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Grants application process to be simplified as 61% of appeals overturned by aoife valentine · deputy editor
The grant application process is set to be simplified for students after roughly 9% of students who applied for the maintenance grant appealed the decision, 24% of which appealed on the grounds of changed circumstances. A check box will be added to the form allowing students to easily declare reduced incomes for the year of application, as currently all grants are assessed based on the family income from the previous year. Though this avenue was open to students this year, it was not clear from the application form that this was an option. Department of Education Secretary General Seán Ó Foghlú told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee last Thursday that a “flag” had been raised by the sheer volume of appeals being overturned. Of the 5,275 applications thr ough the SUSI system that were appealed, 3,246 were overturned on a variety of grounds. UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher believes that this is a necessary and welcome change, commenting: “I do believe that these measures need to come in, as deals such as Croke Park II are driving down public sector pay, at the same time as what remains a volatile private sector where there are very few “secure” jobs remaining.” A number of TDs criticised the fact that this number of appeals had been submitted to the various councils, with Louth Labour TD Ged Nash stating: “It is extremely rare for a government department or State agency to have such a high level of refusals in the first instance, which suggests there are serious errors on the administrative side.” While critical of the disastrous introduction of the SUSI grant application system, Gallagher welcomed this move, saying: “By having a grant system that is flexible to unexpected changes in students circumstances (such as parental unemployment, bereavement etc.) it will help lift some of the pressure currently felt by colleges hardship funds.” However, he believes this is only the first step in a string of essential reforms to the grant system, including changes to the physical document requirements placed on students, which has held up thousands of grant payments and which is still preventing 7,744 applications from being processed. Gallagher
by Yvanne kennedy · news editor
UCD's Hip-Hop dancers, who came second in their category, competing in the Dance Intervarsities last Tuesday, February 26th commented: “The whole system needs to be put online, with P21/60 forms accessible through government department data sharing. As soon as a student applies for their grant the CD VEC (SUSI) should be able to access their tax documents from their PPSN. I feel that this would help fix a lot of the most common appeals.” Deputy Michelle Mulherin suggested to Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn that mortgage repayments also be taken into account when applying for grants, due to reduced income but similar levels of mortgage repayments.
Quinn rejected this suggestion, stating: “The assessment of means under my Department’s student grant scheme is based on gross income from all sources. Therefore all income is assessed from the same starting point, elimination any distortion which might arise from different spending decisions.” An independent review of the SUSI system is currently underway, with results set to go to the parent body of the system, City of Dublin Vocational Education Committee. It has been set up to examine the causes of the backlogs and delays which resulted in less than
25,000 students receiving their grants in the first semester. This year, only first-time grant applicants applied through the online SUSI system, however it was intended that this be rolled out to all students, in the next two years. Commenting on these plans and the review, Nash stated: “These students are under pressure as it is from the college registrars to pay their fees… As soon as the lessons are learned from the introduction of SUSI, changes must be made if it is to be successfully rolled out for all college students next year.”
UCD to benefit from €300m national investment in scientific research by Conor Keegan
UCD is set to become a host university for scientific research in Ireland, with the announcement that €300 million will be invested in scientific research in Ireland in the next six years, with €200 million being provided by the State and a further €100 million by around 150 industrial partners. The funding will be provided by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), with a mid-term progress review after three years. Seven new research centres will be created in Ireland covering a wide
Law faculty raises €9,000 for Temple Street
range of areas including the marshalling of computer data and food research. The new research centres were picked by a panel of scientific experts from around 100 applicants, and the high number of Irish centres being selected has been hailed by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton as a “new era” for scientific research in Ireland. The new research centres will have a “hub and spoke” structure, meaning the academic research at a number of host universities will form the centre and the industrial partners connected by the spokes.
UCD has been selected as a host university, along with four others, to a centre called ‘Insight’, which will conduct research into the storage, handling and analysis of vast amounts of computerised information, collectively known as “big data”. Academics from UCD will be working alongside colleagues from NUI Galway, Dublin City University and University College Cork on this project. This is the only centre that has four host institutions, and it will communicate with and receive funding from 45 industrial partners. All other centres
have a single host university/institution, alongside other associated institutions and commercial partners. Other projects that will be conducted include research into nanotechnology, the manipulation and utilisation of light through photonics, drug development and synthesis, the harnessing of wave and wind energy to produce electricity, and the improvement of control processes to produce better drug formulations and safer medicines. Research will be conducted in collaboration with institutions such as the Tyndall National Institute, Uni-
The recent Law|B&L Faculty Day has been considered a huge success in raising much-needed funds for Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Though the final count is not yet in, the day, held on Thursday February 21st raised approximately €9,000 for the hospital. The day was the most successful of recent years, breaking the record of money raised for the last four annual events. It is hoped that this success will continue going forward so that next year’s event will help break the €200,000 mark for donations received over the life of the event. The day began with a collection on the streets of Dublin with Law|B&L Day Co-Chair Jeremy O’Hanlon saying this brought in more than half the donations for the whole day. Those who rose early to collect were rewarded with a kindly donated breakfast in Roebuck Castle. It is likely that this is the last year that the current Law school will play host to the day’s activities as it is hoped the faculty will have moved to the Sutherland School of Law, beside the Quinn School of Business, by September of this year. A charity debate on the motion ‘This House Believes That in Ten Years, Pure Law students will be shining Business and Law students’ shoes’ followed, as is tradition, in placing the two faculties head-to-head. A tag-rugby tournament ran thereafter with the evening’s events, which included ‘Take Me Out’ and charitable leg-waxing, taking place in Kiely’s of Mount Merrion, the venue for the Students’ Union’s weekly event, ‘Cheeky Tuesdays’. All law lectures were cancelled on the day which O’Hanlon said made “a big difference” in encouraging students to go out and collect in the early morning for Temple Street. He said that though the day was “very much a student body effort”, the Law School staff were “very accommodating” throughout the whole process. All funds raised on the day will go towards the refurbishment of an area within Temple Street itself. Central to making the day a success is sponsorship from law firm, Maples & Calder, who provide a substantial donation to get the day off the ground. O’Hanlon says that the day would not have been possible without “the sacrifice and hard work of a large number of students in reaching [the] achievement[s of] this year”. O’Hanlon and Co-Chair Matthew Morrow are currently selecting their successors, with the Co-Chair positions open to any Law or Business & Law student who will be entering final year in September. versity of Limerick, Cork Institute of Technology, Teagasc, the Marine Institute, Geological Survey Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons and CSO Cork. The investment marks the largest of its kind made in Ireland, and it is hoped that the investment will open up 800 research-related jobs across the seven centres in the six-year duration of the funding. Further information will follow as to exactly how much of the funding will be allocated to projects with which UCD is involved.
News in Brief
by andrew carolan & jack walsh
SIPTU UCD to oppose car parking charges UCD SIPTU will oppose the introduction of the recently announced car parking charges on campus. In an email to its members on February 26th, the section committee outlined not to answer a questionnaire on the charges, as doing so would implicitly accept the charges. “Members will have a received an invitation from John O’Dowd Consultants inviting them to participate in consultations on the implementation of parking charges,” the email read. “It is advised that you do not respond or participate in this consultation either in person or online. This is for the following reasons.” “The communication from O’Dowd advises that we are to give our opinion on ‘how’, but not ‘whether’ charges are to be introduced. It therefore prejudges the outcome. Participation would therefore imply acceptance of the charges.” “The introduction of charges clearly represents a change in our terms and conditions of employment, which is an industrial relations issue. Therefore your ‘feedback’ should be communicated to union reps and not to a consultant hired by UCD.” The trade union expects to hold a Town Hall meeting in April to access members’ views.
Bachelet delivers Kapuscinski development lecture in UCD Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women and Under-Secretary-General, delivered an impassioned lecture at UCD concerning trust in politics and women’s rights among other issues. This was the latest of the which contribute towards the debate on European development policy and issues including climate change, human rights, aid effectiveness and more. It was hosted by the UCD School of Politics and International Relations and Chaired by Joe Costello, Minster of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs. The lectures are so named after Polish journalist and writer, Kapuscinski, who dealt with many issues of the developing world in works like “The Shadow of the Sun” (about Africa) and “Another Day of Life” (about Angola). Bachelet, a highly influential speaker in the UN, addressed a crowded lecture theatre and expressed that new times will call for a different type of political environment in which leaders will have to listen and “leverage” a response rather than lead by command. “I ask you to show the heart and the courage to make this century the century of inclusion” she said, in dealing with the unjust distribution of power and control in many nations.
UCD Professor to lead INSIGHT Centre UCD Professor Barry Smyth will lead a new INSIGHT Centre funded by the Irish Government through Science Foundation Ireland, designed to provide a national research platform in information and communications technology (ICT). Smyth explained: “The ultimate aim is to help people make better decisions by harnessing the data that is available to us all.” The research covers Personal Sensing- with health and physical movement, reasoning and decision making, and the systematic web all under the umbrella theory that allows knowledge to be used, reused and shared. The Focus of the Research is split into two areas, as Smyth explains: “The first is Connected Health, which uses technology to deliver patient-centred care outside the hospital or GP surgery, and connects all stakeholders in the healthcare system”. Smyth continued: “The second is the Discovery Economy, which combines ideas from recommender systems with location-based services and the real-time social web. Its application aims to connect the right user with the right information at the right time”.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
Two new societies under consideration by Societies Council by conor luke barry
The UCD Societies Council is in talks to recognise two new societies: an Oxfam society and a Gender Equality society. This comes after the UCD Societies Council set a moratorium that put strict rules on the establishment of new societies in UCD. According to the Council, the moratorium was set because of limited space and resources for those existing societies. Despite this moratorium, the Sinn Fein Society and the In-
dian Society were recognised last year. Prospective auditor of the Oxfam society, Sean Allman, has been attempting to get the society recognised since September: “I met [UCD Societies Officer] Richard Butler to tell him I’m thinking of doing this. And he has been giving me realistic advice saying that there’s been a moratorium and you have to show that you’re distinct from other societies.” The Academic Council Committee for Recognition of Student Societies
has yet to recognise the societies and, as a separate decision making body from the Societies Council, could still decline. “You get a number of people from the college to come in and they talk about your society. They decide whether you can do it or not,” says Allman. “I was hoping if we were to be established it would be before Christmas, which would be in time for Refresher’s day and we could properly launch the society in second semester, but because
we haven’t been recognised yet it’s difficult.” Allman feels that the Oxfam Society is unique enough to merit recognition from the Academic Council: “Our main aim is to generate awareness in UCD about development issues. We also want to ensure our members would have the opportunity to avail of training in lobbying and campaigns where they will learn skills that they can use in the field of development in the future.” Allman also feels that, once established, the Oxfam society could work towards connecting the various charity groups within UCD and, ultimately, other universities: “Our ultimate aim is to create a National Students’ Forum on Development and Social Justice. We think it is important that we have a place where students can put forward their ideas on development and social justice.” UCD Students’ Union Gender Equality Officer Ciara Johnson has been meeting with UCD LGBT Rights Co-ordinator, Lee Jollans and students across the University who are interested in setting-up a Gender Equality Society. Johnson says that the society is currently in the initial stages of drafting a constitution for submission to the Societies Council. She “certainly think[s] that there is a need and opening for a such a society” which would go towards satisfying Council requirements. Johnson will “help [the society] in any way possible.”
Deloitte Data Analytics Lab launches at UCD Quinn School of Business by enrique anarte lazo
Global business advisory firm Deloitte announced the launch of the Data Analytics Lab at the UCD Quinn School of Business on February 22nd. The company have collaborated with the Quinn School on the creation of an analytics lab for both students and faculty. The aim of this project is to provide the college with the latest equipment in order to facilitate the diversification and enrichment of the learning experience outside of the traditional classroom environment. The new facilities are located in the Innovation Corridor in the Quinn School of Business. Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner of Deloitte, praised the launch and the company’s engagement on the cooperation between both institutions: “We are delighted to announce the launch of the Deloitte Data Analytics Lab, which reflects our commitment to supporting the Quinn School of Busi-
ness. Deloitte is a significant employer of graduates and recognises the part that they play in both the future of our firm and the success of Irish businesses. Support from the business community is essential in ensuring that the Quinn School of Business maintains its current world class standards of education and excellence.” “Both Deloitte and Quinn School of Business recognise that when businesses and universities work together effectively they become a powerful engine for innovation. The Deloitte Data Analytics Lab is more than just a lab, it is a commitment from Deloitte to continue to support the school over the coming years through guest lecturing, course content review and the top of the range Bloomberg terminals in the lab. The lab also portrays our mutual commitment to excellence in learning and development.” Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, Dean of UCD’s Business Schools, was
UCD to launch Charter for Student Rights by yvanne kennedy · News Editor
UCD Students’ Union President Rachel Breslin is in the process of bringing about a Student Charter of Rights and Responsibilities which will apply to all students in UCD. The Charter is based on a community idea where “there [are] clear guidelines of what you can expect and also what the University expects of you.” The aim of the Charter is “to create a positive ethos around the college” by that community feeling. The Charter was developed by a university committee that Breslin herself was not actually a part of, but she feels that it is “actually a really positive and welcome movement from the University” that “they are the one’s developing the Charter; they came up with the idea.” She hopes that students will see the Charter as very different to the “entirely negative” view they have on the disciplinary process. The Charter’s aim is to show students that the idea behind having rights and responsibilities is that everyone in the University is equal and they have “an equal amount or rights and a positive guarantee”. She hopes the Charter will bring a sense of security to the campus also. While Breslin and the University are working together on this issue, there is no finalised draft of the proposal as of
yet. The Charter is based solely in UCD and so has utilised student input having being spearheaded by the Academic Committee of Discipline. As the issues of final wording and meaning are up in the air, there is no launch date to roll the Charter out but Breslin is hopeful that that date is not too far in the future. She would like to see it brought before Council during her term to get their support and backing. The consultancy period on the project is ongoing but it should be ready for approval by Council by the end of the year. Once introduced, Breslin hopes the Charter will give students pride in their University and trust in the system. It aims to provide a community feeling with a sense of shared responsibility. She wants there to be a sense of shared ownership with regard to essential security and the rights that we have as UCD students. Breslin feels that the Charter works towards a “very healthy, positive goal”. While the document itself is quite short, “It really gives a sense of team and togetherness between all the partners in the University”. The consultancy process would be seen as key to this so that as many voices as possible are reflected in the finished product.
pleased with the launch: “The Deloitte Analytics Lab has complemented our commitment to provide the best quality teaching in the fields of finance and business analytics. The state of the art facilities and support services have equipped our students with the analytical ability for a successful career in Ireland and internationally. We are delighted to partner with Deloitte in delivering excellence to our students”. The opening of the Data Analytics Lab comes at a time of increasing collaboration between the professional and the academic world, with several experts on business and economics all
over the world advocating for the necessity of an academic training which provides both theoretical and practical skills. UCD Quinn School of Business is, according to international standards like EQUIS, AACSB and AMBA, the leading undergraduate business school in Ireland because of its innovation and creative attitude towards business challenges. Deloitte is a global company dedicated to provide audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management and tax services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries in more than 150 countries.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
UCD’s ‘Shave or Dye’ raises over €600 for Irish Cancer Society by yvanne kennedy · News Editor
UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher, UCD Students’ Union Gender Equality Officer Ciara Johnson and Belfield FM joined forces last week to raise much needed funds for the Irish Cancer Society. As it stands, over €600 has been donated to the ‘Shave or Dye’ event online and in person. Belfield FM Events Manager Dylan Gray first approached Gallagher with the idea for the radio station to join with the Union to make sure the event was as large and as successful as possible. ‘Blue Day’, supporting men’s health and cancer awareness, was already in the works so the two collaborated to combine the events with Johnson’s assistance. On Wednesday, the Merchant Barbers and UCD Barbers were in the UCD Student Centre assisting with the event. A €10 donation was asked
of those who decided to ‘Shave’ while those who opted to ‘Dye’ were asked for €5. Gray himself shaved his head and one student, who Johnson called “really impressive”, raised over €60 before getting his hair shaved into a Mohawk for charity. Alongside the Shave or Dye event, there was an information stand dealing with Men’s Health, the Irish Cancer Service and available support services. Johnson also ran a ‘blue breakfast’ where the food was themed and attendees were asked to donate what they could to this “really good cause”. Shave or Dye is a national event, run in conjunction with TodayFM which has seen thousands of people receiving sponsorship to shave or dye their hair to support those going through cancer treatment. Since it began in 2010, the event has run annually and is considered a huge success having raised over €4.5 Million. The UCD event was the first of its kind though similar college-
News in Brief by robert dunne
NUIG students make significant contribution to space science Two PhD students in Mechanical Engineering at NUI Galway have conducted research on the innovative methods of using thermoplastic composite materials to reduce the weight of fuel tanks for space launchers. The two students, David Grogan, and Brendan Murray, will be working with NUI Galway’s Dr Conchúr Ó Brádaigh and Professor Seán Leen in the Mechanical & Biomedical Engineering Department. The European Space Agency (ESA) is currently co-operating with the Irish Research Council and Irish and European companies to fund the research project, and Dr Christopher Semprimoschnig of the ESA, said that the Agency was delighted to support the work of the NUI Galway researchers. David Grogan’s PhD topic is “Finite Element Prediction of Microcracking in Thermoplastic Composite Cyrogenic Fuel Tanks”, while Brendan Murray’s research is on the “Development of Cost-Effective Rotationally-Moulded Polymer Liners for Composite Fuel Tanks”.
€100k worth of scholarships awarded to DCU students based fundraisers have happened around the country. The Irish Cancer Society is the largest voluntary funder of cancer research in Ireland. They invested more than €3.3 million in cancer research in 2012. Research funded by the Society has led to major advances in cancer research and more than 650 important research findings have been discovered. They will be well supported by UCD students this year with the ‘Relay for Life’ event, which will run next month, also raising funds for this cause. A
charity book sale held earlier in the semester also benefited the Society, with over €1,000 donated on that occasion. Blue Day’s ‘twin’ Pink Day, organised to raise awareness of breast cancer and women’s health issues was a similar success when it ran in October, raising over €1,800. An online donation page at www. mycharity.ie/event/ucd-event will be open until the end of March before all funds raised go to the Irish Cancer Society.
SU recommend financial assistance overhaul for September 2013 by aoife valentine · deputy editor
With the system in operation for administrating the financial assistance funds in UCD facing increased pressures over the last number of years, UCDSU President Rachel Breslin and Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher have put forward a number of recommendations in a report to the University Management Team to improve the operations of these funds for 2013/14. The principal improvements suggested in the report include moving all of the applications for UCD’s financial assistance funds online, and employing a full-time administrator who would look after all three funds. With regards to the first suggestion, Breslin believes this will make the process more accessible to students as she has found “a lot of students in trouble just don’t know where to turn to, but are more and more turning online, so by having the actual forms online and filling out the applications online, we think that it
will make it easier for students.” The overarching idea behind both suggestions is to make all financial assistance in UCD easier to administrate, however Breslin does concede that employing a new full-time staff member is “a big ask in the current climate” however she believes that “the volume of time spent by the Student Support staff already in trying to process the funds in paper, we think would be offset by having one centralised person who could interview applicants in some cases to get more information about their circumstances but also, process the funds.” If both suggestions were implemented effectively, the Students’ Union feel that it would make the process “clearer and faster” and “speed up the administration of the funds… which leads back to faster processing for students”, which they believe is the main problem facing the funds at the moment. In conjunction with improving the operation of the funds, Breslin suggests
that the University attempt to look for other sources of income for them, besides that money allocated to each University from the European Social Fund (ESF). She explained: “We also were looking at the long term future of the funds… and looking at how so many people have been supported by these funds now and they have left UCD and they’ve graduated, so we want to look at how we can keep in touch with those and perhaps they would be more likely to donate back to the fund to help students who are in the same situation as them and how can we form that link to secure the funds long term.” Breslin gave a presentation to UCD President Dr Hugh Brady and other other senior management figures outlining her concerns over the current operation of these funds, along with the Students’ Union’s recommendations for improvement. The report has been forwarded to the Finance Department of the University, to a committee set up by UCD Vice President for Students Dr
Martin Butler to look at all aspects of the funds, which according to Breslin includes: “How we divide [the funds] up, how the application process works, how the acceptance criteria work, how the administration works.” Breslin hopes that a number of the Union’s suggestions will be taken on board by the University, and believes that these reforms need to be in place for students starting in September 2013. She commented: “The volume of people applying for the funds is just increasing and it’s creating more and more pressure on the system and slowing the processes down so certainly everyone on the committee wants to see this happen as soon as possible… The SAF [Student Assistance Fund] came back in the second semester where it wasn’t in the first, but there were additional complications with that so it’s definitely better to have it in place at the start of the year.”
Please Talk Day scheduled to celebrate 6th anniversary by niall lane
UCD Students’ Union Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher has confirmed that the Please Talk Committee are planning a Please Talk Day, between March 26th and April 4th, with a specific date yet to be finalised. “We’re looking into having a PT [Please Talk] Day and some of the things being talked about for the day is that we’re planning on doing a mural around the theme of ‘Who you can talk to’, which we feel is a very important message,” says Gallagher. “Pleasetalk. org acts as a reference site where people can access the information for people they can talk to like, for example, student councillors and student advisers.”
Though yet to be confirmed, it’s understood that the mural will be painted at the back of the old student centre, and will be painted by Alejandro Criadom, a science student in UCD. “Some of the other things we’re looking at are based around inviting well-known people to becoming PT ambassadors, real champions of the PT message, [to show] that talking is a sign of strength.” Gallagher says he’s invited Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer to become an ambassador, who he describes as “a champion of mental health issues”. The Cork based politician has already spoken at a UCD Mental Health Week and a Please Talk conference. Gallagher would not disclose as to who else he’s invited to
become PT ambassadors. The purpose of the day will be to continue to spread the message of talking as a sign of strength, with the hope that the Please Talk ambassadors will show that everybody experiences hardship, and that talking is the way to deal with this: “It’s great to see people realise that their idols, from the world of showbiz and politics, go through difficulties of some description and it’s always better to ‘Please Talk’ about it, as talking is a sign of strength. And that’s the message I feel we’re trying to get across.” The arrangement of the Please Talk Day was promised by Gallagher during his campaign for Welfare Officer last year. Its scheduling falls on the
sixth anniversary of the foundation of Please Talk, which started in UCD as a response to several suicides among the student population that year. Gallagher feels that its inception is worth commemorating. “This is a movement that started in UCD, and something that UCD students are very proud of, that this national movement that’s in every single third level institution in Ireland started six years ago this March in UCD… I think it’s gone from strength to strength, from starting as just movement in UCD, which really was before it’s time.”
Almost €100,000 has been given in scholarships to more than 92 students who received 500 points or more in their Leaving Certificate examinations. The awards were given to all the students who met the required number of points to meet the specific entry requirements and registered to study with any of DCU’s four faculties: Engineering and Computing; Humanities and Social Sciences; Science and Health; and DCU Business School. Each faculty had different requirements: the Department of Computing and Engineering gave the award to any student who received 500 points or over, while the other three faculties gave awards to those who achieved 550 points or over. Each of these students were given €1,000 as an award. The recipients were greeted at a ceremony in the Helix by their parents and former principles. In addition to the students receiving a certificate, the former school principles of the recipients were given a commemorative plaque. The President of DCU Professor Brian MacCraith congratulated the students on their success, commitment, hard work of the first year students across all faculties.
British MP John Bercow to deliver a talk in UCC The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP, delivered the 14th Annual Philip Monahan Memorial Lecture in University College Cork (UCC) last Thursday, February 28th. The talk was organised by Dr Aodh Quinlvan of UCC’s Department of Government, and it was the first time a British MP has given a speech in UCC. A previous Speaker of the House of Commons, Charles Abbott (Speaker from 1802-1817) received the Freedom of Cork honour, but did not come to the city to accept his award. In his lecture, John Bercow spoke about the relationship between the executive and the legislature, as well as addressing the ambitions a legislature should have in a modern democracy. The Annual Department of Government student awards were also presented on the night by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor John Buttimer. The Lord Mayor also delivered a brief talk on Philip Monahan who was the first local authority manager, a former city commissioner and city manager.
UCD votes to disaffiliate from USI
News in Brief by maeve montague
$1 billion awarded to Australian researchers A US$1 billion plan to boost jobs through industry and innovation has been announced in Australia. The scheme hopes to encourage industry to work directly with researchers, as the proportion of researchers employed in Australian business is as little as a quarter of some other innovative trading nations. The three-pronged strategy outlined by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday includes introducing industry innovation precincts, hubs of research and innovation to support industry competitiveness. Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson, said that: ”Universities have long promoted the need for a closer relationship between the research community and industry,” However, removing eligibility for the non-refundable 40% tax research & development offset by very large companies, some of whom already operate successful industry-research collaborations, may mean the initiative could prove counterproductive. Some have speculated that Gillard’s announcement is nothing more than an appeal to wavering Labor Party supporters, in cutting R&D tax concessions of the largest corporations to focus government funding on small and mediumsized businesses.
