Everyone at Sussex University needs to calm down

One of our Rugby boys wants you to chill your beans

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When I first came to Sussex I knew it was political, perhaps more so than even most universities are. I think it’s within the nature of people at our age out in the world to want to fill it with our own ideas and to rally against the things which came before that we feel do not define us.

When I came to Sussex I was terrifically enthused by the passion and drive of the people around me and their interests in various beliefs, music and culture. I’ll admit that one thing I cannot stand in the slightest is apathy, to not have something you care about enough to show how strong you feel about it to the world.

I honestly don’t care if that passion is football, Harry Potter, gender equality or anything else. It isn’t the belief that I admire and am inspired by, it’s the devotion and love to that thing and the desire to share that with the world. I’m pleased to say I’ve met far more people of the passionate kind than of the apathetic since I joined Sussex.

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However I feel that throughout my second year Sussex has started to slip and slide away from a place where that drive is a boon to a place where too many of us are engaged in conflicts that help no one and cause only division and harm.

In events on campus, between societies, and on Facebook, there have been far too many instances of negative aggression between fellow students. The political driving force that ought to be in defence of individual liberty and freedom of belief, is beginning to transform into a form of totalitarian creed that also remains horribly undefined.

As a member of Sussex Rugby I’ve unfortunately seen how this aggression can be directed, our society and it’s members seem to be constantly under attack by fellow students and sections within the university just because we exist.

Yes, I am aware that in the past Sussex Rugby wasn’t the sort of society that many would be proud of. However, that society no longer exists. Anyone who has paid even mild attention to the reformation of men’s Rugby will know how many charity events to promote diversity and good causes the society has been involved in.

Yet even when Rugby tries to do good there are factions which continue to attack it. Jonathan Harris, a committee member of Sussex Rugby, wrote a lovely article for the Tab last week, showcasing the different personalities of our team. Unfortunately the article included a typo which read #ITooAmSussex instead of #IamSussexRugby. #ITooAmSussex being a hastag for black students at Sussex. This was a simple mistake but when the article was shared a few individuals seemed to prefer to attack our society over the small mistake (which was soon owned up to and apologised for) rather than even acknowledge anything positive can come from Sussex Rugby.

The worst comment on the Facebook thread was one which read “I’m just going to say… if the President of the UKIP society is defending something, it’s probably a bad idea.”. This comment was liked seven times. Of course the implied elephant in the room here that fortunately remained unspoken was to infer that both UKIP and Sussex Rugby share racism.

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This brings me onto my second instance, that regarding UKIP. Let me start very clearly, UKIP is not a racist party. It may be a party which has some members with racist beliefs (every party does to some extent, it’s a sad reality) but at it’s core it is not a racist party.

There are strong, obvious differences between a party like the BNP or a group like the EDL who publicly show strongly racist beliefs and policies and a party like UKIP which has stronger right wing opinions on immigration than our other political parties but remains within the fair spectrum. A party like UKIP might be new to us, but all over Europe they are common and have been involved in governments.

Now I don’t intend to vote for UKIP and I am sceptical about many of their policies entirely unrelated to immigration or Europe. Yet I have found myself trying to defend the right to free speech on behalf of those who would wish to support UKIP, because for some reason the Union feels that while every other political party has a natural right to be represented on campus, the “fairest” way to decide if UKIP is allowed that same representation is to have an all student referendum.

Well, I imagine that would be fair if we did the same thing for every party but we don’t. It’s singling out UKIP and again using that shadowy implied suggestion of racism, that judgement from those who claim to be against such irrational and hateful judgements.

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I’ll use one final example, an event having to be cancelled that was run by the I <3 consent group at Sussex. It was intended to be a fun social event where Beyonce’s music would be played all evening along with some discussion of Beyonce’s role in feminism and as a feminist icon.

It devolved into feminists calling each other racist and demanding the event be cancelled. Even if there was a mistake in the wording of the event, do you really belief the people behind it intended to be racist or anti-feminist?

I’m fairly confident that the sort of people who want to spend their time putting on an I <3 consent campaign are very much in favour of equality. Yet now we’ve lost an event that had the potential to do good because of the fact that those who ought to be cheering at these attempts to change the world for the better instead got hung up on a small issue and tore each other to shreds. I found this quite hilarious, because to me it’s so absurd. It’s also more than a little sad.

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So to conclude, what is my point? Well let me put it in a very blunt and indelicate fashion.

Dear Sussex students, most of you have a very good quality of life and live within a society where you have the luxury of getting into ridiculous arguments over non-issues. Some of you may think that you’re fighting for a revolution, but you’re not. You’re fighting each other, hurting real people and causing imbalances that need not be there. You’re building yourselves into a bubble that isolates you from the rest of the world. Why not think instead of stepping out of that bubble and channelling your energy into something more positive?

If you want to be a social activist then go for it, I have a lot of respect for that and I’m sure many others would agree with me. But instead of tearing down an event and accusing people of racism, why not spend that time raising awareness or charity funds to stop Boko Haram in Nigeria? Instead of attacking Rugby because you think we’re a bit “laddish” why not come to one of our charity events and get involved in doing some good while learning we’re a hell of a lot nicer than you give us credit for.

In other words, calm the fuck down Sussex.