Last Thursday, 25 February, protestors braved the wind and rain to make a stand on student cuts in Library Square. At 1.15pm, representing the 115 threatened jobs at the University of Sussex, a band of protestors took to the square to promote ‘Stop the Cuts, Start the Music!’ to get their voices across in a positive way.
‘Wet and Fun,’ were the two words Scott Sheridan, Activities Officer and mastermind of the organisation, used to describe the scenes. Re-worded versions of such classics as ‘Old Macdonald’ (with a cut-cut here…) and ‘Tequila’ resounded around campus, contrasting the gloomy weather.
However, these were not the only people on campus demonstrating on Thursday. At midday, representatives of the University Crèche met with the Vice Chancellor Michael Farthing with a proposal for an alternative way of reducing costs of running the children’s centre. The report not only underlines the value of welfare that the Crèche provides for workers at Sussex, but also provides insight into reducing running costs whilst the centre remains open, whilst forecasting the costs and risks of closure or privatisation.
Lindsay Mclean, one of the leaders of the movement, told the Badger: “Having a place for children at Sussex is so important for the people who work here. I personally came here instead of moving to London because of the childcare facilities, and at my researching position here I secured £40,000 worth of research investment into the University. This is something that is missing from the current profit and loss accounts in the senior management. For over 40 years, the childcare at Sussex has been brilliant. Now that there is a threat of budget cuts, it is sad that the Crèche should bear the burden.”
The proposal sees one threatened part of the University making a collected response to the announced cuts, but is also supported by other departments of both Brighton and Sussex Universities. The ‘School of Education and Social Work’ in Sussex and Brighton Universities’ ‘Early Years Professional Status’ award scheme benefits from providing work experience for their students at the Crèche. Josh Jones, current education officer at Sussex and recent candidate for next year’s President, told the Badger: “It is impressive that the Crèche has banded together with other establishments so well, and released such a detailed report underlining the faults of the announced cuts. It’s just a shame more departments under threat haven’t done the same.”
Jo Goodman, next year’s elected Welfare Officer, was braving the rain as well. “It’s so important that members of staff at the University come together with students to protest”, she said, “It will make such a big impact – bigger than students protesting alone.”
An official statement received from the Internal Communications office told the Badger: “The crèche and nursery currently requires financial subsidy of £350k a year. However, we have not made a proposal to close it. We have been actively exploring how to maintain childcare on campus in a way which is financially sustainable, through two alternative routes.
”The University is exploring options with external providers, who offer quality childcare provision for other organisations. We have also received a proposal this week from parents as to how childcare
might continue to be run by the University itself, which the University is giving proper consideration to.
A decision on the way forward would be a matter for our Council which meets in March. Whatever the outcome, we would want the quality of any childcare provided on campus to continue to be excellent.”