TheCheeseGrater The Other Student Magazine of University College London Union
No. 17 March 2008
THIS MONTH Pressing matters
‘If we lie about it, will they. go away?’ wonder UCL Press Office p.2
The life of Pi
Down Your Union
People actually believe there’s a ‘right-wing’ conspiracy at UCLU p.7
Get ready for another batch of charming Sabbatical officers . p.8
Pi is badly written, designed and managed. At every level it is unfit to represent UCL. We ask: how much waste can one magazine produce? Hannah Hudson ‘INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM’ refers to the idea that if you sat a load of monkeys at typewriters, they would eventually produce the works of Shakespeare. Now imagine what would happen if you gave the monkeys a university education and a grant of £10,000 a year? It turns out that this is a real social experiment and it’s called “Pi Media”. We’re still waiting for our masterpiece.
The grandiose title, Pi Media, is the umbrella term for Pi Magazine, Pi Squared and Pi Matrix (the website). Unfortunately it seems that when Pi expanded the franchise, they inadvertently diluted any quality which may have previously existed. The truth is that Pi Media wastes money, is badly managed, poorly written and has lost its selfrespect. Pi gets one of the biggest grants of the UCLU clubs and societies, being handed an impressive £10,000 every year. A
nice tidy sum to work with, you might think; but that’s not all! Pi also receives an approximate further £10,000 from advertisers (those nice people at Deloitte who throw money at students in return for their souls, at al.) Add the membership fees of approximately £700 per year and that all adds up to a lot of moolah. So how does it all get spent? While membership fees go towards social events, each issue of the magazine costs approximately £2,000, and each issue of the newspaper costs
£1,000. With six copies of each publication being produced per year, that totals a whopping £18,000 of expense. No dount a Pi columnist would describe this sum as being equivalent to 115 Bacardi Breezers and a pair of Louboutins; clearly we’re talking big money here. Unfortunately, it’s not all being well-spent. Forlorn stacks of unread Pi are a familiar sight to many students, and (like the circle of life) these unread copies are inevitably pulped. Media & Communications Officer
2 TheCheeseGrater March 2008 (and Editor in Chief of Pi) Sean Clothier was vague about total wastage, claiming that there are usually “around 300 copies” of Pi Squared left-over every printrun, and that there were “no more than a couple of hundred” of Pi Magazine. How would he explain the existence of at least 400 copies of the magazine from the last issue still in unopened boxes in the Union and stacks of unread copies in common rooms across college, I wonder?
He who pays the Pi-per This ‘distribution malfunction’ appears not to be a one-off problem. The UCLU Fire Officer has previously requested that boxes of Pi be removed from the back of 25 Gordon Street, and the Treasurer and Editor-elect, Chris Blanchard, recently admitted that “distribution factors meant that issue 668 ended up with ten or twelve boxes to be recycled.” With each issue costing £2,000 to produce, issue 668 effectively led to £600 being pissed up a wall. But it’s not just about the money. Service and Events Officer, Olivia Alford, objects to Pi Media in terms of waste. She points out that UCLU has a green initiative and that glossy magazines are notoriously hard to recycle. It’s a fair point; why bother producing hundreds of magazines no one will ever read? It does seems inconsistent for UCLU to claim green credentials while producing masses of glossy toilet-paper...
Trashed and wasted Money and pulping aren’t
the only kinds of waste, however; there’s an awful lot more, and it’s inside the publications. Past and current Pi staff members freely admit that the magazine and newspaper are badly managed, designed and written. Yet it didn’t always used to be this way. Way back in 2004, Pi was a runner-up in the NUS/Daily Mirror Awards. At the time, the judges praised the “sleek design” and “impressive content” of the magazine and described it as “packed with content and easily readable”. The M&C Officer at the time described Pi as “the UCL community magazine, written by UCL students for the UCL community.” How nice for Pi of yesteryea; though it makes Pi 2008 look a little shit in comparison.
