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TheCheeseGrater The Other Student Magazine of University College London Union

No. 12 February 2007

THIS MONTH Down Your Union

A very costly glass wall p.2

A KILLING JOKE

Governance Review Blues

How the Sabbs are killing off democracy. p.3

March to Mediocrity

If Grant doesn’t fight for funding then who will? p.6

The Great Divide

Comrades! The wall is to protect us from the West! p.7

Embittered Economist wrecks AGM

Quorum was called, but was there a grudge behind it? p.11

UCL’s justifications for arms shares are almost as dodgy as the companies it backs. So just why does it insist on holding onto them? see pages 8-9

Pisspoor Squared

One Foot in the Cage

Richard Wilson as you’ve never seen him before. p.12

Not a gay cruiser in sight. see pages 4-5


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Down Your Union Flip flopping, rewarding bad behaviour and an extremely expensive piece of double glazing - welcome back to the colourful world of politics at UCL Union Jules Dołega Mazowiecki and Mark Ravinet NO AMOUNT of satire (not even from this respected organ) could accurately recreate recent events at UCLU. It seems appropriate to unravel this tangle of student politics by employing a conceptual tool from the world of political parody; the Yes Minister Critical Analysis, or YMCA for short (Lynn and Jay, 1980’s).

The Glass Divide “It is my job to protect the Prime Minister from the great tide of irrelevant information that beats against the walls of 10 Downing Street every day.” Running the Union would be a lot easier if there weren’t any students to bother with. The Sabbs may not have civil servants to keep the troublesome great unwashed at bay but who needs staff members when a large, thick and expensive glass wall will do just as well? The Sabbs claim that being constantly interrupted makes it difficult to work and that with an open office, they can’t discuss matters confidentially. So in order to stop the “constant disruptions” from students seeking their help or (heaven forbid) hearing ‘secret’ decisions being made, the full time executive are blowing £6,000 on a glass partition. For less than a tenner, they could have bought 25 pairs of

foam earplugs and in order to hold confidential discussions, could just use the “impractical” meeting room that is situated just a few metres from their desks…

The Sabbs are always open towards the part time executive...

Say no to Sodexho “As long as there is anything to be gained by saying nothing, it is always better to say nothing than anything.” Catering at Phineas, the Union bar named after and featuring the mascot of the Union for which generations of UCL students have fought for, is to be tendered out to an external catering company. One company on the initial shortlist is the woeful Scolarest whose over-priced food and mismanagement are known only too well (see CG 11). Another of the possible contenders is Sodexho, the same company that made disastrous losses of £50,000 annually for seven years when running the nearby UCL Refectory (see CG 11). The tendering out of Phineas Food is being dealt with by the General Manager of UCLU. Someone (we can’t say who) described Sodexho as a “terrible company”. The General Manager is a member of staff. Night follows day. Worse still is the fact that some Sabbatical Officers regard decisions such as the management of Union services so important that the rest of us don’t

...except on matters we don’t want them to know about.

need to know about them. When Anthony Moore, Promotions Officer asked CSSD Sabbatical Robbie Swale about the Phineas tendering decision, Swale rounded on Moore, demanding to know how he knew about it. Moore had legitimately heard about the decision made in a Union Admin meeting by reading the minutes provided to the Execu tive. So much then for the openness between the Sabbaticals and their part time counterparts; a relationship which Robbie “Iron Curtain” Swale vehemently defended at the AGM by telling all present that “All decisions made in Admin meetings between the Sabbaticals and the General Manager are shared with the entire Executive.” Perhaps Robbie was alarmed because, as the YMCA shows, “If people don’t know what you’re doing, they don’t know what you’re doing wrong.” “When anybody says ‘It’s not the money, it’s the princi

Scary Boots

ple’ they mean it’s the money.”

Runaway Pay With his farcical departure last term, it is quite clear that Ed ‘Runaway’ Bray jumped before he was pushed. It was made absolutely clear to the Union that if Bray didn’t resign, College would fire him. Of course, this wasn’t a problem for Runaway, by resigning before the shit hit the fan he neatly escaped any charge of gross misconduct and therefore had no need to note this little misdemeanour on his CV. Not only that, but Bray was also paid for his one month no tice, despite the fact that didn’t turn up for a single day of it. This too despite the fact that the General Manager assured the Union that Bray would fulfil his entire notice period. The standing orders clearly state that any Sabbatical Officer that resigns and does not serve his/her notice are not entitled to their wages. Similarly, if an officer commits gross misconduct, all pay will be suspended. Nick Barnard (Media & Communications) told The Cheese Grater that this was because Runaway had pro rata holiday as well as suggesting that it “wasn’t viable” for the remaining Sabbs to demand Bray saw out his notice. Ed Bray left UCL after committing gross misconduct, failed in his duties to the members of the Union, doesn’t have to tell any of his future employers about it AND got one month worth of wages as a bonus. Well done Ed!


February 2007 TheCheeseGrater 3

What isn’t wrong with the Governance Review?

Perhaps if the Sabbs weren’t so keen to pad out their CVs, it might actually be a good idea... AS REFORM GOES, UCL Union is in dire need of change. This year marked the arrival of the Governance Review the purpose which is clear – to examine how the organisation is run and how it can be improved. Whilst certainly an honourable intention, a review cannot hope to improve democracy, accountability and representation at the Union if those proposing it don’t do so too. The Sabbs may be keen to spout on about how the constitution is outdated and how the review will change all this but they’ve neglected to mention how their bad handling of it is going to do more damage than good.

that had supposedly been put together from their ideas…except it hadn’t. The very same diagram was accidentally slipped into the notes of a colleague earlier that day and therefore it could not have been drawn in the break. The most alarming fact is that the Sabbs had wanted the whole thing to go forward in

