TheCheeseGrater The Other Student Magazine of University College London Union
No. 20 February 2009
THIS MONTH Down Your Union
The Union AGM is a snow-go p.2
UCL’s flimsy new Ethical Investment Policy p.4
News At A Glance
Howard off the Halifax ads: tragic victim of the recession p.5
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
UCL departments scrap interviews after College push for efficiency p.7
Capital of Culture 2009
The Cheese Grater nominates its favourite backwaters of England p.8
potato FEBRUARY 09
e h t o t e Welcom ly digest of th n o m ing d s ’ u l n c o i n I n . U ns e p p a h t shit wha at couldn’t get else... th writers ished anywhere publ And all this for FREE!* *Except for the thousands of pounds of Union grant money we’ll be spending on it!
See inside, pages 4 and 5
Down Your Union
2 TheCheeseGrater February 2009
Democracy at UCLU is thwarted again, but not by a sabb! One World Week strikes again and Charlie Clinton wants you to criticise him... Polly T Calnut THE DEMOCRATIC juggernaut that is UCLU has stalled again. The spanner in the works this time was, for once, down to natural forces. Communications and Services Officer Charlie Clinton stated on the Union website that the AGM, due to be held on 3 February, had been postponed due to “inclement weather conditions, which we believe will restrict students’ movement rendering many unable to attend the meeting”. Presumably the sabbs were worried that the hoards [surely handfuls?– Ed] of students that usually attend Union AGMs might be injured while tobogganing down Gordon Street and acrobatically throwing themselves into the Bloomsbury theatre.
The AGM has been rescheduled for 27 February, amid audible grumbling that this will clash with some students’ religious commitments and prevent any medics on placement from attending. The reschedule was dictated by the availability of the Bloomsbury Theatre, as this is the only venue large enough to accommodate the number of students expected to attend. Odd, since Union AGMs are no-
toriously badly attended, rarely attracting the one percent of the student body necessary to be quorate and therefore easily accommodated in a standard lecture theatre. However, a new Activities Board policy mandates that Clubs and Societies send at least two representatives to the AGM, and this total alone gives an attendance greater than the capacity of any lecture theatre.
Demolish Huntley Street
Threatening behaviour An Activities Board memo sent to society presidents by Student Activities Officer Jen Currigan stated that societies who do not send representatives risk losing fifty percent of their grant allocation or “any other punishment as seen fit by Activities Board”. Democracy enforced by blackmail then - hurrah! Back in October it was suggested at Activities Board that a “carrot and stick system” was the only way to ensure General Meetings were quorate. This explains the confusing policy of giving drinks vouchers to students who bothered to show up to the Welcome General Meeting while threatening societies who don’t send representatives to the AGM with funding cuts. Fortunately, this policy is not only undemocratic in principle,
Fairytales for the 21st Century Cinderella
Save Huntley Street it is unconstitutional in fact, since it is not confirmed by the Union’s Standing Orders. Unless the Union plans to act outside its constitution, the grant cut is an empty threat.
Believe the hype The Union seems determined to sustain the hype, and banners and posters advertising
the AGM have dominated 25 Gordon Street over the past cou ple of weeks. At least it’s reassuring to see the Union finally admitting that plans are afoot to reduce the much loved Medics’ Union to a pile of snakebite-soaked rubble, even if it came after a kick up the arse from the student media (see Cheese Grater issue 19).
With friends like these One world what? Charlie Clinton has made another Robespierrean attempt to convince UCL students that he’s a man of the people. The C&S Officer has set up a Facebook group, ‘Help Shape UCLU: be a Critical Friend’, apparently as “a forum for commenting on and criticising your Union”. Despite these noble ambitions the group wall has descended into a slanging match with constructive criticisms such as “get rid of Jazz Night! It’s annoyingly loud, and forces people out if they want to talk!” The people have spoken Charlie.
