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Southampton University’s Student Magazine ///

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ISSUE 1 SEPT 2012 www.wessexscene.co.uk


1 / WS / Editors ///

EDITORS

E D I TORS LE TTE R ///

Hi Everyone, Welcome to the very first issue of the Wessex Scene for the Academic Year 2012-2013. /// / Editor / Ellie Sellwood / Deputy Editor / Jo Fisher / Graphic Designer / Bronwen Rees / Online Manager / Sam Whitehall / Imagery / Sasha Spaid, / Bryony Wellborn / Features / Andy Haywood / Amy Sandys / Science / Claire Critchley / Politics / Charlotte Harwood / Alexander Green / Winchester / Amy Harwood / Opinions / Sam Gilonis / David Mendoza-Wolfson / Travel / Chris Clarke / Lifestyle / Emma Hobbs / Emma Chappell / International / Jack Kanani / Sport / Jack Winter / Richard Windsor / News / Tom Durham / Sera Berksoy / Pause / Sam Evarard / Publicity / Luke Goodger

I am the girl who ran around campus in an ‘Incredibles’ outfit during Student Leaders Campaign week earlier in the year. Some of you may know who I am, but if not, I am your Wessex Scene Editor! My campaign told you all to ‘Expect the Incredible’ and here it is! The whole Editorial Team has been working really hard over the summer break, covering everything from the Olympics to interesting phobias. Now we present to you our freshly revamped magazine brimming with thought-provoking and valuable articles. I urge you to check out our pieces on the dark side of the London 2012 games, the Science behind Hangovers and what happens when you decide to ride a bike to Budapest. Special thanks go to our Head of Design Bronwen Rees and our Imagery editors Sasha Spaid and Bryony Wellburn for making this magazine so damn good looking. Further thanks go to my hard-working editorial team, including my faithful Deputy Jo Fisher. Stay classy Southampton, and thanks for stopping by Ellie Sellwood Editor

/ editor@wessexscene.co.uk

/ Get in touch... / Be sure to head online to check out our regularly updated News section and Pause, our procrastination central. We look forward to meeting everyone who wants to join the team at the Bunfight and our first Contributors’ Meeting on October 1!


/// Competition / WS / 3

TRAVEL PHOTO COMPETITION Winner: Nick Vines boarding the plane at Barcelona airport

After much deliberating, with many high quality and stunning photographs to choose from, the

panel chose this 1 capturing perfectly the excitement of travel. With particularly relevance to the Wessex Scene as Easyjet represents budget travel, something many of us are familiar with. The colours and perspective used by winning photographer Nick Vines are commendable to create a beautiful photograph. We hope you enjoyed your trip to Barcelona. Congratulations from us all on winning two tickets to Beach Break Live 2013. - Editor Ellie Sellwood Thanks to everyone who entered the competition, the standard of photographs was very high and we enjoyed looking through all of the entries. For the photographs, which were awarded runners-up and some of our favourite entries head online to www.wessexscene.co.uk/travel The Wessex Scene Travel Photo Competition sponsored by Beach Break Live. Check out Beach Break Live here www.beachbreaklive.com, tickets go on sale from October 15th 2012.


2 / WS / Features ///

FRESHERS AND BOOZE: Just fun or a requirement? / Andy Haywood /

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With 8 out of 10 teenagers having tried alcohol before the age of 15, it is no wonder that University Students are known for their drinking habits, wonderfully exemplified in the alcohol filled Freshers’ week. Yet for many students who don’t like to get wasted, Freshers’ fortnight can be a daunting experience. Andy Haywood Investigates some of the fears and solutions for those anxious students.

Lets welcome the

freshers in true university style. The first time away from home for many, Freshers’ week is the perfect opportunity to meet new people, have lots of fun and generally ease yourself into the crazy life of being a student. Each year websites like thestudentroom.co.uk are bombarded with questions like: “should I bring a toaster?” “how am I going to fit everything into my car?” and the classic, “How do I enjoy Freshers’ Week without drinking?” There is undoubtedly an assumption that all students get plastered but what about those who don’t want to drink excessively or even at all? Is there a way to enjoy the university experience and the freshers’ fortnight without stumbling across dance floors? Forever, the stereotypical “student” likes beans, sleep and of course, alcohol. From American Pie to Zach and Miri make a Porno, the student characters on television and films always seem to have

some kind of alcohol fuelling their antics. Is this the teenage dream: cheap booze and a fortnight of opportunities to go wild without any parent’s judging eyes worsening your headache? It seems that becoming a student instigates a metamorphic transformation into a beer-guzzling booze hound but how much truth is there to this statement? The fact remains, that whether religious, personal or medical the choice to drink is yours. Unfortunately, you may feel some pressure and I can tell you from personal experience that many of the drunken rumours are true; I’ve witnessed a holly bush high-jump, which inevitably failed. Drink Aware found that 21% of students feel pressure to drink more than they normally would chose to. One student I asked said “I ended up caving in and drinking more to join in”. Nevertheless, an important thing to remember is that as much as there

will be those douchebags, desperate to be named the party animal, there will also be those who don’t like or want to get wasted. If you fall into the latter group there is no need to lock yourself away in a dark room and miss out on the fun! The most important thing is to keep an open mind. Your argument for not drink


ing has no foundations if you criticize those who do. Some people might not understand your choice but be patient. Go out; let your personality shine through epic dance moves, witty banter or just general loveliness. Freshers’ week tries to offer events for everyone with live music nights, quizzes, meet and greets and comedy shows. There is so much going on with societies and JCR’s, you should easily find something to occupy yourself. Sometimes, a night in can surpass any Bedford Place Booze-fest, whether playing monopoly or chilling with a film; some of my best nights have been staying in with my flatmates. Plus, Freshers’ flu is going to tackle even the strongest of drunks, so why not have a recovery day, getting to know each other? Concerns for many include that their flatmates will be

/ Image by Rebbecca Hopkinson /

booze hounds or that no one will understand someone who doesn’t like getting drunk, but as Nalia Missous reacts in her Guardian article: “… will freshers’ week render me friendless? – the answer is a definite no”. The University community is huge. A large mixing bowl filled with people of many different cultures, races, religions and lifestyles. Guaranteed there will be people who want to hang out with you and who agree with your choice. Unfortunately, they may not be as forgiving if your reason is “unsatisfactory” to them and you may have to suffer some banter. Do not get offended and stay true to what you want. If you want to drink, drink, if you really don’t, then don’t. No one is going to force feed you Sambuca in your sleep or slip Jack Daniels into your spaghetti. Soon the hype will fade and those who cannot get passed something as petty as not drinking are not worth your time. The general consensus of the studentroom.com seems to be, alcohol is only a barrier if you make it one. Admittedly, it can be difficult to comprehend how isolated a non-drinker can feel and some may assume that because you don’t drink, you condemn those who do. Just reassure them that to be your friend, they don’t have to give up the bottle. Many of my university friends were met in sober situations, some of whom I have never seen drunk. Ultimately, university culture does revolve somewhat

around alcohol consumption and yes, the clichés do have some truth to them. This is part of the university experience and you may have to tolerate it. According to the 2011 student drinking survey held by studentbeans.com, 20% of students revealed they couldn’t survive a term without drinking alcohol with 47% of non-drinking students wishing drinking alcohol wasn’t such a big part of university life. Initially you may feel pressure but the only person who can overcome that is you. No one really cares how much you’re drinking but if you treat alcohol as taboo, you may just isolate yourself.  Be open to it, go to the odd night out, experience the other events the societies hold or just stay in with some mates. No one wants to hang out with the person who makes alcohol awkward but everyone loves someone who gets involved. If you’re looking for the answer “it’s all an exaggeration, no one gets drunk at university” then you’re looking in the wrong place. The fact is many students like to drink, it is a great way to socialise as the alcohol generally removes people’s nervousness. However, that is not to say that you will have no fun at all. Put yourself out there. Most people are just trying to impress each other but soon will become comfortable enough to drink as much or as little as they choose; why not start early? Email contact: features@wessexscene.co.uk


DEGREES: More than just A-Level up? / Kerry McIntyre /

/ Image by Rebbecca Hopkinson /

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University provides hundreds of opportunities and events to keep students entertained but what about the reason we are all here: the education? Kerry McIntyre asks students, old and new, about the changes and possible complications the step up to degree level can pose and how to get the best out of your degree.

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n March this year, it was announced that the overall level of students dropping out of university had increased by 13%: from 28,210 to 31,755. This alarming rate is estimated to represent around £95million in wasted tax payers’ money, which was lent to these students for tuition fees alone! One of the main reasons attributed to this high dropout rate is the vast difference between degrees and A-levels, with students being unable to cope with the academic transition. These differences are discovered in the first year so most degree disciplines do not even include these results in the students’ final grade. This is meant to give them time to adjust to the alterations in both lifestyle and learning style, but what actually are these differences? We asked

current students for their opinions on what they found to be the biggest changes between studying for A-levels and for a degree. According to Computer Science student Robin Johnson, the most significant shift he experienced was “the expectation that you have to keep up with course content independently and study it yourself to sufficient depth for one large module exam”. He is not alone in thinking this, many people comment on the movement away from the spoon-feeding of school, to an environment where they are left to their own devices; to find out if they will sink or swim. Robin also commented that this is made worse as students do not “always leave the lecture room fully understanding everything”. Humanities student Laurie

McGee commented that, for him, the biggest difference was “the idea that lectures are only an introduction to a topic”. Many lectures set large book lists, which students are expected to read in their own time, without any guidance or anyone keeping tabs on them. Furthermore, the language in these books can often be a technical step-up, leaving students feeling overwhelmed and resenting the reading. For other students, such as Jon North who studies Population Geography, they find the biggest difference to be the independent study aspect of their courses. He comments that “you need to be able to self-motivate for your degree, otherwise the work can build up and overwhelm you”. This is shown through the expected hours of dedication per week for academic work.


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For A-levels, most students study towards three to four subjects, with four-five contact hours a week for each and the expectation they spend 3 hours outside of school reading or revising. This totals around 30 hours a week, with the majority of this time being spent in a classroom. In contrast, most university modules expect students to dedicate a total of 100 hours to each module, which amounts to a total of around 40 hours per week, with much of the time appointed to selfstudy. That said, History undergrad Alex Rodgers, comments on how he felt that his first year was actually a step down from A-level, requiring much less of his time. “At A-Level we spent two solid months drafting and re-drafting, reading and brainstorming ideas, but at University, the core module lectures tended to expect that we knew nothing about the subject or indeed how to read and write! So, we in turn put less effort in, as we felt a lot less was required from us”. However, Alex did then remark that it doesn’t stay that way: “second year is definitely a step up in terms of preparation and commitment to the subject and means lots of fun reading”. Another difference is the teaching styles. A-levels are taught in classes, usually consisting of around 20-25 people, with a first name basis relationship with the teacher and the ability to ask questions. At university, for many subjects the main source of information comes from lectures, which are held in huge lecture

theatres with upwards of 50 students in one room. They are then “lectured” at without the ability to ask in-depth questions. Although many subjects have seminars taught alongside these, there is much less scope to ask questions than classes and there is a greater pressure on the individual to discover the answers from books or peers, as opposed to from their lecturer. James Prance, an engineering undergraduate, told us the biggest change he found was that “examination’s standards and styles differ completely”. Similarly, Sasha Watson, a Politics and Economics student, found that: “At University you really need to learn to take all the material at hand, to be creative with the different points of view and to manipulate them into a coherent argument, knowing that there isn’t necessarily a right answer, as opposed to correctly listing facts and regurgitating information at A-levels.” It seems that gone are the days where students are able to grab a copy of a past paper with a mark scheme and simply learn it. There is no set structure and a lot of it is down to the module leader; they set the exam and they set the style. Some students, such as music and film undergraduates move to university and find that they don’t even have any exams at all, and that their courses are 100% assignments. There are, however, some similarities between A-level and degree. For example, most degrees and A-levels examine students at the same time of year ( January and June)

and most students find that the content of their courses, obviously, get harder as the progress through the stages. It’s not a complete change in structure, but many students still find themselves ‘unlearning’ some of their A-level habits. Geography student, Alex Bees notes that when studying for both, you get what you give. “What you put in is what you get at A-Level if you do more you get a better understanding, same at degree level”. This seems to be the truest statement for both. If you want to excel in anything academic, the only thing that follows through from GCSE, A-level, degree and even other disciplines, is that the students who perform best are more than likely the students who have put in the most amount of effort. Although there are all of these vast differences, they are usually offset by the fact that students have chosen to study their degree because they have a keen interest in it, and the first year transition period allows them to adapt to these stark changes. As Bret Ware puts it, no matter how big the changes the “work balance is very important, especially when you’re meeting new people and forging a life of your own”. Don’t stress, and if you’re really struggling, be sure to contact First Support through Student Services for help.

Email contact: features@wessexscene.co.uk


7 / WS / Science & Enviroment ///

SUSTAINABILITY AND ME ///

/ Sophie Van Eetvelt /

The University of Southampton has just become one of eight universities to become a part of the Green Academy scheme run by the NUS here the Sophie takes a looks at what its all about.

The Green Acad-

emy is an initiative founded by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA). Its principal aim is to embed sustainability in every aspect of universities. Southampton is one of only 8 Higher Education Institutions in the UK to become a Green Academy. As University of Southampton students, we are at the centre of the move toward sustainability. With over 20,000 of us studying across all campuses we have great potential to drive and make a real change for the better. When we think of the word ‘sustainability’ many people associate it with solely the physical environment - so it may come as a surprise to many to find that sustainability actually incorporates a wide range of topics; democracy, governance, equality and economics amongst many more. Therefore sustainability is relevant to every single one of us in one way or another. The Green Academy initiative is helping the University to become sustainable at its CORE; that’s Curriculum, Operations, Research and Experience. Making these

four areas sustainable involves everything from offering Curriculum Innovation modules in sustainability to reducing the University’s carbon emissions, from acting as a Fairtrade University and ensuring our research contributes to making Southampton globally responsible. This view of sustainability takes us far beyond just recycling and switching lights off (though these are important too!). You may be aware that you should try to minimise your impact on the environment but don’t know where to start or what is ‘in it for you.’ Being at university provides the perfect opportunity to start making more sustainable choices in everyday life. Our lifestyle habits have not yet become ingrained; we enjoy the flexibility of being a student and life on a student loan means we have a truly vested interest in saving money and being efficient. The Green Academy aims to help students become aware of what they can do and why they should do it. The University’s Vice-Chancellor recognises the importance of developing graduates who are literate in

/ Image by Jacob Coy /

issues surrounding sustainability, equipped for the emerging the green economy and are globally aware. More and more graduate employers desire employees who are ‘sustainability-literate’ and over 80% of first-year UK higher education students (your future competitors) view sustainability skills as important to future employers. Engaging with sustainability whilst at university will benefit you personally, as well as contributing to others around you on an international scale. You can help Southampton become more responsible globally, reduce your impact on the planet, become an active member of society and improve your employability. This is what sustainability means to us at the University of Southampton. To find out more about what the Green Academy do and how you can get involved visit southampton.ac.uk/susdev/ green_academy/ or email Sophie Van Eetvelt (sve1g10@ soton.ac.uk) Email contact: Science@wessexscene.co.uk


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/ Claire Critchley /

SCIENCE BEHIND HANGOVERS AND THE CURES

Hangovers are a common and often frequent part in almost every student’s life. Some may say there are no real cures for a jesticle too many but science has proved them wrong and this article gives some handy hangover prevention tips as well as explaining why hangover make us feel so ill.

A great night out

often comes with a horrendous and debilitating hangover the next morning which makes the sufferer vow never to drink again, until the next time. Everyone knows that too much alcohol is the cause but not everyone knows the science behind avoiding a hangover and what it is about alcohol, other then the vast quantities consumed, that causes them. Those lucky enough not to have experienced a hangover, common symptoms often include nausea, dizziness, a pounding head and a dry mouth. All of these are caused by the intake of excessive toxins found in alcohol. Alcohol is converted in the liver from ethanol to acetaldehyde which is the chemical that causes nausea and headaches. The liver tries to break this substance down with an enzyme called glutathione into a less harmful substance but there is a limited concentration of this enzyme in the liver. Therefore, when you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, there is more acetaldehyde than glutathione, produc-

ing a hangover, also causing dehydration. It stops a chemical called vasopressin from telling the kidneys how much water they have and therefore the kidneys send most of the water to your bladder, meaning that you need the toilet more. This process can start as early as your second drink, but when you stop consuming alcohol the brain realises how much water you actually have and notices that you are dehydrated. To compensate for this, it takes water from the brain and transports it to the liver, causing a shrinkage of the brain away from its membrane - causing headaches, the sensation of a pounding head and a dry mouth. Once you stop drinking alcohol, a natural stimulant is no longer suppressed and you toss and turn in your sleep making you feel more tired when you wake up. As for cures and prevention: •

Before you go out, eat fatty foods and carbs which provide a longer time for your body to process toxins in alcohol. Fatty foods slow down the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and

reduce stomach irritation (i.e. vomiting), whilst carbohydrates prevent low blood sugar and ease nausea. Drink water before, during and after drinking to reduce the amount of water stolen from the brain and increase amount of toxins discharged through urine. Drink light-coloured drinks such as vodka and gin - darker drinks contain more congeners which have extra toxic chemicals for the body to process. Don’t drink fizzy drinks or beer before other alcohol as the bubbles caused by carbonation increases the uptake in alcohol producing a worse hangover For breakfast the following day eat eggs as they contain cysteine which is known to help break down alcohol toxins, or a banana which is high in potassium and increases brain function . Wash it down with fruit juices these contain fructose for energy and they also increase the excretion of toxins from tissues.

There you have it science can prevent you from having a hangover and wasting money on products which claim to prevent hangovers.


/// Politics / WS / 10

WHO ARE THE MISSING FRESHERS?

/ Charlotte Harwood /

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Party politics, bickering universities, and angry academics. These are not the first things Freshers will think about when considering what influenced their choice of university. For this year’s intake of students, the political decisions shaping the future of our generation have come clearly to the fore. This year Southampton had a startling drop of 7.2% in applications, managing to only recruit 600 fewer undergraduates than last year. Who are these missing undergraduates, and why did government policy affect why they did not choose Southampton?

The lure of a degree

is not only the promise of 3 or more years of hedonistic fun alongside the chance to study what one is passionate about, but also the promise of a “graduate job”: something higher paid and more respected than a continuation of the part-time shop assistant job which funded weekends during sixth form. This seemingly inevitable occurrence negates the intimidating assortment of debt which these years accumulate, and with easily available loans from the government, banks and perhaps parents, students can leave the worrying about debt until after they graduate. So what happens when the sheer amount of debt students take on becomes too hard to push to the back of your mind? £27,000 in tuition fees alone, over 3 years, is a figure hard to ignore. Include maintenance loans and inter-

est, and ignoring any other costs which may occur, the average student beginning at the University of Southampton this year is looking at debts spiralling into over £50,000. According to The Complete University Guide’s debt calculator, a student on a 3 year course with £9000 a year tuition fees and the basic maintenance loan will land a graduate with a debt of £40, 136. This figure includes some of the interest beginning to accrue, which continues to build up, so by at the end of repayments a degree could have cost students a whopping £56, 409. If a student is lucky enough to graduate into a job starting at £25,000 paid annually and rising, the full debt will take an incredible 24 years and 6 months to pay off. Over 30 years this does mean only 3.3% of earnings, yet the sheer length of time and amount of

money facing students would be enough to make anyone from a non-privileged background think twice about spending 3 years studying at university. The flip side to the new debt system is that those whose graduate jobs are not as highly paid, for example with a starting salary of £19,000, will end up paying only £22.060 of their loan back. This amounts to only 2% of their earnings over the next 30 years, and is considerably less than the amount of money they borrowed from the government to fund their studies. The fact that you’re reading the Wessex Scene right now means that either you were brave enough to take this debt, or perhaps you are an older student feeling a combination of smugness and relief that you avoided the hike on fees. But what about those students who are missing from our midst? Students


11 / WS / Politics ///

who perhaps felt too intimidated by the figure of £9000, regardless of the repayment plans – to even consider going to university? The University has reported that the number of applicants this year was a healthy 34, 422. A large number even for a university of Southampton’s size, yet there was still a drop of 7.2%. In terms of students, 2, 657 fewer students decided to apply to Southampton this year. Obviously many factors may have influences these figures, and perhaps Southampton itself has fallen in popularity for other reasons. Yet it cannot be a complete coincidence that the number of applicants fell so sharply after fees were so greatly increased. Potentially, there are 2, 657 students who reconsidered higher education because the debt was just too intimidating.

“This has been a cruel year for the 2012 intake”

Many politicians foresaw the effect a rise in fees would have on students’ attitudes towards attending university. Nick Clegg himself was famously strongly opposed to tuition fees, saying in April 2010 that “I think it is wrong to saddle young people with £25,000 worth of debt, before they’ve even taken a first step in adult life...It’s so important that people believe what we say and that’s why we have come up with this costed plan, which would remove all tuition fees in 6 years.” Obviously his plan never quite came to fruition there, a decision which saw the Lib Dem’s anger many who voted for them.

T

he politics of university prestige: The number of applications, although there was a sharp drop which is not to be ignored, was described by the University as a “healthy” number in terms of the University itself. Placing worries about those students who put off attending university aside, a more concerning figure is that Southampton has recruited 600 fewer undergraduates than last year. Vice Chancellor Don Nutbeam described this figure as a “wake-up call for the entire university community”. In an e-mail to staff, Nutbeam said “This has been a cruel year for the 2012 intake who have had to deal with increased fees, tough A-level marking, and a one-year artificial set of controls on university access.” Although the drop in students enrolled is echoed by other British Universities, many other British universities actually saw an increase in the number of undergraduates they recruited. Under government reforms, universities are allowed to recruit an unlimited number of the highest performing students (those with AAB or above), allowing some universities to expand. However, it was predicted in March by Michael Farthing, vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex, who warning that those AAB students without places would be taken by expanding universities: ‘a few self-declared elite institutions able to rely on historical brand prestige to attract applications’. Those universities who lost out have been identified as a ‘squeezed

middle’: those unable to attract these top students, but still able to charge the highest fees. Is Southampton part of this ‘squeezed middle’? Certainly our university has a name for itself, recently ranked in 73rd place in the QS World University Rankings and with an Engineering department which is world renowned. Yet the figures show that fewer high achieving students chose this university, whilst Bristol University hope to expand by 600 undergraduates and UCL by 300. Is it just our University itself that needs to step up its game? Figures from A-Level results also indicate than a drop in the number of A and A*s achieved may have had a part to play, lowering the number of AAB students in Clearing drastically. This drop in results is the first in 20 years, and the government have responded by announcing that next year universities will be able to enrol an unlimited number of students gaining ABB, lowering the boundary for those classed as the ‘highest ranking pupils’. So try and take comfort in the slightly disconcerting fact that you could have twenty-four and a half years to pay off this debt accumulated through fees, Jesticles and all the things in between. Your years at University are going to be some of the best in your life, so remember to get your money’s worth! Email contact: politics@wessexscene.co.uk


THE IMMORAL GAMES? ///

/ Alexander Green /

Forget the G4S debacle, empty seats, missiles on roofs and the ’Zil lanes’; there was a lot more wrong with London 2012 than you might think.

Throughout their

history, the Olympics Games have always been more than just about sport. From the Munich massacre to Cold War Boycotts to the Black Power Salute, the games are often seen a unique opportunity to air political and social griefs on a world stage. Indeed, it could be said the Olympics likes to consider themselves as a tool for furthering world peace and social justice. Yet, despite these grandiose beliefs, the Olympic is nothing more than a commercial sporting event; when it comes to its chosen sponsors and partners, ethics do not matters. McDonalds & Co. The commercialisation and sponsorship of the Olympics, first seen with the 1984 L.A. Games, was a necessary step in order to help the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and host nations foot the ballooning cost of the games. However, many of the chosen partners conflict with the Olympic Charter; the idea that McDonalds and Coca-Cola, a fast food chain and sugary drinks company respectively, sponsor the world’s biggest sporting event is both

hypocritical and obscene. It meant that the largest-ever McDonalds was situated in the Olympic Park - the biggest of four being over 3,000 square metres with 1,500 seats - which sends the wrong message to people. Indeed, rather than showing the different groups of food needed and the healthy lifestyle used by the athletes, it creates a dangerous tie between fast food, fitness and sporting ability. For children, this is an especially dangerous link, with one in three in Britain either overweight or obese by the age of nine. Six out of every ten UK adults are also in the same classification. Despite claims that the London Organising Committee for London 2012 (LOCOG) did not chose these sponsors; many of the local partners, such as Heineken and Cadbury’s, did not send out a better message. A Toxic Legacy On 2nd December 1984, a toxic gas began leaking from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India. Over forty tons of the gas was released into the atmosphere, spreading over the surrounding area of towns,

villages and fields. The leak became the worst industrial disaster ever, killing over 7,000 people. 20,000 people died in the aftermath of the catastrophe with another 100,000 experiencing significant health problems. During the Vietnam War, the US dumped over eighty billion litres of a chemical weapon, Agent Orange, on the country; equalling around six pounds per head of population. The dioxin is extremely toxic to all forms of life, causing stillbirths, miscarriages, cancer as well as mental disabilities. 4.8 million children born in the area of the chemical’s use suffer from defects like missing eyes and limbs, extra fingers and toes and bulbous shaped heads. Fast forward twentysix years and a company called Dow Chemical sign a $100 agreement with the IOC to become Olympic Sponsors for the next ten years. The company sponsors the London 2012 games; in the middle of the majestic Olympic park lies is its standout contribution with a £7million fabric wrap for the 80,000 centrepiece stadium. Three different tales,


but where is the link? In 2001, Dow Chemical became owners of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), who owed the Bhopal plant at the time of the disaster. They also produced Agent Orange and were uniquely aware of the harmfulness of the product, but failed to inform the US government to avoid regulation. In the wake of the both, Dow has refused to clean up either sites. The air as well as local water sources remained polluted, with thousands still depending on them to live. Compensation has also been limited, with a small fund of £288 million for Bhopal and nothing for the victims in Vietnam; nor have any employees of the organisation been held to account. The company knows it has a duty to the many victims; this was seen by a Wikileaks release that showed how the company had paid a private intelligence firm to spy

on Bhopal activists. The sponsorship of the games was also seen as a way for Dow to legitimize its claim of no responsibility and to improve its public image. It worked; LOCOG went as so far as to deny the link between Dow Chemical and Bhopal, whilst David Cameron referred to Dow as a “very reputable company”. The reality, however, is far different. As Britain partied (and Dow got richer), thousands of victims continued to live in inhumane, dangerous conditions, suffering from deformities and other health problems. London 2012 was tied to two of the worst human rights abuses of the 20th and 21st century.

ATOS

The Paralympics is there to show the best out of, as well as to help confront prejudice towards, disabled persons. Yet, in what seemed like a cruel joke, one of the sponsors of this year Paralympic games was a corporation called Atos; the company currently taking thousands of disabled people off the welfare system. The work capability assessment, where those on benefits are ranked on points, has attracted widespread condemnation with many extremely ill people deemed “fit for work”. The charity Mind

has described it as both “unfit” and as having a “detrimental impact” on those assessed. This is no exaggeration either; some of those that have failed the test are nowhere near being able to work and are being forced into jobs purely as there is no other option without state support. For many, it threatens their very existence by forcing themselves to work, with several driven to suicide and death. Figures show that as many as 32 people a week, since April, have been dying after failing the assessment. A company that sponsored an event showcasing the best disable athletic talent out there simultaneously threatened - and continues to threaten - the every day livelihood of persons with mental health problems, illness and disability. . The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games were an unqualified riproaring success; the country’s cynical expectation of national embarrassment, failed athletes and rain-filled stadiums turn out out to be a far cry from what we got. Instead, a inspiring Opening Ceremony kicked things off, Team GB did the business and, most surprisingly, the weather held out. It was arguably the greatest ever Olympic Games. Yet, behind the surface; commercial greed, shady sponsors, histories of human rights abuses and a threatened legacy leave the games tarnished. Email contact: politics@wessexscene.co.uk

/ Image by Jacob Coy /


15 / WS / Winchester ///

WINCHESTER SURVIVAL GUIDE / Caroline Raby /

/ Amy Harwood /

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Congratulations on getting a place at Winchester School of Art! You are about to begin the most exciting and unforgettable three years of your life and our Survival Guide aims to help you get the most out of you start in Winchester!

Nightlife:

The nightlife in Winchester is inexpensive and always a good laugh. The main clubs are Pitcher & Piano and Bar 3one. On the right days these places play great and varied music and have cheap drinks offers. If that’s not your scene, try out some of the interesting and unusual pubs Winchester has to offer: The Railway is a pub/club that champions new music acts and offers all manners of entertainment, including open-mic nights, Silent Discos, retro video games and a ‘Burlesque Discotheque’ every Friday! It is the most unique spot in town and it is

“The nightlife is inexpensive and always a good laugh” well worth checking out. There is also the WSA Student Union located on campus which holds various themed nights. A firm favourite is ‘Detention’ and if you like rock music it’ll be a winner with you too. Try different

places early on to get a sense of where you do and don’t like, and chat to second and third years or check out the Facebook Pages to find out what is hot on what night.

Shopping:

For shopping, head to the Brooks Centre and the High Street. Winchester boasts various high street shops, unique boutiques and bustling markets selling all types of wares. There’s also a fantastic vintage fair held here regularly. For your food shopping, the best place to go is Tesco Extra which is a 5 minute walk from Erasmus Park, with everything you could want from bread to printers.

Local Events:

Winchester is a special place to live as it’s such an old, traditional city. A real gem is the Cathedral, a beautiful building you cannot miss. Many events happen here throughout the year: Bonfire night brings fireworks, a huge bonfire and a march of torches through the high street. The Christmas

Market is a firm favourite in Hampshire; dozens of stalls set up in the Cathedral grounds sell unique gifts and delicious food and there’s even an outdoor ice-rink! During the good weather the Cathedral is a lovely place to sunbathe and relax and a big folk festival is held over the May Bank Holiday weekend. Travelling to Southampton: Many of you will want to visit nearby Southampton for a night out, a spot of shopping or to explore the city. The easiest way to travel during the day is by train. Get yourself a 16 -25 railcard if you plan to make trips frequently, as it really cuts the cost of the journey. Once in Southampton you can travel to different areas, student halls and the main campus by Uni-Link buses which are regular and inexpensive (£2 for single, £3 for day ticket). If you’re going into Southampton for a night out, the National Express coach is the best option as they run into the early hours, just ensure you don’t miss the coach you’ve booked!


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“Winchester boasts various high street shops, unique boutiques and bustling markets” “Winchester is a special place to live as it’s such an old, traditional city”

Freshers Tips and Tricks:

Familiarise yourself with your surroundings as much as possible, research the geography and history of Winchester a little and listen to those who know the area. You’ll be bombarded at halls with flyer’s promoting clubs, taxi firm numbers and take-away

menus. Sift thorough what’s useful and what isn’t and make sure you keep the numbers you might need. If you’ve got friends studying on main campus in Southampton, get their advice on where to go and how to get there. All I can say is grab every opportunity with both hands

and just enjoy the whole experience, because remember - you’re only a Fresher once!

Email contact: winchester@wessexscene.co.uk / Image by Marta Beltowska /


FAIR: An Alternative to Fees

/ David Mendoza-Wolfson /

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David Mendoza Wolfson argues that the current student fees system is unfair and unfit for purpose. Here he suggests a FAIR alternative.

Two years ago,

when the bill was passed to increase fees to a minimum of £6000 a year for state Universities in England, I was the Treasurer of the Conservative Society (I’m now Chairman). I am not proud to tell you that I cheered as I heard the response. I was a supporter of the bill because I saw it as the best way of funding higher education. I knew that debt was bad, but I saw no better system of paying for university, so I believed that the student should have to pay for their education themselves. However, I was wrong to think that, and fortunately over the summer I was able to help work on a scheme which proposes an alternative way to pay for a degree. I had the privilege of working on a scheme called FAIR – “Funding with Affordable Income-based Repayments. It is a radical alternative to the conventional methods for funding higher education. I chose to work on it because, having read about it and re-considered my previous views; I decided that it is the best way to fund students through university.

FAIR is progressive and debt free, and it aligns the interests of the university with that of the student, so encouraging the academics to ensure the education they receive has real value for the long term. Finally, it should reduce the burden on the taxpayer, so the government won’t be able to claim that students are just asking for a hand-out. The way it works is that, when a student decides to offer a place on a degree level course, they have the option either to pay (upfront or by taking out a loan) or they can sign a FAIR “contract”. The terms of the FAIR contract, which are set by government and are identical regardless of the age of the student or the course or university, stipulate that in exchange for a fully paid for university education, the student will pay back to the university a fixed percentage of their salary for a fixed period of time while they are working. The university can either hold onto their FAIR contracts, or they can offer them for sale to investors such as pension funds, so that they get immediate payment even

though the graduate payments will be well into the future. This means that the better a university is, the more pension funds will pay for its FAIR contracts and so it is rewarded for doing a good job and can expand. This will improve how universities treat their graduates, and they will endeavour far harder to get their alumni top jobs in order to maximise their appeal to more students and ‘investors’ alike. These pension schemes have billions of pounds to invest in low risk schemes such as FAIR, whilst students would be doing a social good by helping to provide for the elderly. It’s the perfect intergenerational transfer. It would also mean that a large part of university funding would no longer need to go through government, saving taxpayers a lot of money. FAIR would allow universities to be free of red tape (no more ridiculous fines for accepting ‘too many’ people) and they would try to find ways to make themselves even more appealing. As far as I see it, FAIR has the positives of both the debt scheme and the graduate tax without having the nega


/// Opinion / WS / 18

tives of either. There are two mainstream views for how university should be funded. The first and most widely implemented is the fees system. Realistically this system is a debt based system. It relies on student loans to help students fund their way through university, putting them in considerable debt (the majority of Freshers reading this will leave the university with around £36,000 of debt) without certainty of jobs. The system does not provide students with any more than a service; once the university has collected money it has no incentive to keep spending that on its graduates and will likely only contact them in the future for alumni donations. As well as this, the payments system is not progressive. The current system has payment bands, and whilst low income earners are further subsidised by the government, middle and high taxpayers pay the same amount of money. This means that middle income earners feel the most ‘pain’ as it is they who pay the highest percentage of their earnings back. This system is not fair for these people, and it is not fair for any graduates as it burdens them to tens of thousands of pounds of debt without truly helping them achieve their potential. The other system is the graduate tax. It is positive in that only graduates pay for their education. However as attractive as the idea of a “free” education seems, somebody must pay, the academics aren’t going to work for nothing. If it’s not just graduates paying,

it must mean non-graduates, who are generally poorer, subsidising graduates who are generally richer. This is not easy to justify. Although a graduate tax like FAIR avoids debt, it leaves graduates at the idea of a government who could increase the tax rate in the future. While a student could sign up when the tax is, for example,  9% for 20 years, a new government could change it a few years later to, say, 20% for 30 years. FAIR contracts, on the other hand, are contracts - and once both sides (student and the university) have signed, the terms are fixed. Obviously government could introduce new terms for a new set of students, but all students would know the terms that could face them when they signed up and once signed the terms could not be changed. It is my belief that those who want to go to university should be able to, and should not worry about money. The current scheme clearly puts off those from lower-income backgrounds and that is not what education should be about. Nor should the payment for higher education be as uncertain as it would be under a graduate tax. I believe that we should support that idea of FAIR, because it really is a fair deal for future students. It seems appalling to me that at the same time as lecturing everyone on how awful debt is, we are simultaneously straddling future generations with thousands of pounds of it. Student surveys show that people feel as though they

are getting less for their money now. I think that people should pay for what they get from university, and FAIR is a good way to measure that ‘value added’. You pay back a fair amount of what you earned. If we are looking for progressive ways to fund higher education in the future we must not simply oppose the current system but we must also back a viable alternative. That alternative is not lower fees and it is not a graduate tax. If you ask me, that alternative is FAIR. Email contact: opinion@wessexscene.co.uk


19 / WS / Opinion ///

HUMANITIES STUDENTS: Getting Less for their Money? / Luke Goodger/ ///

Why do the Southampton University humanities students not get value for money?

That feeling of

waking up and knowing you have an entirely free weekday ahead of you, or maybe even more than one... Yes, being a Humanities student - be it History, English or some other subject with minimal contact hours - is great. We get plenty of time which many would see as being ‘free’: something that I am personally not one to complain about when I’m surrounded by mates studying Engineering or Science subjects who have more contact hours in one day than I have in a month. I’m not exaggerating. As a history student, last term I had three hours contact time a week as I was doing modules which encouraged independent study and group work. However, my tuition fees are the standard £3000 plus and for all incoming freshers that’s now £9000. This is where my smile fades. How can a course which offers between three and eight hours contact time a week be worth that cost? The rhetoric often used by universities such as ours puts emphasis on the high cost of running a university, which is undoubtedly true. At Southampton the buildings and bursaries budgets closely

follow the £254 million spent on salaries. Furthermore, the university is redeveloping the Boldrewood Biomedical campus, a venture which is sapping a lot of the student fees away from other subject areas. In comparison, the total amount collected in fees is £174 million, whilst its overall budget is £452 million. Surely, however, the equipment, bursaries and hours spent on Science and Engineering subjects far exceed in number those offered to Humanities students, who would appear to just sit in classrooms and read books, activities which on the surface are less than costly endeavours. The university is taking the same fees from all ‘domestic’ students and redistributing them in a seemingly unfair manner, with more apparently being spent on the Sciencebased subjects. Further to this, I can’t find evidence of the existence of high achievement bursaries for Humanities subjects, whereas the top Science and Engineering students get around £1000 every year as a cash sum as a reward for their grades. On top of this, students in some subjects such as Chemistry get fully paid away

days to further their knowledge and a wider range of support services from the job and internship services at the university. Is this not unfair on Humanities students who pay the same fees? Personally I have mixed views about the rise in tuition fees this year, as all can see that the government and universities are feeling the squeeze just like everybody else, especially as investors do not view a university the same way as they would other businesses. However, it could be argued that those studying Humanities will feel the pressure more than those in other faculties, as potential students will think twice before investing money in their education when contact hours and job prospects at graduation are so average. This apprehension is reflected in the 7% fall in applications to Southampton University, a worrying statistic since one can only speculate that many students have been put off by the rise in tuition fees, especially those from less privileged backgrounds. Our university must make assurances that Humanities students will get better value for money as well as an assur


ance of more contact hours and group study periods, or I genuinely worry that the number of students studying subjects such as History will continue to decline. Already this year we have seen a 7% decrease in students attracted to History, an 11% decrease in

stong presence in societies and countless aspects of SUSU. Nevertheless, it is the lack of contact time and support that can leave Humanities

“7% fall in applications”

students more used to lie-ins and nights out than those on 9-5 courses: a truth you will never see me complaining about, but one that seems to put us at a disadvantage when it comes to competing in the job market. I don’t believe that History is any more valuable than a Science degree, but I am suggesting that if we pay the same as a scientist then we should also have the same amount of money invested in our chosen degree. History, English and Modern Language students might not have labs to work in or expensive equipment of Science students, and I do believe that reading towards a degree independently is really important, but I think that one to one sessions with lecturers would really help us to progress academically and would be further proof that the money we pay in tuition fees to the university is reinvested in our studies. The research I conducted over two days only confirmed my suspicions that our university is not providing equal education to everybody under its care, and I call on the university to respond quickly to a simple plea for Humanities students to get what they pay for and to not to be sidelined in favour of other subjects.

languages, and an 8% decrease in English and Classics throughout the UK. This is in stark contrast to subjects like Maths or Law, which seem to provide better value for money and have had an increased number of applications in a climate where students are more worried that ever about future job prospects. The university has provided me with most of the information I required, and provided information about the allocation of funding between Science and Humanities subjects. Truthfully, I do love our University, and I have had the best time of my life since I started here, but the pattern repeats itself throughout the UK ,with only the most elite establishments such as Durham and Oxbridge offering their students rigorous and full-time Humanities courses, just like ours should be. Can a course that only offers three hours contact time a week honestly be considered a full time course in comparison? Our university and SU offer hundreds of activities to be getting along with, and the hours of free time Humanities students are allocated accounts for their

“I had 3 hours contact time a week”

/ Sasha Watson /

Sasha Watson gives his opinion on “Why do the Southampton University humanities students not get value for money?”

