ISSUE 853 NOVEMBER 05 2007 CARDIFF’S STUDENT WEEKLY free word - EST. 1972
After 9 months in the making, CUTV finally launches William Taylor News Editor After almost one year of hard work and planning Cardiff Students’ Union’s premier TV station launches on Monday. Under the name of CUTV, the new student TV station is set to change the face of Cardiff University’s student media. Students will now be able to view programmes on screens inside the Union, and on demand from their computers at home. Oz Thakkar, Head of Production at
the station, told gair rhydd: “CUTV creates a great opportunity for Cardiff students to make a visual impact on the media scene.” The launch of the station comes after an extended period of lobbying the Students’ Union into funding for the station. The station’s Controller, Huw Thomas, explained how the initial stages of setting up were considerably stressful. He said: “This year has started off with a heavy workload, as I have actually had to get the TV station up and running. “This involved negotiating with
the Students’ Union to buy new equipment, innumerable meetings and further negotiating about using Union resources to help CUTV get started.” But budget problems seem to be faced by many student TV stations across the UK. Andrea Vassallo, Controller of Nottingham Trent University’s TV station during 2006-07, described her experiences of setting up Trent TV from a ‘very limited budget’. She said: “A crucial factor in making Trent TV a success was having the dedicated support of another full time member of staff who was an endless fountain of knowledge for all things to
do with student TV.” Vassallo continued to praise student media and the opportunities it provides to students. She said: “Student radio and TV stations offer the chance to report on live events as they happen and are able to convey messages to audiences in a way that is much faster, more accessible, and often easier to take in.” CUTV currently outputs a range of programs from news and sport coverage, to music documentaries and dating shows, with pre-production on a feature film currently underway. Huw Thomas told gair rhydd he had high hopes for CUTV.
He said: “We are currently working from a very small space on the 4th floor, and hope to expand as we prove ourselves to be a valuable asset to the Union’s student media portfolio. “A year ago this project was a dream, but thanks to the enthusiasm of the Students’ Union and the unquestionable talent of Cardiff’s students, we’re ready to go on air.”
• Check out the website: www. cardiffunion.tv • Inside: Meet the CUTV Exec Team
At a glance...
This week... In numbers
new Cardiff student TV station
4 - Get up to speed with everything CUTV related
20 - Features write on the rise against racism week
48 - Read how Cardiff Netball beat Bedford
ONLINE Exclusive Web Content Apple, floods and Debenhams lock in Sadie Brown writes on the dream of a fan advert for ipods coming true
Louisa Majer writes on the Debenhams student lock in
week until RAG week
weeks until Christmas
Ceri Isfryn explores a new scheme where maps will be used in South Wales to prevent flooding
Raising awareness EXPERT: Julie Williams
Pioneering Alzheimer’s project Steph Cockroft Reporter
Carrian Jones Reporter Cardiff University students have been doing their bit for the cause this October by raising money for Breast Cancer Awareness month. Over 44,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, a figure which includes over 300 cases of male breast cancer. Around one thousand women die from this disease each month.
But, with more research being done every day, an estimated 80% of women diagnosed with breast cancer will survive for at least five years. Friday October 26 saw Xpress Radio campaigning for Breast Cancer Breakthrough. Xpress members manned a pink stall in the Union reception all day, with the sale of pin badges, phone charms and wristbands raising just short of two hundred pounds throughout the day. Any Access All Areas goers would have been hard pushed to miss the girls
kitted out in pink and topped off with pink wigs collecting for Breast Cancer Breakthrough last Friday night. The girls, armed with collection buckets, sold the remaining badges and wristbands, along with pink glow sticks and sweets. The Xpress girls were joined by Shag and RAG in Access All Areas, who were also collecting for Breast cancer awareness. RAG, who also sold pink glow sticks, raised a total of two hundred pounds on the night.
XPRESS: Doing its bit They also collected on Saturday night for Meningitis, and raised four hundred pounds for that charity. A cake sale on the third floor of the Union helped to raise an additional £70 for Breast Cancer Breakthrough, bringing the total to £544. A spokesperson from Xpress said: “Thank you to anyone who donated to these charities. Your money is going towards a good cause.”
Meditation Resolving referencing ambiguity tutorials are set to eradicate the long-term confusion over education Online referencing consistency amongst Cardiff University students A new university in Scotland is set to add transcendental meditation to the usual higher education curriculum. Folk singer Donovan, famous for 60s hits such as Mellow Yellow, has joined forces with Twin Peaks director David Lynch to found the institution. The Invincible Donovan University will embody the pair’s belief that transcendental meditation can enhance the learning experience as well decreasing violence, crime and stress in schools and colleges. Lynch has practised the technique for over 34 years Donovan said: “We have gone into some of the most deprived areas and turned around kids with violent emotional and behavioural problems.” Popularised by the Beatles in the 1960s, Donovan has practiced this technique for forty years, while Lynch has recently promoted the method to schools in the United States.
Daniel Madden Reporter A student-led campaign is set to influence the way students employ referencing in university assignments. Students from Cardiff University have complained that there is ambiguity within different schools as to how referencing of other academics’ work within essays should be implemented. This has long been the cause of confusion, leading to poorly sourced work and detrimental marks. As a result, Information Services have developed online tutorials for the Harvard, OSCOLA and APA referencing styles. Rebecca Mogg, a key contributor to these valuable tools, said: “There are short interactive tutorials and printable guides which outline the main methods of referencing in a way which is clear and user-friendly.” The University’s Learning and Teaching Committee will convene
on December 12 to consider further propositions regarding the concerns that students and lecturers share in this area. Claire Wardle, Teaching and Learning Officer in the JOMEC department, commented on the vital nature of the proposed reforms. She said: “While accurate referencing may seem a pedantic exercise, it is intrinsic to the overall integrity of aca-
demic work.” The tutorials can be accessed at http://www.cf.ac.uk/insrv/educationandtraining/guides/citingreferences/index.html.
Cardiff University experts are to conduct the largest medical research to date to help tackle Alzheimer’s disease. The worldwide project has been launched in the hope of finding previously unknown mutations that contribute to the risk of developing the disease. Research will involve analysing DNA samples from 14,000 people across the UK and US. 6,000 of these patients are expected to have late-onset Alzheimer’s whilst 8,000 will be ‘healthy’ patients. The technique being used, genome wide association scanning, scans the entire human genetic blueprint, also known as the genome, in order to compare the samples. Professor Julie Williams, Team Leader of the research project, said that the size of the project was due to the sample size. She said: “A large sample size is needed due to the genetically complicated story involving many genes.” Professor Williams added: “The study will produce some valuable insights. We need to build a complete picture of the different pathways that lead to the disease.” It is estimated by the Alzheimer’s society that 700.000 people are affected by the disease in the UK alone, with expectations that this figure will double in 20 years. Symptoms include becoming forgetful, confused and lost, as well as the tendency to act inappropriately. Hallucinations are also common. The project is being supported by a donation of over £1 million from Britain’s largest medical research charity, The Wellcome Trust. Professor Richard Morris, Head of Neuroscience and Mental Health, highlighted the project’s importance. He said: “It is essential to develop the knowledge on the underlying cause of the disease. The genome-wide association scans offer a powerful tool to do just this.”
The lowdown on Cardiff Union’s new TV station Meet the exec...
Will Taylor – UGC Editor and Creative Consultant I edit the material that students submit to the TV station, be it of a night out or some news footage that they have caught on their mobile video phone, and so on. I then edit through this material and it goes online at the CUTube section of the website, www.cardiffunion.tv.
Rachel Henson – Head of Music Programming My role involves co-ordinating the music programming on CUTV. I work with a fantastic music team, whose purpose is to showcase Cardiff’s musical talent and bring musical info and entertainment to our viewers.
Rob Walters – Chief Engineer My role in brief is making sure the programme-making departments can concentrate on programmes without having to worry too much about equipment. I maintain the equipment and solve any problems that may arise, liaise with the Union’s IT staff, set up equipment ready for use where required and work with Programming to train crew on use of the equipment.
The Music Department is important because almost everyone is passionate about music of one kind or another. It’s a big part of our society, so it’s natural that it plays a part in CUTV. We also provide opportunities for emerging talent to get themselves known to the student population, which can only be a good thing!
The Technical department is important because it encompasses the behind-the-scenes work that allows programmes to be made. Particularly if something goes wrong, we need to find a solution quickly.
User generated content is important because now the media, especially the broadcast platform are putting an ever increasing reliance on UGC. With this in mind I think it is important for students to be engaged with the TV station and also to simply have the chance to have some fun. Oz Thakkar – Head of Production Due to my experience in film-making over the last five years including my time spent in New York, I have been able to bring this expertise to Cardiff and alongside running production of CUTV, I am acting as a mentor to aspiring members. In my role as Head of Production I have to ensure that planning, fabricating and executing the content runs seamlessly and at a professional level. Some may see CUTV as simply a student television station, however I want to bring CUTV and Cardiff student media to surpass expectations and be the best.
James Temperton – News Editor
Sarah Farthing – Head of Sport
I have to report the news basically! We’ve got a news team of about twenty people and I’ll be helping to organise news stories to cover, people to interview and things to go out and investigate.
My role involves going out on a weekly basis filming Cardiff University sports teams. This includes matches, making fun team profiles, and filming training. I’ll be interviewing players pre- and post-match too, for example, to see what their mood is like, if they want to make any score predictions and also ask them afterwards how they felt they did.
As the gair rhydd has shown, students in Cardiff are hungry for news and information both about their Union and about the student world in general. CUTV News will aim to go beyond the headlines (clichéd, but true!) in order to add another dimension to the news coverage already available at the Students’ Union. INTERVIEWS: Emma Jones and Shazia Khawaja PHOTOS: Ed Salter
The Sports section is important because Cardiff University prides itself on some of the best teams out of the UK universities. It’s also a fun way to raise the profile of a particular sport which may not get much attention.
Huw Thomas – Controller I am equivalent to Station Manager at Xpress Radio, in that I have an overseeing and co-ordinating role at CUTV. I’ve also had to select who will lead all my teams, and make sure they are adequately qualified for their positions. There have been innumerable meetings with various departments at the Students’ Union to get CUTV up and running. This has included a big marketing campaign, as well as negotiations about using Union resources to help CUTV get started. We are currently working from a very small space on the 4th floor, and hope to expand as we prove ourselves to be a valuable asset to the Union’s student media portfolio. The launch will be great, and I am confident that CUTV is going to grow from very humble beginnings to be the best student TV station in Britain.
Chloe Shollheifer – Head of Events and Promotions My role involves arranging socials and parties, including the launch party on Monday November 5. Promoting involves publicising CUTV and telling everyone about it by flyering, etc. My section is important because not many people know what CUTV is so we have to create a lot of hype about it.
Getting in the swing of it Three student jazz bands and two societies joined forces as part of the recent Oxjam Music Festival to raise money for the charity Oxfam. Oxjam is a month-long music festival that takes place throughout October every year, where people hold their own events to raise money for the charity. Andrew Farquharson, Musical Director of the Cardiff University Big Band, organised the jazz night entitled ‘In The Swing of It’ which was held at Talybont Social on October 27. Speaking after the event, Andrew said: “I am so pleased with how it has all gone this year. Our aim was to raise more than the £450 we got last year,
and we have smashed that to raise over £670. “I can’t thank everyone enough for their support – as musicians, technicians from the Live Music Society, door staff and helpers, or audience members.” He continued: “All bands involved were fantastic and really captured the idea of the Oxjam event – raising money, making music, and helping to end poverty.” A CD of the event is being produced, and anyone interested in getting a copy should contact the Big Band at email@example.com. CDs are £5, with £4 of this being donated to Oxfam.
Dramatic inconsistencies Lea Blake Reporter BIG BAND: Jazzing it up
Shouting from the tree-tops Stacey Jeffreys Reporter Residents of Cathays Terrace were rudely awakened on Monday by a half–naked man howling ‘like a wolf’ from the top of a tree. The Czech national triggered a major police operation whereby the road had to be blocked off as three officers and an interpreter persuaded him to return safely to the ground. Onlookers explained that the unshaven man was covered in mud and only wearing a pair of black tracksuit bottoms having kicked off his shoes under the tree. At one point he tried to remove his trousers, but was dissuaded by a policewoman. Neighbour Martin Townley first spotted the man hiding amongst the leaves of the large tree. He said: “He’s been there since 6.30am. When he woke me up I thought it was a dog howling, he was crying. “I came out to have a chat with him but he just said ‘leave me alone, it’s my tree’.” After having sat on a lower branch of the tree opposite Lidl for two hours, the Czech man finally swung himself down and was taken away in the police van. Officers wrapped the man in a blanket and drove him away after he was checked over by medics.
Having your say Huw Richards University Registry First year undergraduate and postgraduate students are being given the chance to complete an online survey, ‘Coming to Cardiff University’. The survey has been designed to offer new students the opportunity to answer questions on why they chose Cardiff and their early experiences of university life. Students who complete the survey are entered into a prize draw, offering the chance to win a laptop or Amazon vouchers. This is the third consecutive year that the survey has been run. The results of the survey form part of Project Q, an initiative run jointly by the University and the Students’
Union. Project Q seeks to act upon the views of students at different stages of their university life and to enhance the student experience. Last year over 2,300 students responded to the survey. It is hoped that the response in 2007 will be even higher. Students’ Union President Jonny Cox said: “The survey is essential in enabling students to give feedback about their student experience so far. The University and Union are constantly striving to enhance the student experience at Cardiff.” A personal email has been sent to all new students which provides a web link to the survey. Further details on student surveys, including Project Q, are available at http://www.cf.ac.uk/studx/index.html.
The amount of work you put into your essays may be less significant to their mark than how tired the essay marker is or the size of the font you use, it has been revealed this week. The final instalment of the Burgess report and a new book ‘Developing Effective Assessment in Higher Education’ suggests that the marking of undergraduate work is massively inconsistent. One study discovered that the same piece of work received higher marks when submitted using a larger typeface. Another report concluded that differences of eight or nine marks out of 25 are common. Sue Bloxham, author of the new book, said: “There is limited research on marking given the amount that takes place each year, but what is there is consistently depressing in relation to issues of reliability, and this is particularly the case for assignments such as essays and in
disciplines such as the arts, social sciences and humanities.” Strategies to remedy the problem include double marking and blind marking which has just been introduced in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies here at Cardiff. Justin Lewis head of JOMEC said: “We try to ensure that our marking system is as consistent as possible and, on the advice of our external examiners and on our own initiative, have taken a number of steps over the last few years to facilitate this.” Cardiff Business School have had these measures in place for much longer. Although they are useful at preventing inconsistent marking, the report this week proposed the most effective way to increase standards is through student participation, engaging students from the beginning in assessment of their own work against standards. The report has added further pressure to the argument for scrapping the current degree classification system.
Triumph, tragedy and tycoons Corinne Rhoades News Editor
£1,000 is on offer to Cardiff University students who enter into a Dragons’ Den-style business competition next week. As part of Student Enterprise Week, beginning on November 12, students are being encouraged to put their entrepreneurial skills to the test and get involved in a business competition. Organised by the St Paul’s Community Development trust and run by Cardiff’s Student Enterprise Unit, the event will give students the opportunity to showcase their business ideas in front of local entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs will then take on the role of the judges, much like in the BBC programme Dragons’ Den. £1,000 prize will be given to the
winning business, to be judged in a London-based final next semester. Student Enterprise has put on the week, which will also be running other competitions, in a bid to raise awareness of the support available to budding student entrepreneurs. Josie Beckett, a Cardiff University graduate, received help from Student Enterprise when setting up her own fashion label, whereisjosienow.com. She said: “In my opinion, there is no more valuable experience than starting your own business. “Fresh from university, you have few financial responsibilities and plenty of energy to put into making your dream a reality.” Details about Student Enterprise Week can be found from Student Enterprise on the third floor of the Students’ Union, or at www.enterpriseweek.org.
CHALLENGE: Who will slay the dragons?
Cardiff costs less City safe for
Rachel Simons Reporter Cardiff has been rated as the cheapest UK capital for students, an independent website has found. The website, push.co.uk, rated universities on the average cost of groceries, union drinks and accommodation. It was hoped that the findings would help prospective students when deciding which universities were good value for money.
Johnny Rich, the editor of Push, said: “students need the facts to make informed choices.” The costs of the London Royal Academy of Music were found to be double that of Bradford University. But Wales was deemed one of the cheapest areas for students to live in, with all Welsh universities coming below average and four in the top ten. Cardiff University was rated seventh, ahead of its in-city rival, UWIC due to cheaper groceries and drinks.
Lisa Evans Reporter
Cardiff has been named ‘the safest city in its cohort of cities’, by Welsh MP Alun Michael. Cardiff University has developed a violence prevention scheme, which has proved so successful that the Government is considering applying this policy in England. The scheme was developed by Professor Jonathan Shepherd and aimed to curb violence. Since the scheme’s introduction there has been a dramatic decline in the number of alcohol-related street crime in Cardiff. Such success has been achieved through constantly encouraging victims to speak out about any incidents that have occurred. As a result of the scheme’s success, attention has been drawn from Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, who met with Professor Shepherd. The Cardiff Violence Prevention model was discussed and Johnson said, “I found the visit very interesting.”
PHOTO: Ed Salter
Cardiff’s low prices pave the way for cheaper student living
TAF TRAIL: Student friendly route
Is Cardiff good value for money?
“I’d say it was good. Some of the bars are expensive on weekends but there are student bars during the week so it’s ok.”
“You’ve got to remember that it’s a capital. You need to work though, you can’t just live on the student loan. But generally, it’s not too bad.”
“It’s cheaper than where I live in Birmingham. It seems to be more expensive for things like taxis and, on the whole, transport seems more expensive here.”
“Food shopping is about a tenner and I don’t drink so I don’t spend money on booze. It’s annoying giving exact change for the bus but that’s a small price to pay.”
“Clothes are quite expensive. It’s like they’re trying to take advantage of students. Food is quite good and there are quite a few restaurants around which helps.”
Kathy Turner First year Politics
Shane Davies Second year Philosophy
Matthew Strange First year Law and Politics
Olivia Cottrell First year English Lit
Richard Edwards First year Biomedics
PHOTOS: Christofer Lloyd
gair rhydd’s Magdalene Quarley asks students for their views
Celebs smoked out Emma Barlow Reporter A state of emergency was declared in California last week as services were still desperately fighting to control the forest fires. Blazes have covered the area stretching from Santa Barbara to San Diego, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Amongst the hundreds of thousands of people being forced to evacuate their homes are a number of stars who own property in Malibu, including Mel Gibson and Jenifer Aniston. At least one person has been killed and approximately half a million have been forced to leave their homes in the worst affected area, San Diego County. Meanwhile the less reported fires in
Waiting until the cows come home
COW: Ready for rustling
CELEBRITIES: Get them out of there
Navodita Panden Reporter Cattle rustlers have kept the police on their toes in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province with a sudden rise in cases of cattle theft. The National Anti-Stock Theft Forum said more than 62,000 cows were stolen in the area last year. The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union’s security desk said that at least 15,000 cows, seven thousand sheep and nine hundred goats had been stolen so far this year. Some cattle are stolen by local villagers to stock up their kraals after they have lost their cattle to raiders. But most cattle are stolen by syndicates who sell them for their meat to butcheries in Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape, Swaziland, Mozambique and Lisotho. The Head of KwaZulu-Natal Agri-
cultural Union said: “Syndicates will use every mode of transport available to them.” In the wake of a huge number of robberies in the past, the police stepped up their surveillance of larger vans. But the rustlers still found their way around and succeeded in outwitting the police in transporting animals in smaller cars. Police in Zululand said they found two cows and two goats squashed in the back of a tiny Fiat Uno. The authorities said in another instance rustlers had crammed two cows and seven goats into a Toyota Tazz before being caught and asked to pull over. Local police spokesman, Captain Jabulani Mdletshe, said: “Police have been keeping watch on vans and trucks travelling at night. “Now they are using small cars to avoid detection,” he added.
An end is in sight for the horrific African conflict which has spanned two decades There are renewed hopes for progress in resolving Africa’s longest-running conflict after acting commanders in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) met high-level Ugandan government officials in the capital Kampala last week. Acting commanders Mike Anywar and Ray Achama were met at Kampala’s Entebbe International Airport by government representatives in the first visit by such officials in 20 years. Later, they also met the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Affairs, Dr Stephen Kagoda.
In Kampala to consult with the government on the ongoing Juba peace talks, the representatives also helped to arrange security for the visit of an LRA peace delegation due later in the week. The government and the LRA signed a pact on ‘reconciliation and accountability’ – which had proven a particular obstacle to peace talks – in Juba earlier in the year. Until now, however, the LRA has been slow to commence consultations. Peace talks in Uganda have been continuing since August 2006, but have been dogged by rebel concerns over bias and security issues. During their visit, it is reported that the LRA commanders appeared nervous, acting with suspicion towards the
gathered press photographers, and appearing to want officials to accompany them during their transfer from the airport.
Over 25,000 children are thought to have been kidnapped by the LRA since 1987 Excited to be in Kampala, however, Mr Anywar said: “I am happy to be home. This is my first time in over 10 years.”
World News in brief Ruth Smith Reporter
the Amazonian Basin are also continuing to cause concern. The blazes have devastated a huge area, sending up clouds of smoke covering Brazil and eastern Bolivia, causing trouble for some commercial flights. The autumn rains would usually have prevented the fires from spreading out of control, but the rainy season this year has been late and less intense than usual. It is feared that the burning will have catastrophic effects on the environment. Hylton Murray Philipson, of the Rainforest Concern charity, said: “These fires are the suicide note of mankind.”
Prospects for peace Piers Horner Reporter
The violence in Uganda has continued since the late 1980s, following the overthrow of then President Tito Okello. The LRA was formed in 1987 under the leadership of Joseph Kony, who claims to be a spiritual medium. The conflict has been characterised by many stories of horrific human rights abuses by members of the LRA, which is also notorious for its use of child soldiers. Over 25,000 children are thought to have been kidnapped by the LRA since 1987, while 12,000 people are thought to have been killed in the conflict, and nearly two million civilians displaced.
In tribute to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games a Chinese man ordered a 200-metre long wedding dress for his prospective wife. Ken, from Guangzhou city, originally wanted the dress to be 2008 metres long, but decided this would be too difficult to handle. Instead it was precisely 200.8metres in length with 208 butterfly knots. The dress took three months to make in Ken’s local factory, and the wedding photographer had to spend five hours arranging the train.
In protest at the mayor closing down all the brothels and bars in the Bolivian city El Alto, prostitutes have sewn together their lips as part of a hunger strike. At least 40 women are known to have taken part in the action, with a spokeswoman saying that the women are fighting for their jobs’ survival. The Mayor, however, was fed up with underage drinking and crime in El Alto’s red light district. Student activists agreeing with Mayor Fanor Nava, are also partaking in a hunger strike.
A drunken, dressed-up zombie was recently mistaken for a corpse on a train in Germany. The 24-year-old sleeping man was travelling home to Hamburg after a Halloween party. Fellow passengers had thought the fake blood covering his hands and face was real. Police were called to the scene and the man, when woken, was instructed to remove his make-up before continuing the journey. A police spokeswoman said Halloween is not very well known there so no one was expecting anyone in costume.
