Freshers’ Issue 2016
A Warm Welcome to Incoming Cash Cows Dear Freshers, A gaunt and hollow-cheeked welcome to you all. Congratulations on making it to UCL. It must be like your 7th best dream come true. You must feel on top of the world – which is good, because if you decide to jump you’re more likely to end it all. Yes, my dear Fresher, it’s all downhill from here. According to The Cheese Grater’s Crude Maths, you are now paying £1 an hour to be at this fossil-fuel guzzling, despotic regime-supporting,
not-so-world-class university. Meanwhile, your friends who stayed at home are earning £5.40+ an hour – yes, the very same friends you scorned for not pursuing Further Education. Sure, they work at a Wetherspoon’s and they have to finger their manager if they want a raise, but at least they never have to have the conversation about which Oxbridge college rejected them [mine was Trinity – Ed.] Enjoy these giddy few weeks, young idealists. After the buzz dies down, it’ll be endless empty nights as you hunch
in your bed, binge-watching another compilation of “Harambe, We Hardly Knew Ye” Vines, eating raw Miso soup sachets from Itsu, unable to move under the crushing weight of your own unfathomable loneliness. I have seen the future, Fresher, and its name is “your debts will rise in line with inflation but your wages will not”. Yours in solemn regret, Julie, Student Support Services
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Welcome to UCL, Here’s What’s Not in the Prospectus. Jason Murugesu & Ollie Phelan
The official line is still that UCL’s £1.25bn expansion plan, a.k.a. UCL2034, will be completed by 2034. However, worries abound as the financial committee raised concerns about the plan last year and Provost Michael Arthur admitted in June that the university is “barely financially sustainable” with a surplus that would only last 42 days. In an attempt to find the cash to fund the plans, UCL agreed a £280m loan with the European Investment Bank loan in April, the largest loan even received by a university. But academic council members complained that senior management pushed through the loan with little scrutiny, claiming they were deliberately kept in the dark. This move comes despite the Higher Education Funding Council for England warning that the “trend of increasing borrowing and reducing liquidity is unsustainable in the long term.” The latest fundraising gimmick put forward to plug the financial gap is the ‘UCL campaign’ - a crowdfunding campaign targeting alumni and students across campus with swish posters, begging people to donate online. It aims to raise £600m by 2020, with a further £1bn raised by 2026. Turn out your pockets, kids. UCL are getting desperate.
Cut the Rent AWOL
After months of refusing to pay rent, in June UCL Cut The Rent threw a victory rally. A joint press release with the university was later published promising accommodation bursaries designed by both management and students from CTR. Management offered a £350,000 fund for incoming students struggling to pay rent and a further £500,000 for students in Halls the following year. The fund would continue to grow year on
year. The specifics of the bursary were to be debated during the summer. However, how much input campaign leaders will have in designing the bursary remains to be seen. After leading a victorious campaign, UCL Cut the Rent took off on their summer jollies. Not a single meeting with management was organised by the campaign over the summer, despite Duncan Palmer, Head of Accommodations, attempting to reach out on multiple occasions. Future meetings are now being arranged, but the morning after Sports Night is strictly off the table.
Rent strike: the inside story
At the start of this year, 1000s of students across UCL accommodations, lead by UCL Cut the Rent, began a determined rent strike, complaining about vermin and shoddy facilities. This was met unsympathetically by a UCL senior management team determined to rule with an iron fist. Duncan Palmer, Head of Accommodations’, said during a meeting at Max Rayne: “I’m sorry, but some people just simply cannot afford to study in London…and that is a fact of life.” Cut the Rent launched a direct-action assault on UCL, including demos, colour bombs and an extravagant effigy burning of Rex Knight, the vice-provost for operations. UCL responded with guilt trips, sending an email claiming that withholding rent “would be unfair to do so to the 3,926 students who have paid their fees.” They also threatened strikers, telling them that the university would not act as guarantors. This guarantor scheme is key for students trying to secure accommodation on the private market in second year and beyond. However, the Cut the Rent campaign continued to push on. They drew up plans to disrupt UCL’s Open Days, including rape alarms attached to helium balloons, stink bombs, large demos and
Society Bitch It’s been a thrilling week at UCLU Bars. Monday saw Musical Theatre Society’s open mic night take a turn for the phallic when one charming punter spiced up his act by taking his dick out onstage. Unfortunately for Soc Bitch’s libido, the gent was escorted off the premises by security. Not to be outdone, UCL Rugby Society started the term in true LAD fashion by being banned from UCLU venues on the very first Sportsnite of the year - it seems even Phineas cannot contain such exemplary specimens of manhood. Meanwhile, it’ll be a long time before Film Society is sitting down to a convivial pint: the summer saw a civil war break out in the committee, leading to this year’s second most unnecessary vote of no confidence. Whether the society will splinter remains to be seen: Soc Bitch’s money is on the side that keeps the DVD collection.
