Even gale-force winds couldn't stop the theatrical event of the week: to wit, the Save VCA protests, which culminated in a 1000-strong march this morning to Parliament House, where the troops were rousingly addressed by Geoffrey Rush and Julia Zemiro. (Ms TN, alas, could only be there in spirit). As Crikey's Ben Eltham reports:
The University seems to have badly under-estimated the strength of feeling about the proposed changes to VCA. The protests are now starting to garner broader media attention, owing to strong feelings in Melbourne’s tight-knit artistic community and the high profile of Rush and Zemiro. Now three prominent members of the VCA Advisory Board have quit in what looks suspiciously like a protest.
The situation has been exacerbated by the University’s ham-fisted attempts to spin the issue. The embattled new Dean, Sharman Pretty, who has become the lightning rod for student and staff discontent, was initially held back from all but hand-picked media appearances, until this strategy started to look like arrogance. When she finally fronted up to be interviewed by the ABC 774’s Jon Faine this Wednesday, it was deer-in-the-headlights stuff as Faine took her apart on air.
The strength and feeling of student, staff and community protest about the VCA course changes appear to have surprised senior executives at the University, who perhaps thought the VCA could be successfully integrated without too much fuss.
Instead, it seems to be turning into something of a PR disaster for the University of Melbourne and Vice Chancellor Glyn Davis. And certainly for Dean Pretty, whose evisceration by Jon Faine can be heard here. Save VCA is calling for the Federal Government to fund the VCA as a national training institution, as it does NIDA and other institutions.
Photo: courtesy of Twitter