EDITORIAL & OPINION
freewords Est. 1972
The start of something new The lights are ready, the cameras are rolling, and now it’s time for ACTION. This year we are remembering November 5 for an altogether different reason: the launch of Cardiff Union Television, CUTV. This latest addition to Cardiff’s already successful media portfolio is long overdue, but now it is here things can only get better for Cardiff’s Student Media. At present the setup is far from ideal. Working from what is affectionately known as the ‘broom cupboard’ and without any studios, one may be inclined to think that the output may suffer as a consequence. But working against these odds is a team of passionate individuals. Fuelled with determination these individuals are not letting anything stop them from making their documentaries, news programmes and sports shows. It is clear when watching these programmes that the obstacles faced are overcome by commitment and dedication to the cause. The opportunity for experience that CUTV provides is invaluable. The professional standard equipment that has been invested in, provides perfect opportunity for students wanting to gain TV experience. As with gair rhydd, Quench and Xpress Radio, CUTV’s content, website and promotions are all made by voluntary students. Although the station only opened for members to join at this year’s Freshers’ Fair, it recruited almost one hundred enthusiastic members. Like all the areas of student media, CUTV is an opportunity for all students to take part in, regardless of what course they study or whether or not they want to work in the media. All too often student media is regarded as a group of JOMEC and ENCAP students, but the opportunity is here for all Cardiff students. Special thanks must go to last year’s gair rhydd editor, Perri Lewis, who was instrumental in setting the wheels in motion for CUTV. So if you want to see what all the fuss is about it’s easy. From 10pm on November 5, all you have to do is log on to the internet, type cardiffunion.tv into the address bar, and sit back and enjoy the shows. If, when watching CUTV, you feel inspired to make your own show, get in touch and be a part of something new. Editor Amy Harrison Deputy Editor Ben Bryant Co-ordinator Elaine Morgan News William Taylor Abigail Whittaker Samantha Shillabeer Corinne Rhoades Investigations Lee Macaulay Politics
Who ya gonna call? Still the Royal Mail, says Gareth Ludkin, who values heritage over a postman’s pay rise
love the post. There’s nothing like receiving an unexpected package through the door on an early, frost-covered morning. And call me sad but I still find the concept of sending and receiving letters incredibly romantic. The recent postal strike, the first for a decade, has threatened my love of receiving post as thousands of letters, parcels, presents, cards and oddly shaped packages lay undelivered in Royal Mail sorting offices throughout the country. What a nuisance for us all, especially for businesses who rely on the Royal Mail day after day, not to mention the fact I still haven’t received that CD I sent off for. The postal strike baffles me. Their dispute over pay and pension plans seems to me, as an objective observer, to be greedy, obsolete and a waste of time. The Royal Mail was not in a healthy state prior to the recent strike, with debts piling up, and the hole in its pocket has steadily been getting bigger.
lic, should show them some loyalty. As a result of the compromise that was reached, the CWU bargained a 6.9% pay rise, consolation on pension planning and flexible working hours to be trialed. Workers were concerned that their jobs were in jeopardy as the Royal Mail has been looking extensively into modernising in order to keep up with the competition and to give us the best service possible. For this I cannot fault them, but their modernising plans were reportedly going to cost thousands of employees’ jobs, with a switch to more machinery.
The Royal Mail is a huge national employer; to lose them would be disastrous
The postal strike baffles me Hence the strike has threatened to be the latest and final nail in the Royal Mail coffin. Other companies have cropped up in competition with steady growth and profits and, perhaps more significantly, have absorbed some coporate companies that the Royal Mail relies on heavily. Personally, I have had little to no problem with the Royal Mail, and so I feel it is a shame that the business has been brought into disrepute. Postmen and women across the country do not seem to be helping themselves in this war of words. They are effectively destroying the reputation of their employer, and in the long term damaging their future job security. While this may seem to be a very short sighted move by mail employees, the main inspiration for the revolt appears to be the greed of the Communication Workers Union. Adam Crozier, Royal Mail’s chief executive, worked hard to pull the Royal Mail out of a losing battle and had turned the company round to a stable position, only for this strike to intervene. I feel the Royal Mail do not deserve the harsh criticism they’ve received in the media in the past few years as it is a part of
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our country and our heritage, with roots dating back to 1516. It is certainly not a history that we should just disregard for the sake of a few grumpy workers who haven’t had a lie-in for 6 months.
It is not a heritage we should disregard for a few grumpy workers I’ll be honest: I don’t know the exact details of what they were receiving, or what unionists have now negotiated, but I can’t help but feel that they have
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Aisling Tempany Laurel Burn Kieran Harwood Rachel McWhinney Wendy Woodhead Amy Chesterfield Sarah Javan Lee Macaulay Osian Haines Francesca Russell Andy Rennison Contributors Carrian Jones, Steph Cockroft, Daniel Madden,
ILLUSTRATION: Osian Haines been motivated by greed. They know that they have the Royal Mail by the scruff of the neck. It needs workers to deliver the mounting post ad without them their business will collapse. They need the postal workers on their side for an efficient system, even if they are being unreasonable. The strikes have cost an estimated £200m, a massive and frankly avoidable loss for a business that has been a nationally recognised British institution for many years and pioneered the modern postal services. In recent times it has struggled to cope with modernisation and I feel that we, the British pubStacey Jeffreys, Huw Richards, Lea Blake, Rachel Simons, Lisa Evans, Emma Barlow, Navodita Panden, Ruth Smith, Piers Horner, Gareth Ludkin, Amir Khan, Ted Shiress, James Wheeler, Melissa Moore, Maddie Quartey, Alex Wilson, Adam
The Royal Mail still remains the choice of postal service for the average person. It has worked effeciently for years delivering mail speedily and at reasonable prices. Yet the time when it was a monopoly is long gone and competition, for better or for worse, is pushing the Royal Mail harder and apparently making workers believe they’re being hard done by. Royal Mail is a huge national employer: to lose them would be disastrous. Yet unionists at the CWU are not doing anything to protect postmen’s jobs in the long term. Their greediness seems totally unjust and has caused a lot of people to lose faith in the Royal Mail. Personally, as far as pay rises go, I don’t believe postmen and women are up there with the most deserving. This is not a disservice to the great work they do - I for one couldn’t get up at 4 in the morning everyday - but struggling young nurses and teachers have to work incredibly hard to earn a crust doing jobs that are far more deserving of a substantial pay rise. As I have already stated, I am a little hazy over the exact grievances the Communication Union has with the Royal Mail, but I do feel that the union has seen the recent vulnerability of the Royal Mail and decided to take advantage. I think this is unacceptable, whatever the reasons the workers may have. It’s a hard life but please just don’t grumble too much, the disruption isn’t worth it.
Thompson, David Weston, Joanne Smyth, Alice Duggan, Rachel Jones, Lucie Clifford, Matthew Pearson, Geoff Trent, Settor Tengey, Roz Lambe, Nick Bowker, Tom Nicholas, Jake Yorath, Natalia Popova, Richard Williams
Address University Union, Park Place, Cardiff, CF10 3QN Web www. gairrhydd. com Email firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising 02920 781 474 Location 4th Floor Students’ Union
10 gairrhydd NOVEMBER.05.2007
Walking a fine line Last week’s front page story detailing the apparent discrimination of a gay couple in Solus has sparked anger, controversy and outspoken support for both sides. As Ben Bryant discovers, however, there is a twist to the tale...
n Friday 19th October, Leigh Crabtree and his partner were kissing by the dancefloor in Solus nightclub in the Students’ Union. According to Leigh, this was ‘not a lot, or in a vulgar way, but just the same as any other straight student couple’. A safety steward (bouncer) then approached the couple and told Leigh to stop kissing his partner, or to leave. It is a series of events that reads like a textbook account of discrimination: a gay couple forced to refrain from engaging in the kind of behaviour that is practised freely in the Union on any given night by any given heterosexual couple. It reads like an account of enforced heterosexuality at the hands of a vindictive bouncer. It has since transpired, however, that there is a further twist to the tale. Since the publication of the article in gair rhydd last week, the safety steward has claimed that on the night in question a male third party was complaining about the behaviour of Leigh and his partner. The man became aggressive and the safety steward decided that the safest thing to do would be to ask Leigh and his partner to desist and move away from the area. The steward was, he claims, acting in the interests of the safety of the students in Solus. This simple addition to the sequence of events nevertheless presents a minefield of ethical implications, because the actions of the steward are cast in a different light. The safety steward claims that his actions were motivated not by prejudice, but rather by a need to defuse the situation and secure the safety of the students. In short: he would have acted in the same way regardless of the students’ sexual orientation. He is backed by Steven Symonds, the Operations and Trading manager at Cardiff Students’ Union: ‘There wasn’t an issue with them kissing. What the issue was is that another student has become aggressive about this, and is complaining about this, and the safety steward has taken the view… that the safest thing that he can do in that situation is ask Leigh and his partner to move to a different area.’ Symonds argues that the steward had to ‘make a snap decision about how to ensure the safety of these two individuals’. Faced with such a decision, he chose what he saw as the most appropriate way of securing the safety of the students. The emergence of these new details provides some justification for the seemingly irrational actions of the safety steward in question. There are, however, a few issues that remain unresolved. Symonds contends that the safety steward had only the safety of the students at heart: their sexual orientation did not influence his decision. This is a suggestion that I find extremely difficult to believe. In Solus, as in any nightclub, you will not be able to see the night through without witnessing several straight couples kissing.
This is an accepted (and thankfully celebrated) aspect of visiting a nightclub. It is laughable, in my mind, to suggest that aggressive behaviour towards a heterosexual couple would be met with anything less than a severe warning. Yet even if the steward in question had made a decision that was not influenced by the couple’s sexual orientation, he was not doing his job properly.
The contemporary refrain of the homophobic is ‘I don’t mind gays... I just, y’know, don’t want to see them at it’ It is simply not the duty of a safety steward to discipline couples for kissing. Neither is it the job of a steward to act on behalf of another student’s homophobia. It is, however, their job to placate potentially aggressive individuals. It’s all very well rebranding bouncers as ‘safety stewards’, but if they’re ineffective in their main purpose of kicking out aggressive individuals, they’re not doing their job properly. Let us suppose, for the purposes of argument, that the steward was not swayed in his decision by even the slightest unconscious murmur of homophobia: by moving the gay stu-
dents rather than attempting to remove the aggressive individual, the steward’s actions convey the message that aggressively homophobic behaviour is acceptable and, moreover, that kissing (gay or straight) is, at least in some cases, not acceptable. Even if he had not thought that he was acting in a manner that constituted sexual discrimination, the safety steward’s actions were still condoning the homophobic behaviour of the complainant. It is clear to me, as I believe it is to anyone, that it is the aggressive student, and not the gay couple, who should have been asked to leave. Regardless of whether the steward would react similarly to a complaint received about a heterosexual couple, his actions were effectively condoning homophobia. Symonds agrees that the safety steward should have attempted to placate the aggressive student rather than splitting up the gay couple. He is keen to point out that the investigation is ongoing, but at this point, based on the evidence he has been presented with, he maintains that the actions of the security steward did not amount to sexual discrimination. Contradictory as this statement may seem, as Trading and Operations manager for the Union it is, of course, in Symonds’s interests to say so. But perhaps it is easy to see why this incident has aroused so much confusion and contradiction. It is hard not to have any sympathy for the steward’s actions:
he was forced to make a snap decision, and he was purportedly acting with good intentions.
