TheCheeseGrater The Other Student Magazine of University College London Union
No. 15 December 2007
THIS MONTH Down Your Union
A load of old webshite!
Another dose of all the infighting going on at UCLU p.2
A column by Jesus Christ p.3
Chrimbo films galore! p.5
Herbalists cause a stir p.6
The university without a soul? p.7
Christopher Hitchens One pugnacious blogger p.8
Whoops! Who made it so easy to get access to all your login details? See page 4
I’ll take your independence and your money UCL Sanctuary newspaper not as independent as appears tion at UCL? Is it proudly free
Harry Stopes from outside interference? Is it
WHAT EXACTLY is the UCL Sanctuary? Is it the “independant” [sic] voice for which UCL students have been crying out for years? Is it the sole source of hope for a new genera
heck. Although The Sanctuary may look like any other student newspaper, appearances are deceptive. For starters, The Sanctuary is not a stand-alone UCL-
based paper; it is in fact part of a group of ten Sanctuary papers at various universities across the country. Running the whole operation is one Tom Freeman, a young would-be media magnate, who in his own words is “the sort of sole evil corporate
entity at the top, pulling all the strings.” Freeman set up The Sanctuary during his final year at Nottingham University, and having made a small amount of money from advertising revenues decided to set up publications at other universities to expand [continued on page 3]
2 TheCheeseGrater December 2007
Down Your Union
The hand that giveth... Thank goodness the Governance Review is done and dusted. For anyone who has been following its painstaking progress, this will come as a welcome relief. After months of campaigning, Students for Democracy at UCL got their motion passed on a cunning technicality, therefore returning power to the hands of the students, shitting on the egos of the sabbs, and ridding the kingdom of evil. But what will SDUCL turn their attentions to now? Someone who won’t be short of things to do is Sam Godwin. A member of SDUCL and also the General Secretary of UCL Union, her recent behaviour has led people to wonder if this busy gal has a conflict of interests. At a council meeting where Jim Hunkin (the part-time replacement for the Finance & Administration Officer) was being particularly awkward – questioning Godwin’s decisions about a Governance ruling and generally being (according to Godwin) “extraordinarily belligerent and arrogant” she saw fit to immediately close the meeting and walk out. While this may be taking the moral high-ground (as no one expects a council member to accept abuse during a meeting), it’s just a pity that these petty battles are being played out at the expense of the representation of the members of UCL Union. Union records show the number of minutes (quite possibly ticking into hours) that Godwin has spent turning Union meetings into pedantic farces, with attendees complaining that things take far longer to get done as a result of minor quibbles with agendas, protocol and just about anything else. But in an instance where a sabbatical officer was unable to vote in person, Godwin allowed him to vote over the phone – something that she recognises herself to be prohibited under Union rules. For someone who campaigned with so much vigour against a governance review that could have crushed
against the threat of emerging free speech. All hail Pravda!
What a winker! Clockwise: Andy Fernando at leisure, Veche in a state, SEES democratic representation at UCLU, it seems a bit rich for her to be bending the rules. But perhaps the end justifies the means in some instances, eh? And of course, the real winner here is democracy at UCL… right?
Bye bye Glasnost Democracy is also a hot topic at SSEES, which is honouring its commitment to East-European culture with some good old-fashioned in-fighting and a visit from the Thought Police. A row over coal – sorry – money, at the beginning of the year has led to relations becoming frosty between Samizdat and new kids on the block, Veche (“views and opinions from the SSEES”). Vigilante SSEES Site President, Gemma Blakey, confiscated copies of the magazine’s first issue, telling the editors that it needed approval from the union. Of course, no such thing is true, what with it being distributed on college premises, but it’s nice to know that SSEES has its own miniature version of the KGB – with students militantly policing themselves and safeguarding
And finally, Andy ‘is it a wink, is it a twitch’ Fernando certainly knows which side his bread is buttered. At a recent Union Council meeting where an important vote was to be taken, Fernando was conspicuous in his absence. Thankfully, this little sabby hadn’t come down with a nasty winter cold, but was instead busy quaffing champagne… at the Provost’s birthday party.
