA and the University of New South Wales, which would have eliminated degrees that the students had originally enrolled for and paid to receive. After the controversial merger was called off, the university moved the arts school to its main campus and cut dozens of jobs, reducing the faculty staff by half, in its attempts to downsize the fine arts program. The university has also decided not to accept students for the incoming 2017 academic year. Colin Rhodes, dean of the College of the Arts, has since resigned and professor Margaret Harris is currently serving as interim dean.
Tim Heiderich did not come to Sydney to fight for its arts culture. The former software developer left a six-figure job in Los Angeles to come to Sydney to complete a masters in film.
But the international student has become collateral damage in the University of Sydney’s plans to close its art school at Rozelle.
“It’s like that old story about the chicken and the pig that go into business. The chicken says, ‘Hey, I’ll provide the eggs and you provide the ham’,” Mr Heiderich says.
“In this case, the students are the ones providing the ham.”
“I quit my six-figure job to come here, I sold my car, a bunch of possessions, and uprooted my life and came here to study film because I thought it was worth it. There is an interesting arts community in Sydney and it’s under-represented and I wanted to be a part of it,” he says.
“But the reaction I’m getting back from [the university’s Provost, Professor] Stephen Garton and [SCA Dean, Professor] Colin Rhodes, is that they’re not as invested as the students in it. It feels like from all sides, the uni and the city doesn’t really care about the arts.”
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EMBATTLED Sydney College of the Arts Dean Colin Rhodes has stepped down as angry art students continue the longest occupation in the university’s history.
Sydney College of the Arts students have been occupying their Callan Park campus in Rozelle since August 22 to protest Sydney University’s plans to close it and substantially change their fine arts degree programs.
Mr Rhodes came under fire after the Inner West Courier revealed he had been in discussions to shut down the campus for two years, despite a series of denials from the university.
Cecilia Ruben’s reads out comments from the Petition to stop all changes to SCA.
MB .. never know wats happening..wat we dnt c.. I’m sure he deals with conflicting thoughts of guilt, hurt, just like the students & staff – its conditioning of the society – not individual ‘demons’ every1 is responsible 4 wat happened @ sca & wat happens outside sca – do u remember wat happened? Do u remember wat we r fighting for? Wat we r aiming towards??
I remember after the scass meeting in December 2015 – I dropped my hairpins everywhere – he went ridiculously out of his way 2 pick them up 4 me. Maybe I’m naive but I like seeing humans rather than aliens – I dnt think being a leader is easy – I remember doubting the realness of the action & its meaning – but looking back I think he was genuinely reaching out. I was so hurt from wat id seen at sca – that I had blamed him for everything -becoz scass wanted so desperately to save sca & were blocked by bureaucracy so many times – it felt like they wanted the place to burn. . but I realise now that it was every single persons responsibility to build the community there – we r all responsible for a fire that could have been put out.
Sydney College of the Arts is fighting for its future. Dedicated, articulate and formidable students currently occupying the Dean’s Office in the Callan Park campus have faith in their education and in the history and significance of this institution; and they are supported by alumni, artists and communities who recognise the value of both SCA and visual art education to our culture.
It is a much bigger issue than the future of a single art school. This is an important fight, and potentially a turning point for culture in Australia. The protest is a defense of the integrity not only of SCA, but all other Australian art and design institutions, including increasingly beleaguered TAFE college departments.
Michaela Boland, THE AUSTRALIAN 12:00AM September 15, 2016
Three weeks after students locked the dean of the Sydney College of the Arts, Colin Rhodes, out of his office and made it impossible for him and other staff to return, he has un – expectedly stepped down after a decade heading the school.
As the students’ occupation of SCA’s administration building enters its fourth week, there is no obvious resolution in sight, with parent institution Sydney University refusing to negotiate with them.
The students are protesting against the university’s decision to suspend student intake for a year in 2017 and move the school from 2018 to the main Camperdown campus, away from the Callan Park site in Rozelle, where it has been for 25 years.
They contend the move, which will result in staff losses, will crib the school’s potential and stymie their ability to practise art in suitable studio spaces.
Some international students have launched legal action to recover their fees on the grounds
that the university can no longer deliver the three-year, $30,000 course it had advertised.
Professor Rhodes’s exit comes four months before he was due to retire. A former teacher at the school, Margaret Harris, has agreed to act in the position until a permanent appointment can be made.
The students welcomed news of Professor Rhodes’s exit as a victory that indicated “the university is buckling under the pressure of our campaign”.
University of Sydney deputy vice-chancellor Stephen Garton said “the change in leadership at this time makes sense for us all”.