It is the safety steward’s job to placate potentially aggressive individuals I suspect, however, that the widespread confusion and sympathy in support of the steward’s actions is testament to the unwritten rules of a society that insists on privileging heterosexuality. There is a broad, unacknowledged social consensus that homosexual behaviour is something that must be tolerated rather than celebrated: a practice that is acceptable only so long as it is away from the eyes of the public. I wonder if, despite the safety steward’s claims, his judgement was not affected by an unconscious affirmation of these unwritten rules. The contemporary refrain of the homophobic can no longer be ‘I hate gays’. It is instead the subtle but familiar (and equally detestable) ‘I don’t mind gays… I just, y’know, don’t want to see them at it’. Perhaps this is the reason behind that student’s abhorrent complaint on Friday night; after all, we can hear him thinking, the gays have their gay clubs and their gay culture. What more do they
INSIDE...FE ATURES/JO BS&MONEY /NEWS/TAF-O D/OPINION
NO TO GAY
ISSUE 852 OCTOBER 29 CARDIFF’S 2007 STUDEN free word - T WEEKLY EST. 1972
Union lau nches inv to stop kiss es ing boyfrietigation after gay student to nd in Solu ld s
Corinne Rhoade s News Editor
Leigh Crabtre Solent Universe, a Southampton ity student his boyfrien , and d Cardiff Univershad decided to visit (CUSU) having ity Students’ Union about its Friday heard ‘good things’ nights. But their evening a security steward was cut short when allegedly asked to stop kissing them by The steward, the dance floor. them through who had earlier helped another incident the couple’s involvin g re-entry to the them to ‘take club, asked it they made othersoutside or stop’ in case He added that feel ‘uncomfortable’. the pair could ‘taken it to a quiet corner’, have claims. Leigh With Solus which he had being the first club in attitudes, Leighever encountered such his actions from was quick to defend the security comments. steward’s He said: “They were just really I know they rude, can people but we get that way with drunk were “A student club completely sober. should we didn’t do anything be tolerant, ridiculously over the top, vulgar or have to be told I shouldn’t to The third stop,” he added. year Photogr student said aphy he left Cardiff and embarra shocked ssed at his treatment. ‘appalling’ Leigh and his boyfriend, a University student, Glamorgan are now awaiting the result of a by the Studentstwo-week investigation nature of events. ’ Union into the true But although the incident of its kind is the first to Union, others be brought against the have suggeste is not a gay d that Solus friendly environm Sally Wood, ent. the Union’s newly
appointed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexua Transgender l and (LGBT) offi met a lot of cer, people on the said: “I trail who felt campaign atmosphere uncomfortable with the at spoke to prefer Solus, most of those I to go to the in town.” gay clubs A day into said: “There’s her new role, she a lot that needs to changed.” be In spite of Trading and this, Steven Symonds, Operations Manage CUSU, insisted that the events r for on October alleged 19 formed incident. an isolated After he received the complaint Wednesday, last he said: “I have already been in correspo forth with Leigh, ndence back and which indicates seriously we how are taking it. “We’re aiming within two weeks, to have it sorted out but in reality looking to get we’re this week,” he it resolved by the end of continued. Steven went staff will be on to confirm: “Security briefed on the code practice in of these circumst instance does ances. This Union’s generalnot reflect the Students ’ practice.” In an attempt to determin action needs taking, CCTV e what may be analysed footage witness is also . An interview with a expected to take an effort to validate place in the claims. Jonny Cox, CUSU Presiden was adamant t, that any of discrimi nation would accusations seriously. be taken He said: “It hard line, whereis important to take a all students and breaches are found, their guests comfortable in the Students should feel ’ Union. “We have policy which an equal opportunities is outlined constitution. in our investigated, All complaints are and where found, action a breach is is taken.”
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want? Unfortunately, the burden of acting as a moral compass for the drunken masses fell upon a security steward, who took the safe option rather than the ethically sound one. His actions may have been in good faith, but they were no less repugnant. As this investigation has shown, determining discrimination with intent is rarely as simple as separating the homophobic from the tolerant and, despite his behaviour, I doubt that the dismissal of the security steward in question would achieve anything constructive. He was, however, guilty of a profound misjudgement that may have been rooted in some form of prejudice. It was a remarkable mistake to make, and for that he should be disciplined. Whether or not Solus is a gay-friendly environment remains to be seen. It is beyond the reach of the Union to attempt to subvert a social championing of heterosexuality and a vast and complicated social conditioning against homosexuality. It is not the duty of Solus to provide an edifying environment - they are, after all, in the business of entertainment. And, needless to say, it is the students themselves who seem to present the biggest homophobic threat. What the Union should never be expected to do, however, is take actions that amount to the support of discriminatory behaviour. By refusing to acknowledge this incident as a case of discrimination, I fear that they are walking a fine line.
Amir Khan looks set to avoid a prison sentence despite being found guilty of dangerous driving. Richard Ward bemoans celebrity status and its place above the law
Cardiff, disability and me
Ted Shiress explains the trials, tribulations and joys of having a support worker
lease could I have some assistance?”
ritish boxing superstar Amir Khan has just been convicted of careless, rather than dangerous, driving. “Careless”, in this case, being speeding, running a red light and breaking the leg of a pedestrian crossing the road. Now I’m no legal expert, but surely the term ‘careless’ implies accidentally doing something through lack of attention. I hardly see how storming past other cars on the way through a red light fits this description. So instead of a prison sentence, Khan received a sixmonth ban and £1,000 fine – which is sure to make a huge dent in his wallet. This all begs one question: would the judge have been so lenient if he wasn’t famous? It’s not the first time a celebrity has been reported to have magically evaded the long arm of the law. Alex Ferguson and Ronnie O’Sullivan both avoided traffic offences being upheld; and who can forget Nicole Richie’s 82minute prison term?
The blasé attitudes to crime displayed by these ‘icons’ reflects the sad celebrity-centred culture we live in However, one cannot ignore the numerous stories of the regular Joes getting ‘lenient’ jail terms either. According to road charity Brake, “every year, people bereaved and seriously injured by road crashes are confronted with a justice system that lets them down”. This might then suggest that the sentences meted out to celebrities
are not really anything special after all. But does laying the blame on legislation really tell the full story? As the International Herald Tribune reported in an article on the issue, “high-priced lawyers helped [Lindsey Lohan and Richie] evade stronger punishment.” Such lawyers include the UK’s very own Nick Freeman (a.k.a ‘Mr. Loophole’), a specialist at getting cases thrown out on technicalities. In one example, he somehow managed to get a drink-driving businessman off the hook even though he was four and a half times the legal limit. The Guardian’s Steve Boggan concluded from this that “if you have enough money then it seems you can get off almost any charge”. But how is this fair? Is anything more undemocratic than a guilty man being let off the hook because he’s rich and another doing time because he can only afford a less-savvy lawyer? And Attorney Harland Braun’s suggestion in the Tribune that celebrities have more to lose if they get convicted because it could affect their insurance policies and ergo their careers is, quite frankly, offensive. As far as I am concerned, these overpaid egomaniacs should think of such things before they break the law. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, as they say. Unfortunately, in some cases, it seems these celebs have actually been giving their misdemeanours some consideration – in terms of a crime severity to publicity ratio, that is. What is really quite unnerving about that last thought is the prospect that celebrities believe they are acting risk-free. Worryingly, though, it is a rare occasion – as when he defended Caprice – when a lawyer like Nick Freeman can’t find a loophole for his client to wriggle through. As Freeman himself says, he loses very few drink-
driving cases. And Freeman’s continuing success can only fuel a celeb’s fantasy that their social status puts them above the constraints imposed on the rest of us – which it doesn’t. Really, someone should tell Amir Khan that you can’t run people over just because you’ve got a decent jab, inform Kate Moss that using cocaine – which photo evidence suggests she does – is illegal even if you have ‘the London look’, and remind Russell Crowe that you cannot assault hotel staff like they’re Gladiator extras.
‘Mr Loophole’ managed to get a drink-driving businessmen off the hook even though he was four and a half times the legal limit The blasé attitudes to crime displayed by these ‘icons’ merely reflects the rather sad celebrity-oriented culture we live in; where, seemingly, the worse a public figure behaves, the more revered they become. In other words, we are encouraging them. As evidence of this phenomenon, I draw your attention to Exhibit A: the aforementioned ‘Cocaine’ Kate Moss. For most people, being embroiled in a Class A drug scandal would bring about a downturn in fortune. But in the upside-down world of the wafer thin supermodel, her earnings have actually increased since the allegations began. And just as Harland Braun had us believing that celebrities lose work as a result of crime!
Before coming to Cardiff, I was persuaded countless times to sign up for this incredibly empowering new scheme called Direct Payments. The clue is in the title for this one, guys. Basically, I get the dough, I find my own workers and I pay them (OK, perhaps a tad oversimplified, as I am in fact attached to a payroll service who administer my money). In many ways this system sounds great, putting the client as ‘Number One’/the employer/the boss – what could be better? The only downside is the boss is also the one who is in charge; therefore when people do not turn up it is essentially my responsibility to sort it out. Finding workers was a hard and seemingly endless task. Right from the start of my first year I advertised all over the university for students who wanted to work for me; however, no one really replied. Two people wanted to take up some evening shifts. Mainly, though, I had to find people from outside the university who always seem to have a habit of coming and going, plus whose services, and possibly intellect, often leave a tad to be desired. Currently, I employ two workers, Sandra Thomas and Melanie Biggs. Sandra was the only person to reply to the advert I placed in local job shops, and is everything I expect in a professional “carer”. She is obviously used to dealing with clients with learning difficulties and perhaps unfamiliar with the tasks a student with purely physical dif-
But what can actually be done to address these imbalances of justice? Unhappily, despite the gross unfairness of the situation, lawyers will never charge the same fees for all, because some are simply ‘better’ than others. However, none other than Mr. Freeman himself is hoping to redress this through his Keep on Driving service. According to the website, by signing up for £99 a year you “get immediate access to advice from a qualified legal advisor 24/7”. And “if representation is required at court, Keep on Driving can arrange it at a much discounted cost”. Quite what sort of discount we are talking about is unclear. I would also question whether offering even more people the chance to exploit the law is a good thing. So what about closing the loopholes that are actually allowing people to get away with behaviour which could ultimately take a life? After all, if the law was more solid, then it wouldn’t matter
ficulties may set her. We have very little rapport, and sometimes I feel I am assisting her. My other worker, Melanie Biggs, is the exact opposite; however, some could argue I am breaching a social taboo in employing her as she is my best friend. Unlike Sandra, she has no experience in working for people with disabilities; so, logically, one would assume that her services would be inferior.
It almost seems wrong that my most efficient employee is the inexperienced one However, we have always enjoyed going food shopping and making meals together as we happen to appreciate very similar food. So I simply asked her if she would appreciate doing it every week and getting paid for it. Hang out with your best friend, eat good food, get paid – what would you say? Plus, I find her shopping skills far superior; as she is used to shopping for herself and buying similar items, I now have no fear of opening my fridge and finding all the wrong food. With no offence to her, it almost seems wrong that my most efficient employee is the inexperienced one. I suppose what this shows is that experience and qualifications mean much less than actually being on the same wavelength as the person you are assisting. whether you were being represented by Nick Freeman or not. Unfortunately though, canny lawyers are like skilful burglars – they can always find a way around the security system, no matter how many times you update it. The verdict is, then, that when it comes to celebrities trying to evade
Would the judge have been so lenient if Amir wasn’t famous? the law, we are left with the vain hope that the next one who finds him or herself in the dock will suddenly develop a conscience and actually accept the consequences of his or her actions.
R A S P U T I N The cost of living
he Canadian writer Stephen Leacock once said, “Each section of the British Isles has its own way of laughing, except Wales, which doesn’t.” The cheeky swine. It’s not even true. Because were he around today, he would find that the students at least have something to laugh about – it’s bloody cheap to live here. A week or so ago, the website Push. co.uk released the results of its study of living costs for university students, including a ranking system of universities from cheapest to most expensive. The study focused on three areas: firstly, the cost of student housing, based on an average taken from local rental costs and the price to live in halls of residence; secondly, the cost of a round in a student bar and a local pub; and finally, how much a student would expect to pay for a ‘typical’ grocery shop, including Rizlas, condoms and – naturally – a Pot Noodle. Good to know some stereotypes are here to stay.
you afford that? Suddenly you can’t help but feel for these poor unfortunates (unless you’re a sadist, in which case Push.co.uk’s list is a source of comedy rivalled only by Doctors’ desperate attempts of late not to get cancelled). There is, unsurprisingly, a noticeable geographic trend in expense. The closer you get to London, the more likely it is that you’ll be selling your organs to buy Marmite. Only four of the twenty most expensive universities are situated outside the English capital. Of course, anyone studying at the Royal Academy of Music, London
(the most expensive institution, with living costs double those of Cardiff) is likely to be fairly well-off. If your cello case isn’t lined with money, it’s probably because your butler ran off with the cash. Obviously not all of their students were born with silver flutes in their mouth, and I wouldn’t like to accuse the Academy of economic elitism, but clearly secondary school students without much money would never aspire to attend such a university short of a scholarship and free helicopter. And yes, many students there may be on scholarships. But they still have to pay £147 a week in rent.
