All the reactions to that €1,000 Freshers Week cash dump at the University of Malta

Academics and university staff cringed at the Squid Games money grab on Campus Hub. Where do you stand on the ‘trickle-down’ cash dump at this year’s Freshers’ Week?

Oh so Squid Games... take by satirical page Bis-Serjetà on the €1,500 cash drop at Campus Hub, Vassallo Builders owned mall at the University of Malta extension
Oh so Squid Games... take by satirical page Bis-Serjetà on the €1,500 cash drop at Campus Hub, Vassallo Builders owned mall at the University of Malta extension

Scores of university students on Tuesday morning got to fill their pockets with €5 notes as part of a stunt by student media company, Freehour, to dump €1,000 from a big at the University’s new ‘campus’.

It was a fitting start to the year, where the University of Malta’s new extension by Vassallo Builders, a massive 10-storey accommodation centre for foreign students, now hosts its own mini-shopping area.

As the geography of Malta’s sole national university changes, students were dragged from the Quadrangle into Campus Hub, to clinch at one of the €5 notes dumped at them from a balloon, a stunt by Freehour that got everybody talking.

But the frenzied clamour for the cash rankled with those with higher expectations for students at Malta’s national university.

Professor Carmel Borg, from the Faculty of Education, was succinct in his view of the stunt. “Simply pathetic, symptomatic of a country that has lost its soul.”

Bis-Serjetà, reading the event with its unforgiving satirical eye, instantly caught the Squid Games appeal of the stunt, photoshopping the creepy Young-hee doll onto the photo of the baying students.

Former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi could not resist comparing the struggle of Iranian women risking their lives in protest at the regime’s patriarchal oppression, with that of the students’ race for cash.

University of Malta pro rector Prof. Carmen Sammut also shuddered at the stunt. “The tactics employed by companies entrusted with marketing campaigns at the commercially-owned Campus Hub make me cringe!  You may have got your crowds but you lost many educators’ respect!”

Broadcaster and University dean Prof. Andrew Azzopardi was equally disgusted by the stunt. “If indeed true, it is shameful and humiliating.”

Prof. Arnold Cassola, from the Department of Maltese and an independent political candidate, questioned whether Campus Hub actually belongs to the University of Malta.

“The University emphasised that this event was not held on its grounds.  So: does the Campus hub not belong to the University of Malta?”

In a joint statement issued later on Tuesday, both the University of Malta and University Students’ Council (KSU) said they were concerned by the event, which the University emphasised was not held on its grounds. “The activity held this afternoon presented manifest safety issues and exposed UM students to potential physical harm. This publicity stunt does not align with the values of both UM and KSU,” they said.

The University of Malta Academic Staff Association (UMASA) also called for strict safety protocols on such stunts.

“UMASA disapproves of pivoting a promotional event on a random distribution of cash, more so when this is intended for a public university's students. UMASA  joins the University of Malta and the University Students' Council (KSU) in disassociating itself from the event; adding the appeal of promotional activities should not come at the expense of safety and quality education.”