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University of Sussex: Students Straying from ‘Traditional’ Societies

Students at the University of Sussex have made the decision to ditch nightclubs and parties for societies that are dedicated purely to activities such as bingo and, a British favourite, drinking tea.

A total of 276 societies operate within the University of Sussex’s Student Union, including “Spill the Tea”. Sussex are the first student union to offer a society dedicated purely to drinking tea.

At the university’s refreshers fair, the second chance students have to sign up for societies this academic year, there were more non-drinking societies, such as the Board Games Society, chess and baking.

Becky Doran, the university’s Activities Officer, said, “with a total of 155 student groups at the Sussex fair, this is an opportunity for students to see the amazing things our groups are doing and join something new…all you need to get started is three people to be your committee and an idea.”

It can be hoped that students at other universities around the country will be inspired to form their own non-drinking societies that are still fun and inclusive, especially with such nontraditional ‘student’ activities becoming so popular amongst students at the University of Sussex.  

Amelia Cutting

University of Technology, Sydney: Uni Launches ‘All-Gender’ Bathrooms to Support Diversity

The University of Technology (UTS), Sydney in Australia has recently announced their brand-new, ‘all-gender’ bathrooms, to promote inclusivity and ‘make students feel safe and welcome on campus’.

The university previously had unisex bathrooms in place, however, students and members of the UTS Queer Collective felt that this wasn’t inclusive enough; the UTS Queer Collective ran a campaign to replace ‘unisex’ with ‘all-gender’, to combat discrimination faced by non-binary and/or gender-fluid students.

Erin, a member of UTS Queer Collective, said: “What motivated me to be involved in this campaign is that I’m a non-binary student who has been harassed in bathrooms in the past…Gender neutral bathrooms are something that have helped with reducing my dysphoria and anxiety about being verbally abused in a bathroom setting.”

In addition to the difference in terminology, UTS’ all-gender bathrooms also include an additional symbol.

Along with their new signage, UTS’ all-gender bathrooms not only indicate a higher degree of acceptance but also an acknowledgment of the complexity and diversity of gender.

Erin went on to say: “Some people within our community don’t identify with traditional binary genders…Others don’t feel comfortable using a bathroom designated by gender”.

UTS currently has placed all-gender bathrooms in 10 campus buildings, however, due to its positive impact, the university is currently looking into more opportunities to establish all-gender bathrooms across campus.

Maariyah Fulat

Swansea University: ‘Decolonised English Literature’ Course Introduced

Implementing an appeal from students, the university is the first in the UK to announce an English module based on the “hyper-contemporary” international Dylan Thomas prize.

Each year, students in this course will study books longlisted for the prestigious prize for writers under the age of 39, the age that the Swansea-born writer Dylan Thomas died.

The university followed calls from students to “decolonise” the literary syllabus by introducing more books written by black, Asian and minority ethnic writers.

The module leader, Dr Nicholas Taylor-Collins, said: “This really is a landmark module for English literature. The International Dylan Thomas Prize Module offers our finalists a unique opportunity to read excellent, hyper-contemporary literature which explores important themes, including those of gender, race and politics, all the while exploring how literary prizes help to produce, promote and celebrate that writing.”

The £30,000 Prize is awarded to the best published literary work in the English language and is aimed at supporting international creative talent and literary excellence.

Zornitsa Stoycheva

University of Northern Carolina: Student Finds a Man Living in her Dorm Room Closet

A student at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro had a nasty surprise last week when she arrived home to find a man in her closet wearing her clothes.

The student, identified as Maddie, believed she had a ghost after having her possessions go missing or moved. She arrived home last week to hear noise from her closet only to find Andrew Swofford, aged 30, in her closet wearing her clothes with a bag full of more of her possessions.

Swofford was taken into custody by local police officers and was described as not violent or threatening, although was later verified by police to have been on drugs. He is also suspected of breaking and entering, identity theft and failure to appear in court.

The property management company believe that he entered through a living room window. Following this incident, they have taken steps to inspect all windows, as well as increasing patrols for the near future.

Quite unsurprisingly, both Maddie and her roommate have requested to move to another apartment as they no longer feel safe.

Matthew Plant

‘University of Farmington’: Over 100 Students Arrested for Enrolling in Fake US University

129 Indian students have been arrested for enrolling in a fake US university. The University of Farmington, supposedly based in Michigan, was run by undercover agents from the Department of Homeland Security to expose “pay-to-stay” immigration fraud.

The fake university was set up in 2015 to try to catch foreign nationals who had initially travelled to the US on student visas and wanted to stay in the country. The university had a fake website as well as a fake Facebook page with a calendar of events.

The Detroit Free Press reported that a total of 130 students, of which 129 were from India, were arrested and charged with civil immigration charges. The Indian government said the students could have been tricked into enrolling.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said: “Our concern over the dignity and wellbeing of the detained students and the need for immediate consular access for Indian officials to the detainees was reiterated.”

Some immigration advocates in the US also believe innocent foreigners were trapped by the government. Over the past two years, the Trump administration has further clamped down on undocumented migrants and visa overstayers.

The pressing issue has raised concern with the detained students. The MEA added: “We have urged the US side to share full details and regular updates of the students with the government, to release them from detention at the earliest and not to resort to deportation against their will.”

Sophie Denham

Image: [Pixabay]