Issue 58 – Autumn 2017 cheesegratermagazine.org
In This Issue Investigations: • UCL Scientists & Fake Tracheas • Why did the union need a rebrand?
Humour: • Dalmation Man • Sad Fresher Tales
• Comedy Club Racism Shambles • Netball For Gender Equality
Sheikh It Off: Inside UCL’s Decision To Leave Qatar Royal Familes, Slavery Scandals & Museum MAs Weronika Strzyżyńska
Since its inception in 2012, UCL’s campus in Qatar – a country where apostasy and homosexuality are punishable by death – has been a running sore for UCL management. This will come to an end in 2020, however, following the university’s decision not to renew its
contract with the Qatari Founprogrammes, educated approxidation. mately 300 students and suffered at least two major, public scandals. But to call UCL Qatar a campus is an overstatement. With apWith this track record, one may proximately 85 students, the tiny wonder what UCL, which makes establishment is located on the no financial contribution to their second floor of the Georgetown Middle Eastern satellite, hoped to University building in Doha. gain from their close partnership with the Qatari government. In its five years of operation, UCL Qatar offered four Master’s Continued on Page Three
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News & Investigations
Down Your Uni Worst Referendum Ever!
Sasha Baker and Katerina Edgar
On Thursday 26th October, the results for SUUCL’s referendum on membership of the NUS were announced - though you’d be hardpressed to find a student who actually knew that such a vote happened in the first place.
other students had spent the last week sticking up posters. How seriously, on the other hand, the Remain campaign felt about the referendum is up for debate.
Jack Kershaw, the leader of the Remain campaign, and Fossil Free activist, opted to not spend any of his £500 budget allocated to him by the Union on campaign materiSo much so, the results have been als till the last day or two of camdeemed invalid as only 903 people paigning. This was because he too voted. To put that into context, believed the vote would not valid UCL is the second largest universi- due to a lack of votes. ty in the country with approximateRegardless of how little was spent ly 40,000 students. So while 70% of those who voted want to remain in by both sides, 903 votes is still more the NUS, that really only represents votes than senior sources in the Union had expected, with one sabless than 2% of the student body. batical officer telling the The Cheese The Cheese Grater revealed earlier Grater last week that they didn’t exthis summer that a referendum on pect more than 500 votes. membership to the NUS would be The vote will now be carried onto held after a vote in Union Council spearheaded by two sabbatical of- something called an “Extraordinary ficers, one of whom has graduated General Assembly” which must be from the university, and another held within the next two weeks. who failed to take part in this term’s For the vote to be binding there, it must attract 800 students, which of referendum campaign at all. course, no room in UCL can hold. A meeting for those interested in And if somehow at least 200 stucampaigning for either side in the referendum took place about two dents turn up, a vote on membership to the NUS will be “indicative weeks ago. and not binding”. The meeting only attracted two And then the vote goes to anstudents. One of whom was second year History student Sam Sher- other arbitrary Union meeting. Dewood, a member of Tory Soc and mocracy at UCL, eh? who became the de facto leader of 46,000 Students In the Leave campaign. He said that Eight Years he felt a sense of duty to ensure that Jason Murugesu and Ollie Dunn both sides were represented.
Society Bitch Soc Bitch’s most fevered groupies may recall earlier this week her article posted online about a planned joint social between UCL Netball and Men’s Rugby. The event was to be a memorial to the recently deceased Hugh Hefner, he of the soft pornography empire. On Tuesday, the Netball social sec announced a change to the dress code; women were no longer instructed to dress as “playboy bunnies” but instead rock up in their pyjamas. Thankfully, she reassured her team mates that there would soon be another opportunity to celebrate “friendship and female equality” with Men’s Rugby, they of the radical feminist dialectics. Who says this column doesn’t change the world? Just call me Woodward and/or Bernstein. It all went down for our friends at the venerable Comedy Club last week when a stand-up at their Freshers’ Variety Show made a joke many saw as racist. Not willing to relitigate Thursday’s omnishambles, Soc Bitch won’t repeat it here and risk alienating her large readership. In disarray, the committee scrambled to make a statement, distancing themselves from the whole debacle, and the edgy wannabe comic. Let this be a warning to any Freshers who think they’re funny.
