TheCheeseGrater The Other Student Magazine of University College London Union
STUDENT MEDIA AWARDS 2006 BEST SMALL BUDGET PUBLICATION
No. 11 December 2006
THIS MONTH I’m An MP, Get Me Into Power!
Politics never looked this good
Why are Scolarest so shit? Not just for cold coffee
Precious things. Vain ambitions Mr Chatterbox tells you what the University of London does for you
A hole in your network Just how safe is your UCL password?
Ripped off! Scientology stole my wallet!
Galactic sandwich Lightyear luncheon
The Cheese Grater Interview: Daniel Craig Can I have your autograph?
R.I.P . Edward Bray 1st August 2006 - 18th October 2006
Welcome to the Ed Bray Memorial Issue - we commemorate the career of UCLU’s ex Education and Welfare Officer. Read all about his greatest achievement in office... voting twice in a Union election and resigning to get away from the consequences. See p.2
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Electoral dysfunction Ed Bray commits electoral fraud and the remaining sabbs see fit to lie to everyone. Read on to find out why they decided that Bray’s privacy was more important than his accountability EDUCATION AND Welfare officer Ed Bray resigned to avoid the fallout from a disciplinary hearing over electoral fraud, The Cheese Grater can reveal. Ed ‘Runaway’ Bray, the second officer to desert the Sabbatical team this year, originally claimed that the pressure of the job had been detrimental to his health and that this, coupled with the death of a close friend, meant he could no longer continue in the- position. What the official line didn’t include was that Bray had voted twice in the first round of elections at the start of the year and was
therefore guilty of electoral fraud. It also left out the fact that Runaway had resigned in order to escape the embarrassment of being slapped on the wrist for his offence. The official line may have some inkling of truth; Runaway had certainly suffered a personal tragedy since the beginning of term. Nonetheless, it seems difficult to believe that he would have deserted his post so readily if were not for the fact that he had tampered with a democratic election and was therefore guilty of gross misconduct. Even when the electoral discrepancies were announced
Ed Bray on the Union website on 18th October, no mention was made of the fact that the fraud had been carried out by an elected student representative AND a trustee of the Union. In fact, the entire process was played down by the Sabbs and largely forgotten (apart from a cursory mention in the atrocious Union
A fucking disgrace Really awful magazine wins another undeserved accolade THE STAFF at The Cheese Grater take the opinions of the journalistic community very seriously, which is why we were all disheartened to read such razor-sharp observations in the last Pi Magazine. It was therefore a small consolation to discover that staff at minor national daily The Guardian rated The Cheese Grater the top small budget student publication in the country.
“A diamond in a sea of shit.” The elite the of student media made their way to LSO St Luke’s in Old Street for the 28th Guardian Student Media Awards on 8th November. Six of us turned up fully expecting to lose, but we were looking forward to ogling compere Lauren Laverne’s arse. Unexpectedly, we won. The Small Budget Publication category was judged by: Will Wood-
Channel 4’s new Popworld presenting duo ward, political correspondent at the Guardian; Tim Southwell, editor of Golf Punk Magazine and Gordon Thomson, editor of Time Out. The Cheese Grater was described as having a “gang mentality” and being “hilarious”. Gordon Thomson also ex claimed that the magazine was “a diamond in a sea of shit”.
The fact that The Cheese Grater managed to stumble into this accolade after only two and a half years in existence and on a meagre annual budget of five hundred pounds speaks volumes. Who knows what the magazine might achieve with ten grand a year and sixty years of history? MR
Sketch of the latest Pi Squared). The Sabbatical officers didn’t think it was that important that the Union’s members know anything about the situation, despite the fact that as an elected official, Bray is accountable to them. But worse still, only a small handful of Ed’s colleagues were aware of the situation. Even ULU executives knew the truth behind Runaway’s disappearance before most of the exec at UCLU. Despite supposedly being on equal footing with the Sabbatical Officers, barely any of the parttime exec were aware of what was really going on until Union council on 27th November. Even then they only found out because someone had leaked the information. Clearly then, when Media and Communications officer Nick Barnard stood up at Union Council and read out Runaway’s resignation letter, he did so knowing every word of it was a lie. When Barnard and Clubs and Societies Officer Robbie Swale were confronted by The Cheese Grater, both initially denied any knowledge of the matter before weakly claiming they were unable to comment. Runaway’s resignation left the remaining sabbatical team close to tears; presumably because the pressure of trying to keep a lid on a festering can of worms was getting too much. They have argued that Ed had a right to anonymity whilst the process took place. However, the moment Runaway won his own election last year he implicitly waived his claim to privacy, especially when his offence is so closely tied to a democratic process of the Union. Clearly Runaway’s choice to flee the entire situation and leave his colleagues to pick up the pieces only further confirms his guilt. Yet if he had stayed to face the hearing (or at least bothered to turn up) it’s possible he could have scraped by without losing his job. The decision by the sabbatical team to keep silent on a matter that frankly demanded complete transparency is utterly despicable.
So what really happened? Following Union procedure, the case against Bray was heard by a disciplinary panel made up of members of staff and student representatives from other University of London colleges. A source close to the panel told The Cheese Grater that at the time of the hearing, the evidence strongly suggested Bray was responsible for voting twice and that worse still, Bray didn’t bother to represent himself. The reason why? He didn’t turn up. But wait a second – in accordance with the Union Standing Orders, all this took place within 14 days of the fraudulent election result being recognised. Once the hearing is held within this period, a report must then be made to the Union Executive. So how come nearly 6 weeks have passed since the incident and no official notice has been made? Conveniently, one of the senior treasurer on the disciplinary panel ruling against Bray, Alasdair Gibb decided to take a holiday, thus delaying the entire procedure. The sabbatical officers must have been overjoyed when they found out that the Chair wouldn’t return from sunning himself in time for the report to be made anytime before the last week of term, thus allowing the whole situation to slip quietly under the radar in the pre-Christmas excitement. So far, Runaway has completely deserted the Sabbatical Suite at 25 Gordon Street. Despite having pledged to serve his full one month notice, he has not been seen since the day his resignation was announced. Given that Bray didn’t defend himself or make any attempt to explain his actions you could almost be forgiven for thinking he voted twice because he was trying to lose his job. Unsurprisingly, Ed’s account of matters is thin on the ground. However an informed source suggested that any claim of the matter being an accident was “very unlikely.” Therefore the only other reasonable explanation is that Bray thought he could succeed in defrauding the electorare – something you’d have to be a complete fucking idiot to do. Until The Cheese Grater hears otherwise, it is hard to consider him anything else. MR
December 2006 TheCheeseGrater 3 EVERYONE HAS a price; really nice to rarefm lately.” it certainly doesn’t take much to Only four days later, a win the favour of Lucy Dearlove, gushing review appeared on Head of Music at rarefm. In an the rarefm website. The review email sent out to the station’s Ya- readily praised Lily, giving spehoo mail group, Miss Dearlove cial mention to her lyrics, which appealed for a reviewer for a supposedly were one of her Lily Allen gig. Entry was free but strengths. In ‘Not Big’ she moans came with one condition, “You “I’m sorry if you feel that I’m have to be prepared to write a being kinda mental. But you left cracking review”. But this wasn’t me in such a state. But now I’m because Dearlove is a big fan; in- gonna do what you did to me, stead it seems “the lady at EMI I’m gonna reciprocate.” Quite [Allen’s record label] has been the wordsmith.
I’m An MP, Get Me Into Power! Politics enters new ‘reality’ medium in last ditch attempt to ‘get down’ with kids. Juliet Morrish DAY 44 of I’m An MP, Get Me Into Power! and the atmosphere in Parliament House is strained. Hosts Michael Portillo and Diane Abbott entered the House to break the news that all parties have been set a quiz to see who knows the most the about the electorate. Test subjects include chav culture, celebrity gossip and favourite baby names. The party with the fewest correct answers will have to face another dreaded ‘Parliamentary Act of Terror’. This week, the challenge will see the leader of the losing party in the line of fire: literally. He must run the entire perimeter of Westminster, followed closely by a pack of hounds led by an angry Otis Ferry on horseback. Should he stumble, he will be savaged and a member of his cabinet will automatically face the public vote this Friday. Tense stuff.
110 per cent The impending threat means worrying times for the Conservatives, who only have their leader David Cameron, the MP for Forest of Dean Mark
Galloway: Presenting a threat to Labour and a hit MTV show. Harper, his wife Margaret and their Labradors Cara and Darci remaining. However, their mentor and Deputy Chairman, Lord Ashcroft says he knows that the team will give “110 per cent.” Bookies favourites Labour are also under pressure as the last month has seen Gordon Brown repeatedly nominate his own party leader to face elimination. If the rumours are true,
Occasional MP things are about to get a whole lot worse for Tony, with next week hailing the arrival of TV star and occasional MP George Galloway. Worringly, psychologist Raj Persaud says that Education Secretary Ruth Kelly is displaying classic signs of anxiety over her position in the Labour family. According to Raj, the Madonna/ whore relationship that she is consciously developing with Jack Straw, coupled with her creative efforts in the House kitchen show her “two-pronged attempt
to make herself number one Blair Babe, establishing her role th mother and seductress.” Host Diane Abbott has expressed her sympathy for Ruth, recalling her own difficult times on Politician Wife Swap with BNP leader Nick Griffin. Diane recalls: “Whenever Nick’s spiteful jibes became too much I thought fondly of sister suffragette Emily Davison, who died at the 1913 Epsom Derby fighting for the future of her sex (she stepped out in front of the King’s horse, silly girl). Emily gave her life so that I, Ruth and countless other women could have the courage and the right to face the real-life challenges of reality television.” Day 45, and after the drama of yesterday’s challenge, the nominations for this week’s vote are in. Three nervy MPs now need your votes if they are to stay this Friday. Who runs the country? You decide.
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College has handed the Refectory on a plate to a company with a reputation almost as bad as its food. Alex Ashman investigates exactly why high prices and bad sandwiches are just the start... THE LATEST STAGE in Malcolm ‘Slasher’ Grant’s plan to regenerate UCL happened without fanfare at the start of term. The opening of the new ‘was once a canteen, is now a railway station concourse’ inside the Lower Refectory means that uninformed students can file past the wide and diverse range of lunch choices on offer, all provided by the same company… Scolarest. We can all stare in awe at such favourites as Upper Crust and Mamma Leone’s ,both of which provide full-price cuisine at student-quality levels. Add a Traditional Cornish Pasty Outlet and a departure board and Grant might as well have told students to go and have lunch at Euston Station. Not unlike a mainline rail station, the prices in the new Refectory are ridiculous; Scolarest
are content to charge you 70p for a packet of Quavers and 50p for a bar of chocolate. At a UCLU shop, the same combination will set you back only 80p – ten weeks of dining in the refectory every day and that’s an extra £20, all pure profits for those in charge of the place.
UN Scandal So just who are Scolarest? The company is part of the Compass Group, one of the biggest catering companies known to man, so large in fact that they made a net profit of £12,704 million in 2005 (9% due to Scolarest alone). Some of that staggering profit was the result of several backhanders for UN offi cials in order to ensure the Compass Group won its bids for the UN’s lucrative supply contracts. It wasn’t without a hitch though;
The new food concourse at Euston Station Eurest Support Services (the head of the Compass hydra involved) failed to deliver 13,000 litres of milk as well as supplying frozen food that had, er… defrosted to UN peacekeepers in the Republic of Burundi. Clearly this didn’t worry the Compass Group, who quickly slipped a bung to the right official, ensuring the UN wasn’t aware of the whole mess.
Mutton = lamb Thankfully they were found out, and heads rolled. But despite being burnt by their attempts to screw over Africa, the Compass Group now has a new target: us. Students and pupils of all ages across the entire country are having their food provided by Scolarest. In 2005 Camden Council announced it had encountered ‘significant problems’ with ‘no prospect of significant improvement’ whilst using Scolarest as a school meal provider. Problems included offering mutton advertised as lamb and the use of insipid processed and preserved foods. The popularity of the food became clear when orders for school meals rocketed – just after Camden gave Scolarest the boot. So why was the Refectory outsourced to Scolarest? A meeting of the UCL Finance Committee in June last year suggested that a refurbishment of the area would lead to better service and that College should have some input on food ranges and prices. Estates and Facilities confirmed this is the case and that the process of reviewing prices is ongoing. UCL don’t appear to have been battling for affordable prices
for students, but why would they when they are set to receive a royalty from Scolarest, based on the catering company’s turnover? Sodhexho the previous managers of the Refectory, proved a source of woe for College when they created a £50,000 deficit annually for the past seven years. When new arrangements looked set to bring in a net income of £62,000 instead, it becomes clear why UCL wanted to hand the whole Refectory to an outside contractor. College quickly ascertained that neither they nor the Union could do the job; so who to choose? The shortlist was eventually whittled down to two names, ‘the preferred bidder’ Scolarest and Sodexho. Scolarest it was then. Scolarest were also chosen because they had apparently been doing a good job at City University. College didn’t do their research properly; just a couple of weeks before UCL chose Scolarest, City’s Properties & Facilities ‘quick fix’ group revealed that the catering there was ‘too expensive [and] of average quality with small portions.’ So much for Scolarest being the saviour of the Refectory then. But even if the old arrangement was costing UCL too much, surely a complete refurbishment of the refectory wouldn’t exactly come cheap? In return for a seven year contract, Scolarest agreed to pay for £0.75 million towards the refurbishment. UCL on the other hand paid £1.5 million. College felt that this was enough to ensure the company provided a quality service in order to recoup their investment. With a captive
December 2006 TheCheeseGrater 5 market (thanks to the ending of hot food provision at the Union, for a minor investment Scolarest are now free to hike up prices and watch the profits roll in.
Lukewarm baguettes Camden may have seen off Scolarest, but they only had to move a short way south to find punters so blissfully unaware that they are content to put up with lukewarm baguettes and tepid coffee. Meanwhile, Pro-Provost Alan Lord does not see fit to reply to enquiries as to what UCL stand to gain from inviting Scolarest, and Scolarest itself has so far failed to reveal its catering policies under the Freedom of Information Act – just what do they plan to hide from us humble students? The time to protest against the refurbishment and perversion of our Refectory is long past, but there’s always the option of voting with our feet.
Tintin - The Secret Cottage
Cherry Hooker and Christina Ravinet Ilove UCL Snowy! Doesn’t the history get you all excited?
Let’s find a story
You need to get laid!
Wait! What’s this inscribed on the wood?
I sense a story here Snowy! Let’s go!
What’s this hole eh? I’ll have a closer look.
Hello? Am I in the right place? What’s a good time eh?
Initiations: The truth Letters to the Editor Sadistic, brutal and intimidating - the shocking practices of arts, cultural and media societies outweigh sports clubs Jenni Hulse WITH THE shit-storm over initiations held by sports clubs (read: Men’s Rugby) at UCL only just dying down, Union officers will be dismayed to discover it is not only sports societies getting a piece of the sadomasochistic action. An investigation by The Cheese Grater has revealed that the appropriately named Balls! society douses male newcomers in petroleum, forces them to strip in a ring of fire and then perform poi with their genitals. God only knows what they do to the women. As one unreliable source CG: “Those informed the tough sports types get all the publicity. I’d like to see them go through our rituals. The society loses five testicles a year on average; it’s just something you have to deal with. Most of our female members used to be men.” Cruelly, the Polish Society forces young initiates to stand around on street corners, waiting for a white van to pick them up. Once collected, potential mem
Polish Soc members at work bers are driven to a building site, where they have to work long hours at below minimum wage. Further horrors abound at Investment Soc. After joining, you officially become a member; those vindictive cunts. Yet it isn’t all doom and gloom. The Friends of Palestine stand out as being one of the few societies who don’t view initiation as a matter of life and death. On joining, members are granted a free full-body depilation and are allowed to generally piss around making home videos and experimenting with chemistry sets. Long-standing members are even offered a ‘company car’ although this is not without a hefty deposit, generally in front of an embassy.
Dear Sir, I recently encountered the dangers of immigration firsthand. Yesterday morning I heard my cleaner enter the flat; presumably to clear away the Stella cans and rancid kebab meat from the Jim Davidson DVD marathon I had held the night before. I could barely concentrate as I watched Nick Griffin’s latest speech on YouTube. So I stepped out to berate the fat bitch for making such a racket, when I was confronted with a ‘Numatic’!
It was probably a Muslim, working cash in hand before heading down the dole office, but I couldn’t tell for sure; I could only see the eyes. How many loyal Henrys are dwindling away alone at home with nothing more than the front room to clean? How many more are slumped in front of ‘Deal or No Deal’ whilst dreaming of acres of filthy residences to cleanse? How long before house prices crash? What will be the cost to the NHS? This is yet another example of this country going to the dogs. What about brave work these proud red machines carried out during the Blitz? Have we forgotten this? Thatcher would have them all sent back. Concerned,
Would you let this hoover marry your daughter? My heart dropped as I realised my pure white sandwich crumbs will no longer be hoovered up by faithful Henry, the bastion of British cleaning since the days of the Raj.
R. Kilray-Scrote. Jerusalem House Tunbridge Wells The Shire The Cheese Grater is always keen to hear your views and opinions. Please send all correspondence to: cheese_ grater_magazine_society@ucl. ac.uk
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Precious things. Vain ambitions The Provost’s bile about the University of London has spread too far; Mister Chatterbox wants to set the record straight and explain that the University does far, far more than just award your degree. “A university is among the precious things that can be destroyed” Professor Elaine Scarry FINDING MORE time on his hands than was usual, Mister Chatterbox recently took up a hobby. However, seeing himself pirouetting and dressed in a tutu at his weekly ballet class, Mister Chatterbox, who is, his friends will admit, a man of varied and remarkable talents, decided that he had perhaps overstretched himself and should return to his natural milieu. And this is my advice to the editorial team of Pi: stick to those things at which you excel. Whatever they might be.
Mouth of the Provost It was without irony that Pi Squared, the new grubby mouthpiece of our ne’er-do-well Provost, asked the question ‘what has the University of London ever done for you?’ Perhaps they were unaware that, when Monty Python posed a similar one of the Romans, the answer they came up with was er… quite a lot actually. Pi Squared, through their editorial comment (“The University of London must disband”) and a series of vox pop interviews, exposed the general ignorance about the University of London amongst the student population at UCL. If the four people interviewed were the voice of God (vox populi, vox dei), then I’d advise the Archbishop of Canterbury to give up the day job. Mister Chatterbox reliably informed that one of the people whom Pi interviewed was in the Union bar and was “doing a Yeltsin”. When faced with the choice of starting an informed debate or following their unscrupulous Master’s party line, they chose the latter. So it once again falls to The Cheese Grater, Mis
Senate House: The focus of the University of London is to undergo a £43 million restoration ter Chatterbox and his trusted goon go in search of the truth. There has been a lot of rubbish written and said about the University of London in the last year or so. The QAA assessment in December 2005 is often raised as a criticism of the UL but this is to take it out of context (see CG 7) . That UCL is the largest net donor to the federal university is not true, we subscribe to central services of which we are the largest single user. Senate House is currently undergoing a £43 million renovation in preparation for the UL moving more facilities into it. Criticisms of its supposedly shoddy state are unfounded and the building work is to be paid through savings and the selling of the 99 year leases of certain Bloomsbury buildings to colleges, such as UCL and Birkbeck. The prospect of Professor Grant launching a Philip Green-style takeover of the smaller institutes and colleg-
es within the University of London is highly unlikely too. One might almost suspect that it is in someone’s interests to do down the University of London, but I am not of a suspicious or conspiratorial mind, as you know by now.
Grant changes tune... The prospect of a takeover has been greeted by those colleges, such as the internationally respected SOAS, with grim defiance. They value the independence and academic freedom, which the University enables and from which UCL itself benefits. When Imperial College announced its decision to leave the federal university in 2005, Professor Grant said, “UCL deeply regrets Imperial’s decision to leave the federal university because it can do harm to have one of the UK’s world-class research institutions depart.” Indeed at at the meeting to ratify Imperial’s decision, Grant led the expressions
of regret. His tone and stance in Pi Squared appears at odds with that. One can only assume of his previous remarks that, like Don Giovanni, he meant them at the time. In 1836, alongside King’s College, University College became a founding member of the UL. Professor Grant is right to say that the University has had great days, but he is wrong to claim those days have passed. The fact is, and it may be uncomfortable for some to admit, that UCL benefits from the common currency which a University of London degree grants. It is a universal standard which is recognised across the world. Since 1858, the External System has allowed the University of London to offer distance learning in 180 countries and led to the creation of a significant number of universities in Africa, the Carribean and provincial England. Those are international
Special report credentials and a history not to be sneezed at. When Imperial College started the process of leaving the federation, the rector Sir Richard Sykes allegedly said to Felix, the college’s newspaper, “Do we want to be badged as London University along with some less prestigious institutions?” The point is one which might worry a lot of UCL students. There might not be a an direct equivalence of standard between an Economics degree from UCL and one at the LSE, but is any differentiation made between the quality of an Economics degree at UCL, a department ranked 3rd by The Times University Guide, and Mechanical Engineering degree from a department ranked 18th? Through the collective responsibility of to maintain academic standards the federal university does not devalue our degrees. External marking and an obligation to seek inter-collegiate marking, where possible, ensures that all University of London degrees are of an acceptable standard. Various colleges are applying to award their own degrees but only as insurance because the process of acquiring degree awarding powers is complicated and rests with Her Majesty’s Privy Council. None of this means that the University of London is losing its purpose as an academic institution. The School of Advanced Study (SAS) is one of the world’s leading centres for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. Its mission is to “encourage and support fundamental scholarship”. It does not compete with other universities for funding. Instead it recieves special indicated funding from the government. The colleges of UL pay nothing for the school yet it plays a vital role in sharing research knowledge and expertise from across the academic federal university. If UCL were to scoop up the SAS this would almost certainly cease, a fact the Provost seems unable to grasp. An informed source suggests Professor Grant has been “in the thick of it” working with other members the University Council on plans to reform the University for the coming years and his present “bellicose” stance towards the university has been
December 2006 TheCheeseGrater 7 in various quarters described as “naïve and absurd” by some and “rather unhelpful” by other University sources. Rather unhelpful? That sounds like describing North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme as a little bit antagonistic. Such macho grandstanding is beneath the dignity of the office of Provost and unworthy of the man. It is certainly fair to say that of the members of University staff to whom Mister Chatterbox talked, none had heard of Professor Grant’s new ultimatum against the UL and most were opposed to this as a negotiating tactic, dismissing what he said as mere rhetoric. Rhetoric for which the editors of Pi Squared obviously fell. Hook, line and sinker.
Academic loss Of the £2.2 million subscription to the University of London, £600,000 (also roughly the cost of a new corporate UCL logo) goes towards giving all University College students a free subscription to Senate House library, whatever their subject or level of study. Should UCL withdraw from the federal university, this would almost certainly be in jeopardy. As they stand today, UCL’s libraries would be unable to cope with the demand and the money saved certainly wouldn’t be used to make up for the lost resources. Moreover, sources within the University of London denied that course sharing was a “bureaucratic nightmare”. The blame for any difficulties that students experienced lies with the colleges themselves, many of whom are reluctant to miss out on money they receive for individuals. In theory it would be possible for colleges to strike bilateral agreements without a federal university to guide them. However the problems encountered by students would be greater under such ad hoc arrangements with colleges determined to hold on to their cash. One very senior source within the University claimed that “17 ½ colleges and schools out of the 19 (now that Imperial College have left) were in favour of the benefits of the federal university.” The half being the LSE, whose present policy is to increase fees, increase the number
College’s libraries would be unable to cope with increased pressure should UCL students lose their Senate Library subscriptions of overseas student and effectively privatise themselves. Very third way, as former LSE Director Professor Giddens would say, but not perhaps the best model for UCL. Professor Grant has often been heard to claim that University College London has a branding issue and that the name confuses people. Especially those silly foreigners (I assume he means). However who ever heard University College Oxford make a similar complaint? As the Provost cries “Londinium delenda est” he makes 15% cuts with one hand and distracts by attempting to fulfil that old lie of making UCL a ‘global university’. So is Malcolm Grant, a land lawyer by profession, playing a proactive rather than reactive game in undermining the federal university? By encouraging others to jump ship first, UCL will be free to hoover up the Bloomsbury colleges, their real estate and in the ultimate rebrand, rename itself... the University of London. The fact is that today higher education has become dominated by competition for research grants and money, which is harming both academic freedom and our education. The University of London stands above such detrimental rivalry, offering choice and diversity for students which is not possible within individual colleges, not UCL. The sad fact is that it is with these ideals that the Uni versity of London has become
the true heritor of Bentham’s vision of access for all in higher education – regardless of race, colour or creed. Meanwhile our Provost,‘an enemy of God and man’, and now, the University of London, is swimming frantically with the vain and vapid intellec tual tide with that has been the unfortunate mark of UCL Plc. Whilst UCL may be the Coca-Cola College i.e. the original product, the University of London is the Heineken of universities – it reaches places others can’t. Yes, there are problems. Yes, it needs reform. Yes, they are reforming. No, it must not disband. No, threats and ultimata do not help. And no, Pi Squared, your homework wasn’t up to scratch. Try harder next time.
University of London Facts and Figures ·19 self-governing colleges ·Student population of over 125,000 students ·Alumni include 55 Nobel prize winners and 35 past or present Heads of State ·34,000 ‘external students’ across the world ·The School of Advanced Study brings together the specialized scholarship and resources of ten acclaimed postgraduate research institutes ·University College London pays a £2.2 million subscription to the University, less than 0.5% of the college’s annual turnover.
8 TheCheeseGrater December 2006
Blood red on the broken tracks Horatio Hornby-Horowitz offers a fantastic excerpt from his latest bestseller The Battle of Battersea Park
THE MORNING is a new birth. I lay curled, foetally autohugging my knees within the warm womb of my bed. Suddenly the metaphorical waters are broken, my alarm clock shrieks; a pair of cold forceps gripping at my head. I stir, the sharp tug on my umbilical cord begins. Blindly, I stumble down the entwining birth canal that is the entrance to Finsbury Park Tube station. I enter this great mechanism, this network for a throbbing metropolis, this Great Bear, this silk woven, living breath
ing spider web. As I emerge on Euston Road, I am the newborn. The soot, the dirt, the dust of the Underground is my afterbirth. London. Londonchester. Londinistan. Londinium. It has many guises, but each has the same fundamental essence. It is the beating heart emboldened by a rushing roar. This, sweet dirty city, this unnecessary literary masturbation, this sharp mind, this acidic stomach, this convulsing intestinal tract, this irritating flatulence – it is part of me. And then; Gower Street.
The immortal Bentham, that waxwork wanker, the godless heart of this place, the mighty godhead. Take me to your leader. I am yours. Stop me. Bend me. Shape me. Any way you want me. As it was said in the Holy Scripture, “lift up my eyes unto your scrotum and I will fellate myself with my eyehole and
your will shall be done, oh great city.” (Genesis, Track 7, Greatest Hits). I return to the grave once more. My time has passed. Eastenders is over. Minty hit Pauline. I crawl, into my tomb and I breathe out – the slumber grips me. I dream forever, of this glorious cityscape.
