Rage at the EAG
The Education Action Group (EAG) is a collective that acts as a safe pocket for students to raise criticism and complaints about UTS. We work on fighting against diverse issues on campus and channeling frustration into action so we can make change!
Recent EAG Achievements
Fighting against Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) proved to be one of the Education Action Group’s biggest campaigns. During the golden era of UTS’s student activism, anti-VSU rallies were said to have gathered thousands of protesters, yet according to sources, priorities have not always aligned in the years following. When National Labor Students ran the UTS EAG, the collective was seen as a lacklustre in its attempts to promote solid action in the fight for students’ education. There was an incident where NLS pushed attendees to enter a jumping castle instead of a mass rally and picket line at UTS.
Measuring the Popularity of Student Activism
Institutional representation is an essential element of democracy. However, society has continually been ignorant of the youth’s voice. When young people are alienated or separated from political institutions, a crucial demographic cannot meaningfully contribute to discussions which will have consequences for their future.
Student activism has always been an outlet for student voices. In the past, UTS was said to have been the centre of student activism in Sydney. Ever loaned a laptop for three days? You can thank the 2010 UTSSA for that. Our campus’s vibrant history of unionism is filled with occupations, police raids, protests, and rallies, yet this seems unheard of today.
In recent years, the student voice has become significantly passive in the face of student issues. This isn’t to say that students don’t care, but spaces to vent and critique the university have transferred online — for example, the infamous Facebook page UTS Confessions. And although it may feel satisfying to unleash your feelings towards the university anonymously, the reality is that it is rare to see real change as a result.
This increased shift online correlates to the impacts of COVID-19 on our university experience and engagement, with many students feeling isolated from their peers. The pandemic has also led to a general decrease in motivation, and among many young people, there is a strong sense of nihilism. For many students, this demotivation made it very hard to be involved in university life, particularly in student activism. It’s also important to remember that many of us haven’t had a ‘normal’ university experience, and don’t actually know what we may be missing out on as there isn’t anything for us to compare it to.
On a more bureaucratic note, the bosses at UTS have continuously suppressed student activism and pushed the student union to the shadows. Many students don’t even know the UTS Students’ Association exists. As student-elected representatives, the UTSSA should be that voice for change. If that voice is silenced, it becomes very difficult for students to work collectively against issues that affect them.
On a positive note, the large show of student support for Vertigo in the wake of it being defunded by management highlights the appetite for action among the student body. However, there still needs to be a widespread transformation on campus regarding how we as students work together to instrument change. To do this, we need to express our grievances not just on social media pages but through collective action and activism. Thankfully, there are ways to do this, and they start with the UTSSA!
Getting Involved in the EAG
One of the EAG’s current campaigns is to bring back in-person lectures from the grave that UTS has put them in. Other universities have revitalised face-to-face lectures after COVID-19 restrictions have eased, so why can’t we? The answer is frighteningly simple — with no actual insight into what students want, upper management has just decided they don’t like them anymore. The EAG won’t stand for this. We have been building a collective movement of students and staff to fight to bring in-person lectures back.
If you’re frustrated about long waits for assignment marks, inadequate feedback, shortened class lengths, and subjects that have been flipped online or cut entirely, massive job cuts and money-saving measures by UTS management is the answer. This has diminished the quality of our education, as your tutors and UTS staff are overworked and often in insecure jobs.
Another main campaign of the EAG is to stand in solidarity with UTS staff, as the timeless statement goes: Staff working conditions are student learning conditions. This involves potential industrial action from the UTS branch of the NTEU (the union for university workers). The EAG will be running a campaign to encourage students to support staff in the event of striking and not to cross the picket line (a.k.a, don’t scab, a.k.a, don’t go to class during a strike!). It is essential to support staff if you want to improve your university and learning experience!
If you’re interested in being involved in the EAG, follow our social media pages!
Facebook: UTS Education Action Group
We hold regular organising meetings — keep an eye out on our Facebook for the meeting event pages!