Egypt plans to establish 60 universities in next ten years Egyptian Minister of Higher Education, Mustafa Mussad, has outlined a ten year plan for reforming the education sector in a bid to promote a knowledge-based economy. With one of the lowest number of universities per capita in the Middle East and North Africa, the reform plan includes establishing 60 new universities, 20 state, and 40 private institutions. The report Science and Innovation in Egypt, launched at the 12th Islamic Summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, suggested time and commitment were needed to overcome three decades of neglect. A programme to prepare future faculty staff and provide guidance to students wishing to pursue an academic career will have to be implemented. The knowledge-based economy will see Egypt invest more in research, where it currently underperforms - publishing 102 papers per million people in 2010, compared with regional competitors such as Turkey (409), Iran (377) and Saudi Arabia (226). A virtual learning community has also been launched as a cost-effective way for universities to improve access to educational material while sharing knowledge and best practices. The project has also been highlighted as a tool for teaching and learning throughout the African continent.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
by emer sugrue · editor
In a referendum last week, UCD students voted 62% in favour of disaffiliation from the Union of Students of Ireland (USI). Two other universities, DCU and NUI Maynooth also held referendums last week, with Maynooth voting to stay affiliated, and DCU voting to re-affiliate after over a decade. Following the announcement of the results on Wednesday, February 27th, USI President, and UCD student (on sabbatical), John Logue released a statement expressing his disappointment about the move. “It is with great regret that I note the results of a referendum of UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) which will result in its disaffiliation from the Union of Students in Ireland (USI). Throughout the referendum campaign, students who favoured
disaffiliation felt that UCDSU should adopt a more local focus for the foreseeable future, in light of its financial difficulties. We recognise the unique circumstances in UCD. It’s clear that the decision taken by its students is not reflected in referendum results elsewhere and while we are disappointed to lose their voice from the national union, we respect their decision.” The major reason for disaffiliating is believed to financial. The cost of membership each year for UCD is €120,000, a figure which accounts for 17% of UCDSU’s annual budget. The high cost combined with the Students’ Union’s financial issues was a central tenet of the No to USI campaign, who claimed that USI did not provide enough value for money. The Yes to USI campaign, headed by UCDSU Campaigns and Communica-
ments Officer, which was abolished in the new Students’ Union Constitution that was voted in last year. The referendum proposed that the Ents Officer position be brought back, and the new Postgraduate Education Officer role be kept part time for one extra year before becoming full time. As it involved a constitutional change, the minimum number of votes required to make the result binding, or to meet quorum, was set at 12.5% of the student population, or 2,758 votes. The total count fell just 9 votes short of this, making the result of 60-40 in favour of the change invalid. Philly McCann, the co-ordinator of the Yes campaign, stated on hearing the result that “it may not have reached the necessary votes required but I think its clear that a serious statement has been made for student ran Ents regardless.”
Benefit partner with Women’s Aid for University awareness campaign by yvanne kennedy · News Editor
Yesterday, Monday March 4th, saw the Benefit “Benebus” arrive on the UCD campus. The bus is a branded, pink ambulance which has been converted into a make-up salon. The move was part of a national tour to raise awareness for Women’s Aid and will run close to International Women’s Day on March 9th. UCD Students’ Union Gender Equality Officer Ciara Johnson was instrumental in bringing this event to UCD with assistance from UCD Students’ Union Vice-President for Welfare Mícheál Gallagher and was excited for the event to be the “great success” that was hoped for. The day ran primarily to raise money for those affected by abuse. Direc-
tor of Women’s Aid, Margaret Martin said they were “delighted to work with Benefit Cosmetics Ireland”. She “welcome[d] the opportunity to raise awareness of abuse of young women by those closest to them.” In UCD, the day involved a charity collection across campus after which the ‘Benebus’ arrived, offering free brow treatments and make-overs in exchange for donations to charity. That evening there was a ‘girls-only’ night to raise more funds. The event centred around games, competitions, make-up lessons, anti-bullying and self-esteem building. There was also a talk from Women’s Aid. Country Manager for Benefit Cosmetics Ireland, Julie Strang said that they hoped the University tour would
“engage with and inspire young women who may feel confused, vulnerable or at risk. With games, make-uppers and fun activities”, they hoped to bring the Benefit-style to each campus so that “essential funds” might be raised for Women’s Aid which would let them continue their “imperative work” with women here in Ireland. The Benefit association comes from the company philosophy that “it is every woman’s fundamental right to feel safe”. Women’s Aid is a female-focused charity which addresses issues of violence against women. They have been working in Ireland to stop domestic violence against women and children since 1974. They offer support and provide hope for women who have been affected by abuse and work also towards
justice and social change in the area of domestic violence legislation In a national survey on domestic abuse, almost 60% of people who had experienced severe abuse in intimate relationships experienced the abuse for the first time under the age of 25. This was one of the reasons why it was seen as key to engage the student population through the support of Benefit to ensure that Women’s Aid could reach as many young women as possible “and to raise much needed funds for the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline”. The national tour began in Limerick on Friday and will travel to Cork today and Galway tomorrow before finishing in Queen University, Belfast this Thursday, March 7th.
Observer voxpops ARE YOU VOTING IN THE UPCOMING SU ELECTIONS?
“No, I don’t really know enough about it. I’m always in a rush to go to lectures when people try and stop and talk to me and also, people have been kind of rude about it so I’m not really that pushed at this stage.”
“Yes, I always vote, at every opportunity, although there’s a slim selection of candidates. I’m going to be voting for Ciara Johnson for Welfare and then everything else I’m probably going to vote RON.”
Deirdre Fennessy, 3rd Year Nursing
Karl Gill, 3rd year Social Science
“No. I don’t know; I just don’t feel like I’ve been informed enough yet. Maybe I’ll change my mind, but, as of now, there’s no one decisive to vote for.”
Voxpops by Kevin Beirne
“Well yeah, I’m planning on it. Seeing as I’m a student, I’m just going to, naturally.” Daniel Patton, 1st year Arts
Paul Doyle, 3rd year English & Philosophy
Money-making measures costing the State Changes to university funding will result in economic costs six times that of any Government savings, new figures suggest. Following a year which saw universities charging higher tuition fees, the UK Treasury’s expenditure is set to be reduced by almost £1.17 billion. But a report, by think-tank, million+, has found the economic costs of the new funding system are expected to reach more than £7 billion - 6.5 times higher than the Treasury’s expected savings. Lower tax revenues from the smaller number of graduates entering the job market, and reduced salaries, accompanied by a higher rate of writ-off of student loans, are amongst the reasons. A third of English institutions will charge the maximum allowable £9,000 for a degree, according to the Office for Fair Access (Offa), despite Ministers originally reporting it as a fee only reserved for “exceptional circumstances”. A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills defended the changes, saying they would increase resources for teaching from £8 billion to £9.1 billion in 2014/15, allowing for a “better funded and more responsive higher education sector”.
tions Officer Paddy Guiney, put forth the argument that USI’s value was in not only it’s training services such as Class Rep training, Welfare training and Pink Day training, but as a national unified voice for students. Logue stated he felt the Yes side had suffered from constraints such as the banning of non-UCD alumni from participation in on-campus canvassing. “It is regrettable that the rules for this referendum prevented all USI officers, except for UCD alumni, from discussing the issues with students on campus. As a result of this, I feel that students were not granted the opportunity to hear the full case for continuing membership of their national union.” A second referendum was held alongside the USI Referendum proposing a change to the constitution regarding the position of Entertain-
“Yes, just because I should.”
“Probably not; I just don’t know much about the contenders.”
Aonghus McGarry, 3rd year Commerce
Katie Moran, 3rd year Psychology
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
would be felt if such a move became reality. Though many were angered at the thought of necessary services being abandoned, it quickly became clear what the effect of such a move would be. It cannot be said that the job done by one public servant, one private worker or any one person is any more important than that of another. You cannot really put a price on someone’s time, someone’s education or someone’s effort, though we try to do so always. We have to; otherwise how would we pay people or reward them for that effort they put in. We cannot say that a Government department would run just as smoothly if half its workforce was gone whereas a hospital would collapse if half of its staff disappeared, but you can say that the results would be different. When two people do two different jobs, in two different ways with two different sets of aims and goals, they will be treated differently. Their work will be assessed differently and as such, it is likely that their pay will be different and the way in which that pay
is calculated will also vary. Before proposals for cuts that were as equitable as was feasible crossed the table, Liam Doran, Secretary General of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, spoke on Prime Time on the issues that were affecting his people and why they were fighting against proposed cuts. It was said that the Unions weren’t budging because they were afraid once they gave anything, everything would be taken from them. Doran didn’t call for others to be cut in his place, however, what he called for was equity. Equity has been missing in many of the systems in this country for many years. No one has successfully reintegrated it and they probably never fully will. In an area as big as public sector pay, however, the call for equity has been heard clearly and has been effective, in part, in getting people what they want and need. It may not be the end of the story but the middle is looking a lot better than the beginning. Looking at it now, the end may not be so bad either.
Observer Comment email@example.com
Equitable employment With the public pay bill in dire need of reduction, Yvanne Kennedy looks at the equity behind the numbers
everal weeks ago, trade unions representing all aspects of the public service dragged their heels into Lansdowne House. They were there to discuss the possibility of savings with Government representatives but most had already put the foot down before they crossed the threshold. They represent members who feel they are overworked, underpaid and dealing with staffing levels well below the ideal. When the situation is so dire, it was little wonder they were refusing to budge, but how was anything to be achieved where, for once, the Government were the ones willing to reach a compromise? Putting forward the case for nurses, prison officers, An Garda Siochana, firefighters and paramedics among others, the argument they presented was quite simple, that of ‘We would really rather the cuts weren’t made but if you have to cut, make sure you do so fairly’. The potential inequity to be experienced by those who, quite rightly, argued that while the rest of the country sleeps, they work, could cripple them. So what really was the problem? Many on the periphery thought it was simple: why should some people get allowances for working various different hours when the ‘average’ civil servant isn’t afforded to same bonuses? It could be argued that the converse is very simple also: they are ‘average’. They work an average week, nine to five, Monday to Friday. They have the weekends off to watch the rugby and have fun with their children and enjoy their homes. The ‘average’ nurse on the other hand, works half night shifts, must work a heap of weekends, may leave the house at six in the morning and return at ten at night. While it cannot be ignored that
ooking back on the release of Budget 2013 only a few months ago, the decision to make further cuts to child benefit, while arguably worthy of vehement objections, could not be considered surprising. In 2008, the monthly child benefit rate for one child was €166 and over the last five years this has consistently decreased to reach the figure of €130 that we were presented with last December. The resolution that emerged from this tired method our Government chose to consistently adopt in order to find the money to sustain our struggling country is that our country’s leaders lack the innovation and creativity fundamental for the adoption of alternate methods of distributing child benefit. Yet, there is also a notorious amount of waste in this country when it comes to distributing social welfare and despite the numerous counter arguments, it doesn’t seem logical that a family who have a yearly income of over €50,000 should receive the same child benefit as a family who have to sustain themselves on an income of only €25,000 a year. Therefore when it emerged that a ‘two-tier’ method of distribution was being proposed to the Dáil in February,
these nurses and their counterparts in the fire service, prison service and beyond more often than not chose the professions to which they belong, that does not take away from the unique nature of their jobs. The allowances they are afforded reflect such uniqueness and are not simply the giving of extra money with nothing in return. The fact that they will lose the allowances that make up such a core part of their pay, in some instances up to twenty-five or thirty per cent, is the real issue here. If allowances are cut, a large but still minority group will lose out in the form of these ‘frontline’ staff while this aforementioned ‘average’ civil servant, who might currently make the same, will remain unaffected because they were never afforded the allowance in the first place. This is not because their work is valued less but instead is valued in a different way; their base pay is higher which affords protection in the present scenario which is not given to all. When key trade union management began to walk out of these talks, whispers began of them believing they were superior to others who were also attempting to make ends meet. Ministers decried those Gardaí who protested at the talks saying it was a sad day for the force. As momentum gained pace and 4,000 public sector workers gathered in Tallaght, the threats that those who staff our Accident and Emergency Departments, arrest those suspected of committing crimes and keep those who have been convicted locked-up didn’t fall on deaf ears. In fact, this may have been a turning point for negotiations. Although it took several more days and walkouts more before a potential agreement was reached, the tide had turned when the Government and the country realized the real impact that
the scheme initially possessed a lot of promise. The proposal, which was brought to the cabinet on the 19th February by Minister of Social Protection, Joan Burton, outlines a new system whereby the maximum payment available will only be received by families who earn less than €25,000 a year. The overall standard rate which now stands at €130 a month would be reduced to €110. A further €38 weekly “top-up” supplement would be made available for families who have a yearly income of less than €25,000, after which point this supplement would be cut as the family income increases. Ita Mangan, Chairperson of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare, the group that published the report, said on the subject that “There is no point in suggesting there won’t be losses for some people in this change. There will. Better off people will lose. Some lower income families will gain… Some lower income families will also lose”. In terms of Irish politics, this new two-tier system is certainly an improvement from the “cut, cut, cut” mentality adopted so fondly by our Government over the last five years. However, while there is promise in this
“When the situation is so dire, it was little wonder they were refusing to budge, but how was anything to be achieved where, for once, the Government were the ones willing to reach a compromise?”
Breaking bad habits With the proposal of a new “two-tier” distribution system of child benefit, Laura Woulfe examines what other welfare options are available to our Government
“The resolution that emerged from this tired method our Government chose to consistently adopt in order to find the money to sustain our struggling country is that our country’s leaders lack the innovation and creativity fundamental for the adoption of alternate methods of distributing child benefit”
report, it seems to be a half-hearted attempt at means-testing that does not ensure accuracy. Firstly, there is still a problem with families earning €50,000 a year or more receiving the same child benefit as families with an income of little over half of that figure, and perhaps a problem with families that earn over €80,000 a year receiving child benefit at all. Drastic perhaps, and considering the argument that taking away child benefit denies the importance of a child, it seems quite controversial. Arguably if the right systems were implemented to monitor the mother’s and the child’s dependency on the benefit there would be a lot less money wasted. Obviously, the government would have to spend money in order to employ workers to implement the means testing and yet even if the money saved only matched the money used to set up such a system, is generating employment really such a bad thing? As Mangan said however, “Some lower income families will also lose.” Only 61% of families will receive full child benefit payments under these proposals and, while it is struggle to justify giving child benefit to the some of the country’s top earners, the fact that people earning €25,000 may not be eligible for the full benefit payment seems a little unfair. Many already tightly squeezed middle-class families are likely to suffer as a result. Shockingly, 18.7 per cent of Irish children are living in houses that are at the risk of poverty and any shift to this delicate balance could have drastic consequences for our nation’s children.
Instead of continuously making harsh cuts to benefits with little thought of the effects of Ireland’s people, what our government could benefit from would be to think more creatively about distributing child benefit. If we look to Scandinavian countries we can see clearly how implementing an alternative method of welfare can benefit both the country’s families and the state of the country financially. In fact, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton stated last October that government were indeed considering a Scandinavian-style childcare system however there seems to be little evidence of this being actualised. As said by Burton herself on the Pat Kenny Show: “In Scandinavian countries there is a better mix of cash supports by the State with services available either at no cost or with low cost for instance to children in terms of pre-school and after-school care.” This would mean that while cuts would be made to the cash benefit, families would be aided by the government in a more cost efficient way. In Norway for example, kindergarten spaces are offered to mothers at a very reasonable price of about €200 a month in contrast to up to a monumental €1,100 a month to have one child minded here in Ireland. This figure actually exceeds the average monthly mortgage payment of about €913. There are numerous options available that offer hope for a new, more efficient method of distributing child benefit in this country and we can only hope that the proposal of the two-tier system is a step in the right direction.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
Caught in the crossfire With American Liberals disconcerted by Joe Biden’s recent remarks about gun ownership, Isobel Fergus examines whether the Democrats are the party we think they are
ecently Vice-President Joe Biden was speaking in an online video hosted by Facebook Town Hall when he said that Americans who were worried about protecting themselves should buy a shotgun. He stated that Americans do not need semi-automatic weapons to scare off intruders because a few blasts from a shotgun will essentially do the same job. Biden continued on to explain how he has told his wife Jill to fire some shots outside the house to scare off an intruder. “Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun,” he reiterated. Biden also concluded that he does not see the need to change the second amendment right to bear arms. This doesn’t seem like the strongest antigun stance of someone who is supposedly leading the administration’s action on gun control, under the direction of President Obama. However, comments like these have not been uncommon amongst Democrats and many are indecisive about their position on the issue. Public perception often divides the Republican Party as pro-guns and the Democratic Party as anti-guns. However, the reality is not as black and white as these perceptions might lead us to believe. Even Connecticut, a notoriously ‘blue state’ and a guaranteed vote for Democrats in modern elections, has seen many pro-gun rallies in the wake of the Newtown massacre, showing that opinions are extremely divided on the issue and views are not as clear-cut as to simply label it a blue versus red battle. Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders with guns in the United States and gun ownership in the US is the highest per capita in the world, with nine out of ten people owning a gun. However, statistics like these
haven’t seemed to cause any meaningful change. Each massacre has caused cries for gun control for short periods of time until the victims fade into the background and changes to gun laws are pushed to the back of the political agenda. Obama has given four speeches since he has been in office consoling communities affected by a gun massacres. These took place in Tucson in Arizona, Fort Hood in Texas, Aurora in Colorado and most recently Newtown, Connecticut, which killed 20 children between the ages six and seven, and six women. After the tragedy in Newtown, Obama admitted that government were not doing enough to stop these tragedies occurring and it was time to change. However, the question remains of how committed the Democratic Party really is in their plans to change gun control legislation or whether it is merely an attempt to satisfy those crying out for change after one of the most horrific massacres of recent times. The UK has also been affected by gun massacres, the infamous shooting in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996 left 16 children and their teacher dead when Thomas Hamilton entered the school with four handguns. The difference is that this terrible incident was met with the kind of changes and consequences that we haven’t seen in the US. After the shooting, the then Conservative government introduced a ban on all cartridge ammunition handguns, except for .22 caliber single shot weapons, and later, the Tony Blair-led Labour government changed this to banning the remaining handguns and leaving only historic and muzzle-loading handguns legal in England, Scotland and Wales. Similarly, Australia reacted swiftly with action after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania killed 35 people and wounded 23. Australia, which
Vice-President Biden originally had very lenient gun laws, now has the some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. After the Port Arthur massacre, the government quickly passed laws limiting the ownership and use of guns. The government introduced a mandatory gun buyback scheme, collecting and destroying almost 700,000 guns. Since the National Firearms Agreement, Australia has had no major massacres and murders with guns have dropped by 40%. There are already signs that Democrats are waning on the strong stance of gun control they were starting to take directly after Newtown, changing their stance from ‘gun control’ to the now carefully worded change of ‘ending gun violence’. While they may sound the same, they mean quite differ-
Blood libel Stephen Heffernan looks at nepotism in Irish politics and Ireland’s political dynasties
lthough one could say that it is inevitable that a country as small as Ireland will be filled with political dynasties, the power and influence that these political dynasties create for themselves should not necessarily be so. The tradition of the political dynasty could be seen even before Irish independence. Charles Stewart Parnell came from a family which included many MPs, and after his death his elder brother, John, also served briefly at Westminster, running in his brother’s old stomping ground in Meath but failing to live up to his name, never even speaking in the House of Commons during his five years there. At the 2007 general election, there were plenty of jokes about there being more members of the Kitt family in the Dáil, than there were members of the PDs, but far from revealing the weakness of Michael McDowell’s party at that election it instead showed how powerful a surname can be within the backrooms of Irish politics, even when a TD is based far from the constituency in which they were born and reared. Tom and Aine Kitt represented Dublin South and Kildare North respectively, while Michael kept the seat in Galway East which had previously been held by their father, Michael Senior. The Kitt family are only one example, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael (as well as Labour, albeit to a lesser extent) are filled with TDs whose political heritage goes back two or three generations, and many would argue that this has led to a lot of the rot now associated with Irish politics. The minute many a TD has entered Leinster House, the first thing they often do is to get as many family members on the payroll as possible; appoint the wife or a willing son or daughter as their parliamentary secretary, and
“Charles Stewart Parnell came from a family that included many MPs”
ent things, with the latter being mostly targeted on background checks and increased penalties for those who buy arms for criminals. Democrats or Republicans who are vehemently pressing for stronger gun control laws will find it harder to get re-elected especially in red states. This makes it difficult to find politicians who are willing to risk their careers to push through a controversial legislation. The history of gun control efforts have been usually supported by Democrats and the NRA predominantly lobbies the Republican Party. However, even the Democratic Party has entered into a split on how to approach gun laws. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been one of the few who has campaigned for gun control for many
years, while most other Democrats have been lukewarm supporters of gun regulation and there are Democratic senators like Max Baucus of Montana who are avid supporters of the extreme National Rifle Association. Many now believe that the only legislation that has a chance of passing, is one that is primarily focused on enhancing background checks. The obstinate response of the NRA to protecting their beloved second amendment right to bear arms will prove difficult for supporters of gun change to crack. Public pressure will need to be at an all time high and the full weight of Obama’s administration will be required if any legislation is to be passed and if lasting change is to be made.
get some other family member or loyal retainer co-opted onto the now-vacant county council seat who will willingly step aside if the next election doesn’t go too well. Even the selection conventions held in advance of elections become less a question of how well a potential candidate would represent their constituency, and rather a question of how good their heritage and their family connections were within the party. To use the 2007 election as an example yet again, in Tipperary South, the Fianna Fáil national executive advised taking Mattie McGrath, then still a member of the party, off the ballot paper to give Siobhán Ambrose, a young Clonmel-based county councillor whose father had served before her, a better chance at getting elected on the basis that her credentials were better, despite the fact that McGrath’s father had been a founding member of the party. Although the decision was overturned at the last minute, and three candidates did run in the election, it still works as an excellent example of the power of a surname. Despite the fact that, in the most recent election, it did seem as if there was a slight shift away from dynastic politics, it has yet to be seen whether this century-long trend will be reversed. There has been much talk recently of the Meath East by-election which is to be held this year, and it appears that Fine Gael will do their best to hold onto the seat by running the late Shane McEntee’s daughter Helen, which cynics could view as an attempt to cash in on a sympathy vote, but which undoubtedly is clear evidence of a belief that the power of the McEntee surname could sway the winds in their favour up against Thomas Byrne, an up and coming ex-TD for Fianna Fáil whose name has been mentioned as a future party leader on occasions. There also appears to be a new generation of Lenihans on the horizon; the late Brian Lenihan Jr’s son Tom was recently elected as President of TCD’s Student Union, a position once held by Averil Power, a senator, and one of the few intelligent voices within Fianna Fáil. Despite the fact that this young Lenihan has stated that he has no intention of entering politics, it remains to be seen how long this disenchantment will last. There is a very strong
“Despite the fact that in the most recent election it did seem as if there was a slight shift away from dynastic politics, it has yet to be seen whether this centurylong trend will be reversed”
chance that some of his father’s old cronies will cajole him into running as his father was persuaded before him on the death of his grandfather. Perhaps not at this present moment in time, but once he has finished his education he will be a prime target for them in the same way that Mary Coughlan was once she had graduated from this very institution. Perhaps all these political dynasties are not necessarily a bad thing. They may not be the most able of people, but many of them have been groomed for a career in public life from the moment they began to gurgle in their cots and sent out on the canvas with their mother or father as a young child, where at first hand they were able to experience the reactions of their parents to the needs of their constituents, acquiring the ambiguous jargon of the world of politics as a mother tongue rather than something that had to be learned consciously. There exists a very good chance that if he decides his career as a singer-songwriter is no longer worth continuing, David Kitt may well decide to try politics, and based on his name alone he is more than likely to be elected.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
The story of Lazarus With polls now showing Fianna Fáil at an all time high since the party’s implosion in the 2011 election, Evan O’Quigley examines their future
ianna Fáil is now the most popular party in the state again. As opinion polls have been showing over the last few weeks and months, support has continued to increase, with the party now having 27% support, 2 points ahead of Fine Gael. Many thought it impossible that Fianna Fáil would ever raise to the level of popularity they once enjoyed, being by some distance the most popular party in the state since its creation. Following the 2011 election, when Fianna Fáil was reduced to being a party of only 20 seats, down from nearly 80 at the height of their popularity in the 2007 election. Much of the media, such as Stephen Collins in the Irish Times wrote at this time that Fianna Fáil would never fully recover to their former position. Collins wrote following the catastrophic defeat: “Irish politics will never be the same again. The era of Fianna Fáil dominance, which lasted for three-quarters of a century, came to
“Many will remember Bertie Ahearn’s embarrassing declaration that he was a socialist, despite being hated by the majority of the Irish left”
an abrupt end.” It is now being suggested that, although Fianna Fáil does not have nearly enough support to go back into government on its own, it could very well become part of a coalition with Sinn Féin or Fine Gael. Eamon O’Cuiv, the party’s Deputy Leader, and grandson of its founder, has already said it should seek to rule out being part of any coalition, arguing that coalitions don’t work (possibly a subtle stab at the current government), preferring to work as a single-party government, with maybe a few independents if necessary. He did leave some wiggle room for compromise however, stating that a coalition with Sinn Féin would be preferable. Fianna Fáil have notably never been in government with Fine Gael, despite the two parties being ideologically more similar than perhaps any other in the state, maintaining a broadly centre to centre-right position on the political spectrum. This would perhaps lead some to believe that Fianna Fáil are making an attempt to gain voters from the left, choosing, if necessary to go with the broadly centre-left Sinn Fein as opposed to the more right-wing Fine Gael. Fianna Fáil’s widespread popularity since its inception is largely because of its largely centrist, populist stance, relying on popular nationalism rather than any traditional left-right voting bloc. Ireland is unique in Europe, in that throughout most of its history its politics has not been based on a leftright division, but rather a ‘my grandfather was on that side of the civil war’ division. Fianna Fáil began to move more towards the right in the 1990s, partnering up with the ironically named Progressive Democrats, adapting neo-
Leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheal Martin liberal economics after the economic system became popular in the Western world with Reagan and Thatcher, beginning the era that has gone on until the present despite the current economic crisis largely blamed on major deregulation and reckless laissez-faire capitalism. The party did however, make attempts to maintain certain leftwing aspects as well, in the style of Bill Clintons New Democrats, and Tony Blair’s New Labour, adopting business friendly economics such as weakening trade-unions, cutting taxes for the wealthy and for corporations, and seeking multinational companies to create new jobs, while also keeping some of the language of the left. Many will remember Bertie Ahearn’s embarrassing declaration that he was a socialist, despite being hated by the majority of the Irish left, because of his government increased welfare and public sector pay when the times were good.