No sleep till Fallujah In a bid to reverse the financial problems at UCL, staff cuts are to be carried out at road blocks by men wearing black as Malcolm Grant takes inspiration from Iraq Rusty Wood MALCOLM GRANT is not the type to flog a dead horse, especially when he knows it isn’t financially viable. Having listened to the concerns of staff and students, the Provost has decided to turn his back on some of his plans to change the college. “In retrospect, my plan for Americanisation wasn’t quite right. For too long I’d been looking across the Atlantic, longing to be part of that elite club like a bullied loner dreaming of being able to wank in the showers with the cool guys. It was all so misguided. UCL will still be a global university, but we’re no longer going to base ourselves on the American model. The future lies in Iraq.” Although the Provost’s plans were originally met with derision and ridicule, Grant stands by them and is ready to convince others of their merit. “Look at Iraq. How many protesting students do they have? In fact, how many students do they have? No state school students there, and not just because someone keeps kidnapping them all!”
Grant believes that, by modelling UCL on Iraq, more people will flock to the university than ever: “If you build a really big wall, people are desperate to get in, no matter what is inside and no matter what the cost. So from Gordon Square to Gower Street we’re going up, watchtowers and all. Of course, in our new-found not-the-fucking-US spirit, we’re going to outsource the work. The current favourite is Israel: they certainly seem to have a good experience of building things that just encourage people to try to get in at any cost.” Grant really is positive that the changes will boost the popularity of the college: “I think we could probably charge even more if the university had a more positive name like ‘The Green Zone’ or ‘The Promised Land’. But how will the staff react to the new plan? “Well we wouldn’t have to sack as many of them. With the conflict, shady roadblocks and smart bombs hidden in animal carcasses, staffing levels will be naturally decapitated! Er… I mean capped. Even if they wise up to the danger, the Don
The Provost’s new regeneration scheme Squads can always kidnap a department or two. Having said that, science departments would be exempt; research means more money and better dirty bombs!” The Provost is equally enthusiastic about the benefits that focusing on an Iraqi model will have on the expansion of UCL as an institution: “Federal structures just don’t work. With our new ethos we will spearhead a campaign of land-grabbing and
secession that will revolutionise the way universities operate. Soon we will extend the wall into areas that aren’t ours, we’ll take Senate House, ULU; hell, we might even go for the LSE!” Malcolm Grant is confident that his plans will be effective: “After all,” he adds, “everyone in Iraq lives in fear for their lives... what better way to make King’s and the University of London do what we want?”
December 2006 TheCheeseGrater 9
Chip and Bin Ripped off!
Beggars relaunch, rebranded, with Chip Consumer rights and Pin and loyalty card scheme columnist, Sai smell, others feel their PIN is not Rana ensures you Alexander Harris safe around the homeless. In pursuit of answers to this get a fair deal. THE WALL-LESS office under the bridge on Chalk question, I went on a fact finding Farm Road houses the Camden mission through the slalom run This week; ScienLock Beggars Union (CLBU). of beggars and drug dealers that tology Two months ago, the CLBU an- orbit Camden Lock. One rather nounced that their members had signed up to a scheme that will allow them the use of Chip and Pin machines. They have signed up in droves (with a pen kindly donated by UNICEF). Negotiations with Transport for London are also in “advanced stages” regarding the delivery of a PFI scheme to allow donations to beggars by Oyster pre-pay.
Daily Mail Unfortunately, delivery of these changes has not been without teething trouble, leading to a hostile reaction from the national press with the Daily Mail even asking whether the scheme was “fit for purpose.” The public has not been hasty to endorse the idea; most are afraid of the
shabby looking (I say shabby, he was actually naked) man approached me, and asked me if I could ‘spare a bit of change’. Apparently, he was saving up to move in with his girlfriend under Waterloo Bridge.
Thug adaptor I was shocked but reluctant to give him money so I told the cunt I wasn’t carrying any cash. It was then that he produced a chip and pin machine. The chip and pin had ‘Morrisons’ emblazoned on the side. He told me it was his girlfriend’s name. I told him I couldn’t use the machine; it wasn’t plugged in. “Have you got any spare change for an adaptor mate?” I promptly told him to fuck off.
Fingers for fees Top-up fees abolished - degrees will cost an arm, a leg and several toes too Hannah Hudson STUDENTS AT BRITISH universities were informed last night that top-up fees are to be axed and that the concept of paying for one’s degree will soon be a thing of the past.
Worth an HND at least Following tireless campaigning from the National Union of Students, universities have agreed that fees of any kind will no longer be charged and that instead, ‘payment’ will simply be made in the form of a pound of
flesh upon graduation. The change in tactics was brought about by the Admission Impossible protest march through central London last October. University bosses believe they can recoup their finances by the sale of student meat as a substitute for that of whales. Pre-empting the move, UCL has announced a ‘Shylock Clinic’ as part of its proposals for the new South Quad. The plans, alongside proposals to serve only burgers, kebabs and pies at the Refectory, will ensure that students can be fattened and subsequently cut up all on site. The scheme has won widespread support across universities. The NUS announced it was thrilled that “the cost of degrees has fallen from over £15,000 to the sacrifice of a left bollock.”
