University of Sussex

The Fight Goes On!


My, yesterday was a busy day. I’d meant to write this blog entry yesterday, but honestly by the time I got back from Wokingham Borough Civic Offices I was so tired we just went straight to bed.

But now I’m awake, and coffee-ed, so it’s time to get to the keyboard. Firstly, graduation went brilliantly. I am now Matthew Stephen Dent LLB, after finishing three years of study at the University of Sussex with a 2:1 in Law, and a hug from Sanjeev Bhaskar. Seriously, there’s video evidence:

Congratulations to all Sussex graduates, particularly my fellow lawyers. Everyone has worked extremely hard, and I wish you all the very best in your futures, wherever they take you.

Secondly was, of course, the Remenham, Wargrave and Ruscombe by-election, about which I’ve been harping on for months now. Yesterday was polling day, and saw me down at Woodcliffe Hall to vote before heading off down to Brighton. It’s been a great campaign, which has seen me have the opportunity to talk to all sorts of people. I loved every moment of it, and last night was the moment it call came to a head:

HALSALL, John (CON) – 850 votes (65.5%)

ALDER, Martin (LIB) – 272 votes (20.9%)

DENT, Matthew Stephen (LAB) – 94 votes (7.2%)

HEAPE, Andy (UKIP) – 55 votes (4.2%)

FOSS, Martyn (GREEN) – 19 votes (1.5%)

Me at the polling station yesterday, about to cast my vote in the by-election. Thank you to everyone who did the same!

So I got third place, and just over 7% of the vote, which is a fairly big improvement on Labour’s previous showings in the ward. Apparently the Lib Dems were a bit surprised at that, though Cllr Keith Baker claimed he’d expected an improved showing thanks to me (isn’t he sweet?).

I’m pleased with that. I beat UKIP, in what could be considered prime territory for them, and gained some ground on the Lib Dems. The seat is up for election again next May, so I’m hoping to use this result as a springboard to move forward off then, as part of a concentrated Labour attack on the four wards within Twyford and District Branch Labour Party’s purview where there will be elections (Remenham Wargrave & Ruscombe, Twyford, Charvil and Hurst).

So thanks to everyone who offered support, helped me out with the campaign, and above all voted for me. I hope to see much more progress in the years to come, and thank you for joining me on this first step.

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Second star to the right, and straight on ’til morning


So it’s done. After three years of hard work, the like of which I never visualised before I started, my law degree is finished.

Even writing those words feels odd. The law and studying it has taken over my life so completely that I feel lost without it. And scared at having to make my way out into the big wide world. I hadn’t realised just how integral university was to my day-to-day existence. Now I only have to wait for my results, and go to graduation, and I’m done with it forever.

It’s interesting trying to think how my university experiences have changed me. I’m certainly a different person. I feel more confident in who I am, and I think I’ve grown up a lot too. My writing has come on massively, to the extent that I had my first paid publications last year. And I’ve awoken politically too. I’ve always been a Labour man, but I grew up largely under a Labour government, and had rather taken it for granted. Now I’m living under a Tory government, and I know it’s because I’d taken Labour for granted.

So what am I going to do now? I’m not sure really. I’ve started by redesigning (and retitling) my blog. Do you like it? Beyond that, I’m going to spend a good deal of time writing and reading. I haven’t written for pleasure since Christmas, and I have a to-read pile taller than I am. I do have some other plans which are coalescing, but I’ll blog about those at a later date, when there’s more to tell.

And before you know it, I’ll be Matthew S. Dent LLB. Isn’t that the most terrifying part of all?

The End is Nigh


Almost there...

And, like a cat in a box, as soon as there’s concrete evidence as to their status my exams suddenly feel very real. And very close.

After nearly three years of study, endgame is almost upon me. I’m on the cusp of making the transition from Law student to Law graduate, which actually sounds grander than it is, and a lot less scary than it is. I started university in the full knowledge that at the end of the third year I’d take exams which would count for the vast majority of my final grade, so why does it feel like they’ve snuck up on me?

I think part of it is just how quickly the time has gone. It still feels like the other week that I pitched up on the South Downs, fresh faced (and clean shaven) and eager to get started learning the law. And now I’m twenty, and about to finish this stage of my life. An in between has been a whole lot of reading textbooks and articles, writing essays, listening to lectures and debating the finer points of the law.