Are poorer students being priced out of some universities? And, as one might expect, Wales is a veritable bargain, with Glamorgan and the University of Wales, Bangor third and fourth in the list of 135 (and Lampeter and Swansea Institute also making the top ten). Bradford and Bolton Universities topped the list, but, unfortunately for their students, remain inextricably located in Bradford and Bolton. Cardiff comes out of it pretty well: 22nd in a huge ‘league table’, and three places above UWIC (wahey!). What fun. But scroll down the list to the more expensive universities and it all gets a little worrying. £500-odd a month just in rent? How on earth do
So are poorer students being priced out of certain, perhaps ‘better’ universities? One in three students at the three most expensive universities (Oxford, Imperial and the Royal Academy of Music) is privately educated. But with this study assessing local environment as much as the universities themselves, there’s not much anyone can do to make these areas more welcoming to poorer students, short of building more Lidls and closing expensive bars (*cough* Inncognito *cough*). Universities could lower the cost of their accommodation but only to the detriment of themselves, and local landlords are, quite reasonably, probably not all that bothered about the issue. The most attractive solution would be to scrap top-up fees, which exacerbate students’ financial problems a great deal. NUS Vice President Wes Streeting commented: “If the Government were to allow these universities to set even higher top-up fees, potential students from lower socio-economic backgrounds could find their choices severely restricted.”
One in three students at Oxford, Imperial and the Royal Academy of Music is privately educated Top-up fees have been frozen until 2009, so unless Mr Streeting is behind with the times, he’s concerned about what will happen when this promise runs out in two years’ time. Personally, I think they should be frozen further – forever – frozen like the chips at the bottom of my chest freezer, never to be seen again. Or just binned altogether. Say, there’s an idea.
Lies, damn lies and statistics esearch supposedly suggests that August-born pupils are “significantly” less likely to attain five good GCSEs than those born in September, and that “the biggest factor affecting children’s performance is the age at which they sit the tests”. Both quotes are taken directly from BBC News Online. Not only is that second statement overly broad and incredibly unlikely to be true – probably more the fault of the BBC reporter than the IFS report – but the results themselves amount to little more than a useless statistic, for several reasons.
Firstly, it’s not particularly helpful. Secondly, it’s obvious, really, that children born in the autumn would perform slightly better than their summer-born counterparts because, well, they’re up to 11 months older. It’s only worthy of a mention if the difference is, as the BBC calls it, “significant”. And therein lies the problem. There is not a significant disparity in the statistics. 55% of girls born in August achieve five GCSEs of grade A* to C, compared to 60% of girls born in September; and for the boys, the ratio is 44% to 50%. Probably more worrying here is the continuation of the boy/ girl divide in exam results – more than
10% according to these figures – but instead the focus has been on that piddling 5% difference between pupils born at opposite ends of the school year. What use is that? Even if 5% represents several thousand children, the ‘gap’ is not enough to cause concern. After all, the study would probably produce other, similar statistics of equally little worth. On average, left-handed people die seven years earlier than right-handed people, but that little fact is quite rightly condemned to pub trivia rather than a published – and publicised – report. The BBC, too, is guilty of alarmism here. There is nothing in the statistics to prompt the headline and opening gambit, “Summer-born children do significantly worse in exams
than those born earlier in the school year”. The article even uses the absurd phrase, “the August birth penalty”. Still, their enthusiasm does excuse – almost – the imbecile of a woman who, when asked in the street, said the results would make her rethink the timing of her pregnancy. It’s not too far away from the codology of astrology, with its ‘Pluto being obsequious in the realm of Virgo and Leo violating Saturn when Venus’ back is turned’. Ah, wise woman, do not get thine bun in thine oven until the ides of March, for a child conceived in Autumn and born in Summer will only ever be a plumber. Bollocks. Save the number-crunching for when it’s of some use.
Impervious to cyanide, shooting, strangulation and poppy sellers
ardiff University was shaken last week by the revelation that two homosexual men were the subject of some controversy in Solus, the thriving hub of the Students’ Union’s well-renowned club scene, just for being students at Southampton Solent and Glamorgan University. The couple decided to visit Cardiff University Students’ Union (CUSU) having heard “good things” about its level of education. But their evening was cut short when a security steward allegedly asked them to stop talking about subjects deemed “inappropriate” for a club night at such a prestigious university. The steward asked them to “take it outside or stop” in case their presence made the other, more intelligent students feel “uncomfortable”. He added that the pair could have “taken it to a quiet corner”, such as Bath or Exeter. There have been previous accusations that Cardiff’s Students’ Union, and Solus in particular, is not overly welcoming to students of other universities, but this is the first time a non-Cardiff student has been confronted by staff on account of their intellectual inferiority. A former President of the CUSU is (unreliably) reported to have said, “If we’d wanted to go to Glamorgan or Southampton Solent, we’d have tried harder in our A-Levels.” Union bosses are currently looking into reports of the event, and claim they are keen to investigate the cause of such tension. DISCLAIMER: Rasputin does not really believe students of other universities are less intelligent than those attending Cardiff. It’s satire. Sort of. Better than The Tart, anyway.
email@example.com Welcome and croeso to gair rhydd’s letters page, the place for students to have their say about the things they care about. So, if you have an opinion on any topic we would love to hear from you, whether it be a student issue, in the news, or one of your own. Contact us at letters@gairrhydd. com or you can voice your opinions on specific articles at gairrhydd.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
Dear gair rhydd, I am writing in response to the article on Green Taxes. Last week’s letter on Green Taxes repeats several standard environmentalist dictums that, upon closer examination, to me, transpire to be inaccurate. Take the description of flying abroad as “one of the least necessary yet most damaging causes” of climate change simply isn’t the case. Instead, a far greater source of carbon emissions is domestic power use. Therefore the biggest threat is not flying, but increasing population. Projections (from the IPCC’s report) suggest that, if our economies become more localised and globalisation curbed (as the Greens would wish), then by the end of this century we will see a world population of 15 billion. The most practical way to slow population growth is to increase total global wealth, since richer people have fewer children. In this case - with increased globalisation and free trade, necessarily including air travel - population will level out at around 7 billion, with, obviously, far less domestic carbon emissions caused. Additionally, it’s possible to replace technologies such as air travel with cleaner alternatives, such as hydrogenbased power. Clearly restricting those technologies now isn’t conducive to R&D. If high-powered sports cars had been disincentivised 10 or 20 years ago, then the Tesla Roadster - an electric sports car capable of reaching 130mph and travelling for 250 miles
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU... i want pie... what there’s no pie? lol.lol.lol Helloooo Harriet Street ladeez. Mwah x Thanks for putting me in found on facebook! Wooo I’m famous. how much do stamps cost?
before requiring a recharge - would never have been developed, and nor would its more “sensible” saloon cousin currently in production. By all means institute Green Taxes. But the level at which they’re set ought to be at exactly the cost of the corresponding carbon emissions (around 10p per litre of petrol or £10 per passenger for short-haul flights) and not, necessarily, to discourage use of cars and planes. Chris White
Thus, I drank only what I knew I could handle. As with most events in Cardiff, whether it be black tie balls or nights in the Union, it was Freshers that were passed out on the streets or vomitting everywhere - they just need time to settle in! Maybe the next one should be done much later in the year. All in all, I had a great birthday and am already looking forward to the next Carnage night. Don’t let a few unexperienced teenagers ruin it for everyone. Laura Cutler
Don’t We Really Love Carnage? Dear gair rhydd, Following the recent front page story that slated Cardiff Carnage, I thought I should let the readers know what a great time I had. I’m a third year student, generally go out 3 times a week, and have attended many events in Cardiff. The Tuesday of Carnage was my birthday, so I went out to celebrate with some friends and had one of the best nights of my university career. Friends from other universities have always raved about these organised pub crawls and I was not let down. Being out with 1800 other students, all with the same goal, was brilliant, especially with everyone wearing matching ‘personalised’ t-shirts. I moved at my own pace and bumped into more friends along the way while constantly reminding myself that I had to make it to Solus still standing up!
what time is it? bring back the phil collins casebook. did anyone else watch spooks on tuesday... oooooooooooo tv is my favourite bit in gair rhydd, but the crossword is too hard. choclate mousse sandwiches are my new favourites. try them!!!
Too Green to See Clearly
Un-OrgyAcceptable Dear gair rhydd, As a student of this noble university, I feel the school newspaper reflects student life and to an extent, the integrity of the student body. While leafing through issue 850 of the student weekly I noticed a striking photo titled ‘Wife Swap’ on page 15. I understand that the pictures in the TV guide section contain a certain comical twist to it. However, I am sure most students would agree that a picture of a sexual orgy in a university paper lacks propriety and is quite distasteful. I understand that this may seem trivial and a tad extremist but such a disturbing picture has no place in a university newspaper and serves no purpose as to explaining the TV programme. The publication of this picture reflects poorly on the student body and Cardiff University as a whole.
Letter of the week Fair Trade for Who? Dear gair rhydd I am writing in to comment on the article “The EnvironmentallyFriendly Choice?”. Fairtrade might do wonders for reducing the guilt of westerners, but it actually does jack shit for the world’s poor. Let me explain. Historically, not one person in the world has been lifted out of poverty by fair trade or other similar neo-socialist schemes. Free trade is the only way any country has ever done so - look at China and India for striking recent examples of this - more people lifted out of absolute poverty last year than ever before. How? Simple, demolishing barriers to free trade, liberalising markets and getting rid of subsidies. They were lifted out of poverty because they could sell their products in the developed world’s market. Fairtrade is just another unfair trade barrier. It manages the production and sale process from start to finish. Most annoyingly it dictates to producers in the third world how to spend the extra money from the higher prices. For example. Instead of investing the money into new technology, pesticides or anything else that might make the production process more efficient and therefore environmentally friendly, or stuff that genuinely raises the quality of life in those countries like proper running water or elctricity supply, the money is spent FOR them by fairtrade organisations on stuff like mudhut schools or outdoor latrines or those godawful ONE water ‘playpumps’, stuff which have lots of great pictures of smiley black kids to show the folks back home but punches way below the bar of what the people could have and what they deserve. Basically, fairtrade is more a way of us in the developed world feeling
good about ourselves, rather than genuinely wanting what’s best for the poor. The Fairtrade Foundation allows entire towns to call themselves ‘fairtrade towns’, but this badge of honour is a cheap way of connecting the sympathy of ordinary people with the plight of the poor. Places like Africa and South Asia do not want to be the world’s charity case. More than anything they need investment in infrastructure and development. The reason Africa gets screwed over by floods, droughts and famines is because they are not sufficiently developed to deal with those disasters. If they could invest in proper flood defences for example, not only would they be able to better resist present day floods, they would also be in a better position to deal with the possible consequences of global warming. It’s odd how environmentalists wax lyrical about about the third world being worst hit by global warming, yet it is environmentalism that is the main barrier to the third world being in a position to adapt to it because ‘Gaia might not be happy if you build concrete flood defences’. The article exposes one of the many ulterior motives of the environmental movement - lecturing the rest of us as to how we live our lives. Old puritannical virtues such as abstinence, deferred gratification and a spartan lifestyle together with discredeited Malthusian fear-mongering about the end of the world are reborn in the article and the environmental religion as a whole. Can we really presume that Third World farmers aspire to nothing more than sustaining our ethical lifestyles, especially when that means they are effectively forced to adopt those ‘ethical’ values themselves? Rob Prior
Last year gair rhydd presented an anthology of your poetry, short stories and art in creative words... WANTED: writers and illustrators for the next volume. email: firstname.lastname@example.org with your submissions by 20th November
creativewords gairrhydd’s first Crea tive Writing Anthology
A collection of Short Fiction, Script Writing Poetry from Cardiff stud and ents
contents Short Fiction Short fiction
It has been years since creative writing has had a regular spot in gair rhydd. It is often treated like a guilty pleasure; everyone is doing it, but they don’t want to admit it. The idea of a creative writing anthology at first seemed daunting - were people really ready to expose their secret writing? Yet it turned out to be a breeze. Due to the oozing talent of our rising stars, creative writing is back. The word was out amongst gair rhydd contributors, and with the help of the English office, e-mails started flooding in. Full portfolios of glorious prose clogged up the account, sheets of poetry littered the is all collected to be enjoyed office, and now it by all. And there is even better news: gair rhydd wants to make this a regular occurrence, so keep your senses peeled for the next instalment.