Misrepresentation The governance review must be formulated by student representatives; in this case the Union Executive. However some of the part-time Exec have complained that they have been barely involved in governance consultations. Even when they had been consulted, they were “excessively patronized”. Worse still, whilst the Part Time Exec have been given the cold shoulder, the previous year’s Sabbs (who originally proposed the Governance Review) have been heavily involved. This of course being the same Sabbatical team that last year blatantly disregarded the constitution and had no concept of what representation actually meant (see Cheese Grater passim). The feeling is clearly that the Sabbaticals have been dominating the entire review process; one Exec member told The Cheese Grater “It really did feel like they were taking us through the motions.” In an outstanding fuck up, Nick Barnard (M&C) managed to illustrate this to all of his colleagues. At the end of one executive wide brainstorming session, Barnard got up and showed the group a diagram

M&C Officer Nick Barnard parts rather than as a whole. As well as changes in the structure of the Union, this year also sees a move to electronic voting. However, KitSite, the company providing e-voting facilities are only able to handle voting for the 16 executive positions. This explains why elections this year will not include any constituent positions (such as that of Sports Officer) but there is no valid reason for only Sabbatical roles to be run. However, in a motion to Union Council at the start of the year, that is exactly what the Sabbs intended to do. This motion was proposed in a farcical fashion and generally went down like a cup of cold sick. So confusing was the original proposal, that the Sabbs, part time Exec and the General Manager all had different interpretations of its meaning. Robbie Swale (CSSD) didn’t even realise its full extent. Worse still Zoë Davies managed to anger the part time Exec by suggesting they were not flexible enough in the current system and would not be able to work with the Sabbs in the new structure.

This caused so much consternation that one part time Exec member threatened to resign, with others not far behind her.

Obsolete Thankfully the motion was amended so and all positions will be run. But this doesn’t make it a non-issue; had they succeeded the Union would enter a new governance structure with old sabbatical roles. Even the Sabbs can see how problematic this would be; both Zoë Davies and Nick Barnard suggested their positions should be abolished under the new system. Their successors would be stuck in roles that can’t operate properly within a new structure as well as having to adhere to a constitution which has no relevance to them. Whilst the majority of Sabbatical officers don’t seem to have much success at anything, next year’s lot won’t even have the chance to fail properly.

Career mover So just why are the Sabbs so keen on pushing through the Governance review in parts? Why bother to hurry in the process for the start of next year when they can wait one further year, go through with full consultations and have the new executive roles prepared for the next elections? Presumably, as the year ends, the Sabbs are getting worried about what they have actually achieved in their term in office. Apart from a lousy ‘Hands Off Our Wednesdays’ campaign (er…whose hands exactly?) there isn’t much other than two resignations, one ridiculously self important and the other a deception of the entire Union. Perhaps then the current Sabbs want nothing more than to add ‘overseeing a governance review’ to their CVs. If we let them, they might just get to add that they killed off democracy at the Union too. MR

Society Bitch LIP SERVICE gets you everywhere, as Yair Zivan, Debating Society President can attest. At a debate just before Christmas, Yair got up and introduced a speaker to the room, describing him as a soon-to-be “global media figure”. The figure in question? None other than Simon ‘Knob Jockey’ Dedman, the former Pi Editor and the man who gave Yair the chance to air his views in Pi Squared.

What in Tarn-nation? DOMINIC TARN, the Treasurer of the Film and TV Society, got himself in a pickle just before Reading Week. Having deposited a camera and some equipment in the film studio in the basement of the CSC building, Tarn then locked up and left for the evening. When he came back the next day, he was shocked to discover the camera had been stolen…only it hadn’t. Tarn had left expensive equipment in an unsecured room and another member had moved it leaving it in a locked area but in plain view. Rather than bother to search around for the equipment, Tarn rocketed upstairs to the CSC reception where he exploded in anger at the poor girl on the reception desk for supposedly giving out another set of keys to the studio. Despite being told that he had the only set of keys behind the desk, Tarn continued to blame the CSC and even went as far as filling out an incident form and emailing the staff in charge of the building. Apologies were muttered when Dominic discovered that the camera was in fact on a table next to where he had left it. Idiot.


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COMMENT

& Debate February 2007

Comment

Knife crime isn’t that bad

Endemol is an anagram of ‘led me on’? The chilling reality for us is that the intelligent are now forced to walk the streets unprotected. Worse still, the entire scheme is legal. The current law states it is illegal to carry any knife ‘with the exception of a folding pocketknife with a blade not exceeding 3 inches.’ But there is no footnote detailing the extended medical evidence that people with an IQ lower than 40 have skin of more than 3 inches’ thickness whilst the intelligent make do with only 2.5 inches; making them wholly vulnerable to the legalised pocket knife.

Emperor Penguin

T

he most intelligent among us carry knives for self-defence. As Darwin said, those who adapt, will survive and this is true of Britain in the 21st Century. By arming themselves the smart live longer and procreate. But why stop there? By promoting knife crime we can actively purge our streets of idiots. This is the future for humanity; I should know because I dreamt it all last Wednesday. People across London are already taking it upon themselves to become the ‘combine harvesters’ of social Darwinism and separate the wheat from the chav. One UCL student told Squared: “Some of my friends were mugged on their way home from lectures, so I did the clever thing and got myself a five-inch blade. So far I’ve only had to use it once, on some guy with an artificial leg who wanted some spare change. He won’t be threatening people again…nor doing much else, come to think of it.”

