Sussex’s two-day week

Happy new year! Gabrielquotes is back for another term of libel action. Put your email address in the box on the right to be at the forefront!

uni timetable year 3 term 2
It’s hard maintaining a work-life balance in third year

Times are hard at Sussex. Because of the increasing costs of the Vice-Chancellor’s salary, university managers have had to introduce a two-day week for finalist students.

And it only costs £3,500 per year: absolute bloody bargain.

Still, to be fair, Sussex offers the possibility of exciting added extras, such as the possibility of being put on trial in a kangaroo court.

Prof. Chris Marlin was appointed by V-C Michael Farthing to chair the disciplinary panel.
Prof. Chris Marlin was specially appointed by the V-C to chair the disciplinary panel.

On Friday, the Sussex Five will undergo a disciplinary hearing over their role in recent protests against Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing’s outsourcing of university services. The hearings will be impartially chaired by one of the deputy Vice-Chancellors, Professor Chris Marlin, who is an active member of both Senate and the Executive Group, both of which approved the outsourcing plans.

This is rather like George Osborne being the judge in the trial of people who protested against increased tuition fees.

(Erratum 13/1/14: the hearings will in fact be chaired by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Michael Davies. This was entirely my mistake and I apologise for any confusion caused. -Gabriel.)

To be fair, though, there is substantial evidence against the Sussex Five. Take this photo of one of them standing in a lift, for example, taken from the University’s bundle of exhibits: clearly this person should not have any right of access to higher education.

Another of the students was pictured “using a loudhailer to encourage protestors”, while a third had the nerve to post a link to a petition on Facebookwhat a bastard. This sort of free expression of ideas is clearly anathema to any university campus, whereas the fact that Sussex has seemingly set up a false Facebook profile to spy on students is completely fine.

The most compelling evidence, though, appears in a member of staff’s witness statement: apparently a protestor was “being silly and acting up”, which is clearly grounds for full-blown disciplinary action with Presenters and cross-examination and everything. Is this a university or a primary school?

The disciplinary hearings will take place on Friday 17 January, and the five students will mount a vigorous defence. Could the University be being remotely silly or acting even slightly up? I think so!

See further below for Michael Farthing’s Song!


It’s not just diversity, it’s M&S diversity

Pork at M&S: piggy in the middle class
Pork at M&S: piggy in the middle class

Marks & Spencer made the sparse Christmas headlines with their announcement that they allow Muslim staff to decline to handle pork and alcohol products if this offends their conscience.

The Daily Mail didn’t like that. M&S FACES BOYCOTT! its website screamed.

Who these people are who would boycott a company just because they have a diversity policy, I wasn’t entirely sure… until I looked at the comments below the article.

“Marks and Spencer? You have just committed commercial suicide. People will remember this forever. I wouldnt be surprised if you arent bankrupt within 6 months,” said someone appropriately enough called ‘Smiler’.

"Don't bring me into it!"
“Don’t bring me into it!”

While M&S may have gone a little over-the-top in an effort to accommodate religious staff – as someone commented on Twitter, Christians working at B&Q still have to sell nails and wood – they haven’t really done anything evil: unlike the Daily Mail, which forces its staff to write misleading articles spreading hatred and xenophobia on a literally daily basis (hence the name) with no possiblity of a conscientious opt-out.

Interestingly, another newspaper which specialises in stirring up racial and religious hatred was entirely fine with the M&S announcement, although it approached the story from a rather different angle: “Don’t want to sell pork? Fine by us, Marks and Spencer tell its Jewish staff”.

Still, at least the JC has discovered that there are, in fact, some circumstances in which Jews and Muslims have a shared interest, and that Muslims aren’t all the valueless, “thick, sick or envious of youthful beauty” creatures that JC columnist Julie Burchill had previously suggested.

Here’s to a 2014 of tolerance towards difference then… oh no, sorry, I’ve got to stop writing now, the entire population of Romania has just knocked on my front door seeking asylum.

Michael Farthing’s Song

There is a certain man who controls my degree
He’s the V-C of Sussex University.
‘Interdisciplinary’ is our campus’ watchword,
But we never thought it could be quite so absurd.
As the Sussex campus is enlarging
Pressure clearly took its toll.
Why else would our Professor Michael Farthing
Score such an own-goal?