study space – has revealed that in eight years he expects UCL to be home to over 46,000 students (as the population balloons by over 7000), making UCL easily the largest university in the country. But, I hear you asking, “Where This just in! The Cheese Grater will these rosy-cheeked new stuSherwood told The Cheese Grater that he had spent £9 on blu-tac and can reveal two tantalising tidbits dents be living?” Not to worry, for £10 on printer credits so far (who from this week’s Special Academic Arthur also revealed that these stuspends equal amounts on blu-tac Board Meeting. In a classic show dents can find cheap as chips housand printing?!) and that he and of expedience, Provost Michael ing at UCL’s new Stratford campus Arthur – mindful as always about for just £190 a week! What a steal! three
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News & Investigations
What did UCL Really Contribute to UCL Qatar? Continued from Page One
Selling the Family Silver
Hardly a flagship campus, UCL’s Qatari outpost is unusually distanced from the Bloomsbury headquarters: according to one former student, most, if not all, academic staff at the campus had never taught at UCL before coming to UCL Qatar, and UCL’s financial link is minimal.
demand and Qatar Foundation’s educational priorities, to support the development of Qatar’s cultural heritage sector.” With no financial and little academic input from UCL proper, it appears that the Doha campus is little more than a franchise, leased to the Qatar Foundation to bolster the CVs of young Qataris.
Mo Money: Mo Problems
In fact, UCL makes no direct financial contribution to its Qatari campus.
UCL signed the contract with the Qatar Foundation in 2010, and in 2012 became the first British university to open a campus in ‘Education City’, which already boasted international branches of such institutions as Georgetown University, , Cornell and HEC Paris.
The Foundation’s philanthropy may seem excessive or surprising. However, for the past decade the Qatari regime has sought to make itself palatable to Europe and the USA by pursuing a modern, liberal image.
The Qatar Foundation is ostensibly a privately-owned non-profit organisation that aims to support the cultural and educational development of Qatar in order to transform the country into a “knowledge based economy”.
The Qatar Foundation is in part a means to this end.
The organisation, while privately owned by the Qatari ruling family, also receives funds and support from the Qatari government. However, given the fact that Qatar’s Emir is both the head of state and government, it is hard to tell where his private fortune ends and public funds begin.
The tiny campus is fully funded by the Qatar Foundation, owned by the Qatari royal family, which covers all operational and capital expenditure, including staff salaries.
According to UCL Qatar alumni, the education of Qatari citizens seems to have been the Foundation’s priority. While foreign students were in no way made to feel less welcome than their Qatari colleagues it remains questionable to what extent the Foundation saw their education as its primary aim. Revealingly, two courses which reportedly attracted no Qatari students in two consecutive years have since been cancelled “in line with market
Guilt By Association
As early as 2014, UCL’s international vice-provost, Dame Nicola Brewer, said that UCL’s “relationships in Qatar need to be reviewed in light of UCL’s new Global Engagement Strategy and changed political
context there”, referring, presumably, to Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad becoming the Emir in 2013 after his father, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa stepped down from the role. Tamim is known to be distinctly more religiously and socially conservative than his father, and some of UCL Qatar’s ex-students feel that he’d prefer to see the satellite campuses catering specifically to Qatari students. UCL also has its reputation to think of: the Doha campus has brought UCL its fair share of scandals. In 2014 Labour MP Alison McGovern urged UCL to reject slave labour and exploitation of migrant workers who were reportedly employed as gardeners and cleaners at the campus, and in 2015 The Times uncovered the extent of sexist employment practices at UCL Qatar, revealing that married female employees received considerably less housing support than married men. UCL excused itself by shifting the blame onto policies adopted by the Qatar Foundation. After UCL has retreated from the Gulf, all their courses at the Doha campus will be transferred to the AllQatari Hamad bin Khalifa University. Some may wonder whether educational freedom can be reconciled with the mores of an autocratic regime. UCL’s departure from Qatar suggests that the management at Bloomsbury don’t think so.
