27th March 2014
University of Sydney
Response to misconduct investigation
Dear David Pacey, Michael Spence, Morgan Andrews and Sarah Heesom,
We are accused of “chalking on a large wall” in contravention of the Advertising on Campus policy. It surely must not be the act of writing in chalk for which you wish to reprimand us?Chalking is a daily event at Sydney University. It is practised often, and in plain sight. We can only assume that it was what we wrote which has turned this common action into ‘misconduct’: “Education is a process, not a commodity.” Perhaps we should have written “Education is a commodity, not a process”? Then we would have described the university as it is, not as we would like it to be. Perhaps this would have been more acceptable to you, but the university already engages in enough advertising commodifying education on campus. Advertising only allows some kinds of dreaming, the kinds of dreaming that commodify everything. We dream of education as a process driven by students, workers and the community. Apparently, stating this is going too far.
On the ‘pushing and shoving’ of police, and the ‘theft’ of their hats, and the ‘crime’ of being arrested:
We were all pushed and shoved by police. Some of us were slammed onto concrete and thrown down flights of stairs, some of us were tugged and punched and our bodies trampled, some of us were put in a headlock. Ribs were cracked, heads stomped on and legs broken. We know why we were attacked in this way. The police were called onto campus to harass and intimidate people supporting the picket. Student and community support of the strike expressed solidarity with workers demanding better work conditions. Better conditions were not conceded, and the political expression of the strikes continues to be shut down in different ways. Following this physical violence, some of us were arrested for invented misdemeanours, and some of us were banned from campus. We do not recognise the legitimacy of the bans or of any allegations of trespass that come as a result. These too are part of the continued repression of political acts. You hurt us, and you keep trying to hurt us in new ways.
You have accused us of misconduct, but we accuse you. You banned students and other ‘members of the public’ from entering the university for political reasons, preventing them from carrying out their studies, and from participating in the cultural life of the university. You have changed employment conditions retroactively, unfairly and without consideration of your staff. You have cut over 100 staff, whilst student numbers are increasing and you have thrown away books from the libraries and threaten more job cuts there. Moreover, this year you have fired 40 ICT staff (which will only worsen the already abysmal internet and computer services). You continue to maintain vast numbers of staff in precarious positions on casual contracts. You collaborated with the police, offering them information, support, and encouragement, while they bashed and bullied us; you are complicit in our bruises and our trauma. This is bureaucratic violence and you practise it regularly against your staff and students. Who will hold you to account?
It is clear that the security forces and police stand as one, that the university management and the state stand as one. You all defend the university, not as a space of learning, but instead as a space reproducing our enforced commodification. You dedicate resources to preparing students to sell themselves to the market to reproduce and maintain the world the way it is, instead of creating spaces for us to question the world. The same university that facilitated the brutality of police now represses us through the violence of legal and disciplinary threats, hanging over us, making it clear that resistance will be punished. This process emulates the political prosecution of the police in the courts of law. Both of these processes seek to intimidate us, and to waste our time. The charges you refer to were dropped in court, and here we find them again, familiar, spurious, deliberated on in a process even more arbitrary and secretive than the local court.
The courts and this disciplinary process both seek to punish individuals for the collective action of many. They demand our submission. We refuse. We know that we did not endanger others on campus. We know our crimes were political. We know that the police were the real perpetrators of violence and fear on the days of the strike. We have chosen to collectively respond, but we will not follow the procedures set up to make sure that we end up overwhelmed and demotivated. Throughout this process, you have all worked together to justify your comfortable, but ultimately useless positions and your obscene salaries and bonuses. You have chosen to start and maintain the machinery of repression and persecution that singles out individuals, to try to make us feel alone in struggle, as punishment for standing up to the obsolete ideology that makes this university increasingly irrelevant to our lives.You requested that we respond in writing to your allegations and we do, only to challenge this spectacle of bureaucracy and your expectation of subservience.