In This Issue Investigations: • UCL spying on its alumni • Never ending NUS referendum Issue 59 – Winter 2017 cheesegratermagazine.org
Humour: • Tales from abroad • The Tab’s new direction
Soc Bitch: • Medics fight for right to vomit
is just a marketing scheme Sexual assault victims failed by Union’s hypocrisy over two years, she is still haunted by an event that occurred in “They make you run around in freshers’ week. She didn’t even circles until you give up.” realise how much it was holding her back until she started havImagine having a drink with a ing panic attacks and her grades friend in Phineas. All around are dropped a year later, leading to posters and T-shirts advertising her consider dropping out. the Union’s ‘Zero Tolerance to Sexual Harassment’ pledge. Lit- This student had been sexually tle do you realise just how much assaulted by a committee memthis pledge has failed her. ber of her prominent UCL arts society. She had been pressured Although she’s been at UCL for and forced into a position of Iona Jenkins & Jason Murugesu
fear, panic and extreme discomfort. Working with this student, The Cheese Grater has investigated the process of reporting sexual assault to SU UCL. It has revealed a Students’ Union which is under-equipped, understaffed, and unwilling to support targets of sexual assault and harassment. Continued on Page Three
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News & Investigations
Down Your Union ibly distressed when they realised that not enough students had turned up for For the sixth year running, last Tuesday’s the meeting to go ahead. promised Union General Assembly never took place, because too few students Never Ending NUS Nightmare turned up. The NUS motion was only on the Though heavily advertised on Face- agenda last week because of the litany book as a forum for students to discuss of failed measures aiming to resolve the funding for psychological services, cam- question of the Union’s disaffiliation paigns against sexual assault on campus, from the national confederation. Octoand NUS membership, only 160 stu- ber’s referendum on NUS disaffiliation dents attended the meeting held in the was null and void as not enough people 900-seater Logan Hall. voted. Peter FitzSimons
The vote was then pushed to an Extraordinary General Assembly. That meeting on 21st November was a mere 10 people short of the required 218; and so the matter was pushed to last week’s meeting. But the General Assembly proper attracted even fewer people. Jamshaid The Union’s Democracy, Operations & commented that the “leave campaign Community Officer Hamza Jamshaid was pushing [...] really hard” to mobiconfessed that it was touch-and-go: “at lise its supporters for the Extraordinary one point I didn’t even think we’d get a General Assembly, and made less effort for last week. hundred [people]”. Forty-eight more students were needed so that the meeting could go ahead, though any votes passed would have been advisory. Another 600-plus students were needed to make the votes valid.
Jamshaid put great effort into advertising the event: banners were hung around the campus; it was zealously advertised on Facebook; sandwiches sold in Union cafés were emblazoned with stickers urging students to attend and vote.
Women’s Officer - Too Little Too Late Women’s Officer Justine Canady wrote to Union societies late the previous evening, urging support for the motion she proposed, which was to reform the SU’s systems for handling sexual assault; but it was a case of too little too late. One president of an Arts Society told The Cheese Grater that, for several weeks, she had been asking Canady to increase the urgency of her campaigning for the meeting.
Quite how the NUS question will be resolved is unclear. The Union Council does not have authority to decide upon matters of this nature. Should Union officials decide to put us out of our misery, they have the option; the Steering Committee may give that responsibility to the Council. The Steering Committee comprises of just two men: Jamshaid and Union Chair Bilal Aziz. Jamshaid admitted that they are unlikely to use this kill switch option, for the undemocratic image it would paint. Jamshaid commented that most students seemed to want to remain in the NUS anyway, so if votes continued not to be valid it would not be such a big deal.
The vote will be shuffled from one nonThose who had attended to discuss the quorate general assembly to the next unUnion’s sexual assault systems were vis- til the sun consumes the earth.
