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Government reverse decision on Sutherland School of Law cuts by yvanne KenneDy · SenIOr rePOrter
the UCD Sutherland School of law, which is currently under construction, was saved from a cut in Government financing. though a scale-back in exchequer funding was announced in november and a number of other UCD projects have been put on hold as a result, the Sutherland School building is proceeding as expected. a UCD spokesperson said that State’s committment to the project remained in place “because the law School contract and fundraising campaign were at such an advanced stage.” the pre-Christmas announcement had been a disappointment for the University and would have been a large setback for the law School development. the european Investment bank (eIb) pledged part of a €90 million investment in UCD to the School soon after the feared cut from the Government and when ground was broken on the site. back in april, UCD President, Dr hugh brady remarked that the agreement with the eIb would be extremely advantageous for UCD in strengthening its position in the european university rankings. at the time, eIb vice-President for Ireland, Plutarchos Sakellaris, stated that the reason behind the eIb providing the funding was that “the european Investment bank is committed to ensuring that world class education and research facilities can help future generations contribute to the european knowledge economy”. the University has championed the building of the newest faculty building which will see law students converge on a single space adjacent to the Quinn School of business and will bring them closer to the heart of campus. this is in line with the University’s hope “to make the campus more compact, concentrating related activities, and separating academic and leisure functions.” the proximity to the main campus will be of great benefit to those students who study law with another subject such as business or history and will bring all students together under one roof, for all legal classes, for the fi rst time. Dean of law, Professor Colin Scott is confident that his faculty will be “fully operational in the new building by September 2013” but says that “as with all building projects there remain potential causes of delay.” the building is scheduled for completion in mid-2013. UCD alumnus Peter Sutherland donated a part of the funding required for the project, which is expected to stand at 5,100 square metres and house both undergraduate as well as postgraduate UCD law students. the building will include a clinical legal education centre, lecture and tutorial rooms, PhD spaces, and a boardroom, as well as social spaces.
The UCD Student Club has been closed since it ceased trading on June 15th 2012. The opening of the new UCD Clubhouse bar, at the site of the Forum bar,has been delayed until the New Year. Photographer: Aoife Valentine
UCDSU owed “in excess of €120,000” by Student Club by aOIFe valentIne · DePUty eDItOr
the President of the Students’ Union rachel breslin, has revealed that the recently closed Student Club owes the Union over €120,000. this comes in response to a claim in the Sunday Independent that UCD Students’ Union owes the Student Club “a massive €90,000”, allegedly in unpaid bar tabs. When questioned about this, breslin stated: “From the draft balance sheet that I have seen that is about to go to the auditors, there is a liability owed to UCDSU, so money owed to UCDSU in excess of €120,000 and no mention of moneys owed to the bar. Perhaps this is the case because all I have seen is our management accounts but if that is so, then it’s
certainly offset by the money owed to UCDSU.” breslin blamed financial mismanagement of both institutions as the reason this debt arose for the bar: “I think that the money came from the relationship, in terms of the nature of the accounting practices that were happening and when the accounts on the bar are finalised and published, I think it will become clear to all of us what was happening and why that debt arose.” the accounts are awaiting finalisation, a process which will only be complete once the Student Club Committee formally adopt the accounts presented to them by Mcnally business Services at the bar’s aGM, which is due to take place this week.
breslin was critical of past Students’ Union teams for allowing bar tab practices to emerge over the years, stating: “I would never in a million years condone a bar tab. I don’t think it is in any way an acceptable practice for the Students’ Union to have, whether that is as a result of class rep tokens and drink tokens but… I think the days of bar tabs are certainly over. there’s no justification for doing that.” With the Student Club closed and its committee considering disbanding, it is unlikely that the bar will reopen again this year, however breslin said: “It’s a grim situation and it’s something that is on the top of our agenda every day in trying to figure out a plan to get the bar open, how to make it viable, and so it is something
we’re very much aware of and we’re trying to do everything we can to get a bar.” the situation for the SU worsened last week when the contractors for the new UCD Clubhouse bar, noel thompson builders, were deemed insolvent and construction on the bar halted entirely, pending a creditors meeting where it is likely a liquidator will be appointed. UCD Student Centre Manager and Project Co-ordinator Dominic O’Keeffe said: “regarding the builder of the bar, it was disappointing to hear that news. It will in my estimation push the opening date back to the new year. I will be more accurate when the buildings Office concludes their work on the building contract.”
UCDSU await confirmation of €1.1m loan by aOIFe valentIne · DePUty eDItOr
UCD Students’ Union are awaiting confirmation of a €1.1 million loan to refinance the Union’s €1.4 million debt. they submitted their business Plan to a number of financial institutions in June, and “one of them is coming very close to accepting it.” UCDSU President rachel breslin says there is nothing more the Union can do to speed up the lending process. “Once you submit something, you’re on their timescales then. We keep doing our best to try and ask what’s going on or if we need to submit any more information, but we’re hopeful. It’s moving faster over the last few weeks but from our side of the process, it’s done. We’ve sub-
mitted it, we’ve answered any questions, but it comes down to the other party.” the Union is currently trading “in the traditional fashion”, and with the assistance of Mcnally business Service ltd are preparing cash f lows “to ensure that we are trading in the correct manner and doing everything the way it should be.” though they have applied for a €1.1 million loan, breslin states that: “It is not our intention to draw out the full amount of that loan just yet. Some of the money was towards capital investment in our shops so that’s not the extent of what we need, but that’s the amount we sought in order to fully enact the business plan that
we are projecting over the next five years.” the SU’s two main shops, under the library and in the student centre, have been making annual losses of “over tens of thousands”. two commercial managers have been hired for the first semester to “bring in new management practices, new training practices, new work structures, rosters and opening hours.” at the end of term, the SU plan to reassess the financial situation in the shops and the best options for their operation in the long-term. breslin is confident that a loan can be secured, however if the financial institution in question reject their business Plan, she plans
to seek alternative refinancing options. “If we do not get a loan, perhaps we try and expand, we cast our net out wider and apply to other [institutions]. by essence of a loan, that is your least preferred option but it’s the one we had to take because our situation is so severe. If that does happen, we look and ask what situation made us so unviable, because we are a trading entity. a limited company that has a guaranteed income stream from student contribution every year, that isn’t accepted for refinancing, while also having shops on a campus of 25 thousand students is a very worrying thing indeed.”
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
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Summer Health News in Brief Centre avoids Clever Cuisine scheme budget launched cuts by Sylvester Phelan
UCD Students’ Union has launched Clever Cuisine, a new scheme in partnership with M&K Meats Ltd., aiming to provide healthy food to students at a reasonable price. The scheme delivers freshly chopped meat and vegetables with recipes for four meals for a week to students for an affordable €10. The project originated from a survey conducted by UCDSU, which showed that, due to budgetary constraints, over 81% of students had skipped a meal over the previous month. UCDSU President Rachel Breslin said: “The gist of the scheme is that you can buy healthy food that is directly from a meat and veg supplier chopped and ready to prepare every week, and that there’s a different one every week so that you’re still getting variety whilst being able to get the reductions because of the scale.” The scheme is open to UCD students at €10 and non-UCD students at €12.
USI Highlight concern over Bank Of Ireland Loan Scheme The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has highlighted their concerns with the Bank of Ireland (BOI) postgraduate loan scheme. This program, backed by the Minister of Education Ruairí Quinn, has been put forward as the replacement to the postgraduate maintenance grant, which was eliminated in the 2012 budget. The USI campaign is aimed at informing students of the terms set with the program along with showing up mistakes made by the Minister in negotiations with BOI. USI Deputy President Kate Acheson, criticised the idea of a loan scheme, as this would be a substantial increase in student debt and a step back in deregulation of fees Interest rates of nearly 11% will be imposed on students in this loan scheme, compared with the zero per cent charged by the state on similar loans in the United Kingdom. A good credit history is required to avail of the loan. Another concern of the USI regarding this scheme is the fact that students must begin interest-only repayments directly after availing of the loan, and start capital repayments three months after graduating, regardless of employment or financial situations.
Student Travel card relaunches with Leap Card integration The new 2012/2013 Student Travel Card, which includes an integrated Leap Card chip, has been launched with new discounts available when travelling on Iarnród Éireann, Dublin Bus and Luas services. Student Rambler and Short Hop weekly and monthly tickets are now available for purchase with the new card in shops around Dublin with an option of loading tickets onto the card planned for 2013. Other new advantages with the card will include discounts on single journeys on the Dart, Luas and commuter trains. UCD Students’ Union has installed a machine for printing the cards, which cost €15 to buy, as well as topping them up. UCDSU Education Officer Shane Comer said: “I can see the upgraded Student Travel Card being very successful and a huge asset for students this year.” UCDSU Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher intends to make full use of the new Leap Card, with plans to top up the cards of students with financial difficulties with money from the Student Assistance Fund, saying: “If students are in dire need and can’t even afford to come into college, we can subsidise their trip. That was one of my visions I had for it.”
by Katelyn Cook The Health Centre in the Student Centre will not be subject to financial cuts this year, despitecuts in many other areas. This news comes after a review of the health centre, which yielded positive results. UCDSU Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher commented that the review “made some recommendations on management issues, and then in terms of the Health Centre budget this year, it has not been cut like other departments.” This marks the fifth year for which this budgetary freeze will be in place. The Health Service is expected to move to the new student centre this year though “there’s no timescale as of yet.” UCDSU President Rachel Breslin believes that this review is well-timed to ensure the best possible service will be provided in the new location. “This is a key time and an opportunity to transform the service when it’s moving over to the medical suite; to expand on it, to make it more student -friendly and the review is good as a precursor to that so that we know what needs to change.”
Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell The Students’ Union are pushing for even more investment in the health service. This investment is likely to come from an agreement between the SU and HEA to reinvest €3.6 million into student services after a wages overspend of the same amount three years ago. No one area has been confirmed to receive this funding, but Breslin stated: ‘‘From a Students’ Union point of view, that’s
Paid parking “being mooted” by Aoife Brophy · Chief reporter Consultation groups involving the University Authorities and the Students’ Union have been discussing the introduction of campus-wide paid parking this year. Currently the majority of car parks are free to park in all day if you are a UCD Student or staff member, however there are currently a number of paid car-parks across campus as well. This has caused confusion for a number of students, according to UCDSU Campaigns & Communications Officer Paddy Guiney, who said: “There’s a lot of confusion over whether a parking place is paid and unpaid and will they get clamped. I think that there should be more parking available for students in UCD. Students are missing lectures continuously and being late for class. They have to walk long distances to get there in the first place.” The parking situation in UCD has been described as a “crisis” by Student Union President, Rachel Breslin, who also stated: “The College Authorities are looking at how to fund this and there’s speculation that charges might happen and they are being mooted. Really it’s about us thinking about how best to address the situation. The car park needs money to be built but on the other side, students can’t afford to pay any more so it’s about finding a medium.” A spokesperson for the university stated: “The university is committed to providing adequate parking on campus through the provision of commuting facilities. The possibility of these facilities being financed through a paid parking mechanism will shortly be the subject of a consultation process with staff, students and other campus users.” Plans for a multi-story car park are currently being made, and funds from the car parks would be used for its completion, according to Guiney. “Three years ago, the Governing Authority passed a motion to build a multi-story car park. In order to raise finances for the multi-story car park which is currently being built, there will be fees introduced.” If campus-wide paid parking is in-
definitely one of the student’s services that needs to be prioritised.’’ Breslin hopes that some of this money will be put into a secondary doctor scheme, however she plans to launch a similar scheme as a pilot in the next “two weeks”. The scheme will aim to reduce Health Centre waiting lists by providing other approved GPs who provide a wide enough range of services at
reduced rates, in an acceptable location. She aims to compile a database of local services and to promote the most suitable ones to students. This will begin as an SU scheme, but Breslin envisions it being adopted by university officials next year, once the SU have proven “that this works.”
Freshers’ Ball sells out by emer Sugrue · Editor
troduced, an exception would lie in the UCD Sport and Fitness members-only car parks. An email sent from the UCD Commuting Office to students’ Connect email accounts stated that there would be Sport and Fitness member only car parking spaces reserved. The email read:”200 car park spaces are being reserved for Sport and Fitness members… These spaces will be provided in the commuting facilities, which are part funded by the UCD Student Centre and Sport & Fitness Complex, once they are built. However, in the interim a new car park at the rear of the UCD Student Centre and Sports & Fitness Complex and two parking bays in Car Park 2, the O’Reilly Hall car park, are being designated for Sport & Fitness Complex members.” These designated car park spaces will be for registered cars only, a system which UCD will police with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology. Any car parked in these spaces which has not been registered, will be clamped.
The UCD Freshers' Ball, held on Wednesday September 12th, in the Academy on Abbey Street, has recorded a profit after selling all 1,200 tickets to the event. UCDSU Entertainments Officer Eoin Heffernan was delighted with how the Ball was received. “It went really well. We had a full house on the night. I think all the artists went down a treat and we had a surprise guest, Rebecca from Geordie Shore dropped in, so that was pretty cool and added a little bit to the night.” The event was smaller than the Freshers' Ball in 2011, with a venue capacity down from 2,400 the previous year. Last year's Ball however, recorded a loss for the Students' Union, selling only 2,000 of the available tickets. Ticket prices also fell from a high of €18 last year, to €10, with a number of 'Early Bird' tickets on sale for €5. Heffernan said: “We tried to get the first batch of tickets off for a fiver, just to encourage
people going and give people value for money.” When asked why he thought this year's Freshers' Ball was more successful than previous years, Heffernan said: “It was closer to home, tickets were cheaper and I don’t think it’s down to pulling in such a big act every time. I think it's about the bonding aspect of getting people to know each other and stuff like that, so I think that's what we tried to focus on, more so than getting a big international act. We used all Irish talent as well, so we're promoting the home grown. Hopefully as well, we'll be able to build a good reputation through the year that Ents events are worth attending.” Artists playing at the Freshers' Ball included The Original Rudeboys, DJ Ahmed, Notorious DJ’s, The Dead Prezidents, DJ Simon Says and DJ Fred Gilbert.
Photographer: Aoife Valentine
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Dublin Bike Scheme to arrive in UCD in “two years”. by Sean O’Grady · Deputy news
Plans for different bicycle schemes have been announced for UCD. They are set to be introduced over the coming months and, in the case of the Dublin Bike Scheme (DBS), within two years. According to Dublin City Council member, Paul Heffernan, there are immediate plans for the DBS to be expanded into surrounding areas of South Dublin, most notably the Docklands region as well as Heuston Station. “Docklands and Heuston Station are what is on the table at the moment, we are planning on a wider scheme in the future, but I would not have any exact dates for it at the moment.” This further expansion includes
both UCD and DCU, and is part of plans to introduce 56 new bike stations and 1,000 new bikes, to bring the totals to 300 and 5,000 respectively. DBS users will see the first thirty minutes of their journey totally free. Paul Heffernan says, “One of the key things to it is that the first half hour of every journey is free which effectively means you are using a public transport system for free.” Previous Campaigns & Communications Officer, Brendan Lacey, originally put forward that the Bike Scheme be extended to UCD. This is now being looked after by current C&C officer Paddy Guiney, who is eager to push the scheme through. “It is an interesting idea, it is something that I would like to
UCD rises in QS University Rankings by Munir Al Akari
The latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Universities Rankings for 2012/2013, show that University College Dublin was one of only two Irish universities to go up in rankings this year. UCD has risen three spots from 134th place last year, putting it at 131st, the second highest ranked Irish university. The ranking represents a drop of 45 places from three years ago, when UCD broke into the top 100 list at 89th. Trinity College fell two places to 67th this year, while Dublin City University (DCU) rose two places to 324th. The President of UCD, Dr Hugh Brady, praises the academic staff for the rise. “Great credit is due to the staff, who not only deliver a quality education experience to students, to also rank among the world’s elite researchers, despite budgetary pressures”. “The trend in UCD mirrors the trend nationally, so the rankings have been slipping for all the universities,” says UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin, also emphasising that the tightened budget for Irish universities has played a major factor in the overall drop from 2009. “The colleges are receiving less and less of the core grant, while students are paying more and more. These cuts, and the cuts on staff as well, through the Croke Park Agreement, have reimpacted upon the quality of teaching and learning in college”. With more budget cuts expected, the SU President feels that there are some areas, such as the library and capital expenditure, which need to be prioritised: “That’s one of the things that I will be pushing this year, not just for the ranking sakes but for the student experience and
move forward with.” The DBS was originally going to be funded by a private advertising company through billboards placed around the city centre, however this was abandoned as it represented “very poor value for the city” as well as potentially jeopardizing road safety. The scheme is now funded by a grant from the National Transport Authority of €500,000. In the mean time, Guiney is looking at several other options for transport for UCD students. “It is not happening for two years and I would rather look for alternatives,” he explained. There are initiatives being taken to launch a second-hand bike scheme through the Belfield Bike shop by the end of
semester one. UCD authorities have the right to take and store any bikes left on campus for longer than three months. Under this new system, the bikes would be refurbished and sold to students for a low price. In addition, there is also a demand for new bike prices to be lowered: “One of the deals that we are looking to push through with them is a first-hand bike for €175. Shop value for a bike is usually about €300-400,” said Guiney. Setting up such a scheme is expected to be of minimal cost to the Students’ Union and is mainly covered by the people who will refurbish the bikes: “There is very little cost to go into the project. The only thing we have to pay
Summer News in Brief by Daniel Keenan and Cian Tolan
Filming in UCD campus accommodation UCD Residences have formally amended the licence to reside for on campus accommodation to include a clause that allows residential assistants (RAs) to film inside students’ apartments. Clause 23 of the 2012/2013 licence states that: “In the event of an actual or potential risk of injury to people or of damage to property, enforcement may include the use of CCTV or other recording devices which may record the activity of the occupier and any other persons attending at the premises.” Until now, CCTV has been used as evidence for antisocial behaviour, but Manager of Residential Services, Richard Brierley, believes that additional filming equipment should be used “In the interests of safety and security.” President of the Students’ Union Rachel Breslin, believes that this amendment is immoral and ethically wrong, while Chairperson of the Student Legal Service Patrick Fitzgerald indicated that students are being treated like second class citizens by having their privacy invaded.
UCD innovation receives recognition Dr Barbara Murphy, Head of Equine Science at UCD has won the Enterprise Ireland ‘One to Watch’ Award 2012 for her development of a light-mask for mares to aid in their reproductive cycle. The mask emits light into a single eye in which acts as a catalyst for reproduction. This innovation is profoundly beneficial to the equine market as the closer a foal is born to their universal birthday of January 1st, the better. A foal born in August can be sold as a yearling in January when it is premature; this innovation will reduce such occurrences. UCD is also being recognised in IT. LogEntries, a UCD spin out company, has secured $1 million in funding from US firms Polaris Venture Partners and RRE Ventures. Enterprise Ireland and Dublin firm Frontline Ventures also support LogEntries, a cloud-based, real-time search and analysis log-file management solution for enterprises of all sizes. Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation said, “LogEntries is an excellent example of a UCD spin-out company, which has already obtained global reach and customers, established to commercialise the output of UCD research activities.”
UCD library opening hours cut
student learning and outcomes.” The QS World University Rankings rate universities based on faculty-to-student ratio, academic peer review, international attractiveness, citations per faculty, and reputation among employers. It surveys more than 28,000 University employers, 46,000 academics in more than 700 universities worldwide. The student-to-staff ratio accounts for 20% of the university’s possible score in the QS rankings: “The staff are doing the best that they can with such limited resources, and from a student perspective, they are succeeding in minimising the effect on students,” said Breslin. “The points are getting higher, so as a knock-on-effect, we should be getting better quality students, and I think that students are indeed more motivated to learn during this economic climate, because you need to be really at the top to have a chance of getting a job as a graduate. So I think the quality of students hasn’t decreased.”
The decision to cut the James Joyce Library opening hours has been met with criticism from UCD Students’ Union President, Rachel Breslin. The library, which is now closed on a Sunday, was formerly open 7-days a week. “I think that the cutting of the library hours is something that will have a negative impact on student studying patterns, on student routine, and then thus as a consequence of that, on student’s results and academic performance,” says Breslin. “I do think it’s a very serious issue. A 7-day library is something that is so important for a university of our standard and our academic ambition.” Budget restraints have seen every department take a 5% cut, and question marks were raised as to whether it was necessary to open the library on a Sunday. “We plan on asking students what they found the 7-day library was like,” says Breslin. “It could be the case that students didn’t find it [the 7-day library] that useful; how many of them were taking out books as opposed to how many were just studying in the library, because there might be another way we can make up that difference, through a 24-hour study room that wouldn’t take the same drain on resources.”