To compare Hu-

manities to Engineering in terms of contact hours is not really doable because the nature of learning, the methods of assessment and the physical requirements to provide the courses are so different. There may well be an argument for more contact hours in Humanities and students should raise them with their course rep or Academic President but Humanities students also need to do more lengthy essays, read more journals and books and conduct more group work and presentations – meaning if there were more hours, it would impact their ability to do the other aspects of their course. Look at student data, Survey, Humanities students have been the happiest out of all the Faculties at Southampton for at least the past 3 years because the style of teaching and independent learning suits their way of working and interests whereas Engineering courses have been much more variable, which would suggest contact hours do not impact on the course satisfaction in anyway but actually it’s the whole course delivery, beyond just hours spent in a lecture theatre, that matter to students. 


BUDAPEDAL: 4 Boys, 4 bikes, 1 big destination. / Martin Blick/ ///

“ This will be used for important information that we want to be noticed first This will be used for important information that we want to be noticed first This will be used for important information that we want to be noticed first his will be used for important information that we want to be noticed first”

This is exactly what

I did, along with three other good university friends of mine. As a group we decided that this challenge would be to cycle from London, enveloped by the atmosphere of the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, to Budapest in Hungary which was a routed distance of around 1200 miles or 2000 kilometres, carrying anything we needed on our bikes. Furthermore we decided that we would raise a target value of £1000 to be split between one large and one local charity, specifically ‘Save the Children’ and ‘The Southampton Hospital Charity’. With the framework of our challenge set out, we cracked on with some more thorough organisation; in particular trying to find an airline which would let us return with four bicycles and organising a financial solution to suit us abroad. So, with our panniers packed, our custom jerseys emblazoned with our newly chosen team name, Budapedal, and navigation needs solved with the aid of a GPS equipped smart-phone and an

OpenCycleMaps app (and a good old fashioned road map just in case) we headed off into Europe at mid-day on the 28th of July not to return home for 33 days. Over the course of our trip I think each one of our team members found a favourite town or city on our journey; however I think that we could all agree that the Czech Republic as a whole, and Prague in particular, was definitely high up on everybody’s list. After crossing the border into the Czech Republic, the first two border towns we saw looked considerably run down and it lowered our expectations considerably. However, things rapidly changed around though with the ‘penzions’ (Czech for ‘hostel’) we stayed in getting better and better as we cycled through. Coupling a good night’s sleep with glorious sunshine and fantastic country side scenery made these some of the best cycling conditions of the whole trip. However it wasn’t just the cycling that the Czech Republic was good for. Many of the regions of Czech brew


/// Travel / WS / 22

local beers with Pilsner from Plzen being perhaps one of the best known. Converting from the local currency, the Koruna, it transpired that many of these beers cost around 50p a pint - though I hasten to add that they were considerably better beers than Jesters! Things got even better when we spent a rest day in Prague, with fantastic architecture, great views across the city, horse and carriage tours, bar crawls, a sex museum and a beer ‘museum’. The beer ‘museum’ had over thirty different beers on tap ready for you to try, ranging from hoppy to fruity, chocolate to liquorice and award winning to indie brewery beers. There was more than enough to keep anybody entertained for the week, let alone the day off that we had given ourselves. Hungary was also a favourite; it not only marked the end of our journey but the beginning of a six day holiday that started in Budapest, the nation’s capital. We moved south to Siofok for the beaches that surround the inland lake as well as enjoy-

ing some of the nightlife. We visited the natural spring baths similar to those found in Bath in the UK where we could rest and our weary muscles could recover with hot pools, saunas, steam rooms and massages. Our other big activity was taking part in a Free Walking Tour which lasted most of the day, and was a great way to learn about the best parts of Budapest in the short time we had. Another activity that I recommend was a visit the Museum of Terror which was set up to remind and educate people of Hungary’s terrible experience of Nazi occupation and Russian Communism which lasted until the 1990’s. In comparison to other members of our team, I can’t say that I have ever been a particularly avid cyclist - nor am I particularly well travelled. For me this trip was a great opportunity to get out and see a part of the world I had never explored before and I could not imagine a better way to have done it. By cycling through Europe as opposed to interrailing or simply flying I have

seen the continent in its best light, seeing parts of each country that other forms of transport would have ignored or simply missed all together. For anybody even half interested in a trip like ours I encourage you to go through with it as you won’t regret it. Europe is fantastic for cyclists and for those concerned about leaving the beaten track there is a Pan-European cycle route that takes you from Paris to Prague, which our route joined up with a couple of times during the trip. This was both well maintained and signposted but more importantly it is a fantastic challenge in its own right. This has been a fantastic taster of Europe and I am itching to go back, but with the start of the new university term approaching I shall have to keep my travel cravings at bay for a while; I suppose there is always next summer after all! Visit our blog for more info on our route: Budapedal.wordpress.com Email contact: travel@wessexscene.co.uk


DIETS, DISHES and DRUNKEN DEBACLES: The lifestyle of Fresher’s. / Emma Hobbs /

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Daunting. Overwhelming. Awesome; Just a few words that have been used to describe university life. For the average undergraduate, three years away from home can change lives. But what differences do students actually experience with this change of lifestyle? The Wessex Scene interviewed a few to find out…

When I first

started university one of the main things people warned me about – especially as I was self-catered – was a change in my weight. Over and over I had people, mainly my female friends, regaling stories about how much weight they had lost or gained in their first semester. No doubt this was due to a huge range of different diets and attitudes to food; some seeing a significant drop in decent fresh meals being cooked each day, others taking advantage of having control over their intake and hunting down the best takeaway options. One third year female History student said her lifestyle actually improved at uni, contrary to the popular belief that students exist on a diet of Pot Noodle, pizza and pasta: “I’m more in control of

my life, I eat more healthily and have less time to eat so I lose weight at uni and put it back on at home when I have nothing to do and eat out of boredom” However, I had others tell me that their newly found freedom as to what

“I’m more in control of my life, I eat more healthily and have less time to eat so I lose weight at uni and put it back on at home when I have nothing to do and eat out of boredom.” they could eat, and therefore an increase in their reliance upon fast food meant that they put on weight. A second year Psychology student claimed they were ‘the unhealthiest I

have ever been’, admitting to having bought value garlic breads and junk food when their funds had been spent on shopping rather than fresh, healthy food. ‘Why does this have to be the way in the first place?’ I asked myself. Are university students not capable of looking after themselves? Perhaps the sudden change from having meals cooked for you to having to cater for yourself is to blame. Indeed, when interviewed, a third year male History student commented that his mum gave him ‘good Irish cooking’ at home rather than eating ‘mainly pasta’ at university. When asked about his change of diet, he confessed that his pasta-biased menu was because he was ‘mediocre’ at cooking. Of course there is also the massive stereotype


that is always slung on the shoulders of students: we are known for being ‘big drinkers’ . Many a student at Southampton has blamed their deadline failures and embarrassing tagged photos on the much celebrated ‘Jesticles’ in Jesters or the Vodka Blues in Sobar, and certainly the prices help this. Where 50p pints and £1 shots are standard for student nights at university, clubbing at home can cause minor heart failure when you find receipts the next morning for £20 a round, as well as a host of lollipops and novelty glasses that you purchased from the loo attendant. A second year English student said ‘since coming home, I’ve realised how ridiculously overpriced drinks are! I’ve had to pre-drink more because the price of a Vodka Triple at Sobar doesn’t even cover a single at our local watering hole’. So could this drastic difference in prices actually be teaching students how to budget? Maybe that’s going a bit far, but it certainly leaves us something to think about. Finally, the thing that we’re all actually at university to do …studying! Nowadays, many sixth form colleges try their best to introduce us to university-level work and

marking schemes, and yet the jump to higher education still baffles many students. On a personal level, I found that I went from practically living in my sixth form library during study periods to running in and out of the university library as quickly as possible, mainly to avoid the sleepdeprived Undergraduates who had practically pitched up tents on level 3 of Hartley. I found it much easier to study within the four walls of my small university accommodation, merely because I could shut myself away until the

“Living with friends makes studying much harder. I’ll always find something that I could be doing instead.” early hours of the morning, when I finally stashed away the caffeine tablets and succumbed to sleep. This rather reclusive way of studying isn’t for everyone, however, many finding distractions outside of the library too much to handle. One second year Nurse said “Living with friends makes studying much harder. I’ll always find something that I could be doing

instead. For some, the university lifestyle certainly lives up to its stereotype. Several nights out, several late mornings, and several starch-ridden meals with high saturated fat contents. As a result of readily available, cheap alcohol and unhealthy food, many stumble into an inevitable cycle of hangovers and super noodlefilled diets without being presented with an imaginable way out. However, there comes a point in a student’s life when enough is enough, and dissertations and/or end of year projects call for a more substantial way of life. Ultimately, as one interviewee concluded, the university lifestyle gives a student no other option than to ‘grow up a bit and finally become a real adult’. Email contact: lifestyle@wessexscene.co.uk

Be sure to keep updated by checking out ... www.wessexscene.co.uk


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FRESHERS’ 2012: What to expect / Emma Chappell / ///

Two years ago, I was preparing to move to university and I thought I knew what to expect. The wild parties, the cooking experiments and the randomly generated housemates. There were some things, however, for which even three trips to IKEA couldn’t prepare me for.

