University of Queensland management wants to demolish the original UQ Union Building, the Refectory, the Relaxation Block, the Forum Area and the Schonell Theatre, replacing them with a centre primarily dedicated to corporate retail.
These buildings, constructed in waves from 1959 to 1969, were architecturally designed for fostering a collective student culture, they were paid for mainly with student money, and the complex is still a student space. It must remain that way, a place where students can control their own affairs.
UQ management’s disregard for democracy and its history seems calculated. Its plan would trample on the democratic legacy of the thousands of students, staff and others who made this precinct the most important site in Queensland for defending civil liberties and social rights during the autocratic and corrupt rule of Johannes Bjelke Petersen. Not content with awarding Bjelke Petersen an honorary doctorate of laws in 1985, the university management now seems hell bent on erasing the very place where democracy, independent culture and critical media were kept alive during his premiership. It’s Joh-style ‘progress’ all over again; the same vision of progress that justified the demolition of the Bellevue Hotel, Cloudland and Her Majesty’s Theatre on the grounds they were ‘old’ and ‘run down’.