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Free University
Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Melbourne, circa early 1969

An abiding preoccupation was the oppressive nature of the education/exam system in secondary schools, and the power structure of the University itself. Following the Sydney "Free U" example, SDS initiated its own Free U in early 1969. Under the banner of "Student Power" SDS (in particular the charismatic and irrepressible Van Moorst) played an important part in challenges to the arbitrary privileges of University governors in the early seventies. Major disturbances at Melbourne occurred quite a bit later than at Monash but when they did (e.g the invasion of the Union by police hunting for draft resisters and SDS’s pirate radio) they were even more dramatic.

The rudimentary "Free University" at 57 Palmerston Street Carlton was almost certainly inspired and modelled upon the rather more successful pioneering educational experiment then being carried out in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst. Sydney's Free U was established in late 1968 by a group of young "new left" academics (for example Terry Irving and Bob Connell) and a number of student radicals (e.g Rowan Cahill) at the University of Sydney. Courses offered were splendidly diverse and eclectic. Note the subjects offered at Palmerston Street: Non-violence; Marcuse; McLuhan. - [Ken Mansell]