SHAC Update #2.0 : 24/7 Picket Announced / Solidarity Requested

It was High Noon today in Carlton, but the Sheriff didn’t show. (Sheriff’s Operations – Civil Support Section, 1/277 William St, PO Box 14486, Melbourne City Mail Centre VIC 8001, Tel: 03 9200 8222 (Criminal), Tel: 03 9200 8108 (Civil)).

Well-meaning liberal and Acting Vice Chancellor Peter McPhee ‘said the university spent $500,000 a year on emergency rental support and managed nine houses for struggling students. “We have put extensive resources into student housing,” he said. Mr McPhee slammed the selfish actions [of] 15 students in continuing to protest.’

Leaving aside Peter’s defamatory remarks regarding the character of what he imagines as being merely 15 students, the proposal which he and his Administration has dismissed remains a very reasonable one, and that is to convert the housing — which this same Administration has let stand idle for years — into a student cooperative. The cooperative’s purpose being to provide low-income students with a home (see International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Australian ratification March 10, 1976). This is hardly a radical proposal, and is in fact one which the University of Sydney adopted decades ago, in remarkably similar circumstances.

STUCCO is the student cooperative for full time students at the University of Sydney. Run by its residents, STUCCO embraces a rich diversity of cultures and beliefs, and gives residents the opportunity to actively participate in a communal way of living. No particular skills are required, just a keen interest and enthusiasm, and a desire to be involved in cooperative living. We are virtually the only Sydney University accommodation directed towards low to moderate income earners, and STUCCO is a non-profit organisation, meaning that the main consideration is to meet the needs of its members.

In 1982, a group of Sydney University students came together to establish community housing. An old glass-making factory was squatted, then purchased and renovated with a design from the architecture faculty at Sydney University, based around a central courtyard and retaining much of the original timber structure. Funding was supplied by the university and the Department of Housing. STUCCO opened in its current form in February 1991.

The main difference between Sydney in 1982 and Melbourne in 2008 is that in 2008 the property in question already belongs to the University. That said:

Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle.

To adopt a similar course in Melbourne would be a very sensible option, providing secure accommodation for students now and in the future, and at minimum cost. The University is unlikely to do so, however, as its current management is geared towards exclusively commercial — rather than educational or social — interests and concerns. Such a perspective is of course unsustainable in the long-term, as it is for society as a whole, but educating members of the managerial class in alternative modes of living, working and studying is never a simple task. The arrogance with which managerial prerogatives are pursued inevitably requires some degree of opposition, especially when management resorts to the use of violence to re-establish its control over what is ostensibly public property, belonging to a public institution, and serving public, not private, interests.

    “Let them eat cake and sleep on couches!” : Peter McPhee enjoys a chuckle.

    Peter has published widely on the history of modern France, notably Revolution and Environment in Southern France, 1780-1830 (Oxford, 1999), A Social History of France 1789-1914 (London & New York, 2004) and The French Revolution 1789-1799 (Oxford, 2002). In 1999 he also published a biography of the former Chancellor Roy Douglas (‘Pansy’) Wright. His most recent book is Living the French Revolution 1789-1799 (London & New York, 2006).

    Telephone: (+61 3) 8344 3744 | Email: [email protected] | Fax: (+61 3) 9341 6010. The Office of the Provost is located in the Gatekeeper’s Cottage, Building 187 (next to Gate 10, Grattan Street), University of Melbourne.

Melbourne University housing squatters face eviction
Andrew Trounson
The Australian
January 7, 2009

Melbourne University denies students squatters’ claims it’s stingy
Matthew Schulz
Herald Sun
January 7, 2009

See also : STRAIGHT TALK FOR TACHELES: Iconic Berlin Squat Receives Eviction Notice, Der Spiegel, January 7, 2009: “For years, the bomb-damaged squat in the heart of Berlin known as Tacheles has been a magnet for foreign tourists. Now, though, the owners of the building have told the artists currently occupying the premises to get out. But for now, they’re staying put…” | Odd assortment of conservative Melbourne bloggers comment…

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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