ISSUE 846 JUNE 11 2007 CARDIFF’S STUDENT WEEKLY freeword - EST. 1972
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AN AR DI T GU UD EN E ST AZ IN M AG TH E OF AR YE
WHAT A SCREAMER
to Quench Alex Pennie talks The Automatic’s losing control America and about punk, everything of t example ry” e a perfec sic indust Awards wer ut the mu “The NME I hate abo
QUENCH REVIEWS THE HIGHLIGHTS SUMMER 2007 OF THE HAY FESTIVAL Make the mo st of m o n t the next hs three JUNE 11 20 07 w w w. g airrhy dd.co m
INTERVIEWS WITH THE BEST OF HAY-ON-WYE DARA O’BRIAIN ROGER COOK ALEXANDER McCALL SMITH
RE PICTU THOTISOGRAPHY
PH US GUIDE H THE UG THRO YEAR
FASHION CARDIFF GRADUATE-COME-DESIGNER MAKES IT BIG IN LONDON
Science Examines China’s first ever climate change strategy and considers its implications.
Politics The Conservative,
PLUS SPECIAL PULLOUT GAIR RHYDD’S GUIDE TO SUMMER 2007
University to take disciplinary action against Facebook students
Lib Dem and Socialist student bodies reflect on their year.
12 Cardiff students reprimanded for making derogatory comments
latest reality TV offering and talks to columnist Simon Jenkins.
Health Considers the government’s proposals to raise the legal drinking age in the ongoing battle against binge drinking.
Features Looks at the rise of anti-Americanism
and considers the new film Taking Liberties due for release on June 8.
Opinion Our columnists scrutinise Blair, organ donation, the boycott of Israeli academics and the ‘rules’ of Facebook.
Interview George Alagiah speaks to gair rhydd at the Hay festival about his book A Home from Home.
The way forward?
about lecturers and using Facebook group walls to share coursework answers Helen Thompson News Editor
Students could be unwittingly kept under surveillance by University staff through their use of online media such as Facebook it has emerged, after several Cardiff students were threatened with disciplinary action for comments made on the social networking site. A number of students from the Biosciences Department have been reprimanded for using the site to share ‘detailed information on coursework and other assessments’, and also for posting comments on a group wall that could ‘involve an offence against a person’, or be construed as ‘defamatory or obscene … abusive or threatening to others’. A group was set up on Facebook to discuss a piece of work for Research Techniques, a module taken by students from various different biological degrees. About 20 of the group's members received an email on April 30 advising them that they would be required to attend a meeting to discuss ‘evidence of unfair practice in the form of collusion’, to take place on May 9. Although the group, which has now been shut down, had over 100 members, only those who had posted comments on the group’s wall that the University considered to constitute collusion or defamation were asked to the meeting. This included one student who made the seemingly innocuous remark that a post by another student was lacking a comma. A smaller number of students were also accused of making derogatory remarks about lecturer Dr Carsten Muller. Unconfirmed reports allege that the comments claimed that Muller is ‘gay’. The students involved in the allegations of collusion say that they did not see the group as a serious offence because the marks for the piece of coursework discussed would not go towards their final grade, and was viewed as supplementary work. It seems that the students did not consider the possibility that lecturers would see the group, and it is unclear how it came to the attention of the Biosciences Department. A second email from Bioscience’s Head of Teaching, sent to all Bioscience students on May 1, said: “We can, and do, monitor internet websites and take a very grave view of behaviour which constitutes unfair practice in the area of assessment and other activity likely to bring the university into disrepute.” It also added that students are “strongly advised to examine whether [they] might be in breach of any … regulations and to remove offending matter from [Facebook, Myspace, Youtube etc.] accordingly. The School reserves the right to pursue any offences that have already occurred, even if the material is removed.” The email defines collusion as having
PHOTO: ROB TAYLOR
Media Questions the ethics of Endemol’s
“I was forced to teach myself a module in years two and three because there was no access to the lecture theatre”
gair rhydd investigates the state of facilities for disabled students on campus page 9 occurred when ‘work that has been undertaken by or with others is submitted and passed off as solely the work of one person’. It warned that the Biosciences Undergraduate Handbook makes the definition of collusion and plagiarism clear, and asks students to avoid these by ‘not asking to borrow other students’ assessed work’. Although the module was not assessed, and merely ‘required completion’, the email states that ‘posting answers to assignments on a website clearly breaches this regulation and constitutes unfair practice’. Students have since been informed that they will not fail the module for failing to attempt or successfully complete the tutorials, but that students’ achievement in the module will be kept on their individual records. It is understood that the Research Techniques module was taught by Dr Muller through e-tutorials, and that complications with the online application Blackboard got ‘seriously in the way’ of the course. An email sent by Muller to his students on May 15 promised that the problems Continued on page two
What on EARTH is going on, ask students Adam Millward News Editor Cardiff University students were up in arms last week after an administrative blunder with an exam almost led the involved School to reset the paper. The cohort of approximately 90 EARTH School students, who include geologists, marine geographers and environmental geoscientists, took the Principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) examination, worth 40% of the module, on May 16. They were shocked to find that the paper was the exact replica of a ‘practice’ paper which had been available in the library and on the School’s website. The EARTH School, having found the marks for the exam to be inordinately high, initially made the decision to make the results ‘null and void’ and to reset the test to June 8. This caused outcry amongst the stu-
dents, many of whom believed their exam period to be over and some of whom had even started making plans for the summer such as booking holidays or organising work placements. After further investigation, it was discovered that the same paper had been used every year since a resit in the 2004-05 academic year. According to Dr Simon Wakefield, Chair of the EARTH Exams Board, in a letter circulated to all undergraduates involved, this situation was unavoidable as there is a ‘limited amount of material taught that can be assessed in this way’. Refuting that the error was due to ‘lazy’ members of staff, an accusation posted by a minority faction in a Facebook group created by students to deal with this situation, Dr Wakefield explained that the EARTH School was not in any way culpable and that the single mistake which had occurred was an administrative miscommunication with the Registry. Continued on page four
At a glance June 11 2007
News Investigations Science and environment Politics Media Health Jobs & Money Photo essay News review Taf Od Features Opinion and editorial Letters Obituaries Listings Problem page Grab Five minute fun Spor t
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EDITOR Perri Lewis DEPUTY EDITOR Sophie Robehmed ASSISTANT TO THE EDITOR Elaine Morgan CREATIVE EDITOR Graeme Porteous NEWS Adam Millward, Helen Thompson, Jo Dingle, Katie Kennedy POLITICS Andy Rennison EDITORIAL AND OPINION Chris Croissant, Huw Davies SPORT Dave Menon, George Pawley LISTINGS Jenna Harris, Rosaria Sgueglia TELEVISION TV Fran, TV Jazz, TV Kyle, TV Ben LETTERS Rachel Clare GRAB Kayleigh Excell, Lisa Hocken TAF-OD Huw Pritchard SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT Ceri Morgan MEDIA Aline Ungewiss, Nadia Bonjour HEALTH Liz Stauber JOBS AND MONEY Gill Roberts PROBLEM PAGE Grace De Ville FIVE MINUTE FUN Lara Bell PICTURE EDITORS James Perou, Sarah Day ONLINE EDITOR Paul Springett PROOF READERS Jenna Weeks, Bryony Tallack, Aisling Tempany, Rachel Cormican, Sarah Murray, Andy Rennison, Beth Herdman, Kate Monaghan, Kieran Harwood CONTRIBUTORS James Stileman, Natalie Parkinson, Abigail Whittaker, Corrine Rhoades, Samantha Shillabeer, Emma Jones, Holly Bassett, Victoria Lane, Rachel Greenwood, Hannah Pawley, Katherine Webster-Duncan, Amy Simpson, Lucy Thackray, Dan Ridler, Aisling Tempany, Phillip Dore, Cemlyn Davies, Huw Thomas, Dan Smith, Brychan Govier, Annie Buckle, Emily Woodrow, Rhys Triggs, Eillian Hughes, Amy Gorochowski, Adam Gasson, James Ford, Becky Oatley, Rebecca Isles, Dave Jones, Rob Taylor, James Woodroof, Paul Hayes, Jack Zorab, Ben Walker, Alex Mcintosh, Pete Dean, Jamie Kins, Ed Salter, Steve Florey ADDRESS University Union, Park Place Cardiff, CF10 3QN ADVERTISING 02920 781 474 EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org WEB www.gairrhydd.com LOCATION 4th Floor Students’ Union
James Perou meets the Queen in Cardiff Bay for the opening of the third Welsh Assembly
issues of gair rhydd published in this academic year
editors work across the year to produce gair rhydd and Quench
people pose naked in Amsterdam for controversial artist Spencer Tunick
Facebook used to monitor students Continued from front page they encountered would be ‘dealt with for the next year’. Those who posted derogatory comments about Muller may face harsher treatment, and at the time of going to print were waiting to hear if the matter would be referred to the police. A similar incident has been reported at Keele University, where a Facebook group entitled ‘James Knowles is a Twat’ was directed against an English Literature academic. There is some concern that the removal of all criticism of lecturers from Facebook stifles freedom of speech and lends a positive bias to the coverage of universities on new media. There are many other
Facebook groups dedicated to Cardiff lecturers, most of them positive, such as ‘Martin Coyle is a God’ and ‘Neil Badminton Rocks My World’, two members of Cardiff’s English Literature staff. At Keele, this has provoked an angry reaction, resulting in Facebook groups entitled ‘Freedom of Thought at Keele’ and ‘Freedom of Speech in Keele Psychology’ being created. No retaliation of this sort is yet evident on the Cardiff University Facebook network. A University spokesperson commented: “It should be noted, offences against the student disciplinary code are offences irrespective of the medium involved.” The Biosciences Department declined to comment.
Students’ Union sets up Facebook group for students to voice anger over congested exam timetables and poor feedback In response to an overwhelming surge in complaints about exam timetables and conditions, Students’ Union Vice President Ed Jones has set up a Facebook group where students can air their grievances. Complaints have already been made regarding recurring issues such as inconsiderate timetabling, inaccuracies on examination papers and poor conditions in exam venues. The group is titled ‘My exam timetable was awful – I’m complaining!’ and already had 120 members at the time of going to print. The group will allow Union staff to collate students’ complaints before they are taken forward to the University. Ed Jones said: “Students on a variety of
people play some form of sport at Cardiff University during this academic year
students signed up to Facebook group to complain about exam timetables and conditions
Turning the time-tables on the University Rhys Schofield Reporter
courses have been aggravated by unhelpful examination timetables. “In May, the Students’ Union arranged the re-timetabling of a set of 4th year Medic exams which had been unfairly moved forwards by two weeks. “We thought that allowing people to share their experiences on Facebook would give us some excellent material to take to the University and demand improvements.” The group has already received many wallposts. Abdullah Kalhoon bemoans the sweltering conditions of Talybont Sports Hall as an exam venue, but the most common theme is exam congestion. Tom Hewitt described having seven exams in nine days as ‘a bit harsh’. However, some students at the other end of the spectrum have complained that their
exams are actually too spaced out. The Academic Registry has allegedly been unhelpful to students, if not entirely unresponsive to complaints. Getting a response from them has been described on the group as being harder than ‘getting blood from a stone’. Concern has also been expressed about the quality and level of feedback available to students after their results are published, with some reporting that they cannot get information on how to improve their exam work unless they fail. Union President Joe Al-Khayat has posted a comment in response to the students’ posts, saying that after a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor about these issues, the University has pledged to discuss these matters with the Registry.
We ask students whether they think posting negative comments on Facebook should be a disciplinary offence Hannah Murphy, second year, Maths “I don’t think Facebook groups set up about lecturers are intended as anything serious, it’s more of a joke. I also don’t see any problem with discussing answers; it’s just helping each other out. And if people are going to be punished then I would expect them to be copying to a significant extent.”
Rhodri Griffiths, third year, Business Administration “I would never think my lecturers would be on Facebook and I would discuss work without thinking I was doing anything wrong; it’s exactly like revising together or chatting about work. Facebook is just a social medium, another form of communication. Lecturers should just stay off Facebook and leave it for the students.”
Kit Carrau, second year, City and Regional Planning “If people are actively plagiarising, from Facebook or elsewhere, then obviously something should be done about it if it’s clear that you’ve been copying answers. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with groups that are derogatory towards lecturers so long as your comments are true and fair. What’s to stop you setting up your own webpage to talk about them, as long as it’s not libel.”
Alison Battisby, second year, English Language “We have a discussion board for our course on the University Blackboard system, so I don’t see how that’s any different to discussing work on Facebook. It’s all about freedom of speech. I think a lot of groups about lecturers are set up as a joke, but if you start shutting them down who exactly decides what to shut down and what not to?”
Naked ambition to combat student rubbish dumping Students encouraged to dispose of end-of-term rubbish responsibly with increased collections and ‘naked’ campaign Dave Buckles Reporter Two students will ‘bare all’ on posters and leaflets across the student-populated areas of Cardiff, in a bid to encourage fellow students to put out their end-of-term rubbish on time. ‘Get It Out for Cardiff’ will return to Cardiff on June 15 as part of the ongoing Keep Cardiff Tidy campaign. Two students, who appear to be naked behind the rubbish bags they carry, will feature on leaflets and posters in order to draw attention to the campaign. With a target of collecting over 100 tonnes of rubbish, 25% more than last year, the initiative aims to tackle the prob-
lem created by students moving out of their houses and dumping huge amounts of waste on the streets to rot before the next collection is due. Vice President of the Students’ Union, Ed Jones, said: “We are calling on all students to clear out all their rubbish for collection time and not dump it when they leave. Extra waste collections are being mounted over two weekends so there really is no excuse for missing the pick-up times.” Leanne Jones of Keep Wales Tidy added: “This is a novel campaign that is high on impact and low on clothes! We have found that in general, campaigns which are off-the-wall work better in claiming attention in a media competitive world.”
Abigail Whittaker Deputy News Editor The timeless image of a lecturer dressed in crumpled corduroy trousers and jackets with elbow pads may be a thing of the past, as some academics face a style overhaul. The University of Central England in Birmingham has enlisted the company ‘Styletalks’ to run a makeover workshop for its male staff this month in the hope that the hired style consultants will give their teaching staff a more up-to-date look. Cyndy Lessing, from the company that uses the motto ‘because style speaks volumes’, will run the workshop which is the first of its kind in the country. She said: “It is all about making [lecturers] look approachable in the lecture hall and authoritative in business meetings.” She made her priorities clear, adding: “It is important to eliminate nose and ear hair, and there should be no half-sleeve shirts, which don’t look good anywhere outside of a Hawaiian beach.” However, Union bosses have criticised the plans for a style overhaul with some staff insisting on their right to maintain their traditional look. Many lecturers feel that it is an insult to their profession to judge them by their appearance. Branch Chairman of the University and College Union, Dr Steven McCabe noted:
“This coincides with the fact that redundancies are being made to lecturing staff in various faculties. “That they are willing to lose people at this time for the sake of cosmetic changes is worrying. “Lecturers are well known for their shabbiness and I don’t think it makes the slightest difference to students. “It is the quality of the lecturing which is important rather than their appearance.” Stacey Jeffreys, second year Cardiff Mathematics student said: “If my lecturer dressed more stylishly than me then I’d be more encouraged to stay at home, it would just be embarrassing. “I think their attire is just part of their charm, and an equation is an equation whatever they wear.” Alice Thompson, third year English literature student, added: “The quirks of lecturers’ clothing undoubtedly make lectures more interesting. “There is an entire Facebook group dedicated to one lady’s unusual choice of clothing, and one of my favourite lecturers always entertained us with his outsized woolly jumpers and long, unkempt locks. This company should stop meddling.” Cardiff Mathematics lecturer, Terrence Iles commented: “Who decides what makes a modern appearance? People off the television?” Ms Lessing’s consultancies cost £400 for half a day.
PHOTO: ROB TAYLOR
“Shabby” lecturers to get Trinny and Susannah treatment
BARING ALL: Two students will appear on posters and leaflets naked, their modesty hidden only by rubbish bags, to encourage students to put their waste out on time
Running for life Joanna Dingle News Editor Cardiff’s 14th annual ‘Race for Life’ event was held recently in aid of Cancer Research UK. The 5km race saw over 8,000 women running, jogging or walking the course around Bute Park. Although all the sponsorship money is yet to be collected, the race organisers
hope to raise over £500,000 for the charity. Second year French and Italian student, Claudia Dickinson, who took part in the race, said: “The event was amazing with a positive and humbling atmosphere. It was great that everyone there was supporting the same cause. I raised almost £200, thanks to my friends and family.” Third year English Literature student Rosanne White said: “I took part because
my grandad died of liver cancer last year. “While he was ill I saw all the people who cared for him and the work they did was amazing. It’s a really important charity and it was an emotional but fantastic day. “So far I’ve raised about £125.” Due to Cardiff’s popularity, a second ‘Race for Life’ event will take place on Wednesday June 27 at 7.30pm. For more information, visit www.raceforlife.org.
Charity calendar girls cheque out Netball girls who took their kit off for charity hand over £2000 cheque
BIG CHEQUE: Netball girls hand over £2000 to Andy Nakonecznyj from Cancer Reseach UK. OPPOSITE: An image from the calendar
Cardiff University Netball Club presented a cheque for £2000 last week to Cancer Research UK, following their successful charity calendar. The lingerie calendar sold over 800 copies, and was featured in gair rhydd last October. It was sold around the University, locally in Cardiff and reached as far afield as Thailand. Cancer Research UK representative, Andy Nakonecznyj said: “On behalf of Cancer Research UK, my thanks go to everyone involved in supporting the calen-
dar. The total amount raised was absolutely fantastic and will make a real difference in the fight against cancer.” Jo Dingle, Media Officer for the Netball Club added: “It’s great to finally see the cheque exchange hands after a year of hard work by all the girls involved. It was fun to be a part of, for such a great cause, and everyone in the Club should be proud of our achievement.”
University threatens to make 22 academic and other staff redundant Cardiff University has been slammed by the lecturers’ union (University and College Union) over plans to make ‘unnecessary’ cut-backs on its staff. According to a statement released by the UCU, the University’s proposals to institute compulsory redundancies have come as a ‘premature’ reaction to funding shortfalls in three of its schools. Redundancies planned for 22 academic and other staff are but a few of those intended for Cardiff’s Business, Nursing and Midwifery, and Postgraduate Medical and Dental Education schools. Formal redundancy procedures are already in place, but the UCU have fiercely rejected the move. The president of the Cardiff UCU, Mark Aston, was angered that the University would see compulsory redundancies as a solution to its financial difficulties. He said: “An institution that
employs 5,500 staff and has an annual turnover of £315 million should be able to redeploy staff. “The Higher Education sector is expanding, not contracting, and the University should look to voluntary redundancies and re-skilling instead of rushing straight into compulsory redundancies.” The news comes as a further blow to the schools whose staff are under threat, after the withdrawal of vital funding from both the Welsh Assembly Government and the Macmillan Education Unit which saw the end of various in-school projects. Todd Bailey, a lecturer of Psychology, criticised the University’s treatment of staff who have redundancy forced upon them, saying they should receive “at least a month’s pay for every year of service”. He said: “After ten years’ service at Cardiff, a lecturer made redundant could receive as little as £3,000 and a bit of loose change. That won’t go very far if they’re out of work for a year or more and have to relocate to find a new job.”
Continued from front page
UNIVERSITY: Criticised for making staff cuts as more students enter higher education than ever before
PHOTO: Sarah Day
Corinne Rhoades Deputy News Editor
Christian students to face difficulty getting home for Easter recess 2008 Katie Kennedy News Editor
EASTER: Cardiff students will work until Good Friday in 2008
Next year’s scheduled academic term dates will mean that many Cardiff students may not be able to travel home in time for the Easter weekend, as the Easter recess will not begin until the day after Good Friday. The recess dates revealed on Cardiff University’s website show that the holiday does not officially begin until March 22 and although Good Friday on March 21 is a bank holiday, this may still pose difficulties for students and University staff. There is only a short space of time for some University members who live considerable distances away from Cardiff to travel home to spend the Easter weekend with their families. Christian staff and students may experience particular inconvenience if they wish
to return to their home church to celebrate the festival. The University informed gair rhydd that the dates of semesters are approved by the University’s Senate and Council following ‘wide consultation’. The Easter recess dates for 2008 were first approved by the Council in 2002, and then finalised in 2005. After going through this process, the dates cannot be changed. A University spokesperson said: “While the University seeks to ensure that Good Friday and Easter Monday are located within the Easter Recess, it is not possible to ensure that this is the case every year. “As Easter dates are not fixed, the University seeks to ensure that either all teaching is completed before Easter or that there is a meaningful teaching period after Easter.” President of the Cardiff Students’ Union’s Christian Union, Dan Cruse, commented: “For most students who wouldn’t
have attended any Good Friday services or meetings, the only drawback would seem to be that they won’t be able to spend the day with friends and family who work and thus value the bank holiday more. “For Christians it probably isn’t that big an issue because most Good Friday events will happen in the evening and even those events which take place during the day will be able to be attended by many students with lighter timetables.” However, another Christian student who has asked to remain anonymous has highlighted the difficulty she faces to get home for the religious festival. She said: “My home church runs all sorts of events at Easter which I will be missing out on, and I often go away with family at this time. “Easter is there because of an occurrence which is central to my faith and I’m upset that I won’t be able to share something so important to me with my friends and family at home.”
Abigail Whittaker Deputy News Editor A new initiative called ‘We Love Cardiff’ has been launched by Cardiff Students’ Union’s future sabbatical team to get all students who are enthusiastic about the Union involved in its promotion and organisation in the next academic year. It will include a venture entitled ‘Team Cardiff’, a group of pro-active students that raises awareness of opportunities and events of interest within the Union for Cardiff students. This will include becoming involved with Union events and campaigns and helping to create an enthusiastic atmosphere around sports, societies and media. In addition, the team will coordinate the
brand new ‘We Love Freshers’ scheme in Cardiff’s Freshers’ fortnight. The scheme aims to represent as many different areas of the student body as possible, and enthusiastic students who love life at University and want to get more involved are encouraged to apply. Successful applicants will be paid for their efforts, working on events and campaigns of their choice. Application forms for this opportunity and all other Union recruitment can be downloaded at www. cardiffstudents.com and emailed to welovecardiff@cardiff. ac.uk by Friday June 15. Alternatively, you can visit the first floor of the Union between 11am and 3pm until the closing date.
PHOTO: James Perou
Union launches student recruitment campaign
TEAM CARDIFF: Getting involved in the Union
He said: “On May 17, a day after this year’s exam, it was brought to our attention that contrary to EARTH’s requests and understanding, there was indeed a copy of the exam paper on both the INSRV past papers site and a hard copy in the library.” When questioned on why this error had not been detected sooner, he continued: “[This] may well have been the case for previous years, but we were not aware of it. Indeed I think Huw [Davies, the module leader] always states at the start of the teaching programme that ‘there are no past papers and no resits’.” An emergency meeting was held on Monday June 4 which 55 students attended. Several solutions were brought to the table, including the examination being repeated in the August retake period or in the 2008 spring term exams, and even scrapping the exam altogether and relying completely on the marks gathered from the module’s coursework. In the event, the meeting persuaded Dr Wakefield and his colleagues that the marks from the contested examination paper, along with the coursework from the module, shall be taken forward. Addressing the concerns of those who felt disadvantaged by this decision – for example, students who had not viewed the ‘practice’ paper prior to the exam – Dr Wakefield insisted: “The Examining Board will consider all relevant information about the examination and has the powers to ensure that no student is disadvantaged by the events surrounding it. “The award of degrees and degree classifications are criteria-driven and reflect each student’s achievement.” The majority of students were appeased by this move, and also appreciated the School’s speedy reaction and candid communication. Jinni King, second year environmental geoscientist, said: “I think that the whole situation is just a big mess, not really anyone’s fault and that in the end it has been handled about as well as it could have been. [Dr] Simon Wakefield, our head of teaching, has been excellent in terms of communication.” Thomas Crossman, a second-year geologist said: “Personally I am very happy with this result and about the way our lecturers have handled it. I am pleased to have a department that listens to the views and worries of the students.” However, not all students are satisfied with this outcome and some have aired further grievances with the EARTH School to gair rhydd. Fourth year Masters Environmental Science student, Emma Fegan believed it was unfair that students who had taken the GIS exam in previous years were not taken into account, as she did not view the past paper. She is now satisfied, however, in the understanding that this situation ‘will be taken into account when it comes to degree classification’. A second year Environmental geoscientist explained: “You think this is one of the best departments for earth science in the UK – like hell! “It’s the worst functioning department in my opinion. For example, last year one lecturer announced a field trip none of us were aware of on a Friday when most people were jumping on trains home for the weekend.” Commenting on the examination error, the student said: “Apparently they knew there was only one exam paper four years ago, so why didn’t they take measures to prevent such a fuck-up in the first place?” This is just the latest slip-up in examination papers and procedures that seem to be plaguing more and more Cardiff students every year. In March of this year, gair rhydd featured the story of a medic exam in which last-minute photocopying resulted in some question sheets including the answers. Exam blunders were also a major issue brought up at the first Academic Council in February 2007. Asked whether Cardiff University might consider readjusting its examination paper vetting process, a spokesman said: “The University reviews its procedures for the organisation and conduct of examinations annually and will do so at the end of this session.”
After months of silence, Alan Johnston video is released First images of captured former Cardiff student appear on the internet Emily Foley Reporter Following 12 weeks without word from the captors of former Cardiff University student, Alan Johnston, a video featuring
the abducted BBC correspondent has appeared on the internet. The video is believed to have been posted by the Army of Islam, the group claiming to be holding the reporter. In the video Mr Johnston says he is in good health, is
VIDEO: Demands release of prisoners held in Britain
being treated well and has not been subjected to any violence. It remains unclear when the video was recorded and under what conditions the former Cardiff student was speaking as he called for an end to Western sanctions that have been imposed upon the Palestinian government. Mr Johnston also talks of the ‘huge suffering’ of the Palestinian people and refers to the war in Iraq as a ‘failed invasion’ by Britain and America. There is reference to the ‘terrible’ situation in Afghanistan and Johnston also speaks of the British government’s intent to occupy Muslim lands against the will of the people there. The Army of Islam, who claim to have posted the video on the al-Ekhlaas website on June 1, are a small Islamist group operating in Gaza as a splinter group of the Popular Resistance Committees. Led by
Mumtaz Dugmush, a known member of a powerful clan, their main aspiration is to achieve a liberalised Palestine and an Islamic state. The group, which is thought to be influenced by but not affiliated with al-Qaeda, are one of three groups alleged to also be holding the missing Isreali soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit. In the video, the group demand the release of a Palestinian-born Islamic cleric being held in Britain due to his suspected links with al-Qaeda. Saeb Erekat, adviser to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, said: “These people are nothing more than gangsters.” The senior negotiator has called for the unconditional and immediate release of Mr Johnston and said that all factions were united in condemning the abduction, adding that military action would be justified to secure his freedom.
Cardiff students protest against Israel’s occupation of Palestine Cardiff Students’ Union Palestinian society demonstrate on Queen’s Street to mark the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War Helen Thompson News Editor Cardiff students gathered in Cardiff’s Queen’s Street last Tuesday to protest against Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The demonstration, organised by Cardiff Students’ Union’s Palestinian Solidarity Society, took place on June 5,
the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War the conflict that initiated the occupation. Leaflets were handed out and information about the conflict was available from stalls while dancers and music entertained the onlookers. Neil Macevoy, Plaid Cymru’s Director of Equal Opportunities, Jewish poet Jasmine Donahaye and Cardiff Palestinian Solidarity Society President Ghaith Nassar
all expressed their opposition to Israel’s presence in the Palestinian territories through speeches and readings. Macevoy listed the many articles of the Geneva Convention that Israel’s occupation of Palestine has broken, calling the occupation ‘illegal’ and ‘racist’. A petition suggesting that Cardiff should be twinned with a town in Palestine to show support for its people was passed
around the crowd. Civil Engineering students Natasha Kharbanda and Maria Tzavara said: “We’re here because we’re friends with Ghaith and we have heard about the unnecessary, horrible things that Palestinians have to endure. They have to live with the constant fear of guns – it sounds terrifying, and it’s important that it stops.”
ALAN: Missing for over three months Back in Britain there is also widespread condemnation of the abduction. The video release has been denounced by the Foreign Office and speaking from South Africa, Prime Minister Tony Blair said: “We are doing everything we possibly can to secure his release.” Chancellor Gordon Brown has stated that the captors are “not serving their cause by detaining [the reporter] in this unfair and unjust way.” The former Cardiff student was the only Western reporter based permanently in Gaza and his capture has prompted appeals for his release from all over the world. An online petition for his release, which calls for ‘everyone with influence on this situation to increase their efforts to ensure that Alan is freed quickly and unharmed’, has received a worldwide response and since April 2 has obtained over 130,000 signatures.
Impossible targets for lecturers Lee Macaulay Deputy News Editor Productivity targets are ruining the careers of academics, the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), which represents lecturers across the country, has said. Professors at Imperial College London have claimed this week that a productivity analysis used by the University for judging staff performance is restricting academic research to the extent that a Nobel laureate would fail the test. Scholars at the University have warned that the system encourages research to be less innovative and more prolific, due to
Even a Nobel laureate would fail the test
SOLIDARITY: Cardiff students perform a traditional Palestinian dance at the demonstration last Tuesday
PHOTO: James Perou
things such as publication volume and research grant income being major indicators for the targets. Academics are given a score based on where their names appear on the list of authors in a journal and on how ‘prestigious’ a journal is. The UCU debated the issue at their national congress and agreed that the union would “embark on a campaign to defend academic freedom by all appropriate means”. The UCU’s general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “What is of real concern is an obsession with filling in forms. What we are crying out for is people who understand what makes academia work, and that is rarely going to be a consultant with the latest foolproof output-measuring device.”
Graduation reminder CARDIFF STUDENTS are reminded that the final date to confirm attendance to this year’s graduation ceremony is June 15. Cardiff University’s Registry warn that students who do not submit this confirmation by the correct date will not get to graduate this summer.