Dear Sai, I’ve been thinking about becoming a Scientologist, but I’ve heard they’re a bit costly. What would you advise? Sai Says: You’re right to be wary; we’ve received a large number of complaints about the Scientologists. In a new suspiciously philanthropic stance they are offering the unassuming punter the chance to find out why he is so unhappy with his life for FREE. Normally, the Church’s stress tests are upwards of £500; “great!” you might think, but wait; don’t be so hasty. Also dubbed the “Oxford Capacity Analysis” (no link to Oxford University) the tests are designed to distract you whilst the Scientologists pilfer your
loose change and clone your credit card. Yeah, you might find out what alien you’re akin to but everything is rigged so that there’ll always be something wrong with you. If you’re clever, you’re ugly. If you’re clever and hot, daddy doesn’t love you. If it’s none of the above, you like to touch yourself while listening to Peter Gabriel. Either way you’re a flawed motherfucker. Several victims claim that Scientologists tried to bewilder them with extra-terrestrial jargon like ‘Thetans’, ‘Xenu’ and ‘Tom Cruise’. In reality, they just want your cash; a recent leaked memo informs members that “If the subject breaks the rules they pay; if they follow the rules they pay more; should they lose the list of rules a replacement copy costs £80.” You have been warned.
10 TheCheeseGrater December 2006
A hole in your network The UCL network isn’t quite as secure as you might think - some of the inherent vulnerabilities might just get you taking just a little extra care of your password...
EVERY SINGLE student at College will have at some point logged on to their UCL computer account. Few, however, would have given thought to the fact that every time they did so, their data was at risk. Using programs freely available online and the know-how of an ordinary student, The Cheese Grater was able to access email details and password information of over 57,000 users on the UCL network. Furthermore, by exposing loopholes in the WTS (Windows Terminal Service) system we were able to enable key logging features which we should not have had access to.
Key logging It took The Cheese Grater less than a minute to enable key logging without having to install any special software or even log on to an ordinary computer in a nondescript cluster room. Within one day, we could have gathered a considerable number of usernames and passwords. The cluster room we used was in an unfamiliar department, readily accessible to anyone walking along the street outside; clearly the key logging problem is a glaring vulnerability. Alarmingly, by turning on this feature and then calling the Information Systems (IS) helpdesk, someone could easily report a fault on a PC and return a day or so later only to find the logon details of an IS technician – someone with a far higher level of clearance than the average student. The key logging issue was news to IS, despite the fact that our source had contacted them on two separate occasions about the matter. Having been given assurances that the details had been passed on to the relevant department, our source heard no more of the issue. The demonstration given
to The Cheese Grater showed that nothing had been done. Since being presented with this information, IS have pledged to do something about the vulnerability and at the time of going to press, should have rolled out an updated WTS with any keylogging related weaknesses removed. IS Director Robert Clark told The Cheese Grater that, “This is being addressed as a matter of urgency.”
Password cracking However, the vulnerabilities on the UCL system run deeper than ability to log usernames and passwords. Using software already installed on the WTS and a few basic commands gleaned off the Internet, it took a matter of minutes for us to call up a list of email addresses, associated username aliases and more worryingly
password hashes – an encrypted form of each users password. We were able to call up the details of any user we chose and were free to run a program in an attempt to crack a password. Using commercially available software, it took just 15 minutes to crack a password based on a dictionary word on an ordinary, five-year-old personal computer.
“This is being addressed as a matter of urgence” With the username and password for a student that we had never met before, we could have easily logged into Portico and gained personal details such as home addresses and phone numbers. Furthermore it would not have been difficult to install a program on that person’s
profile to log all data used in a session. For example, it could have taken a matter of days to obtain debit card information. So how was it that we were able to do this? Unfortunately, unlike the keylogging problem, the issue of preventing password hacking is fiendishly complex. With so many different computer requirements at UCL, IS has attempted to implement what is known as ‘synchronized single sign-on’, essentially that each user only needs one username and password to use every service. In order to do this, all user information is stored centrally on a UNIX system commonly known as the Network Information System (NIS) or ‘Yellow Pages’. However, NIS has an inherent weakness in that through basic commands, any user logged
Contributors: Claude McNab, Hannah Hudson, Juliet Morrish, Jules Mazowiecki, Jenni Hulse, Gareth Spencer, Richard Soames, Scary Boots, Dean O’Callaghan, Alex Ashman, Alexander Harris, Christina Ravinet, Cherry Hooker, Sai Rana, Mr Chatterbox, Rusty Wood and Byron Bassington. This issue is dedicated to all of those who helped The Cheese Grater win its award, thank you all.
December 2006 TheCheeseGrater 11 on is able to view a file containing all the usernames and password hashes on the system. Not only does this raise the risk that anyone could potentially get hold of password information but also email addresses and mailing lists as well. Nearly every student and staff member at UCL will have noticed the increased volumes of spam that have been occurring, and the fact that it is so simple to take over 57,000 email addresses off a UCL cluster room PC within minutes is no comforting thought. IS claimed that larger amounts of spam to UCL email address is largely due to more advanced spamming techniques in terms of bypassing filters and getting addresses in the first place. This may be the case but it is not an excuse for the fact that at any undesirable company could get hold of the email address for every student at UCL with a few key presses.
