Issue 61 – Summer 2018
In This Issue – Investigations: • The People Making UCL Less Racist Humour: • Theresa May’s fields of weed
Soc Bitch: • Drama Soc AGM an experiment in human endurance
Cover Story Headline Goes Here
UCL Illegally Employs Students as Vice-Wardens, Gets Caught
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News & Investigations
Society Bitch Special As a congratulations for reaching Term 3, Soc Bitch has put together a smorgasbord of gossip for you, the adoring public. Read on for a tale of farce, power struggles, and backstabbings so Shakespearean we could only call it…
Comedy of Errors: The Drama Soc Story If you have a pulse and a Facebook account, you’re probably familiar with those giants of social media, UCLove and UCLoathe. For those still stuck in the Stone Age (looking at you, Men’s Rugby), the basic premise of these pages is that individuals submit anonymous confessions of love or loathing that are then broadcast to a combined audience of just over 7,500 followers. From time to time, the pages feature posts directed not at individuals, but at societies, institutions, or – as in one recent case – cheese-related humorous investigative journals. Ardent followers of the page will have noticed a recent surge in posts concerning Drama Society. Possibly attracted by the captive audience, members of the society are acting out their squabbles on UCLove and UCLoathe. The gripes all centre on what some are calling the “dictatorship” at the head of the society: President Amy Reade and Treasurer George Jibson. Your favourite gossip girl here wasn’t satisfied with second-hand drama – Soc Bitch went straight to the source, and got members of Drama Society to divulge the whole sorry tale.
Taking No Prisoners The root of the matter seems to be President Reade and Treasurer Jibson’s distaste for the society’s most recent production, an adaption of Kafka’s In The Penal Colony. In the words of one member of the society, the junta “desperately tried to block” the performance going ahead. Regular readers will remember that Drama Soc’s productions often run into bureaucratic difficulties – see this column’s
thoughts on Rhinoceros of yesteryear – but In The Penal Colony seems to have suffered more than its fair share of Kafkaesque problems. Its production in Term 1 was halted by “rights issues”, and the Penal Colony team were promised a date in Term 2 instead. When Term 2 rolled around, however, the Commandant and Officer conveniently forgot their promise and the Penal Colony team found that they had to compete with a new show, SENSE, for the slot. Some bright spark suggested the productions share a double bill, but President Reade, concerned that the directors of SENSE would be unhappy with the arrangement, decided to simply award the entire slot to SENSE. A noble act of leadership, marred only slightly by the fact that the directors of SENSE were none other than – you guessed it – Amy Reade and George Jibson. Feathers were ruffled as, in the words of one society member, the “committee started to get really unsettled because it was a clear abuse of power”. Soc Bitch can only guess at why Amnesty International didn’t get involved. Two months later, the Penal Colony team were finally given a performance date: the same date as the Drama Society AGM. The Penal Colony team received messages from President Reade telling them to stop promoting their show and to start promoting the AGM; Facebook posts for the show were deleted, and the original Facebook event was wiped. Drama Soc had gone full censorship. Luckily, the bastion of free speech that is UCLoathe saved the day – a post complaining about the committee’s dictatorial leanings prompted them to cave in, and they eventually changed the date of the AGM.
Annual General Misery For those unfamiliar with the plot of In The Penal Colony, it concerns a machine that executes prisoners by tattooing them with the law that they’ve broken. Over a period of some hours, they experience agonising pain and eventually succumb
to their wounds. This experience, however, sounds preferable to the torturous proceedings that make up the Drama Society AGM. It lasted for an agonising four-and-a-half hours while the Society debated President Reade’s rewritten constitution. For comparison, the Anglo-Zanzibar War of 1896 lasted 45 minutes. Countries have been conquered in a sixth of the time it took Drama Society to hold a meeting. But what a constitution! Reade’s diktat suggested the committee be split into the “Board” (President, Treasurer, Show Coordinator/Vice President and Head of Production) and the “Representatives” (actors, directors, writers, etc.). The “Board”, however, would also have jurisdiction over the “Representatives”, meaning that the entire process of putting on a show – from the bids to the production – would have been entirely within their power. Of course, Reade and Jibson had no problem abusing the system in order to produce SENSE: Reade’s proposal would simply have legitimised their power struggle as a constitutional right. After hours of debate and protestations from both society and committee members, a passionate speech from former President Matt Turbett sealed the vote – against Reade’s amendments. This was far from the end of the issue, however: because the entire AGM had been devoted to the constitution debate, the society had neglected to actually elect a new committee – so, in Union terms, didn’t actually hold an AGM at all, and may be punished with disaffiliation. Soc Bitch loves her drama, as regular readers will know, but this whole fracas has rather spoiled her taste for it. Leave the nightmarish politicising to Kafka, Drama Soc, and get yourselves together for next year’s production – a one-woman show about being UCL’s premier gossip queen.