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Accessibility audit shows improvement in access to UCD
News in Brief by Alistair Graham
by stephen connolly
MIT claim top spot in QS University Rankings. Massachusetts Institute of Technology has eclipsed both Harvard and the United Kingdom’s Cambridge University as the world’s top university, according to the new QS World University rankings out this week. MIT trailed the more prominent Harvard and Cambridge in the QS “reputation amongst academics” aspect, but excelled this year due to the important impact of the research it produces and its lower student-tostaff ratio. MIT also prospered due to a strong international reputation, partly owing to the proliferation of its online learning project MITx. MIT has earned its reputation as a leading research institute, counting amongst its faculty 77 Nobel laureates and 38 MacArthur Fellows, as well as linguist and political activist, Noam Chomsky. MIT graduates were acknowledged by employers polled as part of the QS survey as amongst the world’s most soughtafter. “The rise of MIT coincides with a global shift in emphasis toward science and technology,” said QS Head of Research, Ben Sowter. MIT focuses on science, technology and other areas that it believes “will best serve the world in the 21st century.”
Student boycotts after college bans Islamic headscarf More than 100 students of Sri Ramakunjeshwara First Grade College, in the Indian state of Karnataka, boycotted classes in response to a ban imposed by the college upon Muslim females wearing their headscarfs, known as a hijab. College management stated that allowing the hijab in classrooms could affect the teaching and learning process and make students from other communities feel uncomfortable. College Principal Vasanth Rao was quoted as saying: “There is no discrimination. We are implementing a rule that already existed.” Students protesting the ban claimed that it was discriminatory against a minority youth. Muslim leaders in the district threatened legal action if the ban was not lifted. Students in the coastal area of Karnataka, which has the highest literacy rate in the state, have in the past opposed similar bans on the hijab. The wearing of the scarf is part of a broader Islamic principle also known as hijab, literally meaning “barrier” in Arabic. In Islam, the hijab scarf is seen as promoting the principle of modesty, and it is required that Muslim women observe the principle of hijab in front of any man they could theoretically marry.
Online Bully Forced to Pay $4.5m in Damages A gay student body President from the University of Michigan has been awarded $4.5 million in damages, after he was found to have been defamed and suffered emotional distress as a result of a cyber-bullying campaign. Andrew Shirvell ran a blog called ‘Chris Armstrong Watch’, in which student body President, Armstrong, was labeled a ‘radical homosexual activist, racist elitist liar.’ Armstrong was the first openly gay Student Body President at the university. Another of Shirvell’s posts featured a photo of Armstrong next to an image of a swastika across the rainbow flag, and with the word ‘resign’ written over Armstrong’s face. It was reported that Armstrong told university police that Shirvell had been stalking him around the campus and outside his home. ‘I’m incredibly humbled by what happened,’ Armstrong said of the judgment. ‘It’s a victory, not just for myself, but [for] a lot of other kids out there.’ Shirvell defended himself on the basis that he was acting within his First Amendment rights, claiming his statements as either true, or protected speech because of Armstrong’s public position as student body President.
Photographer: Caoimhe McDonnell
The Trap to re-open in Student Centre by emer sugrue · Editor The pool and snooker room known as The Trap, is set to reopen in the old Student Centre in the site vacated by Procare Pharmacy. The Trap was closed in September 2011 to be used as a facility for the Ad Astra scholarship scheme. At the time of it’s closure, the pool tables and other games were bringing in over €10,000 a year for the Students’ Union. Student Centre Manager and Project Co-ordinator Dominic O’Keeffe said: “Procare Pharmacy is moving across to the new unit within the next three weeks as we await certification from the Pharmacy regulator. The space being vacated by the pharmacy will be converted to a pool and games area, as was previously located in The Trap.” The designated unit for the pharmacy has been fitted out over the past two weeks. Work has almost reached completion this week, with shelves, cash registers and signage all in place.
the Students’ Union ‘Kiosk’ shop, will be moving to the new building, where they will be joined by new food and retail units. “The students unit are developing up the shop space with tenders back on Friday last for the works to be done. The Procurement Office are handling the tender for the cafe operation, with tenders due back September end so the new unit will open mid to end October,” said O’Keeffe.
UCD’s endeavour to cater fully for the needs of its disabled staff and students “is well underway,” according to last year’s USI Equality Officer Gerard Gallagher. Both Gallagher and UCD’s Disability Access Officer Tina Lowe, have recently carried out an informal audit of the campus, assessing standards of accessibility throughout. Recent changes such as the resurfacing of the concourse, and removal of ramps between the Science and Newman buildings are some of the changes made by the University to update its facilities, in accordance with the Disability Act 2005. Under this act, public services are obliged to allow buildings and services to be entirely accessible to those with disabilities, and to ensure that those who have a disability make up atleast 3% of the staff framework. Under the Act, by 2015, each public building is required to be fully accessible for those who are disabled. “I don’t know if UCD will meet this deadline or all its buildings, but certainly with the new buildings and current refurbishment, it is trying as best as possible,” says Gallagher. When questioned regarding what areas of campus still require attention, Mr. Gallagher said “It’s not a perfect university; it’s a campus of 24,000 people and there are always areas for improvement. The arts block is an example of a building where there are
no accessibility doors. It’s one of the busiest buildings on campus this time of year, and it’s frustrating for me when I have to barge through a door on my mobility scooter.” While the university management are tasked with amending the campus to suit the needs of those with disabilities, improvements also need to be made in staff and student awareness, Gallagher insists. One example is the continued tethering of bicycles and obstruction of the ramps around the campus, vital for wheelchair and mobility scooter users. According to Gallagher, of particular merit is the new Student Centre, which has been mindful of disabled users in its design. “I would certainly compliment the staff of the new Student Centre; it is a very accessible building. UCD is moving in the right direction in terms of making the campus more accessible. There is a hoist for getting and in and out of the pool, the staff are well-equipped and the changing facilities are first class, all following the theory of Universal Design, a growing concept which architects are now employing.” Gallagher believes things have improved and will continue to do so: “Personally I do think that accessibility is at the forefront of the university’s mind.”
UCDSU President Rachel Breslin expressed her hopes for the new Students’ Union shop. “Yeah, it’s brilliant to be part of the new Student Centre and it’s going to be a hub of student activity. It’s a bigger premises, it’s a new premises and with the cinema and the drama theatre, we’re looking to supply products to students for going to those and I’m very hopeful. I look forward to it. It’s being fitted out over the next few weeks.”
In addition to the pharmacy, other commercial outlets currently located in the old Student Centre, including Photographer: Aoife Valentine
Observ er vox p ops How do you feel about having no bars on campus?
“It’s probably “It doesn’t really make much of a more of a difference to us because we don’t disadvantage have that than an advantage. Not “I don’t have much time having to go a particularly to go to a bar into town was strong opinion. because we’re handy and It’s quite scholarship the fact that it unusual for a athletes.” university this won’t be ready size not to have for a while is kind of shit” its own bar.”
“Well it’s my first year, so I really don’t know what it was like before but I think its probably kind of annoying because there should be somewhere to go for a “It’s absolutely drink and for ridiculous.” bands and stuff.”
“It’s not good, a bar is always good especially when there are a lot of students around.”
1st Year Food Science
2nd Year Med Chem
1st year Arts
3rd Year Arts
1st Year Arts
4th Yeah Law Erasmus
voxpops by jack walsh photographs by daniel keenan
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
fter years of planning, months of campaigns, fewer hours of sleep than you need and time with family missed, your past has been delved into and searched fastidiously with the fine- toothed comb by the press and your opponents. you have read more speeches than you can remember and looked into the eyes of potential voters; promising positive change so often that your head is spinning. So, when al Gore, the US Democratic Party’s Presidential candidate in the year 2000 had the dream and opportunity of becoming the most powerful figure on earth, naturally he wanted to succeed, and according to the popular vote, so did most of his fellow countrymen and women. but he still lost the election. how did that happen? how could there have been such an arguably deceptive outcome in the race for the most important job in the world? Why instead was there a lance armstrongtype situation where the winner is the loser? the answer is simple. the system of electoral College voting. this system of voting seemed perfectly acceptable in 1787 when thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Founding Fathers of the US Constitution were drawing up their plans for a new democracy to suit their society. little did they realise that 213 years later, the same system would be causing havoc while still in place, but in a society far bigger, far more populated and a lot different from 1787. the electoral College voting system is one whereby each US state gets a number of votes proportionate to its population. In 2012, California, a state with a population of 37 mil-
lion people in 2010 gets 55 electoral College votes. In contrast, alaska, home of Sarah “I can see russia from my house” Palin, with a population of roughly 722 thousand will receive just three electoral College votes. electors are given the job of casting the votes on behalf of their state in accordance with the real vote count and, on rare occasions, may abstain or even vote against their state’s wishes due to personal opinion. For example in 2000, Washington D.C. elector barbara lettSimmons pledged to vote for Democrat al Gore but cast no electoral votes as a protest at what she felt was Washington D.C.’s lack of representation in Congress. the electoral College system has a huge impact on the Presidential campaigns, as candidates focus on “swing states”, i.e. states where the race for the e.C. votes on offer will be tight. the new york times noted that in 2008, one of barack Obama’s major achievements was securing the votes of Colorado, which had voted republican in eight of the last nine Presidential elections. In 2012, both Mitt romney and Obama face challenges in persuading the people of Colorado to vote in their favour. Of course, the most high-profile recent impact that the electoral College system has had on the US Presidential election is in 2000, when 0.5% more americans, approximately 544 thousand people, voted for al Gore over George bush, but due to the electoral College system, bush won the vote by 271 electoral college seats to 266. While one might assume Gore has changed his opinion of the electoral College system over the results of that election, he insists that he did not. In the aftermath of the crushing defeat,
L&H Debate: Should We Ban Pornography?
istory has shown that human beings have always been incredibly interested in visual sex, known to most as pornography. Upon a glorious 37 thousand year old rock in southern France lays the earliest known cave art: the female sex organ. however, pornography seems to have become more out in the open in the 21st century. In today’s society, most people have at least seen porn. With the majority of people having access to internet, the naturally curious person will find anything they could possibly want or imagine on there. Sexual education is important and necessary in everyone’s life and frankly people learn better with seeing rather than hearing about it. We’ve all been there, and nobody wants to discuss the sordid details about the dirty deed over a cuppa with Mam and Dad or with a teacher at school. It’s far easier just to go online and have a look. every day curious teenagers go on a sexual exploration on the web. More than just as an educational tool, taking things online is a perfectly normal way to spice up your sex life. there are 4.2 million pornographic websites online; being young and curious you’re bound to fi nd something that gets your boat afloat. visual pornography does have its downfalls. Pornography is often exaggerated, with men lasting an entire length of a pornography video with actors hired based on the above-average size of their genitals. Female porn actors are hired for similar reasons. huge numbers have had plastic surgery in order to achieve the sexiest body, and are trained to vocalise their
acted pleasure in extremely exaggerated ways. as a result, both genders of youth are left with a false interpretation of sex and less body confidence. the solution, however, should be to introduce more realistic actors and actresses into the more soft-core productions, rather than to ban pornographic content altogether. Sexual images are everywhere: in the films and television programmes we watch, in music videos, and magazines we read. Sex has become far more publicly acceptable in the past 30 years, and much of what we is now considered mainstream could once have been borderline pornography. the porn industry is one of the largest in the world, under the overall umbrella of the sex industry. each year hundreds of porn conventions pop up around the globe, mostly in the United States. ‘erotica’ in Miami, one of the most renowned conventions receives thousands of visitors each year and is ranked number 22 of 111 attractions on trip advisor. It is a multi- million dollar business. If you want the 3D effect, you can pay 17 quid for a pint and a sex show along the strip that is the infamous red-light district in amsterdam. One can pop down to the shop for the latest copy of Playboy or nuts magazine. there are hundreds of thousands of people working in pornography and at the end of the day it does create employment. as long as the medical tests are clear and the person is willing and wanting to take this career path, why not? If pornography was banned from existence, would erotic novels also be? the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy has sold more copies than the Da vinci Code and any harry Potter book. It is essen-
Gore was in favour of the e.C. system, arguing that “it knits the country together and prevents regional conflicts ... It goes back through our history to some legitimate concerns”. now, however, after “a lot of thought”, he has come to the conclusion that “people are effectively disenfranchised in the Presidential race”, and now feels that it is time for a change to the system. In 2008, in fact, during the Presidential election, Jesse Jackson Jr., who sits in the house of representatives, described the electoral College System as the Founding Fathers’ “unfortunate gift” to us, and reminded his readers of the time when “despite not being allowed to vote, slaves were to be counted as 3/5 of a person for the purposes of Congressional representation and the electoral College. but like thomas Jefferson, who ‘trembled for his country’ when he thought of slavery... I worry about the unjust nature of our electoral College, a legacy institution that should make all of us tremble.” So, will Gore and his fellow thinkers get their way and see the electoral
With the United States in full election swing, former presidential hopeful Al Gore has argued for a change to the voting system. Conall Cahill examines the implications of a change of tune in the Electoral College system
College system of voting eventually abolished? If so, what would the new system be? One thing is for sure: in order for people to have true faith in government, voters need to have faith in the system that elected that government. When the system results in the less popular candidate being elected, that automatically reduces the cred-
ibility and authority of that person as a governor of the people. like elections people know have been rigged and where people feel their vote has been undermined, the electoral College system can leave people with a lingering feeling that their vote is essentially meaningless, and ultimately, that has to change.
With the L&H society debating this week on the future of the pornography industry, Catherine Munnelly argues that we should embrace porn rather than showing it the back-door tially porn with feelings, and women everywhere are eating it up. It is not visual porn but the books’ protagonist, anastasia Steele, is quite descriptive in telling us what’s going on so it’s easy to imagine, and is imagining so different to watching porn? there is such a fi ne line between these kinds of pornography. even if all pornographic images were wiped out and the Government held a book burning for all erotic novels, surely we could use a little imagination and still have a good time. banning porn is futile. you can take the porn away from the people, but you can’t take the sexual need out of them. It’s common knowledge that people with better sex lives are happier than those who have little to none. Overall, the pros of pornography weigh up more than the cons. Pornography provides society with the opportunity for sexual exploration for couples and proves that you don’t need a partner in order to have a good time by yourself. although a lot of pornography is considered shallow and exaggerated, a realistic fi lm that received support and funding from the Department of education for the purpose of sexual education could be implemented. as long as everyone working in the industry is doing so by choice and is clean of all sexually transmitted diseases, what’s
The L&H’s debate ‘This House Would Ban Pornography” will be held on Wednesday the 19th of September at 7pm in the Fitzgerald Debating Chamber.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Undocumented and Unheard
ohammad younis was very similar to a lot of people working in businesses across the state. he was working long hours as a chef in a restaurant run by his cousin, amjad hussein. he worked for up to eleven hours a day, every day of the week, for a low wage and without complaint. he was by all accounts a model employee, but he had one problem. From mid-2003, younis was not working legally in Ireland. his work permit had expired and neither his employer nor he himself made any efforts to renew it. as a result, when younis fi nally realized how badly he was being treated in 2009 and resigned from his job, his action against the employer was unsuccessful. While he was initially awarded €92,000 by the labour Court that included in excess of €86,000 that they believed he was due in back pay, Justice Gerard hogan in the high Court quashed that decision last week. While the consequences in this case are profound and obvious, the decision will have far-reaching implications for anyone working in the country without a permit. While the judge was undoubtedly following the law as is his job, he was seemingly critical of the process as a whole. the Irish times have quoted him as saying that his judgment has “important policy implications that the Minister for Jobs and the Oireacthas might consider addressing.” younis and those like him are entirely blameless. they are work-
ing illegally but for a large number like him, they are unaware of their obligations under their visas and the consequences attached to their lapsing, or even the date at which they do. Justice hogan remarked that if the claims made by younis were accurate, that he was the victim of “the most appalling exploitation.” very simply, he was used by his cousin who was in a much better bargaining position than a man coming to a country alone to a family he believed he could trust, when he didn’t even have the language of the land he was now to call home. the law is indeed flawed in that it cannot provide protections to those in society who truly do need it most. While some may argue that younis simply should have had a permit, and because he didn’t it’s his own tough luck, it is actually quite multi-faceted. In this case alone, there has been far more blame directed towards the employee and very little focus on the employer. It is also illegal to employ someone who doesn’t possess a work permit and yet amjad hussein and many like him will probably never see the inside of a criminal court for this offence. essentially, the law leaves the vulnerable employees entirely exposed. there will now be awareness that it is practically pointless to complain about substandard working conditions if you fi nd yourself undocumented and in hostile situations. the legislature must ensure that the labour market is regulated correctly by specifically setting up roadblocks to deter illegal immigrants from tak-
In light of the High Court’s decision to refuse compensation to Mohammad Younis, a man seemingly guilty of little more than forgetfulness, Yvanne Kennedy looks at the rights protections available to undocumented workers in Ireland
he effectiveness of the leaving Certificate as a means of measuring academic ability is something that has been questioned almost annually since its inception in 1992. however, this year, the debate seemed to come to a climax as the CaO points for 56% of university courses rose across the board, despite a drop in applicants. In UCD alone, 17% of courses rose by 25 points or more. this has been linked to the introduction of bonus points for higher-level mathematics. In order to address this issue, following the first round of CaO offers, the presidents of Ireland’s seven universities submitted a report to Minister for education, ruairi Quinn. the report focuses primarily on how students are selected for entry to college courses; however, its recommendations would affect the established teaching and learning methods, should they be applied. the report recommends changes that would make Ireland’s university entry system similar to the american style, with more common denominated entry courses and some highly competitive courses, such as law, reserved for graduate entry. this is to combat high dropout rates at present, which are not only a result of the failure of the current education system to prepare students for their college courses, but also are a huge burden to the Irish taxpayer. the Irish Independent recently noted that 26% of science and technology students in UCD failed to progress to their second year, indicating discrepancies between the type of learning expected at leaving Cert level and that expected at a university level. It was suggested that students are choosing college courses based on the number of points they think they will get, rather than what they will actually enjoy. however, the assertion that the “reputational perceptions” of certain courses will be removed by overhauling the points system is unsubstantiated. high point subjects such as Medicine and law are not so purely because of high demand and competitive places, but also because
ing up employment. however, that legislation, if applied uniformly and without consideration for individual circumstances, might have severe consequences for vulnerable workers who could be quite easily exploited by unscrupulous employers looking for inexpensive labour. Currently, a non-Irish national cannot be employed without an appropriate permit and as has been said, this prohibition on employment also stretches to employers. however, an employer can defend themselves in any potential criminal proceedings while an employee is left without a leg to stand on. the law is called the employment Permits act 2003 and it allows an employer to put forward the defence that they took all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the legislation. an employee has no such opportunity to do so and must fi nd another loophole to jump through, though few are available. Grainne O’toole from the Migrant rights Centre remarked that “fundamental problems” with the act had been uncovered with Mohammad younis’ case. “It is a sad day for Ireland when a man who suffered extreme exploitation is denied justice while his exploiter walks free” she said. this hardly a complex issue, though the law and the lingo may make it seem like such. two wrongs don’t make a right and but when you look at the morality and circumstances of situations such as these it has to be realised that there is something fundamentally wrong when a person is treated as a practical slave, and has no opportunity then to fight back against the person who wronged them simply because they lack a piece of paper. a rights protection for undocumented workers is not something new. Specific legislation exists in other countries to safeguard them from unjust attack and inhumane conditions. It seems like Ireland is stuck in the dark ages with these laws and there is defi nite need for reform. If this case doesn’t shock us into the 21st Century, it’s hard to know what will.
Overhauling the System With Ireland’s University presidents arguing for an overhaul of the Leaving Cert CAO points system, Ciara Gilleece argues for the need for change. of the secure career prospects that go along with the award of such a degree. this is ref lected in this year’s increase in points for science courses, as young people are recognising that demand for such graduates is steadily on the rise, while points for humanities subjects have been dropping in line with the fall in demand for teachers. If anything, this year’s CaO points demonstrate a degree of awareness among prospective students that was lacking during the Celtic tiger. before 2008, fees were much lower and jobs were aplenty, ensuring that dropping out of college was not as big a deal as it would be now, when a significant number of students rely heavily on gaining a hea grant and cannot even secure part-time employment to aid their studies. this year’s first years appear to be conscious of the fact that a degree in Philosophy may well be interesting if one had the money to spare but that in the current economic climate it seems more sensible to choose something practical like Medicine, Science or Commerce. Despite this, it is evident from the leaving Cert results that the current system has many inadequacies. Studying for the leaving Cert consists mostly of learning things by rote, combined with risky predictions by students and even teachers. the simple fact that only 0.1% of 116,000 students managed to get six a1’s or more this year does
not indicate that 99.9% of Ireland’s pupils are academically incapable of being high-achievers, but rather it demonstrates that the teaching and learning methods promoted by the leaving Cert system only suits a minority of students. In comparison, 7.9% of the 335,000 students taking a-levels this year achieved three a* or more. by doing this, more emphasis could be placed on subject content in relation to the desired university course. rather than all subjects currently weighted equally in terms of points, the report calls for incentives to be given to students to study in specific areas. there were also suggestions that examinations,
similar to those of aS-levels in the UK, could be implemented at the end of 5th year in subjects that are basic entry requirements, such as Maths and Irish. It is hoped that this would give students a chance to focus more on achieving higher grades rather than worrying about meeting minimum entry requirements. Ultimately, the report submitted by Ireland’s university presidents is a long overdue step in the right direction; however the notion that it is the points system at fault, more so than the leaving Certificate exam, is misguided. the dramatic rise in points this year was not merely a result of higher level maths
bonus points, but rather an awareness among students that certain courses have better career prospects in today’s economy. Furthermore, the fact that points have reached unprecedented high levels in Science for example indicates that universities are unprepared to offer more places due to financial constraints. Students should welcome the overhaul of the current education system; however, more focus should be placed on the process of learning and maximising exam results to facilitate university entry, rather than seeking to amend a system that is dependent on the stability of the currently inadequate educational structure.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
such abuses of power under George bush are more comforted that Obama is able to make the choices of who is not to be taken out in drone strikes, but would these so called liberals be comfortable about the same thing in a republican romney administration? according to statistics compiled by the bureau of Investigative Journalism, 551 civilians have been targeted and killed by drone strikes in Pakistan, yemen and Somalia, although the figure could be higher still, as likely not all have been documented. Criticism of Obama’s drone attacks have been mostly left to fringe left- wing commentators, who do not receive much air time. One such example is Jeremy Scahill, a writer for the nation who controversially referred to drone attacks by the US in yemen as “murder”, in an interview with Chris hayes on MSnbC, a liberal news channel. take the case of anwar al-aulaqi, a known al-Qaeda recruiter, described as the “bin laden of the internet”, due to
his many youtube videos, his blog and his connections to terrorists who both successfully and unsuccessfully carried out attacks against the United States. last year the Obama administration approved a drone strike that took out alaulaqi. apparently there was no need to be upset about this though as he was a bad man. this might be true, but he was also an american citizen, which is where the trouble begins. It is true that the yemini Imam had long renounced his US citizenship and become public enemy number one to the country, but what is the legal difference between taking him out, compared to any other american accused without trial? It seems for now that it is only wrongdoers that have been targeted by drone attacks, but if the public are not keeping watch of the government, and future governments, we should not trust that it will stay this way.
Droning On With Apple banning software that records drone killings by the US military from its App Store, Evan O’Quigley investigates secrecy in modern warfare.
hen Drones+, an application created to raise awareness of attacks abroad by the United States government, was last month rejected for a third time by the apple Store in the US, technology critics were left largely puzzled by this turn of events. the app itself is a fairly simple one, based on a fairly simple idea. Whenever a remotely controlled robot kills someone in one of america’s various foreign policy adventures, the application sends a pop- up notification to the user. the application is fed news reports that are published as drone strikes are carried out, usually long after the strike has actually been carried out. the application then strikes up a Google- powered map, aggregating public news from countries such as Pakistan, yemen and Somalia, where drone attacks have been carried out over the past number of months and years on various terrorist suspects. Drones+ was created by Josh begley, who told the new york times that he wished himself to have a
“more granular sense of what drone strikes really did look like”, and that he wished to get general public to pay more attention to what he deems to be the U.S’ “secretive, robotic wars”, which led him to create the software. the app itself is at this point unlikely to feature in the itunes store, which is known to be strict with what it allows featuring on its pages, but may feature on the android store, which is often less stringent about its marketplace. the fact that the largest store of its kind, run by apple, would reject an app that reports basic news information is troubling to many. Drones+ was rejected not because the information was deemed to be unreliable, or because it violated any law, but because it violated a provision of the apple Store which doesn’t allow for “excessively objectionable or crude content.” Some might argue that it is in poor taste to report on killings of different people, but many more would put forward that this is the job of the news media. there is a tendency among many to rather live in blissful ignorance of the atrocities committed by their own people, and their own government, while
happily condemning those committed by others. One might argue there is a moral difference between killing people that are known members of terrorist organisations, and ordinary citizens. One might have a strong point arguing that case, but this can’t justify the blatant hypocrisy by Westerners to fail to condemn, or even acknowledge killings committed by their own governments. Due to the fact that these are undeclared and generally secretive wars, there is significantly less knowledge of what is actually going on by the general public. If you asked most american citizens about drone killings, which are arguably the key component in President Obama’s foreign policy effort, most would not know much about them. this is particularly disappointing as barack Obama was elected on a platform promising to reverse the worst excesses of the bush administration’s approach to anti-terrorism. Some liberals who spoke out against
A Poisoned Chalice? D
o many people actually know what the Croke Park agreement is? before researching it in depth, this writer was not the best informed himself. It was mostly only mentioned in passing by irate secondary school teachers as they bemoan their pay cuts and extra. recently there have been divisions within our rickety coalition government with regard to this piece of legislation, which is due to be renegotiated when the agreement ceases at the end of 2013. Many Fine Gael backbenchers have come out against it but one must wonder whether this is only some of the regular caterwauling of those less prominent in party circles who merely wish to guarantee their seat at the next election. While it is certainly true that pay increments in the upper echelons of the public service are simply too high, we must also remember also that the time and effort that the more ambitious of the country’s public sector have put into climbing the administrative ladder. Perhaps a wage freeze would discourage the best and brightest of our graduates from trying to enter the public sector. the last thing this country needs is an even more substandard civil service in the future. although the government’s Chief Whip Paul Kehoe has stated that he is “happy to stick to” the agreement, he has acknowledged that “there’s an awful lot of people who have issues with it”. his fellow constituent brendan howlin is convinced that the less diligent public servants of this country are using the agreement merely to work to a lower standard or in some cases not at all, stating that “some have used Croke Park as a shield for their inactivity.” however, in an interesting little subtext to all of this, the Fianna Fáil government who were in power when the agreement was signed, inserted a little escape clause for themselves. Clause 1.28 states that: “the implementation of this agreement is subject to no currently unforeseen budgetary deterioration” and I don’t think anyone can deny that things are far worse financially now than they were in 2009, when the agreement was drafted. Is it time for the Fine Gael-labour coalition to act on this? It is difficult to say whether they should do so,
but the troika may be on Ireland’s backs sooner than what we expect. It would certainly look bad for them to declare their inability to pay in international circles, but perhaps political gain is not what should they be thinking about. the next generation may look on them more kindly, as the group of men and women who put their hands up after their best attempts to solve the problem failed, rather than those who presided over a country which eventually ground to a standstill and defaulted entirely on its debts. the retirement scheme had its own pitfalls as well, especially in education, where many experienced principals and teachers left a power vacuum in their absence. Is another general election on the horizon? the labour Party Chairman, Colm Keaveney certainly seemed to think so last week, but then again he is one of a few tDs who may lose his seat as a result
of the redrawing of constituency boundaries at the next election, so this may just be a further desperate attempt for himself to drum up publicity. living standards are going to decline; it will be simply a question of by how much. next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Dublin Strike and lockout, and we, as a nation, should reflect on how much damage was done to the working classes of an already decrepit Dublin city at this time. Striking is not going to solve the problem we are facing, and neither will constant grumbling from the further reaches of the government benches. Something concrete will have to be put in place, perhaps a means test which takes the variable factors of public servants into account, such as their marital status, whether they are the sole breadwinner in their family, and so forth.
With recent debate over the future of the Croke Park Agreement due to comments by Fine Gael backbenchers, Stephen Heffernan contemplates its future Perhaps the aforementioned clause 1.28 will be implemented, and our way of life as a nation will be changed forever. Would a third rate of tax be too much to ask for? When the Progressive Democrats were the junior coalition partner in government, we tried their laissez- faire tax policies and attempts at creating a more american way of doing
things. It is clear that that system failed abjectly. the government will have to come to a decision one way or another. Do they wish to placate the public service and try to keep a sinking ship afloat, or will they put their hands up and default on the agreement. neither option will be popular in certain circles, but that is no excuse for this government to shy away.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
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The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Charities of fire
“I wouldn’t say small is better than big, or big is better than small. They are two separate things.”
Are big charities better than small charities? Killian Woods discusses falling into the trap of pitting charities against one another
t is difficult to definitively O’Flynn does place a lot of emphacategorize charities as ‘big’ sis on the distribution of donations to or ‘small’. A rough distinRwanda, ensuring that all donations guishing characteristic bewill go directly to the school, but he tween the sizes in this case does concede that a lack of coordinawould be the actions of the tion between numerous small projcharities. Bigger charities ects can lead to complications. “The tend to embark on prodisadvantage of small projects is that grammes that see a range of projects when you have a hundred charities taking place on a large scale in varioperating at the same time, there ous regions of a country. Smaller fois no great coordination. Where as cused charities have a single specific larger non-governmental organisaproject that intends on improving the tions (NGOs) can coordinate better quality of life in a specific area. and engage with the government. I It is difficult to definitively catwouldn’t say small is better than big, egorize charities as ‘big’ or ‘small’. A or big is better than small. They are rough distinguishing characteristic two separate things.” between the sizes in this case would In contrast to the work of the be the actions of the charities. BigRwandan Children’s Project, is the ger charities tend to embark on prowork of Barnardos. An international grammes that see a range of projects initiative, Barnardos has indepentaking place on a large scale in varident charities working in the United ous regions of a country. Smaller foKingdom, New Zealand, Australia as cused charities have a single specifwell as Ireland. Nationwide it works ic project that intends on improving in forty-two projects across the the quality of life in a specific area. country delivering services in local Similarly, it is difficult to attest communities and it is predominantly that any one single charity is betfocused on providing child and famter than another. On pure monetary ily support. turnover and revenue streams, the Although each entity located large-scale international operaworldwide is independent, the largetions like Concern, UNICEF and scale intensive aim of the organisaGOAL eclipse the smaller run charition to provide the services, depicts ties that have very specific projects. Children at ‘The Big Toddle at the Zoo’, organised by Barnardos Children’s Charity. that of a big charity. Like many big However, cash f low figures should charities, the funding received is a not be used as a standard to define initial €1 million injection of fund- gradually developing into a viable Everyday I go into work knowing varied mix, but mainly reliant on the moral sustenance of a charity. ing from Mellon himself with the enterprise. the reason I’m going to work, and statutory income to supplement revAll charities must follow specific overall aim focusing on improving Mellon acknowledges that start- that is to improve the life of people enue from fundraising events. business models that strive to foster the quality of social accommoda- ing his trust as a small charity in South Africa.” Rachel Boyne of Barnardos a state of financial security and sus- tion in South Africa through build- granted a lot of f lexibility to his iniSome parallels could be drawn breaks down the sources of revenue tainability. This mindset facilitates ing projects. tial operations and helped develop between the Niall Mellon Township streams for the charity. “About 60% a charity to prosper like a healthy Mellon is proud of the catalytic the Niall Mellon Township Trust Trust and the Rwandan Children’s of our income comes from statutory business, with the one key distinc- effect his charity has had on the into one of Ireland’s most recog- Project. Like Mellon’s trust initially, funding. We get some from philantion that the revenue generated will South African government to redi- nised charity organisations today: Eric O’Flynn’s project in the East- thropic organizations, Atlantic Phibe redistributed towards their de- rect further funding into building “I think starting it off as a small ern region of Rwanda, Rwamagana, lanthropy has been one foundation. sirable area of concern. suitable social housing: “We’ve built charity made us more f lexible”. is a small venture that intends to The remainder is through fundraisThis is the basic mantra of all approximately 20,000 houses and However, he does concede that build a school that can cater for the ing, like our shops. From fundraischarities, from those running large- now there are 100,000 people liv- it is difficult to maintain that f lex- local children’s nursery and prima- ing we try and secure funding from scale international operations, such ing in Niall Mellon houses and we ibility as the organisation develops: ry school education cycle. all areas, individuals, corporates, as Concern, to smaller charities would like to think that the quality “The reality is, as an organisation The project stemmed from events, trusts, and foundations. Bathat operate on national scale, like of our houses has inspired the South grows, you end up being less f lex- O’Flynn’s emotional attachment to sically anywhere we can.” Brainwave. With a healthy business African government”. ible, I suppose, and that’s just a the region, which developed during Unlike the Rwandan Children’s model and plan to garner revenue Over the past decade, the Niall simple reality for any business as it a stint working as a service teacher Project, it is not feasible for 100% through fundraising in place, chari- Mellon Township Trust has wit- grows in size”. for primary and secondary school of donations to be directly distribties can aspire to grow. nessed unbridled success and is a Trying to pin down what stage teachers in eastern Rwanda. Linking uted to providing their services, a Irish philanthropist and entre- benchmark for any new charity his trust is at, Mellon places empha- up with a local charity called DIZA, fact that Boyne says is unavoidable. preneur, Niall Mellon, is the found- looking for a model that sustains sis on the popularity of his charity who help fund the formative educa- “In 2011, there was a small investing member and current CEO of consistent growth. Now ranked nationwide, but also focuses on the tion of orphans, he set up his charity ment in fundraising. 86 cent of evthe Niall Mellon Township Trust as one of Ireland’s top seven most principle difference being his role to help raise funds for DIZA’s aim to ery euro went to work with children can attest to this desire for consis- recognised charities, Mellon’s trust in the organisation. “We are one of become a sustainable organisation and families. Prior to that we maintent growth. Mellon established the is no longer a small obscure entity the five biggest charities in Ireland. by building a school. tained a rate of 90 cent directly on trust in 2002 following a holiday to struggling for exposure or enquiries I think the fundamental difference Through onlne donations and the work that we do.” Cape Town, South Africa, where from benefactors. However, it does is that I’m a CEO who does it for fundraising events nationwide, This redistribution may not dihe was appalled at the living condi- provide a bridge-gap between the charity and the other CEOs work O’Flynn’s project has witnessed rectly be going towards the crucial tions forced upon the lower social loosely defined “big charities” and for a charity. I take no salary for the great success in starting to provide services, but does help cover the classes in the infamous townships. “small charities”, and insight into work I do, I’ve been involved full- that crucial elementary education administration costs amounted by The trust kick started with an the benefits of starting small and time taking no salary for ten years. platform for the children of Rwam- the have 413 paid staff. Even after gana. assessing the motivations of three This success has been the result of different charities that operate on O’Flynn’s tireless efforts to run the different scale, it is impossible to charity as a part-time undertaking. bestow upon different organisaIt is this core management aspect of tions specific labels that can clashis charity that he feels distinguish- sify them as big or small. es it from other larger operations. Possibly a sage parting message “Everybody has a day job. I do delivered to Niall Mellon during a most of the administration. My dad, previous meeting with Nelson ManDonal O’Flynn, is the treasurer and dela, in which the former South Afwould look after the books. We also rican President was commending have a few other people who do a fair him for his charity work throughout amount of stuff. It’s part-time; no- the years, will draw somewhat of a body in Ireland is paid… Our selling conclusion. “Always remember, the point, what makes us a bit different power of the collective”. is obviously that our administration That is how charities should be costs are very minimal, we have no viewed. Not as big or small, simply building, no wages. We can guaran- a “collective” in which no organitee anyone who gives us money that sation trumps another. They are 100% of all donations will be spent in simple a group of entities striving to Rwanda, which is a bit different. Ev- improve the quality of people’s lives erything goes to the charity.” worldwide. While he respects the advantages of larger organisations, O’Flynn reitTo find out more about any of the erates the benefits of those focusing charities featured in this article, or to on a smaller endeavor. “Trocaire and make a donation, visit their websites: Concern are running programmes. They have a big objective and are The Rwandan Children’s Project – more f lexible in how they fundraise. www.thercp.org That’s good in a way because they can look at the bigger picture, but Niall Mellon Township Trust – www. the advantage of a smaller project is nmtownshiptrust.com that we don’t need to spend money evaluating projects taking place, we Barnardos - http://www.barnardos. don’t need to spend money sending ie people out there. With my day job I travel out there anyway as part of my work with the Royal College of SurStudents in class in a school built by the Rwandan Children’s Project. geons.”
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
University funding models
A Fresh Perspective
When asked how they thought university should be funded, there was strong support for the Fully exchequer Funded Model (also known as ‘Free Fees’). the survey found that 45% of respondents supported Free Fees. this was roughly twice as much support as the second most popular option, which was the Student Contribution Fee, with 24% of responses. the Graduate tax and Full Upfront Fees were the least popular options, receiving only 2% of responses each. this result would appear to run contrary to the outcome of the Students’ Union preferendum held in May of this year, where a Student Contribution Fee was declared to be the preferred funding model. Guiney stated that, for now at least, the Union would continue to push for the Student Contribution Fee as “that was the policy from the preferendum.” however, this strong show of support for Free Fees will certainly aid those who believed the preferendum was unrepresentative of the student body at large. It is also interesting to note that the ‘Preferendum’ UCDSU held earlier this year used the proportional representation (Pr) system of voting, which is often criticised for
being deeply flawed. When you take the ‘Preferendum’ results at face value, they indicate that 34% of students supported Fully exchequer Funded education, and only 24% of students voted for a Student Contribution Fee. UCDSU President rachel breslin feels this reflects the fact that “principally a lot of people are still Fully exchequer Funded and that is an ideal situation. but when you get into the current context and the real practical measures, the vote and what students said there makes sense and is a legitimate course of action… I think that while retaining this priciple that we want it to be Fully exchequer Funded, [but campaigning for Student Contribution Fee] we are allowing ourselves to be reasonable, to enter into negotiations and not just pull back from the table when anything else is mentioned.” She indicates that a high vote for a Fully exchequer Funded policy from incoming students may be caused by a number of factors: “I certainly wouldn’t have been aware of the issues, so maybe a certain portion of it is not having been in University, having not seen the huge cutbacks UCD has felt to its core grant and having not been part of
the process and still had the contribution fee increased. they wouldn’t have been around for that so they may not have had that kind of angle to the argument. I think that from the first years even that I’ve been speaking to, they’re worried that, if they’re entering a four year degree now, they have almost no idea what the end fee will be and that’s a very scary prospect and it’s a scary prospect for their families too, so I think certainly when you’re entering first year, that’s your desire. Why would you want to have to pay for something?” Of all the opinions collected, the respondents’ position on university funding is perhaps the most useful in the near future. the question of what funding model universities adopt has been a dominant issue in recent years and will no doubt remain a focus of student politics in 2013. Indeed, if UCD students do vote to disaffiliate from USI in the forthcoming referendum, the 2012/2013 first years could have an even greater say in the direction of future campaigns. this may mean more pressure on the Students’ Union to revert to campaigning for Free Fees.
Student Contribution Fee Fully exchquer Funded
With first years just learning to navigate the campus, Matt Gregg took to the concourse to get some insight into freshers’ opinions and experiences so far
his year, like every other, saw a brand new batch of first years join UCD and the University Observer wanted to get to know every one of them. Unfortunately, to meet and greet with 4,000 students was simply not possible. Instead, this paper conducted a survey during orientation week aimed at getting a snapshot of the lifestyles and opinions of incoming students, exploring their attitudes to everything from sex and drugs, to politics and current affairs. the 700 respondents were also offered the chance to comment on their initial impressions of UCD and their expectations of college life. “People’s mind sets before college are often that I need to get this exam out of the way and do well in this exam so I can get into college. Once this horrible thing is out of the way, I get to go to this nice thing called college,” said Mícheál Gallagher, Students’ Union Welfare Officer. “For the vast majority, coming into college is a time they finally get to let their hair down, get a bit of independence and perhaps explore
new things [they’ve] never explored before.” When asked for their expectations of college life, one respondent simply scrawled “FreeDOM” across the answer box. to an extent, there can be no more accurate statement. College can seem like a breath of fresh air after the intensity of the leaving Certificate (or its equivalents), where each full day of class is a constant reminder of external pressures. Want to skip all classes before 11am? no one will stop you. Go out every night of the week? If you’ve the budget, fire away big spender. how about colonising the library in pursuit of a first class honours degree? load up the coffee and get studying then. It’s your time to use. Disclaimer: While this survey was carried out in accordance with standard practice and the results make for interesting reading, there is the usual margin of error. this message was brought home quite clearly by the fact that 21% of respondents responded to ‘What county are you from?’ with ‘Ireland’.