Solutions So what can be done? At the moment, passwords for staff and students alike have a limit of eight characters all drawn from a 96 character set. Lengthening passwords is one option but it would arguably only be a short term solution, thus if someone were determined to crack a password, it would just take a little longer. Similarly, limiting the number of authentications allowed is not easy. By only allowing a user 3 attempts to get their passwords correct and then locking them out of the system should they fail, IS could protect users from blatant attempts to guess passwords. But this measure is easily abused, and given that most people forget their passwords at some point, only creates unnecessary trouble when IS are forced to unlock accounts. Furthermore, the nature of the NIS weakness means that the password hash file can be taken offsite, where there are no limits to the number of authentications that can be made. IS are, to their credit, well aware of the problem with NIS and the potential problems associated with it. When The Cheese Grater met with senior IS staff they assured us that if they had been able to eliminate the feature on NIS allowing ordinary users to view passwords, they would have done so long ago. There are
The UCL WTS - security loopholes meant that key-logging could be turned on from this page more secure servers and authentication systems available but the amount of time and money required to change the entire UCL network over to them is simply not feasible at present. However the fact that password hashes are so readily available to anyone on the UCL network needs to be made clear to students. The use of the password file cannot be monitored and as such, the possibility of someone attempting to crack your password is always present. The passwords that we cracked were either dictionary words or at least variations
“There is a need for students and staff to choose and maintain robust passwords.” on common phrases or names. IS has a clear policy on this mat
ter and most students will know that when changing passwords, it is very difficult to use a common dictionary term. Information Systems claims it runs audits on passwords once a week and users with any unsuitable passwords are immediately notified. If, one week later, the password hasn’t changed, the system will reset it for the user. Ultimately then, some responsibility lies with the end users, students and staff. By choosing an obvious password, a person is far more vulnerable to having their password cracked and their account accessed. By regularly changing passwords, and ensuring they are as random as possible, the success of cracking is greatly reduced. A random, 8 character password has a one in a billion chance of being cracked. IS certainly cannot be accused of complacency with pass
words, you only needs to glance at their section of the UCL web site to see a detailed guide on how to select a secure one. Students need to be more aware of why it is important to choose a good password and also that if they don’t follow the guidelines, just how easy it is to crack. Robert Clark told us; “There is a need to raise awareness amongst students and indeed staff on the importance of choosing and maintaining robust passwords.” Clark is right but the unfortunate truth is that most people will not bother. Until IS can move the network onto a newer, more secure server they cannot ensure data security. The inherent weaknesses mean that if UCL students and staff are not vigilant then they run a great risk of having their data misused. We may have reported our findings to IS, others will not. MR
12 TheCheeseGrater December 2006
Universe home to Galactic Sandwich
The Cheese Grater Interview
Interstellar luncheon discovered, scientists hope to group with Milky Way as ‘Galactic Meal Deal’ Scary Boots USING SOME ker-azy application of theories that are far too difficult to even mention, let alone explain to normal people who have sex and stuff, the European Space Agency has discovered that somewhere in this infinite universe there must be a galactic-sized Sandwich. The cosmic snack is akin to sarnies seen on Earth, only due to scaling-up the ‘air’ pockets are now filled with ‘dark yeast’. The filling in this monstrous butty is not yet fully understood, however it is home to a highlyevolved mould species. Don’t worry; these are the good sort of aliens! The pan-galactic penicillin’s only fear is that one day the Big Crunch will come, followed by The Time Of Mastication. Their only vice is occasionally using tractor beams to slam other planets, gloopily, into their tasty comestible, to ‘add seasoning’. The splash-back from these incursions leads to mayonnaise flares, which should be visible here on Earth in a mere two million years, so tell your descendants to watch out for the tangy droplets! There is debate over what to name this toothsome region, as obviously the natives can’t communicate with us and even if they could, that’s simply not what colonisation is about. The Italians are referring to the consumable cosmos as ‘Massimo Panino Galactico Supremo’, while the English are split between ‘The Earl’s Splendid Delectation’ and ‘Baps’. The French have so far offered no suggestions save “Deux très grand pieces de pain avec quele qu’chose entre les
with Daniel Craig The Pret a Manger Galaxy deux (DTGPDPQQCELD)” but are strongly vetoing every more pronounceable suggestion. Applying the (George) Lucas assumption, we know that the stellar sandwich will eventually instigate a horrific space war between those who prefer the chicken and mustard filling and those who support ham and pickle. Being more concerned with killing each other for reasons like being born in different areas, the humans won’t have an opinion, but at the same time they won’t want to miss out on a really good fight. Given this, an alliance with the Chicken side is inevitable; let’s face it, no one really understands ham. A dreary future for humanity then, blasting through space lonely and desperate, slaves to the whim of sentient food poisoning and the caprices of colour and flavouring, punctuated only by sudden depressurized death. We suggest you don’t think about it, and instead devote your energy to analysing what, exactly, Tom sees in Katie. Alternatively, try to remember that by then you, your friends and every single respiring thing you’ve ever seen will be dead.
HE’S THE sexy British actor known to millions as James Bond. He’s got a licence to thrill…our pants off. His performance in Casino Royale is already legendary among fans and cinema box offices. But despite his illustrious achievements Daniel Craig isn’t resting on his laurels. In an attempt to get to the man behind the public mask, The Cheese Grater’s Claude McNab caught up with him, literally, for an exclusive interview. CG (panting): Are you Daniel Craig? DC: Yeh. CG: Really? DC: Yeh. Look I have to…
CG (interrupting): I’m a big fan of your work. DC: Thanks, I… CG: I love the bit at the start of Casino Royale when you’re fighting that guy on that crane and he’s like jumping off it and you throw the gun at him…I was, like, “wow!” DC: That was actually a stunt man. CG: Oh. DC: Look, I need to get the train now. CG: Ok. Look out for the interview in The Cheese Grater, available from all wastepaper baskets around UCL from next week. DC: Interview? Casino Royale is out now.
UCL Union Cheese Grater Magazine Society www.cheesegratermagazine.uclu.org Student Publication of the Year - UCL Union Arts Awards 2006 President and Editor: Mark Ravinet Treasurer: Hugh Colyer E-mail : email@example.com Humour Desk: firstname.lastname@example.org UCL Union Cheese Grater Magazine Society, UCL Union, 25 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AY The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of UCL Union or the editor.