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News & Investigations
Miami Vice (Wardens) Sasha Baker Artwork by Anna Saunders Earlier this year, an international student and former Vice Warden of UCL accommodation shared her story with The Cheese Grater. Her experience portrays a system that doesn’t care for its international students beyond the money they bring in. The Cheese Grater can reveal that the university may have broken employment laws for several years, and carelessly risked the immigration status of dozens of their employees.
New Contracts Vice Wardens receive a free room in Halls in exchange for being “on call” so that they can help residents with any problems they may have. After months of working for UCL last year, our source Amanda - not her real name - was informed that her contract would need to be amended. Until then, Amanda, as an international student unable to access student loans, worked twenty hours a week (in Union bars), the maximum allowed during term time on a Tier 4 visa. With the new contract, Amanda was told she could now only do her Vice Warden work. Senior staff in the months following gave conflicting reasons for the change. Amanda, confused and distressed about being unable to earn money, later filed an official complaint with UCL.
UCL Claimed There Was A Change in Law In response to the formal complaint, UCL Registrar Wendy Appleby wrote: “In November 2016, Tier 4 Vice Wardens were advised that the change in employment law meant that they could not have employment other than their Vice Warden role”. When asked by The Cheese Grater
about the change in law, the university backtracked, stating that prior to 2016, “UCL hadn’t identified whether Vice Wardens were volunteers or voluntary workers and there had been no formal record keeping of the hours worked.” A barrister specialising in immigration law told The Cheese Grater that the twenty hour weekly limit on employment during term time for international students (including both paid and unpaid employment) had been in place since 2009- the year the Tier 4 visa was introduced. UCL now officially classified the position as voluntary work. The hours worked by international Vice Wardens counted towards their permitted 20 hours. No law had changed. Instead UCL had risked the immigration status of dozens of its international student employees by failing to make this distinction clear for several years.
Legal Advice Mix-Up Upon discovering she would have to quit her other work, Amanda initially sought clarification from Joanna Page, UCL’s Head of Immigration Advice and Compliance. Page advised that “you will need to put aside 5 hours per week to carry out your Vice Warden duties and so you will be able to work up to 15 hours per week outside of these duties.” A few weeks later, Amanda’s supervisor Mitesh Vagadia told her that she would in fact have to set aside five hours per shift as Vice Warden, leaving her a mere five hours of paid outside work each week. UCL now say that this mix up was because their legal advice had changed within those few weeks. They stated that “the quota of 5 hours per shift was introduced to remove the risk of vice-wardens on Tier 4 visas working [over 20 hours] at UCL and at
the same time ensure we could continue to appoint Tier 4 visa holders and meet the full requirements of the role.” Amanda’s timesheets show that the most she ever worked in a night was 30 minutes.
Threats of Deportation Amanda’s story is not an isolated case. Katie (also not her real name), a student still working as a Vice Warden, undertook paid work with her academic department but, fearful of endangering her visa status, quit. Her fears were sparked by the meeting in which all of UCL’s Vice Wardens were initially told about the changes in their contracts. Katie and Amanda both told The Cheese Grater that a member of UCL staff raised the possibility of deportation for non-compliance with Tier 4 visa regulations at the meeting. Amanda said, “the moment you use that word to an international student … you’re shutting down my sense of reasoning. You can’t say anything”. Page declined to comment other than to reiterate that “failure to adhere to these imposed conditions [of working hours regulations] puts the visa-holder’s immigration status at risk.” In response to the formal complaint by Amanda (in which she argued that her finances, studies and mental health had suffered as a result of these abrupt changes), Appleby wrote, “we do recognise that this change had a disproportionate impact on you” but “we do not consider that financial compensation would be appropriate.” Appleby’s response illustrates UCL’s relationship with international students: to management, they are little more than cash cows. International students provide the university with half of its tuition fee income, but when it comes to their safeguarding responsibilities, the university shows little interest.