Fianna Fáil has long been able to play both sides of the field, criticising the government from the right and from the left when it suits them. The increase in popularity is likely also because of its leader Mícheál Martin, who has made many attempts to distance himself from the more recent Fianna Fáil governments, despite saying recently that he regularly keeps in touch with Brian Cowen, who was at the helm when the economic shit hit the fan. Ógra Fianna Fáil are now planning a ‘Lazarus’ act campaign, mimicking the biblical story of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead by Jesus. The youth political organisation are planning to place posters across college campuses asking students to become ‘part of the comeback’ and to believe in the party, as Jesus did Lazarus. However, whether the soldiers of destiny our country used to love so much really will make a historic comeback is yet
L&H Debate: The Arab Spring Revolution Two years on from the Arab Spring Revolutions Steven Balbirnie assesses their outcomes
as the Arab Spring Revolution failed? It is difficult to form a definitive answer to this question for two reasons. The first reason is the proximity to the event, it is impossible to tell what the long-term impact of the Arab Spring will be, so any judgements can only be based on the short-term consequences of a movement which is still on-going. The second reason is that the Arab Spring is not a homogeneous entity and its results have varied significantly between different countries; if one were to look only at Libya the Arab Spring could be considered a success, though conversely if the concentration was solely on Bahrain then the Arab Spring has undoubtedly failed. Tunisia, while the cradle of the Arab Spring, has had mixed progress since the ousting of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who is currently in exile in Saudi Arabia having been sentenced in absentia to decades in prison. Legal restrictions on freedom of expression have undermined the achievements of the revolution while the secular government is facing ever more defiance from the country’s devout Salafist minority who have been attacking media outlets and alcohol vendors. The divide between secularists and fundamentalists has led to problems for the government of President Moncef Marzouki in drafting a new constitution. Serious protests have also been sparked by the February 6th assassination of left-wing lawyer and opposition politician Chokri Belaid. Belaid, while a strident critic of the old regime, had also been very critical of the new government’s inability to tackle the Salafi threat and accused ministers of being puppets of Qatar. The most iconic image of the Arab Spring was Cairo’s Tahrir Square, so how has Egypt fared since its revolution? The end of interim military rule
ry of the Arab Spring. July 2012 saw the country’s first election in 60 years and the following month saw an entirely peaceful changeover of power from the National Transitional Coun-
“Of perhaps greatest significance has been the prominent role of women in the protest movements”
saw the ushering into office of the Muslim Brotherhood, and their leader Mohammed Morsi, who used decrees to assume sweeping powers as president. The Muslim Brotherhood also fast-tracked the drafting of a new constitution, which had no input from secularists, women or the country’s
substantial Coptic Christian minority. Parliamentary elections have been set for April but violence against protesters continues unabated and army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has warned that the Egyptian state may be on the verge of collapse. Libya has been the real success sto-
cil to the elected National Congress where liberals have won a majority. Concerns about state disintegration have also been proven to be unfounded as the eastern region of Cyrenaica has not seceded as was potentially feared. The main blight on the new government’s record has been the death of the US Consul, Chris Stevens, who was killed when a mob stormed the consulate in Benghazi. The public response to this incident illustrated however that extremism has no support among the wider population as a popular rising attacked the base of the militia which was allegedly responsible. In Bahrain it is impossible to discern any achievements arising from the Arab Spring. The protests by the gulf state’s downtrodden Shia majority have been brutally suppressed by the Sunni Al Khalifa monarchy with the backing of Saudi Arabia. The monarchy has rejected all demands for an elected parliament to make laws and form governments, and severe prison sentences have been handed down to opposition activists and even medics who have treated injured protesters. The Arab Spring movement in Yemen has also failed to make real substantial gains and has already been eclipsed by subsequent events. Ali Abdullah Saleh may have stepped down as the nation’s president, but this was not a result of public pressure, it was achieved through an attack on his presidential palace which left him hos-
to be seen. Ógra Fianna Fáil president Eamon Quinlan has stated that the organisation had almost 1,000 new members join in a week; an astonishing fact, if true. While support for the government is currently low, it may again rise should things begin to pick up economically. Although this seems unlikely, the lacklustre deal with the promissory notes had the media celebrating last month as if it was the start of an economic recovery. Labour may very well implode as support continues to drop, with its core base moving towards the likes of Sinn Fein and even Fianna Fáil as a better alternative, but for the time being it seems that Fine Gael may stay on top, provided some major mistakes aren’t made. Martin has been careful not to jump the gun, pointing out that the party still has far more to do before it can truly regain the public’s trust again.
pitalised. Since resigning Saleh has also become immune from prosecution, and his replacement, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was formerly Saleh’s vice president and stood as the sole candidate in Yemen’s February 2012 presidential election. The Arab Spring in Yemen has also been eclipsed by this challenge to state authority being used as an opportunity for Al Qaeda to carve out territories for itself in southern Yemen. This has led to civil rights issues being entirely ignored in favour of focusing on a counter insurgency campaign against Al Qaeda. Syria’s experience of the Arab Spring has been undoubtedly the most violent. The country is now mired in a bloody civil war with no end in sight. A distinct sectarian dimension has also been emerging increasingly as the conflict rumbles on indeterminately. Growing tensions between the Sunni majority and the Alawite minority, which includes the Assad family, threaten to not only fracture the Syrian state but could also destabilise Lebanon, a neighbouring state which is already experiencing spill over from the conflict. This is not to say that the Arab Spring has not achieved some considerable successes, it is simply a case that these triumphs have generally been symbolic rather than tangible. The toppling of decades-long dictatorships in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen has marked a strong assertion by the Arab people of the population’s ability to instigate societal transformation without relying upon either domestic elites or external intervention (Libya being the exception). What remains to be seen is if the region’s new leaders are committed to democracy or simply become a new generation of dictators. Of perhaps greatest significance has been the prominent role of women in the protest movements, testament to this was Yemen’s Tawakkol Karman becoming the first Arab woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize. To be considered a true success, the societies emerging from the Arab Spring will have to recognise the important role which women have played in the region’s fight for freedom. The development of these post-dictatorship societies in the coming years will be the true test of whether or not the Arab Spring has been a success or a failure.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
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Deglamourising cigarettes As social smoking becomes a nationwide pastime, Nicole Casey looks at the effect new graphic tobacco packaging may have on Irish smokers
n 2011, the Irish government passed a law dictating that cigarette companies introduce a photographic health warning on every tobacco packet. On February 1st 2013, this law came into effect, resulting in a graphic image as well as a written health warning being printed on every tobacco product sold in Ireland. With over half of smokers dying from smoking related diseases, it is hoped that the introduction of these photographic warnings will making smoking less attractive in the eyes of the consumer, as well as deterring young people from taking up the habit. The images, which depict the negative health impacts associated with smoking, aim to move one step further from the previous written warnings printed on tobacco packaging. Photos of an operating table, a child wearing an oxygen mask, lungs affected
“Research has shown that health warnings accompanied by graphic images effectively discourage would be smokers, while also increasing current smokers’ intentions to quit”
by cancer, rotting teeth, and a tumour growing within a neck will now feature prominently across tobacco products nationwide. Research has shown that health warnings accompanied by graphic images effectively discourage would be smokers, while also increasing current smokers’ intentions to quit. Smoking is the single greatest preventable illness in Ireland, killing over 5,200 people a year. It has a detrimental impact on our society, and every effort should be made to hinder it. But will this new form of shock therapy really work? Head of Advocacy and Communications at the Irish Cancer Society, Kathleen O’Meara, believes it will. “We strongly welcome the publication of picture warnings on cigarette packs. In order to survive, tobacco companies need to divert attention from the deadly effects of smoking…. Photo warnings make smoking less attractive by deglamourising the addiction and showing smokers how they are damaging their health.” In 2009, surveys found that 75% of Irish smokers think that images on cigarette packages will have a positive effect on smoking rates. Smokers are more likely to remember health warnings having seen them in picture form. It is easy to ignore written warnings, but not as simple to avoid looking at large pictures printed on packaging. “Every so often, a law comes into force that will save lives. Picture warnings on cigarette packs will do just that…We are confident that the images will motivate people to quit and act as a disincentive for people who might be
about to start,” says O’Meara. However, Forest Éireann, a group defending people’s right to smoke, disagree. Spokesperson for the group, John Mallon, explains: “Photographic warnings are a bit like a traffic accident. People gawk at grotesque things. [The images] are supposed to be shock therapy; they satisfy our morbid curiosity.” Rather than deterring current smokers, however, Mallon believes we will soon become immune to the images. “You don’t study the glass you drink out of. It’s just there. So why would you study the packet your cigarettes come in? Soon we’ll be able to filter out the images. The average concentration span is only eight seconds… We [don’t buy cigarettes] to look at ads. And it is just a form of advertising. It is advertising for the medical profession, as well as for pharmaceutical companies selling products to help you quit.” While the images may be grotesque, and pique the average smokers curiosity, it is unclear as to whether they will actually reduce the number of smokers in Ireland. Consumers who do not want to look at the images will simply learn to ignore them. “Most tobacco smokers have their own tins. They don’t have to look at the pictures,” says Mallon. In 2011, Australia became the first country to enforce a law demanding plain packaging of tobacco products. As of December 2012, all cigarette products are now sold in olive green packaging, with large anti-smoking images. The Australian legislation strips packaging of all branding and logos, leaving only the name printed in a general font.
The influence of faith With religion in Ireland becoming more diverse and less dogmatic, Catherine Munnelly examines its continuing role in the lives of students
f you went to primary or secondary school in Ireland, there’s no doubt that you know the ‘Hail Mary’, or have said the ‘Angelus’ at noon Monday to Friday. Roll on ten years, and the average lifestyle of an Irish college student has become much less about religious tradition and more about hedonistic overconsumption. But how did the youth of Ireland, who were once highly conservative and religious, change into the hard going party animals that they are now? Ireland’s education system and the Roman Catholic Church walked hand in hand over the past century, being truly intertwined with one another. It is at
times, difficult to remember that UCD was a Catholic university when Cardinal Newman set it up in 1854. UCD was even purposely opened on the feast day of St. Malachy. Many students who no longer practice their faith do so because they no longer personally believe in their religion and find it to be something they were “baptised into.” Carl Nolan, a baptised Catholic who is now an Atheist, believes that “the Catholic religion was something [he] was baptised into before [he] could talk or have an opinion. It was never a personal decision but one of [his] parents, who are not even fully practising Catholics themselves.
Religion plays no role in any aspects of my life.” Kieran Noone, a Catholic, said that religion to him is “really important to me; its grounding and guidance” but that it does not affect his student life at all. Students of other faiths report a similar level of religious interaction in everyday life. Arif Iqbal, an animation student of the Islamic faith, told the University Observer that: “Though I am not a very good Muslim, I believe in one God. A lot of things in life are forbidden by my religion and by my own choice I tend to avoid them since I have respect for my religion. But my religion is in moderation.”
The aim of this campaign is to deter young people from starting smoking by reducing any fashionable elements. It is a campaign likely to be adopted by other countries around the world, should it be successful. O’Meara explains: “Tobacco packs are used as a promotional tool…There is a growing bank of evidence that smokers think brands described as ‘light’ and ‘mild’…are less harmful.” The different logos and packaging create a sense of glamour around smoking. Social smoking, accompanying a drink on a night out, has become the norm. Women are being drawn to cigarettes branded as ‘slim,’ with colourful packaging, which creates an air of sophistication around smoking that simply doesn’t exist. Plain packaging is an initiative that the government hopes will hinder tobacco companies from creating a sense of brand loyalty among consum-
Another view many students hold, is that while they did attend mass with their parents and also said prayers in school, once they entered college they found it difficult to hold on to their faith. One student even commented: “It’s almost impossible to hold onto your faith while being in college. I think it’s because you meet so many people who usually bond on nights out and you don’t want to miss out on that.” When this was put to other students this was found to be common occurrence, with comments such as: “I used to go to mass every Sunday. I still do when I go home, but if I’m up in Dublin for the weekend I’ll never go,” cropping up regularly. However Iman Gamati, an active member of the UCD Islamic Society disagreed that commitment to her religion was difficult, stating: “Not really, but I’d imagine it could be. The Islamic society is an alternative society.” However she did agree that: “There are certain things in student life especially in Ireland, friendship building and bonding in the traditional Irish student life” that her religion interferes with. Baring this in mind, does the Islamic Society encourage an alternative lifestyle for its members? “In the past we’ve had
“The Catholic religion was something I was baptised into before I could talk or have an opinion. It was never a personal decision but one of my parents, who are not even fully practising Catholics themselves” formal dinners but I’d like to see more activities organised,” says Gamati. “I feel like why should I miss out on the college experience just because I can’t participant in organised trips and nights out?” Gillian Kingston, Chaplin of UCD, plays an important role in the church
ers. Mallon believes this is impossible. “There is this wild claim that logos on cigarette boxes are enticing people. Does the Ford logo entice you to buy a car? No. Cigarette companies are just competing for market share like everyone else.” “People who smoke are doing so because they want to, and they are free to make the wrong choices. A lot of things are bad for you; the air outside in the city, horse meat in beef products, and yes, smoking, but it’s a choice.” While it will take almost a year for all tobacco products to display the graphic images, they can be found already on most major brands of cigarette. But only time will truly tell whether these images will decrease the number of smokers in Ireland, or whether, like the written warnings, they will be ignored by an ever growing population of social smokers.
“Though I am not a very good Muslim, I believe in one God. A lot of things in life are forbidden by my religion and by my own choice I tend to avoid them since I have respect for my religion” in UCD, with her role being “to be open to all faiths and none”. She commented about how the attendance numbers are holding up in UCD’s religious ceremonies and gatherings: “Mass attendance is holding up, with excellent numbers recorded for the Ash Wednesday services a few weeks ago. Numbers coming to the twice-a-term Food4Soul, Food4Body are well up this year. The interfaith gathering had an attendance of 25 the other week, not bad for a midafternoon, mid-week, mid-semester!” How then, does she encourage practising religious students to continue practising their faith? Her response was straightforward: “We aim to provide, by one means or another, a meeting place for Christians of different denominations, to foster trust and cooperation and to practice caring love for those who come to us, for whatever reason. We hope our example will encourage that among student and others.” In an overall result, it appears that there is a huge range in the role of religion in a student’s life, from it being a priority to hardly present. While the numbers of students actively involved in their faith, particularly among Catholics, appears to be dwindling, it seems that even for those who have a huge religious influence present in their lives, religion isn’t their first priority, nor does it affect their lives on campus, either positively or negatively. It seems, in fact, that while their are people practising many faiths across many faculties, religion barely has a place on campus at all.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
idea of reversing feelings of isolation whilst online: “Now the range of communities that we can be part of is greater and we can stay in touch much more easily, so we can reduce feelings of isolation, so people can find a like minded community where they might not be able to locally.” In regards to questions of Facebook causing and maintain isolation in students, McDarby concluded: “One of the criticisms of Facebook is that it promotes socio-isolation yet in reality research has shown is that Facebook interaction isn’t a substitute or isn’t being ignored by users, but what we are seeing is Facebook interaction is being used as an add-on to regular interaction. It has also been noted that it has helped marginalised and minority groups actually make connections and a lot of research has been done on individuals with hyper function autism and it has been found that Facebook has been used as a significantly positive tool for them to utilise, and make social
networks and move away from social isolation”. Dr McDarby isolated his own research into utilising Facebook as a tool in positive health related behavioural change. He explained: “Our project uses Facebook to support children and adolescents with type one diabetes. So what we are doing is to use Facebook to increase an adolescent’s awareness and perceptions and utilisation of specific support networks in order to better help them manage their diabetes. So what we have done is to create a private Facebook group that groups together adolescents with diabetes who can interact with members of the healthcare team can interact. Research has long since shown that social support is a significant mediating factor in health related behaviour change. Facebook offers a new and exciting way of utilising social to impact positively on mental behavioural change so it is our job to explore and discover the possibilities that this tool affords us.”
Changing communication With the average person spending much of their day logged in to Facebook, Jack Walsh explores its impacts on students
acebook has long been seen as a dividing factor in terms of psychological and sociological research. This not only has to do with the speed at which Facebook is evolving into many facets of human interaction, but also due to the many ways in which it can be used as a platform for positive and negative behaviour. People who report spending hours and hours everyday logged into the website suggest that it relieves boredom, whilst also providing an outlet for interpersonal communication and self expression. In terms of social comparison, a study conducted by two German universities suggests that one in three people felt worse after visiting the site and more dissatisfied with their lives, while people who browsed without contributing were affected the most. “We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry,” says Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s Humboldt University. As Assistant Professor of Sociology, Dr Anne Holohan of Trinity College Dublin asserts: “Facebook is all about comparing your insides to everyone else’s outsides. We, as people, basically manage their presentation of self, as we say in Sociology, differently and depending on the audience, but the problem with Facebook is that, for a long time it could all collapse into one, and people don’t appreciate the fact that if you put something up there, you do have to pay attention to who is seeing it, and you have to factor that in, and of course that can lead to lots of problems, so that is one enormous difference I think, but that also contributes to the fact that a lot of Facebook interaction is
very superficial and often very trivial.” Many students often deal with the realities of having younger siblings on the site, with agreeing that the 12-14 age groups is presented with a wide variety of dangers, not least being cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content and the problem with inappropriate disclosure of personal information. Doctor Holohan suggests that it is of paramount importance to introduce social media welfare classes into schools, in order to teach young people about the dangers of social media, as well as urging students to take on mentoring roles to younger members of their families. Doctor Vincent McDarby, social networking expert in the Special Interest Group for Media Art and Cyber Psychology in the Psychological Society of Ireland explains in regard to communication evolution that: “Facebook really is just a level of human evolution in social interaction and communication, so a lot of this evolution is just a step, it’s not the first step and its definitely not the last, particularly if we look at the other steps in human social interaction and communication. The ways of language, of written language, press, radio, television and the internet. They have all had significant positive influences on the way we interact and communicate and there is no difference in any of them.” A positive highlight of Facebook is the creation of a brand new form of community structure, as explained by Dr. McDarby that: “Facebook communities are very different to non-virtual communities in certain aspects, particularly in that they aren’t always bound to other limiting factors that traditional communities are, such as geography or a number of meaningful social contexts that we can actually maintain.” Dr. Holohan continued with this
“We were surprised by how many people have a negative experience from Facebook with envy leaving them feeling lonely, frustrated or angry”
Hanna Krasnova Institute of Information Systems Berlin’s Humboldt University
A Hard Day On The Planet With daily stress levels rising in Irish society, Bronagh Carvill explores the therapeutic techniques needed to restore mental harmony
oudon Wainwright III’s song ‘A Hard Day On The Planet’ epitomises our everyday struggle with stress and anxiety. The bluesy beat masks an underlying fragility, the chorus resolving that “things are tough all over this earth” and asking “how much is it all worth?” It’s clear that at times we all feel isolated, distanced, alienated, depressed, marginalised and more. But when does this normal stress morph into clinical anxiety? The Irish are collectively to blame for our failure to recognise mental illness as a fundamental and real problem. As a society, we have been quick to shy away from the subject, and even quicker to characterise the problem. Mental health campaigns now grace our television screens and specialised guides have been issued by the Department of Health. Even TV programmes such as Love/Hate have begun to shed light on the drug abuse that so clearly affects the mental health of Ireland’s youth. It seems as if the nation has finally realised the depth of the hole which we have dug ourselves, through ignorance and arrogance. According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual recognises their own abilities to cope with normal stresses in life”. Good mental health in adolescence is a requirement for optimum psychological development, effective learning and good physical health as adults. Depletion in mental health can manifest itself in a number of ways. Marie Duffy, Editor of the youth organisation’s website SpunOut.ie describes anxiety as “impairing, and it impacts a life course quite significantly. So a young person with a clinical anxiety disorder might not be able to go to school. They might get to school but they’re so anxious in class that they’re unable to hear and re-
cord what’s being taught. So then they start falling behind in their grades. They may withdraw from friends and become more socially isolated. And they may complain of physical symptoms like shakiness or shortness of breath or palpitations or sometimes nausea, shaky legs, you know all those signs that we would all experience from time to time.” Until recently, there has been a significant lack of information on adolescent mental health in Ireland, with many Irish professionals being forced to rely on UK statistics. This makes the recent publication of the My World Survey (the first national study of youth mental health in Ireland), a significant development. This collaboration between Headstrong (the national centre for youth mental health), and UCD has taken five years to complete. Funded by The One Foundation, the My World Survey maps the mental health experiences of over 14,000 adolescents and young adults aged 12-25. Tim Smyth, a Youth Ambassador for Headstrong, has described this survey as “the beginning of a frank and honest conversa-
“It seems as if the nation has finally realised the depth of the hole, which we have dug ourselves through ignorance and arrogance”
tion about what it is to be young in this country.” The My World Survey found that “mental health difficulties emerge in early adolescence and peak in the late teens and early 20’s, making this period in young people’s lives a highly vulnerable one.” One of the strongest predictors of good mental health in a young person was the presence of ‘One Good Adult’ in their lives, someone who knows them personally and is available in times of need. Interestingly, a person’s gender and personality plays a major role in the state of their mental health. The My World Survey found that males consistently reported higher levels of self-esteem and satisfaction with life compared to females. However, they engaged in more risk-taking behaviour including problem drinking and substance abuse. Females were found to be more willing to seek out social support and to engage in coping strategies. UCDSU Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher also sees genetics as a factor in assessing mental health, as some people have an inherent “anxious personality structure.” While he thinks that personality is usually “stable over a lifetime”, Gallagher believes that if we take into account “lifestyle advice” we can lead a life less likely to challenge our mental health. So how does one suffering from anxiety begin this road to recovery? Duffy advises : “Definitely one of the big things would be to cut down on your alcohol intake. Things like caffeine; if you’re drinking too much caffeine, you are more jittery. More anxious and more stressed than you would normally be. Other things like, just take some time out to enjoy yourself with your friends, try to get a good night’s sleep.” Gallagher says that a common pathway to mental health care can be through your GP, who then decides
whether he can manage the mental illness himself or whether you may need specialist help. A psychiatrist might look at a history of the illness and whether there were any precipitating factors. They would encourage the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition and sufficient exercise. If medication is required, it is given in combination with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This therapy helps a person to recognise their abnormal thinking patterns and then to change them. Gallagher describes medication as a ‘useful crutch’ allowing a young person to fully engage with the CBT. Organisations such as SpunOut and Headstrong support many young people in overcoming the obstacles they face in relation to anxiety. As Gallagher so aptly observes: the “unfortunate thing about anxiety is that it is a hidden
disorder.” Without treatment, anxiety may tend ‘to become chronic across a lifespan’. But by making some subtle lifestyle changes, we won’t be living on Wainwright’s stressful planet.