Our Vice-Chancellor,
Unto himself he’s a law.
To run the place he wanted a toughie.
Our Vice-Chancellor,
Making use of a back door,
Gave a big job to his old friend Duffy.

Old Farthing brought about some changes here and there,
And throughout, he’s shown he has some quite substantial flair.
He cast his eye around for little things to tweak
And decided on a restructure of the week.
Farthing thought it would be kind of tacky
From convention not to stray.
So he asked his deputy, Clare Mackie,
To start weeks on Thursday.

Our Vice-Chancellor,
Now on campus there’s a war:
The atmosphere is decidedly chilly.
Our Vice-Chancellor,
No respect for the shop floor:
He’s acting up and being quite silly.

[spoken] But when his trips abroad and his lusting and hunger for power became known to more and more students, the demands to do something about this outrageous man became louder and louder.

“This Farthing’s got to go,” declared his enemies,
“His outsourcing won’t help us in our quest to get degrees.
Now he’s gone to the High Court, there are students we can rouse
And arrange a coup so we can clear up Sussex House.”
Now Farthing thought his job was kind of stable,
He earned six figures every year.
Despite his tumble down all the league tables
He’d hoped that all was clear.

Our Vice-Chancellor,
Unto himself he’s a law,
We’ll get them all in one mega swoop.
Our Vice-Chancellor,
And other senior staff galore:
The whole V-C’s Executive Group.

Our Vice-Chancellor,
Unto himself he’s a law.
He’s sitting on a great powder keg.
Our Vice-Chancellor,
A servant of our Visitor:
Our only hope’s to petition Nick Clegg

[spoken] Oh, that Sussex.

So is the Pope a Catholic or not?

The Telegraph had this to say on Monday:


The first sentence of the article clarified, “Time travellers probably do not exist or, at least, they do not use social networks, a team of scientists has declared.”

Researchers at Michigan Technological Universitym, who got the idea for their project from “a whimsical little discussion”, searched the Internet for references to ‘Pope Francis’ pre-dating the appointment of a Pope called Francis.

Having not found any, they concluded (a) that people haven’t travelled back in time and tweeted about the intricacies of the Catholic Church, (b) that people haven’t travelled back in time and tweeted, and (c) that people haven’t travelled back in time. I’m not entirely sure whether all of those conclusions have been proven with full scientific rigour but what do I know.

Of course, people do travel forwards in time and post on Twitter

Police, sir, can I have some more?

20131026_183349Well this is fun; this blog has, erm, acquired a copy of an apparently highly confidential document marked RESTRICTED – for Police and Crime Commissioners’ eyes only.

However, suspecting that it was only withheld from the public because it’s embarassing rather than life-threatening, Gabriel ‘Edward Snowden’ Webber is going to blow its confidentiality.

In this private letter to his members, the chief executive of the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners (APCC), Mr Mark Castle, remarks that “a number of you have mentioned salary conerns [sic]” and urges PCCs to contribute to a review of their pay and conditions being carried out by the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB).

The APCC designed and attached a simple survey form for members to complete. For instance:

pcc salaries

At least it gives PCCs an opportunity to be honest (“I’m massively overpaid, because £60-100k is a huge amount of public money to give someone when their only job is to make two decisions a month”) but let us not forget the Association’s helpful and impartial tips for those completing the survey.

“We would like to present evidence which provides a true representation of the breadth and responsibility of your role […] Your comments may include the ‘24/7’ nature of the role, and the amount of travel required to cover broad geographic distances.”

Or in other words, ‘Remember to say that you sometimes have to get up before 10:30, and that you have to travel to work unlike most people.’ Not exactly quasi-judicial, is it?

APCC circulars are routinely posted on the organisation’s website, except for a select few which are labelled ‘PCC EYES ONLY’ and are beyond the reach of us humble members of the public because the Association is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

The APCC press office declined to comment on why it was considered necessary to keep this letter secret squirrel, and while their statement claimed that their evidence to the SSRB “reflects a broad range of views made by [their] membership,” they refused to provide a copy of said evidence. Nothing like open government, is there!

Five of the best

Today’s non-state actors
In tonight’s episode, Michael Farthing was played by a coward (Are you allowed to say this? -Ed.) (Yes he is. -Tan Ikram). His song was written by Boney M-ichael Farthing. The Daily Mail was edited by Nick Griffin. This was an Gabrielquotes production.


Comments? Queries? Questions? Observations?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: