OCTOBER 30TH 2013
A question of sport
“It emerged that three of the winning profiles were possibly fake and had all been created as early as 7 September.” SHANGRILA COMPETITION – 4
“For many it can begin to take its toll and feeling homesick, isolated and unsettled is entirely understandable.”
• Colleges ignore Senate decision on Wednesday afternoons. • GUSA angered and begin to take action.
FRESHERS’ BLUES - 9
“When it comes to people who aren’t involved in folk music, it’s about breaking down the twee stigma.”
TRADITIONAL SESSIONS - 19
“The building of new sport ‘cities’ and projects of ‘urban regeneration’ routinely damage the lives of the city’s poor”
Wake up to Wakeboarding SPORT - WAKEBOARDING IN SCOTLAND
Unseen Asia CULTURE – PHOTOGRAPHY
2014 GAMES - 23
Higher education strike
Chris McLaughlin Three major trades unions representing University staff say they will strike at the end of this month unless employers improve their latest offer on pay increases. The University and College Union (UCU), UNISON and Unite members at universities across the UK intend to hold a one-day strike on the 31 October. This may be followed by subsequent strikes or other industrial action, such as work-to-rule or overtime bans. Whilst strikes among university staff have been a feature of recent years, they have hitherto been much narrower in scope. A previous strike in 2010 over funding cuts was confined only to England, before a 2011 walk-out on pensions - at universities including Glasgow - was observed by lecturers only. This is the first time all three unions have agreed to strike simultaneously across the UK. Taken together, the unions represent staff in a wide variety of roles, including lecturers, researchers, technicians, laboratory assistants, librarians, managers, administrators, and IT and support staff. A strike could therefore be highly
disruptive at Glasgow University if wellsupported. As many as one million UK students could be affected in total, with around 125,000 of these in Scotland. In a series of ballots earlier in the month, members of all three unions endorsed the use of industrial action. On 10 October, lecturers, academics and researchers - represented by UCU - voted to reject a 1% pay rise offer put forward by employers. They joined librarians and other university support staff represented by UNISON who had voted for strike action in a separate ballot two days earlier. On 14 October it was announced that technicians, laboratory assistants, administrators and managers - represented by Unite - had likewise voted for strike action. 62% of the members who voted in the UCU ballot supported strike action, with 77% endorsing industrial action short of a strike. The result was similar to that of the Unite ballot which showed 64% backing strike action, while 54% of UNISON members voted in favour of a strike. Union leaders renewed their demands for an improved pay offer from the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) in light of the
results. Michael MacNeil, UCU Head of Higher Education, said: “The ball is now firmly in the employers’ court and we urge them to agree to meet us for urgent talks to resolve the dispute. “This result is a reflection of our members’ anger at year after year of real terms pay cuts, and the fact that the employers can clearly afford to pay more than the miserly 1% offered this year.” The unions claim that their members have not had a “meaningful” pay rise in five years. This has resulted in a real terms wage cut of 13% compared to inflation. They also maintain that overall staff remuneration has fallen from 58% to 55.5% of university budgets over the past decade whilst the salaries of vicechancellors have risen to an average of £250,000 per year. Speaking about the pay issue on behalf of UNISON, Head of Higher Education, Jon Richards, commented: “The gap between prices and pay has widened since this [Westminster] government came to power and trying to feed a family and heat a home is a daily worry. The fact that staff are willing to take strike action shows how desperate they feel. The employers should take
note and come back with a more realistic offer.” Echoing the call for an improved offer from employers, Unite National Officer for Education, Mike McCartney, said: “Our members have had enough of the poverty pay increases of recent years … and have been left with no option but to fight for what’s fair.” Whilst a negotiated settlement without industrial action is still possible, union leaders seem pessimistic. In a statement on its website, UCEA describes the 1% proposal as its “final offer” following rejections of its 0.5% initial offer and an improved offer of 0.8%. It also claims to have offered concessions on gender pay differentials, casual contracts and flexible working. The UCEA state that the 1% deal “remains on the table” and that the unions had sought a rise over and above the Retail Price Index (RPI) measure of inflation, which is currently 3.2%. A UCEA spokesman said: “UCEA’s member higher education institutions tell us that the vast majority of their staff fully understand the reality of the challenging and uncertain environment for their institution and many are anxious to see the implementation of the award,
rather than a prolonged dispute.” Despite the risk of course disruption, some student opinion has been sympathetic. Molly Conway, a second year economic and social history student, commented: “I totally support this. If they want Glasgow to remain an excellent place both to study and work, then fair pay for fair work is essential. If strike action is what is required to achieve this then so be it.” SRC President, Jess McGrellis, called on both sides to limit harm to students: “There is no doubt that the upcoming strike will cause disruption to the learning of students across the university. Having said this, the SRC understands the reasons for the strike and we are hopeful that our academics at Glasgow University will do what they can to minimise the disruption for students.” Thus far, the University has sought to allay student concerns, but has been reluctant to be drawn on the merits of the dispute. In a statement released to the Glasgow Guardian, a spokesman commented: “This is a matter for the trades unions and their members. We will obviously be doing all we can to minimise disruption to staff and students should there be any strike action.”
£2000 letting agency scam Louise Wilson The SRC have recently warned students about using the letting agency Royal Letting Services after several students have come forward with difficulties in reclaiming money paid to the company, and this in spite of the students in question not even having rented a property, or signed a lease. Seven students in total have approached the SRC Advice Centre to ask for help in recovering the cash. The SRC are currently preparing court action against the agency to reclaim the amount of £2000 for the students. One student has, since the summer, tried to reclaim as much as £285, despite never having committed to
renting a property through the agency. Another student did in fact sign a lease and pay a deposit of £580, but chose to back out after a month; whilst still liable for one month’s rent, this student is still waiting for the return of his deposit. In other cases, students have placed deposits upon viewing properties, with the promise that the lease and other paperwork would be drawn up later. This paperwork has then failed to materialize, and students have been unsuccessful in reclaiming the deposit. The company is currently being investigated by the police, and is facing court action through the Small Claims Court at Glasgow Sheriff Court. However, a representative from
Royal Lettings Services has told the Guardian that the company is trying to avoid any action reaching courts, and attempting to repay all the money they owe by the end of October. “There were one or two complaints, which we are paying back,” the representative said. “It will not go to court as we do not want to get a bad name, we just want to make sure everyone is happy and everything is correctly done. [We] have spoken to the SRC and told them when they are getting the payments.” The representative went on to apologise for the problems, and stated that the underlying cause of the issue is a recent change in the ownership of the agency. She highlighted that the problems occurred prior to the new management taking over, and further
stated that the missing money “is not really our fault [and] that’s the reason we are refunding the money paid.” Students are encouraged to contact the agency if they are having similar issues. According to President of the SRC, Jess McGrellis, “Royal Letting Services are a sophisticated and convincing scam, and they have a few different ways of getting money out of students. It is unusual for the SRC to single out a particular letting agent, which highlights the severity of this case. If any student is unsure about the contents of a housing contract, or unsure about whether to put down a deposit, there are some general guidelines you can follow on the SRC website, or you can pop by the SRC Advice Centre for ad-
vice and clarification on any housing issues.” These recent difficulties with Royal Letting Services are the latest in a long line of scams by letting services targeted at students, who may be uncertain of their rights as tenants. Last year, Merchant Lettings were heavily criticised for their practises when it came to light that they were failing to make standard repairs to properties, and attempting to retain the deposit after tenants had moved out. A recent law change means that deposits on rented accommodation now must be placed in the control of a third party, under the Tenancy Deposit Scheme. This is meant to ensure that landlords and agencies do not withhold the amount without good cause.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
A question of sport Concern over continued timetabling of classes in traditional sporting time.