Society Bitch It is with a heavy heart that Soc Bitch must announce that RUMS Sports Teams are at it again. For the past several years, any innocent bystanders at a RUMS Sports Nite (Wednesdays in Mully’s, for the brave-hearted) will have been treated to the image of dozens of future doctors drinking pitcher upon pitcher of Snakebite, before vomiting into cavernous black buckets. These buckets, once emptied into and around the toilets, are returned to the bar for the whole stinking cycle to begin again. It’s a well-established tradition at the Union bars - as classic as cheap pints and lax security. But as Nobel-prize winner Robert Allen Zimmerman famously wrote: “The times, they are a-changing”: the sick buckets have been banned by the Union in a move that’s irritated bar staff, management, and RUMS medics alike. Allegedly to discourage excess drinking, Union bigwigs have confiscated the buckets and demanded that if the medics need to be sick, they do it in the urinals like any normal human. Never ones to shy from a challenge, however, the doctors have decided that they’d rather throw up anywhere other than the toilets: bar staff report seeing them throwing up in pitchers, pint glasses, and even plastic bags that are then left under chairs for a lucky cleaner to find in the morning. Medics have defended their vomming, bravely claiming that Mully’s is “our safe space to act like dicks”, but bar staff aren’t convinced. Quote one member of staff: “All I want is to get through one night without slipping on a bag of purple sick.” Happy holidays, everybody.
The Cheese Grater Winter 2017 3
News & Investigations
Dishonesty at heart of Union’s pledge Continued from Page One The student has been relentlessly pushed back and forth between various Union staff members for six months, with no action taken, desiring simply that the perpetrator of her sexual assault be removed from their society, so that she could feel safe attending its events. She had given up on the system, but when faced with the prospect of a new academic year and facing the perpetrator again, the student tried to reopen the case with the Union CEO, Ian Dancy. It was at this point that the Union attempted to backtrack on its previous promises to the student.
Dismissive Union staff emails
In emails seen by The Cheese Grater, Dancy noted that “it is important to note that the meeting between you [and Union members] was not the correct forum to formally decide on any outcomes and I hope this was made clear to you at the time.” When asked by The Cheese Grater whether he bore any responsibility for this confusion, Dancy did not wish to add further comment. Dancy and the Welfare and International Officer, Aiysha Qureshi, are both the points of contact in the Union’s by-laws for complaints of sexual harassment and assault. However, neither have had any training in how to deal with targets who report such cases. This became abundantly clear in the prolonged email exchange between Dancy and the student. In one email, he said “I apologise that you feel this has been dragged out but you did only email me on Monday evening and admitted yourself that you had forgotten to follow up on your original meeting.”
Sudden system switch
Over the summer the Union’s policy for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment had changed. However, it had failed to notify anybody.
“I apologise that you feel this has been dragged out but you did only email me on Monday evening and admitted yourself that you had forgotten to follow up on your original meeting.” The student was informed that the Union would not deal with any complaints—ongoing or not—and was advised to instead take the complaint to UCL. The student however, noted she had been told several months earlier that she could process her complaint through the Union. Alex McKee, Head of Communications at Students’ Union UCL, told The Cheese Grater this was so they could conduct a review of their complaints procedures. He added that this decision was made mutually with Qureshi and Women’s Officer, Justine Canady. Canady says this was during their first meetings as sabbatical officers and “was taking advantage of someone new to the job”. Though McKee argues that Canady had started her term in July and the meeting had occured in October. McKee acknowledged that a review of the Union’s system of dealing with sexual harassment complaints is yet to take place. Though he assured The Cheese Grater that it will be completed by the end of the academic year, and that he is looking to contract external help.
Zero Tolerance is a “marketing scheme”
The Union has also shirked its responsibilities around complaints made by
members of UCL Women’s Rugby earlier this term. Allegations made against a member of UCL Men’s Rugby have still yet to be resolved, although Katie Sykes, Sports Development Manager did enforce a mandatory meeting about inappropriate behaviour to Men’s Rugby’s 60+ players. Considering Men’s Rugby had already signed the ‘Zero Tolerance’ pledge, this illustrates how little that actually meant. A distressed academic caseworker at the Rights and Advice Centre is alleged to have told the student after several months of no progress that “Zero Tolerance is just a marketing scheme” and “the Union does not have a disciplinary code.”