л

“...seperating the wheat from the chav.” I can see this all makes sense (and if you don’t, save me the bother and stab yourself), but this supra-natural selection is being threatened by

A knife Blair’s Government. The supposed crime crackdown is widely publicised as an effort to “make our streets safer”. If you look at the conspiracy theories you’ll see the reality; all this is a subtle plan so the Government can engineer their own social experiment. The national knife amnesty last year collected 17,715 weapons. Hardly a success when you think that this means that there are now 17,715 intelligent people without protection from the stupid. But how would the Government profit you ask? My mate in the pub told me the answer; by disarming the intelligent, the stupid

are favoured. The evidence is clear. The official line on the danger of carrying a knife is that it may be turned back on the person wielding it. Hardly; have you ever looked at the other end of a knife? It’s just a handle and that won’t hurt anyone remotely intelligent. By feeding us these sugared words about ‘public safety’ the Government is attempting a form of genetic cleansing that will leave only the tumescent mob of crowd-followers, nurtured on a diet of junk food, an education in social etiquette and personal ambition from so-called ‘reality’ television. Have you ever noticed that

“Have you ever noticed that Endemol is an anagram of ‘led me on?’” Furthermore, I think I remember reading somewhere that the Government plans to give teachers the powers to search pupils for knives. Clearly the State is attempting to weed out the intelligent in order to persecute them. This would certainly explain the ever-increasing focus on harder GCSE and A Level exams, a vital tool in locating those posing the greatest threat. I wouldn’t even trust Question Time. Once your local MP knows you’re cleverer than him/her, your days are numbered. Cleansing of the intelligent is a reality. Are you one of the endangered?

Contributors: Juliet Morrish, Jenni Hulse, Gareth Spencer, Scary Boots, Hannah Hudson, Mr Chatterbox, Baize Panda, Alex Ashman, Jules Dolega Mazowiecki, Claude McNab, Natalie Shaw, Fernanda Porto and Richard Soames. Special thanks to René Lavanchy.


February 2007 TheCheeseGrater 5

COMMENT

February 2007

Tales of a UCL Alpha Female Fifi Bore

I

didn’t think giving up sex would be hard. I mean, what would I be forgoing but countless hours spent lying on my back, legs akimbo, trying to calculate how much of Extreme Makeover I was missing? Easy right? Wrong. My first night of abstinence and I foolishly tried going out. How was I to know that celibacy would make me a complete man magnet? I was radiating sexual energy like never before. Rugby players were drooling as if they were dogs and I was covered head to toe in minced meat. It was so difficult to deflect all that attention! Ladies, remember that when you’re contemplating following in my footsteps, you must be prepared to sacrifice your social calendar in order to avoid the temptation of letting men adore you. And beware! Danger also lies within your phonebook. That desperate guy who writes your essays could all of a sudden become an Adonis before your frustrated eyes. So, don’t forget to delete ugly people’s numbers. Well, it’s all over now and phew, it’s sure been a gruelling week! It’s

Pi’s Panel

so ironic that now in my PA (post abstinence) phase I suddenly have a much more positive outlook on the dating scene. It’s clear to me now that we women fuss too much over little things. Why are we so negative? ‘Rape’, ‘domestic violence’ and the like are just exaggerated terms coined by feminists to make us normal women join their bull-dyke cause. PA me knows that a little smack now and again just shows he really cares, and trust me, after an episode of sexual depravation, you’d welcome a little slap and tickle too. Ladies, have you noticed how ironically, today’s capitalist society materialism is killing romance? Exactly. Girls, you mustn’t spend so much time fretting over a guy’s dress sense, it’s what’s underneath (his clothes) that counts. Forget Bentleys and bling, we must get back to nature and get in touch with our primal selves. Just like the saying, the best gift in life is free it certainly doesn’t come in small packages. Ask yourselves this; if Chlamydia is symptom-less, does it even really exist? This milestone has made me realise I’m just a sexual being. For me it was an enlightening experience. However, if now you’ve considered it long and hard (no pun intended) you’ve decided against it, I shall pass no judgement. My research has shown us that men aren’t all bad. There’s a little bit of Mr Right inside everyone, why not inside you, right?

Letters to the Editor I’m Feeling Lucky

Sole Searching

Dear Sir,

Dear Sir Your recent addiction feature failed to address the most misunderstood of habits; shoe addiction. We footwear fanatics are mistakenly portrayed as the pathetic, mindless, lap-bitches of consumerist society; well I ask you; how often have you tried to shove a stiletto in your pulmonary? That’s assuming you managed to get it into the hypodermic in the first place. Sometimes I’m so desperate for a hit I’ll just chew on an ankle strap or beat myself into oblivion with an Ugg boot. This addiction is one of the hardest to maintain; the hefty price tags on finely crafted Italian leather will often lead to the dangerous practise of shoe sharing; the undeniable cause of the rise in podiatrically transmitted diseases. I ask for recognition, not help. A seven-step programme only mocks my condition.

I begin by praising the editorial bravery displayed in the recent addiction special in Pi Magazine. It has been a welcome catalyst to admitting my own problem; I simply cannot stop Googling my own name. How would you feel if the first and last thing on your mind was whether the search result total had increased when you type in your name in those oh-so-familiar inverted commas? Not to mention the effect this has had on my love life; my last relationship lasted a mere two days, at which point my connection was finally restored by my ISP. I’ve tried other search engines such as AskJeeves.com, or that new fangled MSN search, but nothing can compare to the sheer ecstasy I experience in that precious 0.08 seconds spent awaiting new and exciting hits. I can’t eat, and I can’t sleep. Moreover, I am scared that my problem is becoming pandemic (14,140 people are suffering as of 7.04pm, 20/2/07). I hope that this first precious step will help other sufferers on their journey to recovery. I kindly request that this letter shall not be published on your website as it will only serve to confuse my search results. Florian O’Connor

Anonymous

Sensationalism Dear Sir, I am glad to see this disgusting journalism has been made public. With the continued efforts of Pi Squared, the entire of UCL will be made aware of the disgusting and depraved acts of so called student journalists. Jason Barnyard

Is knife crime really so bad?

Paul Phoenix Anthropology 2nd Year

James Pilkington Smythe Chemistry 3rd Year

Costa Frappucino Astrophysics 4th Year

????? ?????

“I don’t think it’s that bad. I mean it’s better than gun crime isn’t it? I’d rather take my chances against a knife than a gun anyday.”

“Knife wants again, it can sure.”

“What!? I can’t hear you over the music? You want to knife me? Fuck off!”