Glasgow University lost their tie in the first round of the Scottish Cup, but made a little piece of history as they were knocked out. Paul Gallacher’s goal from 25 yards out in the second minute of the match was the very first goal of the tournament. Although Gala Fairydean Rovers went on to win the match 3-1, the team and Gallacher can be proud of scoring the 2013/14 Scottish Cup’s first goal, which was also voted goal of the round. • Glasgow University was the most successful university in a new Scottish government initiative to recruit students from the country’s poorest postcodes. 727 extra funded places were offered to universities, with Glasgow recruiting 175 from its target of 200 - the best of any university in the country. 80% of the extra places were filled overall, with only Aberdeen University failing to fill any of its additional funded places.
• The Queen’s Baton Relay, to mark the coming of the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow next summer, got underway from Buckingham Palace on 9 October. The baton with the Queen’s message to all countries in the Commonwealth will visit all of the 70 nations which will be represented in Glasgow over a 228 day tour. From London it travelled to Scotland before heading off overseas to India soon after. The Opening Ceremony on 23 July next summer at Celtic Park will mark the end of the long journey. • The University of Glasgow is to lead an eleven strong consortium awarded £5 million to develop and evaluate a Europe wide programme to help male football fans become ‘more active, less sedentary and improve their diets in a sustainable way’.
• Glasgow artist and author Alasdair Gray has recently decided he is unhappy with his mural of Glasgow’s West End,which includes a large illustration of Glasgow University and is on display at the revamped Hillhead subway station on Byres Road. Gray has decided that the mural, which was unveiled at the station last September, could be improved and has asked for permission to make alterations. The 78-year-old artist believed that he “didn’t make the clouds emphatic enough” on the right hand side of the mural. The work will be carried out after-hours, when the station is closed to the public. •
IN OTHER NEWS...
New government proposals will see police stations in the West End and Maryhill close their doors between the hours of midnight and 7am. Citizens of Maryhill have heralded the Batman-esque opportunity to take the law into their own hands. One yoof said: “That movie Kick-Ass was fantastic. I’m well up for going around the West End with ninja batons like Nic Cage, defending my stuff. I’m already working on my Miley Cyrus ‘Wrecking Ball’ costume for Halloween anyway, so planning to just use that to take on the local neds.”
Nick Clegg has promised not to raise tuition fees again in a recent speech. Speaking at the London Institute of Education in Society (LIES), Clegg told the audience: “I fucked up before and said sorry really well. So I won’t be raising fees to £16,000, but it feels good to know that if I do make a complete Uturn then I’ve already gotten skilled at apologising.” Clegg’s speech deepened coalition tensions, however, with David Cameron criticising the Lib Dem leader for ignoring his advice of saving the LIES speech for a conference on Tuesday, 1 April next year.
The QMU have successfully brightened up their lovely grey walls by installing a sign reading “Queen Margaret Union”. The initial idea for the sign, “The Gender Neutral Regal Title Margaret Union”, had to be scrapped due to unforeseen length problems. Another board member’s suggestion of altering the name to include characters of a popular breakfast cereal was shot down because changing a well-known and established name to those of Kellogg’s characters would have been utterly ridiculous. “Queen Margaret Union” was, therefore, voted as the best alternative.
Glasgow University has teamed up with an exclusive group of universities to offer online distance learning courses through FutureLearn, a new system being trialled by the Open University. The launch of the FutureLearn website in September saw the University reveal its first ever MOOC (Massive Online Open Course), entitled ‘Cancer in the 21st Century – The Genomic Revolution’. The course was put together by Medical Genetics lecturer Leah Marks. Only universities residing in the top 30 of the UK league table were approached specifically by FutureLearn to provide a course. Vice-Principal for Learning and Teaching, Frank Coton, is leading Glasgow’s involvement in the project. Coton reveals that he at first was sceptical about this new venture, admitting: “I didn’t want to go in at first. If Glasgow puts something out there, then it has to represent the quality of the institution.” However, Coton was persuaded when he saw the potential of MOOCs to become part of on-campus courses, with the quality of the other university partners already signed up also convincing. Of the 27 universities participating, 15 are in the elite Russell Group. After Learning & Teaching staff and Senior Management agreed to Glasgow’s involvement in the project, an internal competition amongst staff was held to decide which courses would run first. From this process two courses were selected, and each was given a £15,000 development fund - an
amount smaller than that needed to fund a standard 10 credit course. Coton commented that on the scale of University expenditure, the money put towards the development of the MOOC was “a relatively modest investment.” He went on to say that the main reason for getting involved was for the chance to experiment with the advanced pedagogy, stating: “If we were to try to buy in the experience it would cost us a fortune.” Coton suggested that the technology being used in the FutureLearn could one day make its way onto the University’s Moodle site. While MOOCs are not confined to people studying in higher education institutions, the technology used is much more advanced than that currently used on Glasgow’s Moodle. It is possible to leave comments at certain points on FutureLearn documents and videos for other learners to see, a feature which it is hoped can aid collaborative learning. The MOOCs technology the University hopes to learn about from this venture could, therefore, become a big part of learning at Glasgow in the future and could even be used to prepare international students for a UK learning environment. As Frank Coton put it, MOOCs have “the potential to change learning models.” FutureLearn is the first MOOCs site to forge partnerships with universities and institutions such as the British Council, British Museum and British Library. In a statement on their website, Future Learn claim that the purpose is: “So you can fit learning around your life, rather than your life around your learning.” The course on cancer begins early next year, while a Law course is expected later in 2014.
NEWS IN BRIEF
selection and trial process is a long one, taking many weeks to secure places on teams, meaning that during these weeks I am attempting to make as many games as possible, as missing them would put my space on the weekend team at risk.” A spokesman for the University told the Glasgow Guardian: “The University encourages students to participate in sports and exercise activities and is proud of the wide variety of options available to students and their enthusiasm in taking part. We have traditionally supported this participation by keeping Wednesday afternoons free of classes as best we can. “However, as the number of students at the University has grown over recent years so has the number of courses, modules and options. As a result timetabling has become more challenging and has seen more classes taking place on Wednesday afternoons. It might be possible to move classes from Wednesday afternoons to other times of the day but that would require consultation with students and may be unpopular.”
Rosannah Jones Euan McTear
but also for volunteering opportunities.” Sian Collins, Secretary of Glasgow University Netball Club, has had problems with her timetable: “My conflicting class is a tutorial, which I don’t want to miss, but for important matches I feel I will have to sacrifice the class. The fact that the University are trying to diminish an opportunity to promote a healthy lifestyle is unacceptable - they should be promoting sport and recreation as a positive outlet for students.” Another student, Aine Laverty, a committed member of the Glasgow University Women’s Hockey Club, has found it “completely impossible” to coordinate her classes and matches since entering fourth year. Laverty’s Wednesday afternoon class does not only affect her participation in Wednesday afternoon events, but also her chances of making weekend teams. Laverty said: “With the standard of players this year, selection for teams is heavily dependent on availability, commitment and dedication to the team. The
University joins FutureLearn
This has been a recurring issue at Glasgow University. In 2004, Senate urged departments to, “wherever possible, move teaching away from Wednesday afternoons,” after noting that many departments were not following the guidelines. It was raised at Senate again in 2012, where it was agreed that all incidences of Wednesday afternoon classes would be monitored, yet the problem persists. The Glasgow Taxis Cup, an annual varsity competition between Glasgow University, Strathclyde and Caledonian, even held its 2013 final on a Wednesday afternoon. Oli Coombs, SRC VP (Education), explained that while a few students have managed to make arrangements with their individual Schools to change classes, it is a widespread problem that needs a permanent solution. He said: “It shouldn’t be happening. We shouldn’t have to be sorting it out on an individual level.” He added: “We’ll work with GUSA as much as we can to try and resolve this … We think it’s an important issue, not only for sporting activities,
Glasgow University Sports Association is preparing to take on the University over the number of classes students have on Wednesday afternoons. Some departments are known to have scheduled compulsory classes on Wednesday afternoon, in breach of the University Senate policy of keeping the afternoon free for sports. The extent of the problem is currently unclear, but the figure has crept up over recent years - in conflict with the UKwide convention which dictated that Wednesday afternoons are free from classes to allow students to participate in competitive sport. GUSA President Stuart Law has been collecting information from students and has asked those with Wednesday afternoon classes to get in touch. The national governing body for Higher Education sport, British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), arranges competitions for supposedly
class-free Wednesday afternoons. The University of Glasgow’s decision to schedule classes in spite of this has led to many students having to decide between missing classes or letting their team down in key fixtures. Law commented: “It is a priority for GUSA to ensure Wednesday afternoons are free for sport. Students should not be denied the chance to take part in University sport and recreation on a Wednesday afternoon. In a time when gaining a degree qualification is not enough, students need the chance to get involved with sport at Glasgow at all levels, from playing on a Wednesday afternoon to captaining a club. “Often sport and physical activity is a valuable release for students and allows people to achieve academically. Preventing students this valuable opportunity is not only unfair but impacts on student wellbeing.” Law continued: “GUSA are currently looking into this very seriously with the hope that the University will value sport and give everyone Wednesday afternoons off to take part in sport.”
Gina Mete Claire Diamond
Language cuts at University Euan McTear Rosannah Jones Scottish universities will find it more difficult to cut language courses following a new measure in University Outcome Agreements, which means that the final decision on any course closures will now rest with the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). The SFC is the body which distributes higher education funding for Scotland and the recent move, designed to protect the future of modern languages, appears in its most recent guidelines. The guidelines lay out what higher education institutions in Scotland are expected to provide in return for the estimated £1 billion public funding they receive. In 2011, the uncertain future of Glasgow University’s Eastern European languages courses - a specialism of the University - saw over 50 students and staff members from the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde
travel to the Scottish Parliament with a 3000-strong petition. It protested against the proposed cuts to courses including Czech, Polish, Russian and Slavonic studies. Over 2,000 also attended a protest march on the issue on Glasgow University campus. The Glasgow University Court decided, however, to go against the judgement of the University Senate that certain language courses should be continued. Czech and Polish were cut at Glasgow University in 2010, and Slavonic Studies was removed the following year. Under the new guidelines, the final decision would have been left to the SFC. The new measures mean that before a university is permitted to close a particular language course, the SFC will consider whether the proposed closure would seriously reduce the range of languages taught across Scotland, as well as taking into account the long-term economic benefit of the particular language to Scotland’s future.
The introduction of this new measure has been praised by language lecturers across the country. Dr Jan Čulík, a senior Czech lecturer at the University who organised the 2011 petition to the Scottish Parliament , said of the new measure: “Glasgow is the only university in Scotland where these courses [Czech and Polish], which can lead to lucrative employment, are available. It is to be hoped that the SFC will make sure that they will not disappear in Scotland. If they did, it would damage job prospects of graduates in this country.” Hugh McMahon, a former MEP, spoke at the Scottish Parliament when the petition was presented two years ago and quoted figures from a European recruitment site which detailed 91 vacancies for graduates of Russian, 93 for Polish and 88 vacancies for those with degrees in Czech. A recent poll of top UK businessmen in the Daily Telegraph even put Polish as the fifth most sought after language qualification in the country.
The SFC announcement to protect courses could see Scotland take the lead in providing Eastern European languages. The move to protect courses comes just a month after Professor Mike Kelly, a former adviser to the Department for Education, claimed that 40% of university language departments across the UK face closure within the next 10 years. Universities have been forced to battle an ever declining number of applications for the study of modern languages. The number of UK universities offering modern language degrees fell from 105 in 2000 to 62 in 2013, but it is now hoped that the new SFC measures will see that dramatic fall stabilise in Scotland. Glasgow University currently has 1500 language students and around 40 teaching and research staff, with undergraduate degree programmes available in French, Spanish, Hispanic Studies, Italian, German and Russian. Czech and Polish are still available at Glasgow for at least two years,
while postgraduate study of these language and culture areas is also still available. The language courses on offer are also credited with having high student satisfaction rates – at 92% for course satisfaction and 94% for teaching satisfaction. Second year Spanish and Italian student, Cara Halliday, commented on why she thought this was: “The class sizes in lectures are relatively small and language students benefit from this close interaction. Language degree programmes at Glasgow are also flexible in allowing a number of languages to be taken at beginner level and this can be combined with advanced level courses enabling you to refine your skills in improving at a language you already know whilst also being taught how best to learn a language for the first time.” The 2013 Guardian University Guide ranked Glasgow University as number 2 in Scotland and number 8 in the UK for modern languages.