WHAT-HO! Those sporting scamps are at it again. In a ‘hilarious’ list of hockey commandments, members were informed of several important rules. Players were reminded that “The Underprivileged” were unsuitable for the club (who gives a toss about equal opportunities?). Always happy to value the contributions of long-standing players, the rules also state that “Pratik Vats is a giant shit eating gay”. To top it all off, Hockey club types were also reminded: “Massive lads don’t date. Don’t forget that you are stronger than the Biffs, so can just rape them.” Sport of kings, eh lads? WHO SAYS RARE FM is incompetent? Radio is all about communication and professionalism, so it’s nice to know that the Head of Programming has everything under control. Rare FM members are only mildly bewildered by the multitude of anxious emails from Rob Murray asking for a Tuesday night DJ to “remind me who you are”. He’s threatened to remove them from the air – but you’ll have to find them first Rob…
[continued from front page] his business. The premise is simple: Freeman appoints a managing editor for each paper, and a team of writers are recruited as volunteers from the student body at the university in question. Freeman himself remains some distance from the day to day operations of the papers and restricts himself to organising the advertising. So The Sanctuary functions like a franchise; some material is shared between
papers but the content and style is tailored to the particular university by The Sanctuary’s writers, who are free to write what they like. This, at least, is the theory. The reality is somewhat different, with Freeman keeping a much closer eye on content than he lets on. When The Cheese Grater approached Freeman posing as a potential advertiser, his remarks cast doubt on The Sanctuary’s supposed independence. He ex-
Revelations An occasional column by Jesus H. Christ
lets just to prove how Me-damn happy they are that I was born! I will not be satisfied till every man, woman, and homeless person is listening to Cliff Richard’s “Millennium Prayer” on an iPod Touch. (Oh and don’t you even start on how the song should be “Silent Night” or one of those other “traditional” bumjockey songs). I want bright lights, loud noises, and shiny things in excess, to commemorate how fucking lucky you are that I exist! EVERYONE’S ALWAYS banging on about how Christmas is getting too commercial. How it’s now all about selling special ales and the newest gadgets and putting money in people’s pockets, when it should be about love, family, and tenderness. You know what I say to that? Bollocks! In my opinion, Christmas is not commercial enough!
Crown of Thorns What’s that? Materialism is bad? But I said, “It is easier for a camel go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”? Don’t tell me what I said, you ungrateful little twat! I know what I said and I know where it got me. When I was hanging up there on that cross, covered in lash-marks, all I could think was, “Shit… I should have at least saved up a few quid for some Ibuprofen.” Christmas isn’t about spending time with the people you care about. It’s about me! Me me me! And I want to see everyone emptying their wal-
Crotchless lingerie And I want more Jesus products out there! You’d better be sure that you are drinking Jesus brand wine (made with 100% water) come Christmas dinner and then proceed to shag your wife as she wears her new Mary Magdalene-style crotchless lingerie. Heaven has a price tag! You’d better save up enough receipts of Virgin Mary pregnancy tests and Jesus action play sets (complete with crown of thorns and removable nails) if you even want a bloody shot of getting in. You think eternal bliss is free? Sod right off pal! The Three Magi had it right. Well… maybe not the two who brought frankincense and myrrh. They could fuck right off for all I care. But the other one… oh man, was he on the money! That’s what Christmas is all about: dishing out bling! So next time you’re about to complain about the commercialisation of Christmas, just ask yourself: What Would Jesus Do? The Answer: Buy a ton of shit.
December 2007 TheCheeseGrater 3 plained that he “can’t afford to of tens of thousands of students lose advertisers” and that maga- with his publications, which are zine editors are therefore kept “the widest read paper[s] on each on a tight leash. He emphasised campus” according to a remark the fact that he is “very responsi- on The Sanctuary’s old website. ble” with regard to the needs and How the paper became so widely interests of advertisers, and that read at UCL and Warwick for exhe will move potentially conflict- ample is a mystery, given that the ing articles away from adverts, paper has been banned on camor even remove them altogether. pus at both universities, some“Before print we vet all the edi- thing Freeman conveniently fortorial,” Freeman stressed. got to tell our ‘advertiser.’ It appears that as far as What price financial indeFreeman is concerned, the Sanc- pendence? It is fair to say that tuary papers are little more than The Sanctuary gives a number of a money making venture; he es- UCL students a platform for their sentially makes a tidy profit from writing, some of which is actually advertising in newspapers which pretty good. The tragedy though his student volunteers have pro- is that they are the ones losing duced for free. (Nice work if you out from their involvement with can get it.) This would explain this latter day Rupert Murdoch, not only his willingness to do who makes easy money out of away with genuine editorial in- them and controls what they dependence, but also his willing- write. What price independence ness to bend the truth. He claims eh? [Additional reporting Rene to be able to reach an audience Lavanchy and Mark Ravinet]
Bang on the money Really awful magazine deservedly wins nothing, writes Claude McNab THE CHEESE GRATER is a rubbish magazine staffed by bell-ends, so it was only right and proper that student ‘journalists’ from across the country gathered at an illustrious awards ceremony to celebrate this fact. For one night, and one night only, gone was the usual Koko dress code of skinny jeans and ill fitting Topshop dresses; those career hungry young hacks stepped out in style. Subtitled ‘The Guardian Student Media Awards 2007,’ the ceremony was attended by a number of luminaries including Guardian editor Isabella Rusbridger and inexperienced comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli.
Boozed up and lairy In a badly disguised attempt to be fair, the organisers of the event ran through the motions with a number of additional categories such as ‘Student Sports Writer of The Year’ (awarded to specially recruited actors). These
A group of individuals believed to have been involved also allowed The Cheese Grater delegation more time to get pis sed and lairy before their inevitable humiliation. Their attempts at
Dying on your arse irony (booing the announcement of their own nomination) fell on deaf ears. As the night disintegrated around them, the dance floor was filled with a mixture of the pissed and successful, and the merely pissed. Nothing else was left to be done except to swap anecdotes with Hardeep [Who? – Ed.], rinse the free bar and stumble on into the unforgiving London night.
4 TheCheeseGrater December 2007
A load of old webshite!
How a cock-up on UCLU’s web pages by an ‘experienced’ web design company welcomes hackers with open arms Kat Lay and Tom Bance AN OVERSIGHT ON the UCLU website that experts say would have taken “about 30 seconds” to fix meant that student logins and passwords were available to anyone with a bit of internet know-how. To make matters worse, it seems UCLU staff were first informed of the problem back in February, but er… nothing was done about it until The Cheese Grater took a closer look.
Easy access When you input passwords or other sensitive info into most websites, they switch automatically into a secure mode (https) and send off your details in an encrypted format. The UCLU homepage wasn’t set up to do this, despite it being a fairly standard and routine task, so any login details typed in were sent off in plain text format - plain for everyone to see. Hackers could easily intercept the data, giving them access to students’ emails, homepages and - more worryingly - their detailed Portico records.
Wide open windows So who was responsible for such a lapse in security? Step forward Kitsite, the company UCLU paid £80,000 to give www.uclu. org a complete makeover two
Kitsite promise built in security on their homepage years ago. This comes as quite a surprise as Kitsite had supposedly dealt with security concerns already. When the sabbs got worried about password security around the time of the October elections, they contacted
UCLU.org - hacker friendly thanks to the expertise of Kitsite UCL Information Systems for a security certificate: a lengthy process, involving “considerable overheads”. But although online voting was made secure, the login problem wasn’t solved. As one IT security expert told The Cheese Grater: “Having gone to all that trouble, [leaving the passwords unencrypted] is a bit like getting new locks for all the doors and leaving the window open.” This isn’t the first time
that Kitsite had appeared unsuitable for the job of maintaining the UCLU website. Back in June a Union administrative meeting noted that Kitsite had “failed to meet some deadlines,” and at the start of October, General Manager Robert Taylor noted that “the service Kitsite has provided has at times not been of the highest quality.” Kitsite told The Cheese Grater that they only have a “fairly minimal support contract
with UCLU” and that when they first made the union site they “weren’t given the facility to put [secure logins] on the site.” They added that although they were willing to address the security issue, they were “not obliged to do anything about it.” The flaw has since been fixed. But this doesn’t resolve the issue of why such a glaring oversight was allowed to happen in the first place. Robert Clark, Head of IS informed us that steps were being taken to ensure all pages connecting to the UCL servers for authentication use secure encryption but that “more work is needed to achieve a target of 100%.” Since Kitsite had covered all the groundwork necessary to achieve a security certificate, it was safe to assume that they wouldn’t make such a mistake – but never mind eh? After all, it was only an £80,000 contract they had to fulfil.
Stop the Maddyness! Widespread relief as pathologist confirms battered corpse is not that of famous missing child Claude McNab THERE WAS widespread international relief as it emerged yesterday that the remains of a child found in a flooded mine in northern Spain are not those of missing English four-yearold Madeleine McCann. When the bruised corpse was found last Monday, there were fears that this might be the end of the road for Leicestershire youngster Maddy, who has been missing since the early summer. Concerned supporters of the McCann family across the world therefore breathed a sigh of relief when local chief of police Juan Ramirez announced: “We can now confirm that the corpse of an abused child discovered near the town of León is not the body of Madeleine McCann.
Police workers toil relentlessly to return the body to the mine The case is now closed.” The body was returned to the mine shortly afterwards by a team of police divers. Back home in Englan, Martha Higgs, chair of the Middle Englanders for Maddy group expressed her relief in a video
conference call early this morning. “Every child is precious, which is why her loss was so shocking. It’s a relief to know that our Maddy is still alive and that this battered, abused, suffering child is merely a red herring in our continuing quest.”
December 2007 TheCheeseGrater 5
PRESS RELEASE OUP JOINS UK GOVERNMENT DRIVE FOR SAFEGUARDING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE Embargo: Not for publication until 14th December 2007 At this time of year, the Oxford University Press traditionally announces the New Year’s batch of light-hearted additions to the dictionary, so contributing to an ever-increasing lexicon. Following research we conducted earlier this year, it has become clear that the English language is full and so no more words will be added. Indeed, following discussions with the Government regarding the disappointing literacy levels among UK children, it has been decided that, over the next five years, the English language will be streamlined to free up teacher time and to maximise ease of use. While verbs and adverbs will see redundancies, the biggest cuts will take place in the field of nouns – with “doodle” and “whatsit” being pushed forward to take up the slack. It is hoped that in five years time the language will have been reduced by 20 to 25%, compared to its size in 1984 - the benchmark year. In order to affect a smooth transition, the first round of cuts will only involve words which are deemed to be persistently misused or unnecessary. Procrastination /pɪs ɪt ə’weɪ/ It has come to our attention that the term procrastination’s sole use today is allowing students to think that by using a posh word, their days spent watching Family Guy on the internet are legitimately spent. Banter /pærə’litikəli ɪnkↄ’rɛkt/ : (noun) We would like to make it known to Jeremy Clarkson that the term is not synonymous with ‘racism’, as in “come on, it’s only a bit of racism!”. If you can’t use it properly, you can’t use it at all. Panini /brɛd fə twats/ : (noun) A superfluous term unless you are actually the Queen who eats roast swan paninis or something. In future, when requesting Tesco value tuna in a Hovis roll in a corner café, you’ll have to call it a fucking tuna roll like what it fucking is. Shizzle /’sɜ:tənli/ : (adv.) OUP has been made aware that the term “shizzle” is not actually used by any members of the black community, and is merely an invention of right wing American scriptwriters. The term is to be withdrawn with immediate effect. Chillax /kə ʊ’keɪn bluz/ : (verb) Although the clubbing community may have need of a portmanteau of the terms chill and relax to describe passing the weekend on the comedown from spending all your student loan on poppers and vodka, OUP proposes that the term chillax be banished, if only to see if these twerps can get their shit together enough to make a new word. She and Her /’wɪmɪnz/ : (pronoun) OUP is curious to see how everybody would cope without female third person pronouns. Now, if someone were asking if Lilly Allen had been wanking off tramps you’d have to reply ‘Yes that Lilly Allen has been wanking off tramps.’ Then they’d say ‘Gosh that Lilly Allen’s a character isn’t Lilly Allen?’. As transcribed by Sam Steddy
We look ahead at the cinema entertainment on offer to you this Winterval Square White Guy, Funny Black Guy This hilarious buddy movie throws together unlikely duo Square White Guy and Funny Black Guy in a scenario which is never properly explained. Some sort of road trip ensues involving a hot pursuit by the forces of the law-owing to a hilarious identity mix up which befalls Minor Asian Sidekick. Through the shared bonding experience of this hilarious Bonnie and Clyde-esque road trip Square White Guy learns to be a bit more street while Funny Black Guy has his horizons expanded beyond the ghetto.