PHOTOS: Kiran Ridley
RAISING AWARENESS: Refugee Week at Cardiff in 2006 ISRAEL: Not taking the boycott lying down
Anything you can do Israel retaliates to British academics’ plans to boycott Israeli universities Samantha Shillabeer Deputy News Editor The Israeli parliament is threatening to launch a counter-boycott of Britain in response to the academic boycotts proposed by British unions and associations, last week. The proposed bill is aimed at punishing the decision by the University and College Union (UCU) to back a year-long debate calling for the discontinuation of all links with Israeli academic institutions due to the country’s occupation of Palestinian land. Israel’s proposed counter-boycott includes an email campaign to convince North Americans to reject British goods and services and a threat by union workers
to refuse to unload British exports to Israel. In 2005, Britain exported £1.35 billion worth of goods and services to Israel, with Israel itself exporting about half that amount to the UK. But Dudu Himmelfarb, union leader at the Maman Israeli cargo company, told the Israeli news website Ynet: “If the British decide to go ahead with the boycotts, we will stop unloading cargo from British Airways aircrafts and imports from Britain.” Prior to last week’s meeting of the Israeli cabinet in Jerusalem, ministers said they were concerned at the prospect of a boycott. The country’s trade minister, Eli Yishai, claimed he would hold talks on how Israeli industries would respond. The minister for social affairs, Isaac
Herzog, said: “This is a great challenge for the Israeli government to deal with.” Reports from Israel show fears that a British boycott could have long-term consequences for the Israeli economy, as well as encouraging other European unions to implement their own boycotts. Danny Yatom, a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, said: “If a state boycotts any products of Israel there will be a retaliation the exact same way. This is not a one-way street.” As well as boycotting trade with the United Kingdom, there have also been calls to cancel the British production of the musical Mama Mia, which was due to open in Tel Aviv this month. Are they right to do this? Opinion page 28
Cardiff students highlight plight of asylum seekers Adam Millward News Editor Cardiff students are playing a significant role in raising awareness for asylum seekers in the run-up to Refugee Week. Student Action for Refugees (STAR) is a national organisation dedicated to raising the profile of refugee issues within university campuses and suggesting ‘innovative ways to support refugees in a practical way in their local communities’. Cardiff University’s STAR coordinator, Joanna Spooner, explains that the society is involved with the Cardiff Asylum-seeker Support Group, which is a drop-in run on Wednesday evenings. Spooner said: “We often cook with the asylum seekers that come along and they seem to really enjoy it.”
A fundraiser for the drop-in is taking place at Buffalo Bar on Monday June 11, from 8pm, and a variety of refugee and student bands will be playing at the event. Cardiff students are also expected to be involved in a day dedicated to heightening awareness for asylum seekers which is scheduled for June 18-24, as part of the nationwide Refugee Week. Established in 1998, the annual event was created to counter the negative perception of asylum seekers in Britain and to improve the integration of communities. The one-day festival will be held on June 17 at the Red Dragon Centre in Cardiff Bay, and aims to celebrate the cultural contribution of refugees and asylum seekers in Wales. For more details visit www.refugeeweek.org.uk.
Testing times Abigail Whittaker Deputy News Editor A-LEVELS fail to distinguish effectively between candidates, and sixth-formers should take US-style entrance tests when applying to university, a Government report has concluded. The study, undertaken by the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) and following 9,000 students completing the standard reasoning SAT test, believes that its introduction would aid elite universities in identifying the best students from those who achieve straight A-grades at A-level. Researchers concluded that there were ‘wide variations’ in the scores of pupils gaining three or more As at A-level, meaning that SATs may offer ‘scope for distinguishing between candidates with similarly high A-level grades’. In 1996 only 40% of Oxford students
entered with straight A grades, but this has risen dramatically to almost 100% this year. The Department for Education commissioned the research as part of a five-year investigation into the validity of aptitude tests, following increasing concern at the widening gender gap in higher education, as boys tend to score higher on aptitude tests. Several universities already employ an aptitude test to identify the most able candidates in situations where candidates’ applications appear equally strong. Chairman of educational charity the Sutton Trust, which co-sponsored the NFER research, Sir Peter Lampl, said: “A major problem with A-levels is the growing numbers of students who now get the highest grades. “One of the main objectives of the trial is to ascertain whether SAT scores, in addition to A-levels, might help universities identify the best candidates.”
Aberystwyth voted best place to be a student in the UK Lee Macaulay Deputy News Editor Aberystwyth has been voted the best place in the UK to be a student, according to a newly released survey. The Welsh town, more than a two-hour drive from Cardiff, has beaten competition from 80 other university towns to take the top spot in the survey. It was judged by Aberystwyth students to have a better nightlife than London and better shopping than Manchester. The town scored a rating of 64% in a survey commissioned by student property website accommodationforstudents.com, putting it
first in the survey and beating Cardiff which came joint third. Aberystwyth has a history of happy students, with the University being ranked fifth and seventh respectively in league tables compiled by the National Student Survey and the Times Higher Education Supplement for student satisfaction. However, not all Welsh universities came out with such glowing results. University of Glamorgan came second to last in the commissioned survey with only University of Salford doing worse. Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, Professor Aled Jones, commented: “This is excellent news and con-
Cardiff University’s Real Ale and Cider society has announced that it will be donating a mammoth £5,000 to the Ty Hafan children’s hospice, after their highly successful Beer Festival. This year the festival celebrated its tenth anniversary by holding its largest ever event. Over 2,000 students came to
firmation that the University of Wales, Aberystwyth is one of the best places in the UK to study. “This comprehensive survey, coupled with the findings of the most recent Student Satisfaction Survey in August 2006 clearly shows that students who decide to study at Aberystwyth enjoy the best of both worlds – a university which offers an excellent academic experience in terms of academic facilities and staff who are dedicated and professional, and a town which is safe, welcoming and offers a varied and intense social life. “It is a very special place to study.” REAL ALE FESTIVAL: Charity smash
the Students’ Union’s Great Hall to sample the wide variety of award-winning ales and ciders. Ian Hill, president of the Real Ale Society, said: “I’m delighted that we are able to celebrate our tenth anniversary by making such a substantial contribution to a local charity. The credit goes entirely to the unpaid volunteers, mostly Cardiff students, who worked so hard to make this festival a success.”
PHOTO: ED SALTER
James Stileman Reporter
ABERYSTWYTH: Better nightlife than London, apparently
BASQUE COUNTRY: Tranquil landscape INSET: ETA leader, Arnaldo Otegi
Political tremors rock Spain NAKED AMBITION: Subjects pose for Tunick at a previous work in Dusseldorf
Dutch bare all in the name of art Abigail Whittaker Deputy News Editor A group of naked subjects posed recently in an Amsterdam multi-storey car park for US photographer Spencer Tunick who is renowned for his installations of large groups of nude people. The volunteers participated in a series of four nude shots in the heart of the city during the early hours of the morning on June 3. According to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf , 4,000 people applied in advance to become part of the work of art. Tunick said that people from all walks of life participated without inhibitions being in any way problematic. The artist commented: “It is certainly not only nudists who come and help me. There are always lots of art students who participate, but also housewives, teachers and electricians too.”
The first and largest composition was taken on the outskirts of the city, where participants lined the railings of the twin circular towers of a parking facility, creating a pattern of multicoloured stripes against the white building background. Tunick said: “It was very hard to find space in a city meant for such a small amount of people. “I was very lucky to get almost 2,000 to fill a massive car park.” The other compositions included dozens of women posing naked riding bicycles on a bridge over one of Amsterdam’s historic canals, and a mixed group of males and females on another bridge. The photographer has become famous for taking photos of naked people in public settings worldwide since 1994, including shots in London and Vienna. Last month he set a record for naked photography with a photo of 18,000 nude people in Mexico City. “I get people to shed their inhibitions basically because the people shedding their clothing are interested in contemporary art,” Tunick said. He continued: “I create dreams and memories no-one will forget. “It has something provocative, but that is mostly in the fact that all these people
are in Adam-costume at an unnatural location in the middle of the city.” Photos from the session in Amsterdam were to be exhibited at a club there that evening, and will be reproduced on billboards in the city later in the summer.
CAR PARK: All spaces occupied LEFT: Spencer Tunick on a shoot
Civil unrest returns to Northern Spain as extremist separatist party ends ceasefire James Stileman Reporter
Eta, the Basque separatist party, has announced that it is to call off its 14month-long ‘permanent’ ceasefire, it emerged on June 6. Spain now seems poised to bear further attacks as the notoriously violent party has allegedly been rearming during its ‘hiatus’ period. Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has been warned by the police that the group has also refined its bomb-making techniques and built a well-organised network within Madrid. ETA declared that it will defend the Basque region “with weapons and on all fronts”. In response to the group’s announcement, Prime Minister Zapatero said: “ETA’s decision goes totally in the opposite direction of the path that Basque and Spanish society want, the path of peace.” ETA have killed over 800 people in the four decades that they have been operating, and this announcement would appear to indicate that another large attack is imminent. However, the Spanish police are not at this stage certain if attacks would be selective assassinations or the public bomb attacks that gain the most media attention. Mr Zapatero’s Socialist party broke off peace talks with the group after a bomb attack on Madrid airport that killed two people. While the separatist party denied, and still denies, any involvement in the attacks, it was enough to cause the unpopular negotiations to flounder. A spokesman for the group stated only the day before
this announcement that “minimum conditions for continuing a process of negotiations do not exist.” This most recent ETA statement places the blame firmly with Mr Zapatero’s government, claiming that their only response to the ceasefire was “pursuing detentions, torture and persecution”. ETA was riled further when pro-independence candidates were prohibited from standing in the Basque local elections last month, and the group’s political wing, Batasuna, remains banned. The government and police have quickly moved into action against the party. On the same day as the announcement, Arnaldo Otegi and Parnando Barrena, two of the leaders of Batasuna, were forbidden from attending a conference in South Africa as it could have ‘negative effects’ on the police’s investigation into their funding of ETA. Meanwhile, the ETA activist Iñaki de Juana Chaos was removed by police from hospital, where he was recovering from a 115-day hunger strike which he undertook in response to his jail sentence for making terrorist threats. It seems apparent now that ETA could heavily influence the upcoming general elections in Spain; in the past week they have been sending letters out to Basque businesses demanding that they help them finance ‘the liberation and construction of Euskal Herria [the Greater Basque Country]’. The group’s statements also seem to confirm that they may be inclined to break their long-lasting promise not to carry out attacks in Catalonia.
Waking up to a whole new world
Polish man, comatose for 19 years, struggles to adapt to his massively-altered country Emily Foley Reporter A Polish man has woken up from a 19-year coma to find that his country is very different to the one he left. Jan Grzebski fell into a coma after being hit by a train in 1988, a time when Poland was still a communist country ruled by Wojciech Jaruzelski. The hopes for the fall of the Berlin Wall were slim, the threat of nuclear war was an international concern and meat was rationed. The 65-year-old ex-railway worker has been amazed since waking up from an
almost 20-year absence. He told Polish television: “There are so many goods in the shops it makes my head spin.” During his comatose years Mr Grzebski missed key moments in his country’s history, at international level and at a more personal level. A year after he became comatose, communism fell in Poland and the Berlin Wall came down. In 1990 Nelson Mandela was freed and Germany reunited. 1991 saw the start of the first Gulf War and the fragmentation of the Soviet Union. In 1999 Poland joined NATO and in 2004 became a full EU member. Today the international concern is terrorism rather than nuclear war. He also awoke to find that his four chil-
dren have given him 11 grandchildren. However, the ex-railway worker says what surprises him most is that people still find things to moan about. “These people walk around with their mobile phones and never stop moaning. I’ve got nothing to complain about.” Mr Grzebski was cared for during his coma by his dedicated wife, who gave her husband constant attention, taking on the job of “an experienced intensive care team” according to one doctor, moving him every few hours to prevent bed sores. She took her husband to family gatherings of which he has vague recollections and can recall family members trying to communicate with him.
BERLIN WALL FRAGMENTS: Just one of the major changes since 1988
Stranger than fiction? Have you ever got out a book from the University libraries about terrorism, or one remotely related to it? If so, your name could be on a list that has the potential to be passed on to MI5; Katie Kennedy investigates
t sounds like something out of the Cold War, but a piece of government legislation means that thousands of students nationally are being unwittingly spied on by their universities, academic rights are being infringed upon, and lecturers are being asked to compromise their relationships with their students. It will come as no surprise then that this legislation has not been widely advertised to students by the government or their universities, and so many people would think that little has been reported on it by the national media too. But, in fact, these guidelines are a part of the controversial anti-terror laws, which last week seemed to become even more uncompromising with plans unveiled by the Home Secretary John Reid. Under the legislation, universities are asked to “be vigilant” of any extremist activity, whether it be students giving out leaflets about meetings, or students looking at ‘inappropriate’ websites on the internet. The guidelines, titled ‘Promoting Good Campus Relations: Working with staff and students to build community cohesion and tackle violent extremism in the name of Islam at Universities and Colleges’, were devised to offer advice to Vice Chancellors and principals of higher education. Bill Rammell, the minister for higher education and lifelong learning, produced the paper, claiming it aims to ‘respond to a number of challenging and sensitive issues’ under the Terrorism Act of 2006. However, unsurprisingly within the current climate of Islamophobia, the guidelines only discuss Muslim forms of extremism and terrorism, resulting in the lecturers’ union, the University and College Union (UCU), labelling the guidelines as “Muslim-bashing witchhunts.” Indeed the paper completely centres around claims that higher education institutions should be more vigilant to “take responsible preventative action to tackle violent extremism in the name of Islam on their campuses”, “…to isolate and challenge the very small minority who promote violent extremism in the name of Islam”, and to assure “our Muslim communities that we all share in the fundamental values of free intellectual enquiry and free expression within the law”. The guidelines claim that, “universities and colleges can provide a recruiting ground for extremists of all forms, and particularly those that target young people. Student communities provide an opportunity for extremist individuals to form new networks, and extend existing ones.” The idea that universities can be used to recruit extremists is one that has been perpetuated by the media, even leading to suggestions that the way universities accept student applications should be changed. Professor Anthony Glees told The Guardian in 2006 that in order for campuses to not become vehicles of religious hatred, all potential university students should be interviewed. The Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FOSIS) has criticised these claims for being without substance, highlighting that there is no evidence to support these notions. Faisal Hanjra, spokesman for FOSIS, said: “The continuous cloud of suspicion that has hung over Muslim students at universities has negatively impacted on the education experience of many young Muslims. The accusations put forward by the likes of Professor Glees have been dismissed by all those working in the higher education sector, including Universities UK, NUS and UCU”. But the guidelines do not stop here. The paper goes on to list examples of how to spot ‘terrorist’ activity, whether it be ‘terrorist’ literature found in a classroom, speakers with ‘extremist’ views, students spying on others looking at images on the internet that may be ‘terrorist’-related, or students telling university officials that Islamic society meetings have become more ‘extreme’. It seems to suggest that lecturers are
being encouraged then to ‘spy’ on their students, and report them to the appropriate authorities if required. How exactly this legislation is allowed to go through in a country which prides itself on freedom of speech may be puzzling. But even freedom of speech is subject to ambiguous limitations; it can be restricted if it is deemed to be in the interest of preventing disorder or crime, to protect health or morals, or in the interests of national security. These vague phrases are open to interpretation by the government and the courts, and therefore can be applied to preventing terrorism. But more disturbingly, according to information from an anonymous source gained exclusively by gair rhydd, higher education institutions nationally are allegedly also recording the names of students who borrow books from university and college libraries that may have terrorist or extremist-related content. This information has the possibility of being passed on to government and security service departments, despite the fact that the material may even be on course reading lists. The Guardian recently reported that Mark Campbell, a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University, claimed that he knew of a student from Swansea who was arrested under anti-terrorism laws for taking a photograph of London Bridge, after a book titled ‘The Future Jihad Terrorist Strategy Against the West’ was found in his possession. It was recommended reading for his university course. When asked what Cardiff student Javvad Haider, who is Muslim, thought about the guidelines, he responded: “To be honest I could just laugh about it. They can spy all they want and put us on lists as much as they like, we don’t have anything to hide and nothing’s going to happen.” The second year Medic continued: “It’s not helping anyone and it’s just causing more distrust amongst people; if anything it’s more detrimental than it is beneficial.” FOSIS, agrees, a spokesman said: “Following the events of 7/7 there have been a number of allegations put forward that have suggested that universities are at particular risk of infiltration from those seeking to commit acts similar in nature to those seen on 7/7. This is simply untrue and no evidence has been put forward to substantiate these very serious allegations.” These guidelines are a part of anti-terror legislation that has been steadily expanding with alarming frequency in the past five years. The Home Secretary last week renewed calls for the 28-day limit on pre-charge detention to be reviewed for terror suspects, but Javvad also feels that this legislation will not solve the threat of terrorism. He said: “Nobody’s doubting that it’s a problem, but it’s not going to go away by locking someone up for however many number of days.” Javvad argues that instead the government should be focusing on the causes of why people may consider carrying out terrorist acts. He said: “The government needs to consider the roots of terrorism, it has roots in the UK’s foreign policy, the Middle East and racism in the UK. Draconian laws are not going to put a full stop to this.” The guidelines though are just another issue in a long list for Muslim students across the UK to feel concerned about. In the past few years, FOSIS has highlighted the suspension of two Muslim students who criticised their college rules that prevent religious student groups on campus in a student-run newsletter; that the face veil has been banned at Imperial College, London in an attempt to ‘tighten security’; and various racist attacks on Muslim students and prayer rooms. This is on top of more legislation that restricts freedom in the name of anti-terrorism laws. Andy Rennison, a third year English Literature student, was shocked to hear about the government guidelines. He said: “This seems like an Orwellian nightmare. It does make you feel like your rights are not only being infringed but don’t even exist in the first place.”
READING INTO TROUBLE: University libraries asked to monitor student’s reading habits Dr Paul Mason, director of post-graduate research studies for JOMEC, has research interests in political violence and the discourse of terrorism in media culture. Asked what he thought of the idea of universities being used as ‘recruiting grounds’ for terrorists, he told gair rhydd about his personal opinion, stressing that he could not speak for JOMEC or the university more widely. He said: “Yet another example of knee-jerk paranoia by a government driven by high visibility, sound bite politics packaged for media consumption devoid of substance or evidence. Or to put it another way – it’s utter bollocks.” In relation to the guidelines and the library accusations, although Dr Mason is not aware if these are true, he speculated: “Do the government really think that someone intent on carrying out an act of political violence is going to hand in their plan as a dissertation? Or sit in a public place Googling “Tower of London and Semtex”? There is no consideration that students, on my courses for example, may be researching ‘why’ it is that people are driven to acts of political violence-what their motivations might be. Perhaps the government don’t want students looking too closely into the actions in Iraq or US foreign policy – because it is those actions that breed hatred and the desire to fight for their beliefs. Sounds to me like it’s a list we should all strive to be on.” When researching for this article, Cardiff’s Students’ Union’s sabbatical team were also not aware of the government guidelines and so were unable to comment. But Vice President Ed Jones did emphasise that with further investigation, this matter may be discussed at the first student council of the coming academic year. Last week though, the UCU took direct action at a meeting in Bournemouth by voting to unanimously reject the government’s guidelines. The UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, commented that UCU delegates had made
“Student communities provide an opportunity for extremist individuals to form new networks, and extend existing ones.”
“Lecturers want to teach students; if they wanted to police them they would have joined the force.”
it clear that they would oppose government attempts to restrict academic freedom and free speech. She said: “Lecturers want to teach students; if they wanted to police them they would have joined force. “Lecturers have a pivotal role in building trust. These proposals, if implemented, would make that all but impossible. The last thing we need is people too frightened to discuss an issue because they fear some quasi-secret service will turn them in.” When questioning Cardiff University about the claims that students who borrow library books with terrorism-related content were being recorded, all reports were denied including accusations of infringing on academic freedom; but a spokesperson did admit that the University is considering if current working policies need to be changed under new terror legislation. A University spokesperson said: “A discussion has been held with library staff about how the new legislation under the Terrorism Act should be handled, since the Library manages many of the open access workstation rooms. “The University is considering the existing Acceptable Use Policy and regulations in the light of the new offences and with a view to ensuring that access to material about terrorism by students and staff is allowed where not restricted by the Act.” Although gair rhydd cannot be certain that the allegations that university and college libraries nationally are recording students’ names is true; it is obvious that Muslim students in particular are feeling the brunt of restrictive government legislation that has been labelled by many as ‘witch-hunts’. With news that the UCU is rejecting the government guidelines, perhaps ViceChancellors and principals nationally will take the indicative step to follow suit; allowing higher education to fulfil an important role in acting as a unique space to allow free discussion of controversial ideas and ideologies, without students feeling too frightened to contribute.
Disabled Cardiff students say it’s high time the University improved its facilities. Helen Thompson examines their case
“Disabled access at Cardiff University can be summed up in four letters, ‘c’ being the first and ‘p’ being the last!” According to its own website, the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 places a duty on Cardiff University to make ‘reasonable adjustments to services so that disabled students and applicants are not placed at a substantial disadvantage because of their disability’. The University failed in its duty to this student, and it is not only the John Pryde lecture theatre that puts disabled students at such a disadvantage. The Large Shandon lecture theatre in the Main Building is also only accessible by stairs, and others, such as the Wallace lecture theatre in Main Building, have no designated area for students in wheelchairs to sit in front of a desk. Entry is from the top of the lecture theatre, where desks have fixed seating, and there is no way to descend to the other tiers of seating except
by the stairs. The disabled student would have no choice but to sit at the top of the stairs, without a desk. Although lifts are primarily installed for the convenience of the less able-bodied, the lifts around campus have been criticised for their unsuitability for use by disabled people. The doors of some close so swiftly that it is difficult for a wheelchair user to manoeuvre themselves out of the carriage before the doors close on them. Some have a large metal door and grate that must be pulled across to operate the lift – challenging for those who lack energy or physical ability – while others do not stop at all the floors, leaving students stranded on the wrong floor. Both the Glamorgan and Biosciences buildings have at least one lift that is too small to fit a wheelchair inside, reducing the number of elevators available to disabled students, and increasing the problems they face if their usual lift breaks down. Seemingly absurd reversals have also taken place. Of the three IT rooms in the Main Building, not one has disabled access since the sole ramp that would allow students in wheelchairs to reach the computers was removed and replaced with stairs. A member of the University’s Estates Division has said that the ramp “was found to be inadequate in several respects” and that it “was not possible to make it compliant.” Although the University claims that an alternative route was made available, it is not clearly signposted, as Monaghan was unable to find it. Ted Shiress, a first year English Language and Communications student, will take on the role of Disability Officer for Cardiff Students’ Union next year. He says: “Disabled access [at Cardiff University] can be summed up in four letters, ‘c’ being the first and ‘p’ being the last!” Ted, who has cerebral palsy memorably highlighted the accessibility issues he routinely faces at this year’s Hustings meeting, where all candidates running for Sabbatical and Non-Sabbatical Students’ Union positions make speeches about their policies. He was unable to get up onto the raised stage to make his speech from the same platform as all candidates for other positions, as there was no ramp leading up to it. Instead, he stood below the stage, driving home the fact that Cardiff Students’ Union also does not provide equality for
disabled students. Union President Joe AlKhayat said: “In this one instance, we fell below our normal high standard for provisions for students and staff with additional needs. Consequently, both resources and instructions have been given to ensure that, at all times, reasonable provisions are made.” But this is not the only way in which the Union building falls below satisfactory standards. Heavy fire doors that only open one way make it difficult for disabled students to move around, and although he enjoys a night out, Ted does not include the Students’ Union in his regular haunts. “In the Taf and Solus, people stare at me because they think I’m drunk. If I go in there to find my friends I find it really difficult because there’s so many people I might get knocked over. I end up sitting down in the nearest chair and it’s no fun because I can’t find anyone.” Ted believes that if a rail was installed that ran along the wall from the bar to the chairs, he would be able to more fully enjoy his evenings out, as he would be able to support himself while looking for friends. Renowned in student legend for being the best time of your life, Freshers’ week was a difficult experience for Ted. He lives in Talybont Court, in a specially-modified flat that includes two double-sized rooms into which he can fit his scooter, but that can only house four people. “My room is technically suitable, but I had little choice where I could live. Out of the thousands of flats in Cardiff’s halls of residences, only a handful are modified to accommodate disabled people.” Unlike other students who are unhappy with the flat they have been designated, Ted cannot simply move to the next block. Since one of his flatmates dropped out after two weeks, and he is not close to the other two, he often feels very isolated. “The doors in and out of flats are heavy and you can only access other flats by key or electronically, which makes it really difficult to interact.” When looking around universities, Ted noticed that the disabled access of other institutions put Cardiff’s to shame. He said: “The facilities are terrible in comparison to places like Lancaster University. I decided to come to Cardiff because it is a happening city, but sometimes I wonder if life would have been easier somewhere else.” Many of the University’s buildings,
PHOTOS: ROB TAYLOR
Simply not good enough isabled students are sometimes excluded from lectures and have no choice but to learn entire modules by themselves due to the poor access facilities at Cardiff University, gair rhydd can reveal, after a Union-directed review of the provisions. Lecture halls that are only accessible by staircases, lifts too small to fit a wheelchair and fire doors that are too heavy for some disabled students to operate were just some of the problems encountered by Kate Monaghan, Cardiff Students’ Union’s Education and Welfare Officer, when touring the Cathays campus with a volunteer student in a wheelchair. Some difficulties are just inconvenient, such as having to use a swipe card to get into Glamorgan Building through an alarmed door in the basement, as there is no ramp leading up to the main entrance. Others put students’ studies in jeopardy, such as the fact that the John Pryde lecture theatre, located in the basement of the Biosciences Building, is only accessible by descending a flight of stairs. One student said: “I was forced to teach myself a module in years two and three because there was no access to the John Pryde lecture theatre.”
UNIVERSITY FACILITIES: Current provisions for the disabled around the campus
“Out of the thousands of flats in Cardiff’s halls of residences, only a handful are modified to accommodate disabled people.”
“I was forced to teach myself a module in years two and three because there was no access to the lecture theatre.”
including the white-fronted buildings within Cardiff’s civic centre, are so old that it is impossible to obtain planning permission to make significant structural changes like enlarging lift shafts and ramps. The University does insist, however, that it continually updates the facilities within its capabilities as the need arises. Recent improvements have included a £100,000 refurbishment of the Aberconway lifts – an area that had attracted criticism because of frequent breakdowns. Proposals have also been put forward for improvements in access to and within Main Building’s pool rooms – the University’s main teaching rooms – including installation of stairlifts for the Large Shandon and Wallace lecture theatres, improvements to lifts, internal ramps and corridor doors in the Main Building. A concurrent project to improve facilities within the main rooms will address issues such as the lack of space for wheelchairs in lecture theatres. None of these projects have yet been approved, and work on other buildings will not begin until these are underway. Meanwhile, the University says that structural considerations make it impossible to change buildings to allow for the same level of access for all students. It is apparently not practical to make the entrance of Glamorgan building accessible to all, and so disabled students will have to continue entering through the basement. Other supposed improvements seem to have made some wheelchair users’ lives more difficult. One found the accessibility in the new Biosciences 2 block unimpressive. She called it ‘a maze’, and found it impossible to turn around in the narrow corridors, having to reverse back the way she came. Students with hearing difficulties pointed out that not all lecture theatres include hearing loops – systems that cut out background noise, making it easier for people wearing a hearing aid or loop listener to hear. The notoriously noisy humanities lecture rooms were also problematic, as the trains that frequently rush past the window drown out the lecturer’s voice. Monaghan says that these are just some of the things that students without disabilities would never consider. “The role of Disability Officer is invaluable,” she says. The Officer is required to be self-defining, meaning that they must have a disability themselves. Monaghan continues: “I found it really interesting that we encountered problems I would never even think about as an able-bodied person. The Disability Officer can pick up on these things and push the University to make changes.”
SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
China announces first ever climate change strategy as George Bush undermines the Kyoto Protocol Ceri Morgan Science & Environment Editor
hina has announced a new national strategy to tackle climate change, but says its ‘overriding priority’ is economic development. The release of the 62-page document was seen as an attempt to pre-empt criticism of China at the G8 Summit in Germany, held last Friday. The report laid out the details behind China’s aim of reducing energy use by a fifth before 2010. This includes an expanded portfolio of wind, nuclear and other renewable energy projects, as well as improving the efficiency of existing power stations. More research will be commissioned in a variety of fields – such as water resource management – and more money spent on raising public awareness. However, the idea of mandatory emission caps was again rejected as unfair to developing countries, with the Chinese Government stating that global warming was largely caused by 200 years of unrestrained industrialisation by the West. Ma Kai, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, said: “It is neither realistic nor fair...to overlook the different stages of development that different countries are in and to use climate change as an excuse to ask them to undertake quantified emissionsreductions commitments.” He added: “This would hinder the progress of developing countries and hamper their industrialisation.” Kai also said that while the strategy would “cost a fortune”, it would be an investment in prevention, and therefore worthwhile for the biggest country in Asia. The report also stresses the need for sustainable development and poverty eradication, emphasising that climate change represents a big challenge for China. “The population of China accounts for approximately one-fifth of the world population, and as a result one out of five of the world’s population affected by climate change will come from China,” said Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai. “That is why the Chinese Government takes this issue very seriously.” China also welcomed US President George W. Bush’s new initiative on global warming as a ‘useful compliment’ to the UN Kyoto Protocol – which expires in 2012 – but warned that it should not be used as a substitute for the landmark treaty. The US is the only developed country – apart from Australia – that is not a signatory to the protocol, and Bush has instead proposed uniting the big industrial nations in setting non-binding targets by December 2008. Critics say that the US and China’s approach to emissions strategies is undermining the work of some major international projects, including those developed by the G8 and the UN. “Bush is clearly running scared on the issue of climate change and of the huge public demand in the US and globally for urgent action,” said John Coequyt of Greenpeace USA. “This is a slap in the face to one of the
Science teacher shortage Campaigners from an academic organisation say the government is failing to recognise the seriousness of the science teacher shortage in England and Wales. Tony Blair has announced that there have been 7,500 science teachers recruited in the last year, a 30% increase since 1997. The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CASE) claims that the new government figures are misleading, as they include Business Studies, Textiles and Graphics teachers, all under the general heading of ‘Science’.
Sea changes ‘irreversible’ Major changes in Black Sea ecosystems have been caused by unsustainable fishing practices. Georgi Daskalov and colleagues from the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), have found the biomass of the Black Sea is now 90% jellyfish, as predatory fish have depleted in number, allowing the jellyfish to increase rapidly in population. The team said that in order for the situation to improve, the Black Sea needs to be managed more effectively, not just in terms of limiting fish catches, but also improving the quality of the environment and reducing other human impacts on the sea.
Talking Paper Scientists have created paper that can talk. The interactive digital paper emits recorded sound in response to a user’s touch. The conductive inks used are sensitive to pressure, and the sound comes from within printed speakers. The Swedish team behind the project suggest the paper could be used by advertisers, and maybe even for product packaging on the shelves of supermarkets. The head of the team, Mikael Gullikson, said the technology could be used on everything from billboards to postcards from exotic destinations.