“You what!? Give me your money you prick.”

crime is really bad, who to be stabbed? Then there are times when be quite good. I’m not


6 TheCheeseGrater February 2007

The March to Mediocrity The Provost’s vagueness over removing the cap on top up fees is failing the students of UCL; Mr Chatterbox explains how a market system for university funding will damage the integrity of the research conducted and the degrees awarded.

MY DETRACTORS have said that if our villainous Provost were to rescue a child from a burning building I would accuse him of taking a dangerous step in an over-populated world. So what I am about to say will surprise my regular readers; when Professor Grant wrote in The Guardian that there is “no collective desire to meet the additional expense” of higher education when set against the need to fund schools and hospitals, I agreed with him. There. I said it. The Provost is correct. Grant, in response to a report claiming that most university heads would like to see a cap on tuition fees, bemoaned the fact that taxpayers don’t want to see the universities funded by their money. He may have a point, but what does he expect when he himself has never made the case for government funding? If the head of one of Britain’s top universities won’t speak up, how can the general public be expected to back higher education? And why has Grant never made the case? It is rather like the English cricket team giving back the Ashes before the game has even started. The Provost’s strategy (some call it a dereliction of his duty) has left him isolated and unpopular amongst senior academics. Several members of staff even suspect that Professor Grant is scared of losing influence in government circles by criticising government policy. This is all eerily familiar; it seems that while Tony Blair plays poodle to George Bush, Professor Grant plays poodle to Tony Blair.

Dereliction of duty The Provost may like to claim poverty when arguing the case for fees, yet University College, a large and dominant provider of research, has a strong negotiating position. Academics believe UCL could use this to acquire more money from the gov-

The NUS Demo in London strongly opposed removing the cap on top up fees ernment rather than looking to private industry to provide. “It’s a disgrace,” commented one angry student, “If the Provost isn’t doing his job properly and defending our interests, he should resign.” Well, I hear that there’ll soon be a vacancy for a poodle in Washington. Malcolm Grant’s article called for “a more sophisticated approach” to the issues facing university funding. The whole thing was high on rhetorical value yet short on detail; perhaps David Cameron has been on hand? Grant did not actually tell us what he believes should happen to higher education funding except that “we [members of the Russell Group] shall be working closely with the government and potential private funding sources to devise an approach that is fair”. But remember that Professor Grant is essentially a politician and to expect him to publicly nail his colours to the mast before he has sniffed which way

the wind is blowing is rather like expecting foxes to vote for the Boxing Day hunt. Or as one academic put it, “Speaking to Malcolm is rather like nailing a blob of jelly.” For example, Professor Grant neglected to tell us that the majority of his staff assert that the privatisation of research (a Grant option) would put academic integrity in jeopardy. Private funding brings with it a minefield of pressure for research results that will aid marketing rather than ethics and integrity. Research free from outside influence is a core function of academia, no matter whether that research is popular, profitable or commercially viable. Academics believe that is an axiomatic truth. Professor Grant may pay lip service to concepts such as “widening participation” and the idea that universities “can bring enormous lifelong benefits”. Yet he seems to ignore the report from University College’s own Department of Economics which

shows that the original introduction of tuition fees led to a downturn in applications from those not of the “social elite” who traditionally go to university. The same report made a series of predictions on the effects of variable fees which do not make pleasant reading. That, alongside an above expected drop in numbers entering university in 2006 (as collated by UCAS), show that there is little room for complacency.

Market problems So while Professor Grant is not yet advocating higher fees (at least not publicly) there are general concerns amongst staff and students that that is where his subservient ambition will take him. “Malcolm has conceded the ground on the funding of higher education. He has accepted that the market has a role to play,” sniffed one senior academic. Moreover there are fears that the introduction of variable


fees and the removal of the cap which limits them to £3,000, would “let the market rip” with dire consequences for students’ education and research. Broadly speaking, a vast majority of academics are against removing the cap (according to the UCU, the union which represents academic staff, and backed up by Mister Chatterbox’s findings) because it would lead to a two-tiered education system and a “march towards mediocrity”. “It would make the present 15% cuts look like a quaint parlour game,” worried one lecturer. UK universities are already feeling the effects of tuition fees. Colwyn Williamson of the Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards has claimed that cash-strapped universities are being encouraged to pass students who should not be passed. Admittedly, many strange things happen in Wales but there was a well-publicised case of this at Swansea University. More disturbingly, Mister Chatterbox is able to confirm that there have been reports of wealthy parents putting pressure on University College to upgrade degree awards for their stupid children. The changing financial relationship between students and their institution is creating this possibility and that is a scandal which fails all students.

The tipping point Furthermore removing the cap would provide each course or department with a “tipping point” for how much they could charge. So medical students could expect to pay more than, say, English students. “This is fair enough until one looks at the consequences; courses unable to charge exorbitant amounts would be under-funded.” Should these departments get into debt, they would certainly close. But what would happen if UK applicants are not prepared to pay these prices? Would overseas students fill the places? Would we be educating overseas students while neglecting UK residents? While no enlightened individual objects to overseas students studying here, it would be folly to put the need for their money before the needs of society as a whole to educate its citizens. And with the student as client, there would be huge pressure on

academics to provide easier and less challenging courses, after all the students are paying for a service, a degree and the prospect of job, not a challenging education. One member of staff told Mr Chatterbox: “Malcolm knows this of course. He’s no fool.” So expect to see more vocational and fashionable training courses geared towards getting a job rather than a rounded, highclass education. And while the fashionable soon becomes out of date, “The trouble with fashion victims is that they soon become anorexic,” said an academic wag.