A survey carried

out in 2011 by OpinionPoll found that a large proportion of Freshers are hopelessly unprepared for university life. A quarter admitted to never having budgeted for themselves, 20% had never washed their own clothes and slightly fewer (13%) had never ironed before. What’s more, 10% of new students had never even attempted washing up. At least first year guarantees distance from that beloved dishwasher. So what can this year’s fledglings expect post-nest? Does naïve inexperience really equal disaster or can this new environment bring out previously untapped potential? The answer, of course, is a bit of both. The bad news is that Freshers really can and do exist in conditions which science previously thought could never support human life. A study carried out by Leeds Metropolitan University found that floor washing was so infrequent in some student halls that the mop it-

self became a bacteria-infested weapon. When it came round to the annual spring clean, students were in fact lathering their kitchen floor with the home of more than 8 million bacteria per 100cm2. Who would have thought that those too lazy to even participate in the sole clean of the year may have been adopting the most prudent approach? However, beyond exposure to a wealth of new micro-organisms, some dubious fancy dress choices and a lethal dirty pint or two, Freshers are likely to mainly see the positives of their introductory week. Of those students who took part in our survey, the majority look back fondly on the experience, describing it as ‘completely overwhelming’, ‘ridiculous amounts of fun’ and ‘a fantastic start to university life’. Almost 70% cited meeting new people as the best aspect of their Freshers’ week, while exactly a quarter of respondents chose the partying as their favourite.

While the majority felt that the positives outweighed any niggling concerns, it would be wrong to suggest that university isn’t a big adjustment. Living away from home and managing quickly dwindling finances can be a strain; 2/3 of respondents selected these as the worst aspects of the week. Pressures such as these can make Freshers’ week seem, as one respondent put it, anticlimactic. Perhaps a good analogy is that Freshers’ week is like a wedding, and the university experience as a whole is like a marriage. Everyone loves a good wedding ceremony, but it is what follows that is most important. The NUS found that 74% of students enjoy their overall experience. Freshers’ week is the start of something unforgettable.


27 / WS / Lifestyle ///

Here are a few Freshers’ week stories our readers shared: “The very very first night I went out with my flat we were at Kinki (the old nightlife event back in the day!) when a particularly creepy guy latched onto my female flatmate (who was happily involved with a long-term boyfriend) and wouldn’t leave her alone - so my male flatmate, who we had all only known for about 7 hours, went over to dance with her and awkwardly pretended to be her other half until the sleazy guy left. You could say our close friendships grew from that moment!” (MA English Literary studies) “I went out for my birthday and my two friends decided to hug whilst both walking and inebriated - it ended with broken ribs and a broken finger. (BA History, Second year) The boys all wore kinky stockings for the back to school party!” (BA History and Archaeology, Third Year) “I lost my virginity on the very first night of Uni. When the girl I was with left to go back to her shared room in Glen Eyre, I forgot to tell her that to get out of my corridor in Halls you needed to press a button on the wall. She didn’t see the button, panicked when she couldn’t get out, and ran out of the fire escape. The fire alarm went off, and everybody had to assemble outside. I was completely naked bar a dressing gown, and this was how I met most of the people in my

/ Image by Amy Harwood /

block, including 2 of my current housemates.” (BA Film and English, Third Year) “There was an international student living on our corridor and we tried to invite him to every event to include him. Eventually, we managed to get him out one night, but within 20mins of being out, he went missing so we looked for him all over the place. The next day he returned to move everything out of his room and into private accommodation. To this day, we do not know what happened to him that night! In the end, he got to live with people he wanted and we got an awesome new roommate, but it’s still a mystery…” (BA English, Second Year)

“The first Wednesday, Monte had a ‘Rubix Cube’ night in the Boiler House where we had to enter the venue with clothes differently coloured like a Rubix cube, then swap clothes with people throughout the night until we could be all one colour... so by 3am, I was in some random flat in B Block wearing all orange, playing card games with people I’d never met before that evening! It summed up Freshers’ Week for me - you have to put yourself out there, but if you do, people will always be there with you.” (Alumnus, Philosophy and Maths) Email contact: lifestyle@wessexscene.co.uk


/ Jack Kanani /

ALL FLIGHTS CALLING AT SOUTHAMPTON ///

Freshers’ week is a busy time for any student, but when you have to leave your own country to do so, it becomes a whole new kettle of fish. International students from around the globe arrive at Southampton year on year filled with excitement, worry and hope for the time they spend here and their futures. This is, however, what makes higher education in the UK so special – whether you are an international, EU or UK student, you will all have the same unique experience.

Coming to univer-

sity is an amazing experience that allows you to interact with different people, adapt to new environments and develop linguistic skills. University means different things to everyone: for some, it represents the undergraduate path to their desired career, others may love to travel, but at the end of the day, everyone comes together for an experience that will only happen once in their lifetime. Husain Patel, SUSU International Officer has this to say to all new International students: “It’s a new culture away from home, new people around. Firstly, I would advise them not to panic. Before coming to Southampton, they should do their basic research about both International and Freshers’ week. These are the best times to get involved in university activities and make friends. They should just be themselves and try to adjust to the new environment. Get used to the new culture. It will

take a little time to adjust, but it is important to go with the flow, make friends and not panic.” “There are International students who become homesick, but they shouldn’t feel out of place at anytime. They should contact their respective International Societies, mingle with them, make friends, get involved with their activities to keep them occupied. They should not at anytime be nervous as the Student’s Union is always happy to help. The other concern is security but the Union has implemented new laws for the safety of all its students.” Unfortunately, in countries like India, universities do not offer combined undergraduate courses, which severely limits a potential student’s options. This restriction causes international students to flock to countries that are better able to provide a more rounded and varied education. This influx ensures that the UK remains one of the world’s

super-hubs of higher education, even in the face of the recent troubles faced by London Metropolitan University, said to be a solitary incident. Our little island boasts a host of historical, social and cultural aspects that still show through today in the way of beautiful medieval castles, old towns and sports like cricket and football. Although the UK has a long and rich history, it is also one of the most multicultural places in the world, saturated with a mixture of languages and cultures. The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a showcase of our history, music, language and literature, especially in the opening and closing ceremonies. The performances of all the athletes involved were incredible, demonstrating how people can come together and compete in good will and show sportsmanship towards each other on an international level.Chloe Green, SUSU VP Welfare & Communities, says


/// International / WS / 30

to those joining us from other countries this year that “SUSU has been working really hard over the last few years to meet the demand for international engagement from an ever-

“It will take a little time to adjust, but it is important to go with the flow, make friends and not panic.” growing cohort of students. We’re learning fast and I think it gets better every year. This year we have an International Welcome Week, which will be host to loads of day and night-time events, designed to be relevant, exciting and accessible to those students. We have orienteering, quizzes, karaoke, workshops: there’s loads! Within SUSU we have good means of representation too, with an International Officer and an International subcommittee, so specific issues can be raised there and that all gets fed back to me as VP Welfare and Communities. I’m not sure what international students will have to expect; it will depend where they come from, in terms of how much of a culture shift they’ll experience. Universally speaking, the weather will almost definitely be worse!” “The international crisis that London Met university is currently going through is a real wake-up call for unions across the country: International students are an easy target so they are being discriminated against and attacked. London Met has been made an example of and I doubt UKBA will stop there. We will protect

our students and ensure their rights are upheld here as best we possibly can. Nobody’s deporting our students, not on my watch. My advice to international students would be the same as to any new student: get involved! Try out as much as you can, join societies and clubs and get stuck in. Throw yourself into a new life in the UK and enjoy it. Also, buy an umbrella.” However, the UK is also infamous for its ‘drinking culture’, which leads to the perception that going on nights out is the biggest part of socialising for students. Don’t feel pressured though; student leaders and facilities in Southampton cater to all students, with hundreds of other activities available. The best advice I could give is to dive right in - trying anything and everything and getting involved. That doesn’t mean to go out drinking every night, but at least go outside, socialise, and immerse yourselves in the culture. International Freshers’ week begins a week before the equivalent for other students, allowing for some

time to get familiar with the unusual surroundings and experiences. It would be impossible to mention everything that you might need but the best thing to do is just to not worry and experience it!