CHINA: Tackling climate change will not be at the expense of economic development US’ key allies, Germany ,which has rightly made the climate a central issue in the G8 this year and has put the emission cuts science demands into the draft G8 communique. The US talk of a ‘new policy’ is also a desperate attempt to head-off the start of international negotiations on the next stage of emissions’ reductions after 2012; it is a distraction from the real task of agreeing emission reductions.” In the past, both the US and China have missed almost every environmental target they have set for themselves, and as the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, it is now crucial for a consensus on emissions to be reached. The United Nations has urged the richest countries in the world to come together and show the developing world that it is
In the past, both the US and China have missed almost every environmental target they have set for themselves
possible to combat climate change without the need for a dramatic halt in economic growth. “It will be tragic if we don’t take any action,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. “My main message is to galvanise this political will at leaders level so that we can take necessary action.” George Bush has proposed a series of meetings between the 15 biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, which could be held later in the year. Emission goals would be set, but each country would be able to decide how to implement them on an individual basis. While uncertainty currently surrounds the emissions problem, what is certain is that a consensus needs to be reached, and soon.
How did you first get involved in environmentalism?
sceptics (dead easy to do!), working with great people in WWF, and speaking Welsh with colleagues, partners and the media.
T-Rex: quite slow Scientists in the US have proven that Tyrannosaurus Rex would have struggled to catch fast-moving prey. Using computer models, the team from Stanford University showed that the body mass and balance points of the cumbersome dinosaur meant that it would have struggled to turn quickly and catch fast species. Dr Hutchinson, who led the study, said that the animals it probably preyed on were also ‘clunky’. “We have to slow down our view of that ecosystem,” he said. “It wasn’t like the Serengeti today where everything is done at top speed.”
Five minutes with...
Morgan Parry, Head of WWF Cymru
I helped the Central Wales Energy Group back in 1980, campaigning for renewable energy and action on climate change. If the Government had listened to us then then we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now! I then volunteered for Friends of the Earth and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, before being lucky enough to get paid to do what I do now.
What big campaigns are you working on at the moment?
involved in environmental issues? Check your ecological footprint from our website and follow the advice. Reject consumerism, get active in politics, grow spinach. What is you favourite animal and why?
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Climate change is a big one, but it’s not the only issue. We shouldn’t trash the marine environment (like the Severn barrage would do) just because we’re too lazy to get on the train and switch our tellies off. We’ll never stop climate change unless we use energy more efficiently, and move quickly to low-impact renewable energy.
Winning arguments with climate change
How could Cardiff students get more
Questions by Ceri Morgan
Bees, for building incredible structures and making honey, and big carnivores like tigers and bears that are rapidly running out of places to hide. And when I’m in a very good mood, I even get to like some humans as well.
The campus spectrum gair rhydd invites three of Cardiff’s student movements to chart their political year
Socialist Students Gerald Blee, President of Cardiff Socialist Students
his year Socialist Students have been campaigning on a wide range of issues. We have had weekly stalls and meetings on the major issues of student fees and debt, the crisis in the NHS and the war in Iraq. Our activities have ranged from local discussions and protests to national demonstrations. Due to the looming spectre of top-up fees over Wales we have had lots of support on this issue. As well as discussing fees from our socialist perspective, which links student fees to public spending, we have mobilised action.
In Cardiff we have had several protests on this issue, including one at Park Place followed by a lobby of the Vice Chancellor’s office; both events were well attended and received prominent coverage in the gair rhydd. We have also had activity in Cardiff town centre including a protest where we gave people ‘£76 billion notes’ to create an alternative budget; most people allocated the funds to education or the NHS, some to the environmental problem and nobody to restoring Trident, the UK’s £76 billion missile-firing system. Due to the scale of support we have not had so many theoretical debates or film screenings this year, as the demand for street action was so high. We have, however, made a point of emphasising the connection between the lack of funds for education and the NHS to the cost of war. We have received encouraging support
and increased our membership hugely at our weekly stalls, which is our main forum for raising the profile of campaigns, giving a socialist perspective and getting to talk to new people. Two of our members in Cardiff University stood in the Assembly elections this year. Although we did not win or expect seats, lots of students were encouraged by our ideas. The Campaign for a New Workers Party that would represent ordinary people was particularly well received, as many people either vote negatively – i.e. Labour because they hate the Tories or Lib Dem because they are disillusioned with Labour – or not at all due to the idea that ‘none of the major parties represent me’. The growing desire for an alternative among young people and students has made this year very busy and active for us and we look forward to reaching even more people in 2008.
Conservatives Mike Wallbank, Chairman of Cardiff’s Conservative Future
he widely publicised ‘Cameron effect’, which saw an increase in membership and activity in the party across the country, has been no more evident than in the Cardiff University Branch of Conservative Future. At the freshers’ fayre we recruited an extremely talented and committed bunch of members, who have made us a vibrant and active group, both on campus and beyond. Our major success this year was to significantly increase our active membership, and as a result, all of our major events were well supported. We were joined at the fayre by Andrew Murphy, our Assembly candidate for
Cardiff Central, who took the time to meet new members. During the autumn our members had the chance to meet David Cameron and former Chancellor Lord Howe at drinks receptions in the City Centre. There was also a policy forum that was attended by shadow defence secretary Julian Lewis and several of our Welsh Assembly Members. The highlight of the pre-Christmas period was a visit to the Welsh Assembly, where we were given a behind-the-scenes tour, an audience with Welsh Conservative leader, Nick Bourne, and an opportunity to watch a debate from the public gallery. By Christmas, our numbers were still strong, and we finished the term with a fiercely contested round of Pub Golf, at which our local Assembly Candidate demonstrated his proficiency off the campaign trail by giving a demonstration of how to down two pints of Guinness back to back! The spring term was also a hugely successful time for us, the high point being the Welsh Conservative Conference, at which we hosted a CF Wales drinks recep-
tion, and got to hear a wide range of high quality speeches from Conservative AMs and MPs. The term also featured an informal policy forum hosted by a local PhD student, John Moorcraft, who is studying the history of the Young Conservatives and Conservative Future. John learned the views of CF members for his research; for everyone else, it was a chance to drink and talk politics! This seemed to suit everyone. Later in the term, we hosted a Pro-Evo tournament, and several nights out in Cardiff. The Assembly election this year saw a significant increase in the Conservative vote in Cardiff Central, and student members were at the heart of this effort, delivering thousands of leaflets for Andrew Murphy, our local candidate. Next year, Cardiff will see local government elections, and with the minimum age for candidates being lowered from 21 to 18 this year, more student involvement is inevitable. If you enjoy frontline politics, with a real opportunity to get involved, then this is the place to be.
Lib Dems Dominic Hannigan, Vice President of Cardiff Liberal Democrats
hen I first got involved with the Lib Dem society at the beginning of my first year, I had no idea how it would affect my university life. Looking back now, it has been an amazing time, culminating for me personally when I stood in the Welsh Assembly elections in Cardiff South and Penarth this year. The society played a really important part in these elections, helping to re-elect Jenny Randerson to the Welsh Assembly for a third term with over 50% of the vote, as well as travelling to other parts of Wales to help out other Lib Dem candidates. In May next year there are local council elections to look forward to, so it’s bound to be a busy year and no doubt by the end
of it some members of the society will be Cardiff County councillors. The Lib Dems in Cardiff are a very young party, with many of the local councillors being members of the society in years past. The success the party has had locally – running the council, and having both the AM and the MP in Cardiff Central – make it a really exciting place to be a Lib Dem. As well as being a great place to start if you want a career in politics, it can be really rewarding if you are just a supporter without any particular ambitions. There’s always stuff going on socially as well as campaigning, and I’ve made some lifelong friends in the party. I joined the Lib Dems because I think that they represent fairness; I was sick of the other parties and the way that they like to bash people who can’t defend themselves, often for a quick headline and to seem ‘tough’. While I joined for a very serious reason, I cannot understate how much fun I have had in the last few years, and the way that it has helped me to get my political career started. It’s well worth it.
Sham Campaign Andy Rennison Political Editor
he air of a Newsnight broadcast is always tinged with ironic pomp, from the moment Paxman’s satirical tones bid us welcome. It was, then, the perfect setting for the six deputy leadership candidates to parade their credentials. Moody BBC backdrops and neatly arranged podiums were unable to disguise the hollow realities of a contest desperate to counteract the autocracy of Gordon Brown’s coronation. The Beeb were themselves undoubtedly over-compensating for the lack of a Prime Ministerial debate to fill their schedules, following the demise of Brown’s potential challengers. Though the outcome of that unrealised contest would have been assured, it would have given Britain a chance to see the Chancellor challenged over the direction he will be taking us. Instead, we have ourselves a sham campaign, one that will continue to deliver regular headlines yet prove largely irrelevant as the Brown era dawns. The job of Deputy PM bears little significance when compared to the rest of Westminster’s top-flight posts. Many among the student generation who have
CONTENDERS - Newsnight’s line-up grown up with the infamous Prescott may be mildly shocked to learn that while there have been 52 Prime Ministers over the course of British history, there have been a mere eight deputy leaders. It is perhaps unsurprising that Mr Prescott has so often made the front pages for the wrong reasons, as the role of deputy
New policies on Islamic studies are misguided, claims Amy Grier
pening a conference about Islam on Monday, Tony Blair announced the findings of a new government-commissioned report urging a review of the way Islam and Islamic studies are taught at university. The report by Islamic scholar Dr Ataullah Siddiqui found that many of the Islamic courses focus too much on the roots of Islam, and largely ignore modern issues and controversies about the reality of Islamic life in the West. It is feared by the Government that this kind of onedimensional syllabus pre-empts or even condones extremism in higher education.
It is with this in mind that Islam has been designated a ‘strategic subject’ by ministers. But what does this kind of re-branding actually mean to students? Currently, the sciences and Engineering are ‘strategic subjects’, which means that there is a national interest, economically or socially, in protecting research and graduates with the right skills in this area. There is, however, a more sinister result of making a subject ‘strategic’. Although it will inevitably provide more funding for said subject – Blair has pledged £1 million to universities that teach this new Islamic
alone affords none of the official powers with which to make headlines for the right ones. Having said that, while the technical role of PM understudy has not changed over the last decade, Prescott has been one of the busier deputies, having filled a number of other cabinet positions. In 2001, Studies course – it also makes the subject more open to external scrutiny. After the Government’s failed attempt to get lecturers to ‘spy’ on students suspected of terrorism, perhaps this report provides a new way to keep a watchful eye on students and lecturers alike. In the run-up to the anniversary of the July 7 bombings, in which two of the bombers had been students at British universities, Blair appears to be tackling the issue of student extremism through the back door. Yet, the extent to which university courses are responsible for this type of extremism is itself debatable. At present there are 44 institutions that teach Islamic studies. Looking at the module lists for these courses, all of them do seem to relate strongly to the Middle East; the University of London’s course even has a compulsory year out in a Middle Eastern university. The Siddiqui report condemns courses such as these, saying that they concentrate on “out of date and irrelevant issues.” This foreign focus is thought to alienate British Muslims, possibly making them more susceptible to extremism on campus. However, surely those people most likely to study Islam in an open system like higher education represent the most openminded and scholastic Muslims – those least likely to be affected by the narrow theological arguments of religious extremism. Perhaps this type of reform is aimed at the wrong people. It is possibly with this in mind that the Siddiqui report also advises universities to employ faith advisers on campus to pro-
Prescott’s various responsibilities were funnelled into the newly-formed Office of the Deputy Prime Minister – a department that had nothing to do with the Deputy post other than having Prescott sat at the top of it. But five years, one secretary and 17,000 tabloid splashes later, Prescott’s department had been reshuffled and rebranded and his title demoted to the marginally embarrassing ‘Minister without Portfolio’. And so the sizeable shadow of a fallen Prescott looms over the current contest, his legacy shackling the new deputy before they have even been voted in. Yet there is one factor that may eclipse Prescott’s role in humbling the Deputy post: Gordon Brown. Commentators have noted the safe distance the Chancellor has maintained from the ongoing contest, with many assuming that this is obviously to avoid his having to nail his colours to one candidate’s mast. But Brown’s silence over his incoming deputy is also indicative of his indifference to who will play first mate to his captain. Famous for his micro-managing tyranny, it is doubtful whether Brown, having waited impatiently for 13-odd years, will listen to any of his cabinet once he assumes power, let alone his relatively irrelevant deputy. The paper space and airtime being dedicated to the race for second-in-command should instead be given to further interrogation of what Gordon’s Britain will become. If indeed our incoming Prime Minister is half as authoritarian as some suggest, the media must step up a notch in holding Brown to account in a way his subordinates never will. vide guidance for those more impressionable students. It also highlights the need for more locally trained Imams who will better understand the problems facing young Muslims in modern Britain. While these measures are undoubtedly positive ones, the message behind them seems to be unclear. In Mr Blair’s speech at the conference, he spoke of eradicating ‘Islamophobic sentiment’ in Britain. And yet, the reaction to this report is dichoto-
This report provides a new way to keep an eye on students mous, at once condemning the idea that a few extremists are representative of the whole Islamic faith, yet simultaneously increasing measures to combat said extremism. It is difficult not to see these new measures as only scratching the surface. The solution may be to go back to grassroots and look at the school curriculums for religious studies, or perhaps it is to educate non-Muslim students and lecturers in the basic practices of modern Islam. Nevertheless, any attempt to promote unity and understanding in such a troubled political and religious climate must be viewed as a step forward.
Alex Klosinska looks at the latest tensions between Russia and the West
he world took a sharp intake of breath last week when Russian president Vladimir Putin threatened to aim his missiles towards Europe in response to American plans for a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic. In an interview prior to the G8 summit in Germany, Putin said, “If a part of the strategic nuclear potential of the US appears in Europe and, in the opinion of our military specialists, will threaten us, then we will have to take appropriate steps in response. “What kind of steps? We will have to have new targets in Europe.” Such comments have added to the concern over Russia’s recent testing of a new ballistic missile, believed to be capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. The US response was immediate. During his visit to Prague, President Bush assured Russia that it has nothing to be afraid of, claiming that the reason for the planned missile shield was to “safeguard free nations against a missile attack launched from a rogue regime.” He also invited Mr Putin to “cooperate” with Washington over the matter of security. The proposed US system has weakened the already fragile relationship between Russia and the rest of Europe. The situation seems even more intractable with the recent contention over Britain’s request to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, the man allegedly responsible for the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. Although some may argue that Mr Putin’s threats are merely those of a fading superpower rattling the sabre, references to the Cold War are inevitable. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed the need to “drop the rhetoric that sounds like what the United States and the Soviet Union used to say about each other.” Although Czech and Polish leaders have endorsed the missile shield, the polls conducted among their citizens indicate a lack of public support for their governments’ stance. According to a survey conducted in April, 57% of Polish citizens are against the shields, marking an increase in opposition since the previous survey on the subject. Analysts have claimed that one crucial reason for this shifting Russian attitude towards the West is the approaching presidential and parliamentary elections. A form of anti-West xenophobia is believed to help the Kremlin consolidate its popularity with the electorate. The countries of the EU that for the last few months have tried to remain unbiased amidst the growing tensions between the US and Russia now face the need for a clear position on the issue, particularly following Putin’s counter-threats of last week. This dispute exposes the need for more unanimity between the countries of Europe.
Changing climate Tim Hewish Deputy Political Editor
o it appears that the Americans have declared war on global warming. President Bush has announced, just days before the G8 summit in Germany, that the US has plans to forge its own protocol on the changing global climate. On the surface this appears a welcome turn, as the US is finally acknowledging it must act on growing pressure over the global warming debate. However, the question needs to be asked: what is wrong with the Kyoto Agreement set out in 1997? Many pressure groups still want the US to ratify Kyoto, as without the most powerful nation’s support any agreement is worthless. It would be easy to fall for all the media bias of Bushbashing, but there is a strong case for America’s past and recent actions. First and foremost, Kyoto consists of two sets of nations, ‘Annex I’ and ‘Annex II’. The former are the developed industrialised democracies and they have to put caps on total emissions, whereas the latter
group are developing countries such as India and China, who have no such restrictions put upon them. By the end of 2007 it is projected that China will have overtaken the US as the largest expeller of CO2 emissions and will burn up more natural resources. With this in mind it doesn’t appear in US interests to play ball with Kyoto, as China is now viewed as a real threat to US economic growth, and any dividing of nations seems unjust, as this isn’t just a problem for a few
The timing is in line with creating a Bush legacy nations, but a global phenomenon. So keeping with their view that anything the world does the stars and stripes can do better, the Bush proposal consists of gathering together the 15 nations who produce the bulk of greenhouse gases and
hammering out a deal within a year. Perhaps the timing is in line with creating a Bush legacy – much like the botched Blair legacy of late. A point of note is that the G8, a much smaller group, have bickered between one another over how to tackle climate change, so how will a 15-strong patchwork of democracies and authoritarian regimes agree? It will no doubt end in appeasement and a weaker policy for it. Yet we should not be too downcast, as it was always going to be the case that any policy would be brokered on US terms, not Europe’s, because of the US wanting tighter restrictions on its new competitors, before she puts barriers on her own economy. The major rift this latest announcement has caused is that it is yet again without UN approval, something that the US has a taste for doing. After not securing a UN mandate to start a war with Iraq, Washington went its own way, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that a deal on climate change will be no different. Daniel Mittler, an analyst at Greenpeace International, said: “It is a dangerous
‘OK, who’s been killing the planet?’ diversionary tactic, Bush doesn’t need to start a new process. There already is one. This is meant to slow down the UN process.” But with the US not agreeing in principle with trying to limit the world’s temperature increase to two celsius, or with the cap on Annex I nations, Bush’s new proposal has all but killed off hopes of an
agreement on European conditions for combating climate change at the forthcoming G8 meeting. But getting the US to any sort of table is a start, and if it means they have to chair said table and upstage Europe’s efforts, then that may have to be the price the world has to pay if we are serious about tackling climate change.
Gorgeous George BBC newsreader George Alagiah discusses immigration. the media and future aspirations
irst impressions do count. The criteria on which you are judged will differ according to your company. I am a firm believer in the handshake as a key signifier of the personality department (with firmness equating to strength of character). Many a time have I felt let down when a potentially intriguing candidate has a feeble first greeting. Every so often you will meet someone who knows exactly how to handle the initial meeting scenario. George Alagiah is one such individual. If he was judged solely on his handshake he would pass the personality test with flying colours. But he does not rely on this attribute. His open smile and willingness to make time for people makes him most endearing. When we meet, he has just completed a book signing at the Hay festival. His queue of fans is particularly substantial and it is easy to see why. The warm reception he has received is reciprocated. Alagiah is a gentleman. After making sure there is a suitable place for our interview to take place he begins to enthuse about his latest project; a book entitled Home From Home. “The reason I wrote Home From Home is because I think I have got to that point in my life in that I have felt completely comfortable in who I have become,” he explains. “I have described my process of becoming an Englishman in the book. It may sound strange but it was just before I started to write that I felt secure and that nobody could take away anything I have achieved. That made me think about wanting to explore where I have come from and the journey that I have been on. Home From Home is a product of such an exploration.” The newsreader was born in Sri Lanka in November 1955. His primary education was in Ghana where his parents moved in 1961. By the time his secondary education started, he and his family had moved to Britain. “I wanted to write about my personal journey. So it is part memoirs but there is also another part to the book. Once I had started exploring what I had become, I realised that there were tens of thousands of immigrant children for whom that jour-
ney is not possible; maybe for religious reasons or because of what their parents want them to do. But most of them were locked away in what I call separate enclaves. The chapter that deals with it in the book shows the immigrants working in another country. I compare my journey with the journey of other immigrants in Britain.” The process of writing Home From Home was not an easy one. Alagiah had to relay deeply personal events in order to give readers a genuine account of his voyage. He speaks frankly about the effect this had on him. “If I am really honest about it, writing the book did not have a negative impact on me emotionally,” he reveals. “I was not upset by recounting my history. Achievement ought to be as interesting as under-achievement and I think that this particular journey has been one of achievement. You do life. You never stop. You just get on with it. When you start writing about it, it gives you a chance to look back and appreciate the journey.” He becomes rather pensive. “Perhaps I ought to discuss my past more often, rather than be a figure that people see on television with no interlap or background. I do now say more and more regularly, ‘I am an immigrant.’ That is really important.” Alagiah is in the fortunate position of being able to draw attention to important issues because of his influential position within the media. However, he has had to work hard for such a privilege. Becoming a journalist was never the easy option. “Going back 30 years ago or so it was unusual for Asian kids to want to get involved in the media,” he comments. It was his education that introduced him to alternate options. “The school I went to had a couple of teachers that encouraged writing. We had school magazines and so on. Once I got involved in them I realised I could write and started thinking about journalism. By the time I was 15 or 16 I felt that I definitely did want to go into journalism.” This replaced the former reporter’s aspirations of being a train driver or pilot. If Alagiah’s journalistic career is briefly recounted, it becomes apparent that the transport industry’s loss was the media’s gain. He first joined the BBC in 1989 after seven years in print journalism. Before going behind the studio desk, he was one of the BBC’s leading foreign correspondents, recognised throughout the industry for his reporting on some of the most significant events of the last decade. He has presented live news programmes from Sri
Achievement ought to be as interesting as under-achievment. I think this particular story is one of achievement
Lanka following the tsunami, as well as reporting from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and from Pakistan following the south-Asian earthquake. Among prominent figures interviewed by Alagiah are: Nelson Mandela; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; Kofi Annan of the United Nations; Yasser Arafat; President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe; and Tariq Aziz of Iraq. In March 2002, George launched BBC Four’s international news programme and, more recently, he also presented his own compelling story of a continent in BBC One’s News Special, Africa: Journeys of Hope. Although Alagiah is no stranger to working in Africa, it is not the place in which he most enjoyed his time as a correspondent. “I liked going to America,” he explains. “Not that I did it very often because I tended to do Africa and Asia. Americans understand the power of information better than anybody else. So it was always a joy to be in a society which understood what a journalist’s work was about and what you were trying to do. There is a real energy and ‘can do’ attitude about the place which I think we sometimes lack in this country.” The broadcaster has won several awards including: the award for Best International Report at the Royal Television Society; Amnesty International’s Best TV Journalist award and the Bayeux Award for War Reporting. However, it is difficult for the newsreader to consider a single moment of his career that has been particularly rewarding. ‘There aren’t so much moments,’ he says. ‘Each story had its own sort of power and interest, whether it was the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda or Hurricane Katrina. The really stand-out thing for me is that I think it is a privilege to understand what is meant when people talk about the power of the human spirit. I have been to the most desolate of places in the worst of all possible times and I have seen individual acts of heroism. People say to me, ‘you must have got terribly depressed during your time as a foreign correspondent.’ I would not say that was the case though. I have seen things that you don’t see in everyday life. That has been the really memorable thing about my job.” So what advice would he have for those hoping to follow in his footsteps? ‘Firstly, you need that desire. You have to feel that this is the thing that you want to do. Working that out can be quite difficult. I get a lot of letters and emails saying, ‘I want to become a presenter.’ That is not journalism. It is the end point of journalism. I would much rather people ask me how to become a reporter because a lot of journalism is hard slog. Also, it is less about qualifications although there are one or two postgraduate courses that are very useful. It is more about getting yourself out there though. Are you blogging? Are you writing for your university newspaper? Have you been involved in hospital radio? All of those sorts of things. Today there are many more opportunities of that sort of thing, particularly because you have got the whole of the web to play with.’ As the face of the media changes Alagiah has to contemplate his future. ‘I am definitely happy where I am but it’s not up to me how long I stay there,’ he says. “My philosophy is that wherever I find myself I just give it 101%. I think I am finding that book-writing is a place where I am exploring my creativity. Although the books are non-fiction, I have been able to explore aspects of my life in a way that you cannot in news-journalism. I like the idea of reportage. I am dabbling with the idea of doing a novel.” Judging on the success of his previous work and his endearing nature, it is likely that future accomplishments will be plentiful and welldeserved. Home From Home is available now in all good bookstores.
Dutch show kids public A Dutch programme adopts reality TV format to raise awareness of organ donor shortage Nadia Bonjour Media Editor
ith reality TV, we have seen ‘ordinary people’ cohabit in a camerafilled house where ‘privacy’ seemingly does not exist; bachelors have publicly sought prospective partners; contestants battled it out shipwrecked on an island and aspiring ‘stars’ have attempted to shine on talent shows. Yet, the latest programme has managed to not only break form traditional reality TV formats, but stir controversy unlike any show before. This programme consisted of kidneys and donations. Already, this seems tricky and a highly personal and sensitive subject to adopt for a reality show. Yet it merely gets more complicated. The main participant was a 37-year-old terminally ill woman, known as Lisa. She selected , on the basis of “history, profile and conversation with her family and friends”, one of three contestants to receive her kidney once she dies. While she was to make the final decision, viewers were encouraged to send text messages saying who they believed should get the kidney. This was the format for the Dutch De Grote Donorshow (The Big Donor Show), recently broadcast in the Netherlands. However, while one may perhaps already be questioning, disapproving or even fuming with such a show; there is an additional twist. It has just been announced that the show was a hoax. The ‘donor’ Lisa was in fact an actress called Leonie Gebbink. In other words, The Big Donor Show was an expensive and controversial publicity stunt, but the makers of the programme have certainly succeeded in getting tongues wagging about ethics, kidney donations and the nature of reality TV.
announcing so flippantly that The Big Donor Show was a hoax seems rather tactless. While Endemol and BNN seem to be believers that there is no such thing as bad press, the deliberate employment of shocktactics as a way of raising awareness remains questionable. After all, donations and transplants can have life-changing consequences and remain a very serious topic. Those campaigning should provide an informed debate “in a responsible and sensitive manner”. While ‘Lisa’ was in fact an actress, the three contestants vying for a kidney were real patients in need of a transplant. This has furthered the controversy, as, though made aware of the stunt, the patients nonetheless evidently agreed with the nature and aims of the show. The feeling of contempt and protest towards The Big Donor Show was made clear by Dutch minister for media, Roland Plasterk, who publicly slammed it as “unethical and immoral.” Such outrage was further emphasised by Professor John Feehally, former president of UK’s Renal Association who labelled the show “ethically totally unacceptable”. He added, “the set up of the programme bears no relationship to the way decisions are made about transplants in the real world.” This leads to an endless debate surrounding reality television and the extent to which it reflects ‘reality’, ‘real’ people or ‘real’ scenarios. A concern that may arise is that in this particular scenario, The Big Donor Show made us aware that the programme was a stunt and attempted to justify its intentions and actions. Yet, surely we must question whether this is truly the first time that the public has been hoaxed. Somehow, it seems unlikely.
The Big Donor Show was made by Big Brother’s producer Endemol for Dutch public broadcaster BNN. With the recent racism rows in Big Brother 7, Endemol is more than familiar with controversy. For that reason, one might have thought that they would be keen to create more critically lauded and viewer-friendly programmes. Nonetheless, BNN and Endemol defended the show by claiming that above all, they hoped it would “highlight the acute shortage of donors in the Netherlands and encourage more donors to come forward.” There are presently around 200 people waiting for a kidney who die each year in the Netherlands, where the average waiting time exceeds four years. Paul Romen, managing director of Endemol Netherlands, claimed that the goal for staging this programme was above all “to promote a debate about this crisis,” a goal that has been indisputably achieved. Additionally, BNN is seemingly very close to the cause of organ donorship and
BNN founder died of kidney failure while waiting for organ donor wanted this show to act as a tribute to BNN founder, Bart de Graaf, who died five years ago, aged 35, of kidney failure. Despite these seemingly good intentions, many are not in agreement with the broadcasting of such a show. First of all, viewers were only informed of the hoax on the last show when ‘donor’ Lisa was to select the contestant who would receive her kidney. Secondly, kidney-related illness and organ donations can prove to be very sensitive topics, and
What Simon says Amira Hashish talks to Guardian columnist and former editor of The Times Simon Jenkins
imon Jenkins is no stranger to the hectic environment of a press office. He seems perfectly at ease in the newsroom in which we meet. Indeed, the former editor of The Times is as accustomed to such surroundings as the stereotypical Englishman is to the countryside. Jenkins started his career at Country Life magazine, then moved to the Times Educational Supplement and from there to the Evening Standard, before editing the Insight page of The Sunday Times. He was editor of the London Evening Standard from 1976-78, and then political editor of The Economist magazine from 1979-86. After founding and editing The Sunday Times Books section, he was editor of The Times from 1990-92. In 2005, he announced he was leaving The Times and he joined The Guardian that summer after a break to write a book. He is currently promoting his latest book, Thatcher and Sons. “The book is about what Thatcherism means today,” he says. “It goes back to when she came to power and why she is so popular. I decided to write about it because my time in journalism was greatly influenced by Thatcher.” Jenkins believes Thatcherism was a major cause for the change in modern media. “Getting rid of the unions was hugely important for journalism. It meant that we had seven newspapers in Britain rather than three; which we would not have had if the Prime Minister did not make so many changes.” During his years in the industry the former reporter has witnessed some of its major alterations. However, it is taking him a while to adapt to the latest trend of new media. “The new media has transformed everything. I have very little opin-
ion on it though, because I don’t know what it means. I feel rather confused. We have to find out about it but it is very traumatic for newspapers. It is difficult for journalists to work out what you are going to be doing in five years time.” There are certain attributes that Jenkins believes will always be essential for good journalism. “The one thing I think journalists need to do is write,” he comments. “You go into broadcasting and they will get tired of your voice and tire of your face but there will always be a part for written journalism. I do believe that.” He dismisses the need for journalistic
I am entirely in favour of the postgraduate degree in journalism and the Cardiff postgraduate degree is a very good one. qualifications. “I would never do an undergraduate degree in journalism. When I was looking to employ someone I honestly didn’t think the degree was very important. I am entirely in favour of the postgraduate degree in journalism and the Cardiff postgraduate degree is a very good one. It is the experience and the ability to write that is most important. I have always said that journalism is 90% determination. It is about being able to kick the door down and absolutely go for the story all the way. That is what it is about.” Like many journalists he is a firm believer in the need for media-related
experience from an early age. “I did what you did,” he says. “Student journalism is a great thing with which to get involved. It sparked my enthusiasm for the job. I wanted to go into politics and I thought journalism was a good way of getting into politics, but then I liked journalism too much.” He has come a long way since his time in student journalism. “Being editor of The Times was a pretty big deal,” he smiles. His editorial control was not restricted by Murdoch. “Murdoch’s hand is very much on your shoulder managerially but not editorially,” he reveals. “Other editors might disagree with me. But by the time I was editor he did not interfere although he was a very vivid presence as chief executive.” The transition from having full editorial control to working as a columnist is one which Jenkins has enjoyed. “I always wanted to end up being a columnist. I have always done columns. I love writing them. One of my first jobs in journalism was as a columnist. Of course, you can always do it. No one can stop you writing columns. I think that being an editor and a columnist are totally different types of journalism. They are different jobs. I have spent about a third of my career as an editor of some sort or another and two thirds of it writing. I love both angles. Editing never lasts. It is a fine activity but everything gets shoved upside down. But no one can stop you writing. I want to die writing a column for The Guardian.” Jenkins’ commitment to good journalism was acknowledged in 2004 when he received a knighthood for services to journalism in the New Year Honours. *Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts is available now.