A collection of stories, prose and micro short -fiction
Gangsters and knive
Poet ry Poe
Editor: Avalyn Daisy Illustrations: Andr Beare ew Style
Poems from all years ,a kaleidoscope of subjec t matter
For more work visit:
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Breaking Up is Hard to Do James Wheeler Political Correspondent
he West Lothian Question has been raised again, I excitedly told my housemates, and three totally blank faces stared back at me. The West Lothian Question is based on the issue of devolution (the transfer of certain powers to a regional political body), and how much power should rest with the upper-tier level of government, that of Westminster. Its bone of contention is that is it right for Scottish MPs to be able to vote on English-only issues, whereas English MPs have no say in Scottishonly matters, because such issues are debated in the Scottish Parliament instead? This controversial subject area is so named because the MP for West Lothian in the 1970s raised it frequently during his time in Parliament, though it was originally raised earlier in the 20th Century in reference to Ireland. What solutions are out there? Well, the most recent answer put forward by the Tory Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and now being poured over by Team Cameron, is to have an “English Grand Committee,” consisting of purely English MPs, which would vote on English matters.
has been described somewhat bluntly by some commentators as ‘having no merit except logic.’ Hmmm. This still leaves the problem of over-representation of Welsh, Scottish and NI concerns, and underrepresentation of English concerns in the Palace of Westminster. Is it just another level of bureaucracy or a shift to de-centralised rule with power closer to the individual? Another poinmt is: does the level of representation matter to the average apathetic man on the street? My Northern Irish friend couldn’t care less about England’s interests. Yet it is important to everyone in the UK, as it affects issues that affect each of us, from education and tuition fees to healthcare and transport. There’s also the problem of navigating around the ‘Barnett Formula,’ which sets government spending levels in each of the constituent nations of the UK, and determines that the amount spent in Scotland will be about £1,500 per head higher than in England, with Wales in between the two. Should Kifkind’s plan go ahead, it would surely be one step further down the muddy road of dis-union, whereby Scotland would, after hundreds of years, be an independent state.
In response to this, Alex Salmond, Scottish First Minister, said the Tory proposals didn’t go far enough, considering it important to “do the job properly as opposed to having some spatchcocked solution to appeal for
Is this just another level of bureaucracy or a shift to de-centralised rule? votes in Middle England.” He believes that the solution is to have an English Parliament along the lines of the Scottish Parliament. The source of the dilemma is that in 1991 Labour suggested “Home Rule All Round” – a system whereby each area of the UK is given lower tier assemblies; NI Assembly, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament, Greater London Authority & English Regional Assemblies. The latter, Regional Assemblies, were brought into existence in the late 1990s - but you infrequently hear about them and as such they’re going to be abolished in 2010. This solution
Politics Editor Tim Hewish returns to his native home counties and interviews a local Tory councillor, Joel Foley, who sheds light on what it is like being a young person in the supposedly grown up world of politics Firstly, Was there a defining moment that made you decide to run for a place on the council? No not really, I was interested in politics and always one to shout at the TV when the news came on. However, it got to a point where you can stop shouting and go out there and start doing something about it. For example, I started working for my community doing sports and charity events. How did you go about standing as a councillor? Join a party! At a local level…go find your branch and meet as many people as you can…try and get your name to circulate by doing such things as leafleting and talking to main members. Never be afraid to go beyond your realms…if you do it wrong once you know how to do it right the next time How long did you campaign for and what did you learn from it? The key thing is know your audience and work intensely in the last few days of campaigning. After work every night I was knocking on doors in my residential ward until the sun went down. I must have knocked on over 1,000 doors. You’ve got to plan your day, your week and your month more than you normally would. For instance, focusing on what you are going to be writing in the second leaflet while you’re distributing the first. You spend most of your campaign life doing 4 or 5 jobs so it’s no easy feat Do you think it is hard or easy for young people to be heard by political parties? It’s very easy for a young person to
I was interested in politics and always one to shout at the TV when the news came on
JOEL WITH OUR VERY OWN GAIR RHYDD get involved if they want to. Though it running in the dark. is easy for a young person to construct Could you give a brief account of your weekly meetings and what is artificial barriers. It is more work than you’ve ever required of you as a councillor? There are two types of meeting. done in your life, but if you are willing to do that then you are going to be First is the Council meeting that is successful. It is the words that come short and sharp, which consists of votfrom your mouth, not how old you are ing and debate. The other is the Group or how you look that matter at the end meetings, which is just your party, and this is where the massive debates go on of the day. What do you think is the biggest all though the night. You voice your opinion and objecthing you’ve learnt during your short tions in private then sign off on the years in the council chamber? It’s a lot less political than I same hymn sheet in council meetings. thought…the overall goal is to help the Do you receive many letters community. Also the first few months from young members of the were like your first days at school, as community? Not really…they don’t really know you don’t know what you’re doing and what a councillor is. A young person you don’t know any one. You’ve got a meeting with such may not be as attached to their comand such a person in this room, but munity as they haven’t lived there that you have no idea where the room is, long, and they often may see it as a what the person looks like and what temporary home. the thing is about. You hit the ground Would you say getting a council
seat is the most natural way to progress through politics? I hope so! Haha – there are lots of different ways…not just one door. If you can prove yourself as a community leader you can move up. Many students are idealists with a pure political view. Has local politics shown you that it is more about compromise and co-operation? Political ideals don’t really play a part and as you said it is more about compromise than ideological debating at a local level. How would you get more young people to become interested in local politics? Young people think ‘this person can relate to me…I’m not just shouting at a wall…here is someone who can understand my needs or something I’m not happy with.’ The major example of this for me has been housing: young first-time buyers. If there is no one on the council in a similar situation i.e. with a mortgage, it may be hard for them to sympathise with this cause, but I myself am going through similar problems at present. Do you think young people are switched on to only style over substance? In a way yes – young people have what I call less ‘faith’ and they need to see things…though in reality a councillor or MP could be working twice as hard in an office, but who are we to know this? Seeing is believing for them. Should MPs listen to students? All they hear from us in the media are top-up fees. We don’t pay tax, own a home, a car or have a long-term
job. MPs should listen, but opinions do shift over time…after three short years graduates start working and a whole load of different problems arise. Opinions change and priorities shift… one thing you might believe at uni might become obsolete and you think ‘I was completely wrong there.’ Uni is a temporary thing and with that comes a temporary lifestyle and views. In your own CF party what sort of activities do you do to reach out to prospective voters? The primary objective is that you’ve got to be seen. It’s not enough to have a small banner on the main Tory web page. We have started to help in fund raising and other non-political events… it then becomes a real organisation by doing real and physical things. Facebook and myspace are becoming places of debate among the more political students, almost like a forum for young people to voice their concerns. Do you think such sites are a resource parties can tap into? US parties, it has been reported, are looking into it. Maybe…though many view such fads as Americanisms. Some things will work and others will not… only time will tell. Last election it was political text messages and that didn’t work and was a complete failure! There is a Youth Council to get involved in, but facebook is really only there to express your opinion, that is all it is …a soap box. In terms of doing something active it is very limited… you can only really see what people are thinking and feeling but that’s it.
SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Temperature change threatens biodiversity
A new scientific study presents figures that connect mass extinction with rising temperatures. Navodita Pande explores the recent research and its reception
he latest findings of researchers at the University of York and the University of Leeds suggest that global biodiversity may face mass extinction due to rising global temperatures. The research that was published in the Royal Society of Proceedings B analysed the fossil record for the last 520 million years indicated that the Earth is going to hit the same extinction-connected warming in the next 100 years unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed. Estimated against low-latitude sea surface temperature for the same period scientists found that global diversity (the richness of families) is related to temperature and has been relatively low during warm “greenhouse” phases. The extinction during such phases are relatively high. “Our results provide the first clear evidence that global climate may explain substantial variation in the fossil record in a simple and consistent manner,” said Dr. Peter Mayhew, one of the researchers. He added, “Our findings may have implications for extinction and biodiversity change under future climate warming.” This study compared data sets on marine and land diversity. It is found that four out of the five mass extinction events on Earth are associated with greenhouse gases (warmer, wetter conditions) instead of icehouse phases (cold, dry conditions). These include Earth’s worst mass extinction ever 251 million years ago when 95% of all species were lost. The relationship between global temperatures and levels of biodiversity is of increasing concern even though no clear link between the two has been clearly demonstrated. Dr. Mayhew himself goes on to say in his paper, “Prima facie our results from the fossil record endorse those of ecological models, which demonstrate that expected future warming will adversely affect biodiversity. However, several qualifications are necessary.” He adds, “We need to know why temperatures and extinctions are linked in this way.” Drawing from a huge number of sources and references, the statistical study is well-explained, detailed, scien-
This is the first clear evidence that global climate may explain substantial variation in the fossil record
SCIENCE IN BRIEF THE GREATNESS OF GREEN
Cardiff University’s Architecture research has found that buildings green with vegetation could reduce temperatures, helping people turn down the air conditioning on hot days and saving huge amounts of energy. Professor Phil Jones, Head of School, and PhD student Eleftheria Alexandri compared the impact of ‘greening’ buildings in nine cities. The computer models used temperature data from each city’s warmest month found that the air around every building would be cooler by up to 11°C with green walls and roofs. The research, found in New Scientist, stated that the hotter the climate, the greater the cooling effect would be. Professor Jones said: “Greening buildings will not only make cities more comfortable to live in, but could also save energy by significantly reducing the demand for air-conditioning on hot days.”
CUT RISK OF CANCER; SLIM DOWN
FRAGILITY: Rising temperatures present many of the creatures with a bleak future tifically researched and methodical. University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan, who studies how existing species are changing with global warming, said she was “blown away” by the Mayhew study and found it “very convincing”. Some scientists, however, choose to differ on this study. Geological Sciences Professor Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University said, “This will give scant comfort to anyone who says that the world has often been warmer than recently so we are just going back to a better world.” Critics say that the findings linked mass extinctions with rising temperatures but did not try to establish a cause-and-effect. For example, the most recent mass extinction, that included the dying off of dinosaurs, probably was caused by an asteroid collision as scientists theorise, and Mayhew agrees. Massive volcanic activity has also been considered responsible for dinosaur extinction. Additionally, a second study presented at a scientific convention on Sunday links high carbon dioxide levels to past extinctions. The author of the second
study said he does see a cause-and-effect between warmer seas and extinctions. Mayhew also found increasing carbon dioxide levels in the air coinciding with die-offs but predicted that temperatures better predicted biodiversity. Even according to the Nobel Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), those high temperatures that coincided with mass extinctions are about the same level that are forecast for a century from now if the world continues its growing emission of greenhouse gases. The IPCC said in April, “20 to 30 percent of animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction” if temperatures increase by 3 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. “Since we’re already seeing threshold changes in ecosystems, one could expect that there’s going to be severe transformations,” said biologist Thomas Lovejoy, President of the H. John Heinz Centre for Science, Economics and the Environment in Washington. Hence there are several indications to show that it’s time we make a concerted effort to curb the growing emission of carbon dioxide. The “new climate
Since we are already seeing threshold changes in ecosystems, one could expect there’s going to be severe transformations pact” signed in Washington by leading international politicians seems to be a microscopic effort in that direction. At the informal environment gathering, the US Presidential candidate John McCain added, “The climate debate is over.” The question that still looms large is whether the action is being stepped up to counter the ever-increasing emissions of carbon dioxide gases. The answer to the climate debate and climate action perhaps lies in the “devolution” notion of Matthew Spencer, Chief Executive of Regen SW, the renewable energy agency for South-west England. He told BBC, “We can only tackle this global problem if we make climate change a very local issue.”