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News & Investigations
Racism in UCL’s past and present Peter FitzSimons and Jasmine Chinasamy
The conference struck a particular chord because of UCL’s long and troubling history of racial science. “UCL has a legacy which other universities may not have,” Olatunji observed, save perhaps Oxford, Cambridge, and Liverpool. Subhadra Das, curator of UCL Collections, has worked extensively educating people about UCL’s ignoble past. “UCL was ahead of the curve,” she acknowledges, “but the curve was pretty wide.” Plenty of other institutions, such as LSE, King’s College, and Imperial must Olatunji, together with reckon with similar histories. Education Officer Sarah Al-Aride and Das rejects that tearing down Welfare and International Officer Aiysha the markers of UCL’s troubling past is a Qureshi, runs the Decolonise UCL panacea of any sort. “If we take Galton’s campaign, with the threefold aim of name off the lecture theatre, there is reforming teaching and the curriculum, nothing to talk about.” creating a more inclusive community, She asserts a need to deconstruct and redressing the legacy of racism at the the idea that science is politically neutral university. in favour of reframing science as an But in Olatunji’s estimation, ideology. There is insufficient discussion the problem runs much deeper and its of racism as “a scientific construct”. And scope extends beyond UCL. He accused museums, she believes, are an ideal site the Prevent strategy of effectively to facilitate such discussion and pursue criminalising Muslims, interpreting social change, a “space and a conduit for mainstream religious beliefs as evidence of decolonial conversations”. radicalism and incipient violence. “If we had Muslims or people of colour holding the same conference [...] we would have seen counter-terrorism police on our doorstep the next day.” SU UCL BME Officer Ayo Olatunji was incensed by the news of the London Conference on Intelligence, held at UCL. The now-infamous annual eugenics seminar, convened by an honorary senior lecturer at UCL, drew outrage and disgust when it was exposed by London Student in January.
Of the conference, he complained that “Prevent didn’t know any of this was going on.” Prevent predominantly focus its attentions on student groups, especially those with large numbers of Muslim students. Bella Malins, Lead Officer for Prevent at UCL, stated that “UCL has made no referrals under Prevent to the Channel programme”. She further commented, “we are currently working on a training programme that puts awareness of unconscious and cognitive bias at its heart. “The intention is to ensure that any preconceived views or unconscious bias that an individual may have can be addressed in a structured way as part of the wider training on Prevent.”
“At least some good came of it” Last month, the Provost agreed to provide funding for the Centre for the Study of Racism. Vice-Provost Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu is currently working with faculty deans to appoint an academic lead. Three devoted academics will be assigned to work within the Centre for a period of three years. In January, when Olatunji called for such a centre, it appeared some way off from becoming reality. It would seem then, that the London Conference on Intelligence and increased pressure from Decolonise UCL campaigners has spurred UCL to action. Marcia Jacks, Institute Manager for Women’s Health and Co-Chair of the Race Equality Steering Group (RESG),
said, with the announcement of the new centre, at least “some good came of [the conference].” She is pleased to see UCL “taking responsibility” — in a practical and symbolic way.
Galton’s inheritance In 2015, Provost Sir Michael Arthur jokingly offered the defence that the University had “inherited Galton”. But Olatunji’s work continues to challenge an intractable, institutional racism at UCL. Olatunji feels an obligation to “be the agitator”. He occupies a unique position as a sabbatical officer — without the same restrictions and responsibilities that face academics and other staff working in this area. Marcia Jacks’ work within the RESG has most recently comprised the development of a toolkit for teaching staff and departmental administrators to consult to overcome inequality in education and employment. Of the 174 staff at UCL earning £140,000 or more per year, only 20 are BME; BME staff are more likely than white colleagues to be on short-term contracts; on average, white staff are promoted quicker than BME colleagues. The London Conference on Intelligence drew headlines, but racism on campus goes far beyond the high-profile and publicly scandalous. In a recent focus group of BME students at UCL, one stated, “At the beginning of the year, the whole course were told that BME students always do worse in the practical exam. This was announced as a fact to everyone!” The establishment of an academic centre to study UCL’s role in propagating structures of racism and eugenics is laudable. But the struggle to build an equitable institution is ongoing. Many people within the UCL community are working tirelessly to shine a light on the university’s shameful past and begin righting the sins of Galton. Victories like this academic centre are a step forward, but mustn’t be an excuse for complacency.
