Victoria University of Wellington students are calling for Parliament protesters to give them their campus back after more than two weeks of chaos.
The Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) has asked for anti-mandate protestors to be removed by authorities from Pipitea Campus and essential bus routes. They are calling on the government, police, Wellington city council and the University to help remove the protestors by the 28th of February, when semester one begins.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor announced that campus would be temporarily closed until the 11th of April, as the protestors are occupying Bunny St, Molesworth St, the Lambton Interchange and Old Government Buildings. This occupation makes It unsafe to travel to Pipitea Campus and obstructs necessary bus routes.
As of the 22nd of February, the change.org petition “Give VUW Students Their Campus Back” has gained over 28,000 signatures. Respect to the right for peaceful protests is noted in the petition, and suggests opening alternative locations for protesters to park their vehicles to restore the safety of the university. The petition does not focus on the protest itself but its location, stating “Students deserve to be safe. Students deserve to be free from the risk of harm. Students deserve their campus back.”
One VUW student told Craccum “it feels like the scale of this protest was underestimated by the government/law enforcement” after being unable to return to work at the university since the protest began. They further said “[the protesters] make me feel unsafe”.
Another student reported to Craccum that there was music blasting in an “active[ly] flinching and covering their ears way,” and that “people were clearly laughing at [other’s] discomfort.” They said that resuming university study from home with this disrupting and anxiety inducing environment may be detrimental to the amount and standard of work students are able to produce.
The petition ends with “We want to see action now. Not complacency.”
*Names have been removed to protect sources’ identities.