Catch-22 Interestingly, the constitution still states that Pi ought to be “a quality monthly magazine that is well designed, widely distributed and a stimulating read” providing UCL students with “a quality magazine that entertains and provokes, but more importantly, a forum in which to encourage students to write articles and attain journalistic experience.” “Provocative” obviously means different things to different people. When past-editor Oliver Smith was asked about the content of Pi magazine, he declared, “students don’t want politics, they want smut.” With regards to “encouraging students to… attain journalistic experience”, Smith claimed that, when he left the magazine last
year, “only a small percentage of the [105-strong] membership are writers” and that just “a few writers” write everything. When asked why this was the case, Smith described it as “a Catch22 situation; Pi is shit, so no one wants to write for it; so it stays shit”. What a depressing sentiment, considering that it’s the editor who is “responsible for encouraging new writers to contribute and make everyone aware of media events.” On that note, Alford has also complained that Pi doesn’t publicise Union events enough, despite the Constitution stating that it should. Alford feels that the newspaper “is not relevant to students” and that the magazine “isn’t tackling key issues”. Her main question is, “why does the Union give Pi such a large grant, if it doesn’t serve the Union at all?” A very good question indeed, and one that remains unanswered.
Low Pi.Q. While not reporting on relevant student issues, there has been a rash of unfortunate stories appearing in the publications. It seems that the ‘brightest and best’ of UCL are only just about capable of cobbling together pieces about builders rating female students (charming) and describing rugby society antics as “gay”. In terms of consistency, Pi has managed to include an obligatory Facebook story in almost every issue this year; so well done. Smith declares that this is because “the Facebook community is better than the UCL community”. If this is the case, we may as well
just give up now and never leave our computer screens. Perhaps while we’re there, we could check out Pi Matrix – surely it fares better than the paper publications? Oddly, out of the £20k Pi gets each year, only £50 is spent on the website. This might explain why, in March 2008, the listed contact details were… er, two years out of date. Not exactly at the forefront of technology then.
Everyone hates Pi Very few people would argue that Pi Media is good value for money. Many students feel embarrassed to be represented by the magazine and it hardly seems to be an asset to the Union. Pi itself seems to have lost its selfrespect (does anyone remember their self-deprecating but cringeworthy “everyone hates Pi” stunt in the quad?) So what needs to be done? In terms of monetary waste, Alford says, “the balance needs to be redressed in terms of spending” considering that “they haven’t got a clue what to do with all that money.” With regards to physical waste, Sean has said, “We’re investigating better ways to decide how many we need”. Unfortunately, the problem of waste within the magazine is a little harder to solve.
Someone’s got it infamy If Pi doesn’t give students Union news, or provoke readers intellectually, or even foster a sense of community at UCL, then what is it doing? When previous editors have the attitude that “infamy is better than anonymity”, things can only get worse.
Lies, damned lies and press releases UCL’s press department hopes that a little bullshit will help the medicine go down. Alex Ashman IN NOVEMBER, The Cheese Grater looked at how ex-Media and Communications Officer, Nick Barnard, had colluded with the Provost to keep UCL’s dirty arms secret hidden from the eyes of the student population. Little surprise then that College lied to the BBC on the eve of a nationwide protest against university arms investment last month. The campaign against UCL’s
shares in military equipment and service provider Cobham Plc has proved to be a protracted battle. An investigation into ethical investment was promised by UCL Council back in June 2007, and yet it was only at the most recent meeting in December that the suggestion of an “ethical investments advisory group” was made. At the same time, Council members agreed that it would be rash of them to make a decision on the Cobham shares there and then. The investigation would
continue, and they would wait patiently for the result. Until 26 February, that is. Threatened with a protest the following day and an enquiry by the BBC, College rushed out a press release in an attempt to make everything ‘OK’. “UCL Council has agreed after extensive debate that the investment policy should not restrict investment in the defence industry” it claimed… wrongly. Was this simply a mix-up, or were College actually hoping that a little
bullshit was enough to keep the Beeb at bay and convince all the campaigners to give up and go home? Given Provost Malcolm Grant’s history, it would seem a little generous to give him the benefit of the doubt. Either way, a quick enquiry from a certain rag means that UCL Media Officer Dominique Fourniol has since informed the BBC that the statement “does not fully reflect UCL’s current position”.
The Cheese Grater
March 2008 TheCheeseGrater 3
The Only Student Magazine of Universe College London No. 5317 March 2808
THIS HYPERTIME PERIOD
Won’t somebody W think of the gametes!