Last orders for under-21s? A government think-tank recommends that raising the drinking age to 21 could be the remedy. But would this stop the problems alcohol causes, and how would this affect student culture? Katie Kennedy reports.
Mind out D T here’s no two ways about it, university can be a very lonely place at times. There are days when revision is sewn between endless essay writing and the sunlight (most likely rain) doesn’t hit your face for days. Yes, almost everybody goes through that at some point during university. But for some, being lonely and tucked away from the world becomes a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-tomonth existence. Mental health is a subject strewn with eggshells to walk carefully upon. For anyone who has not been through it, it’s hard to spot when someone is suffering from depression and even harder to comprehend it. Echoes of friend’s voices exclaiming how you never seem depressed are met with a sinking feeling of being unnoticed and uncared for by those closest to you. The problem is, however, that those suffering from depression are accomplished at hiding the signs, which often means that even those they live with may fail to notice any symptoms.
Higher education is renowned for specific pressure pockets of stress Stress, which is rife throughout the university experience, is often a contributing factor in elements of depression. Although higher education is renowned for specific pressure pockets of stress, around exam and deadline time, it is also important to look at the day-to-day stresses of many students in order to reach the root of many problems. When most students come to university they are bright eyed, bushy tailed and fresh out of school/college or have just flown in on the back of a mongoose after a gap year. Either way, university is a new challenge. It is a true test of coping with transition and self-discipline and, to be perfectly honest, that in itself can be a fairly daunting prospect. The immense amount of pressure felt by students to mould themselves into people worthy to take on the adult world is extremely high, and although Cardiff University offer schemes and programmes designed to ease this pressure, its efforts are often ignored or deemed too daunting by the student body at large. As outlined by the mental health charity Mind, symptoms of depression can include; a lack of interest in hobbies, feelings of worthlessness, problems with sleeping and eating and a lack of motivation. Most people who find themselves suffering from depression often find that talking with someone about how they feel helps; however, it is not uncommon for an individual suffering from depression to want to conceal their illness or refuse to accept help. For those who wish to seek out someone to talk to, the University run a counselling service which is free for students and offers both one-on-one and group services. Alternatively, seeking out a friend or family member in whom you have trust can be just as comforting as any form of professional help. There are also plenty of online resources which offer self-help and useful advice such as the BBCs www.onelife.com, the likes of which help individuals to feel like they are not alone in their suffering. Other alternative remedies include the herbal supplement St. John’s Wort (although this requires medical advice as it can interfere with other medication) and involving oneself with new hobbies and interests, such as the University’s volunteering service SVC, which can help to inspire feelings of worth. Exercise is also known to ease the symptoms. If you ever feel low, give yourself the time and space to find a way of making the light at the end of the tunnel seem brighter. The important thing to always remember is that however trivial you believe your feelings or problems to be that you deserve as much help or advice as you need. Sofie Jenkinson
rinking seems to have become so ingrained into university culture now, that it’s hard to imagine degree life without it. However, that’s precisely what one government think-tank has recommended; raising the drinking age from 18 to 21. Alcohol-related illnesses and injuries cost the NHS approximately £1.6 billion a year, and in Wales the cost of dealing with drink-related crime and disorder is £365 million a year. These are just some of the reasons why the Institute for Public Policy Research has suggested that raising the drinking age is the solution. The UK has ‘lost the plot’ in how it regulates alcohol, argues Jasper Gerard, columnist for The Observer in an article published in the Institute’s journal, Public Policy Research. Gerard believes that the social effect of binge drinking is now so severe that the government should be practising ‘tough love’. He argues: “By raising the age threshold it is at least possible that those in their early and mid-teens will not see drink as something they will soon be allowed to do and therefore might as well start doing it surreptitiously now. “Instead they might see it as it should be: forbidden.” It’s a common idea that the habits young people adopt will often carry on until their later life, but some university students do not believe that drinking is a habit they will continue. Victoria Gale, a third year Cardiff Ancient History student, thinks that drinking is just a part of student culture. She commented: “Drinking is so central to university life that you can’t ignore it. “Just look at freshers’ week. There are drinks promotions everywhere you look; it’s basically sold to you as a week to get wasted. I’m about to leave university now, but I don’t think that I’ll drink as much as I do now forever, it’s just because of where I am and who I’m around.” However, contrary to public belief it’s not just older people that can suffer from drinking heavily. The number of drinkrelated deaths among 15 to 34-year-olds has increased by almost 60% since 1991, the Office for National Statistics revealed in February, and alcohol abuse in Wales causes the premature deaths of 1,100 people every year. These shocking figures prove that university students should be more aware of how much they drink, and come at a time when the government has launched its new ‘drink responsibly’ campaign. The televised adverts show a man and a woman ‘seeing’ themselves drunk before they go to order a drink, opting to condemn their possible future actions and drink responsibly. But some students are dubious of its effect, one Cardiff student
said: “To me it just looks like the drunk people are having a great time, I don’t think it really has the shock factor at all.” How the government then can change young people’s views without raising the drinking age seems dubious. Alison Rogers, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, thinks that teenagers can recognise the damage alcohol can do to their health through clear communication. She said: “The combination of cheap prices, easy accessibility and the rolling back of barriers to consumption – including the removal of aisle restrictions in supermarkets, the 24-hour licensing laws and the licensing of garages – all combine to send the message that drinking ‘anytime anywhere anyplace’ is acceptable and normal.” But little has been done by the British government and the Welsh Assembly to turn young people off binge-drinking. And it’s not only long-term health problems that those who drink alcohol in excess need to consider. Current figures say that 367,000 violent attacks a year are caused by alcohol in England and Wales. Professor Jonathon Shepherd, of Cardiff University’s Violence and Society research group, has come to the conclusion that a drinking age rise should be implemented, in line with the USA. He said: “The research evidence is that raising the minimum purchasing age to 21 years would reduce alcohol-related harm substantially.” Whether raising the drinking age to 21 is the solution to binge-drinking problems though is questionable. The Royal College
Alcohol-related illnesses and injuries cost the NHS approximately £1.6 billion a year... in Wales the cost of dealing with drinkrelated crime is £365 million a year
of Physicians have recommended banning all alcohol advertising, but the Portman Group, which regulates the alcohol industry, disagrees. Chief executive of the group David Poley told the BBC: “What we really need to do is change the drinking culture through education rather than making drinking a social taboo by raising the drinking age.” If the drinking age was raised it would have a massive impact not just on young people but businesses too. Bars and clubs with a big student customer base may also suffer, and adults under 21 may feel they need to buy alcohol illegally. Students’ unions, which get a large amount of their income from alcohol sales, may also feel disadvantaged. Cardiff University Students’ Union president, Joe Al-Khayat, does not think that new legislation would help the bingedrinking problem. He said: “I wouldn’t like to think any student would be forced to break the law, but that said it would be difficult for any student between the ages of 18-21 to suddenly have their rights curtailed under new legislation.” With no measures declared by the Welsh Assembly or the British government on how they will tackle the binge-drinking culture, apart from the odd advert we will have to wait and see if better education prevails, or if things get worse. So until then, students will be free to stagger home after a night out clubbing at the Students’ Union and for most, the only consequence will be the hangover the morning after.
Health Editor Liz Stauber takes a look at some common problems that could crop up this summer Dehydration
Two thirds of the body is made up of water so it is essential to the normal working of the body. It lubricates the joints and eyes, aids digestion, it flushes out waste and toxins and keeps skin healthy. Dehydration occurs when the normal level of water is reduced. The reduction in the balance causes the body to lose vital chemicals such as sodium and potassium. Even if the water has only decreased by a small percentage, dehydration can occur. It can be serious, sometimes even fatal. If dehydration is ongoing, it can affect kidney function, be harmful to the liver, and cause cholesterol problems, along with fatigue and reduced blood pressure. The obvious way to treat the condition is to rehydrate, but it is important to remember that it is not just water the body has lost. Sodium and potassium also need to be replaced, so instead of just stocking up on water, sweet drinks and salty snacks are also necessary.
Sunburnt skin is red and sore. It is warm to the touch, even after attempts to cool it with water or by moving into the shade. The skin may also flake or peel after a number of days. Dark skin can also burn and become damaged if exposed to enough UV light, although it can tolerate sunlight without burning for longer than paler skin. Severe sunburn can cause blistering, swelling of the skin and fever. At the same time there may also be symptoms of heatstroke, such as dizziness, headaches, and nausea. The symptoms of sunburn are not usually immediately obvious, and the worst pain occurs six to 48 hours after being in the sun. Avoid sunburn by ensuring you do the following: ! Avoid direct sunlight by covering up and staying in the shade, until the sunburn has healed. ! Cool the skin by sponging it with tepid
water or having a cool shower or bath. ! Drink plenty of fluids to replace the water lost through sweating in the sun, and to cool down. Don’t drink alcohol because it will dehydrate you further. ! For mild sunburn, apply a moisturising lotion or a special aftersun cream from a pharmacy. Aftersun helps to cool the skin as well as moisturising and relieving the feeling of tightness. Calamine lotion can also be used to relieve itching and soreness. ! Choose a lotion that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, for maximum protection. When buying sunglasses, look for a style with UV filters. ! Sun lotions should be applied half an hour before going into the sun, so that they sink into the skin. Make sure you use a generous amount, an SPF of 15 or higher is usually recommended, and pay particular attention to skin near the edges of clothing such as straps and necklines, which are easily missed. ! Reapply sun lotion regularly. ! Use a stick application with higher SPF for exposed areas such as your nose, ears and lips, which tend to get burnt. ! Stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day - usually between 11am and
Deep vein thrombosis 2pm. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot which develops in a deep vein, often in the lower leg. DVT can cause pain, but can also lead to complications. Between one and three people out of a thousand in the UK develop a blood clot at some point. In most cases, the clots are small and have no symptoms. The body can break it down by itself and there are no long term effects. However, the larger clots can lead to calf swelling and pain. As plane journeys are the biggest cause of the problem, it is important to move the legs every half an hour while flying. If possible passengers should try and move around the cabin.
JOBS & MONEY
All the cards on the table Jobs & Money Editor Gillian Roberts weighs up the odds of student gambling
ore and more students are turning to gambling to pass away their spare time, with the majority playing poker, some to help keep themselves afloat during their studies, with most using the game as a social activity. It is known that student debt is on the rise, as the National Union of Students has said that the increase in study and living costs in England and Wales has caused student debt to increase by 31% since 2002. The NUS also said that the average cost of a degree is about £20,000. Students who are stuck in the debt trap are often forced to take up part-time jobs to ensure they can fund their studies. Yet the recent growth of gambling has led to students trying to win money to provide themselves with spare cash. The rise of internet gambling sites has also encouraged more students to gamble online. As today’s students are equipped with their own laptops and internet connections 24 hours a day, online gambling is becoming easier and more accessible. In addition, with the arrival of the ‘super-casinos’ in the UK, gambling is becoming more widespread. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell has said that they are modernising and tightening the laws on gambling, which now would be “the most protective legislation in the world.” Yet for some students it may be easy to think gambling is a way out of debt; however, it is just as easy to get frther into the red. With the rise of gambling some students are turning to poker as a means of making money during their studies. However, it is advisable to not become too dependent on gambling as an income as there is always an element of risk. It may seem to be a quick fix for students who are buried by debt but it is essential to not lose control. Veronica King, the NUS vice-president of welfare in
2005, said that she feared students were using online gambling to boost their funds. She said: “It is easy to see why some individuals may be tempted into what could be seen as an easy loan top-up. But gambling is a very dangerous way to supplement income and could result in great financial loss. We would urge anyone who may be in financial problems to seek appropriate help and support.” One Cardiff student who preferred not to be named said: “There are times when I play poker online just to make some money to keep me from using my student loan. There are tournaments which are free to enter where students can win money or get the chance to go into tournaments on television. But if the game wasn’t enjoyable I wouldn’t play.” Also, some students today are opting to stay in and play poker as opposed to the stereotypical student night out. This option is often cheaper and although gambling has been seen as a loser’s game, poker is turning this idea on its head. Yet it is not just the money which entices students, but the skill and social aspect of the game. The Cardiff student continued: “People often picture playing poker in dark smoky card rooms but now people can often be found playing at home with six or seven friends, having a few drinks and socialising generally.” Although poker is gambling, people have argued that because of its nature it should be considered a sport. The game requires an element of skill but there is also luck involved as anyone can win, which adds to the thrill and excitement of winning money. In September, Cardiff University welcomed the first Poker Society for students to join. The society went on to win the ‘Best New Society’ award. Craig Devlin, the society’s president said: “The Society has been absolutely
great this year, it’s been the first year that there has been a poker society in Cardiff, and the response has been brilliant from both the Union and the students.” The Poker Society signed up 150 people at the freshers’ fair and soon had 250 members. Many of these meet every Thursday at the Union to socialise and to try and win a bit of money. Students, who have to register to become a member, only put in five pounds during the evening. This means the most a student can lose is their five pounds, but could potentially come out winning a lot more. Craig Devlin, who has been playing poker for four years, has advised students who wish to take up poker or who are already playing poker, to play within what they can afford to lose. “At the end of the
www.gairrhydd.com Your student newspaper, online every Friday
Craig Devlin, Poker Society President, has advised that students who wish to take up poker should play within what they can afford to lose
day it is gambling, and unless you are careful with your money you can get carried away and potentially lose a lot of money.” He continued: “There are lots of free tournaments, especially student ones, online, and they are probably the best place to start playing. I started out playing with five pence pieces with my friends and then when I found I liked the game I slowly worked my way up to more money.” Whilst playing poker socially with friends or with the University society will never win students enough money to pay off their debts, it is a good way to learn how to play and meet new people without spending too much money.
Class of 2007 Jobs & Money ask the soon-to-be graduates about their plans Mark Smith, Journalism, Film and Media “I'm planning to get as much work experience as possible with newspapers, magazines and radio stations in Cardiff. I’m hopefully going to get a flexible part-time job at first so I can apply for work experience more easily.”
James Hamlyn, Geography and Planning “I’m going to work in Japan for a year teaching English.”
Sara Tomaszewski, Law “I’m starting my legal practice course in the law school. It is another year in Cardiff but this time I’m paying £9,000 for the privilege of the course.”
GAIR RHYDD IN PICTURES
James Perou captures some of the literary folk at Hay-on-Wye
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM Blurâ€™s Alex James; illustrator Quentin Blake; Professor Robert Hind; author Neil Gaiman; comedian Robert Ince; former Tory leader William Hague; former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown
gair rhydd takes a look back at the year that was
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Wales Millennium Centre (Adam Gasson); Photographer in the Brecon Beacons (James Perou); student demonstrator outside letting agency (Sarah Day); protest police at the 2006 NUS demonstration (James Perou); NUS balloon launch in Trafalger Square (Matt Horwood); busker on Queenâ€™s Street (James Perou); Joe Calzaghe in the ring at the Millennium Stadium (Adam Gasson)
NEWS REVIEW 2006/2007
The year that wa
Student matters Student matters have been at the heart of gair rhydd throughout the year. Last year, amidst the confusion about top-up fees, gair rhydd clarified that students in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland would have to pay £3,000 a year in fees. This year we questioned if it was fair that European students and Welsh students had their fees paid. Student loans play a vital role in our lives, and each year many students are left loan-less. In October, over 60 second year Medics were left ‘Out of Pocket’ because of a communications breakdown between the school of medicine and the Student Loans Company. Students who thought their loans had come through faced nasty charges as they wrote cheques which then bounced. Exam slip-ups have been a recurrent theme of this year’s news. In March, some medical students received scripts which contained the answers. There were fears among students about the university’s reputation being tarnished by such blunders. As ever, housing has been an issue for students. Cardiff student Greg Clark staged a protest against a local letting agency who witheld his bond unecessarily for five months. Shortly after the revelation in November that the University has investments in arms manufacturers, the Student Council mandated the Union Executive to take action and encourage the University to change its investment policy. The motion was based on the premise that the University should listen to students’ opinions concerning how their tuition fees should be invested. Such actions shun the stereotypical image of apathy.
Crime Targets Crimes against students have been a recurring feature of this year’s headlines. The response of the police to student crimes was also criticised. Throughout October a wave of crime spread across Cathays with reports of assaults in taxis, peeping-toms, muggings, burglaries and conmen selling bags of sand off as laptops. Through liasons with the police, gair rhydd urged students to take more care of themselves and their property. But when it came to a disabled student’s car being stolen the response of the police was called into question. Students themselves were reported to have taken on the work of detectives in May through the use of Facebook. After a student was attacked following a night out, his friend identified the assailant from photos on Facebook. ‘Face-booked’ sparked hot debate on gairrhydd.com, where questions were raised over the accuracy of using such a fickle medium as a basis for identification. One post on the forum commented: “What scares me most is that someone, anyone, can get drunk, beaten up and proceed to take legal action upon whoever they choose on Facebook.”
Raising Awareness Images of Muslim students praying in stairwells called into question inadequate prayer room facilities across campus. In this special news report, the provisions at other UK institutions were compared with the facilities at Cardiff. The report also considered the issue of naming a potential new room. gairrhydd.com had a record 93 posts relating to the report. While some comments criticised the push for better prayer facil-
ities saying: “There is no need for prayer facilites at any university. A university is a place of study, not a place of worship”, others commented on the equality issue among students: “Most students will go to their pub crawls, and utilise university facilities to get drunk. Muslim students would like to use university facilities/rooms to pray.”
NEWS REVIEW 2006/2007
Times are changing for Cardiff University and the Students’ Union. All year gair rhydd has been keeping you up-to-date with the latest goings on and finding out your opinions about the changes being made across campus. Last issue, we announced that Fairtrade status had been granted to the University and Union with the headlining article ‘Fair Play’. This great success came after a year of commitment and dedication from the Fairtrade Steering Group. Ethics and the environment are close to the heart of many students. Cardiff’s People and Planet group made the front page in November after collecting thousands of signatures supporting the cause to encourage the University to become more green. In March the results of Cardiff’s first ever non-academic university experience survey were released. Sport was high on the agenda for many students, as were the excessive quantities of fliers distributed. These findings provide ample information for next year’s exec to improve upon. By comparison with last year, this year’s elections were signif-
icantly smoother. gair rhydd reported throughout the campaign period and provided live online commentary on the gair rhydd blog as the votes were counted. This year’s AGM was dominated by the question: should the Union provide facilities for smokers? In the preceding week, gair rhydd previewed all the proposed motions and reported the responses from students after the motions had been passed. Student politics has been central to this year’s headlines, as the outdated Student Council was shunned in favour of a more representative Student Parliament. In theory the idea makes sense, but only time will tell how this new regime will fare. Sport graced the front page when the University pledged to invest £175,000 into a new Rubber Crumb pitch as a result of the high-profile Invest in Sport campaign. With around 6,000 students involved in AU clubs this investment will be of great value for University sport. Time to grab your hockey sticks.
2007 ISSUE 839 MARCH 26 WEEKLY
CARDIFF’S STUDENTEST. 1972 free word -
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the Titans Clash of ts, spor 25
prehensive FREE INSIDE: Your com Cardiff v Swansea 12-page guide to the Varsity 2007
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POSTER: CENTRE PAGES FREE MEN’S RUGBY
MORE VOTERSES AT MORE CANDIDIN NO COMPLA TS hensive
MASSIVE ELECTION the student festos, around 18% of during the body registered their vote Monday and two days of voting on This is one percent higher were broken Tuesday. turnout, and is the MULTIPLE RECORDS as larger than last year’s history. by last week’s elections, Cardiff’s than ever largest in this year, numbers of students With 4260 students voting the highest second the has before helped to determining now Cardiff Union. future of the Students’ in After seven days of campaigning students which candidates bombarded mani- Continued on page five and with slogans, gimmicks
Helen Thompson News Editor
RECORD-BREAKING COUNTERS: Rising to the challenge
5, 6 AND 7 L COVERAGE PAGES ELECTIONS 2007: FUL
The team that brought you all this and more...
And the award goes to...
This year we have mostly been...
The Peter Stringfellow Award for outstanding contribution to females... Adam Millward The Arafat Award for most cuddly Arab... Amira Hashish The Waylon Smithers award for unnatural devotion... Andy Rennison The George Best Award for most entertaining liver damage... Ben Bryant The Gwyneth Paltrow Award for longest and most emotional acceptance speech... Sofie Jenkinson The Rik Waller Award for slices of pizza eaten vs investigations written... Dan Ridler The Virgin Trains Award for Incompetent timekeeping... Dave Menon The Tickle-Me-Elmo Award for ‘mental’ giggling... Perri Lewis The Adolf Award for definitive facial hair... James Perou The Bono Award for torso-flexing egomania... Will Hitchins The Hulk Hogan Award for table-slamming... Amy Harrison The Britney Award for entertaining scalp reflections... Ed Vanstone
Cursing the spinning rainbow wheel of doom ■ Melting in the office heat ■ Growing completely disgusted with pizza ■ Unwittingly flirting with Vanstone ■ Labelling things ‘mental’ ■ Being filmed intrusively by BBC Wales ■ Dreaming of Lizo Mzimba ■ Changing foolish people’s Facebooks ■ Singing ‘Blue Bar!’ every 15 minutes ■ Abusing Graeme’s direct line ■ Visiting gair rhydd’s Dublin bureau ■ Making pages look like sex ■ Overdosing on pick ‘n’ mix ■ Throwing it out there ■ Begging Hitchins to put his shirt back on ■ Putting on gigs! Wooo! ■ Sticking free CDs on the front of the paper ■ Breaking tables ■ Investigating important stuff ■ Practicing for when we become real journalists in the Taf ■ Giggling at Kennedyisms ■ Comparing facial hair ■ Celebrating Quench’s 50th edition ■ Beating Xpress in the drinking stakes ■ Fighting over mice ■ Peeing next to Lizo in CF10 ■ Watching Neighbours, lots ■ Getting fed up with Sport’s incessant references to their Media Awards win ■ OUT ■
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Perri ‘the chief’ Lewis (Editor) ■ Soph ‘the loaf’ Robehmed (Deputy Ed) ■ Graeme, the saviour of gr ■ Eurovision sensation Elaine ■ George ‘beige’ Pawley and Menon (Sports) ■ Andy Rennison (Politics) ■ Ed ‘I’m a columnist’ Vanstone and Georgie Easton (Ed-Op) ■ Ceri, best Science ed ever ■ Jesse and Lara (FMF) ■ Listings ladies Rosy and Jenna ■ Amy Harrison and Ben ‘o’clock’ (Features) ■ Springett and Ridler ■ Film Ry and Film Ewen ■ Daisy (Books) ■ Music man Mike and music man Will ■ The lady-shaped music ed Sof ■ Cupids Rosanne and Olivia (Blindate) ■ Travel duo Chris and Jim ■ Caleb ‘Timelord’ Woodbridge and Tom ‘best Quench section’ Brookes (Debate and Cult Classics) ■ Kym and Becca (Arts) ■ Grace ■ TEAM GAY, Jenny and Deen ■ Fashion Matt and Film Si ■ Queens of chat Nic and Amira ■ Adam ‘dirty lil’ stop out’ Millward, Katie K, Jo ‘Yorkshire Pud’ Dingle and Helen Thompson (News) ■ Sarah (Photos) ■ Perou (Photos) ■
O Gaerdydd, y gorau yn y gorllewin G
welwyd Eisteddfod lwyddiannus i fyfyrwyr Caerdydd yn Eisteddfod yr Urdd Sir Gâr yr wythnos diwethaf. O’r llwyfan i’r llên bu enwau myfyrwyr Caerdydd yn flaenllaw drwy gydol yr wythnos. Cafwyd dechrau ardderchog dydd Llun gyda Ceri Elen Morris yn cipio’r fedal Lenyddiaeth ym mhrif seremoni’r dydd. Mae hi’n fyfyrwraig M.A. yn ysgol y Gymraeg ac yn ennill ei hail gystadleuaeth fawr wedi iddi hawlio’r fedal ddrama llynedd. Roedd y cyfansoddiadau yn frith o enwau o Gaerdydd wrth i nifer eraill o fyfyrwyr ennill cystadlaethau unigol a dod yn uchel iawn yn rhai o brif seremonïau’r Eisteddfod. Efallai’r mwyaf nodedig o’r rhain oedd Elis Gomer a lwyddodd i gael trydydd yng nghystadleuaeth y fedal ddrama ac Ifan Pleming a hawliodd drydydd yng nghystadleuaeth y goron. Roedd y llwyfan yn llawn hefyd. Gwelwyd y ddwy aelwyd o Gaerdydd yn ail afael yn y cystadlu wedi Eisteddfod Sir lwyddiannus. Dyma oedd blwyddyn gyntaf Aelwyd y Waun Ddyfal ar lwyfan y genedlaethol a llwyddwyd i roi dechrau da gyda buddugoliaethau, yn arbennig gyda’r pedwarawd, côr cerdd dant a’r dawnsio
gwerin unigol. Ychwanegodd CF1 at eu casgliad o fuddugoliaethau blaenorol gyda llwyddiant yng nghystadlaethau’r corau gyda buddugoliaethau i’r côr merched a chystadleuaeth corau’r aelwydydd. Disgleiriodd enwau o Gaerdydd yn y cystadlaethau unigol hefyd. Yn arbennig dau a lwyddodd i ennill lle yng nghystadleuaeth ysgoloriaeth Bryn Terfel. Enillodd Elliw Mai'r unawd gerdd dant wrth i Alec Thomas ennill ei le ef yn y gystadleuaeth wrth gipio’r unawd offerynnol. Byddent nawr yn mynd ymlaen i gystadleuaeth yr ysgoloriaeth sydd i’w gynnal yng nghanol mis Medi. Yn gyffredinol bu’r holl Eisteddfod yn llwyddiant ysgubol gan ddenu miloedd o ymwelwyr o bedwar ban byd. Dywedodd Tudur Dylan Jones ar ran bwrdd yr Eisteddfod a’r Celfyddydau: “Mae'r ffaith ein bod ni wedi cael Eisteddfod tu hwnt i'r holl ddisgwyliadau yn gwneud yr holl waith caled yn werth ei wneud.” Mawr fydd y disgwyl felly i ail ddechrau’r cystadlu wrth edrych ymlaen at Eisteddfod Conwy yn 2008. Er, efallai mai canolbwyntio ar y dathlu bydd myfyrwyr Caerdydd yn wneud wedi llwyddiant yr Eisteddfod hon.
One year on Most current second and third year students will remember last year’s lecturers’ strike. Katie Kennedy catches up with the University and College Union to find out what has changed in the last year
meet members of the Cardiff UCU (CUCU) in the brand new Optometry building next to Lidl, and I expect that they will say that they’re very sorry for causing students disruption last year, they’re slightly disappointed by their pay deal, and then I’ll wander home and write a nice little article and probably put it on page two (no one really reads that page). Instead I find out that the pay dispute of 2006 is far from resolved and is expected to rear its ugly head again in as little as two years – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Other worrying issues and pressures UCU members are suffering include teacher-student ratios, fixed-term contracts and how academics are perceived by the public. This week their list of woes was extended with the news that Cardiff University is planning to make 22 academic and other staff redundant. So I thought I’d better write a bit more on it. I meet Dr Michael (Mike) Wride, a lecturer for the School of Optometry and Vision Science, which recently steppeddown from the CUCU executive committee and Mrs Mair Gaunt, who works in registry for the Humanities and Social Studies school, and who is current member of the committee and acts as honorary secretary. Mike gives us a tour around the new high-tech Optometry building, with its clean white walls, big windows and bridged walkways. Mair comments that it looks and feels like something out of Grand Designs. There’s even a recurring theme of oval or ‘eye’ shapes dotted around the building, on door handles and even on the ladies’ bathroom soap dispenser. It certainly seems like an architectural delight that even Kevin McCloud would be proud of. But projects and buildings like this are, according to Cardiff’s UCU, where the extra income gained from top-up-fees has gone; and this is why Vice-Chancellors across the country were unable to meet the lecturers’ unions at the time (the Association of University Teachers (AUT) and NATFHE the University & College Lecturers’ Union, which merged halfway through the strike to become the UCU), of pay demands last year. For those not in the know, the lecturers’ unions wanted a pay rise from the universities that would reduce the shortfall that has been created between lecturers pay compared to other professionals, which has accumulated for almost a quarter of a decade. The timing of the strike was vital; with the introduction of top-up-fees the unions felt that they could achieve their goal. Mair commented: “Because we knew that the universities had the money, because the Union had the will and the Prime Minister had said we needed the money, there was a real it’s now or never feel to get what we wanted.” And in order to achieve this, a 23% pay rise, the unions felt that the way to make the biggest impact on universities was to target their students. Members of the UCU nationally refused to mark forms of assessment or set exams, demonstrated on days of action, but continued teaching. As the pay dispute continued, more third years began to wonder if they would
graduate, as universities considered hiring external examiners to mark papers or even to base degree grades on only previous years’ marks. Mair said: “If you target students rather than teaching, if you don’t teach, then it’s hard for them to catch up, but if you don’t examine them until six months time, then the situation is reversible. “We love what we do and enjoy researching and teaching, but it put the lecturers in a terrible position morally to see students suffer.” However, despite even the Prime Ministers’ support and the impact on students, little was reported on the strike by the national media, and so there was not much public support either. Mair thinks this is because most people still think universities are ‘elite’ institutions. She said: “The public’s perception of academics is that they work only a few hours a day, for 30 weeks a year.” Mike continued: “We wanted people to know that we’re all in this together, the public’s kids go to university, and while the lecturers love their students, they had to suffer in order for us to continue our teaching. The Union nationally have not been very good at getting the media and the public on board.” The University staff that went on strike in the Spring of 2006 did get more coverage from local media, including gair rhydd. A number of front pages were produced about the strike, with weekly updates so that students knew the current situation. But Mair still thinks the Union nationally could have got their point across better to the students. She said: “gair rhydd had a mixed response to what we were doing, the editorials weren’t that supportive but other voices in the paper seemed to understand. “The Union could have communicated better to students about why the lecturers were going to strike. I mean most of the students didn’t even know what picket lines were.” However, despite the lecturers’ efforts, after almost 12 weeks of action, the UCU agreed on a pay deal with the universities. It settled for a pay rise of around 13%, with 10.4% allocated in the first 22 months, with a pay review after two years. It was substantially less than the lecturers’ target. This proves to be a sore spot for the Cardiff UCU members, who feel that the Union’s leadership let down their members when they didn’t consult with them the terms of the pay deal. Mair said: “Some people have resigned from the Union, as they were so disappointed about the Union’s settlement. There was a definite feeling that we’d been sold out by the leadership of the Union; all along they said they’d consult the members, we found out that we’d settled for the same pay rise that we’d rejected the week before on Radio Four.” Mike agreed: “I’m genuinely quite concerned about the Union’s ability to motivate its members again. “Lots of lecturers are sceptical about our ability to make changes now. The Unions may have got news that the strike actions were crumbling behind it, consequences of not graduating students were
heavy.” It is the pay review that will bring up the pay dispute again, but Mair and Mike are unsure if the members will trust in the Union again, and whether they will be able to get the public support required next time around. Mike argues: “The Union needed to remind people who have all been taught by university lecturers, so most qualified professional people in this country, that they did go to university.” Until then, other issues are worrying UCU members, including news this week of Cardiff University plans to make 22 academic and other staff redundant. This action does not make any sense to the UCU, as more students are being encouraged to go to university and more foreign students are coming to Cardiff each year; logically there should be more staff employed, not more staff made redundant. Another UCU concern is the amount of staff employed on ‘fixed-term contracts’, especially those employed for research purposes. These are usually short-term positions, sometimes lasting for only six months or a year. Although these can be renewed, these types of contract differ greatly from their full-time employed counterparts. If a university staff member is employed on only a fixed-term contract, they may not be entitled to sick leave, holidays or a pension-plan at some universities. Although Cardiff does offer these entitlements, there is no job security, the staff are dependent on the good will of their bosses and are therefore very vulnerable. Little has been done to resolve this situation by the Union nationally, Mair commented: “The Union should have put more money into tackling fixed-term contracts, not just pay. It’s a growing problem.” All of these major problems are sure to come to a head in the coming years, but Mair suggests that in order for current and future students to get good quality teaching at university, the NUS and UCU need to work together and support each other more. Ed Jones, current Vice-President of Cardiff Students’ Union agrees, that it is sensible to collaborate on certain issues. He said: “The University knows that the pay issue will be returning and I personally have a lot of sympathy with the lecturers, many of whom are essentially being asked to do more for less and students are losing out as a consequence.” The new Optometry building is due to be officially opened later this year, but lecturer Mike Wride will not be able to enjoy it for long. He is relocating to Ireland because his wife, a researcher at Cardiff University, is currently employed on a fixed-term contract and has no prospects of being made a permanent member of staff here, or progressing to lecturer status. Mike has been offered a lower-standing position than his current Cardiff job, but his new post has prospects of up to £10,000 more salary-a-year. He warns: “Staff are meant to do a 35-hours week, but the University is actually running on a lot of good will at the moment. It’s hard to know how long that can last.”