Club staff believed to have fixed competition
Euan McTear Staff at a Glasgow nightclub are believed to have attempted rigging a Freshers’ Week facebook competition in order to win a trip to Ibiza, a MacBook Pro and a set of Sennheiser headphones. Club ShangriLa, of The Arches, announced a Facebook competition on 6 September in which nine prizes were to be randomly drawn twelve days later, ranging from a weekend in Ibiza to a free pint. Hopefuls had to like and share the photo album detailing the competition. Interest was immediately high, with 341 liking the album and 472 users sharing it. When the draw was made on 18 September, it emerged that three of the winning profiles were possibly fake and had all been created as early as 7 September. The profile of the Ibiza trip win-
ner, Jamie Baines, apparently from Glasgow, was made using a profile picture actually belonging to a Brandyn Evans in British Columbia, Canada. Jamie’s profile contained only the one - copied - profile picture, one cover photo, had no friends and liked only one page: that of Club ShangriLa. The winner of the second prize, the MacBook Pro, was a Steven Gray, supposedly from Edinburgh. The creator of Gray’s profile had gone to the effort of liking several pages as well as the ShangriLa page. However, yet again the profile seemingly mirrored another unsuspecting victim of copying - Ben Ferris of California, USA, whose profile picture was used. The third fake account, that of Hayley Grant, winner of the headphones, had used a profile picture and cover photo of a Melissa Munoz from Georgia, USA. Grant’s profile was also created on 7 September and had only ever used one profile picture,
one cover photo and liked one page Club ShangriLa - before being drawn as a winner in the ‘Mega Giveaway’. Grant’s profile also had no friends. Coincidentally, the real Ferris is friends with both Evans and Munoz on Facebook, which suggests that the fraudster used related profiles. When the Glasgow Guardian contacted Club ShangriLa to ask about the fake profiles, they commented: “This is something one of the team highlighted when we copied this formula of ‘share’ and ‘like’ competition, but we never thought it would be an issue with fake accounts.” The spokesperson also said that to collect any prize, ID must be provided and that a deadline had been put in place before all unclaimed prizes would be redrawn. At the time, five of the nine prizes had not been claimed, and the Ibiza holiday and MacBook Pro were two of those waiting for the winners to come forward.
The spokesperson later admitted to the Guardian that: “It’s a bit sad as I’m starting to think it may have been staff members.” However, no proof has yet been found that staff members were indeed behind the attempt to rig the competition. On 23 September, the page revealed that the trip to Ibiza and the MacBook Pro were left unclaimed. The prize of Sennheiser headphones, won by the fake profile of Grant, had instead been given away at one of the club nights - a fact that has not been revealed to the 472 entrants of the competition. A screenshot later appeared in the competition album, revealing the similarity between Gray’s and Ferris’ profiles. The picture included a warning against using “bogus profiles” in future competitions, and that the remaining prizes would be redrawn. The weekend trip to Ibiza was redrawn on 25 September, won by Kirsty Mellon. No mention was made of the
MacBook Pro prize until 30 September when Club ShangriLa announced on Facebook: “Since some wideo spoiled our massive Prize Draw - A MacBook Pro is up for grabs. ‘Share and like’ this picture to enter. Fake profiles need not enter.” 731 people shared the post to enter the redraw of the second place prize of the original competition. It took until 3 October for a winner, Dave Adams, to be announced. To relieve any suspicion, a picture of Adams holding the computer was published on the ShangriLa page the next week. ‘Like and share’ competitions are particularly frequent on the Club ShangriLa Facebook page and several others have been held since the Freshers’ Week draw. The competition format used by Club ShangriLa has changed, however, with entrants now required to pick up a raffle ticket to take part after liking or sharing the competition on social media.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
Overcrowding on campus Jason Dashti Euan McTear A 6% increase in the number of students on campus from last September has seen the student population at Glasgow University rise from 16,045 to 17,018, causing problems such as overcrowding in lectures and the library. Despite predictions that increased tuition fees may lead to a decrease in student intake, the opposite has taken place. From September 2012 to 2013 the number of undergraduate students taken in at the University of Glasgow has risen from 4854 to 5311 students. The resulted in a strain on the University’s infrastructure in several different ways. Many students have complained of struggling to find desk space at the library or the oversubscription of lectures. This has led to an increase in the number of students being placed in overflow lecture theatres with a video link to the main lecture on previous years. In other cases, classes have taken places in a single room despite the number of students exceeding the room capacity. This has proven to be a point of contention for students. Joseph Lee, a student who has had overflow lectures this term, said: “Big departments are not in themselves a bad thing. However, overflow lecture theaters in practice leave students disengaged and
less likely to return to lectures.” Other students have made the same point that getting up to travel to university early in the morning to see a video of a lecture - which can be accessed online at a later date - is not worth the effort. Students also conveyed technical issues with the videos of the lectures in the overflow rooms. Students have reported problems with the streamed lectures, including delays and stuttering in the feed and some videos even completely failing, resulting in some cancelled lectures. Josh Horsman, in his second year, told the Guardian: “I struggle to read the lecture slides, as the lecturer is the main focus of the video, which affects my ability to take notes.” Even in the main lecture theatres, students are feeling the effects of an over-abundance of students. Leah Jones continued: “I’ve found that people have been struggling to find seats in lectures, meaning that they have to sit down in the aisle.” This is not the only aspect of academic life to be affected by the increase in campus population which students are upset about. Finding places in the library has been as difficult, even for those simply looking for a place to sit. Second year student Katie Wardlaw said: “Trying to study in the library is aggravating as it’s hard to find a computer that’s free, and loaning out books is always difficult.”
The University has responded to student concern this term regarding the increase in number of students on campus and the effect on academic experience. A spokesman told the Glasgow Guardian: “We are aware that at the start of term there were some timetabling issues and that there was high demand for places at the library. Staff are working hard to address these and to ensure that all of our students get the very best from their time at the University of Glasgow.” To address the issue of an a continued growth in the number of students, the University told us that it “has invested very heavily in infrastructure, IT and student facilities over the last few years and will continue to do so.” Although many students may feel unaffected by the issues, a large proportion still feel that their academic experience is being diminished. Linsey Spence referred to the negative effects of being in an overflow lecture theatre: “I feel that being unable to engage with the lecturer in any way - from asking questions, to getting clarification on parts of the lecture that are hard to understand a bit distancing. I think something is lost in this instance and it can work to undermine and alter academic experience.” The University defended the increase in student numbers, stating: “The reputation of the University of
Glasgow in offering a superb learning and research environment, as well as providing an excellent student experience, is clearly seen in the increasing numbers of students who want to study here. This is tremendous news for the University, and further confirms our belief that Glasgow is in a strong position going forward.” Some students also agree that the
increase in numbers is a good thing. Second year student Kamila Kawecka said: “Overflow lecture theatres are not ideal, but I wouldn’t like the idea of less people getting accepted just because of minor admin problems and grievances.” In 2008/09, the population on campus was just 15,877, rising to 17,018 in five years - an increase of 7%.