UCLU Elections Meet the candidates p.2 Is The Cheese Grater cybophobic? The independent assessment p.2 do.stuff Your weekend sorted p.3 do.kids Their weekend sorted p.4 The future of philosophy ‘Truth’ finally calculated p.4
Shock as human refuses to breed
The Intimidatingly Efficient Podiatric Stomping Machine SHOCK AND ANGER are the emotions wringing the hearts of the people of the United Democratic Space Empire today, after the distressing announcement from Leeloo Greer, a 16-year-old telecom operator, that she was “only prepared to birth five children – or seven if they’re really cute”. Showing no concern for the other viable cells in her sacred, life-giving ovaries, the misguided youth continued: “Whose ova are they anyway?”
It’s harvest time
This is a barbaric suggestion for the 29th century. Ever since medical advances first allowed us to gestate whole children in vitro, from a single ovum all the way to the full gurgling package, our duty has been clear – to germinate all the little purple wrinkled individuals that we can. Every woman fulfils her body’s natural purpose and respawns – manually for the first dozen times, and then with egg-harvesting for as long as reasonably possible. These are future human beings; if we can keep them alive, we have an obligation to do so. Even the laws of the primitive 21st century tribespeople
made this clear: once an amorphous foetal blob had reached the point where it could be kept alive independently of its mother, only supported by a team of medical staff, several rooms full of equipment and a butler, it had rights. And in response to the growing population problem their nascent civilization faced – namely that several upper-middle-class couples couldn’t pass on their superior genes without the presence of lots of nurses in uniform – money was poured into fertility treatments and premature birth-care for anything they did manage to squirt out.
In the light of shocking footage demonstrating that foetuses can have favourite participants in Big Brother at just 20 weeks old, this was adopted as the last date for abortions in 2008. Further medical discoveries followed, with the onset of fashion sense being placed at 16 weeks and existential angst at just eight. With an increasingly short time to arrange for their new growths to be vacuumed out, it soon became commonplace for couples to book an abortion on their first date, to make sure they’d have time to go through the mandatory two month pretermination counselling if the worst happened. And when fertility tech progressed to the point that zygotes could be kept alive, abortion was recognised as the horror it is. From there it was a hopskip-and-jump to the realisation that not starting a pregnancy was just as immoral as not continuing one. Since that self-satisfied day all women have enjoyed the intoxicating chemical imbalance of motherhood a thousand times over, and our streets ring with the happy laughter of gangs of feral children!
Lovingly slaughtered It seems Greer is hell-bent on disregarding centuries of moral guidance, intense medical research and legal precedent, as well as her evolutionary programming. This publication moves that in view of the sanctity of all life, Miss Greer should be ritually slaughtered – after having all her baby seeds removed for careful nurturing in a loving home, naturally.
TheCheeseGrater March 2808
UCLU 2808 Elections
4 TheCheeseGrater March 2008
It’s that time of year again. Hustings will be held at Gordon Cube on Monday. BIONIC ROWLEY
“Since I’m half machine, half woman, I know what it’s like for a student in the 29th century. My experience shows: I’ve been at the Union for almost a millennium. I pledge to spend Union funds on brand spanking new pneumatic platinum legs.”
“I pledge to create efficiency by ERADICATING all waste, including other members of the sabbatical office, Union employees, bar staff, security guards, lectures, seminar leaders, research students, postgraduates, and undergraduates… I also piss Snakebite. That is all.”
BOBOAOA THLAKK “I’m a second Year undergraduate specialising in bounty-hunting. I live on a colony-type vessel with my parents. If I were elected I would end BIONIC ROWLEY’s patronising use of the Christian dating system. I would petition the library to stay open for 27 hours a day using an innovative system of wormholes.”
SPACE-SPHAEROBACTER THERMOPHILUS (evil-brain-melting-space-worm-type thingy) “I demand fundamental rights and Union representation for all Chloroflexi. We shall no longer be hamstrung and given the discriminatory label of “Bacteria”. It is a slur against our name and subspecies of Eubacteria. I would demand a place on the Union Council for all microscopic single cell life forms. Just because we are not sentient does not mean we cannot think.”
