Issue 46 â€“ Winter 2014
CHOP? General Meeting to Decide Future of Union Special Report p.3
2 Winter 2014 The Cheese Grater
Down Your UCL Norma de Plume
I’m Dying To See You Last month, after UCL management cut off negotiations with Fossil Free UCL, the campaigners staged a ‘die in’ protest to disrupt a UCL Council Meeting. Around 50 protesters laid down on the ground outside the meeting, causing council members, including Provost Michael Arthur, to have to step over their bodies to get inside. The Provost seemed none too amused with the obstruction and, after a failed attempt to ask security to remove those in his way, declared haughtily “Well if I fall over this ruins the whole thing, doesn’t it?”. In a press release by Fossil Free UCL, student Guin Carter said that “If UCL management choose not only to invest in climate-killing fossil fuels but refuse to negotiate with those demanding change, how else do they expect us to communicate with them?” Minutes leaked from a meeting of UCL’s Ethical Investment Review Committee in April of this year reveal that the committee declined to immediately review all all of their individual Fossil Fuel divestment requests. However, committee member Professor Jane Rendell favoured a policy of complete divestment from the fossil fuel industry, similar to the one UCL already holds for the tobacco industry.
Tired & Emotional (About Chemical Bonds) Earlier this term, students attending a chemistry lecture were surprised by the strange conduct of their lecturer, which included him telling a totally silent room to “stop talking … only I get to talk for the next hour, then you can talk for as long as you want”, and long digressions from subject, meaning that he didn’t get through his even half of his presentation. In reference to the LectureCast record-
ing which was taking place, he said that “everything in these lectures will be recorded, unless I’m standing in this side of the room [he then moves out of camera’s view] when I can say things like ‘bum’”. Speculation about his condition followed from confused students. A Natural Sciences 2nd year told The Cheese Grater that “it was a Friday afternoon. If a guy wants to relax a bit, let him. I know I do most weeks”. Since then, senior members of the Chemistry department have been in attendance of all of his lectures. Students who complained have since had meetings with HR, and a student who complained to the course organiser, upon asking if it was worth going to the rest of the lectures, was told “no, I don’t think you should”.
Paint The Town Pastel In support of the marking boycott proposed by the UCL branch of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), 4 student activists made their own mark by daubing slogans of solidarity onto the walls outside Bloomsbury Theatre using water soluble powder paint. UCL, perhaps ignorant of the meaning of ‘water soluble’ (the slogans have since washed off in the rain), were devastated at the insult to their precious walls and threatened to hand the names of the activists to the Met Police unless UCLU disciplined those involved. The two students involved were given warnings by the Union and two Union Sabbatical Officers, Democracy and Communications Officer (DCO) Hannah Sketchley and another who wished not to be named, are awaiting internal disciplinaries. UCL management ostensibly argued that the protestors were ‘defacing UCL property’ but it has been suggested that this is the latest in a string of attempts to censor student critics and
Society Bitch Soc Bitch notes that in the latest Pi Magazine, amidst a feature which compares the ability of several of the publication’s editors to wear a festive jumper, the names of the two Life & Style editors - Queenie Chen and Cachin Chu - were mixed up beneath their respective pictures. Soc Bitch is sure this was due to the similar colour of their gaudy capitalist knitwear, and nothing to do with them both being the only Asian women in the feature. When this was pointed out in an internal Pi facebook group, Queenie suggested that it was “#casualracism”, and co-editor-in-chief Declan Rooney commented that he was “mortified”, but that it was only a “text box error”. Sure. In more Pi news, their 3½ star review of Drama Society’s production of Henry IV Part 1 has been edited to remove the rating, making it the only review on their website without a starbased judgement. Soc Bitch has heard a totally unconnected rumour about several members of Drama cornering a member of Pi in the Clubs and Societies Centre and demanding that the review be changed. Remember, when an actor mentions breaking a leg, they’re actually wishing you luck, even if they’re brandishing a baseball bat towards you.
stifle protest on campus (see CGs passim). Indeed, the paint itself may have defaced the activists themselves more than the walls. Hannah Sketchley bemoaned the fact that “more paint stuck to my jeans than it did to the building.” The proposed marking boycott, which was protesting cuts to the pension scheme for university staff, was eventually postponed.