It’s not so much the exams that are terrifying, but the sheer concept of graduation. No longer is life going to be laid out before me, neatly mapped like an ordinance survey. I hadn’t really appreciated how simple it makes life, having a set plan before me. Being about to finish that plan feels like standing on the edge of an unknown void.

Still, it’s not over yet. In just over three months it will be, but I have to get their first. Wish me luck

Hi Ho, Hi Ho


…it’s back to work I go.

Approaching the final push...

I’m now back in Brighton, ready to kick off the penultimate term of my undergraduate law degree. Which, from my perspective, is scary stuff indeed. It’s an odd feeling, being so close to the end, but having such a mountain to climb before I get there. It’s certainly going to be a busy term.

Aside from my dissertation (10,000 words), which is coming along slowly but surely, there are another three 4,000 word essays to write (one in each remaining subject- Evidence, Family and Law & Politics). As well as the usual lectures, seminars, reading, research, etc, etc.

Yeah, a fair bit to achieve this term academically. Then there’s all the extra-curricular. Namely, my writing and politics. On the writing front, I’ve been doing less since I started my third year, really. I still pump out the occasional short story, but not at anything like the rate I did in my second year and over the summer. And now I’m trying to edit this novel by March, it might be a bit of a dry spell as far as short fiction is concerned.

Politically? Well, I’ll still be involving myself actively in that, both in the Labour Society at university, and the local party (as much as I can). I’m not sure how much I’ll be doing, but I’m eager for a big push (particularly in regards to the 1p membership for under 27s scheme) in the run up to the local elections in May. So I’ll be doing my share- or at least trying to.

But mostly, I’m just a little bemused that the end seems to have sneaked up on me so effectively. There’s a bridge ahead of me, and I really have no idea what’s on the other side. Post-graduation, I’ll need either to find a job, or find some way of studying a masters. If anyone has any job offers for a left-leaning, rather-literate, soon-to-be graduate, I’m all ears.

So here goes. One more term of learning, and then another of examining. This is what the last two and a bit years have been leading to. Time to take it head on, and see how I fare.

Vote for Me!


 

This smiling face is asking for your votes. How can you refuse?

I’d like to apologise to the no doubt many readers of this blog to whom it means nothing. Unusually, this is aimed specifically at third year Law students, at the University of Sussex- which is a rather small sector of the online population.

 

I’d also like to apologise for the utter lack of subtlety of the title and contents of this blog. Frankly, I’m sick of all the indirect tip-toeing around that seems to accompany politics and elections.

So there we go. I’m standing for election as a student representative for the 3rd year Law students at the University of Sussex. If you are one of those students, then you are eligible to vote. I would like you to vote for me.

Except, it’s a little more complex than that (isn’t it always). I’m the only candidate for 3rd year Law student rep. So I should automatically win, right? Well, yes, but I still need your votes.

The way the system works is that positions on committees are allocated on the basis of votes received. Since I’m also standing for the Student Senate, the Library Consultative Group, and the Student Experience Forum, I still need your votes in order to be able to get any of these positions.

If you vote for me, then it will be one vote closer to making sure that your own representative is on these committees, which means that you’ll have a direct line through me to those issues.

Now, this is the manifesto I posted on the election site:

“My name is Matthew, and I’m standing for election as your Student Rep because I recognise how important it is that our voices are heard. Particularly in a time when budget cuts are threatening to damage our education and university experience, we need to stand up at all levels for our rights. If elected, I will do my utmost to represent your views, positions and concerns to those in charge. If you wish to contact me, you can do so via my email (msd26@sussex.ac.uk) or Twitter (@MatthewSDent), and I will gladly answer any questions you have.”

All of that stands, but I thought since I’m not limited here to 100 words, I’d add a little more about myself.

I’m twenty. I’m a writer (published, actually) of short genre fiction. I’m a lefty. I’m a Christian. I’m a Liverpool FC fan (this one isn’t going so great at the moment). I read the Guardian. I drink coffee. I like to solve problems, both my own and other people’s. I speak my mind (not always to positive effect, but I’m always honest).

Maybe you like all of that. More likely there are things there you don’t agree with. I don’t apologise for that, but I will say that as your rep, I will endeavour to always be available to answer your questions, help you with issues, and generally be a friendly face when there’s a problem that needs sorting.

