Synchronised student protests draw police response

Protests at Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Auckland both ended in confrontation between police and students yesterday. Victoria’s student newspaper Salient reports that a peaceful protest of about 150 students and supporters turned angry as students try to deliver a letter to vice-chancellor Pat Walsh. About 80 students entered the university’s Hunter Building, but quickly met security guards, and subsequently police.

Meanwhile TVNZ reports that police arrested two protesters in Auckland last night after about 60 people staged a protest at the University of Auckland library. The protesters said the action was over funding cuts to education, with several participants barricading themselves in on the library’s ground floor. Auckland student protesters had initially been holding a teach-in in the library, discussing how to reassert student power.

The two protests were part of a ‘Nationwide Day of Student Action’ involving students from Victoria University of Wellington, the University of Auckland and Massey University Wellington. The Auckland and Victoria groups were both calling for their respective vice-chancellors to be sacked for attacks their own university communities – Victoria protesters citing recent proposals to cut or close of programmes such as gender studies, the Crime and Justice Centre and political science, and Auckland protesters citing rising fees and the on-going dispute between university management and academic staff over their professional academic working conditions.

Salient photographer Rachel Brandon has photos of the Victoria protest online.

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