The Cheese Grater Winter 2014 3
UCLU Reforms! Ollie Phelan, Geoffrey HazeltonSwales, Jess Murray
What Are The Proposals? Proposal 3, put forward by Boat Club president Sam Inkersole and seconded by the presidents of 25 other clubs and societies, would get rid of 4 Sabbatical Officers students elected to run the Union for a year - reducing the total number from 10 to 6, aiming to reduce UCLU’s yearly deficit of about £400k. Proponents say the Union is devouring its £2m cash reserves and putting services such as bars and cafes at risk. The proposal controversially changes the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Officer to BME & International Officer, and entirely gets rid of Women’s Officer, replacing it with an unpaid, part-time ‘Gender Equalities’ post. Critics suggest that this will leave already oppressed groups at UCL at a further disadvantage. The impetus behind the motion is that the Union will “cease to exist in 5 years” if it continues to run a deficit, and that merging full-time roles and increasing the number of part-time, unpaid executive officers will save - by their calculations - £157,027 per year. Inkersole told The Cheese Grater: “I’ve been told by a couple of Sabbs that [cutting the number of full-time officers] is also what [an] independent, external, advisor suggested.” Proposal 4, championed by BME Officer Hajera Begum and supported by all but 2 Sabbs, aims to safeguard and extend fulltime Liberation officers at UCLU by keeping the BME and Womens’ Officer roles, as well as introducing Sabbatical roles to represent Disabled and LGBT+ students. It will cut the total number of Sabbs from 10 to 9, and claims to have identified significant savings in the support structure for Liberation officers. Union insiders have stressed that this is a result of months of consultation and debate, rather than a knee-jerk reaction.
One high profile backer is David Dahlborn, Halls & Accommodation Rep. (a part-time role which has not been included in Proposal 3) who said of Proposal 4, “If it kills me to get it past the General Assembly, then let it be so!”
What’s the gripe?
reserves saved up” and that “decimating our union’s ability to fight for students’ needs is not the only or best way [to reduce the deficit].” DCO Hannah Sketchley claimed that “the union is not going to explode”, emphasising the fact that universities are legally required to have some sort of student representation.
There has been a perception amongst clubs and societies that they get a raw deal in terms of funding from the Union. Sam Inkersole objected to funding allocation, telling The Cheese Grater, “I was extremely shocked to find out that the budget for Democracy and Campaigns was nearly double that for Clubs and Societies.”
However, the Union does acknowledge a need to save at least £196k per year and proposes several avenues for consideration, such as cutting down on permanent staff and inefficiencies, and raising the prices in UCLU cafes and bars.
The Union obliges members of societies to cover costs when Union funding is insufficient. Instead of direct funding, the Union often uses a system of reimbursement to fund travel or extra, unforeseen costs. Harry Robbins, treasurer of Music Society, said: “the way in which the Union frankly forces students to spend £100s of their own money…is farcical”.
There has been a third proposal - “Dialogue not Division” - which would abandon voting on governance structure proposals until collaborative meetings have taken place to properly consider them. 6 club presidents who initially seconded proposal 3 have jumped ship to the compromise proposition. However, were the referendum proposal to pass, there are concerns from Union insiders that little time would be left to organise the elections for the new round of Sabbs, whatever the eventual result.
The sometimes opaquely bureaucratic nature of the union means that communication can be an extremely frustrating process for societies, possibly explaining their discontent at how its run.
Are UCLU’s Finances Really That Bad? The Union’s deficit of £204k in 2013/2014 has risen to a projected £426k in 2014/2015. With unrestricted reserves at £1.6m, the current deficit could be sustained for another 6 years. According to proponents of Proposal 3, the Union is heading towards financial armageddon and its measures are the only viable option to reduce the deficit, but this is disputed by supporters of Proposal 4. Ben Towse, former Postgraduate Officer, said that the Union running up a deficit was “the right thing to do when it had massive
Indeed, there are concerns from both sides that the decision process has been rushed. With some clubs demanding mandatory appearance from all members, there are worries that the vote might be forced through by whoever can shanghai the most people into turning up. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, at 6pm in Logan Hall at the Institute of Education. The Cheese Grater believes that this represents a fundamental conflict of what the Union is for: whether it should act as a campaigning body or primarily provide services to the students it represents. It’s going to be bloody dramatic. We’ll be live-tweeting the event from @UCLCheeseGrater, and watch out for a news blog afterwards on the result.
4 Winter 2014 The Cheese Grater
UCL Censors Rape Allegations Management closes down WriteBack! exhibition Ollie Phelan & Jess Murray A popular exhibition inviting students and staff to write about their experiences of sexual harassment was shut down by UCL management last week after a student wrote about being sexually assaulted by a member of staff.
cused in the post was, apparently, the faculty they belong to.
‘WriteBack!’ was organised by the UCLU Women’s Network as part of Zero Tolerance fortnight and encouraged both students and staff to write anonymously about their experiences on the walls of the North Lodge in order to “reclaim a corner of our campus”.
UCLU Women’s Officer Annie Tidbury was asked to remove the post, but refused out of respect for victims’ right to be heard, offering instead to redact any words that may identify the alleged perpetrator. In a statement on the closure, Ms Tidbury said, ‘The attempt to cover up this allegation suggests that UCL prioritises institutional reputation over student welfare. We at UCLU stand in solidarity with survivors of harassment and assault. We refuse to censor them.’
Once word about the allegation spread, Vice Provost Rex Knight swiftly shut the exhibition down. This was apparently to ‘protect UCL staff ’ - though the only distinguishing feature of the ac-
The Women’s Network agreed to close down the exhibition for two hours to allow for a clarifying letter to be written by UCL expressing their concern at the accusation, which would be placed next to
‘We Want Our Money BASc’ Frankie Muniz Students on UCL’s blundering flagship degree, the ‘interdisciplinary’ Arts & Sciences, are demanding a formal apology after they were forced to spend their summers undertaking compulsory internships - many of which were unpaid. The department is said to have told its undergraduates that a failure to complete a compulsory internship - which in a number of cases meant working for free and without expenses - would mean that were not able to progress to the next year of their degree or graduate. The Arts & Sciences Department itself took on an intern as part of the scheme. They were only paid National Minimum Wage, despite its excessive spending on luxury items. Its ‘Doughnuts with the Director’ event has cost an eye-watering £16k over its current lifetime. The
weekly £320 spend on ‘gourmet sourdough’ Crosstown Doughnuts, which are stocked in Selfridges, equates to a week of work paid at London Living Wage rates. While some students were fortunate enough to have their wage covered by a college bursary scheme, others were let down. Third-year Becky Mumford worked without pay. “I wasn’t expecting to get paid by a small NGO but some internships were funded by UCL, others not. I’d love to know why they valued my friend’s internship in an art gallery over mine and others at an NGO. I just hate the idea of someone at UCL passing judgement over what work is deemed worthy of pay and what isn’t”. Those who were paid under the bursary scheme received the National Minimum Wage for under-21s £5.03 an hour - just over half the London Living Wage
the post. However, this compromise was vetoed by Rex Knight, who opted instead to keep the exhibition room locked indefinitely. A UCL spokesman said: “Though temporarily closing the exhibition, in agreement with the Student’s Union, we are in no way looking to dismiss or trivialise these very serious allegations.” Annie Tidbury claims that UCL management “haven’t been what I’d call ‘cooperative’”, and Union insiders told The Cheese Grater that UCL management had “gone apeshit” and threatened legal action. Tidbury said, “As soon as Rex got involved he decided that this wasn’t enough and that the post had to come down. Rex’s latest suggestion is that we turn the decision over to the UCL Exhibitions office - no prizes for guessing who they’re going to side with... ” Many of the third year BASc students who spoke to The Cheese Grater said that they would not have completed their internships had were it not for the department’s threats of denying them graduation. This left many with no choice but to work unpaid after term had ended for the required six weeks. One said that they would have been “better off doing bar work” and they “got nothing” out of their compulsory placement. Evangelising the scheme on its website, UCL say that through it “students will gain a better understanding of their skills and be more able to market themselves successfully to potential future employers”. In a staff-student meeting, representatives of the year group asked for a formal apology. They were told, however, that this would not be possible as the department had spent around £25,000 on scheme.