“By making some subtle lifestyle changes, we won’t be living on Wainwright’s stressful planet”
Loudon Wainwright III
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
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The University Observer | 5 March 2013
n this year’s UCD Students’ Union elections, current Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher, a third year social science student from Donegal, looks to take on the top job and become the new President of UCDSU. This would mark the fifth consecutive year that the position of UCDSU President could be filled by a former sabbatical officer. Gallagher feels that the experience he has gained from his year as UCDSU’s Welfare Officer has helped shape him into the ideal candidate for the role, explaining that he has “a lot of experience; most of that would have been picked up this year working as Welfare VP.” He explains: “I feel the experience of taking on a lot of case work, but mainly in the financial side of things, and this year working closely with the VP for Students. A lot of his members this year are off on sick leave. I had to help a lot in terms of administrating financial assistance.” He cites the running of the SU’s finances as the most important part of the President’s job, and believes that the introduction of a SU General Manager next year will go a long way towards increasing the efficiency of the position of President. In talking about current SU President Rachel Breslin, a former Welfare Officer herself, he is full of praise. When asked how she could have improved her performance, Gallagher notes that “a lot of Rachel’s time was taken up with essentially doing two jobs at once; both the General Manager and the President of the Union... I feel that next year, with the General Manager as well as the President, it will definitely change the dynamics of the Union.” Gallagher’s background in Welfare has clearly informed a lot of manifesto, with most of the proposals being in this area. It is no surprise to learn that he believes the student welfare services to be the most important ones run by the Union, and he aims to improve them in a number of ways. He stresses that campaigns such as residential rights and student counselling waiting lists are to be his priorities, should he be elected. He says that “these are the kind of campaigns I want to focus on next year instead of national campaigns.” Perhaps the most radical change to the welfare services he is proposing is to introduce a scheme similar to that being run in NUI Galway, where a number of recently graduated counsellors are utilised to increase the amount of counselling sessions for free. He hopes that this will reduce the long waiting lists currently in UCD to see counsellors, which he admits are “longer than five weeks at the moment”. These counsellors, Gallagher says, are would be of a high enough standard, so long as they are supervised by the currently employed UCD staff. He explains that “we can have several counsellors working to each senior counsellor. We could increase the amount of students seen by up to 500%, it’s just a matter of rooms at that stage.” There is a strong feeling among many UCD students that the SU is merely a clique where career politicians go to start their careers, an allegation which Gallagher describes as “unfair”, but he does admit there is a problem in the way in which the SU is viewed by the students. “We
Photo: Luke Etherton
really need to look at the way we view ourselves. A colleague of mine once said that we need to stop labelling people who are involved within the Union as “hacks” and we need to start labelling them as people who care about student services.” One of the ways in which he plans to do this, is through a rebranding of the Union. From the logo to the website, Gallagher hopes to move away from the perception of the SU as “the institution that’s €1million in debt” and towards a service for students that “brings people in to get them to know each other.” Gallagher also identifies the lack of a bar on campus as one of the biggest issues for UCD students this year, as well as potential UCD students next year. In his manifesto, Gallagher says that he will “fight tirelessly” to ensure that the Student Centre Bar is opened on the proposed date of May 31st. Another problem that Gallagher has identified for UCD students is difficulty in finding part-time work, especially during the summer months, due to a lack of any experience not directly related to their course. In order to combat this, Gallagher proposes the SU introduce courses in “employable skills”, such as direct marketing. Gallagher plans on hosting one of these in the first semester of next year. Should that be success-
“We really need to look at the way we view ourselves ... we need to stop labelling people who are involved within the Union as “hacks” and we need to start labelling them as people who care about student services” ful, he plans to host more in the second semester and hopes to eventually see the SU “perhaps introduce it into policy and mandate.” Next year will be an interesting year for whoever takes over as President, with a new incoming President of UCD next January. Gallagher believes that this, coupled with the abolition of passing by compensation, will allow him to push for a reduction in resit fees, with UCD’s currently the highest in the country. Gallagher is also confident that proposals such as a 24-hour study area can finally be achieved, as any incoming UCD President will be looking to establish a good relationship with the students and the SU early on in their term. Though he is confident of success, whether or not Michéal Gallagher overestimates the Union’s bargaining power with the new President of UCD to achieve these aims is something which students will have to decide for themselves.
Photo: Luke Etherton
“I’m the class rep and in that role I have succeeded in doing very little for my class. I have managed to avoid most meetings with the Student Council and I think that ability ... is a fantastic thing to have for a President”
econd year Medicine student Aidan Kelly openly admits that he may lack relevant experience for the position of President, but cites his lack of expertise as a benefit: “I have absolutely no experience that qualifies me for the role, which I think, based on past performance by the Students’ Union, might not be such a bad thing.” Kelly is keen to point out that the little experience he does have for the role he has skillfully squandered, stating: “I’m the class rep and in that role I have succeeded in doing very little for my class. I have managed to avoid most meetings with the Student Council and I think that ability to get out of stuff is a fantastic thing to have for a President.” Continuing from this, when asked what is the single most important part of the position of President, Kelly responds: “He needs to be able to avoid blame for any problems that are his fault, he needs to be able to put that blame on someone else”. A large focus of Kelly’s manifesto is on what he sees as a lack of a satisfactory social atmosphere on campus, stating: “They’ve had an Ents Officer who hasn’t been able to work because obviously he didn’t have a Student Bar, which is a massive disadvantage. If you don’t have a student bar, then what can the Ents Officer do?” When asked what he would have done differently Kelly claims that he would have ensured that the bar had been built on time. Asked how he would have raised the money to keep such a promise Kelly gives an elusive answer, saying: “I have my ways. I know people. I know builders, personally.” Kelly has other plans for improving the social side of UCD. He praises the the University’s opening of the tepidarium in the new student centre earlier in the academic year, but feels that they have missed the opportunity to tackle the absence of a social life in UCD. He would like to focus time and expenses in refurbishing the space into what he refers to as a ‘sexy tepidarium’: “The tepidarium in the new student centre is a fantastic place and would be improved if there was a bar installed there, and this would definitely improve the social side of UCD. You’d be there, in the sauna or in the jacuzzi, sipping on a couple drinks.” In an attempt to raise money for the University as well as improve the gym, Kelly aims to remove gym equipment. When asked specifically which equipment, Kelly responds that the focus is mainly on treadmills claiming “these are unnecessary in the gym.” Asked to whom he planned to sell these excess treadmills, Kelly says: “Many people buy second-hand treadmills. Other gyms are always looking to buy secondhand treadmills, for some reason. They are expensive treadmills, and so would sell easily.”
Aidan Kelly When reminded that the treadmills belong to the University rather than the Students’ Union, Kelly assured that it would be in the interest of the University and would create extra revenue for both the college and the Union. Another of Kelly’s finance-raising suggestions is to allow Coca Cola to sell their products on campus, overturning a boycott that was instated in 2003: “While morally this is not fantastic, we also think that it would be a great way of raising money if we had something like the Coca Cola Student Centre.” Kelly was not specific about how much money could be raised but feels that “Coca Cola will want to pay a lot as they are losing not only the actual revenue that is going to Pepsi at the moment, but also will hopefully make more people drink Coke in the future. So we reckon we could make quite a lot of money off this.” Kelly also states in his manifesto his plans to subsidise certain foods with revenue created from disaffiliation with USI. When asked which food, Kelly explained that the focus is specifically on chicken fillet rolls in the Student Centre. He plans to lower to price of chicken fillet rolls by 40 cent, bringing the price down to €3.50, stating “anything over €3.50 is ridiculous for a chicken fillet roll”. While these efforts to get a better deal for students are admirable, Kelly seems unaware that other outlets on campus are retailing the same products at €3.65. This is perhaps a missed opportunity for further bargaining, purely as a result of poor research. When questioned about a promise made on his Facebook campaign page of “free coffee”, Kelly responds saying: “It says if you want free coffee, it never actually promises free coffee. There’s a distinction there.” When pressed further on the matter Kelly admits: “No, the coffee won’t be free”. Kelly proposes the introduction of a ‘puppy room’ on campus as way to deal with the issue of student stress. When asked whether such a project is discriminatory towards people who prefer kittens, Kelly first attempts to argue for the superiority of puppies before conceding that certain students may prefer kittens and the Union must adjust accordingly to accommodate: “If the success of the puppy room was such that people, the cat crowd, wanted their own place, we could look into opening another room for kittens.” Kelly also felt that students would not have a problem with the puppies becoming dogs at a later state as, in his words, “Dogs are still cool, everyone loves dogs”. On the subject of the potential issue of student with allergies, Kelly talks from personal experience saying “I actually have allergies myself towards dogs, I still love them”. As a solution he suggests that the Union invests in Labradoodles, which are specifically bred for people with allergies, so students “could still enjoy the great feeling of being around puppies”. Though it may be questionable what benefit many of Kelly’s policies will bring to the Students’ Union, he is confident of achieving them all, even if he remains vague on the specifics of many of those plans. While it is admirable that he is so open about his intention to deceive students and shunt blame for all mistakes, he has perhaps been misguided in revealing such strategies before he has even reached office. This may ultimately be his downfall.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
hile it’s a contrast to last year’s uncontested one-man bid by current President Rachel Breslin, this year’s Presidential race presents two almost incomparably different candidates. With policies on completely opposite ends of the scale, Mícheál Gallagher and Aidan Kelly only agree on one thing: that next year’s President must focus on bringing the social side of UCD back. That however, is where the agreement ends even on that one point, with Gallagher pushing to ensure students have a bar open all year round on campus and Kelly proposing the introduction of a ‘sexy tepidarium’. Gallagher arguably has an advantage, having served in a sabbatical position already as this year’s UCDSU Welfare Vice-President, while Kelly as the second year Medicine rep has openly admitted that he has distanced himself from all responsibilities that position entails, including attending Union Council. He argues that looking at the Union’s position now, having been run by previous sabbatical officers for at least the last five years, that maybe what the Union could use is this inexperience. While it is an interesting point, it’s unlikely to wash with the University Management Team, who he failed to even name. This is despite his belief that the way to achieve many of his aims is to work closely with them. He is similarly unconcerned by the inner workings of the Union itself, and has little regard for the cost of many of his promises. He may be aware that the Union has financial difficulties, but his solutions are to sell University assets such as the gym equipment and procure sponsorship of buildings, and he fails to see the difficulties in the feasibility of such plans, and in the small questions of ownership and property rights. His plans however, are very student focused. Rather than concentrating on perhaps what could be considered larger issues on campus, he wants to
fight for cheaper hot chicken rolls for students and plans to cater to students’ welfare with a puppy room, and is confident that these can be achieved. Gallagher, on the other hand, is more aware of the Union’s current position and the bigger issues which must be dealt with by the President. Breslin has largely rectified the financial situation and while there is still a large debt to pay, the Union has been set back on track this year. Gallagher notes these financial issues, but is aiming to push the Union forward with his rebranding policies, something which is sorely needed as students’ opinion of the Union remains low. It is questionable however, for Gallagher to advocate moving the focus away from the National Fees Campaign, at a time when we have disaffiliated from the USI and have no national representation besides that coming from our Union. While there are many local issues that need attention, such as Residences as he notes, the President’s voice is now our voice on a national level and staying silent will not aid students’ position. It is difficult to compare the two candidates properly, but what is obvious is the stark contrast between the two when it comes to both their knowledge of the position in question. Kelly seems to believe that his policies will better the lives of individual students which, though admirable, is not entirely what the role calls for. Rather than wishing to lead the organisation, he is quick to push both work and blame onto anyone but himself, and with that combined with a nervous disposition, it is a challenge to imagine him at the helm. Though it is easy to see Gallagher leaning too heavily on the influence he believes the President of UCDSU will have over the incoming UCD President as a mechanism to achieve many of his promises, it is clear that he is far better acquainted with every facet of the role, and is well prepared to take on the bigger issues affecting students in UCD and those affecting UCDSU itself, should he be elected.
“His plans however, are very student focused. Rather than concentrating on perhaps what could be considered larger issues on campus”
dam Carroll, currently the UCD Students’ Union Health Science Convenor is the sole candidate running for the position of Undergraduate Education Vice President. In terms of the single most important part of the position, Carroll believes that it comes down to being if “there is a policy, a whole university policy, [that] is seen as unfair, or if students are coming to you and complaining about [it], well then it is your job to fight tooth and nail to make sure that it’s not a problem for students any more”. Carroll went on to discuss the three key issues facing students that will be of his concerns should he defeat the RON vote. His primary focus is obtaining a seven day library that can contend with the opening hours of Trinity College Dublin’s. A 24-hour study space is also seen as a primary objective, with Carroll offering a way of navigating through the insurance complications that stopped the current Education Officer achieving this promise: “The insurance reason was to do with access to the rest of the building, and if that is the only case, then Health Science Library is a perfect example. It was originally built so that it could become a study space and was built in line with American standards, as all the top level American Medical Libraries all have 24-hour study spaces”. His third priority is the introduction of group grinds for key areas of study: “It’s not built to replace lectures or replace tutorials; it’s just to help, to make a bridge”. When asked about the price of these grinds to the student, Carroll believes it should be no more than €12, and should fees be larger, he sees no reason why the Union can’t subsidise the service. Within Carroll’s manifesto, a study skills lab has also been highlighted: “it can only benefit students, as a top up for first years or for students who have forgotten skills and it’s just to get them in the mindset, so it would be stuff like careful note taking, study labs, exam preparation, and things like that”. A “rate your module” scheme appears to be one of Carroll’s more complex issues, requiring a website as well as providing reviews for the hundreds
Adam Carroll Education Candidate of modules offered to students, along with an expo in the O’Reilly hall. Carroll believes he has sufficient training to maintain the website himself, and stated in regard to an Expo: “We have already talked to people about booking out the O’Reilly Hall, from some of the higher ups in the University, they think it’s a good idea, and they are more than happy to lend a hand, with encouraging staff and students to do it”. The question of online learning is an important issue that Carroll wishes to settle with the introduction of online video tutorial and lectures. While it seems unrealistic that UCD lecturers who often struggle to operate microphones and projectors would be particularly open to this idea, Carroll believes that it “is not particularly technologically intensive for them, so they only have to have themselves videoed and approve the video for it to go up onto YouTube or onto a different portal on the website.”
“I know the cost of Class Rep Training is a huge issue for some people but I want to get across the point that it’s an investment and it’s worthwhile... I think that yes, it needs to be cost effective, but in order for it to be cost effective money needs to be spent”
dam Carroll is the sole candidate for the position of Undergraduate Education Officer and currently the only candidate in the two Education races, with no one putting themselves forward for the Graduate Education Officer position at all. While not strictly under the brief, should no one come forward for the latter role at all, it is likely that Carroll, should he defeat RON, will have to take on the duties of this office as well. This is something Carroll has clearly considered, naming easily the academic committees he would likely have to sit on for both positions, should he need to in the interim before an Officer can be elected. Carroll’s main focus seems to centre on the library, restoring opening hours and services to those of the past. Many of his policies will see him lobbying for a seven-day library and more funds for books, and while it would appear that these have recently been achieved by the current sabbatical team, he maintains that he will push for further provisions from the University. Whether this was poor manifesto research and a knee-jerk response to a question which clearly flustered him, or a genuine feasible promise, will remain to be seen. One thing Carroll has on his side is experience within the Students’ Union, something which, as he points out himself, this year’s Education Officer Shane Comer entered the role without. Describing Comer’s year as “slow”, Carroll believes that his experience as a Convenor for the School of Health Sciences has given him much needed experience in dealing with University staff, making him confident that if elected, he “would be able to hit the ground running.” What isn’t clear, however, is where his passion lies. While other candidates are enthusiastic about their promises, ideas and the office they’re contesting, he falls a little f lat. Leaving out a large area of responsibility of the new position from his manifesto, with regards to class reps and elections, shows complete disregard
Carroll has also discussed “supplemental services” to aid the careers office in the form of employability workshops. Though he acknowledges that the Careers Office runs very similar events already, he argues the SU needs to assist in this. He commented: “It can only help that we advertise the service they provide and work with them... It’s difficult for them to put as much effort as I think is needed into what they are doing, so any help that we can provide them is a positive for students.” In line with a focus on employability, Carroll also wishes to introduce a part time job-seeker database, in which students create their own profiles and market their skills and experience. When asked why employers would seek out a website when hundreds of people can apply for a single job offer, Carroll stated: “It’s a reverse to Jobs.ie and instead of employers advertising where they need to be filled, you advertise your skills, and people respond”. Carroll spoke strongly of introducing tutor and demonstrator standards to ensure a “setting out of the stan-
for the evolving role and perhaps an unwillingness to adapt in a Union which is still changing. This combined with a decision not to submit a personal statement to students on why he would like to be next year’s Undergraduate Education Officer, unlike every other candidate, shows a great deal of complacency and a lack of real interest. Perhaps were the position contested, Carroll may have picked up his game and actually fought to get into office, but for the moment it appears that he sees RON as no competition. Many of his policies seem more than a little ill-thought-out. While he has a number of interesting ideas, when questioned on the more complicated among them, rather``` than providing actual evidence of how his plans might work, he came back with many ‘It just would work’ style answers, which offers little solace to students questioning how feasible his manifesto actually is. Perhaps what will save him on that front however is having a concrete plan for a promise which students have heard time and time again around election time: the introduction of a 24-hour study area. His time in Health Sciences has served him well, and he plans to see the library in that building finally used for the 24-hour purpose it was built for. He also has the support of four of the previous Education Officers who he casually lists, so it is likely that they will be able to point him to a starting position for at least some of his vaguer plans. While Carroll may not be treating it as such, running against RON is not as easy as the majority imagine, as you’re running against the ideal candidate, or every other possible candidate, for the position. Though Carroll appears fairly solid, if a little unimaginative, as a candidate, students may be put off by his nonchalant approach to his bid for office. Unless he can pick up the pace, that may be what ultimately harms him.
“His time in Health Sciences has served him well, and he plans to see the library in that building finally used for the 24hour purpose it was built for”
dards that the university makes and must adhere to. This is stronger than the Best Practice Guide to Assessment, whereby tutors must have these teaching skills, must be trained and learned in the areas in which they are teaching, for them to be able to teach the students behind them”. Carroll’s manifesto makes no reference to the changed role of the Undergraduate Education Officer, which now encompasses some of the former Campaigns and Communications Officer’s roles concerning class representatives and elections. He defended this decision, saying: “I felt it was important to touch on all the specific education issues first and then after that touch on class reps on a later date... I feel they are important and I just think that a seven day library is perhaps more important but I cannot stress that they are very important to the students of UCD”. When pushed on his plans for class rep training, though Carroll acknowledged that the Students’ Union is operating under tough financial constraints, he feels a return to an over-
night trip away is essential when it comes to properly equipping reps to serve students. He explained: “I know the cost of Class Rep Training is a huge issue for some people but I want to get across the point that it’s an investment and it’s worthwhile... I think that yes, it needs to be cost effective, but in order for it to be cost effective money needs to be spent.” With SUSI proving to be ineffective, Carroll has looked at ways in which to deal with the problem of student grants: “One thing that I have been looking at is paying into the social welfare, because they have huge resources at their disposal and I don’t think they have ever been late for a payment. They have the facilities to give out the money, they have numerous staff to do it.” On the feasibility of this scheme, Carroll said: “I don’t think that it would take any more effort on their part, to extend it to the students.” With the administrative problems that caused the SUSI delays, it seems that such a largescale change to the grants system is an ill-thought idea on Carroll’s behalf.
Photo: Caoimhe McDonnell
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
iara Johnson appears to be the ‘issues candidate’ in the race for Welfare and Equality Officer. Focusing mostly on the issues of equality (gender, LGBT, disabilities and Mature Students), she has made the issues facing students’ welfare the main target of her campaign. Johnson also emphasises the serious problems facing students regarding both finances and mental health, which are explicitly intertwined according to Johnson. “I think at the moment financial issues [are] massive. I think the way that ties on mental health, it’s having a knockon effect. The way the two of those interlink, they’re the biggest issues for students”, she says. Some of her plans for equality include gender neutral bathrooms for transgendered students, increased awareness of sexual health issues, including putting in a U-card operated machine, to increase security matters, for students on campus late at night, and lobbying to have dental dams and female condoms supplied in the Pharmacy, just to name a few. It may seem to someone reading Johnson’s Manifesto that many of her proposals are unachievable due to budget constraints and cost problems, but she has clearly considered potential problems, and had already made plans to work around many of these obstacles. One of her most ambitious proposals is placing ‘Need Help’ buttons around the campus. These, according to Johnson, would be placed around the campus in central areas, with the purpose of alerting security guards if a student feels they are in danger on campus late at night. These would be similar to the SOS phones on motorways. Johnson explains: “It’s something we’ll need to run through with the University, but it’s something that would help the University as well, because it’s making the campus a much safer place. It’s a massive campus; there are so many students here. It’s just that the security
he candidacy of Engineering student Cian Dowling for Welfare and Equality Officer is grounded in a passion for student welfare and his desire to make UCD a more welcoming place to its students. Whether that is by pushing for further welfare funding or “giving 25,000 hugs” to the UCD community, Dowling’s desire to help people is apparent. The 21 year old current SU Engineering Convenor has been very involved in UCD life throughout his time in UCD including being a class representative in his inaugural year in UCD, EngSoc treasurer and Engineering PRO in second year, while pairing EngSoc audi-
Welfare Ciara Johnson isn’t always visible. I would walk home in the evenings, and I wouldn’t always feel safe. It’s a simple enough idea and I definitely think that we could work with the University to get the funding for it. I think it’s a worthwhile project, and definitely something that needs to be done.” While these may seem expensive and complicated by bureaucracy, Johnson claims that all these proposals will be perfectly feasible and affordable, through sponsorships and working closely with the University. She also points out that the SU’s financial issues are slowly turning around, which gives next year’s Officers more scope. In order to promote mental health,
“I think massive efforts have been made to make it a more welcoming place, and I think the orientation scheme and the peer-mentoring scheme are just two examples of how progress has been made”
Cian Dowling tor duties with his responsibilities as a Convenor this year. It is the experience that he has garnered from the aforementioned roles that he feels warrants enough experience to make the next step up to a sabbatical position in the Students’ Union, while also acknowledging the understanding of the role he has acquired
Johnson wishes to use the arts to raise awareness of such issues, and break the stigma associated with mental health issues. Johnson cites the ‘Box of Frogs’ play run by SeeChange and Smoke Alley Theatre which deals with the issues of suicide, homophobia, and bullying. “I think using plays and comedy shows like that, and more art projects, brings it to the forefront of people’s mind, and bring it to students who aren’t always interested. It helps break the stigma around mental health, and gets people to talk about it more. You know, you could be going along to the play that has this message and also having a good time,” Johnson says. Johnson wishes to implement a ‘Use Now, Pay Later’ taxi scheme. This is something that has been promised by previous Welfare Officers, but that has never fulfilled. This, says Johnson, is due to issues with the taxi company chosen, and not because the task is impossible, or unrealistic to achieve. “We can see with the scheme that it can work, it’s been brought in DIT, NUIM. The main problem with the implementation of it in UCD has been with the company, not the actual idea. So the company that actually got the package has let us down very badly, and at the time there were two companies bidding to get the scheme. It’s only a matter of sitting down with the other company, and negotiating a way of bringing it in. It’s completely feasible.” She says that as long it’s kept at the ‘forefront of the mind’ by the SU, there’s no reason that a taxi scheme for students could not be brought in during semester one of next year. As well as placing an U-card operated condom machine on campus in order to promote sexual health, Johnson also wishes to lobby on behalf of the SU to get the pharmacy to stock dental dams and female condoms, something she says are difficult to get anywhere in Dublin, let alone the Belfield Campus. “Nowhere on campus includes these. So it’s a move that needs to be brought in for students that need them. It’s simple and just requires dealing with the
pharmacy on campus. I’m not asking them to supply thousands, just to have some there in stock so if students are looking for them, to have them there.” Johnson believes that it should also be a job of the Welfare and Equality Officer to ensure students feel less intimidated when coming into UCD’s large campus, which can often lead to feelings of alienation. “It can be really intimidating to begin with. I felt that way when I came from Sligo. I think massive efforts have been made to make it a more welcoming place, and I think the orientation scheme and the peer-mentoring scheme are just two examples of how progress has been made. I think as a Union, we should be out there more, getting rid of the intimidation factor.” This is exactly the aim of her proposed ‘Give it a go!’ campaign, which would encourage students to join societies
more free from intimidation, given the size of the campus and its large number of students. Johnson is an ambitious candidate, and one who has much experience, having worked as part of the Welfare Crew for the past three years, serving as Welfare Crew Secretary and served as Gender equality Co-ordinator on the Campaigns Forum. She also has an understanding of how the SU works, and is prepared to deal with the University and various organisations in order to improve the welfare of students. In explaining why she would be suited for the job of Welfare and Equality Officer Johnson said she believes she has “characteristics that would stand to me, like being a good listener; I think I’m fairly friendly and approachable so I think that would help”.
from dealings with former Welfare officers such as Scott Ahearn, Rachel Breslin and the current officer, Mícheál Gallagher. Dowling believes that his experience as auditor is as applicable to the role, stating: “The auditor is more the entrepreneurial side of things. You need to be raising money, you need to be sourcing things, you need to be sourcing finances and funding. I think that is exactly what the Welfare Office needs right now. It is seriously short on funds. Mícheál has done an incredible job with what he has. I think that the more I can bring will really help out.” From his extensive experience in the aforementioned roles he has undertook during his three years in UCD, Dowl-
ing believes that all of this exposure has contributed to his approachable nature. A characteristic of a Welfare and Equality Officer that Dowling believes is crucial. “I’m very approachable and go out of my way to get involved and chat with anyone I can. My favourite thing about the whole campaign so far is to get the message around that I’m going for a position... I’ve got two separate girls come up to me since and said I have made college a lot easier for them by just getting them involved in stuff. One was just a girl I had met in an elective I did. She said it was the one class she had she could go into without feeling like a loner. It was just really nice thing and whenever I hear something like that it is just a reminder of why I really want to do this.”
college. Dowling didn’t skulk around the topic and was clear in how he would approach such a matter, “I don’t believe it’s right to say, ‘Stay, stay, stay’. I think some people want to drop out and it is a lot better for some people to drop out. You have to analyse them as a personal case.” With regards to his manifesto, Dowling covers a range of issues affecting UCD students without specifically suggesting concrete ways to counteract such problems. When questioned about his plans for the unexplained “visible campaigns” mentioned numerous times under different headings, he remains vague arguing that the Co-ordinators (such as the Gender Equality, LBGT Rights, Environmental Co-ordinators) will organise the details. “The people who run for these Co-ordinator positions are very passionate and dedicated... With every campaign, I know that there is going to be someone dedicated to run it and I’m going to be there to help them and use it.” Dowling speaks confidently about the affordable bank loan scheme he is looking to make available for students and has already met with AIB to discuss the feasibility of such an initiative. Such a scheme, he hopes, would allow students who are reliant for their grant cheques to offset the delay by taking out a loan, with the bank having a guarantee of being reimbursed by the three instalments students receive during the academic year. The suggestion of approaching outside counsellors to take on students from the student counsellor’s waiting list in UCD is also positive thinking. However, with Dowling admitting that he doesn’t know what sort of costs that would incur, it is merely a good suggestion, and perhaps a populist one, rather than a concrete solution to a crippling problem in UCD right now. All candidates have their reasons for going for the role, however, seeing the difference previous Welfare Officers have made in the lives of students seems to have spurred Dowling to throw his name forward. While he is confident, and his enthusiasm and determination are more than evident, his knowledge of the Welfare Office beyond personal cases may be his downfall, with few concrete plans evident in his manifesto or his explanations.