“We love what we do and enjoy teaching, but it put the lecturers in a terrible position morally to see students suffer.”
How gair rhydd reported the strike last year
Ripples across the pond Anti-Americanism is growing in Britain, especially among the young. Helen Thompson assesses whether this attitude is justified, and how it affects Americans studying in the UK
t is the gun-toting, TV-watching, commodity-guzzling fast-food nation of the world, and it will never learn to modify its arrogant, selfish behaviour because its egotism makes it impervious to all criticism. Sit in any British public place long enough, and you will probably overhear a conversation that stereotypes America thus, possibly with a few more epithets thrown in for good measure. Anti-American sentiments in Britain have been on the rise over the last few years, and this has been accompanied by a growing tendency to demonise America and its citizens that is seen as tacitly acceptable by the British public. In 2000, 83% of Britons had a positive impression of the USA, but it took only six years of the aggression and unilateralism characteristic of George Bush’s administration for this to drop to 55%. Hostility is strongest among the young, with a huge 77% of under-25s stating their categorical disapproval of Bush in a Populus poll. Dislike for Bush’s administration in light of world events seems rational enough, but this aversion has seeped into our opinions of his citizens. Although the percentage of Britons who look favourably on the people of America is always far higher than those who are positive about the nation as a whole, this figure has also suffered a significant drop, from 83% in 2002 to 70% in 2006. Britain seems to have lost patience with the people who re-elected one of the USA’s least popular presidents, collectively sighing in despair as we watched Bush triumph in 31 states in November 2004. The 65 Americans currently studying at Cardiff University sometimes encounter this dislike of Americans head-on. Coral Cerulea, a third-year Politics student who came to Cardiff from her home in New York, recalled how she felt intimidated on one of her first nights out in Britain. “I went to the International Ball,” Coral said, “and all the national flags were hanging up outside. I saw a group of five guys trying to pull down the American flag, saying that they were going to burn it. I spent the rest of the night trying to pass myself off as Canadian.” Flag-burning has become an increasing cause for concern, with British police last year proposing a ban on it, and a Labour MP saying that burning an object that symbolises a nation ‘quite clearly has the power to incite violence’. The British students who pulled down the flag must have known that Americans would be in attendance, and their action against a nation would make individuals feel threatened. Failing to draw a line between a government and its people is something that too many Britons are guilty of. Pamela Schmidt, a Cardiff PHD student from Indiana, described how British people have expected her to single-handedly explain and apologise for the actions of her government. She said: “Most of them backed off when I told them I don’t agree with our foreign policy either. There have been a couple who continued to lecture me about the world and how everything is America and Americans’ fault.” While it is of course true that other groups in society experience greater prejudice within Britain, laws have been in place to combat discrimination and harassment on the grounds of race or religion since the first Race Relations Act of 1965. Some nations are also protected. The European Union’s definition of antiSemitism, which the National Union of Students decided to adopt at this year’s annual conference, states that antiSemitism includes: “Making … demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective.” Yet it is not an offence to claim that Americans are all ‘self-centred and arrogant’ with obese children, as one Cardiff student does. Similarly, we are not allowed
to hold ‘Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’. Israeli Jews are therefore theoretically protected from the kind of confrontations that Pamela has experienced. Undesirable as more laws restricting our speech would be, this gives an indication that the ‘wide-brush’ perceptions of Americans some Britons continue to express would not be tolerated if directed at other sections of society. Masters student Matt Murray considers that many of the stereotypes come from American TV shows. He says: “We aren’t all armed, overweight baseball fans who watch Larry the Cable guy, or shallow, spoiled Orange County beach bums who have nothing to do but blather on about our modeling careers or who is dating who.” Pamela adds: “I think the most common stereotype is that Americans don’t know much about the rest of the world and think that the US is better than other countries.” This does not seem entirely undeserved when less than 30% think it is important to know where places lie on a map, and only 30% of Americans feel the necessity to own a passport, compared with over 80% of British people.
“Britain is the USA’s older brother, who would be there if the kid next door tried to take our lunch money”
go’ in British society, and as such I do not feel unwelcome. It has also been my experience that the older generation, those who lived through WWII, often act quite admiringly, save the odd comment about Americans shooting everything that moves, which to be fair, we probably deserve.” Many also believe that Britain is not their most vigorous enemy, understandably pointing out that ‘the people America is bombing’ certainly hate them more. A recent poll also found that France and Spain had a larger rise in antiAmericanism in recent years than Britain. But other EU countries do not share the same ‘special relationship’ with the USA that Britain has fostered. Americans have fond ideas of their transatlantic allies, with most of the students saying the British are ‘quaint or cute’ by stereotype, even if they are sometimes cold and rigid, and always less attractive with terrible teeth. The Americans tend to see Britain as a true ally, and have positive ideas of the relationship between them. Matt says: “A lot of Americans perceive Great Britain as our slightly more intelligent, but not quite as fun-loving, older brother who has given us some bad habits, some good habits and at the end of the day would be there if the kid next door tried to take our lunch money.” A sense of this brotherhood has definitely existed in Britain at times. After 9/11, the British extended great compassion towards the American people. Pamela and her parents were on one of the first international flights out of the USA after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001. She remembers that there was no hint of anti-American sentiment then. “There was a great deal of compassion towards Americans,” she said. “A couple of times random people bought my father a pint, and the woman that ran the B&B in Cardiff where we stayed gave my mother a hug and said: ‘I just want you to know that we all feel so bad about what they did to the US.’ My mom still talks about that woman because it really touched her that this woman would care so much.” Bush’s ensuing foreign policy has managed to turn this tide of compassion into a sense that America is fuelling international hatred, and therefore only contributing to the possibility of similar attacks in the future. Disgust with America’s gung-ho foreign policy was at a high last year, as a YouGov p o l l revealed t h a t 65% of u s
Matt explains: “I have plenty of friends who have never left the US, but you have to keep in mind that the States are vast and culturally diverse, so that isn’t always a statement of pride. In many cases it is because of poor economic circumstances.” All of the students were eager to assert the incredible diversity inherent in their country of 50 states, 300 million people and almost 10 million square kilometres. Matt admits that all stereotypes have their roots in reality, but that there are many exceptions to every stereotypical rule. “Even if 90% of the population does X that still means that 30 million people don’t do X.” Chris Cope, a student from Florida, adds: “We are loosely confederated individuals. We share very little commonality aside from our participation in the State. Our social experiences are vast, our heritages unique, and our sense of ‘us’ is predicated on none of ‘us’ being anything particular at all.” The negative experiences that some students have had in Britain are balanced out by a feeling that when the British meet individual Americans they are mostly openminded, friendly and welcoming. Matt thinks this might be because his presence in Britain shows he is one of the exceptions to the stereotypical rules: “Most people see my working on a visa and going to school as ‘having a fair ILLUSTRATION: ANDREW STYLES
Transatlantic stereotypes: The Brits see Americans as patriotic, Biblebashing overweight baseball fans, while the Americans think the Brits are quaint and have bad teeth
Indeed, a recent Populus poll found that 67% of Britons believe ‘Britain’s future lies more with Europe than with America’. Reasons for this desire to distance ourselves from the USA have been cited as jealousy of America’s status in the world, fear of its influence – 75% of Britons believe America wields excessive influence over world affairs – and the threat of its cultural exports erasing our own traditions. Whichever is correct, there is often little evidence that our concerns make much of a dent in America’s self-assured shell. After two invasions of MiddleEastern countries in six years, America now seems to be contemplating charging its unwelcome way into a third – Iran – despite clear indications that the rest of the world thinks America has already gone too far. Matt thinks that if Britain wants the USA to change its tactics, it must make America feel the consequences of its actions: “In the long-term it will come down to whether other nations’ disapproval is enough to warrant taking steps that would damage their trade or relations with the US. If this happens on a large scale, Americans will care and will care in a hurry.” Until America changes its ways, it seems likely that the growing trend of antiAmericanism will not abate. However, the UK is more like America than we care to admit. Both are led by men who score just 30% in national approval polls, we are allies in the same wars, and we are under threat from the same terrorists. Perhaps the real reason for our hatred of America is a scapegoating that allows us to expiate our guilt for our own government’s behaviour.
believe ‘the policies and actions of the present American government’ make the world a worse place to live in, while threequarters of us think that America is going about its democratising mission in the wrong way, and that Bush’s claim of bringing democracy to the Third World is just a smoke-screen for his imperialist intentions. These findings seem to support Robert Keohane’s assertion in his recent book, Anti-Americanism in World Politics, that the British indulge in a ‘liberal’ form of anti-Americanism. The reason we hate America, he says, is that we hate its hypocrisy. We cannot stand a nation that expounds democracy and freedom but allows such obvious breaches of these, such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. As British disillusionment deepens, Americans are more likely to find life in the UK difficult. Mary Saddik, a Masters student from LA, says: “I have encountered very bad prejudices, some even from my own peers and faculty. People have made derogatory comments to me, saying, ‘We hate your US Government’; ‘You don’t think like the rest of us’; ‘Everyone here hates Americans’; ‘Americans are thick, stupid and fat’. When this happens at least once or twice a week it gets to be frustrating and annoying, so much so that I cannot wait to return to the States.” The bond evident between the USA and UK after 9/11 seems to have disintegrated into an increasing sense of division. Matt says: “In terms of history, it is not long since we were at war on multiple occasions against each other. We have worked very hard to become such close allies over the past two centuries and I fear this closeness may begin to disappear.”
Cardiff students give their opinions of the USA and its citizens “My opinion of America has changed a lot since 9/11. They’re trying to counteract terrorism but I think they’re achieving the opposite.” Kruti Desai, first year Dentistry
“Americans are self-centred and arrogant, and it is generally a more individualist culture.” Becky Chadwick, second year Psychology
“America does what it wants to and generally secures its interests first. Anything is used as an excuse to wage war.” Adam Horton, second year Geology
“America's very exciting and full of possibility. We’re led to believe bad things by the media, but I like to take a broader view. One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.” Gary Greaves, second year Maths
Taking liberties A new film aims to warn young people of the encroachment on our civil liberties. Chris White asks whether it can work, and if the UK needs its own Michael Moore
fter two and a half years on remand in Belmarsh, Mouloud Sihali was acquitted of terrorism charges in 2004’s famous “Ricin Trial”. Two months later, he was put under house arrest anyway, having been declared a “threat to national security”. Despite having seen no further evidence against him, he’s since been under an eight-hour curfew, confined to a one square mile area, forbidden from working and electronically tagged. In 2005, Simon Davies, a visiting fellow of the London School of Economics, mentored a report on the Government’s ID card scheme, which turned out to be somewhat unfavourable, to say the least. Singling him out as a target among the 60 contributors to the report, the Home Office actively prevented him from getting a job, threatening potential employers that if they took him on they could kiss goodbye to any business from the Government. After defaulting on two months’ rent, Davies had to move into a squat. As shocking as they are, these two incidents are just a tiny fraction of the evergrowing litany of incidences of how we’re throwing away the baby with the bathwater by giving up ancient freedoms in the name of anti-terrorism. While they roll quickly from the tips of the tongues of a handful of civil-liberty nerds, far too few of the public at large have paid them much attention at all – but that may all be about to change. Just as it looked like Blair’s resignation speech might be near enough the last we hear from him – possible future war crimes tribunals notwithstanding – clip after clip has been dredged out of the vaults for a documentary in the style of Michael Moore (and borrowing his producer, Nicky Moss) showing all of the above and many, many more. Taking Liberties, its release on June 8 perfectly timed to coincide with the Prime Minister’s release into the wild, exposes just how many fundamental rights have been taken from us in ten years of New Labour rule. Despite being shot for just £500,000, the soi-disant “most important film of the decade” is stylish, slick and funny – everything that politics, as a rule, isn’t, even in a post-Alastair Campbell world. It aims to be for British civil liberties what Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 was for opposition to the Iraq War, getting younger people interested in an important subject using the medium that they’re most comfortable with. Its director, Chris Atkins, became interested in the issue in 2005, and despite facetiously claiming not to have slept since, and more seriously having resigned himself to never visiting America, he didn’t want to make a film that was totally downbeat and dreary. “I wanted to achieve two things in this documentary: to make people laugh and to make them angry,” he says. “Politics is never usually a subject to exact either of these responses, but Tony Blair has given us everything you could possibly want for a jaw-dropping and hilarious film.”
But putting across his point this way can be a double-edged sword. Writers selling a point of view or trying to persuade an audience need to balance using emotive language and their natural bias against potentially losing credibility. In gun-control polemic Bowling for Columbine, some of Michael Moore’s cheaper tricks – for example, deliberately trying to interview a politician as he’s getting into his car just to make him look unpleasant and foolish – betray an agenda, and such an obvious lack of objectivity may have turned people off what would in blander language be an indisputable thesis. Atkins perhaps similarly over-eggs the pudding when he likens Home Secretary John Reid to Hitler – the usual response to such a comparison being a roll of the eyes, closing of the mind and a dismissal of the author as a “conspiracy nut”. Bristol University psychologist Matt Crawford, an expert in persuasive messages, warns that unless the film gets it right, they could do their cause more harm than good. “If it loses credibility it’s just not going to work,” he says. “It’ll be ignored – or potentially, for some people, have a boomerang effect and actually do the opposite of what they’re intending.” That kind of automatic rejection of an argument if it’s overblown, or oversimplified, is a phenomenon well-known in academia but little-considered outside of it, and it may be getting a grip on Taking Liberties already, albeit unfairly. One comment on its promotional MySpace page dismisses Atkins’s work as anti-Labour propaganda, and asks, “Who can take this film seriously when Boris Johnson is in it?” But a film that sees foppish archConservative Johnson lining up on the same team as stalwart socialist Tony Benn can hardly be described as unbalanced. “This is not a film about Left and Right,” insists Atkins. “Liberty is apolitical. We’ve deliberately looked for the widest range of opinion possible.” One of the many people the team solicited opinion from is Observer columnist Henry Porter, who has been writing on the erosion of basic freedoms week in, week out for a number of years, and was interviewed extensively for the film and wrote the introduction to the accompanying book. While he doesn’t agree with all of it, he sees it as a commendable effort to reach out to young people with an increasingly significant message. “The erosion of liberty is profoundly important for your generation,” he says. “At some stage you will have to make a stand, and I believe Chris Atkins has done that splendidly in Taking Liberties. “Even Michael Moore, whom I’m not a fan of, changed people’s views, even though his films are not universally popular. You see that already happening with Sicko, his new documentary on health services in the USA.” In fact, part of Porter’s criticism of the film is that it doesn’t go far enough. Aside
from the basic rights of citizens of a democracy to move around freely and unobserved, to march, protest, and express yourself, he says there has also been a concentration of power in the executive and a reduction of the powers of Parliament – and Atkins barely touches on these. “Still, he managed to fill an hour and forty minutes with an awful lot, and that says something about the extent of our loss of liberty,” adds Porter. This is an intrinsic limitation both of having only a short amount of time with which to work, and needing to present complex information in a readily understandable way within that time – some aspects of the topic are bound to be skimmed over in nothing like enough detail. But that’s where the book comes in. The film and book versions of Taking Liberties have a similar sort of relationship as that shared between the print and celluloid expositions of 2001: A Space Odyssey, or, perhaps more appropriately, the Harry Potter series, and tell the same story in a slightly different way. Dual-media working certainly has its advantages. The film – smooth computer animations, catchy upbeat soundtrack – is obviously appealing and can more easily draw an audience in and get them interested to start with. The book can be referred back to for another look. It can go into far greater detail than can the film (at 256 pages it’s roughly equivalent to five hours on screen). And although written in the same acerbic and irreverent style, it’s an inherently more trustworthy vehicle for this type of material – which can ameliorate any credibility issues the film may encounter. It even pre-empts potential reservations readers may have about a certain Tory MP. One of the book’s informative box-outs reads, “Boris Johnson has a self-deprecating manner which is rare in politics today. Underneath that blond haystack of hair lies a staunch libertarian and one of the more intelligent members of the current Conservative Party”. Atkins became more and more convinced that it’s vitally important for Taking Liberties to succeed during filming and production, simply because of what he’s had to go through to get it made. “It’s involved meeting hundreds of people, getting arrested, being laughed at, being punched, being physically sick from talking to torture victims,” he says. “And worst of all, meeting Geoff Hoon. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that politics is primarily about people. And all people need to do is to engage and have a voice, and they can change the world.” As clichéd as that might sound, the country that Atkins is helping a generation to discover – where you can be fined for offending a metal detector, or risk arrest for icing the word “peace” onto a Victoria sponge cake or reading Vanity Fair, where you can be extradited to the US without a shred of evidence, and where you can be hauled off to prison for a non-sanctioned
protest – is one that desperately needs changing. Any chance that Taking Liberties will fall on deaf ears, or put people off the subject, is a risk that’s worth taking – unlike exchanging liberty for security.
We’re throwing away the baby with the bathwater by giving up ancient freedoms in the name of anti-terrorism
UK residents still being detained in Guantanamo Bay
terrorism suspects under control orders, amounting to house arrest
22,700 the number of stopand-searches by the Metropolitan Police last year
of these searches led to terrorism-related arrests
£5,000 The suggested fine for refusing to answer police questions under a proposed extension of stop-andsearch powers
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Stupid is as student does ILLUSTRATION: ANDREW STYLES
From the University to Channel 4, the public think we’re idiots. We shouldn’t let them
ittle wonder that Noel Edmonds sports a perma-grin beneath that beard. Deal or No Deal, the salvation of his TV career, turns 500 episodes old at the end of this month. I’ll leave debating the show’s merit to gair rhydd’s estimable TV desk, but it’s certainly a unique offering – not in the promise of “no questions except one”, but in the assumptions about its audience. In pitting the contestant against a database of questions, most gameshows take for granted that the guy in the hotseat will know at least some of the answers – and that the audience will too, participating at home, echoing the TV in their thousands. But Deal or No Deal assumes we all know nothing, at least about probability. It’s at best guesswork all the way. But it shouldn’t be. The game ought to be viewed as a simple risk assessment, balancing the Banker’s offer against the odds of getting a higher offer on the next go – similar, in many respects, to a game of blackjack. It is instead an appalling demonstration of superstition, magical thinking and gambler-fallacies, encouraged by Edmonds invoking lucky numbers and endlessly bringing up boxes’ previous contents as though it actually matters. Given that Endemol have gained extensive experience of cherry-picking contestants for TV shows after eight series of Big Brother, filtering out numerate applicants from the 80,000 hopefuls can’t have proven too strenuous. Stockbrokers, poker-players and (ahem) astrophysics graduates are undoubtedly conspicuous by their absence. The contestants that have made it onto the show have, by and large, been comprehensively beaten. If every participant simply took the box that they started the show with, the average prize money would be around £26,000. In fact, the Banker has given away an average of around £16,000 per game. The players’ ill-considered ‘gameplan’ more often than not makes them worse off. By the time the
A bizarre tendency to fetishise a certain Argentinian terrorist aside, students are not stupid
500th episode airs on June 29, Endemol will effectively be up to the tune of £5m. They’re all-too-literally banking on contestant and audience alike being stupid. But wait. That audience is us. Or at least, it’s partly us: around a quarter of Deal or No Deal’s four million viewers are at university. An endearing naïvety, blithe ignorance of our own limits, and bizarre tendency to fetishise a certain Argentinian terrorist notwithstanding, students are not stupid. But could Endemol possibly have got that impression from universities themselves? Some staff members don’t seem to have a very high opinion of us, that much is certain. When one department’s administrator feels the need to fire off an email to a group of PhD students urging them to use the pedestrian crossing when negotiating Park Place, something, clearly, is amiss. My own class of 30 journalism postgrads, average age 23, has been routinely shep-
herded upstairs to guest lectures, presumed incapable of getting there on time if left to our own devices. Some of us began to wonder if we were going to be lined up two-by-two and instructed to hold hands while they did a quick head-count. And yet, reflecting on five years in and one year around Cardiff University, it’s clear that these are only extreme examples of a more general malaise. It usually manifests itself as instructions where advice would do. Compulsory tutorials are a case in point, insisting that students meet staff once a week, rather than simply letting them know that if they have a problem or a question they can go to a particular person – still not as bad, of course, as making lectures compulsory, as Oxford proposed last year. Better instead to make us accountable for our own academic performances, though between concerns about league tables and greed for tuition fee-revenue the University is unlikely to risk creating
excess dropouts any time soon. The obligation for students living in halls to register with a Cardiff GP is another instance, the clear implication being that we can’t be trusted to take responsibility for our own health. This has been a mandatory requirement since 1995. Perhaps the residences division foresaw the results of the ’97 election and the subsequent drive from the Red Team, renowned for believing they know best, to squeeze as many people through university as they possibly can. Or perhaps I’m giving them too much credit – more, at any rate, than they seem willing to give us. The idea that here, away from parental clutches, we’re treated as adults and free to do basically as we wish is wholly illusory, and fuelled almost entirely by alcohol – if we can get smashed and still be in lectures by 9am we must be pretty free, right? Wrong. And even this has been snatched away from some of our counterparts in Exeter. Last month their Athletic Union banned drinking-based ‘initiation ceremonies’ for sports teams, setting a £500 fine for anyone found to be breaking the new rules. It’s their typically heavy-handed response to the death of a fresher during a night out last November. Thankfully, Cardiff’s powers-that-be are marginally more restrained. If they reacted thus to every sad-but-preventable death they would have to ban Africa (malaria) and civil engineering (bridge suicides). This is important not because it’s infuriatingly patronising (though it is) but because if university is supposed to be the chrysalis in which we mutate into grownups – rather than the extended sixth form experience that it’s in danger of becoming – then we need to be able to discover our limits, make our own mistakes, and learn from them. A prerequisite for adulthood is autonomy, and it’s lacking in a whole heap of ways that are insignificant on their own – but they add up. They add up to being a little too accustomed to being told what to do; to being under-equipped for Real Life; to nobody taking students very seriously (ever wondered why NUS-led demos are so readily dismissed these days?); and to a certain TV presenter getting even richer off us. You should by now be left with no questions, except one: what are you going to do about it? email@example.com
Looking to a new sporting horizon It hasn’t been the best year for sport in Cardiff – but the future looks rosy
wo sporting seasons have come to an end, and Cardiff’s teams seem to have diminished into the gloomy abyss of the Millennium Stadium’s shadow. Cardiff City fell from a genuine prospect of Premiership football into midtable obscurity. Cardiff Blues fell at the last hurdle in the Magners League title race, in a season that saw the standard of domestic Welsh rugby overshadowed by its English and European rivals. And the cricketing summer ahead looks to be a prospectively long one with Glamorgan making a dismal start to the season, winning only two of their first 12 matches. The renovation of Wembley is also moving the sporting spotlight, centred on the Millennium Stadium for six years, back to London. Next year in Cardiff there will be no FA Cup, League Cup or Play-off Finals despite consecutive years of sellouts. In surveying the sporting horizon, any onlooker can be excused for having a pessimistic outlook. But before the depressing present makes you reach for your sporting noose, Cardiff’s future is not bad at all, as a city
and for its teams. Money is being ploughed into the city by both the Government and private investors, so that Cardiff will have facilities to rival cities around the globe and produce the sporting stars of the future. On the largest scale, Cardiff County Council is taking the lead by spearheading one of the most exciting sports, leisure and entertainment projects in the UK. The Cardiff International Sports Village, a £700 million landmark project set in the heart of Cardiff Bay, is due for completion in 2010, and will play a crucial part in supporting the 2012 London Olympics. The ISV will include a snow dome, a new ice rink for the Cardiff Devils, an Olympic-sized 50-metre swimming pool and an Olympic-standard canoeing and white water rafting course. Less ambitiously but equally important, it will also feature a rock-climbing face and facilities for judo, wrestling, boxing, fencing, gymnastics and golf. When complete, this will provide valuable training facilities for both British and visiting athletes, and also the young talent bitten by the Olympics bug: with the infrastructures in place to accommodate youngsters, a new generation of Welsh sportsmen and women will flourish. Cardiff City FC is joining the development party by building a new stadium, moving from their home of nearly a century, Ninian Park. Building on the existing athletics stadium at nearby Leckwith, the £100m, 60-acre development will provide
a new 30,000 seat stadium. According to Chairman Peter Ridsdale, it will be ready for December 2008, ready to help Cardiff’s push for the Premiership. Moreover, Ridsdale and Cardiff Blues benefactor Peter Thomas are investigating the possibility of ground-sharing, allowing the Blues to play at the new site instead of the old and restrictive Cardiff Arms Park, downsized from 52,000 to 13,500 after the national rugby side upgraded to the Millennium Stadium. This would also allow the renovation of the Millennium Stadium’s North Stand to be completed, including an additional 8,000 seats. The new stadium will cause revenue to escalate due to greater crowd numbers, encouraging more money to be ploughed directly back into both sports. Football, in particular, is a no-spend no-win industry, and increased revenue via gate receipts will bring greater transfer funds to, in theory, push City into the Premiership. Cardiff may soon be on a horizon where its rugby and football teams can reach new levels that financial restrictions had previously put out of reach. Cricket in the Welsh capital is also experiencing a constructive overhaul to rival its football and rugby counterparts. Scheduled for completion next year is a £9.5m transformation of Sophia Gardens into a Test match venue ahead of the 2009 Ashes, upgrading it from a limited 5,000capacity ground to a 15,500 state-of-theart Test arena. An England vs. South Africa
Cardiff’s future is not bad at all, as a city and for its teams – money is being ploughed into the city
one-day international in August 2008 will be the first top-drawer game to be staged at the new-look ground. Paul Russell, chairman of Glamorgan CC, called the deal “an historic moment in the history of Glamorgan cricket and the game in Wales”. The regeneration of the stadium, located in Bute Park, could not have come at a better time for Welsh cricket. After an awful start to the 2007 season, batsman Michael Powell recognises “that without a 21st century arena capable of hosting corporate events as well as top-class cricket, there might not be a Glamorgan in 20 years.” The new Sophia Gardens, establishing Cardiff as a Test city and all-round sporting destination, will hopefully avert this plight. The ensuing Ashes fever may even encourage more children to get into the sport, creating a new generation of Welsh cricketing stars. Investment in sport must not be underestimated. This year saw a frustrating campaign to urge the University to invest more money in sport, hoping to improve performance levels through better facilities. Fortunately the city’s teams don’t seem to have the same obstructions: money is flooding in left, right and centre, with separate regeneration projects seemingly acting as catalysts to one another. This can only be a good thing. Let’s hope we can see the results, with Cardiff’s teams and individuals hitting sport’s centre stages in the not-so-remote future. firstname.lastname@example.org
The UK needs organ donors ?