Heartwarming Tripe This family film shows the triumph of an upper-middle-class white suburban family over seemingly impossible odds. The two parents are overworked in their relentless, well-paying office jobs and the kids are unhappy because this means that they may not be able to vacation in the Bahamas as promised. Thankfully, an elderly woman intervenes and teaches the whole family that sometimes work and money are overrated, leading the family to reconnect and become, ironically, even bigger rugged individualists than ever.
Inanimate Object and the Socially Awkward Kid Existential thriller in which precociously-talented-child-actor-du-jour plays a poor suburban schmuck, bullied at school for being short, fat and Jewish. He finds comfort in an unlikely talking inanimate object that restores his confidence and halts his downward spiral into life as a crack addict. Having a biology-defying talking object as a chum makes basic social skills unnecessary and the schmuck grows up to live happily ever after as a neurotic Jewish comedian.
Boys Don’t Make Passes At Girls Who Wear Glasses When a new loner-girl with brownish-hair and glasses arrives at Lady Elephant Trolls School for Girls, the popular girls, Marissa, Tamzin and Tallulah decide to give her a fabulous makeover! After taking Jenna shopping for the most chic clothes and employing über-gay Chico to give her a kick-ass new ‘do, they all realise that there’s nothing quite like girl-friends... What follows is 50 minutes of the most uninhibited sex seen in cinema this year.
Loudmouth Sleazer is invited to the house party of a group of people he doesn’t know. An initial period of social awkwardness designed to resonate with the teenage audience is soon remedied by Loudmouth’s well rehearsed jokes on sex and rohypnol. Soon everyone is eating out of his hand, especially Flirtatious Rich Girl. Somehow Flirtatious Rich Girl disappears up her own ass, leaving Loudmouth Sleazer wondering how he’ll score any poonani and the audience wondering why they paid admission. Fortunately, help is at hand for both parties as salvation arrives in the form of Mega Slut. Loudmouth Sleazer recycles his cliché ridden routine and all parties win sexual satisfaction of one sort or another. So join Loudmouth Sleazer as his night unfolds, with hilarious consequences. Writers: Claude McNab, Devin Toohey, Jenni Hulse, Humbette Humbette, Alex Smith
6 TheCheeseGrater December 2007
Bad Science/Junk Medicine Why exactly did UCL, a leader in scientific research, bow to the wills of two crackpot herbalists? Alex Ashman WITH THE PROVOST claiming UCL is trying to “tackle humanity’s most pressing problems”, things look dark for the future of mankind if a couple of quacks are able to throw a spanner in the works so easily. Back in June, two herbalists from Reading accused UCL of defamation and threatened legal action all because of a popular blog written by a UCL professor which is published on the College webservers. Worryingly, it seems that Provost Professor Malcolm Grant was quick to yield to the unfounded legal demands of the pair.