Student loan Scheme 100% Upfront Fees Graduate tax none of the above
“I think that from the ﬁrst years even that I’ve been speaking to, they’re worried that, if they’re entering a four year degree now, they have almost no idea what the end fee will be and that’s a very scary prospect, so I think certainly when you’re entering ﬁrst year, that’s your desire. Why would you want to have to pay for something?”
Campus facilties When asked their opinion of UCD’s campus, it was its sheer size that the majority of respondents noted, with most describing it as “big”, “spacious” or “huge”. assessing whether this was advantageous or not was less universal and resulted in an almost even split emerging. On the one hand, there were those who were impressed by its “spacious” nature and liked the “amazing layout of the campus”. Others found the large size to be problematic and complained that there weren’t enough signposts to make the campus navigable. Unsurprisingly, many felt this confusion was amplified by “too much construction work going on”. With the opening of the brand new student centre this semester, students’ were almost universally impressed by the quality and range of facilities on offer. Indeed, several respondents compared UCD favourably to other third-level institutions they had experienced and indicated that this was the key reason for applying to study here. 75% of our survey indicated that UCD was their first choice. While UCD undoubtedly has amazing facilities, it will be interesting to see if satisfaction levels remain
similarly high by the end of the year. For now, only five respondents complained about the lack of licensed premises but this will no doubt become more of an issue as the year progresses. additionally, first years mirrored the UCD community at large with frequent complaints that there were simply “not enough parking spaces”. there are plans to introduce a bike scheme, which will please the respondents who made this exact suggestion. Finally, many respondents felt there was a lack of variety in eating options, particularly in the cheaper price range. this is one side effect of the student bar closure, which used to serve reasonably priced meals, that has so far gone largely unexplored and which leaves students even more dependent on Kylemore Group outlets. Indeed, the price and variety of food is a concern often echoed among other years and could lead to further pressures to reexplore the Kylemore Group nearmonopoly on campus. regardless of what changes are feasible, it remains unlikely that the college will invest in a “McDonalds or nandos” anytime soon as one respondent had hoped.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
No Do you plan to be involved in any societies?
Extracurricular life Do you expect to be more sexually during the college year?
College life is notorious for the range of opportunities available outside of lecture theatres and it is clear that this message has not been lost on incoming First years. Only ten respondents indicated that they did not intend to get involved in any organised facet of non-academic life, an encouraging result. a report released by UCD in 2007 indicated that one of the key reasons for students’ dropping out was a “poor sense of community” and extracurricular involvement is perhaps the best way to address this issue. Societies proved the most popular form of extra-curricular activity with 96% of respondents indicating they intended be involved in a society. Membership of a sports club was the second most popular option with an intended 84% participation rate. Meanwhile, involvement in student media and student politics finished a distant third and fourth respectively. that the result for society participation proved so high, particularly compared to student media
and politics, is perhaps not surprising as it is the broadest category. From debating to juggling, societies provide the funding and space for the pursuit of a large range of activities. Of course, while ostensibly societies are aimed at exploring an interest or developing a new skill set, they also serve as a great facilitator of new friendships. notwithstanding the obvious benefits of getting involved, the 96% result appears very high and should perhaps be adjusted. For example, it is likely that an end of year survey would reveal actual involvement figures to be lower. the University Observer’s 2011/2012 survey into extracurricular participation found that while 71% of all undergraduate students joined a society, only 57% actually attended an event during the academic year. nevertheless, it is encouraging to see such good intentions and this publication would be delighted to find participation results as high as 96% by the end of 2012/2013.
Personal values the freedom on offer at college is appreciated as a great privilege. this freedom allows students to specialise academically only in areas they care for, but is also the reason why college is stereotypically seen as the time for exploring more hedonistic pursuits. yet, the survey seemed to indicate that this is just a perception as many students had already begun this exploration. a fifth of respondents stated that they had taken illegal drugs before the start of college and 9% indicated that they expected to take illegal drugs during college. Interestingly, only 1% of respondents who had not taken illegal drugs before college stated that they expected to take illegal drugs during the college year. Of course, it is more than likely that not everyone who has taken illegal drugs in college “expected” to take them but 1% still seems a lower figure than popular media would have led people to believe. attitudes to drugs also led to perhaps the most unusual statistical results as, despite the fact that there appeared so little demand, the majority of respondents expected it to be easy to obtain drugs at university. Similarly surprising was the fact that, despite the common association of sexual liberation with college, less than half of respondents expected to become more sexually active in first year. Indeed, a quarter of all respondents indicated that they were not sexually active currently and did not expect to become so in college. Gallagher did not believe, however, that these results removed the need for the Welfare office to make sexual health education a top priority as a precautionary measure. the results seemed to support this as figures suggested less sexual activity among first year students taking on campus
accommodation, compared to those students from the greater Dublin area. additionally, gender affected on responses with males marginally more likely to have responded they were sexually active. this difference became more marked when respondents were asked if they intended to become more sexually active, with 55% of men responding they would compared to 33% of females. Patterns of alcohol consumption were much more in keeping with expected results with 82% of respondents indicating that they had begun drinking before college. When non-Irish respondents were omitted, this figure rises to 87%, which suggests that patterns of alcohol consumption among Irish youths are already being established prior to college. respondents were also asked if they believed their consumption would increase during college, with 57% of drinkers believing that it would increase. In contrast, only 17% of non-drinkers believed they would start drinking in college. “I don’t think that’s a good result,” said Gallagher. “the majority of people here are 18 to 22. that’s a critical time in terms of their own selfdevelopment. For Freshers coming in during orientation week, [first year] is such a massive period of transition which can lead to deterioration in mental health. If you look at all the research coming through, there appears to be a direct correlation between problems with mental health and binge drinking. It’s worrying then to hear that over half of students expect to increase their alcohol intake.” It may surprise students to know that more than three pints in one session is considered binge drinking.
Media and politics three quarters of incoming students stated that they kept track of current affairs with television and Facebook being the two most popular main sources of news. Surprisingly, considering the commonly held view that younger generations prefer internet sources to traditional media, more students indicated they read newspapers than online newspapers and over half of respondents indicated they used print media. While it would be comforting to think these results herald a revival of print media, it is more likely that the survey’s failure to measure frequency of use has skewed the relevant importance placed on each source. likewise, the survey lacked a way to test for the affect social pressures could have had in encouraging respondents to state they felt informed on current affairs and could mean the figures are inflated. that being said, it is still clear that incoming students consider themselves well
informed. bearing in mind this high level of interest in current affairs, the figures for student and national politics make for interesting reading. Only 21% of respondents indicated an interest in student politics while 16% indicated they supported a current political party, despite the often cited stereotype of colleges being hubs of political activism. When asked to comment on this low level of interest, Students’ Union Campaigns & Communication Officer Paddy Guiney suggested it might be down to students not realising that “what they see of the traditional parties and the Daíl…is different to student politics.” he also added that he felt that politics didn’t appeal to young people. “I didn’t have any interest back in first year. It’s hard to imagine when you’re in first year that in three years’ time [you’ll] be up organising the Freshers tent and the posters along the wall,” said Guiney. “When I used to walk around in first year,
I hadn’t a clue what any of this was and now I know exactly who is involved in what.” Karl Gill, a member of the Socialist Worker Student Society (SWSS), agreed in principle that age was a factor, stating that “as people get older they do get more interested”. however, he also felt that the results reflected attitudes towards the current political environment. “I think generally across the board there are a lot of people who are disenfranchised with the political system and young people probably more so,” said Gill, continuing that his own experience of student politics had not met his expectations. “a lot of people very involved in college life [but] a small number of students involved in politics and political societies; the political debate wasn’t exactly as active as I was expecting it to be.”
A Question of Space T
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
With questions on what constructs the public space becoming increasingly prevalent, Sean Finnan looks at the views from city planners to citizens on the people, organizations and groups that constitute it
o take a walk through Dublin City is to experience many different facets of life in a single stride. Whether it’s on Moore Street, Grafton Street, strolling along the quays or staggering through Temple Bar, we experience the city through the buildings that surround us. Streets, along with many other public squares, public buildings, shops, pubs are all considered public space. It is here that the city breathes; the social hub where people interact in an uncountable number of processes. Deputy City Architect with Dublin City Council Owen O’Doherty explains that “Public space is important for a whole load of reasons. That’s how you experience the city. Apart from the buildings that they, city dwellers, have reasons to go to, most of what you know of a city is by walking the streets or driving around. That’s how you experience the city. Public space is a pretty important democratic issue: it’s how you participate in society. Everybody has a right to be visible and to participate in public space. There aren’t many shared social spaces in society. Public space is one of them.” “Dublin has a really important historic character and people have to realise that in that they have something that is of value that a lot of other cities don’t have and it’s also a finite resource. It gets eroded and will disappear if you don’t look after it and it’s a fundamental part of what visitors come to experience. The literature, the music, it’s set in the spaces of the city and that’s fundamentally important.” Who is in charge of Dublin’s public space is important. Often we think of streets as open to the public and therefore free for the public to use them for their own individual use. Yet, often this is not the case. The obscurity surrounding the rights of the individual in public space is still an issue. Even the fact that certain streets cannot be photographed creates confusion. Take for example, busking, or the recent occupation of the area outside the Central Bank by the political group Occupy Dame Street, using city streets as a protest. Dublin City Council hit buskers in Dublin with new rules two months ago. The movement of the Occupy Dame St. camp just before the St. Patrick’s Day festivals suggests that the use of public space is always limited by the wishes of larger public bodies. How these spaces are managed and the decisions that influence their uses are completely alien to most of us. For public spaces to work for citizens, citizens need to be aware of how they work. City Planner with Dublin City Council, Dick Gleeson, explains more about the philosophies behind city management: “Cities are very complex… I think the approach now is just
to acknowledge complexity. It’s a very rich source and you do need to try and manage it, so you do need a system type approach. As part of a very strong Urbanism philosophy, you would have six urban themes which would place the emphasis on economic, social, cultural and so on. From that then you would have the range of local areas of the city, let’s say character areas, so they represent diversity. You try and generate the unity from the interconnectedness of the public space. For example the public realm becomes essentially important.” “Urbanism as a philosophy is a very good starting point. Everybody comes from different disciplines, whether you’re an economist or a geographer or whatever, but you kind of cross a threshold. Acknowledging Urbanism, allows you to have your contribution but you have to relate it to everything else. If you just have huge big boxes for workplaces in the cities, that’s not good enough, so when trying to understand what makes a good place, you have to consider all these elements. It’s the physical environment where all these things come together, so
there should be a sort of legibility as a new face of modern Dublin. you walk through the city of economy, A problem, however, still remains of the richness of culture, of the pos- on the communication processes besibilities of public life all coming to- tween city planners and the city’s gether.” citizens. As more and more people The key then to a successful public continue to live in cities and as a resphere is one in which no one sector sult, in smaller living areas, the city of society holds a monopoly on how a is looked upon as a sort of communal certain space is managed. When you living room. Therefore the direction mix the use of the space and an under- the city takes is a matter of opinion standing between various parties on for most of the city residents. putting the area first, you realize the Gleeson is certain that there are potential of a successful public space. many and varying problems in terms Where dependence on one function in of communicating with Dublin resithe public sphere exists, any slump in dents on what’s best for their city. this function results in decline. This “It’s a huge challenge. Everybody is easily seen when you look to the knows that there can be global conDublin Docklands before they began sultation or something a lot richer. I being redeveloped by the Docklands think Dublin City Council has reAuthority over the last 15 years. The alised they can’t do it all by themDocklands now has a theatre, numer- selves. And there is a wish to collaboous shops, cafés, restaurants, a concert rate, to try and find the best way to venue, and numerous business centres, collaborate is quite exacting… But as well as a significant improvement we would have been aware of good in the general aesthetics of the area, examples in San Francisco and city with many of the buildings designed club of Portland. Which had actually by world-class architects. It may not quite large memberships and they have so far lived up to its potential have a fantastic passionate interest but this interdependence has seen an in their cities and they try and work area sidelined by dereliction become with their cities. So we’re trying to do that. At the higher level we have something called the creative Dublin alliance, which brings together partnerships at a strategic level. Under that there are various projects, one of which is ‘Fifth Province’, which is an exploration through sustainable topics of how we can get together with the citizens to co-produce the cities of the future but I mean that’s a long way down the road.” The experience of the citizens on the ground who work to engage with their city is a more frustrating story. One such example is Mick O’Broin from the Unlock NAMA campaign. NAMA buildings could be viewed as a type of grey area in the public/private space debate. NAMA’s status as a public body is somewhat ambiguous as the state has a 49% share in it, along with the fact that much of what makes up the rest of the share are nationalized banks. This means the ownership of the buildings comes into some dispute. “I’m a freelance researcher and translator and there’s a lot of people in my position that are either underemployed or unemployed. None of us have offices. In the city there is a 23% over supply of offices. Oversupply is being managed by NAMA. There’s clear market irrationality because you are not using resources that could be clearly used to benefit people on a variety of levels. Some of the things we were looking at were bicycle workshops, men sheds, and a
publishing collective. So all sorts of different things would be involved in that are currently made impossible or extremely difficult because of exceptionally high rents in the city.” O’Bróin continued: “It’s very difficult [to access NAMA buildings] as NAMA or Dublin City Council don’t have any mechanism for citizens to engage with it, which is basically the key problem. On the other hand it’s very difficult to get people interested in types of action that cause civil disobedience or direct action, to get the kind of numbers you would need to occupy a building and maintain it. We’re pretty much forced to use direct action as there is no other mechanism, when we do that we have found it difficult to get people involved.” Dick Gleeson agrees on the subject of NAMA building use. “There is a good point to the NAMA ownership aspect but my feeling at the moment is that they have a very strong accountancy type of thinking. Their objective is to give as much money back to the state as possible. That almost flies in the face of Urbanism because as a large landowner, there could be a range of possibilities of creating planning gain where they have a cluster of buildings in a local area of being able to create aspects of connecting public space and being able to contribute a percentage to cultural uses and so on. It would require a very visionary type of philosophy of NAMA but they haven’t got into that type of thinking yet.” Interviewing O’Bróin in a run down city centre building, he explains how the use of the building is acquired for as little as €20 per person per month. It is now used as an art studio and an office, a clear example of how previously derelict space can have a positive use. “Citizen-managed spaces have produced great things in countries in terms of art and music scenes and places for political discussion, and activity for people, particularly young people,” says O’Bróin. “And also as a combination for young people who do not have any other option in terms of getting access to housing. We definitely see that as a really important way forward and to do that you need a certain amount of political strength. That’s difficult in Ireland at the moment, as people don’t seem to want to get involved in politics… So it’s not really a technical question it’s a political question, that the priority of the government and NAMA, obviously relates to the financial sector. In fact, they don’t really see this city. They don’t see it as a city where people live.”
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
science The Big Barnes Theory
health science news
Artist-inResidence scheme launches by Petra Sheehan
With the silicon revolution threatening to grind to a halt in the near future, Ethan Troy-Barnes considers whether the humble electron could be the future of information technology
n the sixties, Intel’s Gordon Moore postulated that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every year. So far, this law has held true. However, in a 2005 interview with technology magazine Techworld, Moore warned of a foreseeable end to his Moore’s Law. He said that: “In terms of size [of transistors] you can see that we’re approaching the size of atoms, which is a fundamental barrier.” Moore believes that within “two or three generations”, microchip technology will have become as small and as efficient as it’s going to get and we’ll have to start looking to new technologies if computer hardware is to continue to move forward. All is not lost however, as computer science is joining forces with quantum physics and biological science to offer a number of successor technologies to the current silicon-microchip paradigm, such as biological computing, which is more commonly know as ‘gooware’. Many experts believe the future lies in quantum computing. In this model, calculations are performed at the level of subatomic particles, and transcend the size barrier we run into with silicon-based technology. As quantum physicist Michio Kaku explains, quantum computers are “as small as you can get in terms of information storage. You can’t get smaller than an individual electron and they work by looking at the ‘spin’, [or] the ‘orientation’ of electrons.” In traditional computing, calculations are performed by electricity flowing through transistors in a circuit. Each transistor represents a ‘bit’ of information that can either be on or off, and is assigned a one or a zero, respectively. Mathematically processing these bits allows us to process information in a quick and simplified way, and solve puzzles far faster than with a pen and paper. By contrast, in a non –relativistic or quantum machine, subatomic particles such as individual electrons represent the information. As Kaku puts it: “If I put an electron in a magnetic field, it can ‘spin’ up or it can ‘spin’ down. [Up] would be a one and [down] would be a zero.” However, according to quantum mechanics, the spin of an electron can also be anything in between one and zero. Thus, a new type of ‘bit’, called a ‘qubit’ (quantum-bit) is created, that can have a value of anything between zero and one. This provides us with a colossal increase in processing power, as the fundamental unit of nformation can now represent far more than merely two values. Basically, you get more bang for your buck, with manifold applications. Quantum computers would allow us to solve mathematical equations previously thought unsolvable in an instant, and allow for giant leaps forward in the fields of artificial intelligence and physical chemistry. Quantum machines would enable us to create vast artificial environments, providing scientists with a near-limitless ability to simulate interactions between chemicals at the atomic level. This could revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry and drug design,
and have unforeseen impacts on modern medicine. Conversely, one especially nifty attribute of quantum computing is its ability to sort totally random information effortlessly. Most modern data encryption relies on the use of ciphers for which there is no mathematical solution and the only way decode them is to randomly guess. Thus, quantum computers could render modern digital security technologies utterly useless. That said, the successful implementation of what is theoretically a very promising technology is not without its pitfalls. Most significantly, there’s the problem of decoherence. In a quantum computer, all the subatomic comp nents are arranged with the complexity and the fragility of a house of cards. However, such a system is extremely sensitive to external interference from the likes of heat, sound and magnetic fields. Sooner or later, something from the outside will throw the whole setup into disarray. As a result, the construction of a real-life quantum machine is a bit like playing a game of Jenga in gale force winds during an earthquake. The obvious solution is to insulate the system to within an inch of its life from its surrounding environment so that it won’t come crashing to pieces every time someone in the room sneezes. However, this approach brings its own problems. The whole point of a computer is to perform tasks for the user. For this to occur, the user needs to be able to access the system and manipulate its components. If you glue all your Jenga blocks together you can be sure your tower will stay intact, but you also won’t be playing Jenga again any time soon. Now, while this may all sound very sci-fi, many industry leaders believe this technology is not far off. “At IBM, we’re seeing breakthroughs pretty regularly, maybe every couple of weeks, so it’s pretty exciting,” explains Jay Gambetta, a researcher at IBM’s Experimental Quantum Computing Group, “I see us building a quantum computer. It’ll take a lot of work, but I don’t see anything that will stop us.” However, all this does beg the question: do we really want ignite a new IT revolution? Some believe the never-ending advancement of computer technology will eventually lead to the advent of something termed a ‘technological singularity’. This describes the future emergence of a digital intelligence that surpasses the human mind.Such an intelligence would be based on computer technology so advanced that many theorise it would be able to rewrite and improve upon its design as it operates, eventually self-evolving to the point where it might be impossible for the human mind to comprehend, eclipsing the human race altogether. As barmy as it sounds, futurist Ray Kurzweil anticipates this could occur as soon as 2045. Something to think about next time you curse your slow internet connection while trying to stream the latest episode of The Great British Bake Off.
Research students in the Science faculty will get a chance to make their mark on the development of the science block in the future thanks to a new artist-inresidence scheme. The scheme is an expansion of a successful collaborative project between UCD and NCAD called ‘Tunnelling Art and Physics’, now broadened to the entire faculty. Applications closed on September 14th for UCD students, and Professor Lorraine Hanlon from the UCD School of Physics is pleased with the level of interest shown from students and academic staff of all scientific disciplines. “We’re hoping that they’re willing to explore new avenues ... Often inspiration comes from an unexpected direction,” stated Hanlon. The UCD College of Science has backed the scheme, and four artists will be allowed access to lectures, a shared studio space and a materials budget to bring the projects to completion. If suitable, the artwork may be displayed in UCD long-term, after building work is finished.
