Issue 56 – Spring 2017 cheesegratermagazine.org
Senior Academics Revolt Against Management Ollie Phelan A covert group of senior academics are plotting a staff revolt over worries that UCL East is endangering the university’s future. Some members of the group, who style themselves as Save UCL Again, or SU(A!), are on the UCL Council, UCL’s central governing body. Sources have told The Cheese Grater that SU(A!) plan to raise their concerns directly at the next council meeting on February 14th. Worries centre on the viability of UCL
East, both financially and academically. Initial projections on the financial tenability of the project were largely optimistic and did not take into account the repercussions of the Brexit vote, with the potential reduction in EU students. There is also confusion over the status of the government loan promised by Boris Johnson, now that the former mayor has left office. Indeed, this is prompting further worries over UCL’s ability to pay back the massive £280 million loan they received from the European Investment Bank, which puts further financial pressure on the already cash-tight college.
Academics are also anxious that UCL East will prompt a move away from the science based research UCL has traditionally been renowned for, in favour of a teaching based approach. In an attempt to offer completely new degrees that would not otherwise be based in Bloomsbury, UCL revealed in a press release that they will provide “new degrees and research programmes that are developed from multi-disciplinary collaborations across the core themes of heritage, design, materials, performance, memory and media.” (Cont’d on page 2)
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Academics vow to save UCL (cont’d from page one) However, there has been no market research conducted to gauge the interest in these new degrees. Indeed, the motivations for pursuing UCL East, apart from creating a legacy for Michael Arthur, or providing an alternative income stream, are unclear. Despite these worries, private companies are already rushing to cash in. UPP, a private supplier of halls, who already own £245 a week Garden Halls, have invested £109 million in a new student halls in the area. When contacted, a UPP spokesperson claimed they were not able to comment on whether there had been discussions with UCL on the matter.
Financial squeeze The SU(A!) rebels are not only concerned about UCL East. The financial pressures facing the university has led to declining morale amongst staff. Part of the reasoning for increasing student numbers is to boost yearly revenue, however, this puts pressure on space and staff, necessitating a further increase in student numbers. Management have also imposed the target of a 5.5% surplus for all departments. This has resulted in the increase in voluntary redundancies, sanctioned by senior management, and in excess of 250 forced redundancies amongst support staff. Indeed, in a memo seen by the Financial Times, the well liked former Dean of Medicine, Professor MacAllister, who was denied a third term, lambasted management, saying “I was never prepared to ruin people’s working lives by becoming a five-anda-half-percenter.”
Management power grab Despite being elected to the UCL Council, academic representatives feel that they are being marginalised from decision making, including a lack of consultation over key strategic moves.
Dame DeAnne Julius has increased the use of Chair’s action to push through deals secretly and with little to no discussion. The Chair’s action, according to the UCL statutes, gives the chair the power to carry out any action “in any matters being in their opinion either urgent (but not of sufficient importance to justify a Special Meeting of the appropriate body) or non-contentious.” Yet, this definition seems to have been interpreted very liberally. The details of the £280 million loan was not put to the Council to discuss, but rather to simply ‘note’. As such, the loan was signed off without even the Provost knowing the final details. A further £60 million purchase of Clare Hall was approved via an email poll, with unelected lay members outvoting senior elected academic representatives, despite various major concerns being raised. Dame Julius, through another email poll, gained approval to sign off the Audited Annual Financial Statements for the year ending July 2016, which includes the £280m mega-loan, even though the Committee of University Chair’s Code of Governance clearly states that this must not be delegated. In a further power grab, the Chair and Registrar of the council have proposed a new definition to “noncontentious”, which would allow for a simply majority of council members polled by email to agree to an issue being non-contentious, thus allowing Dame Julius to extend her use of the Chair’s action. As lay members outnumber elected academic representatives, this has the effect of further marginalising the academic staff from decision making processes.