“SUSU has been working hard over the last few years to meet the demand for international engagement from an ever-growing cohort of students...It will take a little time to adjust, but it is important to go with the flow, make friends and not panic.” VP Welfare and Communities Chloe Green Welcomes and advice from the Wessex Scene Editorial Team can be found at http://www.wessexscene.co.uk/ news/top-news/2012/08/16/ welcome-to-the-universityof-southampton-from-thewessex-scene-editorial-team/ Email contact: international@wessexscene.co.uk


31 / WS / Sport ///

WHY I LOVE SPORT AT UNIVERSITY

/ Nikhita Chulani / ///

University is an unparalleled experience, fondly recalled ‘as the best years of our lives’ by our parents. For me, one of the largest contributors to this amazing time has been my participation in university sport and I hope my reasons for loving it, will inspire you to get involved too!

Fun and friends

Pardon my momentary sentimentality and soppiness (the rest of my reasons for loving university sport won’t be so gushy I promise), but there is no doubt participating in sport at university will allow you to meet others with similar interests and develop friendships that will last your entire time at Southampton, and beyond. The social side of university sports, in my opinion, is unmatched anywhere else on campus. Although winning is brilliant and of course a high priority, it’s the unevenly matched pick-up games in the Jubilee sports hall, the times you crumble in circuits or under Amy’s (local

Schwarzenegger) instruction in body conditioning and the classic weekly socials at Jesters that I will remember the most. There really is nothing like pain and your first threelegged social to bond people for life.

Competition

Whether it is intra mural fixtures, league games or annual competitions, the opportunity to represent your university and strive towards success with your teammates and coaches is a rewarding experience that we will treasure long after graduating. These occurrences allow us the chance to not only win medals and trophies,

but also gain unforgettable memories to look back on, like Southampton’s annual slaying of Portsmouth at Varsity.

Tour

Furthermore, competing and attending tour, can be one of the best weeks of your time at university. Tour is essentially a repetition of your entire year with your squad squeezed into a few days, usually near a beach and without the unwelcome distraction of deadlines and such.

You don’t even have to be good… Even if you don’t have the


/ Image by Zahra Warsame /

Bunfight: 26th September 2012, Highfield Campus. Sports Taster Weekend 29th-30th September 2012, Wide Lane

greatest athletic prowess, you are certain to find a university club or intra mural team you will seamlessly fit into! Sports at university are great, they allow you to keep fit and stay relaxed, all while enjoying yourself, so the Athletic Union is all about making sure no one feels ostracised and trying to involve everyone. Clubs and teams make a conscious effort to cater to all abilities, integrate every level of player and offer each person the time to improve and an opportunity to represent their team.

Choice and freedom

The AU offers everything from skydiving to sailing and tennis to caving. Everything you’ve

played, considered trying or fantasised about tackling, is well within your reach and what you choose is entirely up to you. The choice is almost overwhelming, but if you do come across a sport that isn’t provided in one of the seventy plus clubs in the AU, students are encouraged to introduce such activities themselves.

and the ability to participate in any intra mural sport or club training held at their facilities. In addition to that, AU and university clubs set their own membership fees, but these tend to be as low as possible, because the primary aim of most clubs are to increase participation and development, not profit.

Value for money

I could quite easily continue telling you many more reasons why I love university sport, but the only way for you to really know is to try it yourself ! It is a decision I’m sure you won’t regret.

All the amazing sports on offer come with the benefit of being very reasonably priced. A yearlong Sport and Wellbeing membership costs only £130 and with it you are granted full access to the gym, swimming pool, fitness classes

Email contact: sport@wessexscene.co.uk


SPORT AT SOUTHAMPTON :

Breaking the Mental Barrier / Richard Windsor /

///

The beauty of being at university (other than hopefully enhancing your future job prospects), is that it allows a platform for all of us to be anything we want to be; from a musician to an artist, a scientist or journalist, or even a competitive athlete. It’s not the pinnacle of any of these areas by any means, yet countless talents form and grow within the confines of the mini-society that encapsulates us during our tenure here.

University sport

however, is a topic which rarely holds unanimous opinion. It’s often viewed from afar as a laddish, crass world where bizarre drinking forfeits and public displays of nudity are considered the norm, and for anyone who doesn’t enjoy drinking through a tube and getting their arse out at each available opportunity, it can be a daunting and off-putting world to enter. However, those who are integrated firmly within their respective clubs would probably tell you they couldn’t imagine university without it. Like all things though, the undesirable generalisations suffer little resemblance to the diverse majority of the 75 clubs which grace the University of Southampton’s Athletic Union, and most – if not all – warmly encourage students of any ability to join. For a Fresher (or any student) who is looking to

join a new club, there is often a personal barrier to overcome before enough courage can be summoned to attend a training session or meeting. This barrier is a purely mental state, and generally exists in those of us who have the athleticism of a confused hippo. It’s the apprehension that you won’t be as good as most of the people there, and that they’ll probably realise this and won’t accept you (though they almost certainly will). But this barrier in any case, is one which many of the newbies and the inexperienced in sport struggle to overcome, and in this instance the clubs and the student’s union must work together to ensure breaking this barrier is as easy as possible. Fear not though, for good news is just around the corner. Beat this barrier and you’ll live a life so social that you’ll forget you even do a degree. Wednesdays will no longer just be ‘that day before Thursday’ or as many call it:

‘that day after Tuesday’. It’ll be the time when you get together with those people from the pub and throw a ball around, or run a really long way, or fight one another, or any number of things. You’ll probably get a hoody, which will say what you do on the back, so everyone knows what a winner you’ve become. You’ll go to a variety of new places, meet and compete against a plethora of new people, make friends you’d never expect to have and make rivals you’ll always want to beat. All this and you’ll find yourself forgetting how hard it was to beat your own personal barrier and get where you are in the first place. Just try and hold on to that memory though, for the newbies next year. ‘How do I get involved though?!’ I hear you cry. In the face of a growing call for a more accessible routes to sport at university, some clever dick invented taster sessions, which are a great way of get


/// Sport / WS / 34

ting to know people in the club (even if you’re a bit shy to begin with) and finding out if you even like the sport, or if it’s just that Olympic inspiration that’s got you going. These tend to feature around fresher’s week, so getting to one may be a good idea if you’re interested. ‘But what if I miss the taster sessions?!’ I hear you continue. Well there’s still time, in fact you can start at any time of the year. Most of the clubs have Facebook pages that you can join freely or failing that, the AU website will have contact details for them, so you can arrange to get involved. Warning: this will take a more proactive attitude. Best of all though, there’s the Bun Fight (which is a real thing). After coming

to terms with there being no buns at a bun fight, you’ll find that there are actually a lot of people standing near tables and pin boards with posters, from various clubs and socie-

“Those who are integrated firmly within their respective clubs would probably tell you they couldn’t imagine university without it” ties that want your email address. At this point, most of us get carried away. Just because you’ve heard of Tchouckball, doesn’t mean you have to

receive their emails for the rest of time, so try and think more specifically about who you want to sign up with before you go. More to the point, you’ll find all the sports clubs there, and you’ll be able to talk to some big-wig from the club about how to get involved, and they’ll affirm everything this article has already said, and more. So if you want to get into a sport, be you Fresher man, third year lady or postgrad person; pick yourself up, get some courage and get yourself into something this year. 2012 was supposed to ‘inspire a generation’ so it may as well be us, you won’t regret it. Failing that, there’s always sports journalism. Email contact: sport@wessexscene.co.uk / Image by Bryony Wellburn /


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ISSUE 1 SEPT 2012

WE S S E X SC E N E

www.wessexscene.co.uk

Issue1  

Issue 1 of Wessex Scene, All the must knows for freshers!

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