Professor Lorraine Hanlon and artist Emer O’Boyle photographed in the UCD School of Physics with some art produced during a previous collaboration between the school and NCAD The science contributors will have a chance to approach a scientific subject from a different perspective and Hanlon hopes that the resulting work “will bring ownership of the new building to the students, the scientists and the people who work there.” In previous years this module was open to third years from NCAD and UCD. This year, due to the expansion of the scheme, professional artists are being offered the opportunity to workwith UCD students on campus. The students’ participation is through a module for which five credits are earned. The results of previous years’ work are now visible along the corridors of the physics buildings. Previous participants’ pieces were exhibited in the Temple Bar Gallery as part of Dublin City of Science 2012 and included works in video, sculpture, installation
and painting. When asked how long the idea to expand the scheme had been around Hanlon responded: “The idea hasn’t been in our heads for very long, but we have worked together for the last couple of years and we’re looking at ways to expand what we do together to a bigger pool of people as we felt there was a lot of interest and potential in it.” While students chosen to participate are not expected to have any prior knowledge of any other discipline, it is a requirement that they listen to each other while sharing practical skills and their research. Hanlon said about the module and artist-in-residence scheme: “We’re hoping this is a way of livening-up and bringing new ideas in.”
Conway Festival of Research & Innovation prepares for its 12th year by Priyadarssini Karunakaran Reddy
The 12th annual Festival of Research and Innovation will be taking place on September 20th in the Conway Institute in UCD. After a successful participation in the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) a global gathering of Nobel Laureates, prominent researchers and international media held in Dublin recently; the Conway Institute is ready to host a range of seminars by prominent guest speakers. The event aims to display the research achievements of Conway scientists, showcase oral and moderated poster presentations and provide an Dr Zena Werb, one of the invited speakers at the festival. Her research involves mammary in mice to see how breast cancer develops in humans.
intellectual platform for researchers to engage in scientific forums. Communications and Education Officer at the Conway Institute Elaine Quinn shared the event highlights with the University Observer. “Each year, the plenary speakers in the Festival are highly regarded scientists in areas of research related to the Conway research strategy. The main focus of their research covers genomics and breast cancer development”. The internationally reputable Professor Zena Werb from University of California, San Francisco and Professor Finian Martin, a Principal Investigator in the Conway Institute will be delivering lectures on their respective fields of research. Additionally, UCD graduate Dr Eileen Furlong who leads the genome biology department at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Germany will be presenting a lecture on gene expression control. “Six of the invited speakers in the programme are Conway Fellows who have been selected because of recent achievements; publishing research in high impact scientific journals, being
awarded substantial research funding in a highly competitive process or successfully translating basic research findings” said Quinn. The two day event will also feature a moderated poster session where the best poster and presentation will receive the Conway Festival Medal, courtesy of Roche. Quinn is confident that the audience will be able to participate actively in the newly introduced open forum Q&A sessions: “The first session is aimed specifically at early career researchers and takes place on the afternoon of Wednesday, September 19th in the build-up to the Festival”. The debate will be on whether there are barriers to women in climbing the career ladder as scientists. The second session, which takes place at 1pm on September 20th, will discuss ways of successful collaboration between researchers and industry. “We are constantly trying to develop and improve the program so that our audience gets the most out of the experience,” says Quinn.
SCIENCE & HEALTH
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
The Anti-Social Network While numbers of reported mental health problems have risen exponentially in the last decade, Emily Longworth investigates the real-life effects of the cyber revolution on our peace of mind
he social environment we are now immersed in is slowly hurting our mental health. We are at the height of the technology revolution, yet we are becoming more likely to neglect our health than ever before. the probability of a correlation between this decline in wellbeing and our dependency on an online life is becoming increasingly more likely. a recent study conducted by the University of Waterloo, Canada, supports this hypothesis. the study highlighted the negative effects of social network use on the self-esteem of the user. While originally the research set out to examine the ability of social networks (especially Facebook) to help self-expression, the results established that they have almost the opposite effect. Participants in the study took a survey that measured self-esteem so that their responses to social network use could be grouped accordingly. they
were then asked about their own selfdisclosure on social networking sites. When users with low self-esteem posted social updates with expressions of negativity, they received less response by online friends than a user with high self-esteem would receive for similar negative self-disclosure. Contrastingly, participants with low self-esteem would get more attention and affirmation for positive self-disclosure. this implies that friends of those with low self-esteem will respond more to expressions of positivity than negativity, possibly in an effort to encourage more positive attitudes. this is a problem for a number of reasons. Primarily, there should not be so much of an emphasis placed on “the importance of positive-thinking”. Staying positive has been advertised as a safeguard against long-term unhappiness, but several sources show that this approach to minding our mental health is counterproductive. there is a grievous misconception that ‘having the
right attitude’ can change the chemical make-up of the brain. When more of an emphasis is placed on being positive and happy, people who suffer from low depression and self-esteem are immediately more isolated by their need to express discontentment. this explains why many of the social network users from the study found themselves feeling disproportionately worse after they received poor responses to their negative selfdisclosure. the societal response to unhappiness forces many people into feigned states of happiness. this is the gradual effect of social networks on how we interact: we are more inclined to be dishonest about how we feel if we will get more validation for positivity than negativity. Social network users are also more inclined to conceal the extent of their unhappiness for another reason: the number of people exposed to the negative sentiment is massively greater than in any other life situation. the study claims that: “People spend time with only 24% of their Facebook friends in face-to-face interactions,” and this is especially damaging for people with
low self-esteem. Much of their negative self-disclosure is met with open disinterest or rejection by a larger group of people, which often isolates and alienates the user over long periods of time. It is human nature to have an aversion to hearing bad news; it serves as a self-preservation mechanism. this generally does not become a problem for our mental health until we move our lives online. there is a huge difference between self-expression in the comfort of trusted friends and self-expression in writing in the public domain with no personal interaction. essentially, Facebook is a poor forum for people to express themselves for this reason; it is inherently less natural than face-toface communication. another study maintains that expressing negativity is wholesome to the person and to relationships with others when it fosters a connection, and when empathy is shared. although equally, negative self-disclosure ‘loses its relationship-boosting benefits” when it is “constant or indiscriminate”.’ In acknowledging this, we find a problem. We have to find a common ground between the inherent need in
everyone to express themselves honestly and sincerely for the good of our mental health, and the societal impetus to reject excessively negative attitudes. the authors of the research recommend finding a more balanced way of using social networks. Considering the results show that people are more inclined to respond to positive self- disclosure, the study concluded that “people with low self-esteem might benefit from making more positive and less negative updates”. but this is without compromising the feelings of the user through outright dishonesty. Moreover, people are advised to be selective in what negative things they express through social networks, as this often generates more negativity in response. Social networks are the playground of our generation, and years of increasingly impersonal and unnatural forms of communication are beginning to take their toll on us. More emphasis should be placed on truthfully positive life experiences as they are more tangible and allow us to hold on to reality in a society of increasingly alienated and contrived communication.
tackling Malaria one keystroke at a time Michael O’ Sullivan investigates the power behind a UCD computing project that may solve some of the world’s health problems
alaria is one of the single biggest killers on the planet. It’s estimated that every 45 seconds, a child dies of the disease. to say the need for an effective vaccine is urgent is an understatement and pharmaceutical companies, along with academic research groups are spending untold millions every year to try and find an effective cure. the problem is this: malaria (latin name Plasmodium falciparum) is not a bacterial or viral infection. Malaria is a parasite, a living thing with its own complex Dna structure and life cycle. not only that, but when drugs are found to be effective at combating some of malaria’s symptoms, the parasite develops resistance to these drugs at an alarmingly quick rate. this is due to the fact that it reproduces incredibly fast once it gets into the bloodstream, going through multiple generations of the parasite while infecting just one host. It is now urgent that new and more effective drugs are identified and put into use as soon as possible. Drugs
companies such as GSK and novartis have identified over 19,000 compounds that show promise in fighting against the parasite. the problem with this is that the computational power needed to process how these drugs affect the parasite is enormous. Without the knowledge of how and why these drugs are effective against the parasite, there is no way of being able to further research more effective drugs. Unfortunately, the cost of building supercomputers capable of collating and deciphering this information is so huge that even the pharmaceutical giants of the world can’t cough up the cash. luckily, one solution to this problem is relatively simple: distributed computing. Much like the human brain, a standard computer only uses a fraction of its processing power when performing the majority of its everyday tasks, leaving a large proportion of its capability unused at all times. the idea behind distributed computing is that host PCs use a portion of their unused processing capability to run calculations in the background while the computer is switched on.
this may seem a bit underwhelming, but a supercomputer is simply a mass of smaller computers pooling their computational power together. If a few thousand people were to donate only a small portion of the unused CPU power of their laptop or PC to a group who could use this power to run calculations, a supercomputer would be born. this comes with the added bonus that this supercomputer would, in essence, be built for free. UCD has a distributed computing project already in action. the FightMalaria@home project aims to use donated computing space to run the calculations necessary to learn more about the effectiveness of the drugs already outlined by the world’s pharmaceutical companies. by using a software system called bOInC, the project allows people to sign up from anywhere in the world and donate their CPU capacity to the project. Dr. anthony Chubb, who is heavily involved in the project, is delighted with the progress so far. “We’re getting about 300,000 docking results per day, which is quite impressive.” It’s easy to see how projects like this one are so successful, with such high numbers of people donating computer space already. the Fightmalaria@home project is averaging 500 connected computers from at any one time from all corners of the globe. “[Distributed computing] is very exciting because people can get involved from anywhere. even my parents are getting involved and they’re in South africa.” says Chubb. “the system is working so well that we hope to set up Fighttb@home too.” the benefits of distributed computing are very clear, but could it be taken further? While there are certainly an enormous number of PCs in the
world, are there not other pieces of hardware that could be added to the distributed computing network in the future? Some groups have already looked into using smart phones as possible sources of extra CPU power for distributed computing systems. It’s already been found that even a few phones working in tandem can produce plenty of processing power and they are constantly improving. the current problem with smart phones as another computing power source is their short battery life, but if technology continues to improve at the rate it has done for the past number of years, it shouldn’t be long before phones with incredible battery life hit the market. add to that the fact that smart phones now outsell PCs and
you have a veritable mine of computing potential waiting to be tapped. In our increasingly technology driven world, it makes sense to use all of the computing power available to us to solve our planets many problems. If projects such as FightMalaria@home continue to get results at the rate they are already doing, we could be malaria free in a few short years, and that is a much better use of computer power than hours spent watching cats on youtube. If you’re interested in donating some of your PCs power to FightMalaria@ Home, you can find the details at http://www.fight-malaria.org/.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Maíonn Charlotte Ní Éatún gur chóir Gaeilge a fháil níos mó pointí san Ardteistiméireachta
Ceist na bpointí: ar cheart tosaíocht a thabhairt don Mhata?
uair a tháinig torthaí na hArdteistiméireachta 2012 amach an mhí seo caite, bhí súile na tíre dírithe ar cén chaoi a n-éireoidh leis an gcúrsa nua mata, ‘Project Maths’, i gcomparáid le blianta eile. Bhí an cheist chéanna ar bharr na teanga ag gach duine; an chóir pointí sa bhreis a thabhairt d’ábhar amháin os cionn ábhair eile? Tháinig athrú ollmhór ar an méid daoine a rinne Mata ag ardleibhéal an bhliain seo. Ach níl cúis an mhéadaithe soiléir go fóill. An raibh an cúrsa nua níos éasca nó an raibh na daltaí i gceist chun na cúig phointe is fiche a bhreis a fháil, pointí a bhronntar orthu siúd a dhéanann mata don ardleibhéal. Tá an chosúlacht ann gur éirigh go hiontach leo, bhain siad leibhéal thar na bearta amach i mbliana nuair a rinne os cionn 11,000 dalta an scrúdú Mata ag ardleibhéal. Is ardú de 35 faoin gcéad é seo ó 2011. Ach is cosúil gurb iad na pointí sa bhreis an t-aon chúis go ndearna na daltaí an t-ábhar, agus nach mbaineann sé le fusacht an chúrsa in aon chor. Bíonn buntáiste ag daltaí a dhéanann Mata agus Eolaíocht don tríú leibhéal, ach an é seo an tslí le cinntiú go n-éiríonn daoine leis na cúrsaí seo? Dúirt Tony Donohoe, ceann pholasaí oideachais leis an Irish Independent nach réiteach iad na pointí breise le caighdeán an ábhair a fheabhsú. Dá mba rud é go raibh muinín ag an Roinn Oideachais i Project Maths, ní bheadh gá le 25 pointe sa bhreis a thabhairt do dhaltaí de bharr gur shuígh siad síos os comhair an pháipéir. Nach dtugann na pointí seo a bhronntar don Mhata an lámh in uachtar don ábhar sin ar ábhair eile san Ardteist?
Agus mar sin, nach gcuirtear níos mó tábhachta ar na daltaí atá in ann mata a thuiscint, rud atá de mhíbhuntáiste ag na daltaí sin nach féidir í a thuiscint chomh héasca? Ábhar eile a chruthaíonn fadhbanna le daltaí ná an Ghaeilge. Deirtear gur cúrsa leadránach agus sean-nósach é; ní dhéanann mórán dalta é ag ardleibhéal. An chóir pointí sa bhreis a thabhairt dóibh siúd a dhéanann an cúrsa ardleibhéal, áfach? Tháinig athruithe móra ar an gcúrsa
Gaeilge i mbliana. D’athraigh siad an scrúdú chun marcanna i bpíosaí faoi leith den chúrsa a ardú. Inniu baineann 50 faoin gcéad leis an bpáipéar scríofa, 40 faoin gcéad leis an scrúdú béil agus an deich faoin gcéad eile leis an scrúdú éisteachta. Mar gheall ar an athrú seo tháinig méadú ar na daltaí a bhfuair pas san ábhar agus tháinig ardú d’aon déag faoin gcéad ar an méid daoine a rinne an Ghaeilge ag ardleibhéal. Ach ní bhfuair duine de na daltaí seo aon phointe sa
Is maith saol an veigeatóra duit féin agus don phláinéad C úig bhliain ó shin, rinne mé gealltanas do mo mháthair nach n-íosfainn feoil ar feadh seachtaine iomlán. Cé nach raibh tréimhse ama fhada i gceist, cheap mo mháthair nach raibh seans ar bith ann go n-éireodh liom: d’ith mé feoil gach lá le haghaidh mo lóin agus mo dhinnéir; bhí uaireanta ann nuair a cheapfá go ndúnmhaireoinn na hainmhí go léir dá scaoilfeadh saor ar fheirm mé. Leis an bhfíorghrá a bhí agam don fheoil, samhlaigh an sórt déistin a bhí orm nuair a bhabhtáil mé mo chuid feola le haghaidh lintilí, nó an rud uafásach, sleamhain sin – tófú. In ainneoin é seo go léir, tháinig deireadh na seachtaine agus níor lig mé i gcathú. Bhí mé chomh bródúil asam féin gur bheartaigh mé aidhm níos uaillmhianaí a thabhairt dom féin: ní íosfainn feoil ar feadh bliana iomlán. Níl gá le mórán sonraí, ach is leor a rá gur éirigh liom é seo a dhéanamh agus táim fós i mo veigeatóir sa lá atá inniu ann. Sna cúig bhliain atá imithe thart, d’fhoghlaim mé an-chuid faoi shaol an veigeatóra agus is iomaí buntáiste a bhaineann leis an saol seo. I dtosach báire, ceaptar gur níos sláintiúla é an méid feola a itheann tú a laghdú. Deirtear go bhfuil nasc ann idir feoil a ithe agus galar croí, mar aon le hailse sa phaincréas, san éasafagas, sa bholg agus sa stéig. Thosaigh mé ag ithe bia níos sláintiúla ón am a stop mé ag ithe feola. An cúis a bhaineann leis seo ná go bhfuil ort a thuilleadh phleanáil a dhéanamh le do bhéilí agus tú i do veigeatóir. Mura ndéanann tú do dhícheall do dhinnéar a phleanáil, shroichfeadh seacht a chlog san oíche agus ní bheadh go leor foighne agat chun aon rud seachas pasta a ullmhú duit féin. Ar an dara dul síos, is léir don saol go bhfuil saol an veigeatóra níos oiriúnaí agus níos fearr d’ár bpláinéad ná saol an fheoiliteora. An chéad uair eile nuair a cheannaíonn tú Big Mac, smaoinigh faoin mhéid fuinnimh a úsáidtear chun an burgar sin a thairgeadh. Na crainn a leagtar chun an fheirm a éascú, an méid bia a chuirtear ar fáil do na hainmhí agus an méid leictreachais a úsáidtear sa seam-
las, gan trácht ar na gáis a scaoileann na ba iad féin. Ar ndóigh, ní féidir linn srian a chur ar an méid feola a itheann daoine sa todhchaí. É sin ráite, má táimid dáiríre faoi athrú aeráide, caithfimid níos mó airde a thabhairt don fhadhb a chruthaíonn an fheoil don timpeallacht agus ba chóir dúinn béim níos láidre a chur ar an timpeallacht agus ar an maitheas a dhéanann an veigeatóireachas di. Mar shampla, mura n-itheann clann amháin feoil lá amháin gach seachtain ar feadh bliana, is iomaí é seo agus trí mhí gan tiomáint. Cé go n-astaítear dé-ocsaíd carbóin agus gáis ceaptha teasa scaoilte nuair a ithimid glasraí agus pónairí, ar an meán, cruthaíonn réim bhia an fheoiliteora deich n-uaire níos mó astaíochta ná réim bhia an veigeatóra. Ó thaobh téarmaí spáis de, thógfadh ceithre páirc pheile ón bhfeoiliteoir chun a réim bhia a choinneáil i gcomparáid le páirc pheile amháin ón veigeatóir. Tá ábhar machnaimh ann agus an daonra domhanda imithe thar seacht mbilliún an bhliain seo caite – is soiléir é nach mbeidh go leor bia ann do gach duine i gcónaí má leanaimid ar aghaidh mar atáimid. Is é an rud is fearr a tharla ón bpointe a bheartaigh mé chun a bheith i mo veigeatóir ná gur fhoghlaim mé go bhfuilim ag déanamh maitheasa don phláinéad. Dá mbeadh gach duine ar fud an domhain ag ithe feola gach lá, ní bheadh go leor acmhainní againn chun gach duine a chothú. Is dearcadh leithlasach atá i gceist nuair a cheapann daoine go bhfuil feoil ag teastáil uathu gach oíche don dinnéar. Má táimid ag iarraidh an pláinéad a choimeád glan agus glas, beidh géarghá sa tsochaí an dearcadh seo a athrú. Cinnte, beidh sé deacair i dtosach. Ach, creid ionam, ní bheidh blas uafásach ag tófú tar éis tamaill...
bhreis. Tá an Roinn Oideachais fós ag tabhairt tosaíochta d’ábhar amháin os cionn na hábhair eile. Dá mba rud é gur chuir siad gach ábhar riachtanach ar chomhchéim agus pointí breise a bhronnadh don Ghaeilge, don Bhéarla agus don Mhata, ní cheapfá go bhfuil Mata níos tábhachtaí ná na hábhair eile I gcomhthéacs eacnamaíochta na tíre, is léir gurb iad Mata, Eolaíocht agus Teicneolaíocht na cúrsaí is fearr do dhaltaí faoi láthair. Ach chomh
maith leis sin nach bhfuil beocht ár dteanga dúchais tábhachtach? Is cosúil gur éacht iontach don tír é Project Maths a chabhróidh lenár ndaltaí go mór, ach tá scamaill tagtha ar an rath seo mar gheall ar na pointí breise. I dtaobh na Gaeilge, is cosúil go bhfuil ag éirí go maith leis an scéim marcála nua, ach feicimid sa todhchaí an bhfuil níos mó athraithe le teacht air.
