So here you are, a fresher at Sussex; fresh-faced, dewy-eyed and ready to embrace all the stereotypes of your new university. You’ve already gone vegan, swum in the sea, bought a bike and some harem pants, perhaps you’re even learning to deal with the campus’ seagulls – in fact, the only thing left to do to complete your new Sussex persona is to get politically engaged. You’ve read about our “infamous” occupations and you’re furious about tuition fees, but you don’t yet know where you should go to channel all this righteous anger. Never fear, for The Badger is here to help.
Your first stop for politics at Sussex has to be Freshers Fair, where you’ll find a hefty slice of stalls with a political bias. Most of the major political parties have a student society at Sussex (yes, even the right wing ones) or you can toss aside party politics and join a group representing a broader school of thought, like the Marxist or Anarchist societies. There’s campaign societies too, like Friends of Palestine and Amnesty, or you can cover all your bases and join the Politics Society, which arranges talks and events on various political topics throughout the year. If you’re overwhelmed by all the options, have a chat with members at their stalls or pop along to their meetings to find out if you want to get more involved – there’s no obligation to turn up again if it turns out it’s not your cup of tea.
There’s no need to restrict your political activities to our campus though. Venture into Brighton and you’ll find it full of political groups, whatever you’re interested in. Once again, the political parties are present and often keen to get students involved, whether you want to attend meetings or hand out leaflets. You can also keep an eye on venues like the Cowley Club and the Synergy Centre for all manner of political goings on, from film screenings and radical poetry readings, to club nights or parties in aid of political causes.
Brighton isn’t afraid of a protest either, be it Free the Nipple or Free Education. These often take place at The Level or the Clock Tower in Brighton, or on campus, and as groups at Sussex often help organise the demos there’s a strong chance you’ll find a flyer for one thrust upon you in Library Square. But if not, keep an eye on Facebook where events for demos are often shared – a great excuse to disguise all that procrastination and profile stalking. If you’ve never been to a protest before, don’t worry if it seems daunting; despite all the shouting, the atmosphere should be friendly as well as righteously angry.
Volunteering can be political too and is an invigorating – and productive – way to fill your free time, especially if you’ve suddenly realised just how few contact hours your course gives you. The options for volunteering are endless, from the Real Junk Food Project which seeks to tackle food waste to the regular beach cleans which promote environmental awareness. You could also volunteer with one of the Students’ Union’s campaigns, like Decolonise Sussex which seeks to remove colonial influences from the Sussex curriculum, or Access Sussex that fights to make our campus more accessible.
If you came to Sussex wanting to embrace politics, opportunities for you abound. Whether you’re ready to be radicalised or just want to get yourself more informed about current affairs, by the time you’re donning your cap and gown at graduation you’re sure to have played your part.
Image: Ivan Bandura via Wikimedia Commons