This year, the Sussex Student Elections looked a little bit different.

Due to the unprecedented consequences of COVID-19, such as the implementation of a nationwide lockdown, the elections were moved to an online platform. Campaigns were done from the comfort of candidates sofas, and the slogan “Everything is being cancelled – but democracy is still on!” decorated social media. Despite global events, thousands of Sussex students came through to vote in a new board of officers, and the results are finally in.

These are your new Student Officers, alongside their key election points!

Women’s Student Officer: Jing Sun 

“Make Better for Everyone” 

I’m devoted to making the whole University’s voices more diverse and more friendly to women, so that women in the Sussex uni can truly enjoy campus life.

Trans and Non-Binary Student Officers: Vallerie Knight & Ray Everall 

Work with the Student Life Centre to provide better support for trans and non-binary students

Visible facilities – pronoun pins worn by employees & better visibility of gender neutral bathrooms

Continue building on what the officers have done this year – we plan to work with the incoming officers to continue the solidarity the officers have shown this year.

LGBTQ+ Student Officer: Yasser Kosbar 

“I’m here to recruit YOU” 

Accessible campus and classrooms for community members with visible and invisible disabilities

Enrich our library with queer literature from the global south

Promote strict university policy against any form of intolerance on campus

Make sure LGBTQIA+ concerns and demands for better housing services, classroom culture, and safety on campus the core of any policy introduced by the university.

BAME Student Officer: Dany Uyanik 

“Done with the norm? Vote transform!”

Counselling service for BAME students, especially LGBTQ+, as they are more likely to suffer from mental health problems.

To minimise homesickness for the international students making up 40% of the student body, bring an international food market.

Equal voice for all people in student movements and on campus.

Students with Disabilities Officer: Matt Pritchard 

“Done with the norm? Vote transform!”

Physical Access – As a scooter user, I have experienced many of the accessibility issues that Sussex has. Some changes are simple, such as assuring proper maintenance of accessible routes. Some would require systemic change, such as the university’s outsourcing, leading to delays in repairs, when issues occur. 

Access to Mental Health Services – One issue that recurs, is the coverage of mental health services by the university. I have heard horror stories of people having to wait for months to access mental health services. That is unacceptable, I will continue to put pressure on the university to improve this.

Affordable Accessible Housing – If you assume £120 per week to be affordable for rent, there are only 4-5 accessible, affordable rooms on campus. If you assume £100 is affordable, then there are none. I want to create a report, to show the university the accessibility of its accommodation and buildings.

Diversity, Access and Participation Officer: Nehaal Bajwa 

“Done with the norm? Vote transform!”

Develop an interactive, online ‘Accessibility map’ of campus with an anonymous reporting feature to indicate where access is obstructed or otherwise unsuitable.

Work with other officers, relevant staff, and student ambassadors to hold the University to its commitments as part of the Race Equality Charter, improve BAME representation among academic staff and in student support services.

Work with officers and societies to release a long-overdue official statement in support of trans rights.

Hold more inclusive conversations about gender, sexuality, and racism, and develop training for staff, sports teams, and societies to ensure that people are better informed about the diversity of people’s experiences.

Education and Employability Officer: Connor Moylett 

“Done with the norm? Vote transform!”

Increasing Transparency And Accountability By Holding Accountability Assemblies To Provide Students With A Direct Channel Of Communication To Management.

Protecting The Su Budget From Planned Cuts And Demanding That The University Increase The Su Budget In Line With Student Numbers. 

Actively Engage With Student Groups And Campaigns

Holding The University To Its Promise Of An Additional Su Building In Westslope

International Students’ Officer: Ijlal Khalid 

“A Union for all”

Tailored Academic Support and Academic Writing Workshops

International Student Advocates in each School

Better Transition support during Uni Induction

Cultural Competency (awareness) training

Decolonising the Curriculum/Co-producing

Sports, Societies and Events Officer: Annie O’Connor 

“Done with the norm? Vote for transform!”

Increasing transparency and accountability by holding “Accountability Assemblies” throughout term, so students have a direct channel of communication with University management. We will publish easy-read summaries of our meetings, make ourselves visible on campus, and host ‘We Are Sussex’ Assemblies for students and staff to feed into SU policy. 

Protecting the SU budget from planned cuts, reverse cuts that have already taken place and demand that the University increase the SU budget in line with student numbers. The SU cannot survive with more students and less money. 

Actively seeking out student groups and campaigns  and provide them with the tools they need to succeed 

Hold the university to its promise of an additional SU building in Westslope

Student Living and Sustainability Officer: Roseanne Steffen 

“Done with the norm? Vote for transform!”

Affordable housing for all on campus: better protection for students in Brighton’s private renting sector all whilst freezing bus prices.

Work to create a safe community  where students support and respect one another. I will work to tackle racism, classism, homophobia, sexism and ableism on campus.

Protect the Su from planned cuts: reverse cuts that have already taken place and demand that the University increase the SU budget in line with student numbers. The SU cannot survive with more students and less money. 

Hold the University to account over its declaration of a climate emergency: this cannot be just empty words. Provide environmental and ethical careers opportunities for students.

Wellbeing Officer: Paris Palmano 

“Done with the norm? Vote for transform!”

Stop rent increase in halls! Work to secure the university’s provision of affordable rent that costs £100 or less per week through campaigning with the Park Village affordability campaign.

Host “We are Sussex” assemblies for all students, academic/admin staff, baristas and cleaners: Engage everyone in the fight to end zero hour contracts, introduce more paid sick leave for outsourced workers, and foster a cohesive and caring study and work environment.

Support zero waste initiatives on campus: Work together with societies tackling food waste to bring about a ‘community fridge’ and eventually a campus kitchen run by students.

Provide opportunities for students to get involved with environmental and ethical careers: Host a ‘Green jobs Fair’ with officers and Careers and Employability centre to publicise student internships and jobs in this competitive sector.

As you can see from the results, ‘Transform Sussex’ have done incredibly well, winning every role that they ran for! They told The Badger:

Thanks to everyone who voted for us and supported us. It’s taken hundreds of us to build this movement, and we’re really grateful for all your faith and creativity, which made even online campaigning fun and uplifting in this otherwise isolating time. Massive congratulations to all the other candidates on their campaigns. We have so much respect for everyone’s commitment to improving our living and learning conditions, and the work they have done and will do at Sussex.

This has been a disruptive time for many of us, which affected candidates in different ways, but it’s been hugely impressive to see how hard everyone has worked despite it all. We won’t be going quiet now, although some of us will be spending more time on our degrees. Our energy will go into planning for next year, handing over from current officers, and collecting your ideas about how to meet some of the challenges coming up at Sussex. We’ll also be engaging with the Sussex and Brighton mutual aid groups; participating in student campaigns to freeze rents on campus during the pandemic; and formulating demands around how the University responds when it comes to assessments. There are loads of ways you can get involved. The campaign starts now!

Congratulations to everyone who ran in the 2020 elections. We look forward to seeing the exciting changes that the new officers will make!

You can read the manifestos for every candidate who ran in the SU elections here.

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