Professor David Colquhoun The story begins in January 2007 when herbalist Ann Walker wrote an editorial for the British Journal of General Practice bemoaning the lack of nutrient supplement use for diabetes. While the piece encourages supplement use, it failed to mention that Walker is a consultant for several nutritional supplement companies - in fact, her editorial was almost certainly part of a widespread campaign by herbalists to stir up business by claiming that their oft-untested wares are scientifically proven to have a beneficial effect on our health. Having picked up on Walker’s deceit, Professor Colquhoun wrote about the matter in his blog, “Improbable Science”, which rubbishes the pseudo-scientific claims made by various charlatans. Despite having previously been hidden away on the UCL servers, the blog has gained
the attention of various readers including Guardian ‘Bad Science’ blogger Ben Goldacre.
Colquhoun’s website has now been restored, albeit with a few changes such as the replacement of a picture of red clover taken from Walker and Lakin’s website, which Lakin had previously asked UCL to remove ‘as a matter of urgency’. Having successfully chastened the lily-livered Provost, the ‘blogosphere’ has now turned to the ritual humiliation of Ann Walker’s dubious works, thus turning what was previously an isolated censure of Walker’s opinions into a worldwide humiliation. Ironic, really, when you consider that Dr Lakin’s letter to Malcolm Grant stated that “we cannot have my wife’s reputation damaged in this way.”
In one entry, Colquhoun depicted Walker as a peddler of quack medicines such as red clover, a so-called ‘blood cleanser’, and heartsease, which is recommended for conditions that involve a ‘sticky discharge’. Both these claims come from a website entitled ‘Discover Herbal Medicine’, which is run jointly by Walker and her husband, Dr Alan Lakin. Colquhoun backed up his article with excerpts from scientific sources and, to prove his point, included a dialogue on red clover from Walker and Lakin’s website. Fair enough – or was it? Dr Lakin obviously didn’t think so, as became clear when he contacted the Provost threatening to sue UCL for defamation and copyright infringement. However, this wasn’t quite enough for Lakin, who also complained, bizarrely, of a breach of the Data Protection Act and wrote to UCL Council asking for a paper to be circulated noting Colquhoun’s alleged “misuse” of College IT resources.
Excommunication When the Provost (quite rightly) refused to remove the offending material, Lakin called in the lawyers and issued UCL with a pre-action protocol for defamation proceedings. Quickly bowing to the pressure, Grant phoned Colquhoun and asked him to remove his blog from the UCL servers – in fact, Grant even went as far as to suggest that Colquhoun pretend he had removed the blog “voluntarily”. Colquhoun had been excommunicated in order to protect the College, and to all intents and purposes it seemed that the herbalists had won.
Media attention However, Grant’s timorous response caught the atten-
The red clover with supposed blood cleansing properties
tion of the national press, and soon the stream of blogs on the Guardian website translated into what Ben Goldacre describes as “a gratifying avalanche of letters” in Colquhoun’s defence. Colquhoun recalls that, once Grant had “taken an entire weekend off ” to reply to the letters, he decided to take advice from a
December 2007 TheCheeseGrater 7
The university without a soul Topping university league tables is meaningless if even your own students don’t feel a connection with the institution - which is exactly why UCL plc is in trouble Mister Chatterbox THERE ARE GREAT works of western literature that are published every so often that have an impact on society so large that it is impossible to gauge their importance: Origin of Species, Das Kapital, Jeffrey Archer’s Prison Diaries (vol. 2 – Purgatory) to name but a few. Now it seems a new work has entered this exclusive canon: Issue Ten of Pi Squared. The regular reader of The Cheese Grater will probably be aware that in the past Mister Chatterbox has been somewhat disparaging of this periodical. However, after turning to the op-ed pages, Mister Chatterbox found himself (in an event as surprising as David Irving paying a sympathy visit to Auschwitz) in almost complete agreement with our Provost, Professor Malcolm Grant. Ignoring the Provost’s gaudy shirt and tie combination, he read with unmitigated approval Professor Grant’s quite proper dismissal of the latest league table placing University College as the ninth best university this side of Orion’s Belt. Only a fool, Our Dear Leader indicated, would be taken in by such fluctuating league tables, let alone boast about the fact on interweb “sites” such as myspacebook.com.org.