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Meeting the Stars - An Interview with Tim Allen Family Values The day began at 07:30. The other interviewers and I were led into a makeshift tent and instructed to wait for the call. We were given no food, and the only water we had was from the rain that had collected upon the canvas. It was rationed out, and all thirty of us received a few drops to see out the day. The tent soon became a sweatbox, the heat riling the dormant animals within us. A hierarchy subsequently formed and we split into two packs. Weak against strong. I knew straight away that I had to prove myself. Lenny was a slight man. Not short. But by no means tall. We had sat next to each other on the coach here, and he had opened up to me about his sick mother. I could tell he was easy pickings. As I walked over he smiled. “Hello again,” he said. I clenched my teeth and spat. “I heard you were talking shit behind my back”. He blinked. “What? I don’t understand…” Before he could finish his sentence I had beaten him into the ground, hitting him again and again until his groans had become silent.
Award Buzz An acclaimed actor, Tim was nominated in 1993 for a ‘Quality Television award’ for his role in Home Improvement, an award he would again be nominated for in 1996 - for the very same show!
Tim is a loyal Republican, supporting John kasich in the Republican primaries.
When I next looked up he was there. “Tim Allen?” was all I could muster. He smiled. “Hello David.” “You know my name?” His shirt was unbuttoned and exposed his torso. “I know a great deal more that you realise. I have been watching you. We all have.” “I don’t understand.” “Everything will become clear soon, my child.” He took me by the hand and lifted me from the ground. He seemed barely to strain as he hoisted me into the cool air. My feet left the ground and we rise, Tim and I, I and Tim, in union. I become restored.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the senior interviewers watching the scene, nodding their heads as if in contemplation. They had fashioned robes from the excess tent. The canvas fell shapeless over their bodies, swaddling them like khaki ghosts. I dared not face them, so retreated back into the corner where the women huddled. It was four hours later that I was summoned: a hand on my shoulder, a bag placed over my head. But it did not wholly block out the light and I could see shadowy figures And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, congregate around me, things so Slouches towards Bethlehem to be charged with meaning that their born? forms were dimmed and blurred. They never touched me, but by some strange impetus I felt compelled to move forwards, stumbling into the recesses of the tent. No one followed. There was quiet. When I removed the bag, I could no longer trace the direction from where I came, for everything was concealed in shadow. My eyes ached like I had been watching the sun and I crouched and rested my head against the mud. Get all of
Tim’s films on DVD!
Contributors: Sasha Baker, Jasmine Chinasamy, Sam Dodghson, Ollie Dunn, Elias Fedel, Peter FitzSimons, Leo FreundWilliams, Suzy Kingston, Jason Murugesu, Jack Redfern, Anna Saunders, Tara Sarangi, Huw Steer, Weronika Strzyżyńska.