Photo: Brian O’Leary
“I think that is exactly what the Welfare Office needs right now. It is seriously short on funds. Mícheál has done an incredible job with what he has. I think that the more I can bring will really help out” With regards to the role itself, Dowling is adamant that the principle focus of any Welfare and Equality Officer should be the personal cases and being available for students that need advice on a range of issues such as financial worries and mental health issues. Dowling is quick to state clearly that he sees the role as a first port of call for students who need advice and doesn’t feel the role encompasses being a therapist. The role of a Welfare and Equality Officer also involves delicate concerns to navigate, one of which is a concerned student feeling the need to drop out of
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
elfare has always been one of the most complex areas in the Students’ Union, and with the abolishment of the Campaigns and Communications Officer position with the new SU Constitution, the position, now titled Welfare and Equality Officer, will be more demanding than ever. Both Cian Dowling and Ciara Johnson have stressed their enthusiasm, experience and ideas as qualifications for the role, all of which are certainly crucial. Dowling, in his interview, manifesto and personal statements, has expressed the impact and importance of the Welfare Office on his life, and his enthusiasm for helping students is evident. However his knowledge and experience of the Welfare Office is much weaker than his opposition. Johnson has been on the Welfare Crew for the three years and has served as Welfare Crew Secretary, Gender Equality Coordinator and a Peer Mentor, and appears to have a very good knowledge of the workings of the college, being able to give the titles of all the Vice Presidents positions in UCD, along with naming the President, Registrar and Bursar. She was also able to list all the committees that the Welfare Officer sits on. While Dowling has two years experience of being a Convenor under his belt, he has had much less involvement with Welfare. Beyond dealing with personal cases he did not expand much the responsibilities of the Welfare and Equality Officer and was unable to name any committees he would be sitting on. He was similarly unable to name the University roles mentioned above, other than UCD’s President. For a job which depends so heavily on lobbying the college, his lack of knowledge of its workings is a key disadvantage. A central issue in this race are candidates’ ideas and plans for the coming year. Johnson has many very ambitious plans, from gender-neutral bathrooms to panic alarms set up throughout the college. While her manifesto was unclear at times with regards to the feasibility of these, her interview proved that they were well thought out, and
race analysis in many instances, already costed or discussed with the relevant bodies. While they initially appear ambitious, she remained confident they were achievable, while clearly setting out their feasibility. Dowling’s plans are less clearly set out. The goals listed in his manifesto are vague, mostly promising to run various awareness campaigns without any indication of what this would involve. He was hardly more explicit about his plans during the interview, passing the responsibility of the events down to the Co-ordinators, showing little interest in many fundamental welfare issues. This lack of detail in his campaign could prove problematic during his term should he be elected, with few explicit promises for students to count on. There are some plans which Dowling is certain about however. In pushing forward his plan for banks to guarantee loans for students waiting on grant payments he has already discussed the feasibility with AIB. This does show the initiative that his manifesto frequently lacks. One of the key concerns for all those involved with the Union is finances. While in a better position than last year, the SU has to contend with heavy loan repayments and keeping costs down will be top of the agenda for years to come. While Johnson has a good grasp of the costs of her intended projects, she has few plans to increase revenue, feeling that the Union is in a position to finance them or that sponsorship will be easily obtained from sources she easily lists. While she is certain this is possible, Dowling has somewhat more experience in this area, successfully acquiring through sponsorship many items for the Engineering students during his time as Convenor. Welfare, however, has always been an office for spending money rather than making it, and this is unlikely to change in the coming year. Neither candidate can be faulted on their enthusiasm for and dedication to students’ welfare, and there is no doubt that whoever is elected will give it their all. Considering experience and ability however, Johnson’s long tenure with with Welfare Crew combined with her detailed knowledge of the role and the University as a whole, gives her a distinct edge.
“Both Cian Dowling and Ciara Johnson have stressed their enthusiasm, experience and ideas as qualifications for the role, all of which are certainly crucial”
What is ron?
n each of the sabbatical and convenor elections, regardless of the number of candidates running for the position, voters will have the option of choosing ‘RON’ or ‘ReOpen Nominations’. This, in essence, is a ‘none of the above’ option, so if none of the candidates meet with your approval, you can choose to vote for none of them in addition to your right to spoil your vote or abstain from voting in the first place. For electoral purposes, the RON option is treated exactly as if it was a human candidate, so under the Single Transferable Vote system used by the Students’ Union, which is similar to that used in Irish general elections, you can choose to give RON your number one preference, or number two or so on for the number of candidates in the election. So, for example if you have a genuine choice for who you want to win an election and if you would prefer to have nobody but your candidate get the job, you could
give RON your number two preference. If the RON option is ultimately deemed elected, the position remains unfilled, and the SU Returning Office will restart the nomination process for that position, thereby allowing new candidates to enter the election for that position. If any of this week’s elections return a RON result, a second election would have to take place at a later date, most likely alongside the Postgraduate Education by-election. The RON system means that candidates who are uncontested, such as in the Undergraduate Education election this year, must still convince voters to elect them rather than being entitled to take the position by default. In a year such as this with so few candidates, the RON option becomes much more important. In the College Convenors races particularly, only one race has more than one candidate, and we could see a large RON result. The RON option was first introduced in 1998 and won its first election against an uncontested Ents candidate, but has not been chosen since.
College Convenors are a relatively new position in the Students’ Union, being brought in with the new Constitution this year and superseding the old PRO roles. Convenors are members of the Union Executive, and serve as the intermediary between the sabbatical officers and the Union Council Reps (UCRs) and class reps. They are elected directly by students and these elections will be held alongside the President, Welfare and Equality Officer, and Undergraduate Education Officer elections. The College Convenors represent the different faculties in UCD, including Agriculture, Food and Vet; Arts and Celtic Studies; Business and Law; Human Sciences; Health Science; Science; and Engineering and Architecture. While the College Convenors are not full-time officers, the constitution does make allowances for them to be paid. This year’s Convenors did not receive any payment due to the financial uncertainty of the Union, but with the loan secured and the situation now stabilised, it is expected that next year’s Convenors may receive some payment. The rate of payment is set by the Finance Committee with a maximum of ten paid hours per week. The amount of hours to be paid is decided by the UCDSU President. The main role of the various Convenors is to assist with the campaigns of the Students’ Union, being responsible for the distribution of information and for the implementation of these campaigns. They are also responsible for the recruitment of UCRs within their own constituency, and for organising the election of the class reps for the classes within their colleges after the UCR elections. The candidates for convenor in the upcoming election are as follows:
Ag, Food and Vet Devin Finneran The current outgoing Ag, Food and Vet Convenor, Devin Finneran is running for re-election unopposed. Her plans for office are quite ambitious, including providing a more detailed grading system for tutors and demonstrators to ensure students receive fair grades, setting up a system for students to review electives and planning career days in association with societies and programme offices. She also has more manageable plans for improving her faculty, such as getting an official Ag Soc notice board for the Ag building foyer and increasing awareness of SU campaigns and services.
Arts and Celtic Studies Aonghus Ó Briain Also running unopposed, Aonghus Ó Briain pledges to make the SU more accountable to students. He plans to make the position more visible, with lecture addressing and a weekly Open Clinic. To help in the area of education for arts students he wants to create ‘transition packs’ to advise first years and students progressing to stage two, and work with the programme office to create a student friends results guide in Semester Two. Ó Briain’s other plans include a second-hand book sale to raise money for the Welfare Fund similar to that run by this year’s convenor, and to create an Arts Campaign Crew to help make campaigns more visible.
Business and Law Nicole Scully As the sole candidate for Business and Law Convenor, Nicole Scully has many plans for the coming year should she be elected. She plans to run a secondhand book sale in her faculty, in addition to creating tutor groups where students having difficulty with a subject could be taught by their peers. With regards Welfare she plans to run awareness campaigns for the services and funds available. She also has big plans for improving
entertainments available to business and law students, including more trips away, nights out and potentially joint events with Q-Soc, C&E and Law Soc.
Human Science Niall Dunne and Aine Mooney As the only race contested by more than one candidate, this is the one to watch. Aine Mooney is the incumbent Human Sciences Convenor, and hopes to be re-elected on the promise of a Module Information Booklet, a second-hand book sale for the Welfare Fund and employability skills seminars. She also plans to increase the number of class parties and trips away, organise an Arts and Human Sciences Day, and monthly non-alcoholic events such as inter-class football matches and movie marathons in the UCD Cinema. Her challenger, Niall Dunne, has less concrete plans, and is more focused on changing the image of the Students’ Union and bring a stronger voice for the left in student politics. His more explicit plans include lobbying the union to become involved in the Pro-Choice movement and take a stronger role in LGBT rights campaigns, setting up an online crisis site with UCD counselling services for confidential support and stronger campaigning against fees and cuts to the grant. He also hopes to abolish ‘super fines’, the heavy increase of late fees in the library in place around exam time. Dunne’s vagueness when it comes to how his plans could be carried out, and even vagueness on what his plans are, could be problem in a role which is largely about campaigning and organising UCRs and class reps. In comparison, Mooney’s experience as Convenor has led her to make clear and achievable goals. In the end this race may come down to ideology versus practicality.
Health Science Becky Gilmore Running uncontested, Becky Gilmore plans to run large events as Health Sciences Convenor, including a charity ball, a mystery tour and Health Science Day. She also promises kettles and toasters in the Health Science common room, coffee mornings, regular meetings with class reps and to increase knowledge of SU sabbatical officers and involvement with the SU.
Science Valerie O’Brien As the current Science Convenor, having been elected to the position in January following a byelection, Valerie O’Brien is running a campaign based on increasing fun and relaxation for Science students. She hopes to secure a “chill out area” for first and second year students, supplied with a toaster and microwave. She also plans to run movie nights and work with Science Soc to run events throughout the year. For the more serious areas of student life, she promises to establish a ‘Science Summer Internships scheme’, work to increase awareness of erasmus options for science students and promote the services of the Maths Support Centre with the creation of online maths tutorials. The final Convenor position, Engineering & Architecture, received no nominations and will be re-opened at a later date. One more position, that of Irish Language Officer, is up for election on March 6th and 7th. Only one candidate is running for the office, Caoimhe Ní Chobhthaigh, an active member of UCD’s Irish speaking community living on Scéim Chónaithe na Gaeilge. At the time of going to print she had not released the details of her campaign.
ne of the biggest changes brought in this year with the new SU constitution was the separation of the the Education Officer position into an Undergraduate Education Officer and a Graduate Education Officer. For the purposes of transition from the old system to the new the position was kept part time this year, so next year marks the start of it being a full time sabbatical role. The role of the Graduate Education Officer is to deal with issues of academic interest, including access to education and the maintenance grant, quality assurance, the library, overcrowding and resourcing, anonymous marking, assessments and examinations and the general academic advancement of the graduate student body. They are also expected to take a leading role in all national campaigns with a particular relevance to graduate students, liaise with the University Careers Office on an ongoing basis, provide information on graduate employment opportunities and graduate studies, organise an annual careers and graduate education fair.
The position is only open to students current in postgraduate study such as a masters or PhD, and only those either in a postgraduate course or in their final year of undergraduate study may vote for them. While nominations for the position were opened at the same time as the other sabbatical officers, no one put their name forward before the nominations closed. It is believed to be part due to the recent Entertainments Officer Referendum which was held last week. This referendum proposed that in addition to the restoration of the Ents Officer, the Postgraduate Education Officer should be kept as a part time position for an extra year. While 60% of students voted Yes to these changes, the total votes recorded fell just short of the 12.5% quorum and was not passed. The uncertainty of whether the position would be full time or part time at the time of nominations may have put students off running. Nominations for the position will be re-opened, with a by-election held later in the year.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
The Big Barnes Theory: Frickin’ Laser Beams
Ethan Troy-Barnes separates the fact from the fiction when it comes to laser beams and rayguns
here’s a well-known scene in the first Star Wars movie where Han Solo and another hired gun face off in a bar. The situation is quickly diffused when Han pulls his gun on the unfortunate alien and his expired foe promptly slumps to the floor, leaving the audience unsure over whether they trust this morally ambiguous gunslinger with nothing to lose. Creator George Lucas has since modified the scene to make the infamous bounty hunter come off less cold-blooded, a move resulting in much controversy with die hard fans, as well as endless dollars of profit in the form of merchandise with ‘Han Shot First’ printed on it in shining golden font. The man knows a thing or two about marketing, if nothing else. What is often overlooked in this titbit of movie trivia, however, is the altogether far more farcical means by which Han Solo pulls one over on his bug-eyed adversary. We’re talking about laser guns, folks. Are they really real? And if so, why are we still stuck in the ballistic Stone Age? The answers to all this and more will soon become clear. First of all, we should define what a laser actually is. As any first year science student worth their salt will tell you, the term laser actually derives from an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation (L.A.S.E.R.). Simply put, this means synchronising a bunch of atoms by exciting them all at the same time. This eventually results in the production of an incredibly coordinated emission of photons from all
atoms simultaneously, leading to the production of a very intense, very focussed ray of light. By comparison, in a light bulb, photons are emitted at random, producing a low-intensity gleam in all directions. So, lasers are very intense and very precise. This is good; it means they can slice through metal, or judge distances to the moon to within a millimetre of accuracy. It also means they’d make very useful weapons, for a number of reasons. First of all, because the ‘projectile’ is made of pure energy, it therefore moves at the speed of light and would be impossible to evade once fired, even at very great distances. By the same token, it would not produce any recoil or be affected by gravity, making it very accurate. It would also be possible to focus the laser to hit either a very wide or a very narrow target, producing an
“A low intensity handheld laser gun would require a Ghostbusterstyle power pack to function , and would probably only fire once before burning out”
intensely powerful death ray or reducing the risk of friendly fire, respectively. There is also the potential for nearlimitless range, as well the possibility of unlimited ammunition given a sufficient power source. There biggest problem here is the issue of power; lasers are incredibly inefficient and prone to over-heating. So forget Imperial blasters, Federation phasers or Gallifreyan stasers; a low intensity handheld laser gun would at best require a Ghostbuster-style power pack to function, and would probably only fire once before burning out. And that’s without factoring in the plethora of other paraphernalia necessary to make sure the laser works the way it should and doesn’t blow up in your face. Chief among these other things is the issue of ‘blooming’, the phenomenon whereby a single laser beam is so intense that it excites the atmosphere around it and gets dispersed out in all directions, essentially converting our perfectly coordinated beam back into a light bulb and effectively stopping the laser in its tracks. The most practical way to overcome this problem is to mount the laser on a turret with a big mirror which splits up the small, intense beam into a larger, less-intense beam which doesn’t produce blooming, but which gets focussed onto the target with the same intensity as the original beam. In essence, what all of this means is that for a laser to be effectively weaponised it would basically have to be mounted on a static, turret-like fixture and connected to its own dedicated
Nutritional Exclusion With new diets constantly marketed as the ultimate solution to weight problems, Jack Walsh gets to grips with the latest fad, the Paleo Diet
tudents are constantly informed and reminded about the importance of having a varied and healthy diet to not only ensure physical wellbeing, but to keep mental fatigue and imbalances in check. For those students who choose an alternative diet, the idea of a traditional diet is almost always vilified, with an almost fanatical debate from each side, and it can be difficult to gain a proper understanding of the school of thought. The Paleo diet is an attempt to strip back nutrition and eating to its essentials, primarily eating unprocessed meat, fruits and vegetables, along with nuts, seeds, roots and tubers. All gains from the agrarian revolution, dairy,
legumes, salt and sugars are therefore not permitted. Nutrition is said to be 70% about maintaining a strong body and metabolism, so it is of the utmost importance that critical analysis be given to what we are putting into our bodies. Grains emerge as the first point of discussion of the diet. As Jeff S. Volek, Associate Professor of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut explains: “Lowering total and saturated fat only had a small effect on circulating inflammatory markers whereas reducing carbohydrate led to considerably greater reductions in a number of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules. These data implicate dietary carbohydrate
rather than fat as a more significant nutritional factor contributing to inflammatory processes.” Some, such as Dr Keith Ayoob, a Paediatric Nutritionist at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, whilst not criticising the diet, criticises the idea of removing food groups, and suggests the idea of an important balance: “The problem with the American diet is excess. Do I want to see people eating a huge plate of pasta and nothing else? No,” he said. “I want to see a reasonable portion with some lean meat and vegetables.” Ayoob cites “the rice bowl” as an ideal meal: one cup of rice, two cups of vegetables and three ounces of lean meat in one bowl. “The real importance of diets that
SCIENCE & HEALTH
(preferably nuclear) power plant at all times. This would allow for the maximum beam intensity, the minimum cool-down time between consecutive shots and the best chance of nothing going wrong. This ironically concludes that something Death Star would far more feasible than Han Solo’s blaster. In military terms, laser beams would only be practical for use as a defensive countermeasure (e.g. to shoot down incoming missiles in order to protect a location of strategic importance) or as a heavy offensive trump card; for example, to blow up a planet. The Death Star, for example, is essentially a very big laser beam built into its own high-spec power supply and permanently mounted onto a sturdy platform from which to fire. The Emperor knew what he was at, in other words. Now, we all know that laser beams have been around for a while, it’s likely you use them on a daily basis in your
DVD player or at a supermarket selfcheckout. So why has the military been so slow to snap them up? Well for the reasons outlined above, weaponising the technology has certainly proved difficult. However, recent developments suggest we might be in for a breakthrough soon: just recently German company Rheinmetall Defence revealed a 50kW laser capable of cutting through a steel girder as far as one kilometre away. Additionally, as recent events in the States have demonstrated, we surely don’t need any more lethal weapons in the world. The application of directed energy weapons in the realm of nonlethal weaponry, such as microwave weapons which deter enemies by inducing burning sensations in the skin, is arguably both far more interesting and far more likely to replace the projectile-based firearms that we all know but don’t quite love.
lower carbohydrate content is that they are grounded in mechanism, carbohydrates stimulate insulin secretion which biases fat metabolism towards storage rather than oxidation. The inflammation results open a new aspect of the problem. From a practical standpoint, continued demonstrations that carbohydrate restriction is more beneficial than low fat could be good news to those wishing to forestall or manage the diseases associated with metabolic syndrome,” as described by Dr Richard Feinman, Professor of Biochemistry at SUNY Downstate Medical Centre. These inflammatory processes, as explained by Robb Wolf, author of the “The Paleo Solution” are one the primary reasons to attempt Paleo: “For instance, chronic pain sufferers who attempt to combat symptoms without addressing underlying omega-3 versus omega-6 imbalances from over reliance on grains and lack of animal sources of DHA and EPA, are fighting an uphill battle. The same can be said for foods with high glycemic indices that also have a pro-inflammatory effect.” The primary concern with those interested in the diet is the often high fat content, yet as Dr Loren Cordain de-
rated fatty acids are lauric acid (12:0), myristic acid (14:0), palmitic acid (16:0) and stearic acid (18:0). Excessive consumption of 12:0, 14:0 and 16:0 elevate blood concentrations of total and LDL cholesterol but recent meta analyses (combined large population studies) demonstrate they don’t increase your risk for heart disease. Stearic acid (18:0) is neutral and neither raises nor lowers blood cholesterol.” “Nutrient rich” is a topic that is discussed in criticising the Paleo diet: “People who eat diets high in whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy tend to be healthier because these foods are nutrient-rich and there are mountains of research about the health benefits of diets that include, not exclude, these foods,” says Ayoob. The Paleo Diet is the first step in the primal communities message of healthy living, that to create a long term sustainable way of living, an exercise programme that is focused on strength training, cutting out long cardio session and replacing them with short, high intensity interval sessions. The American Centres for disease control lists inactivity as the third leading cause of preventable diseases in the United States, including cancer, neurodegeneration and diabetes. Along with this, a full pattern of sleep should be maintained, in order to, as Wolf states: “Just one night of missed or inadequate sleep is sufficient to make you as insulin resistant as a type 2 diabetic.” A final element to Paleo culture is the idea of “intermittent fasting”, a process by which mimics the idea that our ancestors would not have access to the abundance we have now. Krista A. Varady and Marc K. Hellerstein, writing in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ascertain its benefits as “decreases in blood pressure, reduction in oxidative damage to lipids, protein and DNA, improvement in insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake, as well as decreases in fat mass”. This practice is mostly untested, and effective uses of the diet and following a proper exercise programme should take precedence. Overall, what can be gleamed from the debate of the efficiency of the Paleo diet is the importance of clean, unprocessed meat and vegetables, along with an intelligent approach to exercise, along with allowing your body to rest for a sufficient amount of time
“Lowering total and saturated fat only had a small effect on circulating inflammatory markers whereas reducing carbohydrate led to considerably greater reductions” scribes saturated fatty acids “most frequently occur in higher concentrations in animal foods such as fatty meats; however, there are certain exceptions to this rule, and plant-derived fats such as coconut and palm oils are also extremely high in saturated fatty acids. In fatty foods, the most common satu-
research in Brief by edith wong
Indian Ocean may hold evidence of a prehistoric continent Many know the Indian Ocean as an empty stretch of ocean between India and Africa, a vast expanse of water punctuated by small archipelagos. However, according to new findings published in Nature Geoscience, the Indian Ocean may hold pieces of a geologically different, long lost continent. This discovery is the result of an investigation into a phenomenon that had long puzzled scientists. Certain islands in the Indian Ocean, such as Seychelles, Madagascar, and Mauritius, have a slightly stronger than normal gravitational field. Scientists speculated this was due to thicker crust that is normally only associated with continental land. Computerised modelling data suggested that these islands used to be part of land masses attached to India. Furthermore, sands from the islands, once analysed, showed the presence of zircon, a material found in continental crust. More investigation needs to be done to find more geologic evidence of continental crust in the Indian ocean. However, this revelation may change the current tectonic theory. These islands, long thought to be volcanic upshoots from the oceanic plate, may in fact be part of a lost continent.
