Outrage as SUSU Give Precedence to ‘Obnoxious Money Making Scheme’ Over SURGE Radio’s 48 Hour Charity Marathon

On Thursday 19th and Friday 20th March SURGE radio attempted a 48 hour marathon from the Redbrick to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust and SUSU RAG. Unfortunately, on Friday at 11am, SURGE DJs were forced to abandon their broadcast from the Redbrick and move inside to the SURGE studio, due to being drowned out by the ‘American Freshman’ bus and allegedly ‘disgusting’ treatment from SUSU and American Freshman staff.

IMG_8968The big yellow bus, which could play at the sound capacity of a nightclub posed a huge health and safety risk to students, as passerbys on the Red Brick and in The Stags were not provided with earplugs. In the past, SURGE have broadcast at a fraction of this level and been asked to turn their speakers down by SUSU staff. Despite multiple complaints to SUSU reception and calls to the police, there was no action taken against the American Freshman bus, and they continued to play extremely loud music, which could be heard on Church Lane, the Library and the Interchange – disturbing many students attempting to study, and nearby residents.

SURGE had their booking of the Redbrick confirmed since 16th January, and were only informed of the bus’ presence on campus on Friday 13th March. SUSU told SURGE that the DJs would be able to broadcast from the top of the bus – yet when it arrived no such offer was made to the DJs. Multiple sources have told Wessex Scene that when it was mentioned at Union Council on Thursday Evening, most sabbatical officers had no idea of the bus’ presence.IMG_8967

SURGE are filing an official complaint to SUSU, citing the ‘shameful lack of communication’  to the ‘complete detriment of SURGE’S broadcast and fundraising’ and accuses SUSU of valuing ‘an obnoxious company over the charitable efforts of its own students.’ 

Being forced to move into the SURGE’s studio and broadcast from inside was hugely harmful to the 100s of volunteer hours that went into organising and undertaking SURGE’s 48 hour marathon, which has lead to members of SURGE feeling “appalled, disappointed and let down”. 

One SURGE DJ, Cameron Meldrum, a second year Politics and IR student said:

I find it completely sick how the Surge Radio 48 hour marathon that is raising money for RAG and Teenage Cancer Trust has been sidelined for some American hipster DJ fest charging people £5 for a bowl of f*cking cereal. Not only did Surge book the redbrick first but they’re also not doing a corporate f*ck-fest with music that makes your ears bleed to boot.

This is not the first time Cereal Killer Cafe has caused controversy over its extortionate pricing. When it opened last year, the staff refused to answer questions to a Channel 4 reporter who questioned them on pricing.

On Thursday, their first day of fundraising, SURGE raised over £250, yet between 8am and 4pm Friday, they had only raised an additional £5, as the blaring noise from the American Freshman bus, drowning out the voices of SURGE DJs made the broadcast – and collecting money from staff and students – impossible. To add insult to injury, a number of American Freshman staff were allegedly rude to SURGE’s volunteers, and SUSU core staff were apparently overheard loudly badmouthing members of SURGE, accusing them of ‘over-reacting’. 

There have been multiple complaints about SUSU prioritising their commercial interests over their students, gathering complaints on University of Southampton Tell Him/Tell Her and SUSU Ideas and Open Discussions Group.

Ellie Wermter, Assistant Station Manager of SURGE radio said

It’s horrible that SUSU supports an obnoxious, commercialised, money-making scheme over the charitable efforts of it’s own students. SURGE as a whole are very disappointed and appalled by the treatment we’ve received from SUSU.

Overall, SURGE managed to make £600 for Teenage Cancer Trust and RAG, this has been matched by Santander, making a total of £1200 for the charities. You can continue to donate through for their Just Giving page here. 

SUSU have issued an official apology here , stating:

On Friday we attempted to create a carnival atmosphere on the Redbrick Area for the last day of term. We have been made aware that despite all our best endeavours to compliment our earlier bookings we may have not 100% succeeded in our intent. We did have an open dialogue throughout with both Surge Radio and the Freshman’s Tour Bus but despite this it appears not everything went according to plan and for this we would like to sincerely apologise.

Nothing about the day was about generating commercial income and no financial incentives have been received by SUSU as an organisation. Our intent was to create an atmosphere of fun whilst allowing both Surge and Enactus more opportunities to raise funds for charity. We have received a lot of positive feedback from students who attended throughout the day and we will remain committed to prioritising our student groups on all occasions. Again for those of you that we have disappointed we do sincerely apologise.

If you have any questions about this, please do email our President, David Mendoza-Wolfson at pres@soton.ac.uk.

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