The University of Queensland Union can only support the replacement of the Schonell Theatre on the condition that the new performing arts space is operated by UQ Union.
In the original Student Complex redevelopment plan, Peter Høj and UQ were silent as to the future of Schonell.
The attitude of Peter Høj and UQ only changed when student union representatives presented them with 8,000 signatures on a petition to ‘Save Schonell’ and what it represents at UQ.
Since UQU constructed and began operating the Schonell in 1970, the theatre has been a bastion of creative arts, critical debate and political independence at UQ.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, Schonell housed 4ZZZ, a radio station unafraid to expose the corruption that was rife within the Bjelke-Peterson government.
In the present day, Schonell showcases UQ’s vast and diverse performing arts scene, presenting student-run plays that often speak frankly about UQ and its associates.
The Union fears that UQ does not share our willingness to engage the student body in discussions around controversial topics, like the Taiwanese Film Festival that we facilitate.
Even if UQ were willing to showcase critical and independent material, we fear that a donor or external interest who disagrees with a production could pressure UQ to shut it down.
The Union believes that the independence, critical thought and genuine student voice which has flourished within Schonell’s four walls will cease to exist within a theatre operated by UQ administration.
In light of this, the Union will only support a replacement of Schonell Theatre on the condition that it continues to be operated by UQU, the independent student union elected by students every year.
Media: Georgia Millroy: firstname.lastname@example.org