Lack of system in Union Bars
The Union’s policy on sexual harassment occurring in Union bars appears more straightforward. Bar staff must report the case to security who will immediately remove the perpetrator, taking their name and student ID number and writing a report. However, even this system is not without confusion. Neither bar staff or security believe it is their responsibility to report or process the complaint. The report is rarely officially filed with the Union, leaving the perpetrator free to return—without consequence. Until the Union stops paying only lip service to the principles of the Zero Tolerance campaign and starts living up to their own standards, the system is doomed to fail students time after time. While staff are preoccupied with passing the responsibility of dealing with complaints to-and-fro, students like those who have spoken to The Cheese Grater will continue to fall through the cracks.
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News & Investigations
Shock horror! UCL to overcharge Stratford students UCL East students will face central London prices in decidedly-not-central London Sasha Baker
The primary justification for building UCL’s new campus six miles away from Bloomsbury in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is the relatively cheap land in the area, yet it appears UCL East students will not benefit from the lower cost of housing in Stratford. Instead, they can expect to be charged upwards of £190/wk (bills, cleaning and security included) to live in student housing or be forced onto the private rental market.
partly dedicated to student residences. Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, the architecture firm designing Pool Street West estimated there would be 520 rooms available, each costing approximately £190/wk in self-catered, en-suite accommodation.
A UCL spokesperson justified this figure, saying that the accommodation in Stratford would be “a significant improvement in terms of quality and space,” and “significantly lower than the rent charged for the same room type in Bloomsbury”. Both of Pool Street West, one of the two these statements are true—a similar buildings making up the first stage room in Bloomsbury costs £235.55/ of development at UCL East, will be wk—but conceal a problem. What
UCL is offering in Stratford is luxury student accommodation. There is no option for a shared bathroom or smaller room, an option many students would take to save £50 a week. The location of UCL East presents a problem for students renting privately. Accommodation in the immediate vicinity of the Olympic Park is both limited and expensive. The options appear to be: pay what UCL asks; rent in the even more expensive Unite Stratford ONE or a nearby flat; or get somewhere cheaper but far away. If land is so cheap in the Olympic Park, why is rent so high?
Daily Mail sensationalises UCL fundraising tactics Sasha Baker, Katerina Edgar and Samantha Jackson A series of articles in The Daily Mail accuse various universities, including UCL, of using wealth screening companies to target alumni for donations. The Mail alleges that universities accessed and recorded private information for fundraising purposes, including details of former students’ finances and personal lives. The Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) at UCL admitted they had used wealth screening firms in the past to target alumni with a history of donations to human rights organisations when they were raising money for the Centre for Access to Justice. This practice is legal if people whose data is shared are made
aware of it. UCL claims that they updated their privacy notice and emailed all alumni for whom they have contact details when they began using wealth screening. The Mail used the personal experience of a UCL alumna and Mail journalist who had been contacted by the university asking for money in 2013. A freedom of information request revealed that her data had been shared with wealth screening firms, although the UCL privacy notice at the time reflected the fact that this was possible. DARO claims to have since stopped using wealth screening firms altogether, and has no plans to resume the practice in the future. The Mail also claimed that UCL had illegally solicited donations from
people on the no-call TPS (Telephone Preference Service) register and had admitted to doing so. Speaking to The Cheese Grater, a DARO spokesperson said that, at the time, official guidance was that organisations could call people on the TPS with whom they had a pre-existing relationship but they followed suit when guidance changed. They also said that UCL has stopped calling alumni to solicit donations altogether. UCL, despite a history of using wealth-screening firms andcalling alumni, appears to have acted legally and has consistently updated the privacy notice to keep up with official guidance. DARO emphasised that they are committed to data protection and to building a life-long relationship with alumni rather than harassing them.
