From March 15 to March 19, four referenda took place at Sussex University. These various referendums were organized by different societies at Sussex including the Food Waste Café, Sussex Under the Sheets, International Students Forum, Bame Society, Undoing Borders, and No Beef Sussex.
These campaigns included: the awarding gap campaign, which aims for equality between home students and internationals students; the sexual safety campaign, which addresses sexual safety on campus; the community kitchen campaign, which is involved in improving the students and staffs physical and mental health by cooking nutritious meals together with other communities; and the no lamb or beef campaign, which advocates banning lamb and beef on campus to reduce carbon consumption in order to fight the climate crisis.
The final results and statistics for the referenda came out on Friday 19 March. There were 1661 unique voters, 4472 total votes cast, and a 7.8 percent turnout. The Yes vote for all four of the campaigns succeeded. Here are the various results related to all four referendums:
In the first referendum, the SU asked: “should the Student’s Union reaffirm its commitment to improve sexual safety at Sussex?” 1501 students took part, breaking down as 1142 Yes votes and 59 No votes. The Student Union will therefore continue to reaffirm its commitment and continue to lobby for sexual safety at Sussex .
The SU’s second referendum read: “should the Students’ Union continue to lobby the University and investigate and address the international student awarding gap?” Of 1095 total votes, 968 students voted in favor of the proposal, with 127 against. The Student Union will thus have a policy to lobby the university to investigate and address the awarding gap.
In the third referendum, the SU posed the question: “should the Students’ Union initiate a no beef and lamb on-campus initiative and lobby the university to do so as well, to fight against the climate crisis?” With the highest turnout of the four referenda, 779 students voted Yes in favour of the measure and 434 voted No for a total tally of 1213 votes. The Student Union will subsequently initiate a no beef and no lamb initiative on campus in order to fight against the climate crisis.
In the final referendum, the SU asked: “should the Students’ Union lobby the university to establish a community kitchen on campus?” 963 students took part in the fourth campaign, with a total 812 Yes votes and 151 No votes. The Student Union will therefore set up a policy to establish a community kitchen on campus.
Leila Grossman, who lead the campaign for the no beef and lamb policy told The Badger: “we’re so overwhelmed and grateful for all the support we received this term and last, but most importantly that this term we have successfully passed the referendum – we could not be happier.”
“Since last term’s vote, we have been working with the SU and speaking to the people who run the food outlets on campus to create a plan to slowly phase out beef. This work will continue with renewed effort since the referendum has officially passed.”
Ellie Doughty, who lead the campaign for Sussex Under the Sheets, stated that: “everyone at Under the Sheets was thrilled to see how successfully our campaign went, 1442 votes is many more than we expected!
“It’s amazing that more students voted in this referendum than in any over the past eight years, and we’re so happy to see Sussex students banding together to show a collective message to the administration. Hopefully this is the beginning of some concrete change.”
Haruna, who lead the campaign for the Food Waste Café, stated that: “with a community kitchen we are hoping to tackle food insecurity and to enhance a sustainable campus for the food waste café.”
“The awarding gap campaign aims to create equality between home students and international students and this will make a huge difference for all the students at Sussex University.”
The voter turnout during the last few years was very high for the Student’s Union compared to at least eight years.
Picture Credit: N Chadwick