Professor Garton said, “we think it is an educational advantage for students to come on main campus because they will be able to pick from more subjects and also main campus students will be able to take SCA subjects, so it will become much more embedded and unhampered by travel times.”
The university also hopes to save $4m a year spent running the site at Rozelle, in Sydney’s inner west.
Champions of the SCA point to former NSW premier Nick Greiner’s 1991 agreement with the university in which he acknowledged the significant costs associated with running an art school.
The NSW government gave the university title to the Law School Building in Phillip St, Sydney city to help pay these costs.
The university sold the site for residential development for more than $40 million.
“It’s 25 years ago and things change and the vision pitched was the SCA, the Conservatorium and other arts institutions would be at Callan Park, successive governments did not deliver on that vision,” Professor Garton said.
He also said art degree applications had declined by 32 per cent in NSW over the past five years and SCA student numbers were down 20 per cent.
“It’s not the staff fault, it’s a broader issue of supply and demand,” he said.
Some of the comments from the community on fb
Emily Purser: I believe nothing the university is saying in defence of their outrageous and unlawful actions – it has become a corporation in the worst possible sense and is destroying cultural traditions- academic and artistic… we are deeply hurt and disillusioned that our child can’t apply for next year and I feel like tearing up my degrees from USyd, they no longer mean what they used to. 16/09/16
Tracey Clement: the comments on the Australian site are pretty disturbing. 16/09/16
The following comments were collected from The Australian website.
Principal 16/09/16 Lastly, don’t get me started on the iconic sandstone quad at Usyd being more equal than the iconic sandstone Kirkbride at SCA. Talk about intangible value, probably priceless in the market place.
FLAGSHARE reply to Principal Principal 16/09/16. Market forces II – the staff at SCA worked up a bachelor of visual communication (BVC) catering to the digital virtual reality market [note bigger than Hollywood, via gamer industry with 30 to 40 $1B releases]. Blocked by nabobs like Garton at Usyd.
That’s not market forces. That’s dogma and arguably maladministration under Usyd’s own governance policies.
UTS and ANU have since announced BVC type offerings.
And if a satellite campus was the issue why is the Conservatorium well sited? Why the 10-15 medical clinical schools? Some satellites are obviously more equal than others.
But the point really may be why not simply comply with the consumer law as to educational offerings like every other service provider in the market? Advisedly.
FLAGSHARE LIKE REPLY Principal Principal 16/09/16. Market forces? Au contraire – UAC first preferences were at a record high on 21/11/15, then Usyd worthies such as Prof Garton announced SCA closure 3 days later to head off a boost in enrollments. That’s not market forces – that’s sabotage.
Also what about the demonstrated fundraising ability of SCA as shown by the state govt subsidy in the 90ies realised only in 2015?
FLAGSHARE LIKE REPLY Richard Richard 15/09/16 If they’d save money by moving it, maybe the Arts School should increase it’s fees to cover the foregone savings resulting from staying. They can just pile it on the HECS debt.
Better still, they could close it down altogether and put the savings into STEM courses.
FLAGSHARE 1Erzsebet LIKE REPLY Antonio Antonio15/09/16. Lynching by the mob.
This should become a police matter as they are stopping/or intimidating people going about their daily business.
FLAGSHARE 3RobertAnnettedanny LIKE REPLY Laurie Laurie 15/09/16. So just who is running this institution?
FLAGSHARE 4AntonioJamesHilaryMarilyn LIKE REPLY AnthonyR AnthonyR 15/09/16 @Laurie No-one, apparently.
Professor Margaret Harris, the former Acting Dean of the Sydney College of Arts, will resume the role, taking over from Professor Colin Rhodes who has decided to move to a new role after 10 years.
The occupation to save Sydney College of the Arts is now in its seventh day!!
After months of protests, mass meetings and failed talks with the University of Sydney administration, about a dozen Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) students started an occupation of the Dean’s office at its Callan Park campus in Rozelle on August 22.
SCA students dropped a banner reading “Under new management” from an office window and barricaded the doors as staff left the building. Since then, supporters have been protesting twice daily outside the occupied building, sending food and supplies to the occupation via a basket pulled up by a rope.
The Let SCA Stay campaign is demanding that: the arts college stay at Callan Park; there be no staff cuts; the reinstatement of the Bachelor of Visual Arts (BVA) degree; and an independent review of the SCA’s financial situation.
“We’re in a crisis and we’ve had to take extreme action to get what we want,” occupation will continue, “until we get a proper response from the university and they meet some of our demands.” Suzy Faiz, a fine arts masters student told.
Student organisations around the country have circulated photos of themselves holding signs up in solidarity with the occupation.
(The campaign to save SCA is holding daily protests. Find out how to support the campaign at https://www.facebook.com/letscastay )
Green Left – Australia.