On Wednesday 20 May, around 70 students gathered in Sussex University's main square to protest against the axing of the entire linguistics department. The protest was outside the meeting of the 'school teaching and learning committee' who were to decide on whether to ratify the decision, or to block it.
Protesters lined the corridors on the way to the meeting room where the committee would make its decision. We held placards asking the campaign's questions: why is linguistics being cut and why hasn't this decision gone through established consultation procedures agreed with the students union?
The university administration would have us think the decision came from the ether and that no one is responsible. University management say the decision came from the linguistics department, but forget to mention that they pushed through a merger of the English and linguistics departments last year and then applied pressure to cut back on courses. The department blames the management.
When students emailed members of the committee to plead with them to give the issue further consideration, the reply was that they weren't even sure if they had the power to ratify or block the decision. This was unfortunately the outcome.
Despite the student reps' persistent call for a vote, the response was continually that the committee members didn't have the power or authority to overturn a management decision. It is unclear what the point of this committee is!
Management clearly are to blame and are using these pointless structures to cover up their own culpability. The Save Linguistics campaign has organised to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS) which will have a financial impact on the university. The University of Sussex students union voted to make this official union policy, which was of course roundly condemned by the university management.
But what choice do students and staff have when there are no structures to challenge undemocratic cost-cutting attacks on our education? The campaign continues...
Find out more about Sussex Socialist Students here and visit our main website at www.socialiststudents.org.uk. Get involved. Get active.