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Fight now or forever hold your peace

When you say cut-back, we say fight-back. And when we say fight-back we mean it, a mantra weightier than mere words. Words dance upon the paths of action and we follow them to wherever they would take us – preferably to the very heart of darkness that is the Vice Chancellor’s bunker of delusion.

And it is a sorry delusion – the idea that we would, as a united student body of thousands, prostrate ourselves before the many-headed beast of cuts, redundancies, and marketised brutalisation. We will fight – together, as one – and we must. The movement must grow, and it will. We need you, we are you, and they are not – not us, not for us, management managing a rickety cart full of jobs, books, and futures and directing it swiftly towards the precipice. Only if we, the student body, in union with our lecturers and other staff all over campus, change the points and burn the old tracks, will that precipice remain on a distant horizon.

We must de-rail the proposals that management would have us swallow while pinching sharply on our collective nose. But our senses have not been dulled – we can smell a rat in our midst. And rats must be disposed of with a hefty shovel-blow to the head. When the time comes to deliver the coup de grace, a hundred palms on the handle would not be enough.

The message is clear – five hundred, a thousand, ten thousand – let’s build towards a constellation of potent action. And it is only action that will save this university. “These proposals will destroy Sussex as we know it”, if I might be allowed to quote a prominent professor of mine. The stakes are damned high. That’s why we care, that’s why we must care.

Large-scale job cuts; the closure of entire schools and departments; the shutting-down of a whole raft of courses; major cut-backs to a variety of essential services, such as childcare; a damaging reorientation of studies away from the fundamentals of learning across the board – a picture of utter educational destruction. The old edifice of an education’s education burnt on a pyre lit by the hand of the hideous market, towering, glistening with shiny-new bank notes, ‘a new building, and yet another new building, a new era, new research contracts, a new vision for a bright future’. A vision of tutors on the doll-heap, trashed courses leaning on rotten sticks that were once bastions, commoditisation, marketisation – what a new era indeed!

A future like this is no future at all. It is a temporal hopelessness. Rally your friends! Speak to your tutors! Organise and mobilise! We have until March, friends, we don’t have long. Now is the time. Now is the moment to fight back. Management might imagine that they can spit in the face of this institution, slap the face of education itself. They are pathetically jejune.

When our staff vote to strike, when we strike out at Farthing’s plans in massive, coherent protests in order to drive the dagger deeper into the heart of darkness, they will soon learn the error of their ways. The proposals will be dropped, and the university saved. That is our shared objective. And to achieve this objective we must all become a part of this irrepressible action. At today’s protest, and at those that will follow in these vital weeks of struggle, let’s get to know each other a little better – let us be overpowering!

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