It’s that time of the year again when UCLU smugly celebrates being a technicolour smorgasbord of humanity with One World Week. This year’s ingenious theme was ‘London’, suitably vague considering how unrelated most of the events were. But it seemed UCLU was determined to get students involved whether they liked it or not. One event in the OWW guide read, “the Sikh Society will be attempting to tie turbans on passers-by and anyone else who would like to wear one for a day.”
February 2009 TheCheeseGrater 3
A Hollow Victory
Student campaigners are celebrating but UCL’s new ethical investment policy is predictably disappointing.
Alex Ashman MORE THAN TWO years after the Campaign Against the Arms Trade exposed College’s investment in weapons part manufacturers, UCL has finally decided to adopt an ethical investment policy. While student campaigners from Disarm UCL are already celebrating their victory, The Cheese Grater wonders whether the policy is anything more than a PR exercise.
THOSE HACKS AT PI media put their thinking caps on this term to come up with a new name for Pi Squared. After much arse-scratching they decided on the ingenious... Pi Newspaper. Go team! In an attempt to calm the rising waves of protest that were sure to accompany such a drastic restyle, the latest editorial reassured readers that “the paper has not suddenly become radically different.” What a shame.
Invested interests UCL’s ethical investment policy is available on their website and at first glance it appears hopeful, with over a page’s worth of rules detailing how College should invest. Don’t be fooled. The very first line states that “the guiding principle of UCL’s investment policy is to generate funds”, and there is little deviation from that message. College’s default position is to keep on investing – companies are innocent until proven guilty. Crucially, there has been no immediate divestment of shares
“The guiding principle of UCL’s investment policy is to generate funds” in Cobham, the company that profits directly from weapons sales. Three criteria are listed that would allow UCL to disinvest shares in a company, but these are all based on existing laws that UCL must already comply with. Guidelines for the new Ethical Investment Review Committee reveal it as nothing more than a filter to prevent criticism getting any higher up the food chain.
The hush up Of the disinvestments criteria, only the third can actually be used by students, staff and alumni to call for arms shares to be dropped. Such a call would be addressed to the EIRC, which
Got something big and juicy? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Cheese Grater Annual General Meeting It ain’t over yet - the campaign to disarm UCL meets twice a year and consists of two Council members, two staff and one Union officer. If the EIRC really do feel an investment to be unethical they can refer it to the Investments Committee, who will determine if UCL might lose out financially if it divested. If the IC rule that divesting would have a negative financial impact (as all divestments do in the short term) the EIRC will be politely told to keep quiet. If this fails to sweep the matter under the carpet, then it is referred up to Council, who can consider “UCL’s overall financial position” and then tell the EIRC to pipe down with all the power that The Moustachioed One can muster.
Further points included in the policy make for disheartening reading. UCL won’t divest from any sector from which it receives research money, and
this includes the arms sector, though it will look at individual businesses on a case-by-case basis. Also, the policy seizes on a Charity Commission guideline that investment decisions “shall
“UCL won’t divest from any sector which it receives research money from - and this includes the arms sector” not be a proxy for making moral and social statements at the expense of the charity concerned”.
Less than impressive After all this, the policy gives only one definite example of companies that UCL will not invest in. As this very magazine stated two years ago, the only companies that are beyond the pale are those directly involved in the tobacco industry, and this is
When? 10 March, 6pm. Where? Room G23, the Pearson building.
What? The society is holding
its Annual General Meeting and all committee positions are up for grabs. They are: President/Editor Treasurer Secretary Assistant Editor Investigative Editor Graphics Editor Publicity & Distribution Manager All members are welcome at the AGM. Nominations for positions should be e-mailed to the Editor at email@example.com by 5pm, 9 March. at least partly due to the research funding that College receives from Cancer Research UK. UCL have a long way to go if they are to impress anyone who actually reads their guidelines.
4 TheCheeseGrater February 2009
The Potato Planner
London is a dull culture vacuum with nothing to offer young students eager for a slice of life. UCLU know what you want - jazz, jazz, mime and jazz. Monday Give it a go
River dredging with Brian Paddick. Meet 5pm City Hall.
Tuesday Jazz Jammin’
Der Ring des Nibelungen by Wagner. 6pm - 10am in Easy J’s.
Wednesday UCL Pork Society
Come and celebrate the joy of pork. Spit roast in the quad from 6pm.
Thursday Give it a go
Kleptomania. Meet 2pm outside Harrods. Deep pockets recommended.
Where’s that gone? Where’s that guy? The one with the silly hats?
UCL Women’s Group Discussion “Baking our way out of the patriarchal system”.
Hug a hobo. Euston Gardens 3pm. Bring your own hobo.
Give it a go
Amateur free running. It’s faster than walking.
With guest appearance from the Black and White Minstrels.
Live Music Society Ancient History Rock ‘N’ Roll suicides. Society
Join the Freemasons Shhhhh.
Give it a go
Attend a lecture. Any lecture.
Anarchist Society Cocktail Night
Bring your own weapons.
Gladiatorial contest in Gordon Square.
People and Planet Shit-in
UCL Existentialist Society Meeting
Give it a go
Give it a go
UCL Fencing Society
Kick up a stink and save the polar ice caps.
UCL Post-Modern Porn Society
Projecting meaning into the terrible silence.
Breaking the Fourth Wall. With your penis.
Saturday Live Music Society UCL Men’s Rugby Riot Grrl night featuring bands Gang Rape and the Bloody Rags.
Give it a go
Do-it-yourself STI testing. 2pm in the Quad.
Jazz Jammin’ fuck Does theyourself.
Meet 5pm Grosvenor Square.
Pete Townsend signs copies of his memoirs, ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’.
Fantasy role play. Swords provided.
Libertarian Society UCL Mime Society What to do with your trust fund in the absence of the state.
Can you guess the name of the UCL Alumni from the pictures below?
Answer on page 13
Contributors: Christina Ravinet, Jenni Hulse, Sam Steddy, Will Moss, Gareth Spencer, Alex Ashman, Mark Hoffman, George Potts, Thomas Rhoades, Adam Gillet, Tom Webb, Alex McKenna, Will Moore, Polly T Calnut. This issue of The Cheese Grater is dedicated to Sir John Mortimer QC (1923-2009) - writer, barrister and advocate of freedom of speech.
February 2009 TheCheeseGrater 5
Potato Fact No. 1: How many potatoes does is take to kill an Irishman? Answer: None! LOlzzZz!!!
Provost’s ‘Bloomsbury Lebensraum’ Project On Hold After Bid For Malet Street Rejected The Union holds a minute’s silence today in memory of the once great plans of our Lord and Leader, Malcolm Grant, for the ULU building. Toothless lickspittles at the University of London displayed their Tsarist sympathies once again by granting ULU a five-year lease. Below we outline our own great Five Year Plan that would have seen Malet Street transformed into the physical manifestation of the final outworking of the dialectic. -The first phase of our plan is to seize the means of production on Malet Street. The Duck And Dive will be ours and all who reside within will be subject to immediate dekulakisation. The swimming pool and gym will be utilised in fashioning the chiselled physiques of the new men of the Revolution. -The second phase will be the annexation of Senate House Library. All counter-revolutionary literature shall be purged in what shall be known henceforth as the Great Barbecue on Malet Street. All traces of the University of London will be resigned to the previous historical epoch. -Phase three, the greatest and most ambitious phase, will be the liberation of the British Museum. This hive of bourgeois intellectualism has polluted the minds of the people for far too long. The Empires of old shall fall along with the capitalist jam jar that encases them. Thus UCL shall rule Malet Street bringing an end to the poisonous hegemony of the University of London and ushering in a new dawn that shall be henceforth known as the dawn of the Moustache.
RUN FOR ELECTION! Want another gap year to complement the two you already took when you got those unexpected rejections? Want to be paid £24k to make Facebook groups? Want to makes assets out of your personality flaws? Want FREE COFFEE? Then it’s simple: become a UCLU sabbatical officer! It’s a doddle! In the upcoming elections, have ten of your bestest chums vote for you. No one else actually cares, so you’ll get in without any trouble. After that, you don’t have to do anything at all. For an entire year! The perks are incredible. Not only is there free coffee on tap, but all sabbatical officers are allowed the use of the sabbatical pleasure suite to entertain/detain sexual conquests (so long as they clean up afterwards). Deal? Deal?! Yeah.
THE UNION CASH MACHINES PROBABLY AREN’T WORKING.
NOW STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY YOUR STOLEN SANDWICH.
6 TheCheeseGrater February 2009
Bojo Eats News at a New En- Andrex voy To The Puppy Re- Own Hand, Glance
Middle-East placed With Bunting Howard Erected No Longer Annouced Younger Actor Gives You Extra - He’s Dead Popular banker and novelty human being Howard Brown, most famous for his work with Halifax Bank’s ‘Who Gives You Extra?’ campaign, was found dead in the bank’s Mayfair branch last night. Brown was discovered in what one officer described as a “bloody mess”, hanging from a biro on a chain. The officer went on to confirm that “no one could hear his death throes behind the sound-proof glass of the cashiers’ desk.”
The Cheese Grater can reveal that Ivan Cameron, son of Tory Party Leader David Cameron is to broker a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Mr Cameron, six, has been described by numerous prominent Zionists such as Sir Gerald Kaufman and the late Lord Walter Rothschild as the “ideal person for the job.” Mr. Cameron, unlike his drug-taking parents, suffers from cerebral palsy and is therefore virtually mute. An ideal candidate, it would seem if Israel is to be allowed to continue its massacre in the Gaza Strip - until hitting the magic six million casualty tally - with impunity. “It’s all about communication” said Melanie Phillips, Columnist for the Daily Mail and Jewish Chronicle, “and Ivan has that in spades.”
Ivan has a “whole bookful of Yasser Arafat jokes to ease the tension”
Grinning twat now dead The night before his apparent suicide, he had been seen outside a Soho Club, screaming “I’ll give you extra, but it’s £15 more if you want a blowjob”, and some reports suggest sightings of a lonely man wildly thrashing his genitalia against the window of the bank’s Tottenham Court Road branch declaring “Look what I’m paying in!” Halifax said they had no choice but to fire Brown after it became clear that his constant jauntiness clashed with the general mood of the nation in the current economic climate. Said one spokesman: “He refused our idea for an alternative advert, in which he would be seen weeping naked in a dark corner to the tune of Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On”.
Moreover, the humour of Ivan - described by noted funny man and lifelong supporter of the state of Israel, Bernard Manning as “Absolutely fookin legendary for a fookin dribbler” - will also come into play. This magazine has even been told (by a undisclosed source at Conservative Party Central Office) that Ivan has a “whole bookful of Yasser Arafat jokes to ease the tension” and that he will communicate them to the key negotiators around the table, by dribbling them out using Morse Code. Furthermore, Mr Cameron isn’t believed to be beyond slapstick humour either; as Yiddish Comedienne Maureen Lipman said yesterday, “knowing when to involuntarily shit your nappy, in order to relieve centuries of Semitic hostility, is a talent, perhaps even a gift from Y-hw-h.”
Bog roll manufacturer Kimberly Clarke has come under fire for its decision to axe much loved canine actor Rex Falstaff from the popular Andrex puppy role, replacing him with an inexperienced youngster. At only four months old, the new casting, Snowy Fielding, had this to say, in Rik Mayall’s voice: “Obviously I’m a real admirer of Rex’s work, and feel so honoured to be assuming his mantle. I’ve watched his adverts ever since my eyes opened three days after I was born, so I hope I do him justice, but I really think it’s important that Andrex keep encouraging new talent and foster a new generation of stars.” For some, however, the scandal is nothing but a repeat of the controversy that surrounded Falstaff ’s appointment in the first place. At the time he replaced Andrex’s first female Labrador Natalia Dati, who was told that she was not welcome back after taking maternity leave following the birth of her seven puppies, even though the youngest, after being born with severe respiratory problems, was eaten by the father. Andrex has not only been accused of ageism in the casting, but of passing over the opportunity, in the current political climate, of appointing Andrex’s first black Labrador puppy, maybe with the voice that Richard Ayoade uses in The IT Crowd.
Soft, strong and out of a job
London Mayor Boris Johnson’s status as a figure of fun was confirmed to many this week as news that he had suffered a mental breakdown and gnawed off his own hand was met with mirth and adulation from the city’s population.
Boris Johnson: knawed a joker Johnson, forty-four, was seen by many as a ‘celebrity appointment’ when he was elected to the position last year, winning by way of the public’s adoration for his bumbling foppishness. It may be his notoriety that helps him through this period of psychiatric ill health, as parties are thrown throughout London in appreciation of the zany stunt. The politician is yet to comment on the incident personally, though he is believed to be recovering quickly in an Essex hospital. The new stump is said to have healed nicely, leading his PA, Petronella Wyatt, to speculate that he may be able to return to his post in a matter of days. Meanwhile, in London, parties continue long into the February night. One reveller said, “This is typical Bojo, it’s like having a combination of Hugh Grant and Winston Churchill in charge of the city’s well being and legislation.” As the dust settles and the bloodied limousine seat where the munching took place is wiped thoroughly, the nation holds its breath in anticipation of Johnson’s next big move.
February 2009 TheCheeseGrater 7
An End To Interviews? Is College undermining its commitment to “widening participation” by phasing out interviews?
and administrative posts, leaving departments even less able to cope with the volume of applicants. Interviews may be the ideal method of selection for distinguishing between neat rows of perfect A-level grades, particularly for humanities subjects, but with reduced staff numbers the reality is that departments only interview students who are likely to be made an offer. Interviews have become a method for recruitment, persuading the applicant to choose UCL as their first choice, rather than a method of selection. Unlike Oxbridge, UCL do not have the luxury of knowing that students will always accept their offer.
Mark Hoffman INTERVIEWS ARE being phased out by UCL departments in response to College’s push for a more efficient selections process. Increasing demands for a rapid turnover of applicants has made widespread interviewing a “meaningless” process that is more about recruitment than selection. UCL occupies a strange position in the university hierarchy. Ever keen to distinguish itself from fellow Russell Group universities but lacking the resources to rival Oxford or Cambridge, College is sending out two incompatible messages about the value of interviewing applicants. While recognising the prestige attached to interviews, College’s calls for increased efficiency are undermining the value of the whole process. At Oxbridge, where interviews remain a major part of the selection process, all colleges employ a professional admissions tutor to sift through the hundreds of applicants per place. UCL has nowhere near the same resources and interviews are organised by academics who take on the role of departmental Admissions Tutor on top of their existing commitments. Supervising the admissions process is supposed take up no more than twenty percent of their time but in reality, as one admissions tutor noted, it is often a far greater proportion. What’s more, these admissions tutors are “amateurs” and remain academics first and foremost. In 2007 The Committee for the Recruitment and Admission of Students produced a report comparing the time taken by UCL departments to process UCAS applications to that taken by universities with a more centralised admissions procedure
UCL History department: interviews have become “meaningless” such as LSE, Nottingham and Warwick. The unfavourable results led to an emphasis on the need for “increased efficiency” in the admissions process. In plain language, this meant giving departments just one month to turn around UCAS applications, from submission to offer. In effect, squeezing out time-consuming admissions procedures such as interviews.