New study suggests that individuals classified as being in a vegetative state still feel pain A recent study suggests that some individuals classified as having Unresponsive Wakefulness Syndrome (UWS; formerly called vegetative state) still respond to pain. The study was conducted by Alexandra Markl, and it examined the MRI scans of thirty people in both normal states and in states stimulated by painful electrical shock. The results were compared to a control group of 15 individuals with normal, unaltered consciousness. Study results suggest that, while some UWS individuals may not be diagnosed as conscious, they may still in fact still feel pain. Activity in the pain sensory network was significantly increased in sixteen of the thirty individuals tested, a finding confirmed by previous studies. However, seven of these 16 individuals were also found to have neural activity in the affective pain network, the part of the brain that interprets pain as an unpleasant sensation. This suggests that many individuals diagnosed as having UWS may in fact still be conscious and feel pain. Though more research needs to be done to confirm these results, these findings suggest that the diagnosis of UWS may need to be changed.
New app designed to track daily fluctuation of mood by voice Keeping a diary of daily activities and emotions is an important tool for making an accurate diagnosis, particularly for depression and other psychiatric disorders. However, people are often too busy or unmotivated to keep very good or detailed descriptions of their daily life, making tracking progress hard. Luckily, Dobsen and Barclay have an app for that. The app, Xpression, is unique in that it picks up emotions throughout the day not by recording descriptions or voice messages, but rather by the pattern of tones as you talk. The app utilises the latest software in speech recognition technology to detect subtle tone differences. It then sends sound bites of the tones to a storage system, where it is analysed and then stored in a databank. Like Siri, which can ‘learn’ your accent if you use it enough, this app uses these soundbites to analyse the pattern of tones you use throughout the day. Xpression has already attracted attention, despite not having gone through formal scientific investigation. Dobsen and Barclay’s firm is a finalist to identify Britain’s top mobile companies, and clinical trials are due to run next year.
SCIENCE & HEALTH
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
Animal testing: it’s not fur As animal rights action groups continue to put pressure on researchers to stop their testing, James Kelly asks whether the end always justifies the means
nimal testing is not a pleasant topic, but it’s one that demands discourse. The benefits afforded by animal testing are enormous, with discoveries such as penicillin (mice), polio vaccines (monkeys) and insulin (dogs and cows) only made possible through animal experimentation, having saved millions of lives and alleviated untold suffering. However, despite these benefits, there is still the question of the animals themselves. What right do we have to use them to our ends? And if we feel their use is justifiable, then, putting it plainly, how much suffering can we subject them to? It is one of our major moral quandaries, with everyone pushing a different answer. References to animal testing can be found as far back as the 4th century BCE, with Aristotle and Erasistratus being among the first to experiment
“Discoveries such as penicillin (mice), polio vaccines (monkeys) and insulin (dogs and cows) only made possible through animal experimentation, have saved millions of lives and alleviated untold suffering” on living animals. Avenzoar, a physician living in 12th century Moorish Spain, dissected animals to test surgical procedures before applying them to humans. Since then, animals have been used throughout the history of scientific research and education. Our own Dublin Zoo was founded by a group of medical professionals in 1831, with the aim of studying the animals it would keep. In the 1890s Pavlov famously used dogs to demonstrate classical conditioning, and in 1922 Fredrick Banting used dogs and cows in the chemical isolation of insulin. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the large scale testing we know of today really began, with the advent of mandatory toxicological studies (studies into how toxic a drug is). The Elixir Sulfanilamide disaster of 1937, which caused the deaths of 107 people by liver and kidney failure, lead to the enactment of laws requiring animal testing in the U.S. Most countries followed suit almost immediately afterwards. Since then animals have been used for education and research in almost every field concerned with biology and life science, with an estimated 100 million vertebrates experimented on globally every year. Many more invertebrates, such as fruit flies and zebra fish are used, but their use is largely unregulated. Animals are used in two main streams of research; pure research and applied research. The former is interested in how organisms develop, behave and function, while
the latter focuses on finding solutions to specific problems (mainly diseases). Pure research is usually academic in origin, and can encompass education. Examples of it often include embryological, physiological, genetic and psychological studies. Applied research is most often carried out by pharmaceutical companies, sometimes in collaboration with an academic body, and mostly involves testing on animals suffering from human diseases/conditions or analogues, animal versions, of such diseases/conditions. Given the extent to which animal testing occurs, and what it entails, it is no wonder that governments have imposed strict legislation for testing. The consensus is that testing should be used only when necessary and that suffering should be minimised. In the United States., for example, under the Animal Welfare Act any experimental procedure can be carried out on animal provided it can be successfully argued that the experiment is scientifically justifiable, i.e. that the likely potential benefit outweighs the suffering of the animal. This decision is reached by an Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), which every institution is obliged to maintain. Beyond this or equivalent legislation, researchers in most countries apply the “three Rs”. Replacement means using methods requiring animals only when necessary, reduction means optimising experiments to minimise the number of animals used, and refinement means using methods that inflict the minimum amount of pain or distress. Further restrictions have been placed on the testing of certain higher order vertebrates, such as non-human primates. This is due to the likelihood that they experience pain and suffering in a way that is similar to humans. The particularly controversial field of cosmetic testing is another form of Fredrick Banting applied research. However,
in the EU, a total ban on cosmetic testing comes into effect as of March 11th this year. Welcome news, even to proponents of animal testing for research, considering the ultimate aim of such research and the fact that most tests involved irritancy studies, such as the Draize test. During a Draize test, an animal (typically an albino rabbit, as the lack of pigment allows for more clear visualisation of irritation) is strapped into a harness to prevent movement, while 0.5ml of a cosmetic product is applied to its eyeball. The animal is left in that state for a set time (can be hours), then the cosmetic is washed out and the level of irritation it caused measured. Depending on the level of damage inflicted on the eye, animals are often reused for Draize tests. Claude Bernard, known as the “prince of vivisectors” and the father of physiology, famously wrote in 1865: “The science of life is a superb and dazzlingly lighted hall which may be reached only by passing through a long and ghastly kitchen.” While Bernard was a proponent of animal testing, believing it necessary for medical and scientific advancement, his wife Marie was not. She founded the first anti-vivisection society in France in 1883. As experimentation on animals became more prevalent, so did its opposition. Today, criticism of testing comes from two main groups. One feels testing is justified only when completely necessary and is concerned with the welfare of the animals while they’re being tested. The other is opposed to any form of testing. The second group, though the minority, is gaining ground, mainly through the work of groups like PETA. They hold that any form of animal testing is a violation of the animal’s rights, and that it is never justifiable. In a bid to counter pressure from animal rights groups, and to get greater support from the public, some researchers have banded together to form groups like Pro-Test for Science. They aim to defend the use of animals in research, by providing facts on how animals are treated and arguments on why their use is permissible. As is likely to happen with when two
“The science of life is a superb and dazzlingly lighted hall which may be reached only by passing through a long and ghastly kitchen” Claude Bernard
Father of physiology
well-organized and passionate groups disagree, conflicts occur. The now defunct UK branch of Pro-Test was set up to combat the heavy protesting against the construction a new research centre in Oxford by groups such as SPEAK and the threats made against the students involved in the research undertaken there by the Animal Liberation Front. In 2007 the Animal Liberation Brigade placed a bomb under the car of a UCLA researcher (it failed to detonate). In 2009, another UCLA researcher’s car was set on fire after it became known that his experiments involved vervet monkeys. Such incidents have lead to the inclusion of extreme forms of animal protesting into anti-terrorist laws in both the US and UK, and have actually served to gain support for the researchers. Our ever increasing understanding of life, in particular disease, and the need to test that understanding, coupled with our exploding population and its demand for health means that animal testing is unlikely to stop in the near future. However, with the development of technologies such as PET and fMRI, as well as new testing methods and techniques, fewer animals are now being used and their treatment is more humane. It is a moral trade off.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
Observer Gaeilge email@example.com
Teicneolaíocht mar an bhfadhb Labharaíonn Charlotte Ní Éatún ar an andúil atá again mar náisiún sa teicneolaíocht
ad is atá an alt seo á scríobh agam, tá mo fón póca díreach taobh liom, tá FaceBook ar oscailt agam in aice le focal. ie agus tá ceol á sheint ar mo i-pod agam. Conas an bhfuil mé in ann an t-alt seo a dheánamh fad is atá na rudaí seo ag cur isteach orm a cheistínn tú? Bhuel, dar liom go bhfuil ar aos seo tar éis dul i dtaithí ar na teicneolaíochtaí nua-aimseartha seo a bheith againn i gconaí. Ní gá go mbeadh mo fón agam faoi agam faoi láithir – níl éinne chun téacs a shealoach chugam ar a naoi a chlog ar maidin nuair a chóir go mbeadh mé i rang. Ach, tá sé ann fós. Agus níl mé chun é a chuir ar ais i mo phóca. Fuair mé mo chéad fón póca nuair a bhí mé dhá bhlian deág d’aois, an bhlian a bhí mo chóineartú agam. Ar feadh bliain nó dhó ní raibh mórán suim agam sa fón fiú! Níor chuimhnigh mé air a lúacháil chuile oíche agus ní raibh aon baint agam as ach amháin is gcómhar ‘snake’ a imirt is nuair a bhí mé ar an mbus nó nuair a nár tháinig an coladh orm i rith na hoíche. Ansin d’fhreastal mé ar an meánscoil. Bhí mé i gconaí i dteangmháil le mo chairde agus aon daoine eíle a bhí fón acu. Cheap mé go raibh ‘infrared’ mar an rud is iontaí a tharla ó am mo ‘Gameboy’! Sheol mé féin is mo charide téamaí, íomhánna, físeanna is ceol a cheapas a gur gá dúinn a fháil, nó gheobhaimid bás! Bhíomar ag iarraidh go mbeidh ár fón in ann ár shaol ar fad a insint le
bhualadh cupla cnaipí. Buíochas le Dia gur tháinig Meteor amach leis an díol atá acu inniú fós, nó ní bheidh pingin le mo hainm leis an méid téacsanna a sheol mé. Sé bliana ar aghaidh agus ní féidir liom mo fós a chuir as radharc. Chomh maith le sin, ní féidir liom an idirlín a oscailt gan FaceBook agus WordPress a oscailt ag an am céanna agus ansin leath uair a chaiteamh urthu ní dhúnam iad fiú nuair atá aiste nó pé rud á dhéanamh agam. Ní choir go mbeadh an méid sin smacht ag an teicneolaíocht tharam ach tá! Is andúileach teicneolaícht mé! An rud is measa ná nach bhfuil mé fiú ag iarraidh as andúil seo a athrú nó stop a chuir leis fiú! Nílim a rá go bhfuil aon rud cearr le huair nó dhó a chaitheamh ar an idirlin, ach ní rud maith é nuair atá tú ag siúl síos bóithre agus bualann tú i gcoinne a lán daoine mar gheall ar an bhfón mar nach bhfuil tú ag breathnú ar na bóithrenó ar na cosáin. Tá an radharc sin faighte ag cuid maith dúinn nuair a bhualann tú i gcoinne daoine mar nach raibh tú ag féicint amach dóibh, ach ag seoladh téacs chuig do chara. Fíorscéil é seo – bhí mé ag seasamh ag an gcéad stad bus atá agam ar an turas chuig an gcólaiste agus nuair a bhreathnaigh mé suas ó mo fón bhí an bus – a bhí ag stoptha díreach os mo chomhar ag an stad – ag tiomáint uaim. Bhí orm fanacht ar an gcead bus eile – ach amadán a bhí ionam gur chiall mé an bus mar chúis de mo fón. AMADÁN! Tá a fhois agam nach bhfuil gach daoine chomh dona liom leis na fóin –
ach tá daoine ann atá níos measa ná mé féin. Cuile maidin, oíche is iarnón bíonn daoine ag breathnú ar FaceBook nó pé rud é ar na i-phone, ar an mbus. Nach féidir leo fánacht go dtí go bfuil siad sa bhaile. Mar sin, tá triúr saghas daoine ann maidir leis na fóin phóca; na téascathóirí, na andúileach idirlíneach agus na sealaidí- na daoine nach bhfuil go hiomlán tógtha lena fóin, agus a thógann am ceadta téacs a sheloadh ar ais. Níos measa ná na daoine atá tógtha lena fóin ná nuair atá daoine ann ag suí ar an mbus agus tá an laptop nó i-pad nó tablet amach acu is iad ar an idirlín orthu. Mar náisiún táimid ag taispeáint gach rud luachmhar do gach daoine atá ag suí ar an mbus – d’feadfaidh le daoine na rudaí seo a ghoideadh uait – cá mbeadh tú gan do fón nó do ipad? Bígí níos chluiste faoi na háíteanna ina bhfuil tú ag úsáid na teicneolaíocht móra, nua-aimseartha. Ghaoid daoine fón mo chara agus ní raibh ach blockia aige. Má tá úsáid ag daoine do blockia, samhlaidh cén úsáid nó praghas a bheadh ar do fón? Tá sé deacar sa aos seo gan do am a chaitheamh le do smaointe féin. Mar dhaoine tá an méid sin rudaí tógtha dúinn ionas nach bhfuil orainn mórán smaoineamh a dhéanamh dúinn féin. Fiú nuair atá am soar againn, an chuid is mó dúinn béimid ag breathnú ar an teilifís nó ag scimeáil ar an idilín. Tá gach rud leis an idirlín bainte linn fhéin agus gach rud a bheadh á dhéanamh againn air tá siad fúinn féin. Ní féidir linn dul ar líne gan na smaointe ‘Mise, Mise, Mise’ a bheadh inár gcinn againn. Is domhan atá tógtha linn féin muid, agus ní féidir leis ach méadú ó seo ar aghaidh.
Gluais Andúileadh............................................................addict Andúil...............................................................Addiction Scimeáil ar an idirlín...............surfing the internet
Uamhna Neamhréasúnach Leabhraíonn Cian Ó Tuathaláin ar na rudaí a chuireann faitíos roimh dhaoine gach aon lá gan míniú orthu
s fuath liom an am seo den bhlian don sport. Tá an peil meiriceánach críochnaithe, ní thosaíonn an Peil (níl an tsraith chomh maith leis an gcraobhchomórtas) ar feadh cúpla mí, bíonn na h-imreoirí sa sacar ag tumadh ar an dtalamh ar nós duine le chos briste agus chuir an rugbaí drochbhlas sa béil. Bhí an peil Meiriceánach an bhliain seo iontach maith, má leanann tú é, agus ag an am seo braitheann mé uaim an cluiche. Bhí cúpla scéalta an bhlian seo agus I mo thuairim ní bhfaigheann tú na scéalta mar seo ó aon spórt eile. Calvin Johnson Jr. (Megatron) Tháinig Calvin Johnson isteach san NFL i 2007 an dara phioc sa draft. Phléasc sé isteach an bhlian sin agus fuair sé 70 slat le ceithre breith ina chéad cluiche. Sa bhliain sin fuair sé a leasainm Megatron mar gheall ar a méid agus a ghluais. An bhlian seo chuirtear é ar clúdach ‘Madden 13’. Deirtear go bhfuil mallacht ag baint leis seo mar de ghnáth ní imríonn na h-imroeirí go maith tar éis a bheith air. Ach ní dúirt aon duine é seo go dtí Calvin. Bhris ‘Megatron’ curiarracht do slat glactha i mbliain amháin an bhliain seo, bhí sé ag Jerry Rice roimhe. Peyton Manning Bhí Peyton Manning ag imirt san NFL ó 1998 le ‘The Indinapolis Colts’. I 2011 bhí air mháinliacht a fháil ar a muineall agus bhí air an bhlian ar fad a chailliúint mar gheall ar. Roimhe níor chaill sé amach ar cluiche amháin ina shaol! I Márta 2012 scaoil na Colts Manning saor agus cúpla seactain ina dhiadh aistrigh sé go dtí na Denver Broncos. D’imir sé in aghaidh na ‘Pittsburgh Steelers’ agus d’aimsigh sé a Ceithre céad touchdown agus an chéad ceann
gan a bheith le na Colts. D’aimsigh Peyton an Pro Bowl don dara uair dhéag. Chuaigh siad go dtí an Playoffs ach chaill siad go dtí na ‘Baltimore Ravens’. Buaidh Peyton an ‘Comeback Player of the year’ an bhlian seo thar Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson Tháining Adrian Peterson go dtí an NFL uimhir a seacht sa draft. I 2007 a chéad bliain do na ‘Minesota Vikings’, bhris Peterson go leor de curiarrachta an NFL. I gcluiche amháin fuair sé 296 slat ag rith, an mead is mó i stair Peil Meirceánach. Dar le NFL.com bhí Peterson réite mar an tríú imreoir is fear, i ndiadh Tom Brady agus Peyton Manning ag tosú 2011. Ach ar an 24ú lá de mhí Nollaig srac Peterson a ACL agus a PCL agus bhí sé ar an dtaobhlíne do 8 mhí. Ansin tháinig Adrian Peterson ar ais! Chuir sé a fhoireann ar a droim agus d’iompar sé na ‘Vikings’ go dtí na Playoffs mar Wildcard. Chomh maith le sin tháining sé 9 slat gearr den curiarraicht do slat ag rith i mbliain amháin. Chaill sé an ‘Comeback player of the year’ ach buaidh sé ‘NFL MVP’. ACH bhí scéil níos fearr ann fós. Dúireadh an bhliain seo go raibh sé chun éirigh as ag deireadh na bliana. Chuir a fhoireann ‘The Baltimore Ravens’ Iarracht ollmhór agus bhuaidh siad an Superbowl. Ray Lewis Thosaigh Lewis a gairm NFL sa bhlian 1996. Feictear do gach duine go raibh sé imreoir an-sheasmhach, agus i 1997 fuair sé a chéad probowl agus lean sé é seo do 4 bhliana ina dhiadh. Bhí sé beagnach chuirtear i bpriosún mar gheall ar dúnmharú a tharla timpeall na háite ach ní raibh go leor fhianaise ina gcoinne ach amháin an fuil I Limo
Lewis. Tar éis seo seas sé os ard agus thosaigh sé ag obair níos mó agus chas sé a mheoin chuig a chreidimh i nDia. An bhlian seo cuirtear ar Madden é 13 ag déanamh óráid: ‘Dúirtear liom go bhfuil mé ró bheag, níl mé mór go leor, níl mé tapaigh go leor, nach bhfuil mé maith go leor. Chun a bheith an duine is fearr agus fan ansin, tá allas riachtanach. Bhí cnoc ag Walter agus Jerry, ní riamh a bheith compóirdeach le maith go leor. Ullmhaíonn mé so ní féidir le aon duine bheith i gcobharacht ar m’aigne, nó mo chroí … Fág do marc!’ Chaill Lewis beagnach leath an bhlian, mar ar an 14 de Deireadh Fómhar, srac Lewis a bicep. Agus bhí máinliacht aige trí lá ina dhiadh. Níor tháining sé ar ais go dtí an 6ú lá d’Eanair. Ceithre lá roimhe dúirt sé go raibh sé chun éirigh as ag deireadh na bliana. Tháinig Lewis ar ais do na Playoffs. Le Lewis mar ceannaire bhí an bua acu in aghaidh na Colts, i ‘double overtime’ in aghaidh na Broncos agus ansin arís i gcoinne na Patriots. Bhí na Ravens i Superbowl XLVII! Bhí na Ravens 21-6 suas ag leath
am agus ansin rith Jones é ar ais do 108 slat do touchdown ag tús an dara leath. 28-6 go dtí na Ravens. Ansin mhúch na soilsí sa staid. Tháinig na 49ers ar ais i ndiadh chun an scór a bheith 28-23. Chríoch an cluiche ag 34-31. Bhuaigh Lewis an superbowl ar a cluiche deirneach. Ní féidir leat scéalta cosúil le sin a fháil i mblian amháin i spóirt ar bith. Níos fearr nó sin, friesin, ná de ghnáth
buann foireann difiriúl an Superbowl gach blian mar faigheann an foireann is measa an chéad phioc de imreoirí nua. Beidh an Draft linn go luath agus feictear cé acu a beidh an ‘Rookie’ chun féachaint ar, agus beidh níos mó scéalta mar sin. Go dtí sin is dócha caithfinn féachaint ar peileadóirí ag ligint orthu go bhfuil pilléar greamaithe áit éigin ina chorp.
Gluais Drochbhlas..................................................bad taste Foireann.................................................................team Imreoirí-............................................................players Greamaithe..........................................................stuck
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The University Observer | 5 March 2013
USI and Constitutional Referendum - February 25th and 26th Elections to UCDSU executive - March 6th and 7th. Polling in all colleges. More information on www.ucdsu.ie
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
Kill.i.an: Opinions on the offence
The Valentimes: Weblebrities
And the Oscar for most easily offended goes to … writes Killian Woods
veryday I wake up and like most of my generation, I lie on my side and look at my phone to check the meagre social media developments that happened since I went to bed at 2:00am. I follow up that craving with a glance at the headlines. You never know what might have happened overnight. Jennifer Lawrence may have fallen on a stairs or the whole internet might be ganging up on Seth McFarlane. You just never know. A caveat to those thinking about embracing this morning routine is that looking at Twitter before 9:00am is by no means cognitively healthy and is a bad start to any day. It leads to overexposure to some of the stupidest opinions that manifest themselves out in the wastelands of the internet. Even though I’m an advocate of everyone in society giving their two-cents in 140 characters, I abhor how easily people get offended and broadcast it freely A perfect case point is the tirade of criticism and abuse that rained down on Seth McFarlane following the Oscars for what people adjudged to be a string of distasteful jokes. He was criticised for his opening song-and-dance number called ‘We Saw Your Boobs’, where he listed off actresses that have revealed their breasts in movies, which supposedly enraged the Hollywood actress community. Like best actress award winner on the night, Jennifer Lawrence, remarked after the show, “I loved the boob song, I thought [Seth MacFarlane] was great!”, I don’t see the issue. When these groundbreaking subject matters hit my timeline, all I have to contribute are what I feel are inane questions like, ‘So, those actresses revealed their breasts and he’s not making it up. Then why can’t we make jokes about it?’ and ‘Can we only acknowledge that they showed their breasts if we appreciate it as an art form?’ Another of his apparently repugnant jokes highlighted a serious problem such as Chris Brown being ingratiated back into celebrity life despite a domestic abuse charges being brought against the rapper. Referring to the plot of Django Unchained, McFarlane mused that it was “the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who has been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie.” His wit in this instance was wasted on the crowd, only drawing applause from Robert Downey Jr. and being listed as one of the “9 Sexist Things” to happen at the Oscars by Buzzfeed. However, his most notable gag from the night involved Quvenzhané Wallis. The nine year old, who was nominated for best actress for her performance in Beasts of the Southern Wild, was used as bait to taunt George Clooney as McFarlane quipped, “To give you an idea of how young she is, it’ll be 16 years until she’s too old for Clooney.” I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to his defence for the latter because sexualising an actress so young isn’t appropriate, however, that doesn’t mean I
didn’t find it very funny. Although it is an inappropriate joke, it is still a funny joke and no amount of offence taken or criticisms branded will change the fact that George Clooney dates women less than half his age. In a column for Vulture.com, Margaret Lyons wrote, “I’ll tell you what’s not helping: the biggest night in film being dedicated to alienating, excluding and debasing women. Actual gender equality is a ways away, but I’d settle for one four-hour ceremony where women aren’t being actively degraded.” Similarly, Amy Davidson of The New Yorker wrote in regards to the ‘We Saw Your Boobs’ number, “The women were not showing their bodies to amuse Seth MacFarlane but, rather, to do their job. Or did they just think they were doing serious work? You girls think you’re making art, the Academy, through MacFarlane, seemed to say, but all we, and the “we” was resolutely male, really see is that we got you to undress.” It’s only a personal opinion, so don’t harass me for having it, but those two previous extracts are a perfect example of how sensitive society has become about making jokes. Due to the widespread accessibility to events such as the Oscars and the ability to scrutinise and vex an opinion on the internet, the desire for a perfect politically correct culture has gone into overdrive. It has gotten to a stage where no one even understands why they are offended any more. And a result of this ambiguity is that the rat race to be offended causes people to clamber over each other in a frenzy to be the first to hold the moral high ground on the latest controversial issue. However, just because you’re offended, that doesn’t mean you’re right or gives you justification to dismiss someone else expressing themselves or in this case, making a few jokes. Opinions should be grounded in having a logical solution to what you are moaning about. The main solution I’ve come across has been don’t tell jokes at the Oscars any more and let Amy Poehler and Tina Fey host the awards. I agree that they would make excellent hosts and were underutilised at the Golden Globes, yet suggesting this solution hints that the only apparent problem is men and can only be solved by women taking over roles such as these. Which reminds me of a joke in their opening monologue at the Golden Globes. Speaking about Les Miserables Tina Fey quipped, “Anne [Hathaway] shot her big Les Mis song all in one tight close-up. And she said that it was really difficult performing with a camera so close to her face.” “Well”, Amy Poehler responded, “She’s never going to make it in porn.” “I don’t think she has any plan to do porn, Amy” said Fey, to which Poehler replied, “None of us have plans to do porn”. Is that unnecessary sexualisation of women? What would the reaction be if Seth McFarlane said that? I’ll give you a minute to gather yourself and get offended.