an imitation UCL Accommodations stall. Management, spooked by these plans opened negotiations which soon became acrimonious. Rex Knight, visibly stressed, said during a meeting: “guns are being held on both sides.” Whilst management wouldn’t sway on the students’ demand for a 40% rent cut, by the third meeting they began discussing the prospect of accommodation bursaries. Scarred by the events of last year, this year’s 5000 freshers were met by welcome parties at their halls, smiling student hosts and individual goody bags including chocolate, branded sim-cards and a jar of pickled onions. But a pickled onion sandwich won’t fix the problems that still remain. Cockroaches are still making Max Rayne their home and management have held multiple meetings about the state of Ifor Evans. Supported by the NUS, expect the Cut the Rent campaign to be back with a vengeance.
Contributors: Jason Murugesu, Will Orton, Ollie Phelan, Jack Redfern, Anna Saunders, Tara Sarangi.
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‘If your room is this big, count yourself lucky’
SAVAGE, UCLU’s Premier Arts and Culture Journal, interviews Ed Balls William Reporter for SAVAGE Always at the vanguard of the London culture scene, UCLU’s arts journal “SAVAGE” presents an exclusive interview with dancing sensation Ed Balls. I arrive at Former Chancellor Ed Balls’ dressing room in the gilded halls of the BBC, my heart racing with giddy delight. Could it be true that I, William, a mere reporter for SAVAGE, UCLU’s Premier Arts and Culture Journal, was about to interview this Herculean figure of a man? I knock with baited breath, until a jaunty voice from within bids me entrée. As I entrée, the great man is hunched over his MacBook, one leg suspended in a cast. “I’m just crafting my next foray into the Twittersphere,” he says over his shoulder. I watch his delicate fingers painstakingly spell out his name. “Please, take a seat.” I sit in the luxurious beanbag Ed motions to with his sensuous porky hand. He cracks open a couple of bottles of
Cava with his teeth, drains his in four seconds and gestures for me to do the same. Unfamiliar with the protocol, I falter and spill half of it down my front. “The trick is to never shit where you eat,” murmurs Ed as he unbuttons my sodden shirt. I nod, culturally. “Let sleeping dogs lie and you’ll fish for a lifetime,” he continues. Every word is pure gold. I reach for my Moleskine to take some notes, but Ed is using it to construct origami models of Miliband’s “Promise Stone”. I begin to quiz the Chancellor-turneddancer on whether he agrees with me that reality television truly is the “fine art” of the post-Thatcher classes, but he silences me with another bottle of Cava. “Let’s see if you can fit it all in this time,” he whispers. Unfortunately for everyone, we’re interrupted by a knock at the door. Not even UCLU’s Premier Arts and Culture Journal can master the fickle hand of fate. A voice comes through from the other side: “Mr Balls, Yvette’s here for your weekly appointment”.
Ed sighs, and hands me back my shirt. Cradling my face in his bosom-like palms, he intones softly: “An Englishman’s home catches the worm”. I leave in a state of spiritual rapture.
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A special Cheese Grater Zine film screening
UCL Union Cheese Grater Magazine Society President—Will Orton Editor—Ollie Phelan Investigations Editor—Jason Murugesu Humour Editor—Jack Redfern Zine Editor—Tara Sarangi
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