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Monday, October 15, 2012

O15 2012- Belltower occupied by students fighting fees




October 15th 2012- One year after Occupy Auckland begins, Auckland's Clocktower is occupied.  We Are the University activist Stacey Henderson writes-

"Today the University of Auckland Council held a "public" fee setting meeting in the Clocktower. The clock tower was completely locked down and students locked out of this "democratic" process. After being promised the opportunity to view the meeting via live stream. Students met at 3pm for a rally outside the VCs office before heading over to the meeting together, over one hundred students in attendance. This was the second protest as part of the campaign 'Fight the Fees' following a street party held last Thursday.

Through the strategic use of fire alarms students managed to evade security and make it into the building. Some members of security handled the students quite violently. 30 of the students remained barricaded in the staff room for nearly two hours as the rest of the protestors chanted outside in solidarity and searched for a way to join them. Several police officers arrived however no arrests were made.

Every year since 2010 and the fees have been raised the legal maximum, 4%. This equates to several hundred dollars and when added up over the length of a degree, these increases are another serious barrier to accessible education for all. Last year management claimed they were unaware students opposed the fee increases, this year the aim was to be heard. Unfortunately it seems the message was ignored as again the council voted to raise the fees.

It is absolutely disgusting that in New Zealand we have the 7th highest tertiary fees in the developed world. It is absolutely unacceptable that 15% of students live in financial distress. There is a growing divide in New Zealand between the rich and the poor and the steadily increasing financial barriers to tertiary education will only deepen this divide. Education is a right which should be available to ALL, not just those who can afford it. "

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