Ninth best - so what? That said, the Provost is quite correct to ignore the trifling concerns of methodology and to allow himself to bask in the warm glow of the favourable press coverage that has resulted from the result. As the Provost is well aware (although absentmindedly forgot to include it in his wonderful article) the Times Higher Education Supplement-Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings has been subject to prolonged public contention since its inception in
UCL’s corporate identity - a step too far? 2004. There are some (although we do not necessarily count ourselves among them) who argue that too much emphasis has been put upon the significance of peer-review in the survey (40%), which is open to gross manipulation and the sinister application of self-interest. It must be noted that a number of changes were made for the 2007 table to address such concern, yet UCL academics have pointed out that the method used in drawing up such a review is unscientific in the extreme. While some muse upon the over-importance placed upon “recruiter review” (which is given a 10% weighting in the survey), it has also been suggested that the citations per faculty (a 20% weighting) is now biased towards UK universities. A distinguished academic friend from an illustrious institute in the former colonies, which is not included in the top ten, points to the continuing improvement of the UK as suspicious: “It is hard not to conclude that the inclusion of so many UK universities in the top ten is tantamount to academic gerrymandering.” When interrogated by Mr Chatterbox, some senior College staff reluctantly admitted this too.
Hay-maker When asked if the THESQS World Rankings had “finally got the balance right” in its methodology for the 2007 survey, one authoritative academic of the university raised his bushy eyebrows and gave a wry, yet knowing, smile. Asked
why the Provost was making hay from such allegedly tainted grass he commented, “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?” Spurred on by our Provost’s jollification of this magnificent ‘global centre of excellence’, he was eager to discover the opinions of the masses towards University College and was devastated to find that while vox populi might be the vox dei, it is certainly not vox Provosti. There was a truly shocking lack of reverence towards our benevolent and omniscient leader, at least from those who had heard of him. While Mister Chatterbox
“... while vox populi might be vox dei, it is certainly not vox Provosti.” has reluctantly accepted that Professor Grant is about as popular as Freddie Mercury at a Transylvanian blood bank amongst UCL academics, he never in his most shuddersome nightmares expected that this would be replicated in the opinions of undergraduates. Now it must be admitted that such an inquiry is about as valid as, say, a THES-QS survey. However, when one undergraduate was asked how he was celebrating the joyous news of the elevation of UCL into the heady stratosphere of academic prestige the response was: “It’s good news in a way, and will probably look good on my CV, but I don’t really feel it’s up there with
Oxford and Cambridge”. When questioned on how she felt about UCL an English undergraduate commented: “I’ve got no real opinion about UCL to be honest, I love my department and that’s why I applied but I don’t have much contact with the rest of the university”. Not disheartened Mr Chatterbox pursued. Was it Jeremy Bentham’s progressive liberal vision of higher education that made you apply to University College, he asked a third. “Jeremy who?” came the reply. There it is; this is the university without a soul.
“...there should be more to a university than a prospect of a job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers” None of this means UCL isn’t good or great. However it is unfortunate that the Provost’s slash and burn diktats, interwoven with the dispiriting and unimaginative management policies of UCL plc, have almost totally destroyed the very being of what used to be a proud college. With his bland corporate-style logo as his banner, he has ignored the noble vision of Bentham, and leads a woebegone troop of undergraduates into the cruel world of management consultancy. Even that long-held rivalry against another institution by the Strand, which in times past resulted in mass skirmishes in the quad, has been reduced to pathetic sniping and the uninspiring anthem of the College sports teams, which makes the average Millwall chant seem like a lost verse of The Waste Land. Such things are, of course, all part of the drab modern world of cut and thrust, yet Mister Chatterbox cannot help but feel that there should be more to a university than the prospect of a job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers.
