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, as well as 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.


Editor 2015-16. Politics Editor 2014-15. Third year Politics and Economics student, I've written for every section but primarily write politics, opinion and news pieces. I also write for The Edge, Kettle Mag, The National Student, The Student Times and the Independent and do lots of work with Surge Radio.

Discussion13 Comments

  1. avatar

    Hats off to SURGE and the Wessex Scene for investigating this; I’m a alumni SURGE DJ and Scene Editor (from back in the glory days of 2010!); I remember the live charity marathon fondly. I’m saddened the Union would prioritize some random company ahead of SURGE’s long-running charity commitments.

  2. avatar

    @Head of Music, are you implying the 48 hour marathon didn’t consist of a huge and eclectic range of music from dozens of different DJs with individual tastes?

  3. avatar

    Hey ‘student who saw it and was not harmed by the loud music’.

    It’s great it didn’t affect you but it posed a risk to a lot of students – I know of several students with hearing problems of pre-existing ear conditions that complained due to the noise. Further, I personally have been conducting an outside broadcast for SURGE before and been told to turn it down for ‘health and safety reasons’ when it was significantly quieter than the levels the American Freshman bus was playing at! I was manning the Surge tent next to the American Freshman bus for less than half an hour and it had a serious effect on my hearing for the rest of the day. So please don’t take your experience as the one for all – as for many students, it was a huge health and safety risk.

  4. avatar
    Student who was in the library and trying to work

    It doesn’t have to be a health and safety risk to be bloody annoying. Such a half arsed apology from SUSU too.

  5. avatar
    Another student who was trying to work

    I was in the physics building and I could hear it from there.

    Just going to throw a crazy idea out here, but has anyone at SUSU considered that people on a university campus might be there because they actually want to get work done instead of having a ‘carnival atmosphere?’

  6. avatar
    Conspiracy Theorist

    “Nothing about the day was about generating commercial income and no financial incentives have been received by SUSU as an organisation. ”

    And yet the bus clearly shows the subtv logo, a company which SUSU already has a long, complicated financial relationship with, and does receive income from.

    Making a balls-up is one thing, trying to lie about it is quite another.

  7. avatar
    Long Term Let Down

    SUSU really need to learn something about PR and sincerity. Such a bullshit and empty apology, no one can take you seriously if you consistently refuse to take any responsibility. People are disengaged because of the complete lack of accountability within SUSU. And the huge amounts of money and large core staff team seems to deliver nothing but substandard services and a complete lack of support in so many students endeavours. It’s a shame that a place with such potential is so let down by complete incompetence.

  8. avatar

    An embarrassing article written by someone who should be more cautious with the reputation of SURGE, given her committee position.

    A complete departure from Wessex Scene’s editorial quality, packed to the rafters with assumptions and meaningless references, and poor grammar in the headline.

    This is a student newspaper, not your personal Facebook wall. Bore off.

    I’d rather read The Tab.

    I echo the sentiments of earlier commenters: get a grip.

    • avatar
      Jennifer Allerton

      You are entitled to your opinion, but regardless of who wrote the article, there are many who agree with it. What are the assumptions made? And, journalism quite often involves the opinions of the writer or those they represent. It would be odd, to be honest, with the number of students unhappy about this occurrence, if this had not been reported on.

  9. avatar

    Hey ‘Snore Off’

    Please tell me how I haven’t been cautious of the reputation of SURGE? When all my quotes have come from SURGE members, and SURGE complained to SUSU? Further, a lot of SURGE members have personally thanked me for getting this piece out.

    I haven’t made any assumptions, and I can assure you that this is a very well researched article. Which of my references are meaningless exactly? Which assumptions are made? Also, what is wrong with the grammar in the title?

    As a student newspaper,it is paramount that we hold the Union to account, so I’m not sure exactly how you compare this to my Facebook wall? None of this article contains my opinion, it is a news article – all opinion in the article is quoted, and I have personally spoken to SURGE and SUSU about this – and given both sides a right to reply. As Jennifer said above, it would have been odd to not report on it, given that there were a lot of unhappy students. Would you prefer us to say quiet and let SUSU get away with anything?

    If you still feel this strongly, please feel free to right a rebuttal piece, with your name, rather than writing personal attacks anonymously :). We are a student newspaper after all, so you are entitled to your opinion. If I haven’t convinced you, please feel free to go and read the Tab, no one is forcing you to be here. 🙂

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