The Cheese Grater Winter 2014 5
Fig 1: A comparison of the early 21st century thinkers Deborah Meaden and Theresa May (NB: not to be confused with Teresa May, award winning glamour model)
Commons Confidential: Ed Balls thinks he’s in House of Cards Beefeater Brown In the wake of cerebral Ed Miliband’s spot of bother with party dissenters, whisperers on the Labour benches tell me that the party’s lesser Ed, Ed ‘Cock and’ Balls, has been spotted talking to himself.
Reports of Mr. Yvette Cooper’s erratic behaviour emerged last May, when during one of Miliband’s opposition speeches in PMQs, he looked straight into the camera and said, “Five years ago, I was Secretary of State for Children, Schools, and Families. I wasn’t even in the frame. Now look”, he nodded towards Miliband, “I’m only three feet away”. A terrified Diane Abbott later described the incident as “really trippy”.
coquettishly and rubbished the allegations. When asked whether they had any substance, he said: “Oh, of course not. It’s just close to election time and everybody’s feeling the pressure. Ed knows I’m there for him one hundred percent. If you really want to know about instability, talk to George Osborne!”. He then turned off-camera and said, “The press are hyenas - no more, no less. They’re scavengers. All you need to do is distract them with a juicier carcass than your own.” We then asked whether he needed psychiatric help. He winked at us and replied, “You might think that; I couldn’t possibly comment.”
One concerned member, who shall remain unnamed said: “I went into the facilities for my, err, 3 o’clock...uhm... poo, and there was the Shadow Chancellor washing his hands. We nodded at one another - a little too warmly considering When we bumped into a gin-sodden the circumstances - and I popped into Balls in the Strangers’ Bar, he giggled the disabled cubicle. Then Ed just started talking to himself. He said ‘There goes Miliband for his five past three wank. He thinks no-one knows; but then, he also thinks no-one would dare stab him in the back this close to election time’. I peeped out of my cubicle and saw him staring intently into the mirror, wringing his big hands. ‘Proximity to power deludes some into thinking they wield it, and Ed, well, he’s very deluded indeed.’ Then he left. He rubbed his hands on his trousers instead of using the Dyson Airblade.” Ed Balls invites you inside his mind.