The Cheese Grater Winter 2017 5
A Discourse on the Cruciform Building B. Artlett The architect Alfred Waterhouse is known for beautiful Gothic buildings; the Natural History Museum, Balliol College in Oxford, and our very own Cruciform Building, by far the prettiest bit of the UCL campus. Just look at that symmetry, those four perfect wings; the contrast of colours. Imagine this, looming over 1900s London; an epoch of architectural brickwork, towering over Gower Street. Imagine being brought there as a patient, back when it was a hospital, coughing up your own lung in astonishment at the building’s sheer glory. It’s a true architectural masterpiece. Except it’s not, because the FUCKING ENTRANCE IS OFF-CENTRE. Look at it. It’s not even subtle. It’s about 3 metres too far to the left. The entire building is designed to be symmetrical, and it’s perfect in every way except for LITERALLY THE FIRST PART OF IT YOU SEE. Who looked at that and thought ‘Yes, that is perfect. There is nothing wrong with this building’? How the fuck was Waterhouse dubbed ‘the most successful Victorian architect’ when he couldn’t build a fucking doorway? How can UCL run its own school of architecture and allow this monstrosity to exist outside the front fucking gates for over a hundred fucking years? This does, at least, explain the UCL East project; it was obviously meant to be a main campus extension but somebody pulled a Waterhouse and built it three miles downriver by mistake! Clearly, there is only one solution to this cankerous boil, this dripping, pustulant tumour on the arse of our campus. We must demolish the entirety of the main Cruciform building and move it three metres to the left to line up with the entrance. There are enough builders on-site already; it shouldn’t be more than a ten-year job, during which time we can move the medics to a temporary building, with classrooms in the Main Quad and an entrance in a parallel fucking dimension.
__________ Beautiful symmetry
The Tab Caves to Student Pressure Paddy Faker The Tab London has followed the wishes of students announcing on Twitter today that “by popular demand it will now be merely a fortnightly list of who’s fucked who, for how long and in what way.” Democracy & Communications Officer, Hamza Jamshaid says “I’m appalled by this news. The masses should never get what they want. It’s things like this that prove people are idiots and democracy is critically flawed by putting faith in them. I will do everything in my power as sabbatical officer to enact sweeping agrarian reforms across the British Isles, and fight ISIS with our divestment scheme. Also tax the rich.” Speaking in favour of this move was Gower Place Practice, who released a statement that “The news has shamed everyone associated with the university. However, this slip in journalistic integrity from poor to dreadful will provide the ability to track STD’s through the student community. Preliminary reports suggest many students have already had Chlamydia.” 3rd Year Chlamydia Meadows could not be reached for comment.
Contributors: Sasha Baker, Sam Dodhgson, Ollie Dunn, Katerina Edgar, Peter Fitzsimons, Ross Humphreys, Samantha Jackson, Iona Jenkins, Jason Murugesu, Jack Redfern, Tara Sarangi, Huw Steer, Weronika Strzyżyńska.
6 Winter 2017 The Cheese Grater
I quit my day job to travel the world It fucking sucks, please help me. Nomadic Splat Just a few years ago, I was like you. Stuck in a dead-end fiftyhour a week, £60K a year job, doing the 9-5 – running the rat race. Sure, I was doing ok. Sure, I enjoyed the odd night out drinking the beer and smoking the weed with my pals down at the gas station before heading back to my trendy bachelor pad. Life was pretty good – but I wasn’t living my dream. Ever since I was a young boy, I’d always dreamt of travelling the world and learning about different cultures and landscapes through my own eyes. I wanted to really experience the world. So, on the morning of my 67th birthday, I strode confidently into the office, told my boss to go fuck himself, spray-painted a giant penis onto the ceiling of the office, and dove headfirst into my new lifestyle.
First of all, do you know how expensive all of this shit is? I fucking didn’t. I assumed I could just get on a random plane and just go places. But the complete lack of fiscal responsibility that has been a constant feature in my life so far has really come to a head. As I write this now I’m stuck in a tiny internet café in Cambodia with not a penny to my name and a pretty chronic case of the runs. I’ve begged my old boss to take me back (I cried on the phone to him) but he just laughed and said that slamming his face in the cake at my retirement party was the final straw. Oh yeah, and that’s another thing. I’m so fucking sick and tired of all this ‘ethnic food’. I know everyone talks about ‘widening your cultural horizons’, but literally the only thing I’ve managed to widen so far is my rectum. I shit where I sit and it feels like I’m sitting in a vat of battery acid. Please help me. And while we’re talking about illness and general malady – who would have figured that a constant stream of encounters with underage sex workers was going to be bad for my health? My penis literally looks like it could fall off any second. I showed it to the doctor at a sexual health clinic and she cried. I can’t believe this never occurred to me before.
It absolutely fucking sucks. Sweet Jesus Christ did I screw up.
I could go on. But what I’m trying to say is that if there’s anyone out there who could help me out I’d really appreciate it, because my old boss won’t hire me again and I need cash and medicine ASAP or I’m going to die.