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News & Investigations
Dr Con Man Will See You Now Inquiry Finds UCL Should have Stopped its Star-Scientist Killing Patients Kyra Watt
It’s a story we’ve all heard before: boymeets-girl; Faustus-meets-Devil; university-meets-murderous scientist. Earlier this month, UCL published an inquiry into its five-year-long tragic relationship with Dr Paolo Macchiarini, superstar scientist. The inquiry tells a story of deception, bribery and crime; a story that Marlowe would have given his right arm for.
In the early 2010s, Dr Macchiarini became an international sensation for his revolutionary work on artifical tracheas. His research and practices encouraged hope in the scientific community that soon any organ could be created from scratch in a lab, and transplanted directly into patients. Macchiarini became the latest fashion item amongst the most prestigious international universities. The grim truth of his work - that six out of eight of his patients had died following their surgery - was kept quiet. A 2016 Swedish documentary about the doctor, The Experiments,
quoted a critic of Macchiarini’s work: “If I had the choice between a transplant of a synthetic trachea and the firing squad, I’d choose the last option because this is the least painful form of execution”.
Seifalian’s lab was not licensed to make clinical grade devices, and neither was ethical or regulatory approval received for its use. Curiously, this retrospective correction is absent from UCL’s press release back in 2011 (which is still online) that Allegations continue to be levelled lauds UCL Business for patenting these against Macchiarini, mainly concerning devices. However, UCL have now been his professional and personal mythoma- outed for deleting their own news piece nia. He convinced his fiancée Benita Alex- from 2008 that praised Seifalian’s work. ander that their wedding guest-list would include his close personal friends the ObaFollowing the inquiry, Seifalian and mas, Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin. It Macchiarini, like the mature professionwasn’t true. In fact, he was still married to als they are, have pointed the finger at one his wife of 30 years. another; Macchiarini stressing that he was not aware the trachea wasn’t made to cliniUCL cut ties with Macchiarni in July cal standards, and Seifalian stating “It was 2014, and the inquiry soon followed. The not my job”. investigation found that not just Macchiarini was at fault: Professor Alexander Jack Stilgoe, a Senior Lecturer of Social Seifalian of Regenerative Medicine and Studies of Science at UCL, tweeted that Nanotechnology (who was dismissed in there was “A number of really worrying June of last year, in an unrelated case, for breaches”, and Professor Alison Leary of dishonestly accepting £24,000 from an London Southbank University specuoverseas student) was responsible for de- lated how “the inquiry did not interview veloping the materials from which some of all the people who were there at the time” Macchiarini’s artificial organs were made.
Union’s Cheap Rebranding Trick Jason Murugesu and Ollie Dunn This summer, the dull purple of UCLU was replaced with the ghastly orange of Students Union UCL, also “not known as” SUUCL. The use of the silly acronym, is actively being discouraged by the mastermind of the rebrand, the Union’s Head of Communications, Alex McKee, who sabbatical officers have told The Cheese Grater has a Google Alert anytime someone uses the acronym SUUCL - Hi Alex! After having spent 10 years with Imperial College Union, McKee arrived at UCL last year, immediately making a splash by forking out £20,000 on the two large screens in the Phineas building that play videos of the Union sabbatical officers walking around on repeat.
McKee justified the purchase by saying that he wanted the Union, and by extension sabbatical officers, to have more of a presence to their students. Mark Crawford, Postgraduate Sabbatical Officer commented that he had been given a dressing down by McKee after making disparaging comments about the rebrand on his Twitter. Speaking to The Cheese Grater, McKee commented that the Union was “in a bad state”, and that it sounded “like a trade union…not fun”. McKee said that he believed students didn’t associate UCLU with the sports and societies on offer, but rather with delayed expenses forms and a plethora of excessive admin.