After Jenna Marbles’ visit last week, Aoife Valentine argues that internet celebrities are people too
“Just because she’s on the internet doesn’t necessarily make her less talented than those who do what they do on a stage; the medium is just different, and it’s a medium that many prefer to say, television”
“It has gotten to a stage where no one even understands why they are offended anymore”
ast week saw the L&H’s James Joyce Award presented to Jenna Marbles, a YouTube personality. More people than I’ve ever seen queue for anything in my four years in UCD stood in a line wrapping around the old student centre, for over five hours, in a bid to see her in the flesh. So many people, in fact, that a Skypehosted live-stream of the event was organised to cater for students who didn’t fit into an already overflowing Astra Hall, and were waiting around the Atrium of the student centre. It is very difficult at the moment to get students to be excited about anything. With the demise of the bar, it seems students see little reason to stay on campus after hours, and it has been noted innumerate times this year how empty society events and debates have been, while even the re-opening of the bar saw poor attendance. The social side of UCD has all but dissipated, yet is seeing just under a thousand students not only attend an event, but wait around for hours for it to happen not the sign of something great happening on campus? However, a small furore surrounded her visit, and the majority of it centred around whether people who created their own fame on the internet are really worthy of our time and/or praise. A number of students vehemently argued that Jenna Marbles receiving the award was disrespectful to James Joyce himself, and everything he stood for. While it’s not for me to decide what James Joyce may or may not have stood for, especially having barely made it through the one book of his I’ve read, it’s worth noting that the award is completely made up purely to bring in people who have excelled in or are well known in their respective fields. Their many and varied fields. You don’t get anything for it besides a piece of paper and a frame, and you have to give a talk to students to actually receive it. No one said you has ever said you had to be the next Joyce to receive this (fake) award. It’s been given to musicians, actors, comedians, writers, sportspeople, politicians and activists. It’s been given to everyone from Noam Chomsky to JK Rowling to Gary Lineker to Alan Rickman, and more often than not, its recipients haven’t been any way involved with literature or novels. Jenna Marbles is the first in the field of YouTube personalities to receive the award, and no one can argue she hasn’t excelled. Having racked up almost a billion video views and over seven million subscribers, she’s the third most subscribed to channel on the website. The problem is less to do with a measure of her success on YouTube, but a measure compared to every other person who was ever famous for anything. It should be noted that that is quite a wide scope and includes the entire Kardashian family, and many of the bikini models you find hanging around Stephen’s Green. In fairness, a quick Google search to find out about internet celebrities doesn’t leave you inspired to believe in
its validity, with many, many articles about how to become one. The main suggestions include ‘go on the internet’, ‘take pictures of yourself next to cool stuff like uglydolls and cupcakes’, ‘write about how popular you are and how busy you are replying to everyone even if you aren’t’ and ‘copy other people in ways that aren’t noticeable’. While these may land you some efame, it’s likely that that fame will only exist in the form of a meme. Really, it’s a question of talent, and if you’re simply Overly Attached Girlfriend or Good Guy Greg, then yes, I’m mortified for you, but many YouTubers have actual talent, even just as entertainers. If Jenna Marbles was on stage doing stand-up, and she remained as funny doing a full set as a string of videos, it’s likely that she’d be celebrated for being an amazing female comedian, but for some reason once that’s transferred onto your laptop screen, she’s just a weirdo at home in her bedroom making nonsense videos? That doesn’t make sense. Maybe 20 years ago it might have been understandable to be confused by a vlogger’s existence, but the internet is a really real thing now and in the eight years since YouTube’s founding, a lot of things have changed. Just because she’s on the internet doesn’t necessarily make her, or any internet celebrity, less talented than those who do what they do on a stage; the medium is just different, and it’s a medium that many prefer to say, television. Jenna has had offers of parts and auditions in TV shows, but she said herself that she just prefers making videos, being her own boss and interacting with her subscribers easily. That’s the thing about many successful people on YouTube or in blogs: they have so many followers because people like what they do and want to know them, but more than that, can feel like they know them. Because blogs and vlogs are more accessible than television or print or more traditional mediums, fans feel like celebrities are interacting with them constantly. It’s far more personal than anything else. People don’t put YouTubers on as high a pedestal because they are accessible and they feel like they could be friends with them, and that is shown when you look at the sheer number of people who arrived at the Astra Hall last Wednesday. David O’Doherty, an Irish comedian who had a TV show on RTÉ a few years ago, only half-filled Astra Hall an hour later, while Des Bishop, a comedian who gets a new series on RTÉ every other year, couldn’t fill it either back in November, and no one questioned what they were doing on campus. While there are obvious differences between the two, you can’t argue the internet’s illegitimacy when it comes to people who have a talent of some description. The internet is a vast place and there is a lot of nonsense on it, and while, as with celebrities in traditional mediums, you can choose not to like people or you may not enjoy what they do, that doesn’t discredit the entire medium.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
editor @ universityobserver.ie
Op-Ed: Sarah Taaffe Maguire on the Ad Astra Academy With UCD’s Ad Astra Academy awarding scholarships to students who excel academically, Sarah Taaffe Maguire asks if this is the best way to reward students, or indeed, the best way to improve UCD
eceive six A1s or consistently rank at the top of your programme, and you will automatically become a member of UCD Ad Astra Academy. You are welcomed with €500 a semester, half your registration fee, half your campus accommodation fees (if you live at home, you get a quarter of campus accommodation cost), a conferral ceremony (complete with the requisite pomp and robes), an academic advisor (known as a Mentor) and invitation to events “designed to provide you with access to experts in skill”. The academy, established in 2011, has awarded 65 scholarships for the 20122013 academic year, 39 of which are academic. An adventurous scheme, the programme aims to expand to encompass approximately 100 students over the next two years. So, why has UCD decided they are in need of this venture? In the words of Director of Ad Astra Academic Scholars, Professor Liam Kennedy, the Academy exists to “foster academic potential in incoming and continuing students, supporting their progress” and is a place where students are “encouraged and mentored to develop their talent”. The UCD foundation website states that the academy was set up “to support and nurture the most talented UCD students”. It can be assumed, then, that the foundation felt UCD’s “most talented” students were not being sufficiently nurtured and were therefore not reaching their academic potential before the advent of the Academy. Already it becomes clear the venture is based on a flawed premise. Surely by being decreed as talented and meeting such high academic standards, Academy members are already reaching their lofty potential? What’s higher than being top of your year? Why, at the point when you are excelling, do you need your academic potential fostered and nurtured? If it’s nurturing that UCD is into, there are plenty of struggling students who would love the attention lavished on “the most talented”. Therein lies the second, and most pernicious, false premise: that academic success guarantees you are one of “the most talented UCD students”. It’s a grandiose statement make: to say that you are able to ascertain (and literally put money on) who are the most talented. Talent is not solely do-
ing well in exams and essays, yet the reward metric employed measures and rewards academic success alone. What is problematic about this is there is no issue with academic success not being both prized and rewarded. At the top of your class, you are rewarded with the knowledge that you are the best, academically, by the standards UCD sets. Getting straight As is a reward in and of itself. Employers hugely favour you; already your prospects are greater. While those who get 6 A1s are intelligent, given the rote learning, spoon-feeding and benefits of a good school, it does not mean they are exceptional. The same goes for continuing to get a first in university. Having parents who can afford for you not to need a job during your studies, living on or near campus and doing little else but study in college requires less talent than a student who has a job, commutes to college, battles illness, contributes significantly to UCD societies and still manages to achieve a 2.1 at the end of the year. Even if we were to agree that the Academy’s aims are worthwhile, two years in, have they been reached? Well, there’s no sure way of assessing that. Scholars have indeed received individual academic mentoring (albeit with some having to wait until Week 5 of second semester to meet their mentor), but many of the things the programme intended to do haven’t happened. The promised “early access to advanced modules” hasn’t happened. The promised participation in Universitas 21 network events hasn’t happened either, nor has access been granted to distinguished alumni. However, workshops and seminars given by academics, distinguished alumni and guest speakers and organised activities to bring together academically driven students all have happened. They can now cook together, isn’t that nice? The promised internships haven’t happened either, although having Ad Astra on a CV has helped get internships not offered through the programme. Having spoken to scholars, not all feel the benefits. Rather, they feel overwhelmed by the talks (every one requiring an RSVP even if you cannot attend) and innovation academies they feel obligated to attend. If they don’t attend, they feel their place in the academy is jeopardised. Most importantly in adjudicating the success of the venture, we must
Ahoy hackbags in gladrags,
Talleyrand is counting down the days by hours, hours by minutes, and minutes by seconds until the brimming enthusiasm of career mongering candidates and their feculent goons are no longer populating the concourse of this once noble institution. Congratulations to the hardworking trolls of both the USDie spectrums. You both managed to alienate yourselves even further from the student body with bothersome canvass tactics and juvenile squabbles amongst yourselves beside polling stations as the everyday student whose votes really mattered looked on in embarrassment. Ignoring the spats of conflict between those personality devoid USCry ground workers, Talleyrand was amazed to see some of the old hacks raise their fugly profile pictures on the internet to express their ill-informed opinions. Talleyrand had high hopes for Aodhan O’Duh and Donnacha Ó Move On when they were bright eyed sabrat candidates only five years ago. Who knew someone whose only talent is being fluent in a dead language led to zero job prospects. Time is precious, however, and should not be wasted on the old, it should be exhausted on the young.
Especially those fledgling electioneering faces on posters that you might recognise in a supermarket 20 years from now saying “Don’t I know that face?” Ciara “Always the bridesmaid” Johnson is the one candidate that doesn’t fill Talleyrand’s mouth with his Brava dinner and tear ducts with excess bile. However, Talleyrand isn’t too fond of her gender-neutral lavatories. Don’t get this commentator wrong, he is all for gender equality, but like a bathroom in d|two at 3:00am, the world in not ready to see a woman use a urinal. The splashback Ciara, think of the splashback. As for her running mate, Cian “25,000 Hugs” Dowling, Talleyrand is aghast to hear that the poor wel-fairy was reduced to a shaking mess at his candidacy interview with The University Observer editorial staff. His ideas are equally shaky but #CianCant means well when he promises to outsource students who require counselling to real-life professionals. Students can rest assured knowing that he is going to send out hundreds of emails until the problem is no more. Talleyrand is disappointed to see that two of the election races are uncontested this year. After years of wearisome work and drafting concession speeches, it will be nice to see RON finally grace the
look at whether UCD and its academic standards have gotten better. Have we reached a newer level of academic excellence? Are the excellent able to finally realise their under-nurtured potential and reach the stars? At best, maybe and at worst, the scheme is not working and is throwing thousands of euro at the scholars in the process. Certainly the evidence isn’t there. Rankings are not the ultimate measure of a university, but they are important, and UCD continues to slide lower and lower. Do students feel more challenged in their degrees? Speaking to scholars, they don’t. Has UCD attempted to raise the academic standard as they set out as a priority in the creation of the Ad Astra Academy? Again, unfortunately, that’s a no. Not even among this group of 39 does UCD set greater academically challenges. Even if they did, arguably that is not the way to make UCD excel or to make more attractive to the intelligence it is trying to recruit. Even if standards were raised for the Academy, that is not good enough. UCD should be aiming to help those who find themselves in the middle of the road and perhaps struggling. Raise them up to a higher standard. Put the money into tutorials for economics students. Pave the way for the classes in maths economics department like quantitative economics, which was a core subject for final year economics students but was scrapped approximately four years ago, that were a challenge to return, but help students to succeed. Give law undergrads feedback on their essays so they don’t make the same simple mistakes that keep the standard low. If UCD wish to move up the rankings, it is dubious as to whether creating an Academy will improve our institution. Other aspects of the college need to be looked at, such as its research, which is deemed more important in determining its rankings. Research scholarships are given already, but are in need of more funding to make a proper impact. Are the academic scholars good (or indeed, any)
value for money? Students will always get firsts and do well. As the scholars already get their good grades, giving them money doesn’t bring UCD or the scholars any benefit. Being the top of the class was possible without funding from UCD. As well as the scholars’ inability to improve UCD on a large scale and not being the best way to improve UCD, an important question to ask is why do they deserve special treatment and advancement? They’re already privileged. They’ve already had the capability to excel; intelligence, a family that has helped them through school, money to buy books. Why should we “advance [their] personal development” and not that of middle of the road or struggling students? Even if we could somehow prove tangible benefits to the scholars and to UCD, that overlooks the problems and harmful messages the Academy en forces. Limited academic success which doesn’t need t o be
winner’s podium. Even if it does feel like RON is the last bridesmaid to catch the bouquet, it is fitting that a pointless role such as Graduate Education Officer is filled by an imaginary candidate. As for the slug race that is the contest for Undergraduate Education Officer, Adam “The Second L is for Dildo” Carroll will have his work cut out to screw up this election. Nonetheless, his family has form in nearly achieving such feats. The lecherous Beer Barrel Carroll’s close cousin Sam “It’s a Yoghurt Stain” Geoghegan conspired to nearly lose an uncontested election not two years ago. You can’t argue with genetics. From what Talleyrand has observed thus far, Sadam is on course to eclipse the achievements of his cousin and actually achieve an act of losing out to RON, leaving the latter with an embarrassment of riches to choose from come the end of the election count on March 8th. The Murse’s lethargic failure to submit a “Vote for me” article in The University Observer will not go unnoticed and speaking down to students who make inquiries in relation to his policies will do nothing to endear this quarrelsome candidate to his electorate. Then again, where the KBC are involved, there is a way. Exhausting his satire on the ineptitude of other candidates, Talleyrand turns his sights to our candidate for supreme leader, Mícheál “Furhurious” Gallagher, who stunned Facebook over the weekend with his indignant outrage at being compared to Hitler in a Downfall parody video created by his electoral
opponent. So appalled was he at this unfair comparison, that he immediately began censoring all comments and commenters who dared whisper to MicHeil that it might be an incredible overdone joke from five years ago. Upon seeing the reaction he deleted his original comment, replacing it with one saying he can take a joke and that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia. Lastly, Talleyrand will raise an eyebrow at the scurrilous Aidan “Has funny friends” Kelly. Editorial constraints means that Talleyrand is obliged to offer his political commentary on the serious candidates initially and then leave any remaining column inches to address the purportless ripostes of joke candidates. Word filtered to Talleyrand’s phantom lair of the endearing bulletin Aidan “Never Going to Get Laidfest” Kelly left for yours truly. A well-crafted and finely composed retort that would deserve at least a morsel of recognition if every word in the message weren’t bastardised by a thesaurus. Nevertheless,
praised. UCD Elite Athlete Scholars do reward sports achievements but only a select few, and is mostly comprised of those who represent on an international level. There are many things within UCD that get no recognition but give much. Students who work, commute, give to UCD activities, balance illness and manage to keep up that 2.1 need acknowledgement, thanks and praise, not just the academically strong. Rewarding excellence must be balanced with fostering elitism. Here the Academy has done the latter while not so much as attempting to help the majority. Recognition can be granted without further privileging the privileged. A President’s list (like that in the University of Limerick) is an additional plus for a CV, tells the student UCD values them but requires no additional spending and no creation of a two tier system. There are alternatives, and perhaps UCD should be looking for them.
r e warded, is. There are thankless things that give so much to the college and the college experience that need rewarding, that are rarely even though his satirical aura is about as funny as Dug from Up on fire in a concentration camp, Talleyrand would like to commend him on achieving the feat of reaching polling week. Not since 2011 has a joke candidate made it to polling week, and with a stroke of luck maybe Aidan “#WitlessFool” Kelly can equal the exploits of Brendan “If x=6, calculate for Year X” Lacey. Tallyho Talleyrand
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
Quotes of the Fortnight
editor @ universityobserver.ie
“People often claim we are in a golden age of freedom and democracy, but if your only choice is two people who hold the same objectives, how is that any different to subjugation? At least in a dictatorship the people aren’t told it’s their fault for putting him there”
or the last couple of weeks UCD has been deep in ‘democracy mode’. Last Wednesday saw the culmination of a surprisingly bitter campaign on UCDSU’s affiliation to the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), with both the Yes and No sides using every available argument and resource to fight for their side. Facebook and Twitter were consumed by it, with any reports even near the topic becoming swallowed up by sniping back and forth. It was one of the most active and visible campaigns in my memory, and on polling day the campus was littered with t-shirted campaigners trying to redirect you into the voting station. At the end of it all the No side gained a decisive victory, and student turn out was... 11%. Another victory for democracy. The appeal of democracy is that we get to chose our leaders and set the agenda, but really there’s almost no choice at all. Nationally, with Fianna Fáil gaining support support again, the papers and news sites are asking us who should be the next leader, Enda Kenny or Mícheál Martin, when both the parties and the men are completely interchangeable. As outlined in Evan O’Quigley’s Comment piece about Fianna Fáil’s renewed favour, Ireland has never had a political spectrum in the way other
nations do. There is no left or right, no conservative or liberal, there is only two centre-right parties hatched from the same political egg back in the war of independence. There is no difference politically, because they were only divided around being for or against a treaty with Britain, an issue which should have stopped being relevant in 1948 when we were declared a republic, but somehow still defines Irish politics despite everyone who was around at the split being long dead. In UCD, it’s no different. There is so little engagement between the Union and the average student, that when a referendum or election is called, only a fraction of students vote despite the borderline harassment of campaigners. Often an ‘I voted’ sticker is the only way to get to class but the vast majority of students still don’t bother. In this year’s sabbatical elections I imagine the interest will also be slight, especially. While we still await news of a byelection for the Postgraduate Education Officer, the newly created office which received no nominations the first time around, there remains three positions with just five people going for them. Considering one of these is a joke candidate who hasn’t put up any posters, handed out any manifestos, refuses to attend any debates and will likely
pull out of the race should there be any it’s hard not to feel ignored. Despite indication he could by some accident 80% of the country demanding legislawin, it is fair to say that only one race, tion on the X Case, despite 20 years of Welfare, is seriously contested. Other dawdling, and despite a woman dying, than that, you really only have the nothing seems to be happening. The choice to vote to Re-Open Nominations public will could not be clearer, but and start the whole hideous process all other than continuing to shout about it, over again. we have little recourse. We can’t vote in The pool of students which partici- other people, because they all hold the pate in these elections is so small that same views, or at least, they do publicly. for the most part the deciding factor Even when they apparently agree with is ‘who has the most friends?’. Who the public they claim they can’t act due can get more friends to put up posters to political negotiations. in the morning, and harangue people On the broader issues such as the into voting for them, and bore people economy it’s even more frustrating. Fibefore lectures? The more people you anna Fáil may complain about the varihave on your team, the more likely you ous things Fine Gael does, but that’s are to win. But is that a good way to de- entirely because they’re in opposition cide the person who will be handling and it’s their job to complain. They emergency assistance money, or lobby- never suggest alternatives and when ing the college about library hours? It returned to office, will continue doing hardly seems a relevant qualification. the exact same things. Labour may proBut then it’s not much different to the fess alternative opinions, but they have way international elections are decided been a part of government for years by who has the most money. now and have achieved nothing. Where When there is no real choice, living is the choice? You don’t even have the in a democracy feels very meaningless. college option of re-opening nominaThe right to vote is something people tions. People often claim we are in a have died for, and while it feels par- golden age of freedom and democracy, ticularly careless as a women to ques- but if your only choice is two people tion the need for a vote, it can feel futile. who hold the same objectives, how is There are areas where voting can make that any different to subjugation? At a difference and change is being made least in a dictatorship the people aren’t in areas such as equality. But it is infu- told it’s their fault for putting him there. riatingly gradual, and for the most part At least they know they are not free.
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Volume XIX Issue X Telephone: (01) 716 3835/3837 Email: email@example.com www.universityobserver.ie The University Observer is printed at Webprint Concepts Limited Mahon Retail Park Cork Ireland
“Which side sounds better? I think I’m going to stick with shunting blame on everyone else” Aidan Kelly on presidential morality
“My favourite thing about the whole campaign so far is to get the message around that I’m going for a position” Cian Dowling on his values
“The most expensive thing I own are my shoes, and like, Marbles? I don’t know, I bought my best friend. Think about that. It’s slavery!”
“I like UCD an awful lot. Is now when I say ‘Boo Trinity College’?” Jenna Marbles on college rivalries
The editor reserves the right to edit any letters. All letters are subject to editorial approval.
Queries and clarifications can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Carroll on financial soundness
Jenna Marbles on pet ownership
Clarifications & Corrections
“I think that yes it needs to be cost effective, but in order for it to be cost effective money needs to be spent”
Deputy Editor Aoife Valentine Art, Design and Technology Director Conor Kevin O’Nolan Chief Designer Gary Kealy Assistant Designer Aoife Valentine News Editors Daniel Keenan Yvanne Kennedy Deputy News Editor Sean O’Grady Comment Editor Evan O’Quigley
Features Editor Sean Finnan Deputy Features Editor Nicole Casey Science & Health Editor Emily Longworth Irish Editor Charlotte Ní Eatún Sports Editor Kevin Beirne Chief Writers Ethan Troy-Barnes Jack Walsh Killian Woods Staff Writers Steven Balbirnie Conor Luke Barry Bronagh Carvill Isobel Fergus James Kelly Laura Woulfe
Contributors Enrique Anarte Lazo The Badger Andrew Carolan Robert Dunne Michael hEineachain Stephen Heffernan Conor Keegan Niall Lane Maeve Montague Catherine Munnelly Robert Ranson Sarah Taaffe Maguire Talleyrand Edith Wong Chief Photographer Caoimhe McDonnell Photographers Luke Etherton Brien O’Leary Election Panel Steven Balbirnie Conor Luke Barry
Kevin Beirne Evan O’Quigley Emer Sugrue Aoife Valentine Jack Walsh Killian Woods Special Thanks Eilis O’Brien Dominic Martella Giselle Jiang Deirdre Carr Dominic, Grace, Charlie, Jason, Aifric and all the Student Centre Staff Tony, Laura and all the Webprint staff Very Special Thanks Balazs Pete, Sam Dunne and all the robots at NetSoc, Teresa Alonso Cortes, Dave Connolly, Conor Luke Barry, Yvanne Kennedy, Casey Lehman, Ruth McCourt, Conor O’Toole.
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
The Badger: The Badger fights for feminism
he Badger could have easily popped out a couple of hundred words on Paddy Jackson’s permanent ‘I’m about to shit myself’ face this week. Or The Badger could comment on the fact that Oscar Pistorius has been released on Bale, as The Badger understands that the Tottenham star isn’t too pleased with the arrangement. Instead, The Badger will talk about fighting. Now The Badger has been in many fights in his lifetime. Big fights. Does fight night in Madison Square Garden mean anything to you? Well, The Badger has fought people on the street outside of there. Also, during his brief employment as a talent scout for a prominent Swiss football club, The Badger had to fight charges of paedophilia (in retrospect, The Badger shouldn’t have told everybody that he was “scouting for Young Boys”). So The Badger has a place in his heart for combat sports. With the removal of wrestling from the 2020 Olympics, combat sports were dealt a blow. The fact is that boxing is not as big a draw as it used to be, while the rest of the combat sports get very little global attention. The Badger holds a special place in his heart for Greco-Roman wrestling. The sport, invented by Zeus when he accidentally threw a lightning storm at a giant bottle of aggression and testosterone, was one of the original Ancient Greek Olympic games. It is, in all likelihood, the original sport, and has remained a man’s sport ever since (the female Greco-Roman Olympic finals were the only events in London that didn’t sell out, such was the disinterest). Manly and slightly homoerotic, the sport equivalent of Top Gun, has definite single gender connotations. It’s only appropriate then that last week belonged to women’s combat sports. The Ronda Rousey-Liz Carmouche fight headlined the UFC 157 Pay-Per View, the first women’s fight to do so. While The Badger transcends all gender, it’s often said that The Badger is male-sport orientated, so The Badger will now adopt a more open view, adopting a Badgina if you will. However predictable the outcome, with Rousey winning once again by submission due to an armbar, a women’s fight headlined a PPV-card of the biggest MMA promotion on the planet. Female MMA now has a face for the promotion. Hard-working, talented, funny and charismatic, Rousey’s exactly what garners fresh interest in a sport, and let’s not beat around the bush here, it does help that Ronda Rousey is more on The Badger’s side of the sex-appealmeter than say, on the Snooki end. Now The Badger isn’t saying that this is a victory for feminism on par with when a recently-thinned Badger burned his bra in celebration and accidentally started a revolution, nor will it make up for wrestling’s exclusion from the 2020 Olympics, however it is a huge mainstream victory for women and combat sports, and that’s not something that occurs too regularly.