The World Cancer Research Fund carried out an inquiry into lifestyle and cancer, and issued the results in the form of ‘recommendations’. These include not gaining weight as an adult, avoiding sugary drinks and alcohol, and not eating bacon or ham. It targets all, stating everyone must aim to be as thin as possible without becoming underweight. The research sees body fat as a key factor in the development of cancer; it estimates its significance as higher than previously thought. Professor Martin Wiseman of the investigation said: “Cancer is not a fate, it is a matter of risk, and you can adjust those risks by how you behave. It is very important that people feel that they are in control of what they do”. 3 million of the 10 million cases of cancer which are diagnosed across the world each year could be prevented if the recommendations were followed, Professor Wiseman indicated. Nonetheless, two-thirds of cancer cases are not thought to be related to lifestyle, and there is little people can do to prevent the disease in these circumstances. Specifically, researchers say people should stop eating processed meats. Sugary drinks should be avoided, as these make you fat, and fruit juice consumption should also be reduced. Cancer specialist Professor Karol Sikora said: “The main message I would have is not to worry about it, to enjoy life, if you like a glass of wine have it, and a small amount of meat is not going to harm you.”
Rise against raci The 5th of November marks the beginning of Rise Against Racism week. Features Editor Emma Thomas gives you the facts on the event
ighting the British National Party, stereotypes within Islamophobia and political correctness, all themes of some of the planned talks to improve student’s awareness of racism. Rise Against Racism is celebrating its third annual week of events aimed to celebrate cultural diversity. Students across universities within the UK can look forward to a week of talks, films, music and campaigns to raise awareness of the current issues
and to fight racism within our university and within the local community. Last year the event was supported by 20 students unions across the UK. Special celebrations included a Diwali Festival in the Royal Albert Hall. The initiative is run by the Student Assembly Against Racism (SAAR), NUS Black Students campaign and the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. They also organize annual festivals in London’s Finsbury Park. The free antiracist music festival, called, Rise: Lon-
don United, took place on Sunday 15 July 2007 at Finsbury Park. Featuring acts from the world of hip-hop, indie, pop, jazz and reggae. This was the seventh year that the event has been organised to oppose racism and celebrate the diversity of London. This year’s event attracted over 100,000 visitors, old and young alike and is the biggest event of its kind in Europe. The line-up featured British acts including Birmingham born Jamelia and the comedian Bill Bailey.
Melissa Moore is in her second year at Cardiff, studying International Relations and European Politics. Here’s her low-down on why we should all take note of Rise Against Racism Week
tatistics put forward from the NUS organisation claim that up to 20% of its membership includes black students and yet they are among the least represented group in the democratic structures of the organisation. Only 4% of elected sabbatical officers are black and further examples of under representation can be seen across national levels of the student organisation. The ‘Rise Against Racism’ campaign hopes to tackle these inequalities with an anti-racism movement across our campuses organised by NUS Black Students Campaign and the Student Assembly Against Racism (SAAR). This November will see the third annual student ‘Rise’ scheme, bringing the movement of the ‘Rise’ festival in London -the largest anti-racism festival in Europe- to universities across the United Kingdom. Many believe growing concerns in British society such as immigration, the Iraq war and terrorism are leading to a growing segregation of different ethnicities in our society, allowing for racism’s survival in our modern, democratic, liberal culture. The deaths of young black citizens such as Stephen Lawrence bleakly illustrate this. Yet, although Britain has made leaps and
bounds throughout the later 20th Century in attempts to end racial indiscrimination, this ugly prejudice still remains at the surface; preventing the erosion of the inequality gap between white and non-white ethnicities. This is reflected in the higher education system, where the Rise campaign claims that black students are continuing to experience disadvantage, because of missing out on academic welfare support and existing on the fringes of university activities. These are crucial provisions of the Students’ Union, and it seems they simply aren’t
The student population is the crucial element in promoting zero-tolerance of racism, and a celebration of multiculturalism being provided for one-fifth of all students. Clearly more needs to be done, but there are questions of whether tactics such as festivals and campus events are really the effective way to
tackle such a lengthy, complex and deeply integrated problem. Since its establishment, the movement has continued to spread, and it sees the student population as the crucial element in promoting zero-tolerance of racism, and a celebration of multiculturalism in the ever increasing diverse cultural landscape of the UK. To prevent an increase of inter-racial tension, ‘Rise’ argues for a need to prevent this impinging on the experience of further academic study for black students. More students from ethnic minority backgrounds are entering higher education and there is a need to accommodate the growing diversity in our campuses. Outside of the campus arena, the movement is also seeking to stem the increasing electoral support for the British National Party. As a staunch advocate for an all-white Britain, many see the BNP’s growing popularity as an indicator of mounting hostility towards ethnic minorities in the UK. Also highlighted is the growing trade-off of civil liberties for national security in the war against terror, supplementing what ‘Rise’ sees as further non-white marginalisation. So, is the ‘Rise Against Racism’ campaign motive of spreading antiracism through campus activities really enough to tackle these deepening prob-
lems? These are issues on a national scale and some question the ability of ‘Rise’ to stimulate protest from the higher education sphere. However an illustration that it may well be gaining ground is the annual, free ‘Rise: London United Against Racism’ festival, which took place in Finsbury Park in July this year, attracting over 100,000 people to take part in spreading its message.
Students were traditionally one of the most politically active members of society London was the starting point for the ‘Rise’ campaign, as the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone set about revitalising it on his appointment. He believed that the festival was “a way to bring communities together to celebrate and show we have more in common than what divides us.” Furthermore, he argued that one of the reasons for establishing the operation was for a stand against racism in the wake of “the rise of the far right across
Europe”. ‘Rise Against Racism’ is eager to establish that, as a movement which brings together people from different religions, races and nationalities, students can send out a peaceful but defiant message of stamping out racism in their campus. However it remains to be seen whether it can truly bring effective change, especially as the 21st Century has seen a growing trend of protest movements through mass, peaceful, enjoyable lobbying such as “Make Poverty History” and “Live 8” which seem to deem that the majority will only protest on these issues if self-interests are satisfied. A free concert often sweetens the tooth to bring people to a protest; uniting enjoyable events with the feel-good factor. Students were traditionally one of the most politically active members of society, however there is growing political apathy seen, particularly in this demographic. Therefore it seems that this campaign, in its initiatives to engage with today’s student culture, and bringing awareness through nationwide festivals and events, is a significant chance to truly make progress in our universities for acceptance of multicultural representation, and bringing the student body to ‘Rise Against Racism.’
ism week 2007
Maddie Quartey is a first year student at Cardiff, studying English Language and Philosophy. She gives us her views on the state of racism in the UK
f all the domestic issues covered by the British press, few have been so influenced and shaped by the press as the question of race. To a decisive extent it has been the press which has defined the nature of the ‘race problem’ in this country. Previous studies of press coverage of race relations from the 1970s have shown how media images of black people invariably stressed ideas that they caused trouble and took what belonged to whites (say their jobs and homes). The press, especially some popular newspapers (whose names I‘m choosing to withhold) has largely been seen to have played a negative role, at worst having exacerbated and inflamed racist sentiment in Britain with powerful concoction of stereotyping of black people, scaremongering and scape-goating.
Why do we feel the need to make such a bold exclamation every year? Recently we have seen politicians and some sections of the media
increasingly stir up racial hostility amongst different communities, so it seems a perfect timing for the annual rise against racism week this November 5. Rise against racism sees student partake in an annual series of events coordinated by the Mayor in partnership with the Student Assembly Against Racism (SAAR) and the NUS Black Students’ Campaign. Since its launch, the NUS Black Students’ Campaign and SAAR have taken the message of rise nationwide, involving student unions across the country in a wide range of initiatives and activities. Student Rise provides an opportunity predominantly for London students to make a stand against racism and celebrate diversity. The event is linked to the Rise: London United Against Racism festival, which is the largest anti-racist festival in Europe. This event happens every year, so the question has to be asked why we feel the need to make such a bold exclamation with the turn of every year? The answer to that question should be obvious, really. There are still elements of racism in today’s society, which many students want to make a stand against in the belief that they can make a difference. As expressed very confidently by a student body,
“as students we have an important role to play in ensuring that racism is challenged and confronted on our campuses and colleges. We want to live in a society where all cultures and religions are valued and respected”. It’s evident that Britain is much more inclusive today than it was, say, in the 80s, but there is still a long way to go in terms of equality. There’s need for the media industry as a whole to examine and confront its own institutionalised racism and to become more reflective of the society in which it operates. Advocating this point is Sherry Dixon, editor at large of black women’s monthly Pride magazine, who explains that black media is struggling because of such cultural reasons and institutional racism from mainstream organisations. Racism and racist attacks are still experienced particularly by Londoners. But London’s strong anti-racist agenda shows that racism can be driven back and London’s success as a city shows how multiculturalism works in practice. Organisers of student rise believe that the initiative can have a real impact by bringing together students from different backgrounds and building an anti-racist future. It’s difficult to understand why, in certain cases, broadcasters silently label genuine opinions and concerns
of black people, ‘black power’ and therefore ‘extremist’ and therefore ‘wrong’ and thus exclude them, or ‘cool them out’ in the studio. Stuart Hall accurately said, “The thrust towards black consciousness - like the thrust towards more overt racism - are deeply rooted in the real historical situation: they won’t disappear because they affront broadcasting’s liberal sensibilities.” The media, on the whole, naturally gravitate to the liberal middle-ground: they find conflict and oppression - the real conditions of black existence - difficult
The press have inflamed racist sentiment wih stereotyping, scaremongering and scape-goating and awkward. They tend to redefine all problems as failures in communication. So then perhaps such racism should be made an open discussion, to allow both sides of the spectrum a fair chance of speaking out. However, some would disagree with the view that the British press
has a tendency to stereotype anything to do with black people, from being the average criminal to being the jobless welfare dependent. Apparently there’s more to do with the type of stories the media chooses. “You have to look at the finer detail. The media look for stories that connect with their readership - in particular, human interest stories,” according to Phil Hall, former News of the World editor. He continues that, “Unfortunately, newspapers and television are commercial enterprises - they are looking for human interest stories, and it is detail that really makes stories take off. They are, obviously, trying to sell newspapers’’. Ultimately, racism in the press, both at the level of employment and in its influential printed product, sufficiently reflects the institutionalised relations of inequality that persist between white and black people throughout British society. It is the daily racism within British society that provides the cultural backdrop for the daily racism that pervades our newspapers. A challenge to press racism is a vital part of the wider challenge to racial inequality in other forms
JOBS & MONEY
Use your head.....
Time and again students contemplating the big wide world say that they are considering going into teaching. Jobs and Money looks at the training options, and the information available to help make the right choices for you
Jess Best Jobs & Money Editor
picture of the determination and drive organisations like TDA are looking for. For more information on any aspect of teacher training visit www.tda.gov. uk or call their teaching information line on 0845 6000 9991.
f you can’t do, teach. Or so the saying goes. Teaching has become an increasingly popular profession to enter in to, appealing to a broad range of degree subjects and offering the opportunity of full time, secure employment. And the holidays aren’t bad either. But just how do you go from sitting in a lecture to standing in front of a class full of kids? Finding out about options for teacher training can be difficult, with various programmes available, complex funding initiatives and if you’re thinking about training in the immediate future, application deadlines breathing down your neck. The Training and Development Agency, a public body of the Department for Schools, Children and Families, are an essential first stop if you are looking to teach. They can provide comprehensive information on all aspects of teacher training at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. For most of you reading this, postgraduate training will be the next step. Any form of study, or initial teacher training (ITT), aims to award Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) to students, permitting them to teach in any state school in the UK. The postgrad schemes here can be broadly split into two categories: higher education training and school centred schemes. The course offered in a traditional teacher-student set up is the PGCE, or postgraduate certificate of education. It’s a familiar abbreviation to most people, but it’s worth considering what the course itself actually entails. Its primary focus is on developing your teaching skills rather than your knowledge in a particular subject, therefore, it is generally assumed that you have a degree in the subject you wish to teach at a later stage. The course combines traditional lectures with placements in schools, but having already spent over fifteen years on the receiving end of the education system before becoming part of the structure yourself, it is worth considering whether this type of course is for you. The alternative is to jump straight in at the deep end by doing school centred initial teacher training (SCITT). This has students gaining the qualifications ‘on the job’, working in schools and gaining the skills and confidence needed to work in a classroom environment. The SCITT is normally run between a group of schools, with one acting like a “home” school, with periods spent at the subsidiary schools as well. Although there are no Welsh school
Charlotte Harvey Teach First Cardiff Brand Manager
The PGCE Training Scheme...