THE TRIANGULUM NEBULA NCG-604
“By attracting clouds of dust and gas I hope to turn UCLU into something literally more solid. The union was created to represent students, what better way to do this than with our own star? In just 15 million years my promises will be made good.”
Space TV’S Danny Wallace & Iain L have promised to make a mind numbingly shit spacedocumentary about the whole elections process. They truly are Spacecunts. Brain scanners will be installed at the airlocks; although we’re pretty sure all they will register is you still not giving a shit. SIMPLY SCAN THIS BARCODE AND RECEIVE A FULL ELECTION DIGEST
Is The Cheese Grater cybophobic? Vurt McNab Editron As ‘The Only Magazine of Universe College London’, The Cheese Grater has an obligation to meet the needs of the whole student body. As such, we strive to respect and represent the traditional values of equality and diversity on which this University is now merely nominally based. Universe College London is an incredibly diverse place. We’re ‘London’s Galactic University’, and it shows. Look around the virtual reality lecture theatre next time you’re attending a knowledge transmission session,
and you’ll see students of all sorts; humans, robots, androids, nanotrons, polyunsaturates and cyborgs. That’s why everybody at The Cheese Grater was so surprised and hurt at Bionic Rowley’s suggestion that the magazine is cybophobic. All of us here, (but especially me) take this accusation not only seriously but also personally. I myself take it more personally than most; some of my most efficient domestic slaves are cyborgs, and the idea that anyone could suggest that I have prejudiced views towards this noble and docile subset of semi-intelligent life is
extremely hurtful. As an indication of how seriously we take these allegations, the society decided that a thorough and impartial review of editorial policy was needed. After having conducted this review myself I can categorically state that I personally am not cybophobic and therefore that it is impossible for me to present stories in a light which implies or endorses cybophobia. My tolerance, indeed love for raving cyborgs is well known. In fact, I even think the society members appointed me to conduct the impartial and thorough review of myself because they
think I’m a cyborg! I take this as a compliment, of course, but I want to reiterate that I’m totally not a cyborg. Visit my Visagebook site for photos of me with a female humanoid companion on a recent holiday. Pretty hot huh? As you can see, while I definitely retain a straightforward, no-nonsense human look, I have been influenced by the style of cyborg designers and musicians. The very idea that I could possibly be implying that cyborgs are bad when I wrote the story “Sick cyborgs meeting... (continued forever)
Contributors: Ak Yeldarb, Dean the Ancient 1.0, Samuel Tulip-8 Steddy, Christopher-Robo-Hitchens, Devin Toohey’s Head in a Jar, The Intimidatingly Efficient Podiatric Stomping Machine, HSquared, ZZ9 Plural Z Al, Vurt McNab (riding the feathers), Willoptical, Jennetically Engineered Hulse, The Late Sofia Abasolo, Nivasiri Etchrant, G Spencer3, A Hyper S, Space Emperor Miaow
Not potty Book: Harry Potter and the Chasm of Depair
Devin Toohey’s Head in a Jar J.K. Rowling’s latest book, “Harry Potter and the Chasm of Despair”, which acts as both her fourth “final” installment to the Harry Potter series and her 8,719-page suicide note atop her opium-laden corpse, is, sadly to say, her weakest. It has always been a testy point among critics as to whether Rowling’s prose is an attempt to satirise the dense paragraphs of Kafka and Tolstoy by providing their antithesis; she is undoubtedly at her worst here. Gone are Rowling’s subtle yet
JK Rowling’s latest ‘final’ work provocative contributions to queer theory, such as Harry’s omnisexual experimentation with Cornelius Fudge and Polyjuice Potion in “Harry Potter and the Anguish of Desire.” These
March 2008 TheCheeseGrater 5
scenes are instead replaced by more base erotica such as George Weasley’s use of the Inferi curse on his brother’s half-decayed corpse. The one highlight of the work is Hermoine’s tirade while in the throes of the Witch Menopause. In this scene, Rowling poses the question of to what extent the author, when overtly speaking through a fictional character, is able to retain her reality. As Hermoine rants about how the public were fools for never accepting her treatise on the role of fiction in a world still recovering from Australia inexplicably sinking into
“Satirising the dense paragraphs of Kafka”
