Bye bye, everybody, bye bye*

*Almost. Possibly. Actually probably not.

So. Farwell then
University of Sussex.
I have handed in my dissertation,
Two copies,
Stapled and paperclipped.
Your computers were not so good.
You are not making
The future
Any more.
G. S. Webber, age 22¾

sussex university campus catYes, this is the sad news that after three years of risking disciplinary proceedings in order to hold Sussex Uni managers to account, I am now going to have the opportunity to do so without any such risk. Dissertation done; email address about to be surrendered; never again will I be filmed without my knowledge or consent by an organisation to which I am paying thousands of pounds.

gaby babyWay back in April 2011 I (pictured) wrote the final post on my gap-year blog, gabrielinindia, saying: “This is presumably going to be the final blog entry, since gabrielinsussex from September would be substantially less exciting than my Indian adventure.”

How wrong could I have been? Although Sussex has been significantly different to my Indian adventure – the variation in work ethic between staff at the University and servants at the Akshaya school in Dindigul in particular springs to mind – but nobody could say that Sussex has been dull for a single second.

In the last three years, I’ve returned three sets of elections and a brace of referenda. I’ve had an elected politician questioned in Parliament about a document I leaked. I’ve prevented a boycott of Oxfam. I’ve dobbed in University mismanagement, incompetence and corruption to the media and have had my investigations reported in national newspapers. And I’ve even had the occasional spare minute to study for a degree.

In the course of which, I’ve been able to assemble a small catalogue of suggestions. So…

My contribution to the National Student Survey

While the University isn’t too keen on dissent, it does seem to be rather taken with feedback. So I’ve compiled a selection of my thoughts and proposals into lyrical form (melody outsourced to Gilbert and Sullivan LLP):

As some day it may happen that things change at Sussex House,
I’ve got a little list – I’ve got a little list…
Of many things about the place that make me want to grouse
And that never would be missed: they never would be missed!
There’s the bureaucrats who axed that lovely dissertation dash,
The pillock who chose to invest our cash in Sussex SPLASH.
And come to that, our IT systems, they are always down;
Let’s get rid of the lot of them, sack all the Shawcross clowns.
Renaming Monday ‘Thursday’, now that really got me deeply dissatisfied:
That just would not be missed: these all would not be missed.


There’s John Duffy, Michael Farthing and the others on VCEG:
The traitors in our midst: I’ve got them on the list!
And for the late results: on Sharon Jones’ face is an egg.
She never would be missed: she never would be missed.
And back to days of Lewes Court, let’s not forget the Porter:
Who’d go on cigarette breaks for an hour and a quarter.
Though being outsourced maybe that was not quite so deserved:
So also on the list goes our new ‘partner’ Interserve.
And the Pro-VC for Teaching should just be outright dismissed.
I don’t think she’d be missed, I’ve got her on my list.


The injunctions, the evictions, and the dreaded Schedule A:
Now these, we must resist. I’ve got them on the list.
All queuing at the Co-op, what an unending delay.
It just would not be missed. It just would not be missed.
The bus ticket prices’ rising while the services get worse
And hidden course costs pulling at the strings of my wee purse.
And the shimming and the shallying and the lies re. Jubilee:
I’ve had a cardboard building throughout all of my degree!
And course convenors who on eccentricity insist:
They’d none of them be missed; I’ve got them on the list.


It’s time for open action

"It's time for open heart surgery" – the NHS has begun using black robes
“It’s time for open heart surgery” – whoops, the Hippocratic oath doesn’t apply to foreigners

The British National Party’s election broadcast raised a few eyebrows, declaring as it did that “it’s time for open action to set our people free”, as sung by a hugely creepy child’s voice to the tune of ‘All Things Brighton Beautiful’ (Shurely ‘Bright and Beautiful’? -Ed.)

Their 3-minute cartoon featured, inexplicably, a penguin being turned away from Britain by immigration officers in favour of shady robe-wearing men “who prey on little girls from takeaways and taxis”. This sequence was, astonishingly, banned from television on the grounds that it might incite racial hatred, who’d have thought it!

After this vignette, Nick Griffin himself appears to say: “I’m sure you enjoyed that.” Erm…

Actually the only bit I enjoyed was at the very start, when they took a UKIP speech out of context to make it look like they’re not a racist party. That’s the sort of thing they’d do!

The charming film closed with a series of society figures giving vox pops. One man said, “The BNP is the only political party that will uphold your culture and heritage.” Really? I had no idea that they were in favour of matzah brei, circumcision and national holidays on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Might vote for them after all…

Fee fi FOI fun

The ICO office in Cheshire
The ICO office in Cheshire

When I published Sussex’s catering contract with UN-blacklisted company Chartwells, I did so based on the University having told me (in these words) that the remaining withheld information “has been agreed with the Information Commissioner’s Office.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office begs to differ. In a 56-point judgment, they ordered Sussex to release the entire, unredacted contract within 35 days or else face contempt of court proceedings in front of a High Court judge.

The ICO, statutory adjudicator for freedom of information disputes, found that the University had breached four separate provisions of the Freedom of Information Act and “clearly had no intention” of handling this blog’s request for the contract in accordance with the law.

Sussex’s main (and rejected) argument for keeping the main material secret was that its release “would be likely to prejudice its ability to participate competitively in commercial activities in the future” – awwww, wouldn’t that be a shame.

What do points mean?

Paying the Pryce: Chris Huhne in prison
Paying the Pryce: Chris Huhne in prison

Following the imprisonment of barrister Constance Briscoe over some complicated and barely-understandable fibbing related to the Chris Huhne penalty points saga, said Huhne published a stroppy column in The Guardian complaining about how unfair it was that he was imprisoned “on the basis of Constance Briscoe’s deception”. Although he did admit, “Yes I was guilty.” Hmm.

Particularly entertaining was when he compared his personal sense of injustice to the Stafford hospital scandal which resulted in the deaths of up to 1,200 NHS patients.

flowRoot3001Shakespeare’s like so last year

Untitled-1 copyA new A-level English course focusing on literature including a BBC News interview with rapper Dizzee Rascal and Times journalist Caitlin Moran’s tweets has been described as “rubbish” by the Department for Education.

Perhaps they misunderstood the phrase ‘set texts’ and thought it referred to SMS messages rather than pieces of writing.

macbeth text messages
katy bourne the bill


This is the end? Well, not quite. Wait until graduation week… I’ve got at least one more Sussex tidbit to share yet. And then I’ll still carry on after that. So it’s not really bye bye everybody time at all. I don’t know why I said that.

Oh, and also, readers may be interested in page 29 of last week’s Private Eye:

private eye sussex university

Five of the best

So it’s goodnight from me
In tonight’s episode, the song was written and performed by Gabriel Webber with support from some miscellaneous backing singers. Inspiration was provided by Michael Farthing, Claire Mackie, John Duffy, Sharon Jones and other members of the cast. The BNP Broadcast was directed by Looney Tunes. Constance Briscoe was responsible for a, er, carriage of justice. Dizzee Rascal was interviewed by the BBC. This was an Gabrielquotes production!


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