Contributors: John Bilton, Graham Brown, Bo Franklin, Alex Gerrity, Charlie Hayton, Geoffrey Hazelton-Swales, Ross Humphreys, PK Maguire, Jess Murray, Ollie Phelan, Jack Redfern, Gerard Westhoff
6 Winter 2014 The Cheese Grater
Hi David, Following the success of our schmaltzy crap about the First World War (who’d have thought they’d fall for that?), I started thinking about what other great human tragedies we could exploit to sell chocolate. I brainstormed a little with the team, and we came up with this draft. Let me know what you think: ‘A group of people are being led to two large huts. The camera focuses on a man and a woman (NB: must be good looking). They’re holding hands, and have the most beautiful wedding rings. Suddenly, armed guards burst through the group, splitting up the men and the women and sending them to separate huts. The beautiful couple cling to each other, but it’s no use: you can’t fight the power of the war machine, not even with love. Night draws in. In the huts, the men and women are freezing; some are already dead. (However, this doesn’t matter as those that are alive are really good looking). From somewhere, a voice rises in song – it’s the old folk song, Pieśń Dziadowska. One by one, the people in the barns lend their voices to the heavenly choir. (If you’re not crying by now, you have no soul). The guards go up and down the barns, barking “stoppen!” “halten!” and other stereotypical phrases. But it’s no use: you can’t fight the power of music, not even with hate. But you can fight it with semi-automatic machine guns. The guards break open the doors and riddle the heavenly choir with bullets. Somewhere, a lone nightingale cries. As dawn rises the next morning, two armed guards are sorting the possessions of those killed in the barns. Two wedding rings are found – both guards reach for them at once, but as their hands touch and their eyes meet, they quietly smile and take one ring each. The camera pans up to a flock of birds flying away, and the slogan fades in: “Christmas is for sharing”.’ Well, there you are, David. Do let me know what you think. Love to the family, Abigail
Animal Flesh Rippers Irate at Lack of Flesh Available at Union Z.Z . Breamstream After a motion passed by accident last week, the Union’s campus cafes will no longer be offering hunks of bloody flesh and anaemic poultry shavings in its perversely doughy receptacles, but will instead be serving “healthy” “options” “of ” “vegetal” “matter”. The wave of incoherent, spittle-flecked outrage provoked by the latest of the union’s misery bombshells has swept like a dripping faucet across UCL, with scores T-Rex-like cunts with purely carnivorous diets publicly denouncing the motion and
setting up rotisserie chicken speakeasies in departmental common rooms.
Reacting to the news, one swanky customer said that “I laughed at the bit where Bambi’s mum dies, you know in the film?”. Another bodacious soul added: “It is my right to consume all living creatures before me. I have an insatiable thirst for blood and the ecstasy of the fresh kill”. Having said this, the man doffed his straw cap and climbed back into his glass case. When The Cheese Grater approached him for comment, Vice-Provost Rex Knight said “does anyone want to go to the children’s hospital and steal their wheelchairs?”.
The loony fascist Stalinist meat ban was proposed by impertinent hippy layabouts at the latest Union Council meeting. When The Cheese Grater displayed its frankly worrying journalistic girth in full view of them, they stated that: “Y’know man we’ll really save a lot of animals man with this policy man, man and maaan Mother Earth is gonna give me a special hug for all this maaaaan”. Incensed at having been levelled with this puerile vocative, Sausage Correspondent Artin Eale promptly took out a bull’s testicle (which he always carries with him in case of emergency) and ravaged it in front of them. That’s journalism, people. That’s journalism.