“Irradiarme su Scotty” The result is surprisingly rather good; and the production has met with near universal praise from A. A. Fishgill press and public alike; in particular One always has to worry from die-hard Zucchini fans, known about revivals, in particular those colloquially as the “Viagios”, who of works from the 26th Century. even go to the length of dressing up And while Zucchini’s later operas as characters from the opera when are regarded as masterworks of attending the performance. Particuthe classical canon, his early at- lar praise should go to the recently tempts, including “Stella Viagio” reanimated Patrick Stewart, who – a tale of adventure, love and ro- puts in a stunning performance as bots, set in outer space - have been Capitano Picard; with the Aria “Dammi il mio roboto indietro” and the somewhat forgotten. It was therefore rather brave of love duet “Succhiare il mio pene” beCovent Garden – recently reopened ing of particular note. He is also ably after another five trillion pound refur- supported by a cryogenically frozen bishment which has expanded the cast of television stars from the late Piazza to occupy 95% of London’s 20th Century, an excellent chorus, West End – to agree once again to and of course the superb Orchestra stage the production, after a gap of of the Royal Opera House – which, true to its traditional principles has four hundred years. only recently purchased a synthesizer – under the baton of the still undead Sir Charles Mackerras. Moreover, the scenery is remarkable, evoking both the ancient origins of the story, which was written in the late 1980s, and the futuristic visions of the author – both ideas summed up in the final scene, where we see the whole cast enveloped in what appears to be a giant disco ball, before the curtain falls to the sound of the triumphant chorus “William Shatner è un fica.”
the ocean and screams “You wanted me to only write Harry Potter? Here’s your fucking ending! I hope you have a stroke when you finish this sentence!” one must wonder if these words are merely frustrated ramblings or one of the best contributions to the connection and divide between the author, the textual material, and the reader since Calvino. It is in this part, and only this part, where we get a glimpse of the brilliant Rowling of old, the author whose seminal first seven novels rose to replace the seven volumes of “À La Recherche du Temps Perdu” in the canon.
Opera: Stella Viagio: La Prossima Generazione
Food: Jim S’caff Jenetically Engineered Hulse Jamie Oliver 9.0, the chef famed for bringing an end to teenage pregnancies by lacing school dinners with high-strength hormones that delayed puberty until the age of 32, last month launched his latest venture, a campaign to bring back ‘real’ food. His recently opened restaurant “Jim S’caff” has promised to reintroduce the public to the culinary tastes and textures of the year 2008. Having closely followed the current trend in ‘real’ food, including the rise and fall of nu-toast, I couldn’t ignore this latest development. Taking our seats at a formicaeffect table I’m impressed by Oliver’s dedication to historical accuracy in his recreation of the British ‘Caff’ of legend, right down to the sticky and stained laminated menus. A fantastically realistic-looking waitress greets us by spitting on the tabletop and blowing menthol cigarette smoke in our faces. The staff have been marvellously well trained to recreate the
Pinteresque atmosphere of desolation for which ‘the Caff’ was so famed. A hoard of ‘Brikkies’ sit in a corner, talking in their time-honoured language, Polish, and ritually leering at any female humanoids that walk past. I opt for the ‘Spakettee Oops’, described as a delicate fusion of high-protein complex carbohydrates with notes of Vitamin B12 and Riboflavin. They arrive in a polystyrene box complete with plastic fork, apparently the favoured culinary instrument of the 21st century. It is accompanied by a milk-drink, flavoured through the process of ‘tea-bagging’ and described as the age-old beverage of the homosexuals. A timer is placed on our table, giving us a traditional six minutes to eat before we are moved on to the ‘TV room’. I manage three mouthfuls. With this amount of mastication, it’s a wonder anyone used to have time for all those long-winded practices such as knitting or domestic violence. Perhaps if our ancestors hadn’t wasted so much time digesting we wouldn’t have been stuck in the thermo-nuclear age for such an embarrassingly long time! The next day my jaw ached, my tongue was numb and I’ve not spent that much time on the autoshitter since I mistook my daily fibre replacement pills for my hourly uppers. Nutrition, like reproduction, should be left to the experts.
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You will need:
3. Fill the plastic bottles with cola, put five sherbert lemons into each bottle, then seal by pushing the corks firmly into the top.