So please, take a look around my blog and get to know me. If you have any questions, you can contact me here, through Facebook, email or Twitter. And if you do want to vote for me, you can do so in the Library (turn left when you go in, and you’ll see the big “VOTE HERE” sign. Or you can vote on the student reps website. It’s fairly self-explanatory, but if you have any issues with it the nice people at ITS will be able to help you out. Voting is open until Thursday 22nd October.

And thank you.

Socialism and Socialising


This little piece of genius is not, unfortunately, my own creation, but the Twitter profile picture of the Sussex Uni Creative Writing Society

I’m a third year Law student. I’m fairly sure I should have done the whole society thing in the first year. But whatever, I’ve never been one for doing things conventionally.

Last night I jumped off the deep end, and went to two societies in the same night. The first was the Labour Society, which was a particularly enjoyable hour of debating how Labour should move forward in terms of campaigning. The debate went a little off-topic, but it was all very interesting, and had a real feel of socialist camaraderie since we were locked out of the designated room and held the meeting sat on the floor of the corridor (and offering directions to the various lost people wandering past).

But as much as I enjoyed that, it’s not what I want to focus on. After the Labour Society meeting, I attended my first meeting of Write (the Sussex Uni Creative Writing Society).

Now, anyone who knows me or who has looked at this blog before will know that I’m a writer. It’s kind of hard to get away from with me. So it might seem odd that I’ve never been to any sort of writing group before. But I haven’t. And I really hadn’t any idea what to expect. So when I found myself in a crowded, stuffy room, I wasn’t sure what to make of it.

But I had a really good time. After an initial writing exercise, in which I attempted to write a morning routine in the voice of Jeremy Kyle, I kicked things off by reading out a piece of my writing. Now, this isn’t something I’ve ever done before. I read stuff out that I’d written when I was in school, but I don’t really count that. This was the first piece I’d read allowed to anyone since I became what I refer to as a “serious” writer.

It was nerve wracking. It wasn’t a particularly short piece, either. A 4,500 word short horror story, which once I’ve posted this I will be polishing up to submit to Murky Depths. It was fairly well received, which was a relief because I’m not sure what I would have done if they didn’t like it. And immediately afterwards I felt like an absolute moron for labouring over the damn thing all day to get it perfect. It wouldn’t have mattered if it was a bit rough. After all, the people in that room were only the same as me; people who enjoy writing, and who want to have a go at it.

So in conclusion, if you can find a good group of like-minded writers, with whom to meet, discuss, and trial your work on, then I would very much recommend it. Being a writer can be a lonely thing, and whilst Twitter and other social networking ideas can help bridge the gap (and there are a number of fellow writers I count as friends who I have never met in the flesh), there’s nothing quite like a face to face meeting with other people who share your interests and passions. I think that goes for most things in life, really.

And I have a whole new level of respect for those on creative writing courses. Reading your work for the critique of others is not an easy thing to do. But definitely worth it.

Back to the Grindstone


It's good to be back!

It’s that time again. As of today, I’m back in the lovely city of Brighton, and back to work at the University of Sussex.

This is my third and final year, so it actually counts. Meaning I have to really put the effort in, right up to the end. This is not going to be easy. Right now, I’ve had my first lecture of the year (Law of Evidence), and have near-bankrupted myself buying books for the year. But I feel energised and ready to learn.

It probably won’t last long. This same feeling has struck at the beginning of the previous two years. I start off all wide-eyed, ready to debate and learn and participate. It wears off after I end up mired in the endless reading lists, my vow that this year I’ll keep up with it receding into the distance behind me.

But still, I’m going to give it my best shot. This year the choice of subjects was my own, rather than the universities, and unlike most of my fellow students, I chose subjects I thought would be enjoyable. It’ll probably come back and bite me in the arse when I come to be looking for jobs, but at the moment I’m just revelling in the prospect of a year studying Law of Evidence, Family Law, and Law and Politics in the UK and US. And writing a dissertation on the Law of Treason.

The real panic will come in a few months, when I realise that I have no clue what I want to do when I leave university. But that’s a problem for later. For now, I’m enjoying my course, I’m enjoying my writing, and I’m really enjoying having been welcomed so warmly into the Labour Party. Life, at the moment, is looking up.