The Cheese Grater Winter 2014 7
A Special Report by Emily Thornberry MP on ‘The North’ Inspired by her father Nigel, the recently sacked Labour MP is travelling into the Heart of Darkness. Emily Thornbury This week, I was sent by The Cheese Grater on a humanitarian mission to Burnley. Like most people, I have long been moved by the plight of the people of Lancashire, and I, like most people I know, was consummately delighted to hear that Sir Midge Geldof has decided to re-release his charity record for them. Like any filthstrewn warzone, however, precautions had to be taken. Luckily, Steve, the hired muscle for the sojourn, was from Watford - a place on the very edge of civilisation, and so he had been living as close to Burnley’s loinclothed dog-fuckers as possible. Similarly, my personal assistant Evangeline would also be accompanying us - she’d done a course on Scum whilst up at Oxford and was keen to get up close and see them in their natural habitat as opposed to in a lab. I took a quick glance at Tripadvisor, noting carefully a review from a Mr. T. Blair that warned against agitating the locals, who are notoriously temperamental after a Harvest Moon. Bearing this in mind, I bathed in medicinal ethanol and also purchased a can of de-lousing spray. It was now time to depart on the long road from Islington. I said my emotional goodbyes to my children, and embraced my husband for what I knew could very well be the last time. I told them to stay strong, and to pray to Alain de Botton in order for me to make it out alive. I then made my way onto the transport for the trip - a Soviet-era tank. It would be perfectly suited to a trip to Burnley. Having to stop at a petrol station en route - in the demilitarized zone at Leicester - proved an uncomfortably close shave. Luckily Steve had picked up a working
knowledge of basic Northern in his efforts to stop the bastards chewing at his exhaust pipe as he drove along the Watford border. I filled my bra with scotch eggs, Steve refilled the tank and we managed to get out of there without attracting too much attention. We eventually arrived in Burnley still in one piece. We manoeuvred our way into the green zone, an area administered by the UN. As I climbed out of the tank, however, I was immediately accosted by one of the locals, who confronted me in patois - spluttering “ay up me lass!” between manic cupfuls of a gloopy tonic Evangeline informed me was known locally as “a brew”. I screamed at him and hit him in the kneecaps with my umbrella. We made for a restaurant - settling for a local dish called “fish and chips” after I see that Steve had eaten some and hadn’t died. Evangeline, meanwhile, whom I suspect had been fucking Steve in the interim, went over to pet one of the local diners, feeding him Trebor mints from her purse. She asked if we could adopt him, but I refused - it would be wrong to ruin the tireless work of scientists who eliminated rabies from the UK in one morbidly obese
swoop. As we threw pre-decimal currency at the restaurateur and made for the exit, a crowd formed, mesmerised by my crimson rosette. We were surrounded by hordes of great unwashed, gawping and repeating primitive sounds. “Ehn aitch ess”, they growled, their teeth gnashing as in turn they grabbed my clammy hands and shook them up and down. In line with his thinly-defined character, Steve drew a sawn-off shotgun from his 48” waist slacks and told them to get back. I attempted to talk down to the proles, one of whom was keen to stress that he’d been to a “university” in “Sheffield”. Evangeline, between laboured sobs, clung to my arm and reminded me that it was a well-known trope from northern folklore. Steve fired a few warning shots in the air, and we started to run. Evangeline however stumbled and fell. “Leave her, she’s already dead!”, I howled, the scotch eggs spilling from my decolletage. “RUN, EMILY, GET TO THE CHOPPA!” screamed Steve. He collided with a small, fat child and was run over by an elderly woman on a mobility scooter. He was the only man I ever loved. I rode a lorry home. That night on Hampstead Heath I lay down and wept.
8 Winter 2014 The Cheese Grater
‘O Dani Harmer’ or ‘Tracy Beaker: In memoriam’ A Poem from the new collection by Wacky Lynn Jillson.
O Dani Harmer Your middle name is Jane; it suits you, I remember fondly when you were in: -The Story of Tracy Beaker -Tracy Beaker Returns -Tracy Beaker Survival Files Except I don’t really remember the last one, Sorry. Then you signed a record deal, Tantalised us with your single ‘Free’ But kept your album to yourself; Greedy for your own voice Perhaps scared of rejection, Just like Tracy. You stopped being Tracy in 2012; Dumped her on the ground. Moved on Finally adopted from CBBC, Except I just read that you have a TV show called ‘Dani’s Castle’ Oh no My analogy is spoilt. I always liked Justine better anyway.
UCL UNION CHEESE GRATER MAGAZINE SOCIETY President—Gerard Westhoff Editor—Charles Hayton Investigations Editor—Ollie Phelan Humour Editor—P.K. Maguire
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© UCL Union, 25 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AY. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of UCL Union or the editor.
Published on Dec 1, 2014
In this issue: UCL's equivalent to Russia's General Winter, General Meeting, strikes fear into the hearts of Sabbs; Ed Balls invites you ins...