The Union’s new tagline “where fun happens” aims to counter that popular belief. Union rebrands seem to be in vogue this season. Indeed, just this summer it was reported that Oxford University Students’ Union was to be rebranded as Oxford SU. Though their rebrand cost only £17,000, whereas UCL’s cost £68,000. The rebrand for both UCL and Oxford appear, ostensibly, to be for the same things: a new website, new logo, focus groups and a new strategy (think hashtags: #lovemyunion. So why, then, did UCL’s rebrand cost £68,000? It is not exactly clear, though McKee maintains that it was value for money and notes that Oxford Union is a “significant smaller organisation”.
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Uber’s London licence extended indefinitely R. Royce
The Cheese Grater can reveal that the termination of Uber’s operating licence in the capital will be repealed yet again as talks between the taxi hire company and Transport for London resume.
Free Range Pigs
Having already postponed the contract end-date, this extension to the extension of the pause in Uber’s suspension is suspected by news commentators to be one of many more extended extensions to come. TfL has repeatedly stated that the main issues all stem from Uber’s “less-than-great” customer service, yet sources can report that there is in fact a good service operating on all other lines. At a press conference this morning, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan emphasised the perils of private sector innovation and instant customer service as displayed by Uber, and reminded the room of the joys of the bus hopper fare and Night Tube travel options. Khan affirmed that creepy, unattended underground stations at 3am are the safest way for people to travel around the capital. When the ban was first announced, Londoners were outraged that they would have to find a costlier form of travel when returning home from expensive nights out consisting of overpriced drinks. ‘Its jus unacceptble… highest rent in the fucken country, smoggy roads and now an extra £5 to travel cos of ‘ealth n safety,’ wept a concerned hedge fund manager. Prime Minister Theresa May initially opposed the ban, criticising TfL for “opposing innovation”. However, it has been alleged that her real motive is simple jealousy: not even the Prime Minister can do a u-turn as well as a black cab. Contributors: Sasha Baker, Ollie Dunn, Sam Dodhgson, Katerine Edgar, Peter Fitzsimons, Leo Freund-Williams, Iona Jenkins, Jason Murugesu, Jack Redfern, Tara Sarangi, Anna Saunders, Seb Stacey, Weronika Strzyżyńska, Kyra Watt.
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We interviewed beloved TV Star DALMATION-MAN and asked him YOUR questions! HI DALMATION-MAN! Hello Stewart.
All the kids are super keen to hear a little about what you get up to when you’re not on the Telly! Let’s see … I finish at around six. Towards the end of the day I lock myself in the toilet for a few minutes. Just to get a bit of rest. There’s a large pipe in one of them, and I just lie down on that for a little bit, looking up at the ceiling. Then I leave, get the bus home, go upstairs to my flat, and sit around. I usually wait out the day, lying awake - wanking. Not out of enjoyment, just habit.
Wow great stuff! And tell us, what are your FAVOURITE hobbies?
I used to do amateur theatrics. I was Hamlet in the main production once. But that was back when I thought I could be a serious actor. Don’t do acting kids. That’s a take home message. Put that as the title of this piece. Don’t do acting. However good you think you are, you’re not good enough. You will fail. Do real estate or business. That’s where the money is.
At this point in the interview DALMATION-MAN began dryretching into a paper bag. Through the convulsions, it became DIFFICULT to make out whether the tears were from PAIN, or some other, less overt sadness.
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Which Usuli Twelver Ayatollah and district of Serbia is your university? J. Unkmail Let’s be honest, it was only a matter of time. Now I know, I know: the old ‘which Usuli Twelver Ayatollah and district of Serbia is your university?’ joke is an old one. But we here at The Cheese Grater we thought we’d properly put it to bed! So crack open your Behesht-e Zahra, pour yourself a nice itjihad Ulema or чаша вина as you lie down on your кревет and let’s get pučanjškÿe! Newcastle University – Ayatollah Sayd Hamid Hussein Musavi / Knjaževac District. Ah Newcastle! City of nightlife! Fun, cheap, boozy, promiscuous, and, like our good friend Hamid, also the author of many books concerning the Abaqat ul Anwar fi Imamat al Ai’imma al-Athar! Likewise, Knjaževac District also possesses a sizeable Romani community! How ‘bout that! Manchester University – Ayatollah Aga Syed Yusuf al-Moosavi al-Safavi / Klokot-Vrbovac District. Okay so this is a tough one! But let’s think about it, guys!