For the Umberto Eco: 1. Umberto Eco. If you don’t have one to hand, these can be obtained from the departments of Communications Disciplines, Via Azzo Gardino, Bologna, or else basements of Waterstone’s in Canterbury and antiquarian bookshops on Charing Cross road offering £500 discounts to celebrated semioticians.
4. Attach the bottles neck down to Umberto with the duct tape. Make sure they are firmly secured. 5. Your semiotician is quite heavy and may cause injury upon landing if he does not have a parachute. Put the bin bag in one of Umberto’s pockets and tell him he will need it later.
For the Rocket: - 12 empty plastic bottles (the larger the better, so ask a genetically engineered tramp for his bottle of white lightning after he’s done) - 12 corks (ask Umberto for these if you can’t find enough, he certainly doesn’t drink space wine pills from a screw-top bottle) - 60 sherbert lemons (or if you’re not Just Flash William, alka seltzer tablets will do) - Future hyper-cola® - Sturdy metallocard-board (for example, the box from your future-coco-space-pops breakfast supplements)
If all else fails to divert your children this Easter, lock them in the airing cupboard with this thesis and don’t let them out until they understand it. “Truth” The Late Sofia Abasolo 1. As the year 3000 approaches, it seems about time that philosophy finally settled the question once and for all: what is truth? The truth can be stated, most directly and conventionally, in the form of factual self-confidence. This is known as the ‘truth’ because it is, in technical terms, 2. itself ‘true’. 3.1 - An obvious objection comes to mind at this point, as Saul Kripke brought to our attention in the 1970s: what of the case of jockeys? For they own the greatest, most powerful animals (with the exception of gianormous whales and Indian elephants), and yet they are themselves small in size. This objection is most commonly known as ‘Zarathustra’s Paradox’.
2. Cut out several triangular fins and attach to Umberto as in the diagram.
6. Decorate Umberto as you like, for example by drawing go faster stripes with your orange felt tip pen on his beard. 7. In an open area, tell your Umberto Eco that someone has been mistranslating one of his books. He will become angry and attempt to have the translator fired, but his shaking with rage will mix the sherbert lemons and cola, causing a chemical reaction which will launch him to the sky!
Additional materials: Duct tape A crypto bin bag For decoration: Chromo Foil Glow Algae An orange ultrafelt tip-pen
1. Cut out a circle of card, then cut a line to the centre, and fold the circle into a cone. Attach to the top of your semiotician.
8. Experiment with the amount of mistranslation you give Umberto. More anger means a more extreme chemical and thus a higher flying semiotician/ We recommend the following: Short flight: Corso di treno -> training course (train race) Medium flight: L’ape prende la banana -> the ape grabs the banana (the bee takes the banana) Long flight: Il Nome della Rosa -> The Romance of the Rose (The name of the Rose)
In the last thousand years philosophers have produced two main responses: Locke’s “Pigeonhole” counterexample and the Gettier-type excuses. 3.2 - Locke offers the counterexample of mail which is delivered via pigeonhole, offering some resolution, however Locke seems to have forgotten about the exception of the jockey. The Gettier-type objections can seem almost arbitrary and for this reason most philosophers have chosen to ignore them, a custom I choose to adhere to here, if only for ease of argument. 4. Many questions remain unanswered, but I do not intend to solve the puzzle of the conceptualisation of truth qua truth in this paper; however, I have high hopes for what future philosophers hold in store - we’re definitely almost there.
Jokes Why did the robot cross the road? Because he was internally programmed to walk indefinitely along a line parallel to the Tropic of Cancer. How many Robo-Germans does it take to change a lumo-bulb? Only one, changing a lumo-bulb is a simple domestic chore that any humanoid lifeform should be able to competently carry out according to regulation 33.4.b as laid down by the Mighty Emperor Bellend Sebastian. What’s the only thing worse than seven infant humanoids in a tri-alloy titanium, quantum accelerated propulsionfueled matter disposal unit?
