Tabitha's blog posts tagged with 'ussu'

kerfuffle

Nov

08

I came to Sussex excited about getting involved and being a part of what went on here. In the space of a month, that enthusiasm has withered to nothing because it's clear to me that unless I ally myself with a specific group of people and subject myself to their authority on all things, I'm not going to get anything done.

The jist of it is this: the union is dominated at the moment by people who seem to be extremely naive about how their behaviour reflects on the union and consequently influences students. This structure tacitly endorses the behaviour of a specific group of people who bully, harass, and otherwise make Sussex an unpleasant place to be. People have complained about the way elections are run, about the behaviour of campaigners, and the union's response has essentially been, 'No one's doing anything wrong.' The letter of the law, but not the spirit, is that how the saying goes?

At this point, I have zero interest in getting involved with the union any further than the academic societies I'm involved with. There may have only been 8 people at the postgrad society meeting, but at least we didn't spend four hours arguing. If the union is going to dismiss concerns that are stated reasonably, if it's going to continue to lend support-- unspoken or otherwise-- to people who intimidate other students, I don't see why I should get involved with it. I know I'm not alone in this. I've heard from so many people who have tried to get involved, who have tried to change things and make it something that every student can get involved in, only to run into the same problems again and again. To be perfectly blunt, the union and the select group of people who surround it seem more interested in making grand political statements than in actually organising any kind of real, effective action. Letter-writing campaigns? Calling? There are so many things we could be doing but aren't, because the union is bogged down in bureaucracy and subject to the narrow interests of a very small group of people who are willing to fight, bully, and shout louder than everyone else to make their pet causes a priority.

Maybe all this will lead to a change in the union. I'd like to think that our officers are reasonable and are willing to accept their part in this mess. I don't envy them right now, but the fact remains that this is a situation of the union's own doing. This is an opportunity for dialogue; the union can listen to the concerns of a group of students who want to be involved but feel excluded and thereby make itself stronger, or it can continue to spiral into irrelevance.

they're cutting WHAT?

Nov

10

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.

time to get back to the grind-- also, stop the cuts

Jan

25

I haven't written here in more than a month. I spent most of December being a lazy bastard and consequently a good portion of January flailing about and panicking about my term papers. They turned out pretty well I think-- at least, I thought so until it came time to turn them in. But I can't worry about them now. They're out of the way, out of my hands, and I can commence shitting myself once again when evaluations come in. Now I've got to focus on my current seminars.

Which brings me to my next point. One of my tutors this term is going to be made redundant. If the cuts that management is proposing go through, this woman will lose her job. I've already slagged off uni management and their plans that are clearly based on information from an imaginary Sussex full of business students, but it bears repeating: this is ridiculous. Higher education funding is being cut across the board-- because apparently the UK government want their population to be as uneducated as possible. I find it ironic that a country with such a long history of xenophobia seems obsessed now with bringing in international students (like me!). Why the hell would you deny your own people the right to an education? It just doesn't make sense. Not that that's ever stopped any corporate toad before.

So there's another demonstration. This Thursday morning at 11.30. Be there or watch your education be pillaged by people who can't answer a simple question and instead of listening, just wait for their turn to speak.

Speaking of questions. I will be at Postgraduate Open Day. And I will have many questions. I'm not just showing up to start trouble either; I genuinely want to know how Sussex thinks it will bring in the best and brightest if it sacks so many of its staff and cuts courses. Michael Farthing claims that Sussex needs to have courses students "really want." So is that why Chinese was cancelled? You know, the language that over a BILLION people speak? One of the languages that's going to be hugely important in the coming years? As usual, management's rhetoric proves to be at odds with their behaviour.

Lots of things going on. School of English Society needs setting up. Stop the Cuts campaign continues in all its myriad forms. Full-time officer elections are next month. I've got to do some reading. More rabble-rousing to come.