Manchester University, like Aga Syed Yusuf al- Moosavi al-Safavi, has an edgy, cool, grunge appeal (Did someone mention ‘old-skool chunes’!?) that is found nowhere else in the North-West! Likewise, KlokotVrbovac is an enclave of ethnic Serbs in the predominantly Kosovar Albanian state of Kosovo! Three cheers for standing out from the crowd! Durham University – Ayatollah Syed Ahmed Rizvi Kashmiri / Voždovac District. Oh, come on! This one is so obvious that I’m not even gonna bother explaining it! Bristol University – Ayatollah Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi / Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. Bristol’s hipster reputation and burgeoning indie-rock scene easily draws comparisons not only to Ayatollah Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi’s opposition to Iran’s theocratic regime which functions under the shadow of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, but also to the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina’s decision to declare its autonomy in defiance of the Parliament
of Serbia! These guys are constantly trying to notch things up an extra level of indie! Exeter University – Ayatollah Mohammad Bahr al-Ulloum / Šumadija District. You guessed it! Šumadija District isn’t unique in it’s position as a modern industrial centre! Like Šumadija, Exeter University was also a long term opponent of Saddam Hussein’s in the 1980s and an appointee to the predominantly Shia Iraqi interim government! Crazy! That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more fun and crazy lists like ‘Which celebrity convicted of aggravated assault is your university?’ And ‘If your course were a course what course would your course be?’
Fresher wonders why no one will talk to him as social grace period ends William, formerly Billy, Fresher “It all changed when I got back from the christmas holidays” said Marcus Wilson, “people who would have previously nodded politely at my fictional boasts of sexual adventures and endless stories about other people, now seem to find the most benign item fascinating whenever they are near me. The best I can hope for is a strained laugh as they smile patronisingly backing out of the communal space they’ve found themselves cornered in”. Said house mate Jenny “We didn’t decide this unanimously to ignore Marcus. I think we each just came to the conclusion that Marcus was a dick independently.” Marcus has found some companionship
with weird Katy ‘you know the one who’s really into horses, like really into horses’ Smith. They now spend most of their time in the kitchen drinking endless cups of tea and eating ‘weird Katy’s baking experiments’ whilst making everyone else who needs to cook feel guilty and awkward. Mark informed The Cheese Grater “She’s so weird. I was just trying to eat some pasta before a hockey practise when she brought up the one time she had anal with her first boyfriend. There was ragu everywhere.” ‘Weird Katy’ hasn’t been quite so lonely as she continues to be shadowed by Pete who is oblivious to how deep he is in the friend zone. Talking to The Cheese Grater Pete said “Girls like boys that listen, so I reckon an-
other month of insatiable listening I might even be in with a chance of feeling her chest pressed against me if we hug. She has already let my graze her boob with my elbow twice! I think she likes me, but she’s just playing hard to get. Two can play at that game.” Marcus is planning to find new friends by whispering unnecessary and unamusing comments to neighbours in lectures and to invite himself to tag along on your nights outs. “I’ll join the CU if I have to. They have to love thy neighbour won’t they?” CU president commented “We might have to turn the other cheek and our shoulders to keep him out of conversations. He really sounds like a dick.”
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UCL Cheese Grater Magazine Society President—Tara Sarangi Editor—Jack Redfern and Jason Murugesu Investigations Editor—Weronika Strzyzynska Humour Editor—Ollie Dunn
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© Students’ Union UCL, 25 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AY. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of SU UCL or the editor.