Senate could be set to shrink
Amy MacKinnon Proposals are being considered which could see the Senate, the University’s academic decision making body, condensed into a ‘Senate Council’ almost one fifth of its present size. The Senate currently has over 500 members and includes all University professors, some members of the Senior Management Group and a number of elected members of academic staff. However, only around 100 typically turn up for meetings, making it rare for the body to reach its voting quorum of one third of its members. In response to this, a Senate Operations working group was established to make recommendations to address the fact that meetings of Senate were rarely quorate. In April 2013, the group put forward proposals to form a smaller body – a Council of Senate – consisting of 75 members elected from the full senate, 12 student members, heads of schools and research institutes and a number of members of the Senior Management Group. This would put the total membership at 128, significantly smaller than the current full Senate. Under the proposals, the number of staff elected from each college would be proportional to its size and members of the full Senate would be able to attend Council meetings, however only those elected to the Council would be eligible to vote. Professor John Briggs, Clerk of Senate, hoped that if passed, the proposals would make the Senate more democratic and effective: “The Council of Senate will be a more democratic body. At the moment, the composition of Senate is approximately twothirds ex-officio… and one-third is elected. The Council of Senate, on the
other hand, will comprise approximately one-third ex-officio membership (Principal, Vice Principals and Heads of Schools and Research Institutes) and two-thirds elected members.” Professor Briggs was also stressed that the proposals would not see the abolition of the Senate: “The Council of Senate is constituted as a subcommittee of Senate, and a meeting of Senate can be called at any time to discuss any competent matters it wishes, including the abolition of the Council of Senate at some point in the future, if it so wishes.” The move has been welcome by the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), as it formalises the position of the student representatives that sit on the Senate. At present the 16 SRC representatives that sit on the Senate are not voting members. Under current proposals for a Senate Council, the SRC would have 12 members with full voting rights. Jessica McGrellis, SRC President, said: “The change to a Council of Senate will make students full members of Senate. A welcome advance for the cause of student representation. “Although the number of SRC reps on Senate has been reduced from 16 to 12, given the overall reduction from over 500 members to 128 members, the number of student reps has remained very high proportionally. Student reps will make up circa 10% of the Council of Senate which is a position of considerable influence. “The current situation with Senate is pretty ineffective, but we feel that this is a positive step in the right direction, and this Council will help to make it a more effective governing body without diminishing the rights of any individuals.”
Zandi Coles Police stations in Glasgow’s West End are set to move from 24-hour to 12hour days as part of an attempt by Police Scotland to cut costs. Police Scotland has decided to reduce opening hours and close police counters across the country, with 65 of Scotland’s 215 stations to stop offering police counter provision. Both the West End (Partick) and Maryhill police stations have been earmarked to close their doors after midnight, while Anderston police station on Argyle Street, already operating on a 9-to5 schedule, will be shut completely, meaning the two police stations nearest to Glasgow University will now be inaccessible to the public between midnight and 7am. The only two remaining 24-hour police stations in Glasgow will be the
ones in Govan and the City Centre, while the control centre on Pitt Street handling 999 emergency calls also faces the axe. Labour MSP and former police officer, Graeme Pearson, hit out at the closures and shortening of opening hours: “Our communities need a point of contact to report their concerns and these steps will seriously undermine that access.” The plans to cut the service come six months after the SNP government merged regional police bodies into the nationwide Police Scotland in order to standardise their practice and save £1.7bn. It also comes just nine months since the highly publicised series of attacks that took place on Great Western Road, Argyle Street and Kersland Street. However, violent crime rates are currently at a record low in Maryhill, an area previously notorious for crime
and where Murano Street Student Village is situated. This is widely credited to police surge tactics in the last twelve months that had already been successfully employed in the East End. The lack of calls at police stations after midnight was also cited as good reason to go ahead with the closures by First Minister Alex Salmond. Salmond told First Minister’s Questions that: “The front counters in 31 of the 65 stations where the counter is to close received less than five visits a day from the public for core business. Many are receiving an average of less than one a day.” The ability of police to maintain high levels of safety in the West End - the busiest police beat outside the City Centre - has been brought into question, however, after the news that none of the area’s stations will stay open 24-hours a day.
Louise Graham, SRC Vice President of Student Support said: “The closure of the local police stations is concerning as it reduces the provision of police services in the area.” She was confident, however, that student safety would not be seriously affected when she went on to say: “Students should become aware of other police stations in the area, primarily City Centre Police Station. “There is little difference in the distance between the City Centre Police Station and the West End Police station from campus. For those living further away from the City Centre than Hillhead, for example in Partick and Maryhill, the distance to the City Centre police station on Stewart Street is a lot more significant. Graham reminds students that the University’s campus security can arrange for a taxi for students wishing
to report a crime at any time of night, whether or not they have any money on them. Students do not have to be on campus to use this service, which is strongly recommended over walking alone to the City Centre station. The phone number for campus security is 0141 330 4282. Police can also be contacted in non-emergency situations by dialling 101. The SRC stated that: “We believe it is important to keep students informed of all issues relating to safety so we will be alerting students to this closure and will make students aware of the alternative services mentioned.” The full list of Glasgow stations to close after midnight is as follows: Baird Street, Cathcart, Drumchapel, Easterhouse, Gorbals, London Road, Maryhill, Pollok, Pollokshaws, Saracen, Shettleston and West End (Partick).
A bike stolen a Hotel for halls overflow day in West End Alastair Swatland 349 bikes have been stolen in Glasgow’s West End in the last year, amounting to as much as £250,000 of stolen property, causing a real problem for Glasgow University students who use bikes as their means of getting around. Witnesses claim that the thefts have been carried out by organised groups who target the most expensive bikes on occasion worth as much as £3000 - and use vans to take the bikes once they have been cut loose from their locks. One student, Hunter Mackay, told the Glasgow Guardian that he was back in Glasgow for less than 24 hours when his bike was stolen. He said: “It was the day I moved in and I locked it [the bike] to the metal banister at the bottom of the stairs in my building. In the morning, the lock was lying on the ground and you could see it had been cut through.” To counter the problem, Strathclyde Police and the University are introducing tagging kits to track stolen bikes. These leave indelible marks on bikes, which can then be traced back to the owner. Sergeant Gerard Orr of Partick Community Police said: “Officers based at Partick and other offices recover a number of bicycles and we
continue our efforts to reduce the number of bikes stolen.” The SRC and campus security are providing 500 kits, which would normally cost £18 each, to students free of charge. Gordon Mackenzie, head of security at the University, is supportive of the tagging operation, stating: “The police are engaged with this detection brand; every time a bike is recovered, the police are required to share it, which leads to a higher chance of recovery. “We are trying to respond to the actual crimes that are happening, not what we think might happen, but what is actually happening and then working in partnership with the Police.” However, at present only eight bikes have been returned to their owners in the last year, a fact which Partick Community Police acknowledge: “You may appreciate our difficulty in identifying the actual owners of recovered bikes which often have no discernible markings.” Gordon Mackenzie advised: “Students should use recognised brands of bikes, get their bikes protectively marked, especially as the only locks which experts say cannot be cut are around £50. Any other one you could buy can be cut within 30 seconds by a pair of old cutters.”