Monopoly man The Provost is a shrewd man playing a sinister, Machiavellian game; it is not what he says that matters, it’s his strategy and tactics that are interesting. As chairman of the Russell Group of universities, it seems he is trying to move on the agenda and chivvy other elite universities,

February 2007 TheCheeseGrater 7 such as Oxford and Cambridge, cha-cha heels, it would not stay to create a consensus for higher big for long. Maybe the expansion of fees, so that UCL Plc can introduce them. Back to the rampant higher education will be seen market-driven, Thatcherite state. as the 21st century’s great soDo not pass “Go”. Do not collect cial change. But can it be at the expense of what that education your student loans. There is a history here. provides? Where Macbeth hath When University College and murdered sleep, Malcolm will Imperial were discussing “merg- murder education. He overlooks ing” a few years back, they were the benefits that a general degree also proposing to charge fees can bring, not just for the indiof around £13,000 to £15,000. vidual but for society as a whole. Commenting on the fact that this The siren calls for higher fees went against the College ethos of ignore the fact that not only do access for all based on ability, not UK universities have to compete wealth or background, one pro- against each other but they are fessor said that University Col- competing against international lege should be an elite university universities: while American for the masses – not the other universities may charge fees, way around. This sentiment was universities in Scotland, Ireland supported by the majority of his and France do not, even for peers. And still is. Of course, the overseas students. UK students “merger” would also have cre- could equally take their degrees ated a big university; but as Im- there… perial College’s rector Richard Parlez-vous Français, chers Sykes admitted, with all the sub- lecteurs? tlety of an elephant dancing in

The Great Divide Anti-student protection barrier to be constructed to protect Union officials from threat of work and accountability Comrade Gareth Spencer GOOD NEWS comrades! Your munificent leaders have once again triumphed for the workers in the eternal class struggle. The empowered Union has advanced our cause with the erection of a fine glass wall for the brave revolutionary heroes who slave tirelessly day and night to ensure production and output stays at a high level. Gang of Four member Robya Swalhovochik announced to the cheering masses from the Portico that the wall is needed to “counter the influence of bourgeoisie idealism from the lazy beatniks in Gordon’s Café, that, and the whinging bastard students that want us to actually do stuff for them”. In a further move to ensure the future of the Five Year Plan, border guards are to be stationed at the door of the Union’s Gordon Street offices and will be equipped with attack dogs that are ordered to go for the jugu

Work begins on the new wall at 25 Gordon St lar of any society president who wants another bursary. Non-Union officials will need to present passports, driving licenses, birth certificates and a urine sample at Checkpoint Jeremy in order to enter the People’s Democratic Republic of UCL. The Western Imperialists, Comrade Swalhovochik reminds us, will do all they can to stop

this development. “They cannot be trusted and their efforts shall fail. The building of this screen will mean we can continue to achieve nothing, just this time we won’t be disturbed whilst doing it.” This communiqué originally appeared in Pravda Squared.


Special report

8 TheCheeseGrater February 2007

Armed and Dangerous By investing arms companies, UCL is dealing in death and destruction. Alex Ashman explains why this isn’t right and more importantly, why it isn’t necessary UCL HOLDS nearly £1.6 million in the defence industry, meaning our university is top of the list of UK higher education institutions investing in arms. This was discovered when Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT), under the Freedom of Information Act, asked various universities about their investments in arms companies. UCL holds investments in two major UK arms manufacturers, Cobham Plc and Smiths Group. As well as a large number of ethically questionable shares, UCL also hold a stake in the London University Superannuation Agreements. This is a pension scheme for university staff which has so far invested £1 million in BAE systems, a company well known for supplying military hardware to various buyers around the world.

Dirty Dealers So what of these companies? Although Cobham Plc may have civilian sector activities, the company originally made its name pioneering mid-air refuelling technology used in long-range bombing raids. Now Cobham make a large profit producing weapons release systems for air-to-ground missiles. Up until last month, the Smiths Group produced a wide range of components for military aircraft, including the trigger systems and gun turret components which among other things helped Israeli Apache helicopter crews accurately target errant Palestinians and Lebanese in recent conflicts. Smiths are now in the process of selling their aerospace division to General Electric and will soon no longer be directly involved in arms dealing. This said; the two companies are still planning a joint venture for the future. The most famous of the three, BAE produces everything from warships and nuclear-capable submarines to armoured vehicles and tanks. One of BAE’s pet projects is the Eurofighter Typhoon. The

The arms companies involved with UCL have prduced weapons used in Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon official website for the jet plane boasts ‘Nothing Comes Close’ which although sounding like a slogan for a Gillette razor, might just be referring to the hit count it has achieved on missions. Clearly then all these companies have had serious involvement in the arms and defence industries, yet why does UCL continue to invest in them? This may seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you look at the facts. UCL lacks any form of ethical guidelines that prohibit investment in arms manufacturers. The only companies deemed beyond the pale are those directly involved in the tobacco industry and this is partly due to the fact that Cancer Research UK would probably review their funding of any university with such links. Otherwise the task is trusted to Newton Investment Managers Ltd, a company responsible for picking out stocks which fit the ethical policy of the client concerned. Although Newton uses EIRIS (Ethical Investment Research Service) for data on any questionable ventures, this doesn’t

change the fact that UCL are happy to invest in arms compa nies. When the whole matter of UCL being a bedfellow of arms companies came to a head, several staff posed enquiries to Malcolm ‘Slasher’ Grant. Grant then stated in his Provost’s Newsletter that EIRIS advised UCL “that Cobham and Smiths Group are ethically acceptable investments.” This led EIRIS to write to Grant complaining that the he was being “inaccurate and misleading” – they were obviously too polite to use the phrase “talking bullshit”. As if this wasn’t embarassing enough, Grant then had to sit through the humiliation of the whole thing being made public via London Student. The reality is that EIRIS simply provide data and do not make the decisions as to which investments might be ethically acceptable. So despite using this resource, UCL still lacks a full ethical screening policy with regards to arms companies. So should UCL really be concerned over the activities of the companies that make up its share portfolio? The answer is

yes; a closer look at one of the arms companies in question reveals just how ethically-challenged they are. BAE Systems have been only too happy to sell arms to Turkey and Zimbabwe, both of which have very dubious human rights records, and also sells arms to corrupt governments and poverty-stricken

“BAE have been only too happy to sell arms to Turkey and Zimbabwe, both of which have dubious human rights records...” countries. Some of these countries are unable to fulfil the basic needs of their population and so why exactly they need a multimillion pound arms deal remains to be seen. A notable example saw BAE selling nearly £4 billion of arms to South Africa at a time when the South African government was refusing to pay for anti-retroviral drugs for millions of AIDS sufferers. Worse still, until recently, the company was


Special report being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office after allegations that a £60 million slush fund was used to bribe Saudi officials. This eventually led to the acceptance of a £43 billion deal, whereby the Saudis would receive arms from BAE in exchange for oil supplied to the British government. However, it didn’t take long for the government to swept the whole inconvenient mess under the carpet. Clearly it was in the interest of a certain few for BAE remain unpunished, and to be able to continue to make a killing in the arms industry. It would seem that, like UCL, BAE have no problems throwing morals out the window if it means more profits.

