Sussex university students bid to save Dissertation Dash

Students participate in a previous Dissertation Dash at the University of Sussex
Image caption Former students have joined a Facebook campaign to "save the dash".

Students at the University of Sussex are bidding to secure a reprieve for a ceremony that has become an annual tradition for final-year students.

The Dissertation Dash - where students race to hand in their final work before the deadline - is under threat after changes in procedures.

The 13 May deadline now falls during exam time and there is no longer a single location to submit work.

The Students' Union said the dash was unique and a highlight of student life.

It has begun talks with university officials who have offered to help establish a new event.

Naked run

Union communications officer Kit Bradshaw is keen for one final hurrah before the university switches over to electronic dissertation submissions, probably next year.

The dash began during the 1990s, as arts and some social-science students at the Brighton university discovered a fun way of marking the final hurdle to their degree.

Image caption Students traditionally dress up - or down - to hand in their dissertations

After printing off their tomes in the library, they would dash the few hundred yards to the handing-in point in Falmer House - often in fancy dress, or even naked, according to some reports - cheered on by hundreds of fellow students.

Mr Bradshaw said: "It has been an institution for 15 or 20 years and has really built up in the last five years.

"Since we launched our campaign [to save it] we've had former students saying it was the highlight of their experience here - the thing they looked forward to, to get through those last 24 hours."

Electronic submissions

A university spokeswoman said: "Sussex sets strict deadlines for the handing in of work, and the dash was our students' tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of that need to meet deadlines."

She said dissertations no longer needed to be handed in centrally, but would be taken to the relevant school offices around the campus.

She added: "In due course, all work will be submitted electronically so, as the university moves with the times, so must the Dissertation Dash."

She said university officials were discussing with students a new event involving all departments and would be happy to try to keep a day free of exams.

Mr Bradshaw said: "This was never a planned event. It came about spontaneously."

He added, if exams could be rescheduled, the university "should reverse their decision and retain it until electronic submission is brought in".

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