History repeats itself Back in 2002, the original Save UCL campaign was launched, spearheaded by some of the same figures who are involved with SU(A!). The
Society Bitch After spending all of Dry January craving a drink, Society Bitch was devastated to learn that Culture Club seem to have forgotten all about their promised Winter Arts Ball. Administrative fumbling saw the date for the ball moved from December to January, but now that February is well underway Soc Bitch is beginning to wonder whether she’ll ever have a chance to get her hands on that artsy cultural boy from across the road. It’s not only Culture Club that’s serving up a big plate of disappointment this term. Our friends over at Pi Media seem to have gone rather quiet on their promise to have six print issues out a year. They have so far only mustered the one issue, back in November 2016. You can still find it around campus (hint: check the bins). However, most of the issues are still packaged up in the media suite, sitting idle. 5 boxes in all. We shouldn’t laugh, though: it takes a long time and a lot of hard work to get so many misspellings into one magazine. See you in August, Pi, when you might finally get a chance to review the Winter Arts Ball.
original campaign arose in opposition to the proposed merger between UCL and Imperial. The provost who initiated the merger deal, Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith, was forced out by the disgruntled academics. The same fate befell his interim replacement, Sir Derek Roberts, after he tried to restart the deal. Subsequently dubbed the Year of the Three Provosts, it remains a testament to the power united academics can wield. Michael Arthur will certainly be hoping that Save UCL doesn’t wreak as much havoc this time around.
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UCL spend millions patching up failing facilities to accomodate rising student numbers Peter FitzSimons UCL provost Michael Arthur has revealed at the latest Academic Board meeting that student numbers will rise by “2% or so” again this year. This would take the total number of enrolled students to above 40,000, cementing UCL’s place as Britain’s biggest university. Arthur also asserted that space will grow by 3%, not enough to cover the ballooning student numbers. At the October UCL Council meeting, the strategic objective “to develop a teaching estate that is fit for purpose” was assigned a red traffic light, indicating severe concerns. Michael Arthur first proposed “moderate growth” in student numbers as the best way to increase UCL’s financial stability, however, he repeatedly ignored academics’ concerns
about the hidden costs of student number expansion. In a vicious cycle, UCL takes on more students to pay for the increase in space required to accommodate the students it already has. Renting external spaces comes at an exorbitant cost—£2 million in the 2015/6 academic year, and a predicted £1.8 million in 2016/7. For academics, too, it is a serious issue. One head of department within the SHS faculty commented to The Cheese Grater that problems with room bookings are par for the course: “the overwhelming perception in the department is one of frustration at the daily, on-theground, logistical difficulties.” Inconvenient room allocations are common across all departments and faculties; as the head of department put it, Estates try to “spread the love—or spread the misery”.
Other university facilities, too, are struggling for space. Over the past few years, the number of study spaces has steadily increased. But the exponential student population growth has wildly outpaced increase in study space. Until last year, there was no clear channel of communication between the faculties, who would take on ever more students without indicating the increased demand to Library Services. This year, UCL conducted an occupational impact assessment, seeking to correlate the growth of faculties with the needs of the library, and other support services. The report deemed the lack of study space an ‘amber risk’, demanding action. As Michael Arthur seems to be doubling down on his strategy, we can expect the cycle to repeat itself ad infinitum
NSS: No Student Say
UCL seek to increase fees by marginalising student voices Laura Foster-Devaney In the face of a national campaign encouraging students to boycott the National Student Survey (NSS), which measures the student satisfaction of a university, UCL has pulled back on promoting its completion. In previous years, senior management has heavily incentivised the NSS through prize draws, extensive advertising and financial bonuses for high-performing departments. However, this year, Anthony Smith, vice-provost of education and student affairs, indicated to sabbatical officers that the policy of incentivisation they had followed previously would be abandoned. The importance of the NSS lies in the fact that it is being used as a significant measure for the Teaching Excellence
Framework (TEF). The TEF will grade universities as gold, silver and bronze, with each level corresponding to how much the university will be allowed to raise their tuition fees.
UCL is widely expected to only achieve a bronze grade under the TEF, largely as a result of their poor student satisfaction ratings, as revealed by the NSS. As such, UCL seem to want to shut out student voices completely, with Provost Michael Arthur expressing a wish to “downgrade the NSS” as a measurement of performance. This was seemingly confirmed by Professor Husbands, chair of the TEF panel, who stated that he does not think student satisfaction is an “accurate proxy for teaching quality.” This could shut out students’ only leverage against further tuition fee rises.
Even Anthony Smith expressed sympathy for students, saying: “I absolutely accept the position that UCLU have taken in asking students not to complete the NSS this year. I entirely understand it from a students’ point of view, when they signed up to complete the NSS, they were not thinking that it was used to raise their fees” When pressed on why UCL even joined the TEF to begin with, Michael Arthur claimed that refusing to take part in the survey would draw attention from the press, and disapproval from the government, who they are relying on for a large loan which will help fund the UCL East project. In the end, it’s all about the money, money, money.
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Jurassic Arth: Dinosaur Provost backpedals on fossil fuel divestment Ollie Dunn
With the Fossil Free UCL divestment campaign seemingly gaining momentum, Provost Michael Arthur and co. are deliberately dragging their feet. Despite promises to Fossil Free UCL that UCL council would “give its Investment Committee an explicit remit to monitor its approach to responsible investment”, comments made by Arthur at the Academic Board meeting on 25th January indicate that, to the contrary, UCL has no intention of halting its investment in the Fossil Fuel industry, which accounts for approximately 8% of UCL’s £142 million endowment. When asked at the Academic Board meeting what assurances there were that UCL would not seek future funding from the fossil fuel industry, Ar-
thur replied that there were “no assurances whatsoever,” before going on to say that “I don’t think we should run a policy that prevents us from applying to [fossil fuel companies] for appropriate funding or appropriate research contracts.” Arthur argued that UCL’s engineering department, in particular, is heavily reliant on funding from fossil fuel companies. Furthermore, Arthur argued that divestment from an entire industry “would be unusual, but not unheard of ”. Arthur pointed out that UCL had only ever divested from one entire industry; claiming that it was a ‘pragmatic’ decision, UCL had only divested from tobacco as they would have been excluded from all medical charitable funding otherwise. It would certainly seem to be the case, then, that Slick Mick and his chums in management have been
caught red-handed in trying to appease Fossil Free UCL, whilst pursuing an active policy of non-divestment. The Sustainability, Engagement and Operations Officer, Zakariya Mohran told The Cheese Grater that: “UCL was built on founding principles of academic excellence and research aimed at addressing real-world problems. The realist and biggest problem we have right now – affecting every single member of humanity - is Climate Change, and UCL should acknowledge that in both its research and its dealings.” Justine Canady from Fossil Free UCL said: “Divestment is a separate issue from accepting funding from these companies; and divestment at the other 43 UK universities has not adversely affected their engineering departments.”
Zero hours, agency workers and rodents: investigation reveals Sodexo staff concerns Jason Murugesu
An anonymous letter criticising Sodexo’s management staff, seen by The Cheese Grater, purportedly sent from a Sodexo employee, has raised alarm amongst Sodexo and UCL Facilities. Addressed to the Provost, and initially sent to Michael Arthur, Rex Knight and UCLU BME Officer Sayeeda Ali, the letter makes several damning claims regarding the treatment of Sodexo employees. Whilst some of the claims have been unverified, several issues have been highlighted by the letter and the subsequent investigation. An investigation was conducted internally by the company, overseen by UCL facilities, but several UCLU sab-
batical officers were unhappy with this arrangement. Leslie May, Head of Facilities and Workplace Services, asserted that all Sodexo staff interviewed “refute all of the allegations made in the letter”. However, at an open meeting, two staff members voiced their dissatisfaction with their zero hour contracts. Sodexo pay their staff the London living wage, but staff receive irregular hours and many can expect no more than 20 hours a week. Yet, when catering for larger events, Sodexo bring in extra agency staff who are paid below London living wage. Staff are also provided with a unisex changing room, which they share with the UCL shop. Despite this arrangement being in place for around a year,
Sodexo claim that this is a temporary measure due to delays in renovating the UCL refectory. Whilst there are other changing rooms available, no efforts have been made by either Sodexo or UCL to provide more appropriate facilities for staff. The letter also raises concerns over food hygiene, claiming that rats are habitual visitors to Sodexo cafes. Although a Sodexo representative dismissed the idea that there was a rodent infestation, he did admit that a dead rat had recently been found in Sodexo’s engineering café. UNISON are currently conducting their own investigation.
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Donald Trump speech “plagiarised Hussein” Inauguration speech borrows heavily from former Iraqi President, critics claim D. K. Tator such a day - unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop President Donald Trump appears to - he draws on himself the wrath of have been caught plagiarising material Allah, and his abode is Hell, an evil refuge!’ in his inauguration speech. Political commentator Larry VeThe 16-minute address, delivered to a crowd of, quite literally, some people nal was among the first the point on the 20th January, appears to have out that President Trump’s hubristic lifted a number of lines verbatim from declarations against the enemies of Saddam Hussein’s 2003 speech to the Allah sounded familiar. Kuwaiti people. President Trump continued to Speaking of the importance of social raise eyebrows throughout the cohesion and unity, President Trump speech. Later, while pointing out declared that ‘We, the citizens of Amer- the importance of reaping America’s ica, are now joined in a great national natural resources, President Trump effort to rebuild our country and to re- said that ‘For many decades, we’ve store its promise for all of our people. enriched foreign industry at the If any do turn his back on this task on
expense of American industry, and from now on, we will do everything we can to put our industry first. The oil is a gift bestowed by God on the Arab nation, to use after centuries of poverty, backwardness and servitude.’ On Tuesday morning, Trump’s chief-strategist, Steve Bannon, hosted a media conference where he scolded the media for its dishonest and biased reporting on the matter, saying that they constituted ‘a Zionist and imperialist conspiracy aimed at liquidating Iraq’s revival and checking its development for decades.’
‘The Sublime Idiot of Ideology’
Contributors: John Bilton, Ollie Dunn, Peter Fitzsimons, Laura Foster-Devaney, Leo Freund-Williams, Thasmia Khan, Jason Murugesu, Will Orton, Ollie Phelan, Jack Redfern, Anna Saunders, Weronika Strzyżyńska, Robert Vilkelis, James Witherspoon.
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Trump signs in “tremendous national holiday” celebrating “10s” Steve Bann’em President Donald Trump’s latest executive order has declared February 14th as National Patriotic 10s Day.
In response to an exasperated leftist media, the President reaffirmed his long-held respect for woman by retweeting evidence from March 2016, in which a presidential candidate avowed that “Nobody has more respect for women than Donald Trump!” (source: @ realDonaldTrump)
“To make America great again, America must celebrate the best of what makes America great: 10s; beautiful women. Tremendous,” the Mr Trump wholeheartedly advocates a hands-on approach to National Patriotic 10s Day, and is rumoured written order states. to have already allocated government funding for The executive order will “revitalise the Ameri- his new “Make America Jailbait Again!” campaign. can economy” by decreasing seasonal imports on foreign Chinese goods, such as Swiss chocolate and Dutch tulips, and skyrocketing the sales of home-grown equivalents – the ever popular Pennsylvanian-Dutch Amish woodcrafted tulips, and Swiss-style chocolateflavoured brown treats. “It’s a great response to the issues facing us a country of limited resources, fleeing enterprise, and divided people,” voiced one supportive pundit, at least a nine, “The rest can still get love, I guess.”
The Cheese Grater’s Top Ten “10s” 1. 10 plagues of Egypt 2. Lords-aleaping 3. Interstate Freeway 10 4. 10 inkblots in the Rorsach test 5. MIDI Channel 10 (unpitched percussion) 6. 10 lost tribes of Israel 7. 10 primal elements drawn forth from the abyss on the first day of Creation 8. TENS machine 9. Pages in my fave book 10. Eleven
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It’s The Cheese Grater’s “Condiments of the Stars” feature. This week - Jeremy Corbyn’s Favourite Jams. Jeremy Corbyn Professional Jamster Hello everybody. If there’s one thing we can agree on it is that 2016 was a wonderful year for jam. I personally succeeded in making 12 jams, and if you can email me pictures of the jam you made that would be great. Here is a list of some of my favourite jams that I made: 1) Blackberry. I made this in late January/early February with some blackberries I found in Tom Watson’s allotment. I think blackberry is one of my favourite jams. I gave some to my wife for Valentine’s day and we spread it on our toast while watching my favourite film, which is Avatar because it
has very clever undertones. 2) Raspberry. Raspberry jam is Albus Dumbledore’s favourite jam and I quite like it too (we’ll get to my favourite in a minute). I made this in April and sent it to all my staff and the people at Momentum because of all the hard work they do. Seamus said it tasted of hope. 3) Gooseberry. I made this in May/ June because I didn’t have much else to do. I like gooseberry because it eases my bowels, and I also give it to my cat el Gato (Trans.,“the cat”) sometimes when he is constipated. I sent some to Owen Smith but I stirred a bit of poo in it.
vourite jam, I like to eat it by the handful and smear it on my beard so I look like a cereal killer who eats his victims!! I ate some before a PLP meeting and went on stage with my beard all red, How we laughed! So that’s it, four of my favourite jams. Let’s hope 2017 is an even better year for Jam! Yours in solidarity, Jeremy Corbyn
4) Strawberry. Strawberry is my fa-
Magick Spelles for Everyday Life: Clarifications Spelle Foure - Protecting Yowre and Corrections Even divine beings make mistakes Lockere sometimes (cf., you) and here at The Uri Wizzerd Harri Of alle the mystick artes, it is the Charmes of Protection that requyre the moste commitment. To simplie want to protecte youre locker is notte enough: yow muste neede to protecte it. I cannotte advise that this charme is attempted by fledgling MAGICKMAKERS. Onlie those who have obtained a level sevene diploma should turn their eyes to this mystick spelle. Godespeede my young friends, and may the lighte of the angeles shine upon ye.
Step 1: Goeth to thy nearest hardeware shoppe. Step 2: Buye a smalle padlocke that wille fitte thy locker. Step 3: Returnest thou to thy locker. Step 4: Locke thy locke on thy lockere. Step 5: Rememberest thou thy most secrete padlocke code. Important: do notte under any circumstances tell anyone else thy padlocke code. And lo! Thy locker is now protected from the forces of eville. Next week: defrosting your freezer
Cheese Grater we take our responsibility to provide clarification and correction very seriously. The following are corrections from our last issue, CG 55. 1. Our article “The Provost is a secret Lizard Lord and here is the conclusive proof ” was misleading. There is no conclusive proof that the Provost is a Lizard Lord. 2. In that same article we insinuated that being ruled by Lizard Lords was a bad thing. We were incorrect. In fact, all should welcome being ruled by Lizard Lords. 3. The Cheese Grater invites all its readers to attend an informative evening of drinks and canapes in the Lizard Lord Suite, where Michael Arthur will educate you mortals on exactly why Lizard Lords (not that he is one) would be benevolent rulers. A sit-down dinner will follow. Tasty, wellfed students are especially welcome.
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Preview of the new-look Cheese Grater website:
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