February 2007 TheCheeseGrater 9 decade, the Charities’ Avoidance Index, a set of stocks excluding amongst other things the defence sector actually proved to be a safer yet equally lucrative choice. The recent rise in returns from arms companies is quite blatantly due to the use of their wares in the increasing number of conflicts during the last five years. Cobham Plc makes nearly £50 million each year from the sale of military equipment and services, with Smiths Group making a similar figure despite branching out into other areas. War is great for business, and UCL has reaped the rewards. Of course, through investing in Cobham and Smiths,

Monty Mythen, the first professor to hold the chair, also sits on an advisory panel at Smiths – it is obviously a reflection on modern society that even an anaesthesiologist has to hold onto two jobs these days. He’s not the only staff member with arms trade links; Keith Robinson, (see CG Issue 7) held a directors position at Lockheed Martin for six years and is still Professor of Integrated Systems at UCL. Arms companies have also funded courses at UCL; the MSc in Systems Engineering has had help from BAE systems, who are also involved with research groups within the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering. How-

that, as a charity, it was the duty of UCL Investments Ltd to maximise profits instead of taking action on moral grounds. The decision seemingly ignored the fact that the Charities Commission actually allows charities to avoid investments that would conflict with the charity’s aims or alienate supporters and beneficiaries, while also allowing the charity to alter their investments to accommodate those who think that the investments lack ethical or moral integrity. The only way UCL can avoid this irksome loophole is to assume that disinvesting would lead to ‘a risk of significant financial detriment’. This argument holds no water however as the

“Several alumni have made their dissatisfaction with arms investments clear...”

Clockwise from bottom left: manufactured by BAE Eurofighter Typhoon, Challenger II Tank, Hellfire missiles - components manufactured by Cobhams. BAE designed gun emplacements

Naturally, profit is another reason for College’s continued investment in the arms trade. UCL has stated that in the last ten years, the aerospace and defence sector has performed well and yielded a good return. Perhaps, but this hasn’t always been the case. At the start of the 1990s, the fall of the Soviet Union meant that an investment in a military business could prove less profitable than more ethical choices. Up until the start of this

UCL also stands to gain more than just profit. In the classic back-scratching manner, UCL’s investments are rewarded with funding and other help. Smiths Group pays the £150,000 annual cost of the Portex ® Chair of

Monty Mythen’s Flying Arms Circus

Anaesthesia and Critical Care at UCL, which also has the added bonus of improving the company’s public image. Interestingly,

ever UCL has also collaborated with QinetiQ for a research project on carbon fibre mirrors despite the fact UCL holds no investment in QinetiQ. So do universities actually have to invest in a company in order to receive research help? UCL is very reluctant when it comes to the idea of disinvesting its shares. College Finance Committee first faced the problem of disclosing UCL’s arms investments in January 2006, but then passed the issue off to College Council. After a debate in March and another meeting in June, the Council concluded

shares in question make up only 1.7% of UCL’s total investments and with the continued existence of the rest of the stock market, there are plenty of alternatives. In fact, UCL risks losing out because of their arms shares, they are simply high risk investments. Furthermore, several UCL alumni have made their dissatisfaction with this situation clear and are considering withdrawing their support for the university. Even senior members of College have voiced concerns over whether arms investment was at odds with UCL’s liberal culture and that investment in controversial companies might have a potential impact on the university’s public image. UCL is therefore quite aware of the potential consequences of their investments but Grant and Co seem happy to sit this through and hope all the fuss dies down. It is left up to the students and staff at UCL to point out that such unethical investments are wholly at odds with the principles of UCL and are not made any more acceptable by the fact that the university needs more funding, which could be obtained through more ethical means anyway. As Symon Hill of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade puts it, “It is time for Malcolm Grant to listen to his students and staff and to cut UCL’s links with arms companies.”


Teenage Kicks

10 TheCheeseGrater February 2007

The anthems of rebellion now ring out with the sound of a shovel turning earth and the squelch of rotting flesh being penetrated. Tattoos, loud music and smoking are so 1990s. Baize Panda

THERE IS NOTHING new about teenage rebellion. In the Sixties, the disaffected youth became drug-addled hippies; whilst in the Seventies they all started toying with make-up and other men’s genitals. Now, in the Naughty Noughties, antagonistic youngsters are turning to necrophilia as the new hip way to really piss off their parents.

Because it isn’t stealing if you invest the proceeds... outsourcing ∙ insourcing ∙ shake-it-all-aboutsourcing

No risk of pregnancy Sociologist Dr J. Dahmer defends the youth movement: “All they are simply doing is looking for increasing ways to express themselves and to really shock ‘ma and pa’.” But surely this new craze carries a tremendous amount of risk, from diseases to questionable ethics? “Let’s just be thankful that young people are moving away from tagging public buildings. Besides, it doesn’t really harm anybody and it’s certainly keeping rates of teenage pregnancy down”.

Not under my roof Despite these assurances, parents are continuing to fill the tired cliché of ‘shocked and square’ guardians. Says one concerned parent, “In my day, we

Decaying muscle on gnarled bone sends these teenage girls wild ‘got one over’ on our parents by smoking ‘puff ’, or maybe leaving our used condoms down the back of the sofa. But fornication with the deceased? I mean, I’m not a prude – I frequently put a fist inside my wife during intimate moments – but I’d rather things went back to how they used to be with Jimmy – My wife says she’d even return to doing the weekly washes of his jizz-soaked boxer shorts with a skip in her step.”

