25 March 2004
Into the twenty-first century, student activism had changed with the increasing globalisation of the university and a shift towards electronic media. Politics was now often played out online rather than on campus and more students were leaning towards global or identity issues, such as climate change and gay marriage, than national party politics.
There was still a minority, however, who continued the traditions of Monash students from the 1960s and ’70s. When Monash moved to increase HECS fees by 25 percent in March 2004, campus protests once again made the headlines. One hundred students stormed Robert Blackwood Hall after failing to breach the Administration Building. The protesters threw marbles under police horses and trampled on security staff. One group occupied the former Vice-Chancellor’s residence, and current Vice-Chancellor Richard Larkins met with them. Standing in Louis Matheson’s former home, Larkins tried to reason that most university students came from higher socioeconomic homes and were supported by the taxes of people who couldn’t go to university. It ‘seems only reasonable that the children of the rich should pay a bit more,’ Larkins argued. But the socialist logic of Larkins’ pleas made no impression on the angry protestors.