The Hogan Stance Jack Walsh sits down with former Irish rugby international Trevor Hogan to talk rugby, studying, Gaza and everything in between
s a player, Trevor Hogan witnessed the dominance of Munster rugby on a national and international level, and was a member of Leinster’s first successful Heineken Cup Campaign in 2008-2009. He even made three appearances for the national team. At the age of 16, he was drawn in by “the physical nature” of the game and enjoyed the fact that he “didn’t have to pull back in any area and you could really let loose all the aggression that you had.” “I had played soccer up until that point, and I was from a soccer obsessed family. I was growing tall so a couple of the lads said to me why don’t you go to the local club and give training a go… I remember the coach just propped the ball to us and said ‘just run at each other’ and, coming from a soccer background, it was just liberating.” What kept him interested in the game was the “camaraderie that develops very quickly… I think, maybe more so than in other sports, you feel like you are committing to a player, you are putting trust in your teammates, they are responsible for your safety.” Having secured a BA in Journalism from DCU, Hogan has seen both sides of the coin in terms of the nation’s obsession with rugby. He believes that the media has just as much of an effect on the Irish team as the Irish team has on the media. “They are interdependent… There was so much hype surrounding the Six Nations, especially around Ireland. The hype is huge, particularly coming in from a provincial [team]; you would have to multiply it by five or six. So if you do something good with Ireland, it becomes completely magnified and after the Welsh game, perhaps the players began to believe. And they were brilliant that day, [but] they couldn’t keep up the consistency that was needed for the next day.” But the media effect extends beyond building up a team too greatly, as Hogan notes: “when everything goes bad, it becomes an absolute crisis, which is what has happened. I do believe that players listen to the media.” Hogan be-
“There was so much hype surrounding the Six Nations, especially around Ireland. The hype is huge, particularly coming in from a provincial [team]; you would have to multiply it by five or six” lieves that neither the public nor the players should spend too much time listening to certain analysts. “You have the likes of George Hook, and the public are forced to depend on this for their insight, which really isn’t all that reliable. Alternatively, you could hear from pundits who are closer to the game and have an ear to the ground; the likes of Shane Horgan. So the relationship is very interdependent and it’s important that both sides don’t shut each other down, or else each in turn would suffer.” Hogan reflects fondly on his time at Munster, where he felt there was a clear plan of what was expected of him, describing it as “an aggressive mindset, all of the emphasis in Munster is on representing that community, and that was a huge emphasis there, and you felt like you couldn’t let anyone down... That has kind of always stood with me.” His favourite moment from his time at the club was the week following the province’s first Heineken Cup victory. “We still had a league game to play in 2006 and it was a really hard game for a lot of the lads because we were on such
Hogan with Mags O’Brien of SIPTU at a vigil for Gaza, New Year’s Eve, 2011 a high the week before, and a lot of the lads who hadn’t got a chance to play the previous week were out. “We played a great game against Cardiff and the crowd in Thomond Park, they all came on the pitch afterwards, and the Heineken Cup came out and the lads who were leaving were brought up into the stand and we were all made to sing a song in front of the whole crowd, well sing is probably the wrong word to use, I shouted out ‘Sliabh na mBan’, which is an old Tipperary song. Looking back, I was so proud to be able to do that.” His reasons for leaving his home province for Leinster were justified; a studded second row meant few opportunities for the young man, and meeting Michael Cheika and seeing his “pure determination and obsession with bringing a winning culture to Leinster” would convince him to join the start of a Leinster revolution, that became a reign of dominance within the Heineken Cup; resulting in three Heineken Cup wins in the span of just four years. “Initially, Leinster had the idea of playing a much more expansive game, Munster had a much greater focus in playing the physical nature of their pack and playing territory, and that has totally changed in the last few years. When I came to Leinster, they were really emphasising bringing that element, the pack, the foundations from the forwards and not to have a split between the backs and the forwards in the game play. So it was a real emphasis on building that foundation in the pack... You could see the style of game Leinster played had evolved from that and was much more rounded and the threats from Leinster now can come from all over the field.” In 2011, Hogan was forced into an early retirement due to a persistent knee injury. He described the early days of retirement as “a huge vacuum in your life”, which he says he immediately tried to fill with study. “I was lucky to get into UCD with
two modules I was able to do, just to try and fill the hole in your life. I was using college to try and transition and to cushion the impact… I almost replaced rugby with books and instead of training I was just studying constantly, maybe going overboard too much.” He knows better than anyone about perhaps the most important part of a player’s career; the ending. He says that he has found help in his retirement, as “an insurance scheme, for example, has allowed me to go back and study, but the IRFU insurance policy possibly doesn’t give enough for [retired players] to secure themselves outside of that. “I mean, if you look at the last two years, the amount of high profile players having to retire, so it just really shows the impact of the physical nature of the game that it can take on a person.” He says, as he explains the improvements being made every day in terms of monitoring the players’ health on a day-to-day basis. “There are great facilities, excellent medical staff, and the conditioning staff are really taking things to a huge new level. Players are monitored, their blood is taken… everything is checked. Yet even with all of this, all the many precautions that are in place, there will be players that will be forced into retirement. “Even if they don’t retire to injury, when they do retire, it’s still a massive shock, and there is a great players union called IRUPA, who have great structures in place. Because it’s not like soccer; you have to go back to square one when you finish. You probably have a fair few lads who are fully qualified and have abilities to get into a job, and they have to start from scratch.” Despite his success as a player and student, Hogan’s most endearing success was his participation in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the MV Saoirse, in late 2011. He describes the experience as “a unity of purpose” and feels that he made bonds there that are stronger than any he ever made on the field. “Coming from a rugby background,
“I was lucky to get into UCD with two modules I was able to do, just to try and fill the hole in your life. I was using college to try and transition and to cushion the impact… I almost replaced rugby with books” I’ve always tried to have a positive outlook on things and each day on the flotilla we kept incredibly positive approach; that we were going to get to Gaza and that the Israeli’s wouldn’t act illegally and come into international waters and take our ship.” The flotilla was unsuccessful in reaching Gaza, yet Hogan continues to work with Gaza Action Ireland in building links between Ireland and Gaza. One of these is, unsurprisingly, a sporting link, as he says “we’re looking at possibly having a team… play in a mini tournament here in Ireland. It’s all underage kids, and they would never have the opportunity to leave Gaza, so that would be great to show solidarity, so this is a small effort and attempt to try and have some normality.” From his early days back playing with Nenagh Ormond RFC, to his work in Gaza, Trevor Hogan has led a life unlike any other. Whatever steps he takes next, he’s sure that he will blaze his own trail. “One thing I learned from rugby was that if you can do something you love, then it makes life just so much easier.”
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
View from the top Robert Ranson looks at just why it’s so difficult to maintain a sporting dynasty
hatever can be said about Alex Ferguson’s failings as a human being, it cannot be denied that he has been extraordinarily successful at keeping Manchester United at the top end of the Premier League for over two decades. Many argue that Ferguson’s success is based on two factors: that he has been given complete control over his team and that when he first took over he was given time, a luxury not afforded to many managers these days with the modern game seemingly enthralled to a culture of instant gratification and knee-jerk reactions. The arrival of Sky and the advent of the ‘Premier League’ as a brand ensured a much greater degree of media attention focused on the competition. It is often said that the media’s default setting is hysteria and this means they are not prone to considered and proportionate responses to football results. Every loss by a big side must be labelled a ‘crisis’ and every victory achieved with a new manager must be due to his brilliance, as if they had never heard of the term ‘reversion to the mean’; essentially, a team in a bad run of form cannot go on losing indefinitely and there comes a point where the law of averages applies and results in a victory. However, what generally happens to a manager in the Premier League when his team has a bad run of form is that he is sacked. A new manager is appointed and inevitably achieves an instant, yet (and this is a fact normally ignored) temporary, improvement in form. After this, the team reverts to the mean and results stabilise to a level similar to before. Alas, the impression had taken hold that sacking the manager had a positive effect, even if time may reveal it to be merely a dead cat bounce. This sacking
“Every loss by a big side must be labelled a ‘crisis’ and every victory achieved with a new manager must be due to his brilliance, as if they had never heard of the term ‘reversion to the mean’” culture is of course the antithesis to the concept of successful sporting dynasties. Alex Ferguson was infamously one game away from his P45 before Marl Robins scored and the rest, as the cliché goes, is history. The recent success of West Bromwich Albion seems to contradict the argument that granting a manager complete control and a long tenure is the key to success. For much of the last decade, West Brom were a classic example of the ‘yo-yo’ club; gaining promotion to the Premier League one year, only to suffer relegation the next. Roberto di Matteo took them up in 2010 playing attractive, flowing football; as had been the norm at the Hathorns since the days of Tony Mowbray. But after a poor run of form, Di Matteo was sacked and Roy Hodgson was appointed in his stead. Many felt this sacking was harsh and endemic of the culture discussed above, but under Hodgson there was no reversion to the mean; the club stabilised and rose up the league. Hodg-
son had instilled a defensive discipline and organisation that had been lacking under Di Matteo, who favoured a more expansive approach. The team now had the best of both worlds with a solid defence and a fluid attack. In June 2012, Hodgson left West Brom for the England job and Steve Clarke was appointed as his replacement. Clarke had worked under a succession of managers at Stamford Bridge, Upton Park and Anfield and had undoubtedly learned something from all. His West Brom team progressed even further than before, incorporating pace, pressure and tempo into their game and rose to the heady heights of 4th in the league. There has since been a reversion and they find themselves in 8th position but the point remains that this team had benefitted rather than suffered from its regular change of manager. The manager must also work in tandem with a technical director. Dan Ashworth director has the final say over transfers and contracts although he works in consultation with the manager. This ensures a degree of continuity and the club does not fall prey to the whims of individual managers who wish to alter the entire set-up and playing staff. This contrasts with the shambles at QPR, who have given complete control to a farcical number of managers recently. The club now has nigh on 50 senior professionals on its books, with its expenditure on wages dwarfing its turnover. Whilst the maxim remains that continuity and stability are crucial to success, this does not necessarily have to refer to managers but, rather, the general structure of a club. This has been the system in continental Europe for years with technical directors possessing power over financial decisions at a club and the manager performing more
“It seems the days of one-man dynasties are over, as the corporate owners of football clubs become increasingly reluctant to cede complete control over to one man” of a coaching role. The system relies on harmony between the two employees but the manager is regarded as the
more disposable. It seems the days of one-man dynasties are over, as the corporate owners of football clubs become increasingly reluctant to cede complete control over to one man. This brings us to the great Shakespearean tragic hero: Arsène Wenger. Wenger has been given complete control of Arsenal, however his own dogmatic insistence on financial prudence has seen Arsenal slide further away from contention with every passing year. With each year, Wenger greater resembles the mad King Lear. Perhaps, responsibility for retaining a dynasty is too much for one man and the days of governance by committee are upon us. Undoubtedly, Ferguson would treat such a notion with utter contempt, but who’s to say that upon his retirement, the cries won’t be, ‘The king is dead, long live the kings’?
Helping sport out of the closet Kevin Beirne examines the lack of prominent gay sports icons
t is an old joke about physical sports that there is a homoerotic undercurrent to them. Many a not-so-keen viewer has claimed that the over-hyped masculinity of sports such as rugby and wrestling is purely due to an ignored desire amongst its competitors to experience something more sexual with their opponent. As far as this ‘theory’ goes, it’s little more than a throwaway line recycled by people who want to get a rise out of their friends. But why does it get a rise out of most sports fans? Why do sports fans get so touchy when the sexuality of anyone in their sport is questioned? Maybe it is because of the percep-
tion of homosexual people in society. If you were to make the same accusations against a female sports team, you would most likely get a very different reaction. In sports, masculinity is demanded, and being attracted to men is seen as the least manly thing someone can do. Back in 1990, Justin Fashanu became the first English footballer to openly come out as gay. This was an incredibly brave decision for the first black footballer to ever command a £1 million transfer fee. He was publicly disowned by his brother John, himself a former footballer. In the 23 years since, no other professional footballer in England has had
to courage to come out of the closet. His career had been on the decline for some time before his confession, and never recovered after it. In May 1998, Justin Fashanu was found hanged in a deserted garage, amid allegations of sexual assault, which, it was later revealed, had been dropped. So far, Fashanu remains the only globally recognised footballer to come out during his career, with Olivier Royeur coming out at the age of 54, while former-US footballer Robbie Rogers came out at the same time he retired. Ex-rugby international Gareth Thomas is perhaps the most successful sports person to come out as gay. The former Welsh rugby player amassed an
astonishing 100 caps for his country in rugby union, four caps in rugby league and even appeared three times for the British and Irish Lions. At one point, he was the most-capped player in Welsh history, and captained the team to their first Grand Slam in 27 years. Unlike Fashanu, Thomas has gained huge amounts of public support from all corners. Perhaps it is because he had made a name for himself in a sport like rugby. He has proven time and time again that he could stand toe-totoe with any challenger. He never once backed down. Another factor in Thomas’ public support could well be the timing; coming out of the closet in 2009 was a very different proposition to doing the same thing in 1990. Public perception has changed greatly over the last twenty or so years, but yet athletes are still so reluctant to identify themselves as gay.
“Back in 1990, Justin Fashanu became the first English footballer to openly come out as gay… In the 23 years since, no other professional footballer in England has had to courage to come out of the closet” Looking at the statistics for the population as a whole, where it is often said that one out of every ten people is gay, it is hard to believe that there aren’t more gay sportsmen who have yet to identify themselves, for fear of what it might do to their career. Basically, there is a fear that exists in our society about coming out of the closet that is multiplied greatly for pro-
fessional athletes for a number of reasons; the macho-nature of sports discourages any players from coming out of the closet, as does the public scrutiny that comes with a high-profile professional career. You need not look any further than our own shores for an example of an openly-gay male athlete competing at the highest level. In 2009, Cork goalkeeper Dónal Óg Cusack announced that he was gay in his autobiography, titled Come What May. The three-time All-Ireland winner and two-time All Star said that the support of his teammates was what helped him finally come out to the public, although he claims that he never really struggled with the idea himself. Having only a handful of gay athletes to choose from as inspiration for the young gay athletes in Ireland is still better than what is on offer across the Atlantic. Of the major American sports, there is yet to be one current athlete to come out of the closet. Even though there are no athletes out yet, there is definitely a feeling that gay athletes are present. During this year’s NFL Combine, where NFL teams get a look at some of the country’s best college players, one player claimed he was asked about his sexuality by two different teams. Whether or not this is true, the fact that it is being widely reported in the media shows that others are wondering the same thing. Many have been quick to criticise the teams who are asking these questions, but there is some logic to it. An optimist might say that the team are looking to offer support to any young, gay athletes, while the pessimist in most of us suspects that few teams want to risk upsetting the current players by introducing a gay player to the fold. You never know, there might already be a player out there for your favourite team who is carrying more than just the pressure of the game on his shoulders. We can only hope that there is a positive environment for them, should they choose to come out.
OSbserver P O R T SPORT
The University Observer | 5 March 2013
SPORTS DIGEST GAA
Soccer UCD AFC secured their second consecutive Collingwood Cup after beating UCC 1-0 on Thursday. David McMillan scored the game’s solitary goal as UCD made it through the tournament with only conceding a single goal. Having received a first round bye, UCD saw off Mary Immaculate of Limerick 2-0, thanks to a late goal from Niall Wright, which was soon followed by a Cillian Morrison strike that was almost an own goal, as an attempted clearance by a Mary I defender just forced the ball further into the net. The semi-final saw UCD overcome the hosts University of Ulster Jordanstown by a score of 2-1, having pulled their way back from a 0-1 deficit in the first half. Sami Belhout and Cillian Morrison were the goal-scorers this time. The Cup victory, the biggest in Irish university soccer, gives UCD AFC some momentum going into their League of Ireland campaign, which kicks off against Bohemians on Friday March 8th in Dalymount Park at 7.45pm.
Dance UCD hosted the 2013 Dance Intervarsities competition last Tuesday in the O’Reilly Hall. In all, five categories were contested by 11 universities from all over Ireland: Irish dancing, hiphop, jazz, lyrical and mixed piece. UCD won the first competition of the day, Irish dancing, ahead of DCU in second and UL in third. The hip-hop was won by overall winners DCU, as UCD finished in second with UL again finishing in third. UCD also picked up third place in the third contest of the day, jazz, falling behind UL in second and first-placed UCC. The final two categories, lyrical and mixed piece, were won by UCC and DCU respectively. Of the five categories, lyrical was the only one in which UCD did not place, with Trinity finishing in second while NUI Maynooth came third. In the mixed piece, second place UCD finished ahead of third place Trinity.
Rugby UCD RFC thrashed eighth-placed Dungannon by a score of 84-15 away from home last Saturday. The win keeps UCD in second place, eight points behind the league leading Ballynahinch, but only one point ahead of rivals Dublin University. The 12 try thrashing would have been enough for three bonus points, as UCD built on the momentum of the previous week’s victory in the Colours game against Dublin University. UCD now boast the second best offensive and defensive records in the league, and have also achieved a bonus point in over half their matches. Collidge now have a two week break until they face Buccaneers, who lie in fourth place, on the 16th of March in the Belfield Bowl. Buccaneers were the last team to beat UCD, who are on a five game winning streak, after they squeezed out a five-point win at home in early January.
Women’s sport deserves better funding: An open letter to UCD Jenna Guerin talks to Kevin Beirne about the difficulties of running a successful sports club on a short budget
he UCD women’s soccer team are having a season to remember. On March 22nd, the women’s futsal team will play in the WSCAI Futsal Finals thanks to a 6-1 win over IT Blanchardstown. For the first team, a semi-final loss to Sligo IT in the intervarsity tournament, which was held in Sligo at the start of February, was quickly surpassed as they reached the final of the WSCAI Premier Division Final. Their reward for a 4-0 thrashing of IT Tralee last Thursday in Roscrea is a rematch against Sligo IT on March 19th. Ciara Grant scored twice in the semi-final, just a few days after being announced as a member of the Irish team to play in the Cyprus Cup. The Republic of Ireland have been drawn in a group alongside Northern Ireland, South Africa and South Korea, as they will start their preparations for the World Cup qualifiers. Grant will be joined in the squad by Emma Byrne and Yvonne Tracy, who play their club football with Arsenal’s Ladies team, arguably Europe’s best women’s team at present. The achievements of the club this year are even more impressive when you take into consideration the financial hardship that faces them. The women’s soccer club are not the only ones facing a tighter budget, although it seems that they are being hit much harder than their male counterparts. Jenna Guerin understands the financial constraints placed on the club about as well as anyone as she has been a volunteer with the club for the last decade. She says that their “grant has taken a cut over the past few years, not just drastically over one year. Back in 2009 or 2010, it’s across the board for all the clubs, I believe, that everyone’s been getting 10% [cut] since then. You used to get your full grant, and you’d look after the wages of your coaches… What happened before was you used to get your pot, and if you didn’t use it all for coaching, you had it to pay other things to do with the club. Now, what’s happened is that you get your grant, and the part for coaching is taken out… and you’re left with a small pot to pay.” This is a problem, she says, because of the unpredictability of a long season of football. Where the old system gave clubs more freedom over the amount of hours of coaching they would avail of, the new system does not allow this.
“We had put a bid in to be a National League team this year… but we had to have access to the Belfield Bowl for our games… and the college wouldn’t give us permission to play our games there” If a coach who was set to do ten hours of coaching in the year was only needed for eight hours, that money can no longer be reallocated to another part of the club, like paying for new equipment or covering transport costs to games. This lack of control over the finances of the club, coupled with a smaller grant anyway, has meant that the club has had to rely on the ingenuity of its members to keep itself afloat. If you have spent any time in the Sports Café this year, chances are that you have contributed to the cause by purchasing something from one of their many bake sales. There have also been five-a-side tournaments, where participants are charged an entry fee, which then helps
“Our girls work extremely hard. They funded their whole way to intervarsities last week. They fundraise whenever we ask them to fundraise; they pay for everything”
the club fund basic necessities. When the coaching and administrative costs for the year are taken out, the club are only left with around €3,000 to cover these things. Guerin is full of praise for the team, saying “our girls work extremely hard. They funded their whole way to intervarsities last week. They fundraise whenever we ask them to fundraise; they pay for everything. The three grand [from the grant] wouldn’t even cover their busses for their first-team matches this year.” With regards to the grant, she thinks that “what’s probably going to happen next season is that when we put in our grant, and show that we funded and made that much money, we’re probably going to get cut again. “When you do get your grant, you don’t get it until December, and you’re halfway through your season and you’ve already committed to the season… At that stage we had fully committed to two leagues.” Although she does think that the university is getting better at supporting women’s sports, citing the hockey team as an example, Guerin feels like the soccer team are not getting enough backing. She says that “we had put a bid in to be a National League team this year… The majority of our team are playing National League, but they’re playing National League elsewhere. “We weren’t supported by the college with our application. They supported us, but we had to have access to the Belfield Bowl for our games, because all the National League teams play in stadiums, and the college wouldn’t give us permission to play our games there.” According to Guerin, the reason the University gave for this is that there wouldn’t be enough time for the pitch to recover between matches, seeing as it already hosts the men’s soccer team and the men’s rugby team, including the rugby under-21s. At a time when the UCD women’s soccer team has the potential to be the best in the country, it is sad to see an underage men’s team given priority. If UCD really want to support women’s sports, changes are going to have to be made in order to allow the women’s games to thrive alongside the men’s. Unfortunately, this seems unlikely, at the moment at least. Maybe soon there will be louder calls to change the status quo.
UCD missed out on a chance to win their first Fitzgibbon Cup, hurling’s premier third-level education tournament, since 2001 after they fell to a 1-20 to 0-14 defeat to UCC on Friday. The semi-finals and final of the tournament were hosted over the weekend by GMIT. Going into the game, UCD were on a high after they saw off pretournament favourites UL in the quarter-finals. In the other semi-final, Mary Immaculate overcame WIT to reach their first ever final, but couldn’t match UCC, who ran out 2-17 to 2-12 winners. Meanwhile, UCD came up just short in the All-Ireland Freshers’ Football Division 1 final to DCU, after extratime last Thursday in Clontarf. At the end of regulation time, the scores were level at 1-14 to 2-11. Despite scoring two goals in normal time, UCD were out-scored 0-4 to 0-3 in the final period.
Handball UCD scholarship student Martin Mulkerrins retained his World Intercollegiate handball title in Arizona two weeks ago. Mulkerrins, a second year Agricultural Science student, saw off competition from the best in the world for his age group for the second year running. The final was a repeat of the previous year, with Mulkerrins once again facing off against the Mexican-born Daniel Cordova. Last year saw a closely fought contest, in which a single ace separated the two. This year, however, Mulkerrins cruised to a 21-13, 21-16 victory. Laura Mannion also claimed a victory for UCD and Ireland in the Ladies’ B Final at the event, as UCD continued a proud tradition of excellence in handball, with Mulkerrins and Sean Foley also coming narrowly second in the doubles.
Basketball UCD Marian continued their fine vein of form, extending their unbeaten run to five games, which stretches back to an away defeat to Moycullen just over a month ago. Marian saw off bottom of the table Dublin Inter to leapfrog Moycullen into fifth place on points difference. With two games more played, UCD Marian are two points ahead of DCU Saints, who sit second from bottom. Marian finish up their season on Saturday against the league leaders UL Eagles, in Limerick. A strong February has helped put a gloss on a season that was less than inspiring during a seven game losing streak during the winter.
Table Tennis UCD Table Tennis teams dominated the 2013 Intervarsity Championships after the women’s team won their fifth title in a row by beating UCC 6-3 in the final. The men’s team won their fourteenth consecutive title, after they saw off DIT 9-3 in their final. Sarah Timlin also picked up UCD’s third women’s singles title in a row.