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New Feature: Drug Talk! Mary Jane Hundreds of millions of students a day are using hard drugs in London alone. Every month, The Cheese Grater will be asking a figure in youth culture what their views are on the matter. In month one, Prime Minister Theresa May argues that something needs to be done about this unparalleled depravity, and shares a cautionary tale from her own days as a student. Weed. Skunk. Baccy. Skag. Charlie. Beak. Mary Jane. Miaow Miaow. Da ‘erb. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? That’s right. Marijuana. You’re probably snorting some of it right now, aren’t you? Well? Unravel that five pound note at once, and listen to me. I could come down very heavily on criminal leeches like you if I wanted to, throw my book right at that pierced nose. Stop slouching! Are you trying to lick the rest of it off the floor? Show some decorum. I am Theresa May, and I’m going to educate you about the real dangers of recreational drug use. I was a bit like you once. I too was young. There were several things that I was not, and they are things
you should aim to emulate: I was not naïve, I was not young, I was not rude, I was not interested in casual sex, music, television or drugs. I knew people that were, though. It happened when we were at university. First, the soft stuff – a half of lager here, a Double Decker there, a couple of fags on a night out round the back. It became normalised. Then, before I knew it, my best friends had become deranged criminals, totally dependent on that euphoric cannabis rush that sent their jaws all Crocodile Dundee. I am ashamed to say I let it happen. I sat there, too terrified to speak out lest they throttle me in the throes of their chemicallyinduced rage. Often they would wallow in their Bacchanalian stupor, eat crisps and watch Only Fools and Horses. It made me tremble for the future of the free world. They thought they were inconspicuous, but you could spot the physical deterioration a mile off. Marijuana abuse turned them into hollow husks of fine young adults.
One was hit harder than most. He had the fine, sexless body of a provincial accountant, but the willpower of a crab. Eventually I tired of his gluttonous two spliffs a week habit, and told him to sling his hook. He moved to the foothills of Afghanistan, where attitudes were more permissive, and spent his days tripping on radical Islam as well as cannabis leaves, which he ate raw. He didn’t have a bad trip, but the innocent victims of his drug-fuelled terrorism did when the planes hit the towers Could you tell a crying child that your cannabis sent their parents to a fiery grave? I didn’t think so. Theresa May’s conscience is clear. Hard drugs are evil. Marijuana is a plague on civilisation. This isn’t the fun we fought the Nazis for. Do it again, and I’ll send you to Belmarsh for 15 years, and Jamal, I’ll send you for 40. Say no to hard drugs, or the only weed you’ll know is the weed on your pauper’s grave.
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Old Feature: Men Talk! Nott L. Men A male actress gives his view on sexual harassment in Hollywood.
A young Los Angeles-based actor, Lorenzo Johnson, has decided to have his entirely necessary say on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. The movements, with their focus on revealing and combating sexual misconduct in Hollywood, have received widespread support. Johnson, a self-titled ‘up and coming actor’ and ‘America’s Sweetheart’, takes issue with that. “We, the men of Hollywood, have been accused of not being active enough in supporting the admirable ladies of Hollywood,” he said in a press release. “I for one am frankly appalled by the inactivity of us, the men of Hollywood. I’ve been doing some self-reflection, spending long nights looking into the mirror, and have even tried thinking. I’ve come to the conclusion that we, the men
of Hollywood, are committed to standing besides, or even slightly behind, the good women of Hollywood.” Johnson, 26, made his debut on the CW program Charm of the Law, in which he plays a young war-veteran-turned-jaded-copturned-lawyer who has to balance his busy professional life as a Supreme Court Justice alongside his night job as a crime-fighting street vigilante, whilst also balancing his commitments to his daughter and his ex-wife, a supermodel turned forensic scientist, all the while maintaining a subtle womanizing undertone. The television show is now on its fifteenth season. Johnson is also starring in new feature film I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues as the boyfriend of a college student who has an affair with her stepfather. Johnson says he is “excited and humbled to be working with Woody Allen, one of my alltime heroes and all-round great guy.” After “sustained meditation” Johnson is apparently
planning a protest by way of a ‘bed in’ to fight against sexual misconduct and misogyny in Hollywood. “I will be spending as much time as possible in bed to protest against sexism and sexual abuse in Hollywood. I’m always so inspired when I think about the bed-in John Lennon and his wife did back in the 60s. He’s an all-time hero of mine and was just such an all-round great guy” said Johnson. “I invite other leaders of this great movement, such as Margot Robbie and Emma Stone, to join me in bed to fight against powerful men taking advantage of women for their own sexual ends,” he continued. When asked to comment on Johnson’s declarations, #TimesUp activist Emma Stone replied, “….who?” Fellow activist Tom Hanks has said that neither he nor “any other human being in Hollywood are in any way affiliated with this man, and do not support his activism in any way, shape or form.” Woody Allen declined to comment.
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UCL Cheese Grater Magazine Society President—Tara Sarangi Editor— Jason Murugesu and Jack Redfern 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.