One infant humanoid in seven tri-alloy titanium, quantum accelerated propulsion-fueled matter disposal units! Why did the KII star disappear? Because of A Lambda. Knock knock. Who’s there? Giant fish-headed demigods from the twelfth dimension come to eat your pancreas. Giant fish-headed demi-gods from the twelfth dimension come to eat your pancreas who? GRRAAAGHGJHH munch munch MUNCH gristle squish squish spluergh. If you’re wired for nasal communication, scratch and sniff the page here for a hilarious scent-transmitted joke:
UCL Universe Cheese Grater Magazine Society Best Hologramography - Guardian Student Media Awards 2805 Editrix and Dictator: HSquared : Thought code 444356 Editron: Vurt McNab: 985345 The views expressed herein are probably those of UCL Universe and the editor.
Down Your Union
March 2008 TheCheeseGrater 7
The fallout from the reconvened Annual General Meeting continues... Plus, exciting news about the ‘Right-wing conspiracy’ that exists under our noses. Kat Lay The Earth revolves around the sun, night follows day. Some things are not open to interpretation. Unfortunately, the Union’s Standing Orders are – which is why the bickering over what happened at the AGM just won’t stop (see CG Special Report March 2008).
Exhausting An exhaustive list of arguments by those who want the AGM overturned and those who think that attempts to do so are part of a ‘rightwing’ [sic] conspiracy would be, frankly, exhausting. Check Facebook. But here are the recent key goings-on… The Sabbs decided to invoke disciplinary procedures against General Secretary, Samantha Godwin, after receiving numerous complaints over her conduct at the AGM, suspending her while a hearing is pending. Governance Committee (usually chaired by Godwin) was due to consider the status of the AGM in the light of the ongoing investigation into its procedures. However, Godwin turned up to the latest Governance Committee meeting (as an ‘observer’) with a motion proposed by three of the committee’s members, accusing the Sabbatical officers of acting “ultra vires” (outside their powers) in suspending her, stating that disciplinary procedures hadn’t been properly followed and asking that she be fully reinstated with immediate effect. Fat chance; the Union General
Is this the face of the right-wing conspiracy at UCLU? Erm... no, actually. Manager advised the committee that passing this motion would, in fact, be illegal. Godwin’s response? It’s all open to interpretation.
Stompy After fifty long minutes of discussion, Godwin and her committee buddies staged a stompy walk-out when it became clear that the acting Chair, (Finance & Administration Officer) Jim Hunkin (who had repeatedly told Godwin to “shut up… please” ) wasn’t going to let them vote on the motion until the actual agenda motions had been looked at. As they left, the three musketeers boasted that the meeting would no longer be quorate; four members are needed and their leaving left only three… However, it looks like what goes around comes around – as Godwin et al. have ceaselessly pointed out during the AGM fallout, a) a meeting is quorate unless declared inquorate, and b) you can’t leave the room once quorum has been called. Quite simply, when they called quorum, they were still in the room. Ergo, the meeting was quorate. Once they’d left, as none of the remaining members chose to call quorum,
the meeting went on to suspend everything that happened at the AGM and vote down Godwin’s motion. A tactical error? Most irksome is that none of this gets to the heart of what UCLU is supposed to be doing – representing students. With the AGM’s results suspended, even the few semi-useful things that the meeting achieved – like a motion to keep the cap on top-up fees - have been undone. Bravo!
Showbiz Sean Still, it’s nice to know that all this furore isn’t distracting union officers from their jobs – or their future careers at least. So set is Media and Communications Officer, Sean Clothier, on a career in showbiz that he refused to leave a theatre rehearsal to help out (the understandably upset) Rare FM committee after former convict and pirate radio DJ Andrew ‘Killer’ O’Neill threatened to “get some pikeys in a van and smash up the studio”. Instead he left it to a senior staff member to give ‘Killer’ a stern talking to down the phone.
