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W’SUP Saved: Reflecting on a Protester’s Experience

By Nicole Gismondo:
It was mid-June and we’d just got an email from the staff at student representation that the university was not renewing our publications officer’s contract. No prior warning given, we didn’t even know it was up for review.

What do you do in that circumstance? It was holidays so it wasn’t like we could rally a campus presence. With 2 of our editors working full time, and one other one out of state for the holidays, our editors Melissa and Nicole got to work on the campaign.

In broad daylight in the Penrith Campus library we hatched a plan. Our initial Facebook post had over 5,000 views which was an astounding amount for our modest little page. It was shared over 50 times! Dozens of students were then emailing the Vice-Chancellor, and for the first time we started to receive replies.

At first we received a four-week contract extension, but we quickly realised that couldn’t make the paper last. We kept the pressure on, and the contract was then extended to the end of the year. Still we knew that meant the paper would be in its last year. We pushed on.

Then the news came in late July/early August, WE WON! A two-and-a-half year extension may be a problem for the next bunch, but we’ve shown that students at Western Sydney are more than up to the challenge.

Remembering some of the victories of the campaign, it was clear that student voice is alive and well at Western Sydney, just a little bit buried (and basically only facilitated by the W’SUP).

• 135 signatures on Change.org!

• We got UWS Confessions on our side!

• Our Facebook Page gained over 1,000 likes for the first time in its history!

• We were published in Honi Soit!

Of course the SRC was also a massive help with the design of the LIMITED posters opposing the cuts.

In a true showing of how hard it would be for students to publish a paper of their own accord, we had only just finished our limited release W’SUProtest edition which in the end we were only able to distribute to Parramatta Campus…

We would like to thank all of our supporters for the encouragement, and the university for listening to its students.

Our publication is special – it should stay, and YOU should write for it!              

NICOLE GISMONDO