Labhraíonn Philippa White faoi veigeatóra agus cén fath sé go maith don domhain
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Postcards from abroad: Canberra
Graduate in Focus: Paul Fennessy
Australia may be on the other side of the world, but Elizabeth O’Malley is discovering that her new home is not quite as different as she expected
iven it’s now just over two months since I arrived in Canberra, australia, I guess this is a good opportunity to assess how things are going. Just before I left, in an effort to be reassuring my mum said: “If anything, anything, goes wrong, remember we’re only thirty hours away,” as if offering to collect me from a party down the road. I don’t think I could physically be further away from home, yet things don’t feel so different. It’d probably be more weird if I went to somewhere in europe or america. Sure, the birds are exotic looking, and there’s different lingo and it barely ever rains here, but the basics are still the same. People here have the same sense of humour and the same love of drink and wear the same clothes. there’s no food I miss from home too much, although chocolate here tastes different because it’s added with something to stop it from melting, which has ruined Malteasers forever. even the law classes, although harder here, feel the same. It’s nice to have things feeling a little bit familiar when so far away. It was the change of venue, rather than the change of continent, that proved the biggest adjustment. Since I live within a commutable distance of UCD, it never made sense for me to move out. Obviously the commute from Dublin to Canberra is a little bit unreasonable so this move has meant living away from home for the first time. Just as I expected, it’s awesome. apart from the freedom and the proximity to class so you can have longer lie-ins, living on campus provides me with an extra social scene. My residence, burton and Garran hall, has the biggest percentage of exchange students on campus which meant that when I first arrived it was a good way to get to know new people, especially since our semester one is semester two over here so all the australians were already settled in. there’s a shared kitchen, apparently the biggest in the Southern hemisphere, which always has people around to talk to and have dinner with. there’s also a bar and lounge with pool tables, table tennis and foosball. there’s always something on during the week: sports, language classes, choir, coffee evenings, and the breakfast club are regular events. each week has something different too, from the musical, to random acts of Kindness Week, academic dinners where you get to talk to your professors over a three course meal, the b&G ball
and ‘Prom Gone Wrong’, which has been my favourite event so far. the cost of living here requires some getting used to. to put things in perspective, when I bought a sandwich and drink on arrival it came to $11 (€9). Pop tarts are $12. even ‘cheap’ shops like target and big W are prohibitively expensive when it comes to buying clothes. yet, when I first complained to australians about how expensive their country, they simply responded: “you should try living in Sydney.” the only thing that’s inexpensive here is drink, at least if you’re willing to slum it. Goon, or boxed wine, is a traditional student drink if only because it’s $9 (€7) for four and a half litres of the stuff. add in some mixer and it doesn’t even taste awful. On the other end of the scale, 70cl of vodka is $45 (€36). My standard drink on a night out, a cider, is $7 in cheaper places and $14 elsewhere. Understandably, you’re probably more likely to find me drinking goon from my plastic cup in the kitchen than buying drinks in a bar. I feel like I’ve done some of the things I was supposed to. On the train from Sydney to Canberra, I spotted a group of kangaroos. I’ve tried vegemite and it’s just as disgusting as I imagined. I learned that the australian word for scoring is pashing. I’ve fallen in love with tim tams; australian biscuits that taste like Penguin bars but better. I’ve been called Sheila by a bouncer. On my visit to Sydney, I saw the Opera house and harbour bridge and tasted my first macaroon from Zumbos, a chain of bakeries by the australian equivalent of Gordon ramsey. I think I’ll leave trying kangaroo meat and shrimp on the barbie for another while yet: I still have the rest of the year to fill with new experiences. ask anyone who goes for a year abroad and most will agree that the first month is hard. you miss home a lot, you have to start from scratch making friends and buy lots of things like kitchenware. you have to adjust to a different culture and the time difference. It’s been a challenge, but I’m so glad I came out and I’m looking forward to all the amazing things I’ve yet to experience.
“Despite for the most part really enjoying my degree, there was often a nagging feeling owing to the fear of impending graduation and having to ﬁnd a proper job – a fear rivalled only by those swans at the lake. You did not want to piss them off.”
Those who take advantage of the extensive opportunities on offer in college are far more likely to thrive in the outside world, writes Paul Fennessy
peaking on Miriam O’Callaghan’s radio show recently, acclaimed comedian and UCD graduate Dara Ó briain put it best when he described college as “a chance to experiment with all different kinds of activity and see which one most appealed to you.” having left UCD in 2011, I was one of those extremely fortunate people who walked into a paid internship that turned into a job shortly afterwards. even more remarkably still, I landed a job in journalism; an impossible task nowadays, if anyone who has ever spoken at a student journalist conference is to be believed. It seems simply unconsciously following Dara’s aforementioned advice is how I got this position. back during my time in UCD, I vividly remember the words drawn on the top part of one of the toilets under the main restaurant, which wryly read: ‘Get your arts degree here’. as someone who studied arts (english major, Psychology minor), it was always annoying when these types of jokes were bandied about, inferring that undertaking a degree in this area was somehow a waste of time, or less worthy than other academic pursuits. however, despite for the most part really enjoying my degree (particularly those godlike lectures and seminars from the legend that is Frank McGuinness), there was often a nagging feeling that despite an impending graduation, I would not be able to find a proper job. It was a fear rivalled only by those swans at the lake. you do not want to piss them off. after five years in UCD, including one spent doing a master’s in american literature and one editing this paper, I was finally dragged kicking and screaming into the big bad world. One of my main initial concerns was doing job interviews, which weren’t always my strong point. however, having thankfully spent many a previous summer attending hopelessly awkward and ultimately fruitless interviews for temporary positions that I was thoroughly under-qualified for (dog-walking being my favourite case in point), these previous unsavoury experiences put me in good stead when it mattered most. they were valuable, if only because they taught me that failing in such situations hardly represented something akin to the end of humanity as we know it, as my hyperbole-prone younger self had initially suspected. Moreover, during my time in college, I even occasionally had the benefit of interviewing others for various positions, during sabbatical elections, for example. among other things, this taught me that they could be just as hopelessly ill-prepared and nervous as I sometimes was. Consequently, within days of leaving UCD, I secured an interview for a journalism job as a contributor for theScore. ie, which is essentially the sports section of theJournal.ie. having spent countless hours travelling to obscure locations for hockey match reports, in addition to undertaking numerous other sportsrelated endeavours for this paper, I knew I had the necessary level of experience required for the job. nonetheless, I still ensured that my preparation before the interview was meticulous, spending several hours exhaustively studying the website and contemplating how I could help sustain and enhance its reputation. Perhaps it was my astonishing insights on the sporting world, or maybe it was myself and the interviewers agreeing that The Wire was the greatest thing since sliced bread (non-sliced bread was a thing once, right?), but somehow I managed to convince them to take me on, and I’ve been able to indulge my passion for ludicrous headline puns ever since.
looking back on my time at UCD, I think the best decision I made was dedicating a considerable portion of my time to an extra-curricular activity. College makes certain people come close to turning into Jack torrance (of the Shining fame), as they find themselves on the verge of insanity on account of the unwise decision to focus more or less exclusively on their academic work, or in some cases, on doing little other than getting as much use out of their Coppers Gold Card as possible. availing of some of the many fantastic non-academic opportunities UCD has to offer is imperative, particularly for those who have courses where the hours aren’t especially intense. I knew of many people who would sooner jump in the lake and endure the resulting tetanus shot, than bother to partake in any of the multitude of extra-curricular activities on offer. Such an attitude won’t impress your future prospective employers, many of whom will seek evidence to ensure you’re not some sort of weird hermit who does nothing but study while simultaneously cursing humanity. even if you’ve no interest in pursuing a career in journalism or acting, getting involved with the paper or joining Dramsoc is likely to open up so many interesting doorways. If I had opted against doing the former, I would never have had the chance to interview tommy tiernan, John C. McGinley or Sonia O’Sullivan, nor would I have developed so many long-lasting friendships. Woody allen once famously said that 80% of his success in life derived from just “showing up”. the same rule applies to college: 80% of your success there will depend on showing up for whatever it is you’re passionate about. Woody allen also married his step-daughter though, so maybe don’t always look to him as a role model. Paul Fennessy currently works as a freelance journalist with TheScore.ie. He attended UCD from 2006 to 2011.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Kill.i.an: Welcome to Dublin
Resident columnist Killian Woods welcomes you to Dublin. Now get out of his way
ou’ll probably fail college. It’s grim, but true. Well, that’s if Dublin doesn’t get you first. everything in the city is out to get you. the bus drivers, the tierney building and probably somewhere along the line, I’ll screw you over. It’s mainly the people you’ve got to look out for. It’s impossible to pin down the population of Dublin into a finite prejudicial stereotype that’s a healthy balance of the truth and damning insults. they sort of live on a ph scale of extremes like northsider-Southsider and scumbagmetascumbag. James Joyce wrote a book about Dubliners, called Dubliners, though even that didn’t quite cover all the sociopaths that live here. he forgot to mention the story about the three boys held at bIC pen-point on the 145 bus to Kilmacanogue over a €5 note, or the tale of the girl who paralyzed her legs outside Wezz disco after applying too much deep heat to fend off those January chills. Over the years I’ve found Dublin atones for its lack of affinity towards its law-abiding population by providing a vibrant anti-social scene. If Dubliners aren’t threatening you with the tip of a ballpoint pen, they’ll probably be robbing you in broad daylight, both figuratively and literally. this happens to me on a daily basis. I’m lucky enough to live on Upper leeson Street. an ideal midpoint between the city centre and belfield, but also blessed with the Most expensive newsagents in the City (Patent pending). Just between us, we’ll call it Spentra this particular Spentra outlet has either suffered a perniciously traumatic childhood and is now deciding to take out all pre-existing rage on its customers. Or it has amnesia and still thinks we’re in the height of the Celtic tiger and not the current rangers tiger we’re faced with. Car parking around my area isn’t exactly plentiful either. look up the antonym for “copious”, multiply that by ten and then you’ll have a grasp on how difficult it is to find an allotted 2.5 x 5 metre space to leave a car. however, there is a particular car parking space in my area that seems to emit a pheromone to attract antisocial behaviour. the space itself seems fine. What doesn’t fill me with confidence are the fresh shards of glass that surround it on a daily basis. every day I watch a new person naïvely park their car there thinking all their Christmases have come at once. I should warn them, but this is Dublin and like in Final Destina-
tion, bad things have to happen. and if they don’t happen to other people, they’ll land at your feet and you’ll be faced with a situation where some Garda will end up blaming you for parking in the spot in the first place. that’s all frivolous in the grand scheme of things though. Most important of all, Dublin robs you of privacy. In fact, the day you move to Dublin is very similar to the day you join Facebook, except in this case, there is no amount of privacy settings tweaking that will prevent your neighbours hearing you belting out ‘Defying Gravity’ in the shower. this invasion of privacy happens on various levels and to different extremes. If you’re really lucky, you might be able to pass by life in Dublin with a non-offensive nickname like laptop guy or the girl who lost class rep elections to rOn. then again, you could become a library celebrity sensation during the study week and have hundreds of people gather on your Facebook appreciation group to comment on every single aspect of your physical appearance. In my case, I’m having boundary issues with my neighbour’s cat. It insists on sitting on my neighbour’s windowsill every morning and watches me get dressed. It’s rather unnerving. I’ve nicknamed it Schrodinger hoping it’ll be found dead in a box someday. It’s impossible to avoid these sorts of intrusions into your life while living in Dublin. though, it’s usually tit for tat. you’ll get to know intricate aspects of other people’s lives as well. Myself, I have an unhealthy knowledge of my neighbour’s urinary tract infection. Periodically throughout the night it is impossible not to hear them trudging across the apartment above towards the toilet looking to relieve themselves. back to Schrodinger, though. little quirky incidents like these should be treated with caution. When I saw him for the first time, I immediately thought of the worst-case scenario. Schrodinger is clearly trying to communicate a message to me that his owner died a few weeks ago and he has ran out of food after devouring Ms. Franklin’s corpse. you may think that’s a bit farfetched, but it’s best to think big and reign in your mind later. I’m actually quite anxious to see if she’s okay. I’ve first dibs on her parking space.
Settling in to a version of college life that involves a whole lot less college, Aoife Valentine considers the wisdom of spending your gap year on campus
Then again, you could become a library celebrity sensation during the study week and have hundreds of people gather on your Facebook appreciation group to comment on every single aspect of your physical appearance.
here are many reasons why students take a year out of college. Most want to travel the world or volunteer, or just escape the mundanities often present in dayto-day college life, in a course they’re not overly infatuated with. Some want to test out this ‘real life’ business with the safety net of the remaining years of their course behind them, just in case your college years really are the best of your life. Some have simply seen the ‘Gap yah’ youtube video, and fancy taking a crack at being a total legend. For me, none of those are quite the case. I’ve abandoned the final year of my law degree not to see exotic places, save the world, or captain the legend team, but to work in student media. In this newspaper, to be exact. the only place I see most days is the new Student Centre, and as lovely as our office is, the only remotely exotic thing about it is the bright yellow wall. While we endeavour to bring you all the UCD news we can find, I don’t think we could ever be described as saving campus, never mind the world. and as I write this at 5am on a Sunday morning with only our designers for company, I don’t think I’m quite living up to my legend potential. taking a gap year but still coming to college every day, now often spending longer on campus than I ever have in my three years in UCD, is a very strange experience. Separated from the people who have been my friends and class since my first day on campus, I am no longer concerned by modules and GPas, how many plugs there are in the library or how soon an essay deadline is approaching. I no longer need to complain about roebuck being located practically in another Universe, as I have little need to leave the student centre at any time. they’re taking the Google mentality up this end of belfield, and providing us with every possible amenity from pools to cinemas in an effort to keep us in the building at all times. they’ve even given us 24-hour access, lest we consider leaving once the building closes for the night. I’ve been working all summer with our editorial team to prepare for this volume of the paper, knowing that once September came, instead of attending introductory lectures, I would be preparing the first issue of our volume, but this didn’t hit me until a friend needed me to register for him. I was battling with UCD’s ridiculous registration process, endlessly searching for modules, which as it turned out,
had been withdrawn with no notice given, or which had filled up impossibly quickly even though I had logged in to his account at the allotted time slot. the whole time I was thinking not only about how UCD seem to manage to mess up registration every year, but how easy it is to distance yourself from your course, despite being right on top of it every day. While I was glad I didn’t have to attempt to fight with the programme office myself to try and get out of whatever dodgy modules were left, it was still extremely weird to be registering but not registered. this was only compounded by my class’ Facebook group exploding with people worrying about modules filling up early, and which to choose to get the best grade. rather than trying to decipher module descriptions, my worries centred around whether we would manage to fill all 68 pages of this newspaper and its supplements without dying. So far, so good. Most of my old classmates have met my decision to briefly postpone my legal career in favour of a year of sleep deprivation and writing every word I know every two weeks with quiet confusion. the alternative isn’t much better. Staying true to every description of a stereotypical law student ever, it seems at least half of my class have been putting in long days at the library since the first day of term, fearing not that the coursework is too difficult to keep on top of without regular library sessions, but that our collective competitive nature will see them left behind. helping a cat write horoscopes and dedicating sixteen pages to taking the piss out of every single part of UCD life doesn’t seem like a bad deal when my other option would have been researching the intricacies of bank regulation or administrative law. though I am infinitely happier to be in the position I am rather than beginning the final year of my undergraduate degree, there is just something tremendously strange about no longer having a class; about being in University, but at the same time, not; about knowing where I would be, the classes I would be attending and the lectures I would likely be finding boring; yet not being a part of it at all. I’ve spent the last two weeks running around campus conducting surveys and interviews, and though it isn’t perhaps the most typical of gap years, and though I could probably do with bulking out my legend credentials before the year is out, at least my year won’t be spent chundering everywhere.
With UCD being as large and daunting as ever, as term begins Community Manager at WorldIrish and prolific Twitterer, Darragh Doyle explains why creating your own community is one of the most important things you can do with your time at UCD
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Observer OpEd Talleyrand
niversity College Dublin, 1997. I was there at least seven months before I found out there was a bar on campus. then I found out there were at least two. I’d missed that year’s raG Week and the Freshers’ introductions and any sort of induction, so I wandered the campus alone, awkwardly, shy, and not really getting it. I didn’t get how people made friends; how they got to know people they didn’t go to secondary school with or how they joined societies. home to lecture halls to tutorials to library became my routine. I was invisible; I barely talked to anyone and I never got involved. I didn’t make friends so I didn’t have any. I regret it to this day. I wonder if my experience of Dublin and of Ireland now would be different if I had immersed myself in university culture. the societies, the outings and the clubs were all mysteries to me. I never asked, I never knew who to ask, but I wonder in terms of friends, social life and career, would I better off now? this is difficult to ascertain simply because in the 15 years since, I’ve learned two (relevant) things: every problem is an opportunity and we make our own communities. I live an online life that feeds my offline life. Feeds, improves, informs and creates. I help people online. It’s my job, my passion and it’s what I’m good at. I help people find communities to be part of. I didn’t learn this in school or university and I work at it every single day, trying to learn to perfect the craft. the people that I help, work with, advise or promote become part of my own community. I work with communities online and offline and I feel part of many, and am aware of and familiar with many more. It’s nice to belong to one, especially when you’re away from home, but really it’s a relatively simple thing to become part of one or two or many. Simple, but it needs work. I discovered theatre relatively recently and know a lot of theatre-makers in the country. I regularly work with broadcasters and journalists and so have adopted them into my community. I spend time with those online: the bloggers, the snappers, the news-hounds, the vloggers, the podcasters, the Facebookers, the Instagrammers, the redditors, the boardsies and the twitterers, and contribute there regularly. I volunteer to help with events and with festivals and I’m generally out and about doing something cultural. I’ll wander through Dublin and know people in shops, venues, cafés, galleries and more by name. I fund arts, craft, music and theatre projects over on FundIt.ie. I’m now known to a lot of people for who I am and what I do. Isn’t that great? amn’t I great? Well no. See, that’s not the point here. I’m very much not. you can know all the people you like but it’s when you’re wandering through belfield, or even the city centre, with a phone full of contacts and an app full of followers and yet no one to go for a coffee with, that you have to question how you do what you do. anything I can do, you can do better. I honestly believe that I fail more than I succeed. that’s a mixture of biting off more than I can chew and not having time to follow through on good intentions. I try, I fail, but keep on trying. It is something though that you can avoid quite easily. Just evaluate the benefit to you, to others and to the world of what you’re asked to do. as wanky as that sounds, it’s advice I wish I had in 1997. I’m currently working on a project to bring together Irish people all over the world and people who love Irishness on
one digital platform. there’s some 70 million or so out there who have a need for information, interaction, entertainment and involvement and we’re working to bring that to them. I’m hoping the online application of this has huge impact offline. In the same way as couples that met on dating websites are having babies; it would be great to think that people who interact online can end up happy together. here’s where I present a challenge or opportunity to you, wherever you’re reading this and whatever you’re intending to do for the rest of the day, the week, the term or your life. It’s something for others and something for you. It’s about building a community around yourself. Make someone’s day better. as grandiose as that sounds, as potentially unachievable for the shy, those of you who don’t know others and you, yes you, the socially awkward one who wouldn’t, as the mammy would describe you, say boo to a goose; you have the potential to be popular, funny and brilliant, if only someone would talk to you and recognise it inside you, it’s something incredibly easy to do and could lead on to many great things. Make someone’s day better. tweet a bad joke. take a photo and share it online. Smile at the next person you see. text someone you haven’t texted but keep meaning to. tell someone they’re looking well today. Say thank you to the person giving you your coffee. leave the accommodation you live in tidy. Wash up after your flat mate. ring your Da and see how he is. Offer to help out with an upcoming DramSoc play. tell someone that you’re going through the exact same thing as them and how you’re dealing with it. See if you can help at the Observer. Check if any societies are doing charity work you could help out with. Write a positive review of something. Congratulate someone. Give someone a hug.
Make someone’s day better. I never took the opportunity to do that when I was in UCD. I never looked for the opportunities to do it, never felt confident enough to give it a go and, critically, never had the devices that I could connect with, never had the websites, the internet access or the ease at which I could share my ideas, stories, creativity or just the stuff I was finding on the internet that made me smile. I never knew how to do it or that I could do it. I never knew how easy it was, but I do now. this isn’t about saving a life or changing someone’s perspective. It’s not about being a hero or even making the world a better place. It mightn’t have any benefit other than distracting someone from their day-to-day drudge, from the loneliness of belfield, from the unease of first year or their complacency in the monotony of existence or even their personal struggles as they get through the daily grind. they may not deserve it, but none of that matters. you do. If it makes anyone feel good, it’ll make you feel good. that’s important. Who knows, it could start a friendship. It could get you into a community. It could start one. Make someone’s day better. Don’t believe this is possible? tweet me @darraghdoyle. Challenge me to make your day better. If I can do it in 140 characters or less, you can do it too. you can do it better.