Louise Wilson Several students have spent the first few weeks of term living in a hotel after new-build accommodation was not ready for the start of the academic year. 30 students were due to move into the University’s newest accommodation, Central House on Jamaica Street, but alternative arrangements had to be made after the work was not finished before the academic year began. These students have been staying in Jurys Inn, also on Jamaica Street, since September. While they were not expected to pay any extra fees on top of the standard University accommodation price, the lack of cooking facilities means extra costs have been incurred as students have had to eat meals out. The £127 per week fee covered rent, a Wi-Fi connection and breakfast, but no other meals. The students, who are a mixture of undergraduate and postgraduate students, were advised prior to the
beginning of the semester that the accommodation at Central House would not be ready until 14 October. While 26 students have now successfully been moved into the new accommodation, rooms were not ready for the final four. Three have now been moved to student accommodation elsewhere, while one has opted to wait until completion of Central House. Jess McGrellis, President of the SRC, called for some kind of compensation to be made for the students due to the extra food costs. She commented: “The SRC are pleased to hear that students living in Jurys Inn have finally been moved into Halls of Residence. While we appreciate that this year has been difficult for the University to find accommodation for all students that applied for it, the fact that we have students living without cooking facilities for a month and having to bear the extra cost from that is completely unacceptable.” She continued: “The SRC would like to see these disadvantaged students compensated and hope that this
doesn’t happen again in the future.” The University usually manages to house all those that apply for student accommodation before the deadline in the various Halls and student flats available. Officials pointed out that a large number of those placed temporarily in the Jurys Inn had in fact applied for accommodation after the deadline date. The spokesperson for the University said: “We always do our very best to help students find somewhere to live, including those who apply after the deadline date for guaranteed accommodation. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused, but would stress that all students were advised in advance of the situation, and that the vast majority – 27 out of 30 – applied after the deadline date for guaranteed accommodation.” This is the second accommodation crisis the University has faced this year after 166 HMO licenses for Murano Street Student Village were denied at the beginning of August.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
Increase in students seeking counselling Paige Barclay Cathy Steeghs The number of students seeking counselling support at Glasgow University has more than doubled in the last four years, the largest increase seen within the UK. There was an average increase of a third in demand for counselling at universities throughout the UK in the last four years, according to a study by Help me Investigate. Glasgow University has seen the number of students registered with CAPS rise from 512 students in 2008-9 to 1251 in 2012-13. Glasgow University has the longest waiting list of the universities in the UK, with 239 people on it. This increase has raised concerns that the University’s provision of the Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is not sufficient for the demand of students. Although Glasgow University is not a member of NUS, the union released statistics in May showing the number of students with mental health concerns was increasing across the UK. The survey revealed that 92 per cent of students surveyed had experienced
some sort of mental distress. 49 per cent of students had experienced feelings of depression, 55 per cent anxiety, 14 per cent thoughts of self-harm and 13 per cent suicidal thoughts. There were various reasons for the many types of mental distress experienced. 65 per cent of those surveyed put their stress down to coursework deadlines, while 47 per cent revealed that financial worries were a trigger. NUS also found that only 17 per cent of students had seeked advice from their place of study or their student union. CAPS, which is funded entirely by the University, has 14 members of staff employed for the coming academic year - four of whom work full-time for the service. Of those that work full-time, two are administrative, one is a clinical psychologist and the other a counsellor. Of the ten that are employed part-time, there are nine counselors and one psychiatrist - who is contracted for only two hours per week. The University of Glasgow emphasises their commitment to the service, and suggests there are a variety of possible explanations for the increase in demand.
A University spokesperson said: “Student welfare is one of our highest priorities and we have made significant investment in the services that we provide, including improved provision of support to those who require counselling. Whilst it is true that there has been a rise in the number of students seeking assistance, this may – at least in part – be due to increased awareness of the services and support that is now available.” However, despite a 92 per cent increase in the CAPS budget from £191,188 in 2008/09 to £366,897 in 2012/13 and a campaign last year by the SRC in support of increased funding, students using the service have found the consultation process lengthy. For 2012-13, the average waiting time for students contacting CAPS was 12 days before their initial assessment appointment, then a further 33 days until their first appointment of their series of counselling sessions. Multiple students, who wish to remain anonymous, have reported waiting periods, after the initial assessment, varying from 8 weeks to an entire semester before counselling sessions began.
One student had mixed feelings about the service. She said: “I do not plan to continue using the counselling services. I think if I was ever in a personal crisis again, I would prefer to be seen immediately while the problem was at its worst, rather than wait to be seen in which time the problem could have either escalated or resolved itself without the need for the service. “The counselling services were clearly understaffed and, after the first, I were automatically given a maximum block of six appointments. Although this was sufficient for me, some friends have felt the same block of time was not enough for them. I think there needs to be more of a good thing. It’s a really valuable service that supports lots of people across campus, however, I think it needs to be expanded to meet the increasing need across campus.” The University outlined its stance on reducing waiting times: “We are working hard to reduce waiting lists, but would emphasise that we aim to provide all students with an assessment appointment within two weeks and that we also offer a daily drop-in service. Where we believe any indi-
vidual case requires more immediate attention we are able respond in an appropriate manner.” The SRC has also taken note of the strain that CAPS are under. Vice President for Student Support, Louise Graham, commented: “It is encouraging that students at Glasgow feel comfortable using the services provided for them and recognise when they need to use this service. However, it is true that the Counselling Service is under a lot of pressure. The SRC has been putting in effort to try to relieve this by running campaigns such as Welfare Week throughout the year and are looking to implement a new Student Mental Health policy next semester.” She also outlined plans for future collaboration between the SRC and CAPS, saying: “A recent review of counselling has led to the SRC working with the service to develop an online portal with information for students and developing an online chat service. While this isn’t a substitute for counselling, we hope that this may relieve the pressures on the drop-in service and help students while they are waiting to use the service.”
