Once again it has been a long time since I have written anything on here. Back in May I posted about how entertained I was with the latest controversy at the students’ union here in Southampton. I say entertained however I was kind of saddened as well.
There is now a referendum being held to find out whether students want to have the name/brand reverted to SUSU instead of the new name Us. This seems to have been strategically placed to take place at the beginning of the new academic year. Students graduating from the university in July of this year probably would have voted but seeing as their alumni now somehow don’t count? But how are the new students who only arrived at the end of September more entitled to a vote in this situation?
As in my post back in May, I have been struck by the creativity behind “Southampton Onion” a group of students (I think, there is some mystery surrounding this) who are vehemently against the change and wanted the union to remain SUSU. They say that this is (among other things) due to the lack of consultation with students and the absence of any utilisation of student groups who could have contributed such as our students studying art or business. It’s hard for me to tell how sincere they are as some of the things they have been writing are border on being a bit troll-ish.
Onion Southampton have created posters which have been posted around campus and a video which I must admit did make me chuckle. On the other side the SU have created posters which have been accused of being leading or skewed.
This is where student referendums (referenduh!) are flawed. When I was studying, there was a referendum on whether we should re-affiliate with the NUS and it descended into a slanging match instead of being about accurate, unbiased presentation of the facts. It became cliques fighting one another.
During this time, I was sad enough to change my Facebook profile picture over it, asking people to say YES to a “proper” referendum (when was the last time we had one of those?) I also had friends who were offended I refused to take a side or take part in any of the squabbling. In the end we remained separate from the NUS and I can’t say that it impacted my experience as a student…or maybe I just don’t know what I was missing.
In defense of the current sabbs who have an unenviable task ahead of them, they did inherit this mess from the previous sabbs who have been able to hand over to them. OK so I sound like a Tory using the “they inherited his” line but it is true. I wrote last time about whether the branding actually matters and I still think it is what goes on behind it that needs to be looked at. I haven’t worked with the new sabbs that much but I have already seen encouraging signs of improvement.
I also feel bad for them as again, they want the best for students and people are attacking them for a monster they didn’t create. In the face of the EU referendum result and the possibility of President Trump being a thing it’s easy to see why students are so fed up and are feeling let down and are therefore taking a stand on either side. Defending the re-brand and saying it’s too expensive to reverse, or remaining loyal to the SUSU brand in all it’s colourful glory.
I think a referendum was probably a good idea but what lies ahead for Southampton Onion if the branding remains unchanged? I feel constantly making fun of the SU won’t always work in their favour. Or maybe I’m wrong…