Maggie’s Necrophiles Dahmer

explains

young

Richard Soames

people can’t be held responsible for their actions, and in fact, it is their parents that are to blame. “Giving birth in the Eighties was as good as sitting your child down in front of a cadaver filled with jelly beans and telling them to ‘play with the piñatà”.

Leathery bits So what do the teenagers make of all this? Jimmy himself told us: “It all started when I was eating a hard boiled egg onto which my mum had drawn a face. I tapped the head off and then suddenly wondered what it would be like to put my dick in it. It might piss off my parents, but I think it’s my way of finding my identity. And anyway, old people have sex, don’t they? So please can you explain the difference between the leathery vagina of a 60 year-old and that of a corpse?” Jimmy makes a good point. And until we find the answer to his question, his parents (and society at large) can expect a lot more of his adolescent hi-jinx: “I’m sticking two fingers up at my parents, just like I’ve always done. Only this time, they’re inside the snatch of a road-accident victim.”

We at Shitigroup want to invest in your future. We want graduates who would happily stab their nan if it returned a profit; we want that go get ‘em attitude that will bring our unique brand and counter-culture vibe to the international money markets. If you don’t care if your kids recognise you when you come home in the evenings, then you’ll fit right in at Shitigroup. We are looking for: Creative Accountant As one of our specialists in tax evasion, you will be part of a dynamic team of beancounters, beanhiders and beanexxagerators. Good communication skills essential, numeracy an advantage. Salary: £200,000 p.a. plus graft opportunities. Insider Dealing Consultant Networking is essential in this role. You will be required to clandestinely communicate with old school chums working for other big companies involved in large takeovers. Salary: Generous, plus potential for bonuses in conspicuous brown envelopes. Director of Office Aesthetics This essential role encompasses a wide range of duties including emptying bins, wiping down computer monitors and the logo outside the offices. Ideally you will be female, attractive and willing to have sex on the Chairman’s desk. English not essential. Salary: £4.50 per hour on production of a work visa (£2.50 if not)


February 2007 TheCheeseGrater 11

Embittered Economist ruins AGM One man was able to prevent the discussion of some vital issues at the AGM this year and it appears it was all because he couldn’t quite accept defeat... Alex Ashman THE AGM this year was due to be one of the most vital for some time – motions included a call for UCL to drop their arms investments, a redefinition of anti-discrimination rules to ensure fairness to all those who might suffer from anti-Semitism (including Muslims), and a series of proposals which would revolutionise the way our Union is run. Yet not a single one of these issues was discussed, all due to the disgruntled actions of one student. Having braved snow and ice in order that their voices might be heard, over one hundred students sat and listened for 80 minutes as point after

Letters to the Editor Dear Sir This email is confidential and all contents may only be discussed with consent of the originating writer. Any discloser which extends beyond the intended receipent or receipents will be deemed a gross violation. Kind regards and do write back if you have any issues. In the meantime, you are not advised to publish the article in it’s current and highly inaccurate form. Where possible, do not do it. I insist. Because it’s currently packed full of crap that isn’t true. SOrry [sic] to be so blunt, but CG appears to be caught full of people who are in a constant circle jerk, seemingly on drugs that wrap [sic] their perception of reality. Yours Benjamin Lu [This letter has been edited on the grounds that it is too boring to print. For the full version: www.cheesegratermagazine. uclu.org]

point was raised as to how the roles of the Union’s Full Time and Part Time Executive Officers should work together. The debate was heated but necessary and eventually a move to a vote was made. Exhausted by the tension of the discussion, the many present prepared to raise their voting slips to decide the matter, but were scuppered at the very last moment by Benjamin Lu, an Economics student, who smugly called quorum.

Disequilibrium It should be noted that UCL Union AGMs rarely consist of the required 193 students and this unfortunate situation makes it possible for anyone to derail the meeting should it seem that things aren’t going how they’d

wish. Having turned up over an hour late in the midst of a discussion about a motion that he appeared to have little interest in, it appeared that Lu simply decided that he didn’t want the AGM to take place. Was he proarms investment, pro-Sabby, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic or did he have another axe to grind?

Chairman Lu Quite so; Benny Lu was at the centre of a copyright scandal involving Equilibrium, the Economics Society magazine, late last year. After having volunteered to help with Equilibrium, the magazine’s designer was subsequently ejected from the society’s board due to a disagreement. Lu, then Economics Society President went ahead and published

the magazine, without including the designer’s name. Rightly, the designer took this matter to the Union’s Activities Board which ruled in his favour and the Economics Society was duly punished for plagiarism. Benny Lu still remains at the head of the society, albeit as ‘Chairman’, a role in which he is not properly accountable to UCL Union. Lu apparently remains embittered by the affair, and it seems that he called quorum at the AGM in order to spite those who had brought him to justice. One view overheard upstairs at the Sabbatical Suite the following day was that ‘if you call quorum, you kill democracy’ – maybe that’s just what Chairman Lu intends to do.

