“Fucking admins” I heard a student cry out in the beginning of semester, lamenting the fact that that the designated “pick up” time for materials didn’t align with his schedule.
“They take so longgggg” another complained loudly in a lecture, referring to interim assessment feedback that was delayed by a single day by members of the ASO.
“It’s week 10, WHERE ARE MY MARKS??” A particularly angsty student in the level 2 toilets screamed the other day (mid-stream, might I add).
And it’s not as though I don’t sympathise with the complaints. In 2016, students have been subject to a smorgasbord of rage-inducing administrative processes, largely the product of cost cutting – ahem, “efficiency boosting” – measures introduced as part of the BIP.
The measures include reduced administrative support for subject coordinators, which has resulted in an apparent decrease in the quality of reading packs.
They include the aforementioned “pick up” times that told students, loudly and clearly, that their responsibilities (employment, caring or otherwise) weren’t as important as the university saving a few bucks on the payroll.
And, of course, they include the decimation of our beloved student centre, once lauded as a primary justification for the enormous cost of the JD degree relative to its LLB predecessor (see here, pg 279).
So yeah, I’m pissed off too.
But my anger isn’t directed at the poor administrative staff, who said goodbye to 540 of their colleagues and had to re-apply and compete for the diminished pool of post-massacre jobs (See here for more on that).
My anger isn’t directed at the librarians, who saw their comfortable workspace stripped down and placed naked on the summit of the level three stair case.*
My anger sure as hell isn’t directed at the faculty, who are expected to teach and assess up to 120 students per subject; yet still meet massive research output targets to ensure MLS remains the “No.1 Law School in Australia” (more on that here).
And, for the record, my anger isn’t directed at non-law students, including international students. As Duncan attempted to point out last week, this latter group are far more exploited than us law students are.
So what is the point that I’m trying to make?
It is this: Blame Glyn Davis and rest of the Chancellery.
It is Glyn Davis who has actively campaigned for deregulation of the tertiary sector, and openly supports US-style degree factories as the most sustainable busine- *I mean* educational model.
It is Glyn Davis who slashed all those administrative jobs, who continues to raise our fees and who did everything he could to ensure that students and faculty were not adequately consulted on the BIP’s implementation.
It is Glyn Davis who pours millions of dollars of student tuition fees into marketing and consulting and “goal-directed” research (see here, pg 16), while the student experience suffers.
It is Glyn Davis who benefits most when student angst is directed to the people who we should be standing in solidarity with.
So if** you’re returning to MLS next semester, I merely ask that you do so with a greater appreciation of the other members of your community.
Whether it is library space or anything else, our fellow students are not our enemy.
Whether it is lecture recordings or assessment feedback or poor exam timetables, the administrative and academic staff are not our enemy.
We should be conscious that they are waging their own silent battle(s) against the central administration (and have actually won quite a few of them).
We should do what we can to engage in a respectful dialogue, so that we can help each other.
Because staff and students are not the ones to blame.
Glyn Davis is.
*Those chairs they have to sit on also look quite uncomfortable…
**Congratulations and good luck to the students finishing the JD this semester!