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elitism at its worst

Nov

26

100 people at Sussex are going to lose their jobs. 40% of the Informatics Department is being cut, and 5 people in English. Vice Chancellor Michael Farthing makes a quarter of a million pounds.

This situation is typical of big-business thinking, which has insidiously crept into higher education and is trying to turn universities into businesses. People like Michael Farthing don't understand the value of education for its own sake, the importance of investing long-term in a population that can think critically. All they understand is money. They want more of it for themselves, and they have no scruples about who they have to fire to get it. If the VC really cared about the dire state of Sussex's finances, he'd volunteer for a salary cut himself. But no. As usual, the people at the top continue to rake in fat paychecks while the people beneath them lose their jobs.

This is unacceptable. The government, easily prostituted as it is, bails out banks and failing businesses and passes the loss onto us, students, ordinary people who don't have the benefit of a prestigious job with a bloated salary. They eviscerate funding for education and hand the money over to the people who caused the recession, people who will do this again and again and again because they have seen no consequences for their greed and incompetence. MPs abuse their expense accounts and try to justify their greed and avarice. It's outrageous.

There is a protest today at 1pm in Library Square. We will be marching to Sussex House with P45 forms for Michael Farthing, our greedy and incompetent Vice Chancellor. But it can't stop there. It doesn't stop there. Farthing is just passing the buck that the government has handed him, instead of standing up for the students he's supposed to be helping. He is only part of an overall system that privileges people in business and stomps on everyone else. Write your MP. Write them a lot. Inundate them with angry letters. Demonstrate. DO something. There are more of us than there are of them.

Stop the Cuts: 26 November 2009

Nov

27

Over 200 students gathered at Library Square yesterday to protest the massive cuts that Sussex is facing. About 100 staff members are to be made redundant across a variety of departments. Meanwhile, top university administrators pull in 6-figure salaries.

Continue reading 'Stop the Cuts: 26 November 2009'...

From the Top Down

Dec

04

I watched an interesting film on Wednesday, which you can find online here. It's called From the Top Down. The film exposes the mismanagement of Sussex University by its top administrators, and though it was made three years ago, the situation continues. Apart from department and individual names, everything is much the same. Highly-paid management incompetently do their jobs, and the result is huge deficits and projects going over budget. Sound familiar? The same sort of elitist backslapping that went on in the financial sector and led to the global recession is also going on at the top levels of our universities. These people must be stopped. They must be held accountable for their failures instead of passing the consequences on to students and staff.

Stop the Cuts: 3 December 2009

Dec

04

An emergency meeting of University Senate took place on Thursday morning to discuss management's proposals for cuts, and students and staff turned out in large numbers to make their voices heard. Over 500 people made their way to Bramber House in a procession half a mile long, chanting, "No ifs, no buts, no education cuts!"

Continue reading 'Stop the Cuts: 3 December 2009'...

microcosm and macrocosm

Dec

09

Everywhere you look, management is passing the buck. VCEG claims that government higher education funding cuts have caused the deficit here at Sussex. They point the finger at Lord Mandelson, the elitist peer who wants unis to run like businesses. What VCEG doesn't tell you is that they've spent the last ten years grossly mismanaging Sussex. In "From the Top Down," they discuss several projects that executive members of staff put themselves in charge of, whether they were qualified to oversee them or not. The result, naturally, was that the projects went over budget. When official university communication says that management was incompetent, you know it's bad. Apart from that, £3m is lost in Icelandic banks because whoever invested it made a poor choice.

But VCEG doesn't answer to anyone but VCEG. Over the years, they have increasingly consolidated power into their own hands and used Senate and Council not as consultation tools but rubber stamps. "Your job is to comment, not vote," Michael Farthing told University Senate last week when they demanded a vote on the proposals to cut jobs. It is this sort of totalitarian governance that is the problem here at Sussex.

Now the management has created an email address: proposal@sussex.ac.uk. They claim they want feedback from students and staff, but instead of meeting with us, speaking with us, they want us to fill out a questionnaire or send in an email. Why? Because those are easily ignored. Management will cherry-pick select bits from these emails, no doubt, and find some way to use them to justify their plan to eviscerate this university.

We demand more than just an email address. We demand real consultation, especially given the gross incompetence that management has displayed over the years and their complete failure to be held accountable for it. We also demand that management produce the research they allegedly did into alternatives to job and service cuts. So far they have refused to produce any such document. We demand transparency.

Sussex management is reproducing the global financial crisis in microcosm. They fail to plan properly, they invest badly, they mismanage, and the result is a deficit. Management knows that their salaries constitute a large portion of the university budget, but they have refused to consider any kind of pay cut for themselves. If they have the university's best interests at heart, as they claim to, they will put themselves on the chopping block first. But like bankers that still demand huge bonuses in the midst of a recession, VCEG refuse to be touched by the recession. They see themselves as above accountability, above the consequences of their actions. They caused this deficit, and now they are profiting from it.

take action

Jan

29

There are a lot of things you can do to fight the cuts at Sussex on a personal level. You don't have to march or chant or chain yourself to a door. What's most important is that we get people involved and make them aware of the cuts and how to stop them.

  • Boycott the NSS. The National Student Survey is used to rank universities. It's one of the only things VCEG cares about, so we are refusing to fill it out. Computer surveys and website rankings are not an adequate judge of education. And contact the NSS to tell them that.
  • Talk to people. Tell them about what's going on. A flyer or a poster don't have nearly the same impact that face-to-face conversation have.
  • Read the Defend Sussex blog, which has the latest information about the cuts and the campaign.
  • Get involved on a School level. Lots of the Schools facing cuts have their own sections of the movement, like the School of English. Find out what your fellow students are doing.
  • Be creative. There are lots of ideas in the pipeline for Stop the Cuts events that are unusual and creative.
  • Speak out. Write your MPs, write to the Sussex management, write to the press, contact anyone who might listen to tell them what's going on here and how we all oppose it.

We can stop these cuts, and support from outside the university is growing every day. But we need everyone to get involved. We're all in this together.

acceleration, a whistling kettle, a rocket blasting off

Feb

01

The next Stop the Cuts rally is on Monday 8 February at 2pm. We're going to have speakers talking about the various segments of the campaign and hopefully some people from the community. Support for us is growing every day. UCU is balloting on strike action soon, the City Council has officially condemned the cuts, and Monday's rally promises to be the biggest yet.