When so many people urgently need organ donations to live, why aren’t we Dan Ridler all rushing to join the register? For too long the media has been seedy, insensitive and downright cruel. It’s about time things changed
I ILLUSTRATION: ANDREW STYLES
n all-too-familiar scenario: you graduate from university aged 21 (a bit of debt run up but many invaluable experiences with it); the career ladder is waiting to be climbed; the world is, quite simply, at your feet. Now imagine that a few months previous to this moment, a doctor has sat you down and delivered the hardest news to give: your health is rapidly declining and you have only a year or two to live. Unthinkable, isn’t it? This is the situation my sister found herself in two years ago. Suffering from the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis, Emily enjoyed a healthy and active childhood, but by the age of 19 there were signs of progressive lung damage and her condition began to deteriorate rapidly, propelling her towards the horrific situation she found herself in as a graduate. End-stage Cystic Fibrosis sufferers are given one small glimmer of hope with this diagnosis: the possibility of a double lung transplant, which will not only save and prolong their lives, but enable them to do many things which minute lung capacity has made impossible in recent years. A wonderful chance – with less than wonderful odds. Only 50% of patients listed for a lung transplant will receive it in time. The number of registered donors in the UK is particularly low; while 90% of people questioned support organ donation, only 22% of the population have registered their wishes on the NHS register. Discussing and cementing your wishes may seem like a morbid thought now, but in actual fact you are more likely to need a transplant than to become a donor. If you were in the position of young patients such as CF sufferers, chances are you would desperately cling to the chance of life, and take the option of transplantation yourself. It is a real and relevant issue, but the chronic shortage of awareness and discussion makes the wait for those listed people excruciating. Emily waited two years, on 24-hour oxygen, wheelchair-bound and coming close to the brink of death twice due to collapsed lungs, and finally in January of this year her life was saved by the generosity of a stranger. Her conviction that she would be one of the 50% who survived had kept her sane, even as she watched many friends on the list die waiting – lives wasted needlessly. The call she had longed for came on January 4 of this year, and after six hours in surgery and weeks of slow, precarious
recovery and physiotherapy, I was given my healthy, happy sister back. Grateful cannot describe my family’s feelings towards her donor and their family’s incredible gift, and I hope they can take comfort in the one positive, life-transforming outcome of such a tragedy.
The chronic shortage of awareness and discussion makes the wait for those listed people excruciating Emily is one of the lucky half who receive the operation, but many young people still die waiting for organs, and logically, it just shouldn’t happen. If awareness could be raised, and each individual’s wishes and opinions on the subject discussed, so many more lives could be saved, and less time endured waiting. Last year, over 400 people died whilst waiting for a transplant, 160 of whom were children. It is unbelievably easy to sign up to the organ donor register online, and two minutes out of your Facebook-stalking time will never be more valuably spent. A crucial factor in the lack of donors in
this country is the lack of discussion amongst families on the subject. In September of last year laws were changed to prevent refusal of consent by registered donors’ next of kin, but as this is ethically so difficult to enforce, the refusal rate remains high. Consider whether you have discussed your wishes; should your life be tragically cut short, would you be willing to potentially save up to nine other lives by donating organs? Facing your own mortality is never an attractive prospect, but for people waiting for a transplant it dominates their existence – one important and generous decision from enough people could dramatically improve the statistics they face. Another vital factor in the amount of transplants that take place is the ‘opt in’ system we currently have in the UK. In Spain, Belgium and Austria, an ‘opt out’ approach is taken, where everyone is assumed to be in favour of donating their organs after death unless they specifically indicate otherwise. This automatically accounts for all the people who support the concept but perhaps wouldn’t have got around to signing up under a system such as ours, and the death rate of those on the waiting list in these countries is nowhere near as high as Britain’s. In a BBC poll in May 2005, 61% of those questioned were in favour of changing to an ‘opt out’ system. However, the bill has been raised and overruled in Parliament several times, with
many MPs being advised to vote against it. None of the major religions object to organ donation – many cast a favourable eye on the process – and very few people in my experience have any real qualms with it, generally agreeing that it is a positive and worthwhile thing to do. The only way to really make a change for those living on the knife-edge of the transplant waiting lists is to be more open about your views on donation, talking to your next of kin, signing up officially on the NHS register and making changes one individual at a time. Death is never going to be a lighthearted topic of conversation, but just as you might make a will or choose a song for your funeral, consider the incredible possibilities you could create for others when your time has run out. It is your body, your legacy, and should be thought about in your lifetime.
It is unbelievably easy to sign up to the organ donor register online Having witnessed the incredible transformation a transplant can bring about, I urge you to live life, then give life, by signing up to the organ donor register today. email@example.com
Punishing the innocent
Boycotting Israeli academic institutions is pointless and wrong
t’s that time of year again. Summer is upon us, the end of exams is nigh, and the Glastonbury line-up has just been announced. All this can mean only one thing. You guessed it – we’re ready for the yearly attempt to boycott Israeli academia. At its inaugural conference, the University Colleges Union (UCU), formed through the merging of the two lecturers’ unions AUT and NATFHE last year, has passed a motion for a “comprehensive and consistent boycott of Israeli academic institutions” by 158 votes to 99. This boycott, which survived for barely a few hours as an AUT policy before the merger in 2006, and had a similarly stuttering time when implemented in 2005, seeks to punish Israeli academics for their “com-
plicity” in the illegal occupation of Palestinian land. The crimes of the few, it would seem, condemn the many. As always with issues on Israel and Palestine, outrage abounds. NUS President Gemma Tumelty has been quick to distance the NUS from the boycott. “Retaining dialogue on all sides,” she says, “will be crucial in obtaining a lasting peace in the Middle East. International academics have a lot to offer higher education students in the UK and a boycott of this specific country is extremely worrying.” Tumelty’s ardent opposition is unsurprising given the NUS’ recent adoption of the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia’s (EUMC’s) definition of anti-Semitism. The definition states “manifestations [of anti-Semitism] could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” If things get too ‘racist’, of course, the NUS’ ludicrous No Platform policy, which inhibits the free speech of those adjudged fascistic, could always be implemented to stifle debate and stop any precious feelings from getting hurt. Despite what many commentators will doubtlessly allege, there is nothing anti-
Semitic about this boycott – it is purely political in motive. However, that said, why Israel? It’s an old argument for an old boycott, but over the few years since this issue arose (it’s been an on-off debate since 2002) there has been no decent answer forthcoming. Belarus, China, Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia – pick your favourite country with a history of oppression and human rights abuses; why repeatedly single out one naughty nation for a boycott while happily continuing academic interaction with all the other miscreants?
A boycott could have a huge effect on the careers of Israeli academics, who do not dictate Israel’s political policies When unions that should be concentrating solely on the interests of their members start dipping their toes in the swirling waters of international politics, there is
something almost charming about it – it’s akin to the passionate flailing of student debates, huddled around a pub table in the first year: nobody knows enough about the issue at hand, but damn it, they’re going to have an opinion anyway. This boycott would be harmless – irritating, but not pernicious – if it could be dismissed as just gesture politics, but it can’t. A boycott could have a huge effect on the careers of Israeli academics, who, strangely enough, do not dictate Israel’s political policies. Punishing academics for the perceived crimes of their country makes absolutely no sense. By such rationale we should be boycotting ourselves because of our ‘complicity’ in the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. Most crucially, this boycott will have absolutely zero influence on the only thing that matters with such measures: the encouragement of an effective and lasting peace process. You can’t right the world’s wrongs by flinging boycotts at your pet favourite injustices. As the UCU should have learned by now, things are a little more complicated than that. firstname.lastname@example.org
’ve been a part of the media for three years now (note valedictorian tone) in my own little way, at the thin end of the bludgeon that is the ever expanding and quickening world of the modern media. During that time I’ve seen the good the media can do, I’ve covered some great stories and written some fun and occasionally controversial articles. As part of the team at gair rhydd I have seen this paper play its part in innumerable campaigns, helping students to get their bonds back, exposing incompetence and poor conditions, and paying tribute as sensitively as possible to the losses of life that occur thankfully rarely at university. I am proud to say I have been a part of this paper. Now, like all the best assassins, it’s time to turn the gun on myself. What the world has been exposed to recently, and what I have also picked up from my time at other papers, is the baying unscrupulousness, the honest straightup insensitivity and the sickeningly merciless progress of today’s news. I’ve been in offices at daily regional newspapers when grieving widows have been told (over the phone) that no, they can’t stop the paper running a story about their dead husband; it’s saddening that at the time nobody, including myself, even thought for a moment that that was wrong. Over weeks and years we see the vilification of potentially innocent men and women without any evidence that would get as far as the door of a lawyer’s office, from the Ipswich murders to the Madeleine McCann case. Apparently, contempt of court no longer means anything if you work for a national. We’ve seen nonentities made into something and then nothing – broken, just so that the masses can acquire their daily opiate of gossip, and no-one blames anyone but the nonentity themselves. Last election we saw unadulterated, selfish media voteswinging, with no interest in a fair battle. It is sad that it has come to this. I’m pleased to say that there is a bracket of the media community that works hard every day. There are some who risk their lives to bring honest, relatively unspun and hard-hitting news of importance, to cover the lives of those less fortunate, and to highlight catastrophes and stories of intrigue and corruption central to the public interest. I salute these people, journalists of the highest calibre. Then there are those in the industry who keep us entertained: up-to-speed satirists with a wit I could never hope to emulate, and those who straightforwardly tell us just why our ‘best-in-the-league’ football team lost in the play-off finals to a bunch of old men from the East Midlands. Analysing events, looking indepth into tactics, watching markets, coming up with new ideas we’d never thought of before – they command respect. So why do we have this seedy underclass of journalism? Why is the image of the journo still one of an ambitious, negative, news-hungry misfit? Perhaps that is what the industry forces you to be. I’ve met some lovely journalists, but I imagine reporting the news for people who want that little bit more gets to you in time. People don’t want trials, they want a sacrifice. They don’t want to go to bed thinking a killer is on the loose; they want their daily tabloid to tell them that he’s in custody and they’re safe, even if it’s not true. Sales figures speak volumes; big stories, however inaccurate, catch imaginations. The media is in a mess, a sorry mangle of the best and the rest, and sitting firmly at the bottom of the pile is the humble student journalist. This is my last correspondence, but I trust this paper to continue to try and stay on the right side of good journalism (probably doing a better job once I go). I just hope that the wider news world can straighten itself out soon, one way or another, because I for one have fallen out of love. email@example.com
Trial by Facebook
Facebook – good clean fun? Or are universities right to accuse students of foul play?
ILLUSTRATION: ANDREW STYLES
ittle in this life is black and white, and the recent furore over students misusing online networking websites (according to academic institutions) is as grey as a summer’s day in Cardiff – as grey as any social debate can get. In the last fortnight, Keele University has sent all its students a written warning, threatening disciplinary action if graduates write about staff online. According to a statement from Keele University, this warning was the result of a number of students’ comments of an “unacceptable nature” on Facebook, who are now facing potential “legal action from the members of staff concerned for defamation and harassment.” The University of Keele insists “there are legitimate ways to express dissatisfaction with the student experience without resorting to such communications.” Closer to home, in the last few weeks a friend of mine got hauled up, along with arround 20 other students, for discussing answers to supplementary tests, or e-tutorials, on a Facebook group. The results of these tests do not constitute any concrete percentage of the module’s marking criteria, but are taken into consideration when appraising overall performance. According to the student, one of these tests would require “16 to 17 hours” of working out for a full and valid answer – a big ask of any student, I think, in the prelude to the summer term’s busy exam and coursework period. My friend is still waiting to hear what action the University is going to take. A smaller number of Cardiff students from this Facebook group who had made comments about a lecturer have been called to further proceedings, which, I am informed, have become a police matter. Facebook has its own rules on this issue (if you look hard enough for its Code of Conduct), which state: “While we believe users should be able to express themselves and their point of view, certain kinds of speech do not belong in a community like Facebook. Therefore, you may not post or share content that: is derogatory, demean-
ing, malicious, defamatory, abusive, offensive or hateful.” MySpace makes a similar declaration, condemning any content that “is patently offensive and promotes racism, bigotry, hatred or physical harm of any kind against any group or individual; harasses or advocates harassment of another person…” All very honourable, I’m sure you’d agree, but lacking a tad in pragmatism – after all, can these companies logistically monitor every single wall post placed on their websites? In short, no. For the most part, I imagine they can only take action once they’ve received a complaint, which could mean there are hundreds, if not thousands, of libellous comments not being dealt with, which undermines the corporations’ overall ethical credibility. Then there are photographs. How long before posting a doctored, or even just unflattering, photograph putting someone in a bad light also becomes illegal (maybe it already is)? Emails seem to be the last remaining bastion of privacy on the web
(though maybe their screening is the next step that universities will hope to take). It is anyone’s guess how the lecturer and Cardiff University found out. Perhaps there was a mole. Perhaps the lecturer has his own Facebook profile. My preferred theory is that the University has a crack squad of web-surfers – something in the style of 24’s CTU office – who spend their days looking for licentious material in the aeons of web-space. Disappointingly, according to a University spokesperson, this is not the case. Instead, “[such] issues are dealt with as the University becomes aware of them.” The spokesman added that although the University has “no specific policy regarding Facebook, the University takes all instances of plagiarism, collusion or other unfair practice very seriously, regardless of the medium used.” No-one can argue against each and every one of us being entitled to our own opinions. A democratic state is all about freedom of speech – and while that is the
Can these companies logistically monitor every single wall post placed on their websites? No
case, hurtful things are inevitably going to be said. Sadly, it is a human condition that we don’t all like each other and that we’ll tend to express this among those we do like. It’s all to do with social bonding apparently – our alternative to apes picking pesky parasites off each other’s backs or something. The contention seems to lie not in what is said, necessarily, but where the criticism is made – in private or in public – and even these notions are blurred. How do we define ‘public’? If the students involved in this case had sent a private email to a friend discussing a lecturer, would that be illegal? What about a circular email to 10 friends? Or what if the students had met up in the pub to discuss their tutors and other customers had overheard; could the University have taken action on this? While libel and slander are fairly simple legal notions to grasp (the former is false aspersions recorded in permanent form such as writing or a video whereas the latter is transient such as a live radio broadcast), defamation is notoriously a much more slippery concept. Subjectivity is not the half of it; after all, what one person will find offensive, the next might consider a bloody good joke. The main problem, as far as I can see, is the same predicament that is posed on most occasions when ethics on the internet are called to account: the absence of a strict set of rules. Although this situation is improving, it is by no means currently resolved. To give Cardiff University its due, it’s not all about crime and punishment. The University spokesman stated that the University was also committed to providing its students with the “opportunities to develop the knowledge and skills required to prevent further incidences” to hopefully prevent these situations arising. While plagiarism within our essay writing is continually hammered into us as being the ultimate sin of University sins, the nuances of this crime need to be explained from the outset of our university tenure and kept up-to-date to deal with technological developments such as these networking sites. Perhaps there’s only one way to disseminate this new student-friendly rulebook. The lawmakers need to create a Facebook group: ‘No Helping Each Other Or Taking The Piss OR ELSE’. Just be careful, if you do join, what you post on it. You never know who’ll end up knocking on your door. firstname.lastname@example.org
Going, going...still here Roll up, roll up, and see the sights of the Vanity Blair
hen will the madness end? The speech has been made, a successor announced and the country is preparing for change, so why is he still here? Is he waiting for the Valkyries to come? Or for the blood on the knives to dry? Just what is he waiting for? On May 10 – over a month ago – Tony Blair announced his resignation from the role of Prime Minister. Whether he has benefited or damaged British politics is a debate that will rage on; either way, his regime is at an end. But, like the unwelcome house guest who suggests a game of Monopoly at 4am when everybody else has gone home, he just will not leave. The official date set for Blair’s departure is June 27, a date he claims was not chosen arbitrarily but probably resembles the latest date he could realistically get away with. Until then (somewhat anti-climactically after his grandiose resignation speech), he remains Prime Minister; free to do whatever he pleases, which, worryingly, doesn’t seem to include running the country. Even the Government sees no point in denying that Blair is indulging in
a ‘legacy tour’, hopping from plane to Earth-damaging plane in an attempt to rewrite his political history without mentioning the word ‘Iraq’. It is an exercise in sheer vanity. The world tour unsurprisingly includes those countries that have benefited from Blair’s premiership – Northern Ireland, Libya, Sierra Leone et al. Africa is a key stop on the Blair ego trip, and his decision to visit Sierra Leone, where British military intervention was crucial during civil war, and drop in on good old “actually, we don’t need nuclear weapons after all” Libya gives an idea of his motives. What about visiting Uganda, where President Yoweri Museveni’s new constitution allows him to remain in power indefinitely? Or Ethiopia, where the much-hailed elections ended in mass arrests and tank movements? Or, God forbid, Zimbabwe?
Like the unwelcome house guest who suggests a game of Monopoly at 4am, Blair just will not leave The Prime Minister’s keenness to focus on the parts of Africa that he helped function, instead of its broader problems – a sort of Good Aid Not Bad AIDS – is, of
course, completely expected, but it reveals a tragic prioritisation of reputation over others’ needs. That his entourage includes a personal photographer, a writer from Vogue magazine and allegedly a novelist is incredible. Is there no end to the man’s vanity? This self-centred global tour is helping nobody. It would be more beneficial for Gordon Brown, his patient successor, to take the reins now. Is there any excuse for this characteristically huge delay between Blair’s announcement of resignation and his actual departure; these seven weeks of political limbo, with Blair seemingly out of office and Brown not yet in it? The official reasons are many. But the real reason? There is none. To allow a six-week election campaign to determine the new Leader of the Labour Party – the election never happened. Gordon Brown’s only rival, John “if Blair wants it, I’ll vote against it” McDonnell, failed to receive the 45 nominations he required to challenge Brown for the leadership. Brown won by default. To force the incoming Prime Minister to establish his credentials at party hustings – why? What difference would it make? For better or worse, Joe and Jane Public have been denied the opportunity to vote for the next Prime Minister so a policy ‘discussion’ is arguably pointless, and party members should know what to expect from Brown after a 10-year chancellorship. Perhaps the hustings are necessary – but not all 10, over a period of six
weeks. They could even have been held the day after the lack of opposition was announced (logistical nightmare aside).
Why doesn’t Blair visit Uganda? Or Ethiopia? Or, God forbid, Zimbabwe? To coincide with the six-week election campaign for the office of Deputy Prime Minister – as I have said before – indeed, in last year’s Berliner – the office of Deputy Prime Minister has been made completely, utterly pointless. If the Government must try to perpetuate the myth that the Deputy PM has a purpose beyond filling in when the boss is away, the election campaign could take place with Brown already in Number 10, either with Prescott remaining in the passenger seat a bit longer or there being no Deputy at all for a few weeks (after all, Brown isn’t going to take much time off in his first month as Prime Minister). Controversial, yes, but entirely feasible. To give Gordon Brown time to “listen and learn” to and from the public, and prepare for office – given that he has been waiting to become Prime Minister for approximately 13 years, you would hope he was ready by now; and without wanting to sound too much like Bill Hicks, all politicians are lying when they say they want to listen to the public. They don’t
want to listen to us. We’re boring. We’re meant to be listening to them. To allow the incoming Prime Minister to prepare domestic policies while the outgoing one makes necessary state visits – given Blair’s motives in making said state visits (preserving his legacy), their necessity is questionable. Even if he was highlighting the major problems rather than the minor successes, this is something traditionally done after standing down. Given his notoriety, no less attention would be paid by the media. With potential rivals all queuing up for the easier job of Deputy, there appears to be no reason why Gordon Brown should not be Prime Minister already. Perhaps it would be contentious and even unconstitutional, but it would make political sense. And as for Blair, he doesn’t seem to be sticking to the Downing Street memo that said he should “go with the crowds wanting more” and be “the star who won’t even play that last encore.” Instead, he seems inspired by his favourite band, The Rolling Stones, in making world tours and simply refusing to go away. Tragically, he may even believe he is helping the world by hanging around; Nietzsche once said, “With all great deceivers there is a noteworthy occurrence to which they owe their power. In the actual act of deception…they are overcome by belief in themselves.” Alternatively, Jarvis Cocker recently sung, “C***s are still running the world.” The problem is that at the moment, they’re not. Nobody is. email@example.com
Est. 1972 Number 846
Mistakes must end C
graduating from Cardiff when some of the assessments did not test their abilities but their luck? A high degree classification means nothing if it is potentially influenced by a student’s good fortune that an exam paper has the answers already printed on it, or that they have seen all the questions before. Obviously for any module that is taught every year, the basic information doesn’t change. But that doesn’t excuse examination boards from reprinting the same questions over and over again. Let’s be frank, not every student is whiter than white when it comes to examinations. That’s why the University’s unfair practices guidelines exist, as we’ve all been reminded over the last few weeks in every single exam. It might not take much for a lower year student to ‘consult’ with a friend that had already taken the same test the year before. And this isn’t going to reflect well on the
University as a whole when the time comes for eager new applicants to decide where to spend the next few years of their lives. What kind of value for money is £3000 a year for degree schemes to offer modules that rarely evolve from year to year? But all the posturing in the world isn’t going to help EARTH students whose degree classifications may have been affected by the fact that they took the exam like any other, without seeing the practice paper first. Cardiff University needs to sort out the conduct of examinations like these and the many more that potentially go unreported for years. Administrative errors may be blamed for such slip-ups but they can’t be accepted when the University is being paid thousands of pounds to provide students with a world-class degree that challenges and, ultimately, educates.
US STUDENT DISCRIMINATION
Transatlantic buddies or foes? I
t is sometimes easy to forget that even groups considered internationally powerful can be discriminated against. And it seems that Americans living in Britain are one such group that is increasingly being picked on by us supposedly ‘tolerant’ students here in Cardiff. Of the current 65 Cardiff University students who hail from the United States, a fair number have encountered some form of ‘singling out’ from mild ribbing to attempts to burn the American flag. Politically, the UK and the US are oft-expressed by the media to be ‘joined at the hip’, with Britain
usually described as the ‘poodle’ of the relationship. The media and business, in many ways, also shares that notorious ‘close relationship’ with the seemingly endless conglomeration of companies across the pond. (Just think Friends-inspired BBC2’s Coupling which in turn was sold back to the US). However, at the grassroots level, the statistics seem to suggest a very different feeling – an American love for all things British which is fairly vehemently not reciprocated. While the US swoons at our foibles – our Hugh Grant-esque charm and foppishness, many of us
Brits seem to abhor American overbearing foreign policy, artifice and wackiness. It’s time to get real and put away the tarring brush. Every American isn’t obese, self-centred and as ‘intellectually challenged’ as George Bush, just in much the same way as every Brit doesn’t live in London, have poor dental hygiene and have close affiliations to the Royal Family. Let’s call an end to the Them and Us view, which is prevailing even here at Cardiff University, and stop relying on hollow stereotypes on which to base our views of the world.
We’re being watched S
o the government has asked universities to turn secret police by monitoring its students for potential terrorists? Incredulous you may be, but unfortunately it is not overly shocking considering our ever-increasing surveillance society filled with eerie child-voiced security cameras and more covert satellites circling the planet than ever before. But while for the most part this seems to be a situation that’s out of our hands – dictated by powers way above our heads – perhaps this is one situation
that Cardiff University students can do something about. It all comes down to common sense. Are lecturers and librarians really the right sort of people to be monitoring and seeking out potential terrorists? The instinctive answer to that question would be no – just think of the potential minefield of discrimination and false accusations and the battles of litigation which would inevitably ensue. On the other hand, is anyone fully capable of accurate terrorist-spotting? Numerous police blunders and inaccurate govern-
ment intel would suggest not. There is a very fine line between ensuring public safety and impinging on human rights and gair rhydd believes that if the government and universities must continue their surveillance, they should both be more upfront with the country’s students. So next time you go to the library, bear in mind that the books you check out might not be a secret shared between merely you and the librarian. Perhaps ask a friend to collect the required book for you. Or should that be an enemy…
THE BERLINER MACH II
Ich bin ein... again W
hat’s this you hold in your hands? Could your eyes be deceiving you? No, your retina is spot on, and you do indeed observe before you another Berliner-sized gair rhydd in all its beautiful glory. Last June was a very special time up in gair rhydd towers, as the extremely accommodating people at the Guardian assisted us to turn the usual tabloidsized gair rhydd into not an old-hat broadsheet like previous final editions of the year, but a Berliner. So this year, we thought why not do it again. In
the beginning, this seemingly wasn’t going to be as easy due to a lot of people jumping on the old ‘we want a Berliner too’ bandwagon - ever pioneering, we were only the third newspaper to publish an edition in this format. But persistence paid off and we are lucky enough to be blessed with another Berliner to commemorate the end of another great year of gair rhydd. Like last year’s team, we have worked so hard it has sometimes seemed like we have been taking a second degree on top of our official one. We have
thank you There is absolutely no way I could have got through this year without the following people….
ANOTHER EXAM COCK-UP
ardiff University, a world-renowned institution, has managed to mishandle an examination again. The terrible truth in all this is that it’s becoming a common occurrence with many students almost accepting it as part of their degree. First we had the Medics who were given the answers to their exam with the questions, and now EARTH School students are being awarded marks for memorising questions from the so-called ‘practice’ paper that had assessed students for over two years without change. The problem is that the people who will really benefit from these cock-ups aren’t Cardiff students but graduates from universities that can actually set an exam correctly. In today’s job market a 2:1 or even a first won’t cut it if the reputation of the degree scheme is lacking. Can an employer really take seriously a student
spent many an hour sweating away in the armpit of the Union, living off takeaways from Dominos and Daiquiris, and all of it has been worthwhile. If this is the final edition that you’ll ever read, we hope you’ll agree that it makes just as good a souvenir of your time in Cardiff as it did for last year’s graduates. If you’re staying here another year or two, you too could be involved in making gair rhydd next year. We are always looking for new people to get involved so come and see us at the Freshers’ Fair in September. You’ll have a blast. We promise.
Katie K, Adam, Jo, Helen: not just superb, dedicated and very talented colleagues, but my dear friends. Special thanks to Katie K for constant support and hard work throughout the year. Menon, you will go down in history as a gair rhydd legend and George, without you Sport would be nothing (literally, nothing – we’d never get any pages done if Menon was left to his own devices).Ceri – you are definitely the gair rhydd green goddess - Science and Environment is always top notch. Ed and Dan – my two favourite gair rhydd columnists. Thanks for all your opinions, however controversial, and giving the likes of Mark PhD History and CTD something to rant about. Georgie, Amira and Nicki: gair rhydd (and Quench) girls who light up the office when they come in – you always make everyone smile on horrible deadline days. Nadia, Aline, Liz, Gill, Lisa, Kayleigh and Rachel – always doing you pages days before deadline is dedication indeed. You’ve all helped to make my job a hell of a lot easier this year and for that I am unbelievably grateful. Rosaria and Jenna, how you managed to make Listings so entertaining every week is beyond me. You’re great. Lara and Jesse – you bring something very, very, er, different to the paper. Reading FMF always makes my week, (albeit leaving me a little confused and occasionally a little violated). TV Desk (both old and new) – you are simply hilarious. Serious cat must stay next year. Grace – hugely talented and always glamorous to a tea – you have been the best columnist an editor could ask for. James and Sarah – two of the most overworked and under-appreciated people on the paper – photography has been amazing this year and without you guys we’d be in a hell of a mess. Graeme – employing you was the best thing the Union has ever done (and having a direct line to you has been a godsend). I am so grateful that you still find the time to come up and help us all out. There is no doubt that your talent, dedication and friendship has made gair rhydd what it is today. Paul – without your dedication and know-how gairrhydd.com would be nothing, and without your support (and Haribo) my Friday mornings would always be tearful. To all the proofreaders (including the Kates), thanks for being the only ones who are willing to get to the office at 9am in the mornings. I hope the vouchers have helped numb the pain. Amy and Ben – features has been consistently top-notch and you have both been an absolute pleasure to work with. Next year’s team and the students of Cardiff are exceptionally lucky to have you both at the helm and I have no doubt that you will take gair rhydd and Quench to new levels of excellence. Elaine – Every editor says it, but without you gair rhydd would fall to pieces (much like it did last week). You go way beyond the call of duty every day and it is appreciated by everyone here. You have been more like a friend and mother to me than an assistant and I will miss our morning talks and tea so very much. Sophie – we bloody did it, didn’t we!? Going full-colour was everything we’d hoped and this year has just been bloomin’ marvellous. Thanks for everything – what good memories we have, Andy and Sofie, you truly are the two most dedicated members and deserve every bit of that title. You are both bloody good writers, editors and friends and Politics and Music have been superb over the last year. I’d love to thank all the wonderful people at Quench too, but unfortunately there just isn’t the space and, to be honest. Sophie has done it far more eloquently in Quench than I could ever do. She definitely speaks for both of us in all her praise and thanks because you have been a truly great team this year. I have loved every minute of helping out on Tuesdays nights and even the sight of Will Hitchin’s naked torso hasn’t damaged all the memories I have. Perri Lewis, gair rhydd editor 2006/07
The MedClub feud rumbles on I am writing to you in response to Lee Macaulay’s article, ‘Bar Med: the feud continues’. I would agree that the timing of the consultation was very poor, especially as it had been postponed since February 1. However, I object to your suggestions of a poor attendance by students. As I understand, the majority of the thirty or so people who did attend were our elected representatives. The outgoing and incoming MedSoc Presidents, many course representatives and some team captains all made the effort to voice opinions on behalf of the student body despite heavy academic commitments that week, including Final MB examinations. The thirty who attended had sought the feelings of their fellow students on the future of MedClub very effectively, including the use of the Facebook group that you mention later in your article. Surely it was better for the Residences & Catering staff to consult with thirty wellinformed representatives than a group of hundreds of ranting individuals? I’m also disappointed that gair rhydd has failed to truly convey the views of healthcare students on this matter. Quoting my Facebook posts and isolating them from the context of the discussion smacks of shoddy, lazy journalism when dozens of students would readily share their feelings on this issue. I feel that the paper displays an inherent bias against the former UWCM students. That is echoed in the Students’ Union Executive and Student Council as it is practically unfeasible for anyone on an intensive vocational course to stand for either. gair rhydd would be up in arms and, indeed, champion the cause of any group of students fighting a loss of a service on Cathays Park Campus while our efforts are reported on with more than a pinch of cynicism.