Hello halfwits, Talleyrand has blissfully enjoyed his summer, tucked away in the dark recesses the new Student Centre, before the society saps returned to claim their new abodes. With their renewed sense of self-importance, society auditors have been having monumental pissing contests, including a ‘who has the nicest office’ competition while they all race to be the first to get Lady Gaga as a guest speaker. A new year also marks a whole new set of Sabbatical Officers, not put off by the long hours, lack of respect and lack of interest in the office that claims to represent the student body. The possibility of having one’s face on a banner is an allure too sweet to resist it seems, particularly in the case of Paddy “No plans to run at this time” Guiney. Guiney’s main campaign for the year ahead is to become friends with everyone in the entire college. Paddy “Please God, like me” Guiney is so terrified of even looking at anyone sideways for fear it’ll be a vote lost in his presidential campaign, that he may soon resort to merely humping the legs of passers-by. A close second in the ‘Eager but useless’ files is Shane “Do you want a pen with that?” Comer. It took him so long to convince the Careers Office to let him even promote, nevermind organise, their careers fairs, that he completely forgot that all he was asked to do was order pens and keep the library open. Between the hectic work of telling students that they need to sort out their education woes with their program office, he mostly sits happily in his office blogging about all the meetings he’s attending, in a vain attempt to appear like he actually has a job. Eoin “I’ve seen the troof” Heffernan has one of the tougher jobs this year: providing entertainment for the students without having any facilities or money to do so. It takes the joy out of sending all the students to spend their parents’ money in DTwo when there isn’t a heavily in-debt Student Bar to be ignored. Heffernan takes great offence at the suggestion that he profits personally from Ents events even though nothing the Students’ Union do is profitable. His greatest achievement in office so far is the launch of the Ents Gold Card, a special card which grants you free access to all the events Ents run on camp... oh. The one sabbat who is seeming busy is the Welfare Officer. With a smile on his face and his trusty bin bag of condoms at his side, Mícheál “Performa” Gallagher has been ticking off campaign promises at such a furious rate, that if he gets his way, by semester two everyone in UCD will have counselling twice a week, have come out of the closet and be screwing other people at a rate not seen since Dave “What accounts?” Carmody got his hands on the SU finances. And last but not least, the Head Honcho of the hapless hacks has been making cuts left right and centre in order to desperately shore up the SU debts left by various former officers “expense accounts”. One target of Rachel “Hacksaw” Breslin has been the SU shops, which despite selling a wide variety of suspiciously expensive sandwiches, has been making consistent losses. The plan to make the ventures profitable once again includes cutting wages, providing expensive redundancies to the most knowledgeable and experienced staff, and hiring two ‘consultants’, whose job it is to ask the people unlucky enough to still be working there exactly how the shops work. The biggest worry for the average student, however, is merely going about your normal life without falling foul of new college rules. After getting turned away from the library for having the gall to try to read a book on a Sunday, and having to slink straight back to your room alone, due to the lack of social facilities; beware when settling down in your prison-chic oncampus residences. You never know when you could get an on-the-record visit from the minions of Richard “He sees you when you’re sleeping” Brierley. Talley Ho! Talleyrand
Darragh Doyle has a blue nose on Twitter. He is the Community Manager of WorldIrish.com and is only a Google search away. Email him at email@example.com.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Observer Editorial editor @ universityobserver.ie
“The opportunities brought by the new student centre opening are particularly important in light of the lack of bars or venues on campus this year.”
s we start the new college year, a theme is already emerging for 2012-2013. With students coming from all parts of the world to make UCD their home for the next few years, everyone is talking, advising and preaching on the importance of the student community. Former UCD students Darragh Doyle, in his Op-ed, and Paul Fennessy, in his column, have stressed the importance of getting involved in the various student activities during one’s time at UCD, but this sentiment is particularly vivid on campus with the opening of the new Student Centre. While UCD has always placed huge importance on non-academic pursuits with their heavy promotion of sports clubs and societies, the reality of the overall organisation was less than ideal. Societies were dotted around campus and most events took place in different classrooms and meeting rooms every time and it limited how involved some people felt they could be with a society. You couldn’t pop in randomly for a chat because you had a gap between lectures, you had to wait for an event to be organised by the auditor. For both big and small societies, this was a huge draw back. Often the larger societies’ events are so well attended that it
can be intimidating for quieter students and it makes it difficult to talk to new people, while the smaller society events are less frequent and more quietly announced. The old Student Centre had little to offer but the Student’s Union, a few meeting rooms and very greasy chips considering it was intended as a centre for student activity. As a result, the building understandably failed to thrive. It could never be a home to those who depended on being first in line to book the necessary room to have fun with friends. Apart from a quick stop at one of the cafés or managing to take over the quiet corner with couches near ‘the blob’, group student hangouts were little known in UCD. This is what the new Student Centre could potentially solve. A large percentage of societies, and certainly the more active ones, now have their own offices. Members can come and go as they please, and have a permanent base for their activities and plans. Even for those not in societies, the fact that so many have reason to visit the student centre will make it a hive of activity. For the first time in UCD’s history, students have a real home. The opportunities brought by the new student centre opening are particularly im-
portant in light of the lack of bars or venues on campus this year. The Student Club, the only real venue on campus for gigs and other events, closed at the start of summer due to its huge financial losses every year. It was closed indefinitely in August with the entire bar staff taking redundancy, and there are no signs of any real plan to reopen it. The Clubhouse Bar, formerly the Forum Bar, was originally scheduled to open for the start of semester. This has also been shelved due to the building firm in charge of the project being deemed insolvent. And so, we are left in the slightly bizarre situation that in the biggest university in Ireland, with a student population of 25,000, based five kilometers away from the city, there is nowhere for students to meet for a drink. While some may say the attitude that students need a bar in order to be able to socialise is a ref lection of Ireland’s warped drinking culture, it’s much less about the alcohol than the idea of a shared public area where everyone can meet. A place you can drop into on the off chance that there’s people you know there, or fun to be had. The bar belonged to no one clique, it was for everyone. It’s a severe blow to the college that this has been lost.
This is why with the new Student Centre, UCD’s clubs and societies and groups must fill this social gap. Students need to socialise as well as study, and without huge effort of the behalf of the all the Captains and Auditors, that sense of camaraderie could be lost. Without the bar, student socialising will be more difficult and less organic. While the confident and outgoing will always find their way, many students need to be reached out to and encouraged. We need to branch out beyond our office doors, join up with other clubs, societies and media groups and work to provide a casual friendly atmosphere that encompasses the entire student centre. We need to make all students feel comfortable dropping in and hanging out and make this a building purely for unwinding from academia. While UCD and its students still face massive expense and service cutbacks, whether from the ever increasing fees to the end of seven days a week library access, there is an atmosphere of hope and optimism in students that hasn’t been felt here since the beginning of the recession. Our futures after UCD are uncertain, but we can be certain to do great things and make great alliances while we are here.
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Letters should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to The editor, The University Observer, UCD Student Centre, Belfield, Dublin 4
Clarifications & Corrections
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closure, I feel I must express what was my lasting impression of the bar as a UCD student during the noughties. The Student Bar always seemed to be run by very condescending and boorish bar staff. Their service and their demeanour were abominable in my experience, and to me what made it worse was that they seemed to believe that
they could act in this manner because most of the bar’s customers were (naturally, it being a university) younger than the bar staff themselves, though the student representatives (who had ultimate responsibility for the bar) never seemed to do anything about how the bar staff addressed and spoke to its student customers.
The closure of the UCD Student Bar will understandably arouse mixed feelings among the UCD community. Some will miss it, others won’t. However, in the hope that whatever replaces it will be run to a better standard, and while I do not wish to be uncharitable in the face of its
Queries and clarifications can be addressed to email@example.com.
I sincerely hope that whatever replaces the UCD Student Bar will be run by a higher calibre of personnel, with good and polite service being their primary concern and their watchwords. Yours faithfully, John B. Reid, Monkstown
Quotes of the Fortnight “Cute and sexy, that’s what I’m aiming for” Eoin Heffernan on his year ahead
“Basically I felt that if people didn’t want our music, that they might want a biscuit instead” Scott Hutchinson, Frightened Rabbit
“There is very little cost to go into the project. The only thing we have to pay for is selling them.” Paddy Guiney misunderstanding trade
“ I can understand where you’re coming from. I understand the risk but I think unprotected sex could lead to greater risks, such as STIs or unplanned pregnancies. I’d say those risks outweigh the risks of having sex shoved down their throats during orientation week.” Mícheál Gallagher on oversexualising Orientation Week
University Observer Volume XIX Issue I Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3137 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.universityobserver.ie
The University Observer is printed at Webprint Concepts Limited Mahon Retail Park Cork Ireland
Editor Emer Sugrue
Deputy Features Editor Catherine Murnane
Deputy Editor Aoife Valentine
Science & Health Editor Emily Longworth
Art, Design and Technology Director Conor Kevin O’Nolan
Sports Editor Daniel Keenan
Chief Designer Gary Kealy News Editor Daniel Keenan Deputy News Editor Sean O’Grady Comment Editor Evan O’Quigley Features Editor Sean Finnan
Chief Writers Aoife Brophy Ethan Troy-Barnes Senior Writers Yvanne Kennedy Jack Walsh
Contributors Munir Akari The Badger Conall Cahill Stephen Connolly Katelyn Cook Paul Fennessy Ciara Gileece Sam Geoghehan Alistair Graham Matt Gregg Stephen Heffernan Catherine Munnelly Meghan McSweeney Charlotte Ní Éatún Micheal O’Sullivan Elizabeth O’Malley Sean O’Neill Sylvester Phelan Alex Rathke Priya Reddy Petra Sheehan Talleyrand Cian Tolan Philippa White Killian Woods
Chief Photographer Caoimhe McDonnell Special Thanks Eilis O’Brien Dominic Martella Guy, Colm, Orla and Rory at MCD Promotions Giselle Jiang Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Stephen, Mark, Sandra and all the Student Centre Staff Very Special Thanks Balázs Pete, Sam Dunne and all the robots at NetSoc, Dave Connolly, Donna Doyle, Matt Gregg, Sally Hayden, Jon HozierByrne, Katie Hughes, Ciara Johnson, Rob Lowney, Jim Maher, Quinton O’Reilly, Conor O’Toole, Gav Reilly, Kate Rothwell, Killian Woods.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
What the SU has done for you over the Summer EDUCATION • Rate my Tutor on GrindsFile • Debt Carryover for continuing students • Additonal facilities in RDS for Exams • Careers, Internship & Erasmus Fairs
• Marriage Equality Campaign • Meal Deals on Campus • Volunteership Schemes • Summer Job lists for students • LGBT Ally Week • Run for Class Rep campaign
• Clever Cuisine • LGBT Campaign • Continuing work on ﬁnances & restructuring commercial activities • Appointed to National TaskForce on Third Level Education Funding. • Prepared for year ahead
• SU Sexual Health Strategy • Accomodation Services • Suicide Awareness Week • CBT sessions with AWARE secured for campus • Welfare Crew recruitment
ENTS • Hugely successful Freshers Ball • Mystery Tour • First ever ENTS Bible • First ever ENTS “Gold Card” • Join the ENTS Crew!
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
The Irish Invasion
Kevin Beirne looks back on Ireland’s most successful Olympic and Paralympic campaigns in his lifetime
his year, London played host to the Summer Olympic and Paralympic games. In all, over 15,000 athletes competed in over 800 events. Among those competing were some of the top athletes from all over the world. Huge names such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and Roger Federer all took part in a highly entertaining Games. Once again, we tuned in to hours upon hours of world-class sport. From the pool to the athletics track, records were broken and legends were made. There was drama to be found anywhere you looked, as a life’s worth of preparation for each athlete was realised over the 19 days of competitive action. These Olympics were historic for many a reason. Perhaps the greatest legacy that London 2012 will leave behind is its push towards gender equality. In fact, that this was the first time every single competing country sent
men’s bantamweight, he fell just short as he lost 14-11 to Luke Campbell of Team GB. Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon collected bronze after impressing in their individual classes. Barnes became the first Irish Olympian to collect a medal in back-to-back games since Pat O’Callaghan won gold in the hammer throw in 1928 and again in 1932. Barnes faced off against the same opponent who beat him in Beijing, but with a better result this time, as he lost 45-44 on a countback. Cian O’Connor’s medal was probably the most surprising of the five. Originally, O’Connor was not even supposed to be at the Olympics. The withdrawal of Denis Lynch in the eleventh hour meant O’Connor was called up to compete. Even then, O’Connor did not qualify for the final round, but the withdrawal of the 2008 silver medallist opened the door for O’Connor to go for a medal. In the end, he missed out on
“Kearney graduated in abstentia from UCD on the same day she won individual bronze in dressage” a female athlete and that every single sport was undertaken by both men and women. Irish fans will be all too aware of the addition of women’s boxing to the menu of action this year. Katie Taylor entered the games with the weight of a nation’s expectation on her shoulders and she did not disappoint. She won all three of her matches to take the first ever gold in the women’s lightweight division. The support Taylor received throughout the competition was immense. Her quarter-final was electric, with the crowd noise reaching a whopping 113.7 decibels. For some context on that, 110 decibels is described as the average human pain threshold. Perhaps it is fitting that the Irish fans would join Taylor in exposing themselves to physical harm in search of glory. Taylor was not the only Irish Olympian to medal. Ireland had its best showing at a summer games since 1956, where one gold, one silver and three bronze medals were also won by Irish athletes. John Joe Nevin, Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlon also picked up medals in boxing while Cian O’Connor, who was stripped of his gold in Athens, picked up bronze to make this Ireland’s first games with a medal in more than one sport since 1980. John Joe Nevin is a proud member of the travelling community and has made clear that he hopes his achievements can encourage a better relationship between the travelling and settled communities in Ireland. He calls it his legacy, and what a legacy it would be. Although Nevin reached the final of the
a jumping off for a gold medal by two hundredths of a second. UCD was well-represented at the games too. Most notably, Annalise Murphy finished fourth in the women’s laser radials, storming into the lead by winning the opening two races. Having led until the 8th race, and tied for third going in to the medal race, she described the fourth place finish as the worst result she could have achieved, being only a point off the top before the race. Murphy is currently on an extended study break from studying science, as she pursues a career in sailing. At 22 years-old, there is much expected of her in the Rio 2016 games. In the modern pentathlon, UCD was represented by 20 year-old sports and exercise management student Arthur Lanigan-O’Keeffe. Lanigan-O’Keeffe was described as “Ireland’s last-minute Olympian” after he was drafted in to compete following the withdrawal of a Polish competitor who tested positive for a banned substance. Lanigan-O’Keeffe made a strong showing in an incredibly physically demanding competition, eventually finishing in 25th place. The modern pentathlon required competitors to face off in fencing, swimming, horseriding and then finish off in a combined running and shooting event. Lanigan-
O’Keeffe is another athlete who is already looking forward to Rio 2016, where he should be at an even higher standard. But it’s not all about the Olympics. This year’s Paralympics were the largest ever of its kind. In all, Ireland had their most successful Paralympics since 1988, where they also finished 19th in the medals table. The Irish Paralympians greatly exceeded all expectations, as they picked up 8 gold, 3 silver and 5 bronze medals. Jason Smyth dominated the men’s T13 sprints, winning gold in the 100m and 200m, setting Paralympic and world records in both. Smyth has set his eyes on competing in the able-bodied Olympics in Rio 2016. His 100m time of 10.43 seconds would not be enough to compete for a medal, but he could still qualify, which would be an incredible achievement itself. Michael McKillop and Mark Rohan also achieved double gold in athletics and cycling respectively, while Behtany Firth and Darragh McDonald topped
answer: “The equestrian team, without a doubt. In previous games we’ve qualified one horse, so this was the first time Ireland had qualified an equestrian team. They went in ranked eighth.” Chillingworth goes on to describe the showing of the equestrian team as “the performance of their lifetime” and adds that “they had all demonstrated in the past that they were capable of producing really, really significant results, but they hadn’t yet shown that consistency of performance across the team. So, for it to come off and place them in the medals, that was the one that would have surprised us the most.” One member of that equestrian team was none other than UCD’s very own Helen Kearney, who made an impressive haul of individual silver and bronze as well as a team bronze. Kearney graduated in abstentia from UCD with a Bachelor of Commerce (BComm) on the same day she won individual bronze in dressage. UCD President, Dr. Hugh Brady joked: “Representing your country in the Paralympics has got to
“London was something quite extraordinary… The British public definitely seemed to take Ireland on as their second team.” off Ireland’s gold medals in swimming. Performance director of Paralympics Ireland, Nancy Chillingworth, calls the Irish performance “hugely successful” and admits that the target for the games was merely to break into the Top 30, adding that “internally, our target was between five and ten [medals]… but I didn’t think we’d hit 16.” “Before we went away, we laid out 15 medal possibilities, but they were kind of possibilities, with everything going right. I never thought we’d hit them; you rarely ever convert all of your possibilities.” When asked what area most surprised her, Chillingworth is quick to
be one of the most remarkable reasons for graduating in absentia.” When asked whether or not Ireland’s success at these Paralympic games is down to the structures in place or the pure talent available, Chillingworth says: “I think there’s a combination. I think that in order to hit that really top level elite of performance, that talent has to be there. I think that it’s essential that the systems and structures to support it are there also. “I think we have one of the best sports science and medicine teams out there. We appoint them centrally early in the cycle and so then they actively work with all of the sports throughout the four years, so it’s not a team who are parachuted in just for the games.” She also stresses the importance of “consistency over the cycle” as a method of success. Chillingworth says she hopes that the achievements of the Paralympians this summer will deter the government from making any big cuts to their funding in the future. Still, she believes that at the moment Paralympics Ireland receives sufficient funding, but warns: “There is probably a quite significant cut coming down the tracks.” There is no doubt that the Irish competitors in Olympic and Paralympic games benefitted greatly from its location this year. Chillingworth sums it up, saying: “London was something quite extraordinary. The British public definitely seemed to take Ireland on as their second team.” Some will wonder whether or not we can repeat, or even improve upon, the performance at London 2012. The ease of access for Irish fans made it feel like a home game to some. It is difficult to see the same amount of Irish making the long trip to Brazil for the 2016 games, but there is the talent there to succeed. London 2012 will live long in the memory as an example of Irish sporting achievement. From a national perspective, we achieved far beyond our expectations. Here’s hoping it is a stepping stone to further success.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
An unfamiliar home for Sam With a summer of action reaching its pinnacle this Sunday, Meghan McSweeney previews this year’s All-Ireland football final
t has been 20 years since either Donegal or Mayo have won an All-Ireland final. Donegal return to Croke Park this Sunday for their first All Ireland appearance since their victory over the Dubs in 1992, while Mayo’s time without a win dates back to 1951. Twelve months ago, this Donegal team was criticised for ruining the game as their defensive tactics were widely attacked, but Sunday has become D-Day for Jim McGuiness’ men. One year on from all the criticism, after their semi final victory over Cork, and pundits such as Joe Brolly and Pat Spillane are eating their words and praising Jim McGuiness for his (albeit, still quite defensive) tactics. This All Ireland final is not one that the bookies would have predicted. Cork, the favourites, are out and the
defending champions Dublin were dethroned by a Mayo team who snuck up under everyone’s radar. Donegal’s performances throughout the championship have given them the deserving title as favourites for this match. After defeat to Dublin in last year’s semi-final, the Ulstermen were determined to be back in championship football in late August/September. Their high-tempo style of play has yet to be matched by any opponent this year. One wonders how they are able to maintain such intensity throughout not just the individual games, but throughout the championship, but perhaps it has something to do with the reported eight meals a day the team is consuming. The team has been built upon the northern football tradition of physicality, which was too powerful for
usual contenders Tyrone, Kerry and Cork this year. This is obvious when one compares players such as Michael Murphy and Colm McFadden to themselves last year. Both players are vastly improved and are almost guaranteed to receive All-Star nominations this year. While Tyrone and Kerry are undoubtedly aging teams, they still are two of most successful teams in the last decade, and though Cork were many people’s pick to be champions on September 23rd, Donegal’s’ victories over them are a true signal of intent. Mayo, on the other hand, enter this All Ireland final not having won it in 61 years. In spite of this, Mayo have earned themselves the title of the ‘upsetting underdogs’ over the past decade. Mayo conquered Dublin in All-Ireland semifinals both this year and in 2006 and also defeated the reigning All-Ireland Champions Cork in the quarter-final stage in 2007. Mayo also boast the record of being the most successful Connaught team in recent years. Similar to the Leinster championship, however, the real test for the Connaught provincial champions comes at the quarter-final stage and beyond. If Mayo are to succeed on Sunday, they will have to return to the form that saw them defeat Down in this year’s quarter-final. While victory over the Dubs cannot be overlooked, it was not convincing. Mayo barely overcame the capital’s team without Captain and star-player Alan Moran and his loss and guidance will be missed against an opposition who have been in form all season. Truth be told, Dublin’s performances in the 2012 Championship came nowhere close to achieving those of the 2011 campaign. Despite leading the Dubs by ten points at one stage, Mayo let the Dubs back in, eventually scrap-
ping through as two-point victors, as Dublin’s midfield commanded the last 15 minutes of the semi final. Donegal are a similar, if not greater, physical threat. They will punish a Mayo team if they retreat into such a defence. Mayo must learn from Cork’s mistakes. Donegal build their attacks right from the back. The midfield physicality of Kavanagh and Bradley will prove a difficult test for the Mayo pairing of Moran and O’Shea and the latter must win the lion’s share of their kickouts. Donegal’s wall of defence left Cork full-forward Colm O’Neill and his fellow forwards starved of the ball. Donegal build a fortress of a defence that hinders fluid football teams such as Cork, Kerry and Mayo. To win on Sunday, Mayo must do what Dublin did in 2011. They must play Donegal at their own game. Mayo scored wonderful long ranging points against Dublin, Cillian
Mayo must learn from Cork’s mistakes. Donegal build their attacks right from the back.