Campaign calls for ban on zero-hours
Hannah McNeill Glasgow University Labour Club and three trade unions have started a campaign to pressureing the University to stop using controversial zero-hours contracts and atypical workers. A recent Freedom of Information (FoI) request, submitted by the Glasgow Guardian, has revealed the extent to which the University uses zero-hours contracts, which do not guarantee fixed hours of work. As of 19 August, there were 752 members of staff on a zero-hours contract. The University also has a large number of atypical workers, such as Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs). Legally these workers are not employees of the University and they do not have the same protection as employees. The three main trade unions on campus, Unison, Unite and the University and College Union (UCU), met with the University on 11 October to discuss the possibility of getting rid of zero-hours contracts. Glasgow University Labour Club are supporting the action and are trying to also speak to staff members that are not affiliated with a trade union. They want to wid-
en the effort to clamp down on the use of outsourcing and atypical workers, as well as those on zero-hours contracts.This action was taken after the Edinburgh University decided to stop using them for 2,712 staff members. Owen Mooney, Campaigns Officer for Glasgow University Labour Club, explained the reasoning behind the decision to campaign. He said: “Zerohours contracts are disgraceful and exploitative and should not be used at Glasgow University. These contracts deny workers sick pay, holiday pay, and the ability to plan financially. Many of those employed on these contracts are GTAs and postgraduate students. We also recognise that as students we have a moral responsibility to support staff and lecturers at Glasgow University, and ensure that they are not being exploited.” The FoI request also revealed many staff members have been employed by the University on these contracts in the long term. Only 24 per cent of staff had been employed by the University for less than a year. 33 per cent of staff on zero-hours contracts had been employed by the University on them for five years or more. Staff on zero-hours contracts within the Research and Teaching Job
Family are told in their contract their hours will be set. The contract states: “Your expected hours of work will be notified to you as early as possible following the beginning of each academic year.” One member of academic staff, a GTA employed as an atypical worker, anonymously told the Glasgow Guardian about her experiences. She said: “The University states that we do not have the standard employment rights of other ‘official’ employees. This contract is described as suitable for situations in which the requirement to undertake work is irregular and occasional, on an ad hoc basis, and individuals can choose whether or not to undertake the work offered. This does not describe the work that GTAs do – I teach weekly tutorials throughout term, the times of which are set in advance (so it is highly regularised) and I cannot just ‘choose’ to not turn up. Not only would I be letting down every student in that class, but I would not be re-employed as a GTA, because I would not be meeting the obligations of the work.” She feels that Graduate Teaching Assistants are not valued by the University’s administration and manage ment teams. In her situation, the Uni-
versity only expect her to put in half an hour of preparation for each tutorial she gives and pay her accordingly. She said: “What does 30 minutes of prep time say about how the teaching of students is credited by the University? If I actually worked to task and did half an hours prep time, I would not have a credible lesson plan and the tutorial would not be of educational value to students. So I - and many other GTAs - do far more tutorial prep than we are paid for, and that is the university exploiting us. “I think this is indicative of a negative attitude towards, or at least assumptions made about, GTAs. Some of these GTAs have families, have children or other dependents that they are supporting, and they rely on these payments. But that isn’t the stereotype of a PhD student – I get the imis imagined to be young and living without dependents, and there’s definitely a suggestion that PhD students are in some way ‘work-shy’ because they haven’t got a ‘real job in the real world’. A friend of mine told me that one administrator said they thought GTAs were paid far too much.” Staff employed on zero-hours must agree to be available to work despite no contracted hours. Their contract
they must sign states: “Your hours of work will vary according to the University’s needs. It is a condition of your employment that you work flexibly in accordance with the working arrangements operated by the University. Accordingly, you acknowledge that there may be periods when no work is available and that the University has no obligation to provide you with any work or to provide you with any minimum number of hours. However, we will endeavour to allocate suitable work to you when it is available. “You shall be available to work when requested unless otherwise agreed in advance with us. You will notify the University as early as possible and normally not less than 24 hours in advance of any occasions when you will be unavailable for work you have agreed to undertake.” University officials have not released a updated statement since the last issue of the Guardian. This previous statement said: “It is important to recognise that these contracts are often the most appropriate arrangement for the employee as well as for the University. Employees engaged on zero-hours contracts are under no obligation to accept work when offered.”
Effective altruism Giving what we can, doing as much as we can.
Bradley Ford The overwhelming majority of us have donated money to charity at some point in our lives. A considerable number of us give regularly to charitable causes – or at least we intend to once we have left university and ensconced ourselves in a steady job with, we hope, a reasonable income. Indeed, over half of the population of the UK already donate to charitable causes at least once a month. Yet for all this charitable giving, there is a remarkable shortage of any genuinely productive discussion concerning what I believe to be a far more important question: that is where we should donate. It is a difficult question for a variety of reasons. The most obvious of these is simply that we have an enormous amount of choice; the Charity Commission’s 2011 report states that there are over 180,000 registered charities in the UK alone. The sheer range of causes is daunting and understandably so. The decision gets tougher still when we consider that the bulk of these charities are genuinely worthwhile initiatives. Objectively speaking, a non-profit organisation is a good cause, provided that it works in earnest to improve the wellbeing of others - be they humans or animals - and is not so misguided in its efforts that it actually inflicts more harm than it relieves. It is clear we should only give to those charitable organisations which reduce suffering – but this criterion is so broad that, on its own, it hardly narrows our options down. Is this one vague distinction, between good and bad causes, as much narrowing down as it is possible to do before we are left to work out for ourselves which specific issues are most important to us? Prevailing wisdom
about giving would incline us to think so. I believe, however, that there is another step we can take - one which provides further objective grounds for prioritising certain initiatives over others. This crucial next step is to examine the cost-effectiveness of different charitable causes. The amount of good achieved by giving a fixed sum of money to charity is not constant. Rather, it varies significantly depending on what issue we choose to address, where in the world we choose to address it, and how each charity goes about achieving its ultimate goal of reducing suffering. There is a small, but growing, collection of individuals and organisations which understand this vital point. The movement they represent is called ‘Effective Altruism’. Put simply, Effective Altruism is an evidencebased approach to charitable giving. It endeavours to find, through research and quantitative analysis, the most cost-effective initiatives, and subsequently to donate to those initiatives, whilst encouraging others to do the same. This kind of results-oriented approach to charity is still very much in its infancy. Serious efforts to quantify the impact of particular non-profit organisations began only six years ago with the 2007 inception of charity evaluator GiveWell. Already the findings of this organisation and others like it are stark: some charities have proven to be hundreds, or even thousands, of times more cost-effective than others when it comes to producing good outcomes. To demonstrate this, consider an issue which affects humans across the world and one which causes considerable distress to those individuals afflicted: the problem of visual impairment. Suppose we were in a position