I was so impressed by fresh blood taking up this campaign with renewed vigour; it’s just a shame that this piece failed to acknowledge that. Isn’t it time for the paper’s editorial policy to reflect the new Cardiff University and carry the geiriau rhydd of all of its students instead of cheap potshots or token lip service? Andrew Griffiths, Final Year Medical Student gair rhydd responds… Having attended the consultation at MedClub, I would have to agree that indeed the 30-or-so students in attendance were very well informed as noted in the article in question with two of the first year healthcare students we talked to being well versed in the history of MedClub as a Students’ Union, assumedly because of their active participation in medic sports. However, I disagree that the attendance of 30 people is a relatively large number considering the amount of healthcare students this decision would have affected. Admittedly, those in attendance were, by and large, representatives of medical students and I commend them for serving those they represented in the face of heavy academic commitments and ridiculous scheduling by the University. However, a major issue is that there was a poor attendance by healthcare students i.e. all students based at the Heath not just medics. Medic students were well represented but where were the dentistry, occupational therapy, nursing and radiography students who should also be benefiting from the improved MedClub? I would question as well that those in attendance at the meetings held such broad views. The prevailing attitude was one of Medic sportsmen. Obviously, if Medic teams want MedClub as a bar then they are entitled to take the University to
Don’t look Beck in anger Dear gair rhydd, I feel compelled to respond to George Pawley and Dave Menon’s twin articles on David Beckham last week. What these two should’ve realised is that by writing for and against pieces about whether Becks should be recalled, they both entirely missed and accidentally hit the point: it’s both yes and no. Yes Pawley, he’s playing well and was rightly called back up for Brazil and Estonia, but how much longer will he be in
form once he’s playing against Yankee amateurs? And yes Menon, his return is a blow to younger players, but all recalls are a blow to someone else, and Lennon’s younger than me – he’s got plenty of time. And at the end of the day, why does it need a whole page and two sports editors to summarise this straightforward debate? The focus should be on Lampard needing to be shot. John Clements
GReat stuff Dear gair rhydd, As a final year student about to leave Cardiff I thought it an appropriate time to offer praise for the student paper which has informed and entertained me for the last three years. Amidst my memorabilia of ticket stubs and fliers is a copy of the first gair rhydd I collected as a Fresher in September 2004. Ever since, gair rhydd has been my first port of call for news and stories. In October 2005 my house made front page news after we stupidly left the front door open and had a laptop stolen - the page is still stuck on my wall now. It always makes me laugh out loud when I see my mates put on the spot as your reporters go out and about (in the Taf) asking students their opinions. I will admit
I do always turn straight to the back pages to check out the latest IMG reports before reading the rest of the paper. The Phil Collins’ Casebook from 2004/5 was by far the funniest thing to ever grace the pages of gair rhydd. Many drunken conversations with fellow third years have often degenerated into intricate accounts of the former plotlines involving Moira Stewart, Jon Snow and Mick Hucknell. In all gair rhydd has been just what I’ve needed to ease myself into work mode on a Monday morning. As I depart Cardiff and head into the big wide world, I leave safe in the knowledge that next year I will be able to get my fix wherever I end up in the world via gairrhydd.com. Jacob James, Final Year, Law Student
Joy of creation Dear gair rhydd, I wanted to write to congratulate gair rhydd and all the student contributors for the ‘creativewords’ special section that featured in last week’s edition. Creative writing has been one aspect that I have felt the Cardiff University press had been missing out on and there was a good cross-section of writing forms and styles. I particularly enjoyed the script writing and short fiction, though I know other students who really enjoyed the
poetry. I also thought that the illustrations and designs really brought the text to life. I hope that this will become a more regular feature in Cardiff student’s media in the future. Perhaps in later issues tips could be provided for those looking to get involved with creative writing and an online forum for discussion and constructive criticism further developed on the gair rhydd website. John Tuscany
PHOTO: MATT HORWOOD
Dear gair rhydd,
MEDCLUB: Battleground task, however, when considering that MedClub is not just for them, not even for just medics but all healthcare students based at the Heath – it seems wildly inappropriate to allow any changes of the basis of this consultation. With regard to taking comments off your Facebook group, I must admit, we could have called lots more students and spoken to hundreds of people, but you must remember that the people who run this newspaper are students with full-time courses. Sometimes we simply do not have the time to do this like ‘real’ journalists do. But why can’t we use the opinions that
I was so impressed by fresh blood taking up this campaign with renewed vigour; it's just such a shame that this piece failed to acknowledge that
have been voiced on a public forum like Facebook? It’s not lazy – they’re your comments. We didn’t use the Facebook comments in isolation as our only source. Two members of gair rhydd attended the consultation to report back for the paper. As for us being biased against former UWCM students, we have reported on more stories about Medics and other Heath-based courses than any other course in Cardiff University. If anything, we have been biased in favour of you because our editorial team are very aware of how Heath-based students have badly organised courses.
The price is not right Dear gair rhydd, I think the Summer Ball is far too expensive. And I don’t think too many people will disagree with me. I’m aware this issue has been brought up year after year, but £37 is just daylight robbery. In previous years, the admission price has been cheaper. I’m aware the acts are expensive to recruit, but I don’t see why the price should go up, since last year’s event cost £35. I wouldn’t mind so much if the price remained the same, but why should it increase? I could get an extra pint with the extra £2. And before the thought enters your mind, I’m not tight-fisted. I’m willing to spend money if necessary in order to have a good night. I’ve been to two award ceremonies this year, which have offered a three-course
meal with guest speakers at a cheaper price. Both of these events cost between £25 and £30. That’s what you call value for money. Apart from the bands and the venue, the Summer Ball has little else to offer. There’s no free drink on entry, no reduction in drinks, no queue pass or reduction on hiring your tuxedo. There’s no additional incentive that encourages you to pay £37. But despite my rant, I’m still going to the Summer Ball. I’m a big fan of Cooper’s Field and the event in general. I’m looking forward to seeing the Automatic and the Feeling. It’s just the price that grinds my gears. Hopefully it won’t cost £39 next year. Dean Venom, Third-year student
gairrhydd.com website comments UK lecturers vote to boycott Israel Issue 845 This effectively amounts to censorship disguised as radical politics and stomps all over the idea of academic freedom and universities as places for open debate. Why the hell should academics in Israel have to conduct their work in a way which a handful of people at the British UCU deem fit? By shutting down links between universities they are strangling the free flow of ideas and knowledge that is the mainstay of university life. And if academics are clamping down on their own freedom to pursue the advancement of human knowledge, they are also denying the rest of society the right to learn about and benefit from social, cultural and scientific research. What if the rest of us want to hear what Israeli academics think about world affairs, literature or science? Rob Prior Given that it’s not Israeli academics who are “denying educational rights to Palestinians”, a boycott would be fully stupid — particularly given that such an inability to distinguish between the government and institutions independent thereof that’s contributed to the whole mess anyway. Chris White Leave your comment about our articles at www.gairrhydd.com. Please read the comments policy before submitting your opinions.
Text gair rhydd on 07791 165 837 Laura, get the dinner ready, it’s almost 8am. How can you like ulcers more than toast? Bounce, Rubber Duck, Liquid. These three venues remove your soul. Menon goes down Memory Lane I’m free from my degree. Woo hoo, I’m loving it. gair rhydd, please print my text. Craig you scouser legend, we love you. I’m never having a kebab ever again. They’re vile.
1943 - 2007 Cardiff University Course Director for the Post-graduate Diploma in Broadcast Journalism David Maxwell and Oliver Hawkins, two of Bob's postgraduate Broadcast journalism students, describe the man they knew Bob carried out his work with theatrical vigour. His relationship with his students was unique. Long days working at the school often ended with a pint and a cigarette at the Pen and Wig, where he would occasionally recall some of his own adventures in broadcasting. One anecdote, usually told to console a student after a technical catastrophe, concerned a radio programme about the death of Charles de Gaulle. Bob decided they should end the show by playing something sombre from an album of French music. They ended up playing the Can-Can by mistake. He was larger than life and possessed a rare ability to rip a student’s work to shreds without causing any hurt. He was brutally honest, but always fair and equally willing to praise. Bob joined the School of Journalism in 1992 after 20 years working at the BBC as a journalist, editor and manager. He had been an editor at BBC Radio Wales and an executive producer for the World Service news and current affairs. He also produced the television programme That’s Life - an experience he later described as a “refreshing change”. He once explained that he’d fallen into journalism rather by accident. Drama was his real passion. But often the best things in life happen by accident and this one changed his life and the lives of many journalists who now broadcast to the nation every day. Bob commanded the respect of his students effortlessly. He had an almost Churchillian authority. When he spoke to you one-to-one, you knew he had your best interests at heart. He was willing you to do well. Watching the news with Bob must have
A recent entry from Bob Atkins’ online blog: I think I've found my first niche TV channel. Someone shaving all the hair off an endless stream of willing victims. Fascinating stuff. Why are the victims allowing this to happen? What do they think this is doing for them? It appears to be BBC3's contribution to Children in Need. And it's miles better than Wogan on some sort of souped up embalming fluid. I’m interested because I know I recognise people by their hair rather than their face. It may seem odd but psychologists tell me I'm not alone, lots of us rely on hair for our primary recognition algorithm. As a journalism teacher, every year I need to get to know fast a large number of faces. Every year I get fooled once they start pulling on beanies etc. when the cold weather sets in. When I was 20-something hair mattered, it defined you. There was even a musical called “Hair”. One of the most iconic images of 'loosing your personality' comes in the opening sequence of Kubrik's “Full Metal Jacket” as recruits are given a #1. So you see why I do find it hard to understand why so many men today wish to voluntarily surrender this ‘pride and joy’. As a child I was regaled by family stories about how my father was bald by the age of 21. As it happens I survived obvious baldness till about 50. These days old friends don't recognise me when I wear a hat. Saturday, November 18, 2006
been a nightmare. He is responsible for so many of the reporters, presenters, directors and producers that bring us the news each day. They carry with them the lessons he taught and few will ever forget his instruction as they sit down to edit their audio or present a programme: “keep it tight, keep it bright”, “slow down”, “check your levels”, “don’t bugger it up” – all phrases those who knew him will remember. And who could forget him nodding off during guest lectures or coming alive when operating the mixing desk.
Most of all, it was his interest in each student as an individual that endeared him to the class. They were never just another year’s intake, bums on seats to pay for the course. Radio was his natural home and it’s no exaggeration to say that watching Bob run the studio desk was like watching a musician play an instrument. He was not afraid to experiment with changing technology either. He was fascinated with online journalism, took up blogging and taught himself to program for the web. His blog is still available at
tightandbright.blogspot.com. It offers real insight into his character. It’s impossible to think of Bob without also thinking of his close colleague and friend Colin Larcombe. In the broadcasting industry, Cardiff graduates still refer to the Diploma as “Bob and Colin’s” course. Together, they were quite a double act. Many students remember being treated to their good-cop, bad-cop routine during interviews. They alternated the roles. As well as teaching the students, they also taught each other. Bob’s background was mostly radio, Colin’s TV; and though they came to understand each other’s medium, Bob never seemed to fully master the remote control. In Bob’s absence, Colin has been a lynchpin, holding the students together and guiding them through their final exams. Everyone is determined not to let Bob down. Most of all, it was his interest in each student as an individual that endeared him to the class. They were never just another year’s intake, bums on seats to pay for the course. They were individuals, each with the ability to succeed and achieve their long-term ambitions. He made his students believe their career dreams could become reality. To generations of students and to this University he is irreplaceable. But his tuition and guidance means Bob Atkins will continue to have a profound influence on the broadcasting world. On Wednesday May 30, Bob Atkins died suddenly at home. He was dearly loved by his students and will be sadly missed. He is survived by his son Benjamin Atkins.
Jenna Harris points out some of Wales’ more unusual, cheap and just plain random summer experiences
f you’ve done Glastonbury, Reading and Download, or perhaps couldn’t get tickets for them, then how about going to something off the beaten festival track? Listings takes a look at the best and most unusual Welsh festivals, and tells you why you should embrace mud, balloons and wakeboarding instead of Mr Eavis’ extortionate ticket prices. Even if the only board you can handle is normally used for ironing, one place you should go to this year is Wakestock, from July 20-21. This Welsh festival institution combines the best of music and wakeboarding amid sun and fantastic scenery, with acts confirmed this year so far including Dirty Pretty Things, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, The Bravery and Mr Hudson and the Library. The event, which bills itself as ‘Europe’s largest wakeboard music fest,’ is held over three sites: Penrhos, Abersoch Beach and Pwllheli Marina. The Penrhos site has an outdoor stage and two areas to host the live music, but there will also be an 100,000 gallon pool gap structure on the site to bring some of the boarding action to those just going for the music. The wakeboarding championship will be held at Pwllheli Marina on a purpose-built slider park, but if you want to see something really impressive for your money then the Abersoch Beach hosts the Big Air Classic, where riders pulled by a jet bike attempt to win by to performing the best trick. Tickets cost £35 (one night) or £75 (weekend camping). It’s usually a sell-out, so make sure that you buy quickly if you want to go. For more information: http://www.wakestock.co.uk. But what about balloons? Yes, the big, shiny and generally very pretty things will be gathering in Caerphilly this summer, proving that South West England isn’t the only place to see a gathering of hot air balloons. From August 26-27, The Big Balloon will put on balloon launches, street entertainers, a funfair and nightly fireworks displays, all for free. All you have to do is turn up at Blackwood Showfields. For information visit www.caerphilly.gov.uk/visiting. Caerphilly offers more than just balloons and one of Europe’s biggest castles, however. They’re holding another free festival, The Big Cheese, but this one is medieval. Expect falconry, historical reenactment (this is to maintain the event’s relationship to cheese, presumably), minstrels, street entertainment and the slightly less Middle Ages-y pastime of fire eating. More fireworks and another funfair, but then again, who doesn’t love candy floss and Energizer rides? The Big Cheese is
CLOCKWISE: Wakeboarding, bog snorkeling and hot air balloons.
from July 27-29 and can accomodate 80,000 people. Crikey. For information, visit www.caerphilly.gov.uk/bigcheese. And now for something completely different…very. Ever wondered about those people who pay to dive through Welsh peat bogs, all in the name of glory? Probably not, so let Listings help you out. Monday August 27 is the date of the annual World Bog Snorkeling Championship, where every year over 100 participants at least some of them sane don flippers and a snorkel to trek through Waen Rhydd peat to win prizes and the crucial international Bog Snorkeller Champion title. The current world record is one min 35 seconds and is held by Phillip John. Competitors flail, waddle or doggy paddle two 60-yard lengths of the bog, but conventional swimming strokes are forbidden. Entry to the event, which takes place near Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, is £12. Information can be found at www.llanwrtydwells.powys.org.uk/bog.html.
If bog snorkeling isn’t random enough for you then that same bog hosts the World Mountain Bike Bog Snorkeling Championship, on Sat July 7. Participants’ bikes have tyres filled with lead - it’s a crazy world out there. If you like stories (no, Pick Me Up’s ‘real life’ doesn’t count) then you’re in the right place. Forget the usual Cinderella kiddy stuff; stories are big business in Wales. The land of bards holds its own annual international storytelling festival, Beyond The Border, in the appropriately fairytale setting of St Donats Castle, near Llantwit Major. From July 6-8 every year, thousands of attendees gather to hear over 60 performances of traditional tales and pre-literature oral forms, from visual artists, musicians, authors and storytellers presenting ancient, classical, medieval and folk narratives. The festival, now in its 13th year, offers performances of material ranging from ancient Welsh stories to the tales of the Zodiac. St Donats may be just
Participants’ bikes have tyres filled with lead - it’s a crazy world out there
eight miles from Cardiff International Airport, but where else could you see Native American performer, Robert Seven-Crows, real name Metis/Mi’kmag, using the traditional Tawegan hand drum alongside electric guitar? The storyteller, or ‘A’tukwiwenu’ in his native language, performs a hybrid of Mi’kmag nation’s oral tradition with Western blues and folk called metissage. Fans of romance tales from the Celtic tradition may like Katy Cawkwell’s oration of the complete story of Lancelot, or Wales’ leading storyteller Michael Harvey’s telling of Branwen, from The Mabinogion. This ancient collection of Welsh epic tales, first written down in the 14th century, has inspired much of today’s fantasy literature genre. Harvey will also orate a collection of medieval Breton tales. If you feel like giving storytelling a go yourself, Cardiff Storytelling Circle offers an opportunity to do just that. Want to go? Tickets cost £15 - £65, depending on whether you come for part of a day or for the whole weekend. You can choose to camp on a cliff, or if you’re minted, stay in a plush, carpeted yurt. Information: www.beyondtheborder.com. If you prefer comedy to come from wit rather than weirdness, you may like the Tidy Welsh Comedy Festival. Granted, it’s not quite Edinburgh, but the top draws this year are MTV’s Dirty Sanchez and Howard Marks, who play the Coal Exchange and CF10 respectively. From July 5-16. For information visit www.welshcomedyfestival.com. If you like classical music then don’t miss the 22nd annual Welsh Proms. From July 10-28, St David’s Hall will host themed performances varying from the Harp Prom to the evening of Russian Romance, featuring compositions by Ivanova and Verkholantseva. Stock up on flags because there’s also a last night at the Welsh Proms. Jazz fans should ensure that they attend the HSBC Brecon Jazz Festival, from August 10-12. Performers range from jazz guitarist Martin Taylor to Jools Holland & his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra featuring Lulu and Ruby Turner on vocals. Tickets are individually priced, with some performances covered by a £44 weekend stroller ticket. For more information check out www.breconjazz.co.uk. So that’s it. Don’t sit in your room crying if you couldn’t get hold of a Glastonbury ticket. Instead, try embracing the many weird and wonderful festivals happening (mostly) right on your doorstep.
RECOMMENDED ARTS Rosaria Sgueglia hails the best theatre in Wales over the vacation, taking place in venues from Cardiff castle to the open air
t all kicks off with Little Women, from June 27-30 at the New Theatre. Louisa M Alcott’s story about the charming March sisters is one of the best ever told. Whether you’ve read the book or not, be prepared to be surprised and sad in equal measures with this stage production of the classic novel. If you love romance then you can’t miss The Beauty and the Beast, from July 3-14 at the New Theatre. Over 25 million people have seen and loved this amazing musical, which was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Stage versions of the Disney classic have appeared in Toronto, Sydney, Tokyo and the West End. Now it is the New Theatre’s turn to welcome it, so make sure you don’t miss this opportunity to be charmed by this magical show. Summer isn’t summer if you can’t enjoy a bit of romance, and luckily there is more romantic theatre coming up. That’s why Cardiff castle, our very own magical castle, is going to welcome the fantastically romantic Romeo and Juliet. From July 46, it will be performed by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and should not be missed. Another fantastic open-air show is The Mikado. This great production is going to charm everyone who enjoys humour, the-
atrical spectacle, powerful singing and dancing. The performances will take place at St Fagans National History Museum, from July 11 to August 4, and allow you to bring your own food and drink. Listings says, why not go one better and why not bring your old deckchair? Book tickets now and prepare for a great night. If you like the sound of open-air theatre then make sure that you don’t miss the other productions coming up at St Fagans. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, from July 25 to August 4, is a powerful mix of fairies and true love. Go and enjoy the original music, glorious costumes and, of course, a real wood for the backdrop of the play, which has most of its action set in a wood. The Adventures of Robin Hood, from July 28 to August 4, is another highlight of St Fagan’s summer calendar, and does not need a long introduction. Enduring through the generations, The Adventures of Robin Hood is beloved by both children and adults alike, with characters like Robin, Maid Marian, and the not-very-little Little John now cultural icons. In the classic plot, King Richard is away and his kingdom is in the hands of evil Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Outcast earl Robin embarks on a journey that sees him and his merry men attempting to steal from the rich in order to give to the poor.
CLOCKWISE: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Mikado and Beauty and the Beast. Now it’s time for a bit of a genre switch. If you like dance then you may love Summer Dance 2007, held at the New Theatre. On Saturday August 11, talented young dancers from South Wales will perform a high quality dance show following an intensive summer school taught by
dance company Diversion. Featuring dance genres varying from ballet to hip hop to tap, this event should appeal to dance lovers. You can’t mention dance without referring to one of the all-time classics, Swan Lake. From July 13-16, the Australian
Ballet will perform the masterpiece at Wales Millennium Centre. Princess Odette is turned into a swan by evil wizard Rothbart, and Prince Siegfried’s love is her only way back to human form. However, Rothbart goes to great lengths to counter their love match. The famous score is expertly written by Tchaikovsky, and a performance of this alone will be a real treat. If you aren’t passionate about dance, however, there’s still something for you what do you think of cartoons turned into musicals? If you were or are a fan of classic mystery cartoon Scooby Doo, don’t miss the musical based on the programme. Held at the Wales Millenium Centre from August 21-25, it will feature moments of comedy, songs (of course), special effects and a detective-based plot. You surely can’t ask for more than Scooby Doo live on stage with Velma, Fred, Daphne, and of course Scooby’s sidekick Shaggy - who is almost as hairy as the dog. If you’re staying in Wales, enjoy some of the many arts and theatre events that Cardiff has to offer. Perhaps you should take a risk and watch a performance of something that you would not normally see, but whatever you do, have a great summer.
The de Ville’s Advocate This Week: I let teenagers vomit all over my page... This week I resurrect my 15-year-old self from her shallow, Lambert & Butler and Kappa tracksuit-filled grave in order to help some of our younger readers with their painful, angst-ridden problems. For me, it’s 1999 again. I never did learn my lesson regarding Lambrini.
Who’s Your Celebrity Crush?
M Y PROBLEMS Dear Grace, It's not fair. I don't know what her probI really want to get my ears pierced but my mum won't let me. twice and once at the top on the done hers lem is. All the girls in my form have them done. Jenna's got school, but there doesn't seem much at hard really try to promised even left side. Her mum's cool tho. I've massive scabby ears and the boys get I'll and point if she's like, dead against it. She says it'll get infected won't like me anymore. How can I stop her from being so annoying??? Hayley
1. You find yourself invited to a party. Do you take:
a) b) c) d)
Piercings are really quite splendid. Despite being punctured several times over the course of my pitiful adolescence, it still amazes me how resilient the human body really is. When one opts to skewer oneself, it responds (if you cleanse it properly) with the minimum of fuss. I’d HATE to be a bad influence, but when I was a whippersnapper I had quite a few of the blighters in my ears. I didn’t ask for permission, mainly because I wouldn’t have been granted it. Do you have hair? I bet you do. Hair is there for a reason: it covers the head, and, by default, the ears. She’ll never know. My older sister concealed a tattoo on her arm for four years with the cunning use of long hair and robust clothing. You should perhaps consider some body art at the same time. Why not go the whole hog? If you get into any
A jaunty (crack) pipe? A large rifle? A ghetto blaster? Your own theta?
2. You’ve been dating for a few months and you’d like to show him how much you care. Do you: a) Bathe him in narcotics? b) Grow a moustache? c) Divorce your parents? d) Allow him to perform an abortion on you using a coathanger?
bother with your mother, don’t you DARE tell her I told you to get it done. I’ll cry, I swear.Yeah. Don’t get them pierced at Claire’s Accessories; it’s well expensive there. Much Love, Grace xx
3. One of your mates is in major trouble with her parents. She’s considering running away. Do you advise her to:
a) Spend some quality time in one of the less salubrious districts of Liverpool and think about what she’s done? b) Run away and conceal her identity with an excessive amount of upper lip hair? c) Divorce her parents? d) Join your friends on an enlightened path to righteousness?
Theres this lad at school who my mate really fancies. Hes in the football team and hes well fit. He wont give her a second look, but he gave me half of his KitKat AND a fag the other day. I think I might have a bit of a thing for him, but if she finds out, my friend will be pissed off and spread loads of rumours about me. She did it to another girl before and told everyone that she was frigid. She knows my bra size and EVERYTHING. I dont think I could deal with the shame of everyone knowing Im an A-cup. This lad wont be interested if he finds out about my flat chest and Sylvainian Families collection. I dont know what to do. He smiled at me today in the canteen and I spilt apple juice all over my shirt. I think I love him about 84%. What am I going to do?
Answers: You scored..
Smitten, Barry. xx
Dear Smitten, Mostly ‘A’s.... Your celebrity crush is Craig Charles You’re obviously a woman of good taste. Craig likes the finer things in life, and would be sure to show you a good time in the back of a taxi.
Mostly ‘B’s... Your celebrity crush is Tom Selleck Tom isn’t one to beat around the bush. You’re a stong-willed woman with a penchant for facial adornment. Well done. Mostly ‘C’s... Your celebrity crush is Corey Feldman It’s clear that you’ve got an independent streak. Corey may not have the same teen pin-up status as in the past, but he WAS in The ‘Burbs. All is forgiven.
Mostly ‘D’s... Your celebrity crush is L. Ron Hubbard It’s apparent that you’re drawn to magnetic personalities. This chap may be a bit dead, but then again, he may have just been abducted by aliens for a while. Life with Ronnie promises to be full of systematic torture, beatings, strangulations and scientific torture experiments. It’ll never be dull again.
Without wishing to sound patronising, Young Love is a fanciful pursuit. Avril Lavigne wonders why you have to make everything so complicated, and I’m afraid to say I’m with her on this one. Firstly, your friend sounds like an absolute trollop. There’s always one of these bints in your school friendship group. I remember when Laura Parker told some boy that I fancied him, despite my only telling her about half an hour before. Fuck off, Laura - you haven’t even got any eyebrows anymore. I wish I’d known that then. This young gentleman in question sounds like a winner. He plies you with half-eaten confectionary AND tobacco products. What a charmer. He’s obviously marginally fit (in the literal sense) if he participates in regular sporting activity. Ignore your rubbish friend and get stuck in there. Here are some useful chat-up lines that in hindsight, I should’ve used in days of yore to score some hot young studmuffins: ‘I’m planning on marrying you in 4.3 years’ time.’ ‘My mum would really like you.’ ‘Male genitalia makes me vomit.’ ‘I’m in the school choir.’ ‘I love all of the teachers here. Just being near them is rewarding.’ ‘Danielle says you’re a crap snogger but I don’t believe her.’ These are all sure-fire hits. Grace xxx Teenagers: life is only going to get worse. At least I now know that I’m an idiot. Tucker Max is a massively ignorant idiot who claims to have slept with hundreds upon hundreds of women and has chronicled these tales on his website. I’ve only come across them today, but his Stifler-esque frat boy exploits are apparently widely read. It makes me feel better about myself knowing that someone so utterly repugnant exists. This isn’t to say that I don’t find some of his stories childishly amusing. I do. It could well all be a complete fabrication or a massively exaggerated account of a handful of sordid sexual encounters, but I’ve known people like him. These people do exist. It’s not exactly hard to spot this type of cad, so it could be argued that these women
know exactly what they’re letting themselves in for and deserve their most intimate moments to be dissected on the internet. Some of them see it as a badge of honour. Here are some gems from his site: ‘Not even ten minutes later, she rolled into my place...with a 12 pack of Miller Light. Karen’s going to have to learn the difference between good beer and watered down horse piss if she wants to move up in my Ho Hierarchy.’ ‘Tucker: “Come over. I want to see you.” Girl: “Tucker, I’m not going to come over and sleep with you.” Tucker: “Well just come over...so we can talk. I want to talk to you...you know, hear about your day.” Girl: “You want to hear about my day? At
3am” Tucker: [Long pause ensues] “You aren’t hot enough to have this much selfrespect.”’ ‘And tons of girls I fuck get tested after fucking me, and none has ever come up positive for anything. Well, unless you count pregnancy as an STD.’ On copping off with a midget: ‘Despite my best drunken attempt, I was not able to spin her like a top on my penis.’ Lovely. I spent today watching four consecutive cups of tea go cold. This feels like a massively underwhelming goodbye. Yeah, so, BYE. xx
SUMMER BALL SPECIAL Be the belle of the ball A
style, that takes into account your faceshape, skin tone, personality and lifestyle, achieving an instant, manageable result for the season ahead. For decades, Saks’ signature haircuts and colours have graced the heads of beautiful women and been published in magazines around the world. Each year Saks launches pioneering signature collections to inspire clients and hairdressers alike, making Saks the UK’s leading hair and beauty group, as well as now introducing their own brand of styling tools, Saksessories, and these, plus gift vouchers, all of which are available in salons and from www.sakstogo.co.uk.
re you a bit of an Ugly Betty? Have you let yourself slide in the last few months as all you could think about was dates, theories and equations? Well whether it’s just to spruce yourself up for the ball or a complete makeover and transformation, us ladies here at Grab HQ have laid our manicured hands on the perfect pampering sessions at Saks. Saks are offering three lucky winners the chance to become the fairest of the ball at this week’s Cooper’s Field extravaganza. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to grab a Feeling boy or maybe even a local Automatic lad with your good looks and charm this weekend? Saks is a perfect place for a bit of rest and relaxation, pampering and pruning. They offer a massive range of services, and to a really high standard. You really do get what you pay for at Saks. The salons offer award-winning hair services that you would expect from the biggest and best hair and beauty group in the UK. Cut, Colour, Hair-Up, Weddings… whatever your need, Saks can deliver. All Saks stylists are trained to the same standards of excellence in hairdressing and customer care. What’s different about Saks is the consultation process which they use to give you the right cut and colour for every individual. You’ll leave Saks with a bespoke
We have three prizes to give away. First prize is £100 worth of salon services, second prize is £50 worth of salon services, and third prize is 50% off salon treatments. All you have to do is email the answer to the question to the address at the top of the page along with your full name, address and phone number and we will pick three people. Who plays Betty Sourez in Channel 4’s comedy Ugly Betty? A. Ashley Jensen B. America Ferrera C. Vanessa Williams
Suited and booted A s us ladies here at Grab, and generally in the gair rhydd office know only too well, it is the boys that are the forgetful and disorganised ones and so take this as a little reminder. Moss Bros are doing a deal exclusively for all Cardiff University students who buy their suits for the ball through either the Union or their store in Morgan Arcade. The special suit hire deals offer a dinner suit hire package for £30 which would normally set you back £49, but if you wanted to keep it a tad more casual, then you can hire a two-piece dinner suit for just £26 rather than £35. So go on guys, make a bit of an effort this week and scrub up nice for the ladies. A word of warning, I wouldn’t go moaning about the price of hiring a suit, well especially not to a girl who’s average outfit is looking at totalling around £100 plus.
This week is all about pruning and transforming yourself from Ugly Betty/Sarah/Sian to the belle of the ball, only to wisked off your feet at midnight by a handsome man in a Moss Bros tux! Oh, if only the ball was that romantic! I have to say folks we have had a cracking time being Grab-extraordinares! Many thanks to those of you who have made the effort to enter the competitions, and have won some brilliant prizes, proving that students really do get it all for free! Have a great summer. Over and out.
