As if it weren't already obvious, the administration at Sussex seem intent on making it even clearer that they do not care about students and students' needs. If you look at this week's Badger, there's an article right on the front page about the meeting, wherein ViceChancellor Farthing (ironic, no?) essentially wants to sell Sussex out to corporations. Now, this might sound like a NMP situation (Not My Problem), but believe me it is. Not only is the university cutting the Union's funding (the Union are those nice people who run Falmer Bar, the East Slope Bar, the ones who sponsor sporting teams, societies, and who advocate for students), they're planning to eliminate jobs in the Life Sciences and Informatics departments. A university which already fails miserably to take care of its student body wants to cut departments, cut courses, fire lecturers, and eviscerate our Union, all in the pursuit of bringing in corporate money. Apparently the uni's trading company is doing poorly; maybe they should ask for a government bailout?
This is fucking ridiculous, and it has got to stop. Already the university administration refuses to work with the Union, puts up roadblocks that prevent the Union communicating with students, and pretty much fails at everything. And these are the people making six-figure salaries. Our Vice Chancellor makes over £200,000 a year, and for what? To continually gut student services? To shuffle around departments and schools to make room for plush management positions? He talks about how we need to 'attract the best staff.' Well, how about you start by not making the rest of your staff fear for their jobs? On what planet do you attract talent by giving the heave-ho to people who currently work for you?
What Farthing is talking about is not 'talent.' What he's talking about is luring in the same sort of people who are already ruining this place. He's talking about administrative people who are probably very good at having meetings and making public statements and wheedling 'investments' out of corporations, but who don't give a damn about education or the students at this university. It's clear they don't; if they did, their administration wouldn't be so utterly incompetent. I've already written a piece for The Badger about this nonsense, about the slow insinuation of corporate interests into higher education, until it's basically a factory for business majors and future bankers. This is precisely what's happening, and cutting our courses, cutting our union, cutting everything but the bloated salaries of these people is their strategy.
And now-- and this pisses me off on an even more personal level-- the administration wants to attract more international students. Do you know why? I do! It's because international students like me pay a shitload of money to be here. We're how they make their money. We are keeping this university afloat, because we don't find out until we get here just how incompetent, greedy, and careless these people are about our education. We don't realise what our options are, and we are fed the university's shiny happy 'best place to be' bullshit from afar for months before we arrive and find that there's no housing, that we're expected to live in shit housing, that our Union is being gutted, that our Vice Chancellor is lining his own pockets at the expense of OUR educations. It's bullshit, and I for one am well pissed off about it.
We have to do something. We have to take action, and we have to do it in a big way. Tomorrow (Wednesday 10 November) is a Stop the Cuts meeting at 5pm in Pevensey. Thursday the 12th is a Council Feedback meeting. NEXT Thursday, the 19th, is the Annual Students' Meeting in Mandela Hall. Show up! Say something! Do something! Because if you don't, you're going to find that things only get worse. You're going to find your Union unable to help you when you have a problem. You're going to find the university cutting your department because it's not profitable. You're going to find your tuition rising. This is not an imaginary situation; it's real, and it's GOING to happen, unless we all stand up and say, "OH NO YOU FUCKING DON'T."
It's not just a problem with the uni, either. It's coming down from the highest levels of government. Education isn't profitable, so it's time to slash the funding for it! After all, MPs have expense accounts to maintain, don't they? The people at the root of the problem are the most powerful people in this country, and we need to make them listen too. Write to your MP, send them emails, call them, pester the hell out of them and remind them that they are NOT in a position of unshakeable power. And for fuck's sake, vote. If I could vote here, I would. If we continue to stand aside and let these people destroy our universities and turn them into factories for corporate drones, we have only ourselves to blame when a new generation of soulless moneygrubbers instigates another economic meltdown and another after that.
We live in a democracy. We do have the power to stand up and be heard, but that power is useless if we're all too lazy or busy or just can't be bothered. Would you say you couldn't be bothered to defend yourself if someone was punching you in the face? No, you'd defend yourself! Well that's what all this is, from the uni administration on up to Gordon Brown: it's a big punch in the face, and I for one am not about to lie there and take it.