Unfair-Ground… Anyone else bored of the SU’s NSS campaigning?

£800 for a ‘unfair-ground’ against tuition fees? Bit rich…

The Easter holidays are unfortunately over with many people returning back to reality except for one little group, the Sussex Students’ Union. Ah yes, the political demagogue who cannot breathe unless it is for a righteous cause.

During my Easter holiday, I had the amazing chance to visit De Montfort University in Leicester and it is safe to say that I was very impressed with everything they had to offer. The university hosted the Student Radio Awards and they definitely showed off . They hosted a wide variety of speakers from Mistajam, James O’Brien, Greg James, Christian O’Connell, and tonnes of other big names in the business.

The university was very modern, the societies produced some amazing stuff, and all in all the Students’ Union was sick.

I return back to Sussex, which is more like a twilight zone right now. A invitation for an ‘unfair ground’ is sent my way and I’m intrigued. With it being hosted by the SU however, it is never as clear cut. Whilst De Montfort holds a national conference we host… a fairground.

The event has to have a hidden agenda. It couldn’t just be a event where students could just take part in for fun’s sake. Oh no. It is to show students how unfair the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is.

Yep, looks banging. £800 well spent

The unfair ground, a cringy attempt at a Banksy ‘Dismaland’ to express a edgy message with none of the edge. Students take part in the events in Library Square and are given gold, silver, or bronze medals which puts them at a disadvantage at each event depending on what medal they have. It’s meant to show how ‘unfair’ the TEF is by ranking universities this way.

Let’s break this down. You’re showing students that the TEF is a bad thing even though the majority of students would oppose any form of tuition fee rise (our hearts are in our wallets after all). I think after literally months of you guys campaigning we have got the message. We’ve seen the banners too many times.

So if the event is not for the majority of students, it must be for the minority of student who don’t think with the status quo? Of course they would have some deeply entrenched views and arguments that only a ridiculous publicity event could change.

So how much did this event set back the union that is so obsessed with money? £800. Yep, £800 which is more than eight weeks accommodation at Park Village (it is also five weeks in Northfield).

The only thing ‘unfair’ in this ground is how the union spends its budget.

We had some great things happen in the SU this year. The campaigning for the university to become a guarantor for students was incredible, they also arranged a hardship fund for students to purchase books, and the SU organised ‘lookout’ groups in Brighton to make sure that people are safe at night. These are the sorts of things that Sussex students want. However, the campaigns and causes that the SU wants to push forward are the ones which are its worst.

The only thing shy here are the amount of people

Whilst the SU’s obsession with boycotting the NSS reaches fever pitch, we don’t have a summer ball due to no funding, societies are massively underfunded meaning that many have to raise money themselves, all the while we can shell out for the most apathetic form of political campaigning I have ever seen. Not filling out a survey. Yep, real revolutionary and progressive guys.

It seems to me that all this boycott the NSS, campaigning against TEF, or whatever is just another notch on the CVs of those in the SU to say that they have done something ‘productive’ during their time at Sussex. Let’s get back to the elected officers next year to see if they are still so passionate about those causes once they don’t have a dog in the fight.

Imagine the next stepping stone for those at the SU:

‘So what experience do you have which makes you suitable for our political/humanitarian/coffee shop role?’

‘Well, I campaigned very hard for Sussex University to not fill out a survey. Here, you can look at all my photos!’

From what we saw at the event, it didn’t even seem that successful. There were hardly swarms of students all drawn in by the games or free food so all the SU has achieved is to show that not only can they not promote and host an event successfully, but waste money that they are so strongly against spending.

I guess the 536 students who voted in favour of boycotting the NSS last term were out of the country. FYI, there are roughly 17,000 students in Sussex.

The medals contain student tears

Students conduct their own politics in their own way. If we want to protest, we don’t need the SU’s help doing it. If we want to have an opinion different from what everyone else thinks, we should feel that we can express it. Why do we have to have a SU who insists on telling us what to do and how to think? It’s a far cry from the moderate left reputation that our university has which should take into account diversity.

We’re not stupid, we know the arguments that exist for and against the NSS and TEF. We’re also drowning in deadlines and exams so filling out a survey is the least of our worries right now.

Do more of those good things for students, the NSS stuff is getting so dry now.

A spokesperson from the SU had this to comment:

“The unfair-ground is part of our NSS Boycott campaign. Last term, students voted in favour of the Union campaigning for students to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS) to stop universities raising tuition fees. This boycott is part of a national student campaign against the government’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which will result in education becoming more expensive and exclusive.”

The spokesperson continued:

“We want to show how unfair the TEF will make higher education with universities rated gold, silver and bronze based on measures including the NSS and charging varying tuition fees based on the bronze, silver and gold rankings. The unfair-ground is one way of getting students involved and interested in the campaign. It gives people with gold access more chances and a better experience and penalises those with silver or bronze, just as we believe the TEF will with students. It’s an unfair-ground because we think the TEF is unfair.

“We’ve done lots of things as part of the NSS boycott campaign, and this is a more light-hearted way to explain why the TEF is so badly conceived and remind students to boycott.

“The unfair-ground games costs £800 and was funded from the campaigns budget, approved by all full-time officers.”