O’Connor being a prime example. Furthermore, Mayo must score goals in order to put Donegal under pressure. If Donegal are put on the back foot they will be forced to switch to a more attacking style, which will not suit their preference to have twelve or thirteen men defending the ball. Mayo’s Varley and Dillion must work themselves into goal scoring chances and take what they can, but Donegal’s fitness and physicality should prove too much for Mayo. If Donegal are ahead at half time, it will be difficult for a Mayo side to force them to relinquish a lead. Donegal must take their points and avoid the 16 wides they had against Cork. It was not the All Ireland pairing anyone predicted, but this new-look final it is one that is good for the game of G.A.A. football.
fter all of the talking, bargaining and sales over the summer, the football season is finally underway. While it is always intriguing to read about who is going where and the potential contenders for the season ahead, it is nevertheless a relief to finally begin the action. The Premiership season has taken no time in getting back up to full speed, with Everton’s brilliant opening victory against Manchester United, Eden Hazard’s excellence for Chelsea, and Arsenal’s surprisingly sturdy defence. Despite all this, the true action begins on Tuesday September 18th, as the UEFA Champions’ League rolls noisily back into view. The best players in Europe have to do their talking on the pitch now. Although we say it every year, you can’t help feeling that this year’s race for the trophy, currently residing at Stamford Bridge, will be more keenly contested than ever.
Every major footballing club in Europe will be targeting the tournament with great hopes and dreams of glory. Even the minnows can look forward to outings in such iconic venues as Camp Nou, the San Siro or Old Trafford. This year, the favourites are probably Real Madrid, the Spanish champions. After losing on penalties in the semi-final last year to Bayern Munich, José Mourinho will have his team hungry to prove that they are superior to everyone else in Europe, and especially Barcelona, by emerging victorious. Madrid will relish the opportunity to prove their superiority with victory against fellow big-spenders Manchester City in the ‘Group of Death’. The Madrid-City match-up is a dream draw and one that could provide the tie of the year. Ten years ago, Manchester City fans would never in their wildest dreams have imagined their team playing against Real Madrid in the Champions League as English Champions and
with a fighting chance of victory. Yet, for City’s owners, conquering Europe is the next step up. City are confident that their big-name players, names like Touré, Nasri and Tevez, will not bow down and submit to Ronaldo et al. The talent and egos that will clash on the pitch when these two sides meet should give substance to Sir Alex Ferguson’s belief that the Champions League is the best competition in the world, including the World Cup. Barcelona are faced with a huge challenge this year. Everyone foresaw an ‘El Clasico’ final last year, but the Catalans were felled by Chelsea in Europe and topped by Madrid on the domestic front. Barcelona’s group should not pose too many difficulties and, like the Kilkenny hurling team, Barcelona are the defeated masters who will be hungry to re-assert their dominance. Proud stars like Messi, Xavi and Pique will not wish to sit and watch Madrid dominance take over, and this could result in a Barcelona side with renewed vigour. In addition, having David Villa back at full fitness will be like a new signing for the Copa del Rey holders. The same could be said for Nemanja Vidic at Manchester United. If United can get Vidic back to even close to his full level of match fitness then it would do a great amount to solidify the side. Attacking options like van Persie, in ominous form again this season, Kagawa and Rooney mean that United should easily get out of their group and will fancy their chances of remaining involved into the early summer. Meanwhile, their Premiership rivals Arsenal face a tricky group containing French champions Montpellier, 2010/11 semi-finalists Schalke ’04 and consistent qualifiers Olympiakos. If Olivier Giroud does not start firing, Arsenal could struggle to compete with the really big sides in this competition. London rivals, and last year’s champions, Chelsea have looked stunning in attack at stages of this season, with Eden Hazard a class apart in most of the matches they have played. Yet there is weakness at the back, which teams as varied as Reading and Atletico Madrid
have exploited this season. That vulnerability could come back to haunt the Blues when faced with Europe’s best forward units. They will not be able to rely on the undoubted luck that was on their side last year. One side that will attract much interest will be one of the emerging big spenders in Europe, Paris Saint-Germain. PSG new recruit Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored four goals in three Ligue 1 matches so far and when blowing hot can cause any defence serious headaches. Although, his inconsistency is legendary, making Ibrahimovic is one of the most infuriating strikers in the world. Realistically, PSG cannot rely on ‘Ibra’ to carry them through the tournament. There are many more important questions that remain to be answered. Can Bayern Munich recover from last year’s heartache and produce another huge effort? Will Celtic be terribly exposed? And will the Italian clubs upset the apple-cart of Spanish and English
With the transfer window finally out of the way, Conall Cahill looks forward to Europe’s elite club competition
favourites? It should make for intriguing viewing, and the only thing that is predictable about this year’s Champions League is its unpredictability.
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
The Badger Rises The Badger awakens from a summer hibernation to discover people pretending to care about women’s boxing and show-jumping
BY KEVIN BEIRNE
Sailing UCD will represent Ireland at the 32nd Student Yachting World Cup in La Rochelle, France for the first time in 10 years at the end of October. The UCD students earned the right to represent Ireland having won the Irish Student Yachting National Championships in Dún Laoghaire in March. The team is comprised of 10 UCD sailing students: Aidan McLaverty (Skipper), Barry McCartin (Tactician), Cathal Leigh Doyle (Headsail Trim, Captain), Isabella Morehead (Headsail Trim), Simon Doran (Mainsail Trim), Alyson Rumball (Pit), Theo Murphy (Mastman), David Fitzgerald (Bowman), Ben Fusco (Shore Team) and Ellen Cahill (Shore Team).
Football UCD AFC midfielder Paul O’Connor is in with a chance of being on the cover of a special edition of FIFA ‘13. The latest version of the popular FIFA football video game series will have a downloadable cover that will feature two League of Ireland players on either side of the three time FIFA Ballon D’Or winner, Lionel Messi. EA Sports and extratime.ie are to create the special cover and the winners will be picked by a poll on extratime.ie/poll. Every League of Ireland team has a representative in the poll. The winners will be announced on Wednesday September 26th and the cover will be available to download from the September 28th onwards.
Rowing UCD student Claire Lambe won silver in the LW1x race in the World University Rowing Championships in Russia. The silver medal in the WUC comes on the back of strong showings in both the Under-23 World Championships, where she came fourth, and in the Senior World Championships, where she finished in 11th place. Lambe was quick to thank both UCD and Old Collegians Boat Club for financially supporting her trip to Kazan in Russia after Rowing Ireland failed to back the competitors.
Modern Pentathlon UCD Olympian Arthur LaniganO’Keeffe won bronze in the World Junior Championships in Drzonkow, Poland. In doing this, Lanigan-O’Keeffe earned Ireland’s first ever medal in a major international event in the sport. The 21 year-old was ahead going in to the final round, having established a twelve second lead through the fencing, swimming and riding rounds. Despite this, he could not hold the lead in the combined run and shoot event, but still left Poland with a well-deserved medal.
Football’s coming home Sam Geoghegan looks back on the Emerald Isle Classic, and tells us what it means for Ireland’s sporting future
nyone living in Dublin at the beginning of September will be well aware that an American football game took place in the Aviva Stadium on the same weekend that Mayo defeated the defending All-Ireland champions. The game was between the University of Notre Dame, also known as the “Fighting Irish”, and the Midshipmen of the US Naval Academy. Notre Dame and Navy is one of the most storied rivalries in all of US college football. Although both sides have not reached the dizzying heights of their glorious past, this fixture still remains one of the games to look forward to each season. Navy and Notre Dame have played every year since 1914 which makes it the longest uninterrupted intersectional series in all of college football. Notre Dame’s dominance is evident in past statistics having won 70 of the previous 83 meetings between the sides, including a 43 game winning streak between 1964 and 2006. Navy however, have won three of the last five encounters. With 35 thousand US visitors travel-
ling to Ireland for one weekend, many of whom can trace their ancestry here, events throughout Dublin were organised for the entire weekend. Supporters of Notre Dame stayed here in UCD Residences. Notre Dame and Navy both held practices in UCD and Trinity College respectively, with Trinity hosting a pep rally on the Thursday. The Navy boxing team participated against the Trinity boxing team and their respective rugby teams faced off against each other as well. Six high school football games were played around Dublin and Meath on the Friday evening. Trim in Meath also hosted a five day ‘Feile Americana’. The USS Fort McHenry docked in Dublin Pier for 11 days and Taoiseach Enda Kenny officially opened the Notre Dame Pep rally in the O2 in Dublin. The rally was broadcast live by RTÉ as Notre Dame traditions were mixed with contemporary Irish music. Saturday morning saw Temple Bar turn in to a massive tailgating venue for fans with gardaí turning a blind eye to people consuming alcohol on the streets. Dublin Castle held an open air
mass on Saturday morning. Then, of course, the Aviva Stadium played host to an uneven 50-10 win for Notre Dame in the afternoon. This one game is said to have been worth over €75 million to the Irish economy. The Department of Tourism hurried to launch ‘The Gathering 2013’, a program that aims to attract as many people with Irish roots as possible from across the globe to come ‘home’ to Ireland in 2013, ahead of schedule, with many of the 35 thousand visiting Americans claiming Irish descent. ‘The Gathering’ sponsored the game, known as ‘The Emerald Isle Classic’, and was heavily plugged for television audiences in the States. The game was nationally televised on CBS and, although it began at 9am EST, it was replayed later on in the day and was the leading sports story on ESPN. Hotels were booked out as Dublin Airport experienced its busiest day ever on the day after the game. Brown Thomas on Grafton Street had its best trading day since Christmas Eve 2007 on the Friday. All of Dublin’s bars, restaurants and shops appeared to be back in the Celtic Tiger days as there were no signs of any recession. Even the weather was perfect the whole long weekend. It proves that Ireland, and especially the state-of-the-art the Aviva venue, can hold a major sporting event. In the past ten years, we’ve seen the Special Olympics, the Ryder Cup and the UEFA Europa League Final come to these shores and the Heineken Cup Final will also be played at the Dublin 4 stadium in May. Minister for Sport Leo Varadkar has previously stated his desire to host the Rugby World Cup there and the FAI have registered their interest in staging the 2020 European Championships along with their Scottish and Welsh counterparts in the Aviva. This American invasion has only boosted our chances and reputation. More importantly for American football fans, we could we see an NFL game sometime very soon. NFL officials inspected Croke Park in the spring and came away very impressed. The US Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney, is the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and has hinted at a desire to have a game here. Following the success of the ‘International Series’ in Wembley, there is a commitment to play at least one game a season there up until 2016. There is an increasing likelihood that other venues might host an NFL game starting next year. Ireland, along with Germany, would seem to be top of that list. One thing is for certain, we have proved we can handle it. The hosting of the Emerald Isle classic can only be seen as a resounding success as Irish eyes were smiling and we saw the positive influence sport can have for the economy and for a nation’s morale.
he Badger does not like the Olympics. In particular, the Badger doesn’t like what the Olympics do to people. There is no other event which encourages totally uninformed people to have such strong opinions about things they barely even understand the basic mechanics of. Besides elections, of course. Every quadrenial August, people will read one article on a sport they haven’t watched since the previous Olympics, and proceed to tell you who they think will win the octathlon and why they believe that their chosen athlete will break away from the rest of the pack in the second round of juggling. The Badger hates to drag her name into this, but the Katie Taylor phenomenon is a clear example of this. Make no mistake, she gets huge respect as someone who can probably kill a person with one punch, but the Badger estimates that between 0% and 0.1% of the Irish public had seen a women’s boxing match that did not take place outside Coppers before these Olympics. Despite this incredible apathy towards the sport for the entirety of its existence, suddenly everyone in Ireland was telling the Badger exactly why they thought Katie Taylor would win Ireland’s first untainted gold in 20 years. In the end she did just that, but that does not make the Badger’s complaints any less valid. The Badger occasionally found refuge from all the Olympic nonsense of allowing top professionals to compete in sports like tennis and basketball, but not in football, in Sky Sports News’ 24/7 coverage of nothing actually happening. The Badger was not surprised when Robin van Persie signed for Manchester United, nor was the Badger surprised that it surprised people that a 29 year-old man-child, who has had his ego stroked everyday by everyone around him for his entire life simply because he kicks a ball in a way that is slightly better than others, chose unspendable amounts of money and more ego-stroking rather than slightly less amounts of money and ego-stroking. In fact, the Badger was in favour of the move, as it allowed him to time exactly how long it would take the Manchester United fans, authors of many a classy chant calling Mr. van Persie a rapist, to make a complete turn around and proclaim him a ‘legend’. As it turns out, the Badger had not even picked up his trusty pocket-watch before it had already begun.
OSbserver P O R T
The University Observer | 18 September 2012
Students feel the heat With the summer wrapping up, Seán O’Neill brings you up to date on what you may have missed on the domestic scene so far.
he September breeze signals that the finishing line is in sight. It’s been a long and arduous summer in the Premier Division of Irish football, but finally the most crucial phase of the season is upon us. Now that the pretenders have been separated from the contenders, it is time for titles to be won or lost and relegation battles decided. To say it has been an eventful season so far would be an understatement. The summer league format has paid off, with the league taking centre stage as the English Premier League enters its off-season. Given that the Airtricity League simply cannot compete with the English top-flight, the inception of the summer league has really been quite a clever change. That being said, those who shine in Irish football are still receiving major support. After the success of Shamrock Rovers last season, particularly in the Europa League, there is much hope of further success for Irish clubs in the foreseeable future. Rovers have laid the foundations to lead this charge due to their vast fan base and modern facilities. Despite the hope of Irish teams adding to the success of last year, Rovers, St. Pat’s and Bohemians all made early exits from European competition this summer. Regardless of the lack of success on the European front, the popularity of the league is on the rise. Attendances at games have risen and the media have followed suit with comprehensive coverage of every game, with the weekly MNS highlights showing a prime example of this.
Unfortunately, we’ve also seen the delicate nature of the league’s finances this season, with Galway United retiring from competition before the season began in March along with Monaghan United adding another blow to the league’s reputation by withdrawing midway through the new season, on June 18th. Sligo Rovers’ six point lead at the top looks increasingly unassailable and is amplified by the fact they have a game in hand over Drogheda, who are in second place. Rovers’ aspirations of league glory were laid out with cup wins in the last two seasons and it is evident what their next aim is. Immense quality can be seen within the squad of the Connacht challengers, with defensive steel provided by Gavin Peers and Jason McGuinness, creativity from Danny Ventre and Joseph Ndo in the middle, along with top scorer Danny North, who has 15 goals to date. The joker in the pack has come from the North-East, with the resurgence of Drogheda United. The Boyne-siders have surpassed all expectations and lie comfortably in second place and with aspirations of a place in Europe next season. This is remarkable considering the Drogs finished ninth out of ten teams in 2011. If Drogheda’s form has been unexpected, so has the dip in form of last year’s champions, Shamrock Rovers. The Tallaght men have experienced a hangover from last season, which saw them both win the title and depart on a long adventure in Europe, which included trips to Russia, Athens and White
Hart Lane. Rovers will certainly be aiming to consolidate at least a top-three finish that ensures European football next season. Their current fourth position does not reflect the quality within the squad, with players such as league top scorer Gary Twigg. This quality gives reason to believe they might mount a late surge for first place, although Sligo look increasingly unlikely to relinquish top spot. Just behind Rovers, we find Derry, Bohemians, Cork City and Shelbourne are enjoying the security of mid-table mediocrity. Finally, as we trudge further down the pecking order, we find UCD involved in an unwanted relega-
tion battle with Bray Wanderers and financially troubled Dundalk. Bray hope their experienced squad can lift them away from the students and give themselves some breathing space from their relegation rivals. Despite the loss of Irish Under 21 midfielder Paul Corry, who joined Sheffield for an undisclosed fee at the end of the transfer window, the UCD boys stand a fighting chance of survival. A likely scenario for the remainder of the season is a one-on-one battle for survival between themselves and their Dundalk counterparts. A recent 2-1 victory for the Belfield boys over the Louth team has only served to solidify the notion that the
spirit of the youthful UCD squad will outshine the men from Oriel Park, who are bidding to justify their very existence with the shadow of impending financial ruin hanging heavy on the players’ shoulders. Unpaid wages have left the morale of the Dundalk dressing room extremely low. With many of the top teams in the league boasting former UCD players, such as Pat Sullivan and Ciaran Kilduff at Shamrock Rovers, it shows the quality of player that the club has produced due to the time and effort exerted by all involved at the Belfield Bowl. If topflight status can be secured for 2013, more Sullivans, Kilduffs and Corrys will undoubtedly be produced.
UCD sets the bar with new facilities UCD High Performance coach Marcus Wehr chats to Alex Rathke about what the new sports facilities means for the future of sport in UCD.
CD has a new student centre that will redefine the university’s sporting position within Ireland. The new centre will host brand new state of the art sports facilities which will be run by UCD Sport and Fitness (UCD S&F) from September onwards. Before UCD S&F opened in June of this year, UCD already had some impressive sports facilities which included a number of astro-pitches, tennis courts, the National Hockey Stadium, a
High Performance Gym, indoor sports halls, a climbing wall and Crunch Fitness. But with help of the student centre levy, paid by students as part of their fees each year, students now have the option of using the new sports facilities that have been added to the UCD campus, including the gym and an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Senior Strength and Conditioning Coach at UCD High Performance Gym Marcus Wehr said: “My first impression of the establishment was that it
was world-class, which is something that can be used in all different types of marketing. There really is top quality equipment that has been purchased there.” In terms of marketing the facility, the Irish Hockey Association (IHA) have chosen UCD to host its World Cup Tournament in September. Wehr believes that the new facility “can bring a lot of international exposure. We have an international female hockey tournament here in two weeks. I have already been asked to host the Australian team in the High Performance Gym.” Wehr said that the Australians had been impressed with the facilities and required access to the pool for recovery sessions, and was quick to remind students that “six months ago it would have been like ‘we don’t have a sauna, we don’t have a spa, we don’t have any of those things.’” It is also an amazing step forward for UCD’s water-sport clubs, as for the first time in UCD ‘s history, they will be able to use facilities right on campus. Most notably, the UCD Swimming & Waterpolo Club has already taken full advantage of the new pool, starting intense training a week before the semester started. Irish rugby, one of the country’s premier sports, has also made a few changes to their structure in terms of provincial plans. In March of this year, Leinster Rugby made the switch to UCD, moving their administration of-
Photos by Rob Manning fices to Belfield. During the summer of 2012, the rest of Leinster Rugby moved from their old base in David Lloyd Riverview to UCD. Leinster will be based in the established high performance training unit on UCD’s Belfield campus, adjacent to UCD’s state-of-the-art Institute of Sport and Health (ISH). In addition, Leinster will avail of UCD’s extensive suite of top class synthetic and grass pitches. Wehr said: “I think that it will be quite motivating for [the UCD Rugby players] to see the athletes of that calibre, literally in the flesh, training on the fields that they themselves train on… Purely from a motivational point of view, I’d have to say I’d be pretty excited.” With the ISH being based on campus, players as well as management will have access to academic career help as well as excelling in their line of sport. “We have two coaches who are in the process of doing PhD’s in Strength & Conditioning. One is about to start and the other is about to finish his,” Wehr said. Physiological and biochemical testing platforms and sports medicine fa-
cilities are all provided by the ISH and they are located in the Newstead Building, though the ISH is not limited to just testing of rugby players. Athletes from all other sports will continue to have access to the high performance gym and ISH’s testing procedures. In spite of these advancements, the University of Limerick (UL) is still one step ahead of UCD, making it the top sports college in terms of facilities in Ireland. UCD, like UL, has everything to offer to students and the general public, with the exception of the athletics track. Last year UCD downgraded their calibre for sports facilities when the running track was closed down. No work has yet been done to either restore the track or turn it into a car park, as is heavily rumoured to happen. Even without the track, UCD still has something no other university in Ireland has, and that is a world-class gym structure. This is good news for the average student. Although we may not have access to the elite training facilities, any UCD student can now avail of a state-of-the-art gym and, if they are willing to pay a little bit extra, an Olympic-standard swimming pool.