Cruising the Seven Seas All those men with nothing to do but buckle each others swashes on the high seas? Not quite, explains Scary Boots. PIRATES. For days my fantasies had featured ragged shorts, earrings and sex on the beach (with or without cocktail umbrella). Pirates were my sort of people, the ribald jeering, the camaraderie, a jolly roger or two and all whilst decked in John Paul Gautier stripy jumpers and entrancingly tight trousers. Just who wouldn’t go overboard? Pirates give me the horn. So I primed my pork cutlass, chose a suitably flavoured lubricant and prepared my parrot for the trip of a lifetime! As I arrived at the boat there was a small nagging feeling I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but any doubts quickly disappeared as my first seadog hove into view. I tried my best patois, but only got grunts in return. My perineum positively tingled with the thrill of all the authenticity. My new acquaintance made come to bed gestures with his Kalashnikov and I could

Pirates, not so much gay as extremely violent and dangerous only follow him. As we made our way to our crow’s nest, I realised what was wrong; the hygiene standards left a lot to be desired! Things got worse when I realised that I needed to make my toilette. None of the usual gay hand signals were working. Things were clearly different in Somalia and so I was forced to resort to sound effects. My lover pointed me overboard. I gazed down and it was then

I knew I wasn’t at home anymore. The side of the boat was streaked with piss, and the odd suspicious brown lump clung to the side. I suspected they were not seaweed. Oh lord, I nearly vomited on the spot. Suddenly I was overcome by the incredible feeling of distance from the nearest porcelain throne and well-lit mirror. As I stood there, waving my cutlass feebly and trying to dredge up some of my former swashbuckling allure, a gentleman came over and proceeded to hang his perfect buttocks over the edge and do his worst. I couldn’t stand it. Everything was wrong; the poor grooming, the errant shit stains, the ignorance of gay signals, rejecting my advances. I began sobbing when it dawned that they probably weren’t even au fait with poppers! I was really starting to regret having had my left leg amputated for authenticity.


12 TheCheeseGrater February 2007

The Claude McNab Column

The dark side of liberal England With February already more than halfway through, which story this year has caused the biggest stir chez Claude? Well, if there was one thing to wipe the smile off my face it was the collective hate-mongering of a metropolitan clique of braying snobs over the supposed “racism” of people’s princess Jade Goody. At dinner parties, risotto luncheons, drinks receptions and crèche meet-ups across London, I suddenly discovered a dark underside to my supposedly liberal, progressive friends. James[1] , a distinguished journalist and author of, “Ciabatta or Chips? A Playful Look at Changing British Culinary Tastes”, remarked casually that Goody is nothing

more than “a piece of shit chav underclass gutter dweller.” His wife Fionora[2] was in agreement, adding that she “wouldn’t let that woman near Tybalt and Fifina.”[3]

working class of outer London and the rest of Britain.

Affectionate greeting

Hot air The sad fact, I realised as I drove back across the river the other night, was that my friends simply don’t understand working class people. They could happily tell you the difference between Szechuan and Dim-Sum[4] , and as for hot air, you could have powered the London Eye for a week when Gianluca and Paula got in that argument over the relative merits of Rustic and Fusion Ethiopian cuisine at my din

The People’s Princess ner party. Yes, living as we do at the centre of central London, where everyone is either rich or poor-but-foreign; some of us just don’t understand the white

One Foot in the Cage Juliet Morrish RICHARD WILSON, star of the popular gentle-humoured sitcom One Foot in the Grave, has been found living in a monkey enclosure in New York City’s Central Park Zoo. Wilson, whose Malvolian character Victor Meldrew spawned the catchphrase which defined a generation, was spotted by a fellow actor on holiday in the capital. Nadia Sawalha, of EastEnders fame, spotted Wilson furiously checking a friend’s head for fleas in the Japanese macaque enclosure. Having met at a BAFTA party some years earlier, Sawalha recognised the star and began to mutter and point excitedly. Early reports suggest that Wilson became so distressed at this he began to, literally, throw shit. Central Park Zoo was initially heavily criticised by the me

Memorable star, Richard Wilson dia for imprisoning Mr. Wilson in such a way. However, it soon emerged that the aged star had in fact requested that he remain in the enclosure at all times, that no one ‘from out there’ should be allowed to speak with him, and that any pleas for freedom be taken as momentary lapses into insanity. Chuckles a fellow macaque and a close personal friend of Wilson said, “He’s not treated any differently to the rest of us; he gets a warm, dry bed, some dried nuts and fruit twice a day and an imitation snow

landscape.” Chuckles claimed that Wilson moved into the enclosure in March 2004 and quickly ingratiated himself with the rest of the macaque group. “He simply wants a peaceful retirement away from the taunts of children and adults hanging around supermarkets” Chuckles told The Cheese Grater. Questions still remain as to the cause of Wilson’s monkeylike appearance. Medical records suggest that Wilson suffered from premature ageing and was in fact only 26 years of age when he began filming One Foot in the Grave, leading many scientists to speculate he was also experiencing some form of evolutionary regression. Wilson is rumoured to now be in talks with PETA and several other animal rights groups in order to launch an attempt to leave Central Park Zoo in order to escape the media frenzy.

I do, because it’s where I grew up, but my friends don’t. Maybe if they actually bothered to get out of their bubble, they’d know that where I grew up, “How are you me old Paki chum?” was an affectionate greeting between people of any race, often met with the reply “Not so bad you black shit.” The idea that the so-called chav nation (which includes my parents and cousins, thank you very much) is in any way racist is utterly laughable. It’s funny really, the hyper-educated super-literate high flyers with whom I associate couldn’t grasp this blindingly obvious fact, yet Jim, my cockney bin man (with whom I have a very good, mutually equal friendship) understands perfectly.

Bins on a Thursday When I said that the “racism outcry” was overblown, he was quick to agree. “Yeh tell me about it guv,” he said, “the trouble is they identify a completely false dichotomy between the so called tolerance of a cosseted elite which is actually profoundly ignorant of the realities of life for most of this country, and a ludicrous caricature racism which has more in common with the lunatic fringe of the BNP than with the most racist average man. Don’t forget I’m coming on Thursday next week.” [1] Name changed to protect identity. [2] Name changed – by her, to sound posher. [3] Their kids – spoilt cunts. [4] Sub-eds, CHECK I SPELT THIS RIGHT

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: Scary Boots E-mail : cheese_grater_magazine_society@ucl.ac.uk Humour Desk: ascheesegrater@gmail.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.

Cheese Grater Magazine - issue 12  

In this issue: Sabbs oppose Governance Review; our take on the new Pi Squared; Provost seeks to remove cap on top up fees; UCL's arms shares...

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