"There is a million dollars of student debt sitting on the road!" a student reminded the protest blockade yesterday at Auckland University.
The remark was in reference to the around 100 students from Auckland University yesterday who swarmed onto Symonds Street to block a main arterial route in protest at the University Council voting to raise fees by 4% or some $300 per year. For a number of hours traffic was severely disrupted as the protest blocked the road, burning an effigy of Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce.
The protest comes two weeks after a large rally in the campus Quad against the National government's programme of commodifying education and the increasing privatisation of the university experience. Student activists use Facebook pages and the twitter hashtag #reclaimuoa to co-ordinate the movement.
Ben, a sociology student and one of the protest organisers said, "The rally started off small but lots more students joined in when they saw us take the road. People talked on the megaphone about their personal stories of living with debt. The mood of people was angry but resigned to the fact fees were raised."
"However yesterdays protest and the action two weeks ago have opened up a space for more people to get involved in all the campaigns happening on campus right now like the living wage campaign for cleaners and the fight against the abolition of university democracy."
Ben and his fellow organisers saw the protest as successful because, "The blockade was an event that ruptured the normal conditions of the financialised university and inspired people to fight. That's always a good thing."
Photos via Facebook and Twitter