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March 10, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Film school students riot, or something

Students gathered at the Hunter courtyard last Wednesday afternoon to protest against the proposed axing of the University’s film programme.

The protest, which attracted about 60 people – mostly film students – followed the Student Representative Council meeting at Mount Street Bar and Café, held to publicly discuss students’ concerns regarding the proposal to dissolve the current film programme.

VUWSA President Joel Cosgrove voiced concerns about the lack of student representation and participation in the formation of the proposal and in the consultation process. Students should have a say in the creation of courses, Cosgrove believes, given that students are the reason for the University’s existence and are a significant source of funding.


At the protest, students declared the proposal as “bullshit.” The sentiment was repeated numerous times to whoever was listening in the offices of the Hunter Building. The turnout may have been increased with the enticement of a free barbecue. Some students suggested the burning of effigies instead of sausages.

Calls for the University’s management and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean, Deborah Willis, to make an appearance at the protest and confront the students were either ignored or unheard.

Given the management no-show, Cosgrove suggested more direct action: “Let’s visit Pat!” Motions were passed and a delegation consisting of most of those present at the protest ventured into the Hunter Building to raise their concerns about the proposal with the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Pat Walsh.

With the growth of the film programme in recent years, downsizing and limiting the scope of the study of film at Victoria is a step backwards according to third-year film student, Desiree Cheer.

She questions: “Why are we stepping back so as to only to fall right back into the swamp?”

Uncertainty surrounding the future of the film major has serious implications for current students and recent graduates. Concerns were expressed at the protest that students’ degrees will be undermined if the proposal goes ahead and the impact that the changes may have on the reputation of a film major from Victoria in the wider film industry.

Current students fear they have wasted time and thousands of dollars by enrolling in a film major at Victoria, only to find they can no longer pursue their desired courses and major if the changes go ahead.

Second-year student Craig Macintosh came to Victoria specifically to study film, and says he would not have enrolled here otherwise.

A petition to Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh opposing the disestablishment of the film programme can be signed at the VUWSA reception. Information about the proposal, including the consultation document, fact sheets and media releases can be found on the VUWSA website. A Facebook group, Save the VUW Film Programme!!, has also been set up to also provide students with information concerning the proposal.

Another meeting has been scheduled for this Thursday, to be held at the Memorial Theatre at 12 p.m. Deputy Vice-Chancellor David Mackay and Willis are expected to attend.

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