Contributors: Harry Stopes, Hannah Hudson, Alex Ashman, Jenni Hulse, Christina Ravinet, Gareth Spencer, Devin Toohey, Claude McNab, Sam Steddy, Alex Smith, Alex E Bottomore, Scary Boots, Richard Soames, Mister Chatterbox, Alex McKenna, Kat Lay, Tom Bance, Nick Howe, Nick Lackenby, “The only way we can measure the significance of our own lives is by valuing the lives of others”
8 TheCheeseGrater December 2007
Extracts from the blog of a drink sodden ex-Trotskyist About Me
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Merry ‘Christ-mas’ Yet again we approach the mawkish and otiose celebration of child abuse that many a sinister, credulous god-loving charlatan has decided to term in recent years ‘Christ-mas’. I believe it is my duty, as a reasoning man of the Enlightenment - and devotee of such towering ﬁgures as Immanuel Kant, David Hume and Thomas Paine - to expose this festival of death and misery for what it is, an otiose and mawkish celebration of child abuse. Indeed, it is made all the more sinister by the central ﬁgures in this pantomime of misery and death. There is Jesus of Nazareth, called “Christ” by certain members of his death-cult following (more commonly known as “Christianity”) and Santa, called “Claus” by certain followers of his commercial jihad (more commonly known as “Capitalism”). In the case of Jesus, we see a prostitute consorting, rapist, child-abuser/magician with a penchant for the mawkish and sinister act of resurrection. What is more, he was in the pay of the High Priest of the sinister and otiose Arkansas Universal Church of Fellatio (a man more commonly known as Bill Clinton). Mr. Claus is no better, an alcoholic, rapist, reindeer-abusing Islamofascist magician, who engages in breaking and entering and uses a ﬂying sleigh to lure unsuspecting children to his den of iniquity. Indeed, these two despicable thugs of the highest order - who attempt, like Chaucerian frauds to garner sympathy for their cause through pathetic stunts such as being nailed to a tree, or leaving presents for small children - are the reason why I believe we should cancel the whole thing, leaving me to enjoy my scotch and cigarettes in peace. POSTED BY CHRISTOPHER AT 3:04 AM
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Monday, December 10, 2007
Dear blog – though I use such a superﬂuous and otiose expression with care, noting to all that might read this, that such a term does not preclude any belief on my part in a supernatural being known as ‘blog’, as such an idea would be absurd and only worthy of second division, proto-theist, fascist crackpot intellectuals such as Stephen Hawking and Richard Dawkins - I must note that I had rather a good lunch today. I enjoyed the sprightly and intellectually challenging company of Salman Rushdie and the late Ronald Reagan, and afterwards I found myself bound to do a huge shit in the faux-straw crib of my local Baptist Church’s nativity scene. As Salman pointed out, at least the ‘ﬁgure’ in the manger bore a more realistic ethnic hue than the usual saccharine and credulous cabbage patch doll efﬁgy one is so used to ﬁnding these days in Middle-America. POSTED BY CHRISTOPHER AT 7:50 PM
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Henry Kissinger I have come to the conclusion that the Santa “Claus” ensconced in primordial, winterval splendour on the ﬁfth ﬂoor of Macy’s, is in fact Henry Kissinger. This vile war criminal and mountebank, who, while aroused by listening to children’s Christmas wishes – and pinching his chubby little ﬂanks in delight at his deception - ejaculates into a tube, deviously concealed beneath his sumptuous robes, the contents of which are transferred via the U.S. State Department to the fetid, lifeless corpse of Richard Nixon, in an attempt to revive him and so restart the Vietnam War. Therefore I have resolved to tomorrow, in the spirit pan-human kinship espoused by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to take a pick-axe to his fat, Yiddish face. POSTED BY CHRISTOPHER AT 5:30 AM
I enjoy a drink because it makes others less boring. I have a great terror of being bored. But I fucking love a drink. I utterly detest the three great monotheisms (especially Catholicism) but enjoy nothing more than disparaging them with a scotch by my side. And a fag too.
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UCL Union Cheese Grater Magazine Society www.cheesegratermagazine.uclu.org Student Publication of the Year - UCL Union Arts Awards 2007 President and Editor: Mark Ravinet Treasurer: Scary Boots 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.