Warning: Criticism Of The Students’ Union

Giant banners bearing the leaders’ omniscient faces leer across buildings. Dissenting press is censored, its editor suspended until vague further notice. Are we in 1930’s Russia? No, this is Sussex University in 2015.

The Students’ Union recently celebrated “hundreds” of students voting in its Student Rep elections, despite Sussex welcoming thousands of new undergraduates this year.

Does this appalling ratio simply signal general student apathy, or is there a more troubling diagnosis?

As we are forcefully reminded by the countless signs strewn around campus, “All registered members at the University of Sussex are members of the Students’ Union” (recall signing that contract? Me neither…) and therefore we would assume this questionable organisation would have “our” best interests at heart; but so far as I can tell, this is hardly the case.

Apart from arranging grossly overpriced freshers’ events (£25 for a tent party? Do they have any idea how many super noodles that can provide?) I haven’t witnessed any particularly admirable behaviour from our self-proclaimed representatives.

They seem more interested in branding any and every event with the “SU” logo than actually helping students. Their presence is certainly one seen and not heard.

I imagine their shady meetings, congregating in the Falmer square at the dead of night, resemble the neighbourhood from Hot Fuzz, “You should be ashamed, calling yourself a Student Body that cares.” “Oh but we do care! It’s all about the greater Union! (The greater Union)”, chuckling nauseatingly as they plot their next oppressive measures, most likely against our theoretically “free” press.

Beyond the disgraceful censorship, it’s the double standards which get me, alongside their vulgar sense of jurisdiction. They complain about The Badger’s numerous letters about alcohol, whilst commemorating their own drinks deals. Come to SKINT Tuesday everyone – just don’t you dare write about it.

Students’ interests are an irreverent window dressing for another bureaucratic machine, one which spends so much time devoted to self-worship it forgets the purpose of its own existence: to support its members, and not to subjugate them to the whims of overpowered and under-accountable executives.

So before the Union decides to censor this article, I would recommend it take a good look at its fictional conception of democracy, and consider how much power 1/10th of the electorate participating really entitles it to.

 

Glenn Houlihan

Image: Tyler Menezes

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