Conspiracy As The Cheese Grater goes to press, yet another tedious chain of events is beginning to
unfold, with Godwin’s supporters submitting a motion of no confidence in Jim Hunkin. The process for this motion is long and dull; briefly, an Emergency General Meeting must be called within seven days, followed by a second at least a week after that. Both meetings must be quorate and the motion needs to be voted for by a two-thirds majority. Odds of that happening in exam season are low; the proposers are either under the delusion that students give a shit, or are trying to score points... Worse than the puerile nature of the tit-for-tat gesture is the way the motion is written. The first thing it notes is “That Hunkin is a former president of the UCL Conservative Society,” The relevance of that to a charge of Gross Misconduct is slim, but presumably it’s there to support the idea that Hunkin wants to overturn the AGM’s decisions because “the results were contrary to Hunkin’s political views”. The Heil Hunkin conspiracy gathers pace... It also notes Hunkin’s participation in a “secret meeting of the Sabbatical Officers” when deciding to suspend Godwin from her position, and claims that this constitutes “Gross Misconduct”. Surely this claim would mean that anyone at this ‘secret meeting’ was guilty of the same charge? A UCLU without a General Secretary or any Sabbs? Now there’s an interesting idea. In the end, it’s up to Governance Committee (on which Hunkin sits) to decide whether the motion gets put to an EGM or not. Watch this space.
8 TheCheeseGrater March 2008
He said “let there be confusion” and there was
Either someone at room bookings lost their common sense, or perhaps they just fancied a giggle... Alex Ashman reports A COUPLE OF weeks ago, UCL was treated to Islamic Awareness Week, a series of lectures ostensibly aimed at encouraging an increased understanding and tolerance of our Muslim neighbours. Odd then, that one of the lecture slots was handed to Harun Yahya, a group of evolution-deniers convinced that Darwin’s theory is incompatible with their religious beliefs and must be denounced at all costs – what this has to do Islamic Awareness is anyone’s
Oh the irony As a secular university, UCL encourages the freedom of speech, but the venue they offered Harun Yahya beggars belief: the Darwin Lecture Theatre, built on the very spot that Charles Darwin once lived.
Gloating The gloating tone of the posters didn’t help; students were invited to celebrate the
“collapse of the evolution theory” in the Darwin LT, on the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s discovery. Thankfully, the rather outrageous choice of venue proved to be a mistake on the part of the naïve Room Bookings service, and the lecture was re-sited once biologists had alerted Provost Malcolm Grant to the situation. In the end the lecture took place in the Gustave Tuck LT – originally built using a donation from a former head of the Jewish Historical Society.
And what’s going on with this bursaries malarky? Did someone forget to tell us something? Erm, yes, seems they did. Alex Ashman IN JANUARY, The Guardian reported that several universities had failed to spend their budgets for the student bursaries they had promised as a counterbalance to the new £3,000 topup fees. Poor administration was claimed to be the cause, with data protection rules preventing otherwise willing institutions from getting the money to students.
THERE WERE RED faces all round on the members of Stage Crew, who might have electrocuted somebody at the Modo fashion show without the help of a member of Bloomsbury Theatre staff. It turns out that the whole set-up had to be rewired after Stage Crew realised they didn’t have the technical expertise the job required. Truly shocking, eh?! SOCIETY BITCH WAS sad to hear that the application to the Friend’s Trust from Men’s Rugby for funding for their tour to Canada was rejected. It’s a real shame, especially because the trip was going to be really action-packed; their application made clear that – on a two week tour – the Rugby boys were going to play... just one match. Life’s just not fair is it boys?
Damn nuisance While Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College had all replied to Freedom of Information requests asking them if they had under spent, Provost Malcolm Grant’s UCL chose not to – not surprising when the man in charge has previously referred to FOI requests as a “damn nuisance”. UCL obviously has something to hide… and here it is. Out of its £1.26m budget for student
An artist’s impression of the bursaries situation bursaries during 2006/07, College spent only 76%, leaving a healthy £302k still in UCL’s coffers – enough to fund bursaries for hundreds of students.
Flawed Grant admitted the under spend to the Sabbatical Officers late last year, but was unable
to provide them with a reason as to why the money had not been spent. While Grant claims that College will not attempt to claw the money back, news that the flawed system will not be reviewed until 2009/10 is less than encouraging. College has so far declined to comment.
IT’S NICE TO know Education Officer-elect, Ed Steward, is starting as he means to go on. As a member of one of the many Facebook groups opposed to banning the military from UCLU, his comment, “just call the meeting inquorate! Everyone else seems to” is just what we want from a man about to start representing democracy at UCLU...
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Published on Feb 10, 2013
In this issue: An in-depth look at Pi Media's colossal money wasting; Elections Bitch gets her claws out; a futuristic Cheese Grater for you...