“How do we differentiate between neat rows of perfect A-levels while minimising the disadvantage of less privileged students?” Students have raised concerns about the impact getting rid of interviews will have on future applicants. The chance for an interview is an attractive one, especially for students who are
not also applying to Oxbridge. Concerns were also voiced by Admissions Tutors as to how scrapping interviews will affect students applying from disadvantaged backgrounds. Interviews have long been seen as the best way of broadening entry and recognising the potential of an applicant regardless of the calibre of their school. Some departments, such as Anthropology, remain adamant that they will continue to interview potential students. But it seems for more over-subscribed courses such as History, the interviews process has long been a façade and a restructuring of the selections process is entirely necessary. History Admissions Tutor Adam Smith, said the department had “literally no choice to continue with the old system.” The much-vaunted UCL ‘regeneration programme’ has led to the loss of academic
So the problem remains how to differentiate between neat rows of perfect A-level grades while minimising the disadvantage of students from less privileged backgrounds. The approach of several departments is to ask for submissions of written work, which seems almost as naïve as relying on a personal statement. Geography have introduced ‘group tutorials’ to replace individual interviews. Denying departments the resources to interview a meaningful number of applicants seems rather out of synch with UCL’s commitment to “widening participation”. Interviews are however, likely to continue for applicants in unconventional circumstances, such as mature students. Russell Group universities do not have the resources to sustain an Oxbridge system of interviews, especially considering the current economic climate. It seems likely that with the constraints on academics and a general increase in applications, the trend for centralised, professional administrators will continue, leaving departments less of a say in the admissions procedure but taking considerable weight off academics. [Additional reporting by JH]
European Capital of “Culture” 2009
8 TheCheeseGrater February 2009
Following Liverpool’s successful Ringo Starr themed barrel-scraping in 2008, The Cheese Grater nominates it’s favourite towns of England for the title in 2009. 1. Croydon Kate Moss was born here in 1974. Then she left. Home to some of the finest clubs outside London including Tiger Tiger, free of gun scares since 2006; Walkabout, which serves hotdogs on club nights; The Hustler Club where girls with their tits out will say they love you for £10. There is also a wealth of culinary delights to choose from including eight McDonalds and six Subways, all within easy reach of the town centre between East, West and South Croydon!*
2. Swindon Mark Lamarr was born here in 1967. Then he left. Other than this the only attraction is ‘The Magic Roundabout’ - a road juction composed of five interconnected miniroundabouts.
3. Luton (twinned with Karachi)
5. Berwick-upon-Tweed The second hyphenated entry on our list lies on the border between England and Scotland. Notable for its pub quiz status due to its long war with the Russian Empire. Watch in awe as the English pubs close at 11pm and several hundred alcoholics cross the border en masse.
6. Coventry (twinned with Dresden) Extensively remodelled by noted German architect and urban planner Hermann Göring in 1940. A must-see for the fan of concrete Brutalism. England’s first incident of lewd public behaviour and streaking was recorded here in 1046.
7. Basildon X
A slice of the Asian sub-continent in the middle of rural Bedfordshire. See where the 7/7 bombers got on the train. Mosque themed alarm clocks available on the high street.
Affectionately known by its residents as ‘Bas Vegas’, this London communter cunt-hive boasts the smallest gene pool in Europe. Also home to several well-funded STI research centres, such as Wetherspoon’s and Yates’s. *North Croydon was lost during the Macmillan administration at some point in the 1960s.
4. Weston-super-Mare As seen on ‘T4 on the Beach’, W-s-M is a delightful seaside resort in the West Country, home to two disgraced piers. Host to several traditional regional sports including lobbing cans at donkeys and TimeCrisisIII. Also contains the largest private collection of 2p Falls outside of the former Eastern Bloc.
8. Ashby-de-la-Zouch Long mocked for its association with the word ‘Douche’, A-d-l-Z has really come of age since the opening of the A511 bypass in 2004. There really never has been a better time to drive past the town.
UCL Union Cheese Grater Magazine Society www.cheesegratermagazine.org Student Publication of the Year - UCL Union Arts Awards 2006, 2007, 2008 President and Editor: Jenni Hulse Treasurer: Alex McKenna E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org Humour Desk: email@example.com 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.