Cardiff is Calling
fter the phenomenal sell-out success of last summer’s debut two-day festival in Cardiff, the mighty Metro Weekender returns to the glorious grounds of Cooper’s Field, Bute Park on the August Bank Holiday for a second sun-drenched weekend of festival fun. Split across two days, indie-dance day Cardiff Calling sets the pace on the Saturday with a rock ‘n’ roll swagger, before dance all-dayer South West Four finishes off the weekend in style by bringing you the biggest DJs on the planet. South West Four will offer even more value for money as more of the biggest names in dance music, alongside the key
clubs and DJs from Cardiff are lined up. Cardiff Calling, meanwhile, will be more of a straight up ‘live bands’ affair, with a heavier emphasis on new and emerging Welsh bands across the three stages – featuring, for the first time ever, the ‘Cardiff Calling Unsigned Arena’. As a major festival exclusive this summer the voice of today’s youth generation, The Streets, are headlining Cardiff Calling and have the honour of closing the main stage. Likewise, the World’s undisputed number one DJ Paul Van Dyk takes over the mantle from Carl Cox as this year’s exclusive South West Four festival head-
liner. Over at Cardiff Calling, main stage support goes to Welsh legends and very special guests Super Furry Animals, who’ll undoubtedly bring the roof down when they swagger on stage. Local heroes The Automatic will join The Streets and Super Furries on the main stage. Elsewhere, the Mercury Award Winning rapper, Dizzee Rascal will join the Welsh contingent on the main stage. This will be a rare chance to catch Dizzee on Welsh soil ahead of his huge world tour to promote his new album. Meanwhile, South West Four’s massive main stage will also witness more A-List performances from megastars such as
Last year’s festival in Cooper’s Field
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Sasha and the greatest house DJ of all time, Roger Sanchez. Radio 1 guvnor Pete Tong returns after last year’s magnificent display, with the untouchable Timo Maas, breakbeat dons Plump DJs and the Cool House Soundsystem offering an enthralling afternoon’s entertainment. Over in the Tents, this year sees a bit of a reshuffle as a Drum ‘n’ Bass Arena is launched for the very first time. With such a huge scene blowing up in South Wales the festival brings some DnB rhythms to Cooper’s Field by rolling out the heavyweights. Step forward LTJ Bukem, Goldie, Andy C, Fabio & Grooverider and High Contrast, with more acts to be announced. The throbbing Time Flies Tent will remain, this year partnered by Radio 1 Resident Eddie Halliwell and his Fire It Up crew. Scratch-master Halliwell will of course headline the Arena, with a wealth of talent in support such as the Dutch Destroyer – Marco V, plus The Gallery’s superstar resident Tall Paul, the latest and greatest new kid on the block - Sander Van Doorn, Dave Eaves and the brilliant Bionic Allstars featuring Cally & Juice and Brian M Vs McBunn. You can keep up to date with further details at www.cardiffcalling.com and www.southwestfour.com. Cardiff Calling is on Saturday August 25 from 12 – 11pm, and South West Four on Sunday August 26 from 12pm onwards. We have a pair of tickets for each day to give away. These tickets are going to hard to get this summer so get your emails to us with your name, phone number and 30 words on why you should get the tickets to the usual address.
FIVE MINUTE FUN
SUDOKU 1 1
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Hall of shame
Stirring march tune may provide comfort at home (8) Out of it in two states? (2-2) Rags-to-riches story recalled in new version (10) Vocalist loses extremes, being with gloomy Dean (4) Bring up at the back (4) In the morning, army returns with one precious instrument Strange story about the East could hold valuable material (6) Snooker player endlessly gets the bird (6) Tell of nationality, starts shooting with Irish stormtroopers? (5) What this is, left inside a prompt (4) Common converse (4) Unhurried debate (10) The army’s at home, finding bad weather (4) Observed Thatcher hiding in a rush (8)
1 & 5 Rich man pointlessly kidnaps vehicle with a historic document (5,5) 2 Damages the cost of fabric (9) 4 A postscript from Zara Phillips (5) 5 See 1 Down 6 & 23 Where, in Scotland, the girl stubs out cigar? (5,5) 7 Are confused by tables, these practical people (8) 12 First-class subject for banker (4) 14 Missing horse brings back the Queen’s assassins (9) 15 Weigh up against the team going to the Right (8) 16 Friendless stone? (4) 20 I criticise unmercilessly what’s followed by millions (5) 21 Such terrible bores stay clear-headed (5) 22 Swear that miserable creatures will get the point (5) 23 See 6 Down
Work never ends for Enzo
WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Maccarinelli insists he’s still training like a challenger
George Pawley Every boy around the world will, at some time, have imagined throwing the perfect punch. Whatever the context, there’s always some part of me that has felt if I had to, I’d swing a big right hand on to someone’s chin and floor them. For Enzo Maccarinelli however, every time he steps into the ring, this dream invariably becomes a reality. Boasting a professional record of 26 wins from 27 fights, the 26-year-old Welshman has risen to fifth in the world cruiserweight rankings. Add to that the 20 wins by knockout in those bouts and you can see we are dealing with a boxer who looks set to be a dominant force in his weight division for years to come. Being introduced to the sport you excel in at an early age has been a characteristic of many world-class athletes, and Maccarinelli is no exception to this rule. “I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. My dad was a trainer in an amateur gym and it literally went from there. There are pictures of me in the house with a little toy punch-bag from when I was about two years old. My dad made me box, and then I started to watch [Mike] Tyson in his prime and absolutely loved the sport.” Despite being only halfway through his twenties, Maccarinelli has already gathered a wealth of experience in the ring. Paul Boson was his first victim as an 18year-old, and his only loss as a professional came in his fourth fight, six months later, against Lee Sawby. Maccarinelli admits that in his early career his talent went to his head: “At the time I wasn’t taking boxing seriously, I was messing around. I thought I was bigger than I was. The guy [Sawby] shouldn’t
have even come close to me, but in a way that loss gave me a kick up the backside and made me train harder and become the champion that I am now.” This mentality of training hard has become part of Maccarinelli’s boxing ‘game’. “It’s harder training as a champion,” he says. “Everyone wants to take what you’ve got so you’ve got to train harder to keep hold of the belt. Some fighters like myself, Joe [Calzaghe] and the boys in our gym train like a challenger; as long as you get everything right they can’t beat you.” Bearing in mind his next bout is fully two months away, Maccarinelli was dragged from a relaxing bath to speak to me, and wearily admitted “I’m dead on my feet” after a tough Wednesday night sparring session. Clearly Maccarinelli learnt a valuable lesson after being beaten in 2000, and became a world champion in 2003, claiming the WBU Cruiserweight Title against veteran Bruce Scott. It was a victory which made him the only the ninth boxing world champion from Wales.
“I can switch the lights off in one shot” Despite being knocked down in the first round, when eagerness perhaps got the better of him, Maccarinelli refused to give in and finished the fight in four with a breath-taking combination of punches. Praise reigned from all quarters, with pundit Nicky Piper claiming with his “tremendous, world-class power, he’ll be a star of the future.” Punching power is the aspect of Maccarinelli’s ability that will continue to thrill crowds all around the world. “I can switch the lights off in one shot,” he confidently claims. “I’ve got fast hands and do the basics well. I keep working on everything all the time so I can only get better.” Bobby Gunn discovered just how heavy the Welshman’s jabs and hooks are in
painful style, as Maccarinelli defended his WBO Cruiserweight title for the second time. The American was knocked out inside three minutes in front of a Millennium Stadium crowd of 35,000 on the Calzaghe versus Manfredo under-card in April. “He [Gunn] came over shouting his mouth off about what he was going to do to me, how strong he was, how I was going to lose my belt, and I shut him up. “A lot of fighters do let the pressures of the crowd get to them, but I use the crowd as a boost. Coming into the ring with 35,000 people chanting your name is amazing,” Maccarinelli confesses. However, he also points out that, no matter what the stage, in the ring it’s always down to him: “The better man wins, and when that bell goes you settle down, get on, and do what you do best.” Away from the boxing scene, Maccarinelli is hardly the stereotypical hot-shot boxer. “My passions are my kids, I spend as much time as I can with them. I’ve got two girls at the moment and a little boy on the way.” As a boxer, he is of course a fan of the ‘Rocky’ films, and I had to ask which his favourite instalment was. “Definitely not number five,” he says laughing, “I went to the premiere of the new one, Rocky Balboa, and I was impressed with that, but the first one probably stands out the best.” Next up for Maccarinelli will be a bout in the Cardiff International Arena on July 21. While the identity of his opponent is still unconfirmed after Steve Cunningham ruled himself out, the Welshman believes the challenger to his WBO Cruiserweight title could be announced shortly. “I think it’s going to be Wayne Braithewaite. He’s a top-five ranked fighter and is dangerous. He’ll bring plently of experience and he’s a very unorthodox fighter because he’s a southpaw so leads with his right hand.” So, throwing the perfect punch will appear to take passion, training, a reality check and more training. Exercise with extreme caution, especially if you’re Enzo Maccarinelli. Tickets for Enzo’s next fight are available from the CIA on 02920 224488
ENZO: It’s Showtime
Boxing Cleverly with future star
Pete Dean and Steve Florey chat to boxing sensation and Cardiff University student Nathan Cleverly
PHOTO: JAMES PEROU
CLEVERLY: Ready to rumble
With an Olympic silver medal under his belt, Amir Khan is a figure that is hard to ignore. Initially opting to remain an amateur boxer, Khan became a major British success story of the Athens Olympics in 2004. Meanwhile, Abercarn-based boxer Nathan Cleverly, who studies at Cardiff University, is an example of a boxer that has taken a different route. Having turned professional in 2005, Cleverly has chosen to build his future in a careful manner. He said: “At the time of the Olympics I wasn’t ready, whereas Khan was. But he fights at a lower weight. I was 10 stone 4 pounds, whereas now I’m walking around on 12 stone 10 pounds. I have matured a lot.” Cleverly has the opportunity to increase his profile when he competes in the USA versus UK Contender Series in Los Angeles. The series pits British boxers promoted by Frank Warren against those who came through the boxing-based reality television series in America, and Cleverly is clearly excited about the programme: “It will be well televised so it will be a good chance for me to break through. I’ve got a chance to shine; hopefully I’ll win a few eyes [gain public recognition].” Although he’s clearly enthusiastic about the prospect of fame, Cleverly strikes you as a level-headed man. As a second-year Maths undergraduate, he manages to com-
bine his boxing with a university social life. “I think it’s important to socialise, especially after a fight. I love to go out with the lads. Shipwrecked is my favourite student night,” he commented. But boxing will surely be the focus for Cleverly in July when he fights on the under-card to Enzo Maccarinelli. Although cautious to name his opponent specifically, it is clear who Cleverly would like to fight. “If there was one person it would be Robin Reid. He was a former World Champion and is a little on the way down now but he would be a good name on my record.”
“I want to be the full article - speed, power - the complete boxer” Cleverly has certainly demonstrated his ability so far, recently defeating the previously unbeaten Tony Quigley at the MEN Arena in Manchester. The win contributes to an impressive overall record of nine victories out of nine fights. His boxing style has undoubtedly been integral to such success. His fast hands, high work rate, and ability to take a punch, are attributes that any boxer would value. Whilst aware of his strengths, Cleverly is the first to realise the need to become stronger: ‘My true power will eventually show through. I want to be the full article
- speed, power - the complete boxer.” While Cleverly regularly spars with WBO Super Middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe, he says that he will never fight him: “It’d never happen between me and Joe; we’re brilliant friends. When Joe retires I want to take his spot. One Welsh guy retires and another takes over.” Cleverly certainly strikes one as someone who is aware of his social responsibilities. He advocates boxing as a way of harnessing youthful aggression: “I was a troublemaker when I was young, but boxing has taught me to control my energy - I would definitely recommend boxing to youngsters.” Although a glowing British prospect in boxing, it appears that Cleverly has not lost touch with his student roots. When asked who might win a fight between a heavyweight boxer and martial arts expert Jet Li, he replied: “I think the boxer. I might be a little biased, but they’re trained just to punch. Imagine Tyson against a black belt. I think Tyson would mince him.” In a world of multi-millionaire sportsmen, Cleverly’s ability to combine ruthless dedication with an affable manner is refreshing. He may not remain unknown for much longer, but we expect him to preserve his down-to-earth demeanour. Hopefully he will become proof that the steady path can, in fact, become a successful one.
The only way is up for IMG
PHOTO: ADAM GASSON
Dave Menon examines the ways in which IMG sport can be improved over the next few years
I could quite easily use up this entire page to enlighten you about the current brilliance of IMG sport, but we should be focusing on something that can be made even better for students of future generations. Although the IMG netball competition is running smoothly at present, there are still many problems relating to the football and rugby leagues. Severe weather conditions throughout the year have caused the Pontcanna pitches to become too boggy and unsafe for play during the winter months, leading to a large number of cancelled fixtures. As a result of all this disruption, IMG football was completed on the last day possible, while the rugby league stage remained unfinished. One possible solution is to play IMG football and rugby matches on the planned rubber crumb pitch. This would mean that all matches would go ahead as scheduled and disruption to the fixture list would be minimised. AU President James Woodroof endorses this idea, although he acknowledges that changes need to be made to accommodate both BUSA and IMG sport on the rubber crumb pitch. He commented: “If IMG players were offered a guaranteed game every week, they’d bite my hand off. If that [opportuni-
IMG: Could be revolutionised
One possible solution is to play IMG football and rugby on the planned rubber crumb pitch
“Hopefully, with experience, the standards of refereeing will improve in years to come.”
ty] is taken away by the weather, everyone’s a loser. “The [football] competition may need to be adjusted slightly, we can either have 60-minute games or IMG all day on weekends. But I must stress that these plans relate to the potential future for IMG.” Ultimately, the question is whether IMG football enthusiasts would be willing to reduce the length of matches in order to get a guaranteed game every week. Moreover, the traditional Wednesday afternoon slot has become synonymous with IMG over the years. I can’t imagine the atmosphere will be the same if all fixtures are spread out over a weekend. You also have to bear in mind that the rubber crumb facility might not be available on weekends. The pitch might have to be used for rearranged BUSA matches or training sessions, while the university might decide to take bookings from the public to make the facility profitable. There is little doubt that the standard of football, and rugby for that matter, and improve on the rubber crumb pitch. But there is plenty of doubt surrounding whether the scenario is feasible. In addition, the issue of refereeing must to be resolved. Firstly, IMG rugby has experienced major problems in securing the regular services of fully-qualified officials.
Due to health and safety concerns regarding lineouts and scrums in particular, all referees must be fully trained to take charge of adult rugby matches. Head of Rugby Martyn Fowler spoke about the difficulties of recruiting these referees. He said: “As the IMG programme is an Interschool College league it will never receive match officials with any regularity.” Fowler tried to solve this problem at the beginning of the season by organising a refereeing course for 28 IMG rugby players. But the scheme was largely unsuccessful, as only two players went on to complete a subsequent competency programme, which was compulsory. “The only problem with IMG [rugby] is how we make it safe for students,” added Fowler. “Until we can guarantee student safety I don't feel that time restrictions should be put on addressing any potential problems.” If more students can be encouraged to follow the competency programme next season, IMG rugby will reap the benefits. Finally, there have been problems regarding the introduction of neutral officials in IMG football. At the start of the year, approximately 16 people signed up to become a referee and got paid £10 per match. However, around half of these volunteers dropped
out before the end of the season. Neutral referee John Rees explained a possible reason for this and said: “People probably dropped out because some of the teams aren’t friendly and give a lot of abuse. “Overall I enjoyed doing it. You never stop learning and each game was different. All teams were friendly to me. I would do it again next year.” This is a very encouraging sign for the future of IMG football. Perhaps next year’s referees should be paid more, and I firmly believe a society like Refsoc should be set up to increase solidarity among officials. AU President Woodroof added: “I think it’s really important to have neutral IMG referees. Hopefully, with experience, the standards of refereeing will improve in years to come. They deserve a fair wage for the service they provide and it’ll be a good investment from the AU to pay them more. IMG needs to be invested in.” There’s certainly no reason why the university shouldn’t invest in the future of IMG. An estimated 1,000 Cardiff students play IMG sport every year in three different disciplines. You’re talking about 1,000 students that are participating in sport and keeping fit every Wednesday afternoon. If that’s not a good cause, I don’t know what is.
Hopes too high?: Mark Smith analyses Cardiff City’s season James Woodroof AU President My year in the Athletic Union has been incredible. Over 5,000 people have taken part in an AU club this year, participating in 57 sports clubs. There have been some amazing achievements – the Cricket 1st XI winning the BUSA Premier and making AU history in the process, and the Hockey boys winning the European Cup Winners Cup in Malta to name but a few. We have maintained a position in the BUSA top-16, and over 1,000 students participated in IMG. Off the field, this year has been one of real progress for sport at Cardiff University. After no major investment in the sporting infrastructure at the University for 15 years, the Invest in Sport campaign has ensured that Cardiff’s sports facilities, and indeed the student experience, are firmly entrenched in the strategic direction of the University. The student voice has been heard. In the imminent future, students will be offered a better sporting service from the University. Winner. Highlights of the AU calendar have included the Fun Run, Varsity and the AU
Ball. Over 300 people united behind Invest in Sport by taking part in the Fun Run around Bute Park, raising hundreds of pounds for Comic Relief in the process. Cardiff won the Varsity shield against Swansea, winning 17 of the 22 sports. Unfortunately, we lost the showpiece rugby match at Cardiff Arms Park, but over 5,000 students enjoyed the spectacle. The event itself was magnificent, and it was a privilege to have the game at the Arms Park. The AU Ball was a night I will never forget. 300 athletes attended the sold-out event in the magnificent Millennium Stadium, many of whom were rewarded for their services to sport at Cardiff University. The guest of honour was Plymouth Argyle manager and TV personality Ian Holloway, whose humour, charm and sincerity made the night even more memorable. Congratulations to all the clubs for their performances in BUSA and in other competitions. You are all a credit to this institution. In this final gair rhydd of the year, I would like to shamelessly thank a few people that have made this year such a cracker: my fellow Sabbs, the AU staff, Alex McIntosh, the cricket boys, the football lads, the mighty MOMED, Monkey Allen, all the club Presidents/captains and the award-winning sports eds.
After such a scintillating start to their Coca Cola Championship campaign, claiming top spot for the majority of the first half of the season, a truly dismal run of form saw Cardiff City end a disappointing thirteenth position. The question still remains as to why the Bluebirds had such a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ season and why certain areas of the squad appeared not to be up to the task when it mattered most. At times during the opening months of the campaign, Cardiff City played some of the best football ever seen at Ninian Park, in terms of the quality of the passing and the pace of their overall play. Through eventual player of the season Michael Chopra, the midfield pairing of Riccardo Scimeca and Stephen McPhail, and wingers Joe Ledley and Paul Parry, the Bluebirds had the ability to cause most Championship defences great problems, and the deserved wins against the likes of Birmingham City, Wolves and Sunderland are proof of their ability. A thoroughly convincing 3 - 0 drubbing of Southend, in front of the Sky cameras, stands out as City’s most pleasing performance in many fans’ eyes, playing football of an almost Premiership standard. Some may claim however, that these performances set the bar too high for the rest of the campaign, giving fans expecta-
tions and hopes that would never be fulfilled. When the team was fully fit without any injuries, there were very few problems, but the cracks immediately started to show when starting central defender Glen Loovens was injured in March, followed by Scimeca and Chopra only a week later. The replacements for these players - onloan Charlton midfielder Simon Walton (who was sent off three times in his short spell with City), strikers Jason Byrne, Matt Green and signing Warren Feeney, bought from Luton, have made little impact since arriving at Ninian Park, and were simply
The question still remains as to why the Bluebirds had such a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ season not up to the task. This lack of strength in depth resulted in Cardiff City going on a record-breaking losing streak, losing seven of their final eight league fixtures. Considering that the Bluebirds were six points clear at the top of the league at one stage, this dramatic change in form angered the majority of fans, who blamed the team’s lack of drive
and desire, regardless of the number of injuries. Important players, who needed to step up their game to compensate for those who were missing, failed to make an impression. Towards the last few matches, it was left to Welsh teenagers Darcy Blake and Chris Gunter to provide the passion required, which should make the more experienced players embarrassed to say the least. Next season, the players must learn from their mistakes. Once again, it is up to manager Dave Jones to spend shrewdly in the summer transfer window on a limited budget. Already, 15 players have been told that their services are no longer required, including Scottish striker Steve Thompson, ex-Arsenal veteran Kevin Campbell and goalkeeper Neil Alexander, who was the longest serving player at the club. Missing out on Hibernian striker Kris Killen, who opted for a move to Celtic, will have frustrated the Ninian Park faithful, but the capture of Northern Irish international Tony Capaldi from Plymouth will help to strengthen the squad. Jones will hope that Cardiff finish next season’s campaign as well as they started it this season. With a few more quality players coming in to add to the squad depth, this season’s demise may not be repeated.
Fowler looks to the future PHOTO: MATT HORWOOD
Cardiff’s Head of Rugby Martyn Fowler talks to the gair rhydd about the state of the University’s rugby setup
RUGBY: Set for a breakthrough George Pawley Sports Editor Cardiff University’s Rugby squad endured a tough season in the BUSA Premier this year, no question. However, finishing sixth from seven, with Oxford being relegated, is hardly a failure when considering the factors involved. The Athletic Union’s Invest In Sport campaign this year highlighted the serious failings in the quality and availability of our facilities. These failings became starker still when assessing the facilities accessible to some of Cardiff’s competitors in BUSA this year, a difference which Cardiff’s Head of Rugby Martyn Fowler labels as “incredible”. League winners Hartpury, who finished top of the table, losing just once in 11, perhaps illustrate this gap best. In Alan Lewis, Hartpury have a world-class Director of Rugby who has coached the Welsh national side, and was selector between 1998 and 2001. He is regularly assisted by guest coaches of the quality of Dennis Betts and Bryan Redpath. In addition, there are two full-time forwards and backs coaches, a strength coach and a conditioning (fitness) coach. In terms of facilities, Hartpury Rugby have at their disposal four rubber crumb surfaces, six floodlit pitches, as well as further links to Gloucester RFC and its academy. Contrasting this with what is available to Cardiff’s players is a difficult task. The
Head of Rugby takes charge of the four teams that Cardiff field in BUSA, and the squad have to make do with the one floodlit grass surface at Talybont, pitches when available at Llanrumney, and an already “oversubscribed” gym provision. On these disparities, Fowler commented: “There is a huge difference. The BUSA final was competed between UWIC and Hartpury this year, and we led against both teams for a time; in fact, we should have beaten UWIC. Any consensus there is of underachievement is nonsense. “In those games, it was our opposition’s superior fitness that beat us; as we tired we lost our decision-making abilities. I’m proud of our preparations, skills and gameplans; we’ve been on par, or sometimes better than our opposition in these areas. However, being unable to get the whole team into the gym together, as well as seeing many training sessions rained off, is critical.” Further problems arise in terms of the squad members available on a regular basis. Regardless of injuries, there are numerous and extremely talented players who have been rendered unavailable for selection due to academy commitments, a problem that doesn’t affect Cardiff’s Premiership rivals. “The teams we’ve faced this year have regularly been free to field players from their affiliated academies, amounting to about three-quarters if their starting 15’s; these guys are age grade internationals from all over the world,”, noted Fowler. Ten of Fowler’s ‘High Performance’
squad have been restricted to just a handful of appearances between them, a setback that was evident in the Varsity match, where Swansea were able to field seven Neath-Swansea Osprey’s academy players. “We had some coaches watching from the Cardiff Blues,” said Fowler, “and they agreed we did well to keep the score to what it was considering the strength of the Swansea side. In terms of lineouts, we had a 98% success rate, and considering we threw away 14 points, the game was much closer than perhaps it appeared. “At the moment, other universities’ academy investment and bursaries are at a level we can’t match, plus some of the Premiership clubs can offer the most talented players free academic places provided they get involved in the university rugby setup.” However, the plans for next year certainly indicate a possible upturn in the fortunes of the rugby club. There will be a link, though not official, with the Blues, which will help with recruitment and training, while Cardiff RFC’s High Performance Manager Justin Burnell will have involvement in the setup. Former Welsh international, Alan Harries, has also been added to the training team as a backs coach, while guest coaches such as Rob Howley and Neil Jenkins will be leading training sessions during the season. Meanwhile, Fowler’s training schedule for the forthcoming season is looking impressive. “We’ve taped and analysed this season’s performances and identified
“I’m proud of our preparations, skills and game-plans; we’ve been on par, or sometimes better than our opposition in these areas”
“We can achieve a top-four finish in BUSA”
one mitigating factor, fitness,” he observed. “But next year we will have a High Performance group of 40 players, who will be putting in eight-hours-a-week in terms of training and development. We’ve acknowledged our weakness and are bringing in new initiatives to solve them.” A freshers’ team will also be entered into BUSA; as Fowler has admitted, some players with potential have been lost in the system due to competition for places. Provided they are available for selection, the University have already recruited players who have represented England and Wales at their age levels, while overseas students like Doug McNicholl, a member of the Queensland Reds academy, will strengthen the squad further. Prop Aled Mason will captain the first XV for the 2007-2008 season, and Fowler has delivered a glowing report about his new skipper: “Aled is capable of being a professional. He is one of about five players I can count on to deliver and he could produce big things for us next season; he was our man-of-the-match at this year’s Varsity. He is an ever-present at training, leads by example on the field, and has earnt the respect of his team-mates and myself.” So with the prospective innovations, plus the experience gained after their first season in the BUSA Premier, what is Fowler expecting for next season? “We can achieve a top-four finish in BUSA, at least winning all of our home games. Plus we want to win Varsity back.”
That was the year that was Scott D’Arcy reviews a year of highs and lows on the Cardiff University sporting scene
NOVEMBER November was a month of mixed fortunes as the weather wreaked havoc on the schedule. There was no relief for the men’s teams, although football and rugby picked up their first points. Women’s hockey continued to dominate every opponent, while both women’s basketball and rugby enjoyed comprehensive wins. IMG continued to entertain, with close battles in both the football and netball leagues, while the rugby competition began. DECEMBER Success came for the pool club in the individual BUSA 9-ball Championship, with Emmanouil Paspatis beating an expro in the final.
matches, but women’s hockey managed to achieved promotion to the BUSA Premiership after a narrow win on penalties over Brunel. Cardiff’s women were prominent as usual, with the rugby and hockey progressing in the Welsh Cup and football reaching the BUSA Cup final. Men’s football also found their form after a frustrating season. In IMG, Law A clinched an exciting title race in the netball and Gym Gym led the pack in football. Engin topped the rugby with three successive wins. Varsity was the focus of the month however, and despite a defeat in the showpiece rugby match, Cardiff defeated Swansea 17 – 5 overall to win the Varsity Shield.
PHOTO: SARAH DAY
OCTOBER The season started with an appropriate sense of anticipation, as the newly promoted men’s football, rugby and hockey teams faced new challenges in new divisions. However, all three received a rude awakening, suffering heavy defeats in their opening games. Meanwhile, Cardiff’s women started well with convincing wins for netball and hockey 1sts. IMG was immensely popular as always, with four football divisions, three netball leagues and plenty of exciting early action.
HOCKEY: European Cup Winners Cup Challenge Champions Men’s football looked unlikely to avoid relegation, as did men’s hockey, who only managed to gain a single point for the whole league campaign. Women’s rugby remained top and unbeaten in the BUSA Western Conference and the footballers proved themselves by defeating the league leaders 4 – 0. IMG netball Premiership leaders Economics A were beginning to pull away at the top, while Phase One of the IMG
football league was still incomplete. FEBRUARY AU President James Woodroof’s drive for better sports facilities earnt a boost for all sports clubs, securing funding for the future installation of a rubber crumb pitch. Women’s hockey 1sts finished unbeaten in nine league games but were knocked out in round one of the BUSA Championship, while the ladies’ rugby 1sts won their league.
Men’s football showed no improvement after the Christmas break and were relegated after only one season in the top flight. After sitting in pole position most of the way, Economics A were leap-frogged by Law A at the top of the IMG netball premiership. MARCH Volleyball and netball began the month by losing in their opening knockout
MAY There was international success for men’s rugby in Hong Kong and men’s hockey in Malta. The latter won the European Cup Winners Challenge Cup with an impressively comfortable win in the final. Men’s football won the Welsh Cup to alleviate some of the agony of relegation, while all three men’s cricket teams went undefeated to complete a historic treble. IMG drew to a close, with Gym Gym winning the football Premiership crown. Meanwhile, Economics A lifted the IMG netball cup at the expense of Law A.
grsport Sport step into the ring with Maccarinelli & Cleverly p37 Dave Menon tackles the issues of IMG p38 End-of-Year Review p39
Lough luck for Cardiff
PHOTO: ADAM GASSON
Loughborough end Cardiff’s exceptional season with 128 run win in the BUSA Trophy
However, Cardiff failed to keep the pressure up and despite a decent spell by Bekker (1 - 37), runs flowed freely for the host’s batsmen. Cardiff were guilty of giving away too many extras and were made to toil in the field. On the back of an excellent century by Chalioner, Loughborough racked up a massive total of 290 for 6 in their 50 overs. Cardiff knew they would have to bat exceptionally to beat that score but knew that with their batting line-up, on the kind wicket, their target was gettable. Cardiff were in massive need for the opening batsmen to set up a decent platform in order to have any hope of making
Ben Walker Cricket Reporter Cardiff Men’s Cricket 1sts’ historic season came to an end in disappointing style with a 128 run defeat at the hands of Loughborough 2s in the BUSA Trophy quarter-finals. Cardiff lost the toss on a sweltering day and realised they would have to work hard on a pitch that looked like a batsman’s dream. Wickets came early though, with Ben Walker and Raj Pal picking up three wickets between them, to leave Loughborough struggling on 38 - 3.
8 6 9
2 2 7
from Walker (22) and Nick Williams (12), Cardiff could only limp to 162 all out, 128 runs short of their target. This comprehensive defeat came against a very talented Loughborough side who played much better cricket on the day, though it shouldn’t tarnish what has otherwise been an incredible season for the side. By winning the BUSA Premier League South, Cardiff’s 1st XI have etched their name into university history and massive credit should go to everybody involved for that achievement. Next season, Cardiff will be looking to build on this year’s success under the new first team captain, Ben Orr.
Speaking to the gair rhydd after the game, next year’s skipper Orr told of the team’s mixed emotions following their defeat. He commented: “There are some talented guys in our set-up who deserve a place in the academy, and they were a bit disappointed not to have truely showcased their abilities. But it has been a fantastic season, especially as we went unbeaten.” Looking ahead, the left-arm spinner is predicting further success for CUCC: “We are fortunate not to be losing anyone next season, so we will be as strong, and even stronger if we can pick up a few freshers who can improve the squad.”
“Any consensus there is of underachievement is nonsense” Head Coach Martyn Fowler on Cardiff’s rugby season Page 39
PHOTO: MATT HORWOOD
this massive chase. Unfortunately this proved too tall an order, as Cardiff lost three early wickets in a similar fashion to Loughborough’s start, leaving them 28 - 3 and fighting to stay in the game. Again, in the hour of need, Evert Bekker stood up. His innings of 55, alongside Chris Allen (22) took Cardiff up to 110 for 3 and apparently back into the game. This, however, only proved to be a false dawn as the run out of Bekker initiated a Cardiff collapse, losing five wickets for only 15 runs as they crumbled to 125 – 8 and onto the verge of defeat. Despite some lower order resistance
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