Israel-Palestine conflict resolved in comments section of The Guardian Nathan Yar-Who? In what has been described as a breakthrough for international diplomacy, the Israel-Palestine border dispute, often viewed as one of the most contentious socio-political issues of modern times, has finally been resolved. After days of negotiations, hostile debate, and over 150 Facebook likes, housewife Brenda Reid (43) and urban-dance student Craig Grimble (19) believe they have solved all of the most pressing issues at the heart of the conflict, which has raged on for over half a century and has claimed many thousands of lives. Negotiations began on Saturday evening when, in response to a Guard-
ian article concerning President Trump’s recent decision to recognise Jerusalem, the millennia-old city that is so important to many world religions, as the capital of Israel, Mrs. Reid, who ‘has a lot of friends that are foreigners’, asserted that ‘Very soon all the UK will be controled (sic.) by the Muslims, they already control US and Europe!!’. Mr. Grimble, a self-described ‘sorta’-liberal-anarchosyndicalist-sorta’-green-humanitarian’, responded by saying that Mrs. Reid was racist, and that her attitude would lead to bigotry and hate. And so it began. At times it seemed that negotiations might not come to fruition. Five comments in, Harry Dirrick (13) chimed in with a photo of Nicholas Cage’s face
photoshopped onto Kim Jong-un, leading to a stream of entirely unrelated memes by onlookers. Later on, Mr. Grimble accused Mrs. Reid of being a Nazi, to which she responded with a plethora of angry emojis and exclamation marks. But after much argument and mediation, both parties agreed to release a statement declaring that ‘tbf i don’t think either of us really know enough about this to get into an argument and i think theres a big coverup over chemtrails anyway x’. And so negotiations were concluded. Prime Minister Netanyahu was not available for comment.
The Cheese Grater Winter 2017 7
“Regal Carpet” Review Not quite a “Crapet” but certainly quite crap in some respects
Mr F. Jones Regal Carpet I found this carpet quite sturdy and it almost fully supports me, but I’m still not entirely convinced. It says on the tin “flammable”, but I’m unsure how how to take advantage of this, and the instructions seem quite unhelpful. Furthermore, the carpet is off-cream, or off-white, depending on how you look at it. This is confusing, and distracts me from other activities, such as feeding the fish and doing my morning workout. I am a keen tap dancer, so you can imagine my utter delight at the two tap dance shoes that came with the carpet – only for me to find that they were glued together. I am thoroughly disappointed by this, and cannot stress how much fun I’ve not been able to have as a result of this. I have to tap dance in my socks, and it’s not quite the same. The carpet deals excellently with stains, I dropped an entire bucket of sweat over it accidentally and it simply vanished on contact, like magic. There is actually quite a big stain from where the magic happened, but I suppose that life simply does go on. I dislike the way in which the carpet sometimes opens up, revealing the endless abyss below and sucking everything into it. I think this is quite impractical as it means I have to nail myself to the sofa when I simply want to watch TV. Overall, I think the carpet is adequate for my purposes, but not quite regal, like the name suggests. I recommend it to those who simply love life.
“We don’t think that was my voice”
DENY A LITERAL BLOODY RECORDING
8 Winter 2017 The Cheese Grater
University College London Presents:
A Crossword Puzzle For Our Detractors Send the sentence found in clues 1 Down, 3 Down, 4 Down, 6 Down, 7 Across, 8 Down, 10 Down and 9 Across to firstname.lastname@example.org for no reason at all because we have actually put the solutions below. __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ __________ SOLUTIONS DOWN: 1 UCL 3 IS 4 TERRIFIC 6 AND 10 OTHER 12 UNDER - FUNDED 13 FUN 15 SNOOZE ACROSS: 1 UTOPIA 2 LIST 5 CANNOT 7 DON’T 9 WISER 11 RIGHTIE - HO 13 FIENDS 14 KLUTZ SENTENCE: UCL IS TERRIFIC AND DON’T THINK OTHERWISE(R)
UCL Cheese Grater Magazine Society President—Tara Sarangi Editor—Jack Redfern and Jason Murugesu Investigations Editor—Weronika Strzyzynska Humour Editor—Ollie Dunn
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
© Students’ Union UCL, 25 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AY. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of SU UCL or the editor.