Post Graduate Certifiate of Education or PGCE.
Length of study...
full time, 2 years part time.
Universities and colleges nationwide.
groups currently participating in the scheme, there are some on the English/ Welsh border that might have some links with Welsh institutions. Graduate debt is something regularly discussed in these pages, and it’ll come as no surprise that it is of no less concern when you’re doing yet more study. Luckily, there are bursaries available. Part of the TDA’s role is to provide funding for teaching, and if you’re completing your SCITT in England, you could be eligible for a bursary to the tune of £6000-£9000. Similar amounts are available for PGCEs undertaken in England, and those who study in Wales could receive between £4200-£7200, with an additional tuition fee grant of £1800. Funding for teaching in the Welsh language is also available. Getting your hands on the cash depends on several factors, such as the route you choose and the subject you intend to teach, but there is also the possibility of “golden hello” payments up for grabs once you qualify. So that’s a lot of figures. And a lot of abbreviations. But there are some more philosophical considerations to be made. What age group you want to teach, where you want to do your training and what method would be appropriate to you are all worth considering. And
Deciding on options for teacher training can be difficult with various programmes and complex funding
Why bother with teaching at all? Aren’t all teachers over worked and underpaid? scary though it may be, what kind of job you want afterwards. These training programmes will allow you to work in any state school in the United Kingdom, but there is also the private sector to consider. As private schools act like independent entities, they may have entirely different requirements for their teachers, and if this is an area you are considering, then it would be worth investigating these. Regardless of state or private, no two schools are the same. An inner city school in Manchester will require a very different teaching approach to a rural school in the Scottish highlands. So why bother with teaching at all? Aren’t all teachers underpaid and overworked? Not so, says TDA’s Head of Recruitment John Connolly: “We don’t want to be complacent about such reports, but in our experience the downtrodden teacher stereotype is rarely a reality. Teaching can be an enjoyable job every day. It can provide a full career for people who want to challenge themselves, with plenty of opportunity for promotion. The moment when a child understands something for the first time because of your teaching is what makes it such a rewarding job.” So, if you can’t do, teach, goes accepted wisdom. But far from being the choice of the unable, teaching is a challenge. The revised message of “use your head” is perhaps giving a more realistic
Good for... Building up your confidence gradually through traditional lectures and placements. Apply through... Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR). Some institutions ask you to apply directly. You can apply to four institutions for secondary teaching and tw for primary teaching. When to apply...
For primary teaching, PE. and history you must apply by the end of November the year before you wish to begin studying. For all other subjects you can apply between September and June.
The SCITT Training Scheme... School
Centred Teacher Training or SCITT.
Length of study...
Groups of schools in
Good for... Spending more time in a practical training environment. Some (though not all) also award PGCE certificates. Apply through...
Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR). Some institutions ask you to apply directly. You can apply to four institutions.
When to apply... Before the September of the year you want to begin studying.
et’s be honest, the first year is all about freshers and scraping 40%. In the second year however, the work starts to kick in, but the panic does subside for a while. It is only in the third year you realise it is probably time to cram in those CV workshops and get your life sorted. For me, big decisions used to be what to wear on a night out and where I was going to hang my washing in my ridiculously small student house. Yet, towards the end of my second year, I really started to panic. My parents were on my case about what I was going to do after graduation and there were careers talks being thrown at me left, right and centre. I soon realised that I hadn’t considered where I was actually going in life (deep). If you are starting to ask yourself this, my advice to you is don’t panic too much. Up until the end of this summer, I hadn’t a clue (I even went to a careers talk entitled ‘I don’t have a clue what I want to do’- the rhyming title enticed me in). What I have found, however, is if you put the research in you may just find you will land on your feet. In my second year I found myself telling people I was going to do a graduate scheme after my degree. The term ‘graduate scheme’ sounded impressive at the time and I felt like I had some form of direction in my life. In spite of this, I hadn’t actually thought a graduate scheme through. I knew if I got on one there would be, potentially, big money, security, and a chance to work in London. Alongside this, it would provide me with an excellent start to my career.
my Forsyth graduated from Worcester with a BA (hons) in Initial Teacher Education for Primary Teaching. She now works as a class teacher in Worcestershire. What is your job title? Year 1 class teacher. Where are you based? Lickey Hill Primary Worscestershire.
Did you do any postgraduate study/ training? The three year degree scheme I did awarded me Qualified Teacher Status, and included placements in various schools, so I was not required to do any extra training, What does your job involve, e.g. your day to day responsibilties? I get to school for 7.45am. The first few hours of my day are spent getting resources ready for the day’s lessons; books, materials etc. I then have to
JOBS & MONEY
u Teach First?
However, I couldn’t help but feel there was an all-too impersonal feel to this route. I started to ask myself, do I really want, at this time in my life, to delve into a career path that would solely revolve around corporate business? I wanted to do something rewarding (without sounding like a cliché). Something where I could make a difference, rather than just being one of thousands working for a mass firm. Over the summer I started to do some research and found a part-time job that would be great for my CV. The job was to be a brand-manager for a charity based graduate scheme called
Big decisions used to be what to wear and where I was going to hang my washing in my student house Teach First. At this stage in my summer all I had managed to do was go to Glastonbury, move back home, and eat massive amounts of home-cooked food. I thought it was time to ‘sort my life out’. I spent time on my application form (very important!) and went for the job. Luckily, I got it. I had heard of Teach First before but I thought it was too challenging for me. The scheme, in a nutshell, transforms graduates into inspiring leaders, making then ready to excel in any management career. It does this through a combination of intensive teacher training and experience in challenging London, Midlands or North West secondary schools with an innovative leadership and management skills programme.
I loved the sound of the leadership development programme, but the innercity secondary-school part put me off. I realised this was no soft option! However, after I had done the training for my brand-manager role, I changed my mind. When I found out who supports the scheme (Deloitte, Accenture, JPMorgan are just a few) and discovered it was at number 14 in The Times Top 100 (for anyone that doesn’t know, this is the careers bible for third years) I could not help but be impressed. We made a visit to one of the schools in London and I was surprised at its quality and what it had to offer. I soon realised that everything Teach First offers was exactly what I had been looking for. The teaching would give me both the maturity and the skills that I would need in order to be successful in the future. The two-year scheme definitely does not limit your options. If you love the teaching you can stick at it, if on the other hand you want to move onto other things after the two years you are not obligated in anyway to stay at the school. Roughly 60% of Teach First participants go on to do other things. I think it is this that has attracted me to apply for a place. I get my rewarding experience alongside earning money and gaining new skills; without doubt this is the best of both worlds. Although you get thrown in at the deep end, you will be on a salary from the start and you get a choice of where you want to be positioned. Make no mistake though, Teach First is a demanding option. After just six weeks of training you’ll be standing in a real classroom delivering real lessons to real students. On the positive side, the demanding experience that the scheme provides offers a unique journey, that will involve learning, self-discovery and personal growth.
Teaching in numbers 25,000 schools in the UK
The starting salary for a teacher in Cardiff as of September ‘08
2 times as Alongside this, you won’t be on your own. You will be joining a group of bright, articulate, passionate people who, like you, have decided to do something different: to change livesand have loads of fun on the way! So now I am spreading the word around university like a mad woman. I have finally found a graduate scheme that offers me everything I want. Now it’s back to making the decisions of what to wear for a night out and where to hang my washing.
If you want to find out more about Teach First visit www. teachfirst.org.uk, or email me on HarveyC1@cardiff. ac.uk. Alternatively, have a look on our facebook group, Teach First- Cardiff. We are recruiting for 2008 in all subjects. The deadline dates: History, Geography, Citizenship and Modern Foreign Language is Friday 30th November. For all other subjects, the deadline is 28th March 2008.
You’ve done the training. So what’s it really like being a teacher? morning duty, meeting the children in the playground and bringing them into the classroom. I teach three lessons in the morning and sometimes I might have playground duty as well. My lunch hour is spent preparing for the two lessons in the afternoon and when the school day ends I deal with any queries parents might have. This can be about anything, from concerns about a child’s reading and writing development to arrangements for children with disabilties. After home time, I put together any classroom displays that the children have made, and possibly try and get some marking done. I normally leave
I deal with any queries parents have; anything from a child’s reading to children with disabilties
for home around 6pm. It’s a pretty demanding job and in the evenings I’m normally planning for the next day’s activities. How did you apply for your job? Describe any interview/assessment process that you went through. I applied through Worcester County Council. Teaching jobs are advertised on their web site, and then I sent off an application form and a supporting statement detailing the work experience I had, my philosophy on teaching and why I was the right person for the job. I was then interviewed for the position. What is the best/worst thing about your job? The best thing is that even if you’re having a hard day, as soon as the children walk through the door, they’ll say or do something hilarious and it will instantly brighten up your day. Although it can be stressful, every day is different and you’re never likely to get bored. The worst thing is the work load.
It is really hard work. The fact that these childrens’ education is your responsibility is quite scary Even after you’ve finished work you never really wind down. You’re always thinking about what you could do tomorrow. Dealing with parents can be difficult too. They are always going to think that their child is the most important and you have to be diplomatic a lot of the time. It is really hard work. Even after doing a teaching course, nothing prepares you for the amount of work, and the fact that these childrens’ education is your responsibility. It’s quite scary. What advice would you give to students thinking of entering the same
field? Be as organised as you can. When you do any work experience, try and build up a portfolio of what you did when you were there. Take pictures of any displays you made or activities you prepared for the children, and then take this along to job interviews with you. I didn’t have this and it would have been really useful to be able to provide evidence of what I’d been doing rather than just talking about it. Once you are in the job, take each day as it comes. You can never know everything and everyone makes mistakes. It’s hard being the “perfect teacher” all the time, but you will get used to the routine and start feeling confident in your abiltity to teach.
Do you know anyone who has do graduated recently and gone into employment? If so and you think they wouldn’t mind talking to us, email Jobs & Money at: email@example.com
may teachers find their work rewarding compared to marketting, IT and accounting industries
people began their teacher training last year
The potential salary for a headmaster
amount of Teach First students that go on to careers outside of teaching.
Come and see us on the ground floor of the Studentsâ€™ Union. New jobs always available.
027 Mystery Shoppers Cardiff Â£7.50 per visit Ongoing
A company that works to support the Challenge 21 initiative needs 18 & 19 year olds to go into bars, order alcoholic drinks and then report back on their findings. You must be honest, reliable and accurate and will also need internet access.
The National Graduate Fair for Wales 100s of graduate jobs on offer under one roof!
029 Flyering Team Members Cardiff Â£5.60 Ongoing
Music promotion company require staff to promote artists around the local area. You must be confident, a great communicator and most importantly, honest and reliable! Evening and possible Saturday daytime hours available
Cardiff International Arena
10am â€“ 4pm
8 & 9 November 2007
10am â€“ 3pm
â€¢ â€¢ â€¢ â€¢ *Ple
030 Casual Relief Support Workers Cardiff Â£5.98 Ongoing
A non-profit organisation that provides support to adults with disabilities is looking for support workers to assist clients in their homes and communities. You should be patient, and able to work well in a team. Flexible shifts available.
033 Forum Members Cardiff Â£35 per session attended
In Partnership with all the Welsh University Careers Services
A consultancy company working on behalf of the government are looking for 18 â€“ 25 year olds who have been driving for less than a year, or who have not yet passed their test, to take part in a new Young Peopleâ€™s Forum on learning to drive that is being set up in Cardiff.
To pre-register to attend please visit:
Career Seminars Career Advice Clinics Career Workshops Free transport from your Uni campus*
er rs s c t yo u r U n i ve r s i t y c a re e
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