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Student protest

Student protest in Hastings.

Brighton protest about Hastings campus

Mark SU Harvey, officer for disabilities at the University of Brighton, writes with passion about the threatened campus at Hastings and tells us about a protest that’s been organised in Brighton. 

Hastings is an eclectic mix of personalities and cultures, creating a diverse mix of perspectives and a reasonable, unique outlook on the world. Having had its ups and downs over the decades, the decision to create a university centre in the town as part of a 20 year regeneration plan was wonderful news. This is just beginning to develop into something, with little help from the main uni and a lot of work from dedicated people in the town. Bonds have been made and friendships created, allowing for a diverse development.

There is then the mass of people and predefined expectations of a large campus, which makes them more unsuitable for those with mental health or special need issues to become part of. Having worked for several different universities giving advice on disabled access and having visited many, it is notable the lack of access on these places. However, Hastings is a unique place with full disabled access to all buildings; it is both small and is situated in an understanding town with lots of support for students from caring staff, with the space to develop one’s self and personality. This should be both preserved and encouraged, as other universities have to create policies to make this happen and this is a complicated affair.

Correct marketing of this – not only to this market but those more mature students and those needing a new direction – would prove profitable and add to the creativity and diversity of the place, benefiting the town and uni as a whole. After attending the recent NUS Disabled delegation in Manchester, I realized how envious others are of what we have in Hastings. So many of these hard-working delegates are struggling to get access to buildings and facilities, and I cannot see how a management could justify removing this, when other campuses fall far short of the mark.

I feel that the management of the university fail to understand Hastings, as it is a special place to be, and once you have adapted, you quickly begin to love the town. From the beginning, when the University Centre was established, there was the desire to create a full experience. We are still lacking a Student Union space for the students to call their own, which would have the benefit of full access for everybody, as many of the old building of Hastings have access issues. Also halls of residence will be a must, as nothing currently available has disabled access or facilities for those with needs or health issues. Lastly there is the missing unizone, which would integrate us as a whole within the rest of the uni. All of this is achievable, and most probably for far less than it would cost to move expensive equipment, whilst keeping something unique to be proud of.

Protest arranged for Wednesday 13 April, starting 1pm at The Level in Brighton. Free coach places available if booked today. Check out this Facebook link.

Photos by Modernity Mark Photography of the protest march in Hastings here. This protest will be the first in Brighton.

Posted 09:38 Tuesday, Apr 12, 2016 In: Campaigns

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