Protest over PE school cuts

Hundreds of protesters marched through the University of Otago campus yesterday to express their anger at a plan to cut staff and papers at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences.

One of the protest organisers, fourth-year student Ella Rose-Haig, said up to 1000 people had attended the event.

"There’s ... a lot of people," she said.

"That’s just the PE community. We have all got each other’s back. That’s just the kind of people we have ... It’s a very special degree with very special people."

The large crowd marched from the steps of the school, through the archway and campus grounds to the lawn in front of the clocktower, where some of them performed a stirring haka.

Under the plan, the number of papers at the school will be reduced from 65 to 33, and 12 full-time-equivalent positions  cut.

The protesters chanted "What do we want? Answers. When do we want them? Now" and sang Tutira Mai.

Hundreds marched across the campus in opposition to a plan cut staff and papers at the School of...
Hundreds marched across the campus in opposition to a plan cut staff and papers at the School of Physical Education, Sport and Exercise Sciences. Photo: Linda Robertson.
"There is no logic and research behind the decisions that are being made," another organiser, Holly Mclaren, told the crowd.

"We are doing what the uni has taught us to do — think critically," she said.

In response to the protest, pro-vice-chancellor sciences Prof Richard Barker said to the Otago Daily Times: "as previously stated, the financial impact of equivalent-full-time student numbers declining by more than a third in the past four years has been marked.

"The school’s current financial position is not sustainable, so we need to change our focus and resourcing to meet the future with certainty and confidence," Prof Barker said.

The school aimed to have a new curriculum approved early next year, for introduction in 2019, he said.

"Students will be involved in the development of this new curriculum," Prof Barker said.

"We believe a three-year degree will be appealing, and we hope that students see this as an opportunity to help create a programme that will be more successful than the undersubscribed courses currently offered."

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

Comments

Interesting. More protestors than the number of Dance degrees expected to be granted this century.

 

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