to donate £50,000 to a charity working to reduce the suffering caused by the loss of sight. We do some research and we find out that this amount could cover the costs of training and supporting a guide dog for the entirety of its life, providing a blind person in the UK with around ten years of valuable assistance. Undoubtedly, this would be a good thing to do. Nonetheless, we decide we must consider the available alternatives. We discover that we could also put the money into fighting trachoma, a bacterial infection responsible for the irreversible blindness of 2 million people in the developing world and for which there are around 22 million people currently in need of treatment. Trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness in humans. We find out that a course of antibiotics to treat the disease in its early stages currently costs 50p per person. A trichiasis operation - which removes the visual impairment caused by the disease in its later, yet still treatable, stages - costs £5 per eye. Given these figures, and accounting for the longterm costs of preventing re-infection, we learn that for an average cost of £100, we could prevent an individual suffering from trachoma. We are then in a situation where we can, for the same cost, choose either to aid one blind person for ten years, or prevent five hundred people from each experiencing fifteen years of deteriorating vision, followed by fifteen years of blindness. Assuming that all human lives are of equal value, and that it makes no morally important difference where those humans are, then I think we can say, objectively, that it is better to donate the £50,000 to fighting trachoma. This approach is clearly very useful when comparing such like-for-like causes, which ultimately address the
If we gave that £5 to the shelter then it could provide three or four homeless people with a hot meal...Yet that £5 could also rid ten African children of parasitic worms for a year
same fundamental issue. Yet I believe that it can also be helpful making comparisons across issues. Suppose we had £5 to give either to a UK-based homeless shelter, or to a charity which provides deworming medicines to be administered to children in schools in sub-Saharan Africa. If we gave that £5 to the shelter then it could provide three or four homeless people with a hot meal. This would be a good use of the resources. Yet that £5 could also rid ten African children of parasitic worms for a year, and, as the medicine is administered in schools, comes with the added benefit of boosting school attendance by an average of six weeks per child per year of deworming. Surely this would be a better use of the resources. Ultimately, the whole ethos of Effective Altruism rests on the implicit conviction that the amount and severity of suffering are more morally significant concerns than the particular form in which it manifests. To me, it is self-evident that it is objectively impossible to enjoy suffering of any kind. To enjoy suffering is, quite simply, not to suffer. It follows from these observations that the more suffering we can remove from the world, the better. Of course, we cannot ever expect to rid the world of hardship entirely. Some forms of it are unavoidable. But that should not stop us doing everything in our power to make its impact as minimal, and hence manageable, as possible. That charity exists as a phenomenon at all is testament to the general human understanding that although the world is never going to be perfect, that is no reason not to try to make it better. If you are interested in getting involved with Effective Altruism at Glasgow, email Bradley Ford at firstname.lastname@example.org
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
Freshers’ blues Amy Mackinnon Starting university is an exciting new chapter and expectations are high. You’ve worked hard to get here and now you’re in a new city, in a new flat with a new social circle. Freshers’ Week spares no superlative and you’re promised that you will have the best week of your life and make friends for life. It’s a lot of change in a short space of time and for many it can begin to take its toll and feeling homesick, isolated and unsettled is entirely understandable. Indeed, a 2011 report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that as many as 60% of students get homesick in their first year. It is something I remember all too well. It was the third night of Freshers’ Week and, as if out of nowhere, butterflies began to well up in my stomach along with an undefined sense of dread. I did the British thing and tried to ignore it, maintain a stiff upper lip and hope that it would all go away in time. But of course, that almost never works... What began as nervy butterflies quickly spiralled and I was soon on the verge of a very real depression. Every day was a struggle; I was not enjoying my course and I hadn’t made many new friends. Of all the things I had expected from university life, this was not it. It seemed that my options were to stay in a situation which was slowly making me more miserable or to drop out, go home and work in a call centre. I felt trapped. If anything I’ve said sounds familiar to you right now, then first and foremost the most important thing
to know is that you are not alone. I remember feeling like I was the only person not enjoying my first semester at university; that everyone else seemed to be making new friends, going out every night and having the time of their life. It was only in subsequent years that many friends actually confessed that they struggled similarly. It’s a strange facet of human nature that we like to create the illusion that everything is fine all of the time. My advice would be speak to someone - a friend, your parents, a flatmate. There’s no point in suffering in silence, and talking things through can help to take the load off. The Students’ Representative Council also operates Nightline, a confidential and anonymous listening service which is open from 7pm to 7am. Whatever aspect might be getting you down, be it mental health issues, accommodation or your course, the University has a wide range of support services on offer. If you’re not sure where to start, head along the the SRC’s Advice Centre in the John MacIntyre building and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction. The Glasgow University Counselling and Psychological Services also has a wide variety of support services for students who are experiencing emotional and mental health issues, including a drop-in service where you can pop in for a 30-minute appointment to talk over your concerns. One of the biggest factors in helping me settle in was getting involved with the student union’s events committee. It gave me a sense of purpose and I made great friends who would become my flatmates in subsequent
years. There are hundreds of clubs, societies and sports group within the University which cater to every interest imaginable – from pole dancing to Jane Austen, and everything in between. Student clubs are a great way to meet like-minded people, learn new skills and build up experience for your CV. If you’re feeling low, try to take extra good care of your health – sleep and eat well and get some exercise. Aside from the physical benefits, rest and exercise play an important role in mental wellbeing. Similarly, while you’re feeling a bit down, steer clear of alcohol. Booze is a real false friend when it comes to your mood. You might think that a few drinks will help you relax and feel better, but alcohol is thought to reduce the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain which are required to ward off anxiety and depression. Once the buzz has worn off it can leave you feeling even worse than before. Settling can take time, but there are lots of exciting opportunities available on campus, as well as support services. Take the time to explore these options before you reach any final decisions about university life. In my first semester, I came within a hair’s breadth of dropping out, but looking back I am so glad I stayed. I slowly began to settle in and, with some changes to my course, I began to love my studies. I did all the clichés: made friends for life and had the time of my life. So much so that I even came back to do a postgraduate and as I embark on my 6th year at Glasgow University, my new concern is that I may actually never leave.
All kinds of directions
Fraser Doig assesses whether college or university is the best route. Fraser Doig After serving my six-year sentence at that state penitentiary they call high school, I was at a loose end. I’d scraped the minimum grades required to get into university, but in my heart I knew I wasn’t ready for that level of commitment. This fact was later supported by the turbulent year that ensued which I fondly refer to as my ‘Kerouac period’. However, hedonistic adventures aside, I chose instead to enrol in a two-year course at college. And now, as I begin my life as a university student, I can fully appreciate the different, but equally valuable, fruits that both college and university can bear. Most people are aware of the scholastic tug o’ war that rages between college and university students. The attitude that you’re somehow less intelligent if you go to college is just as misguided as the view that university students are pretentious and snobby. There’s a big difference in the style of learning at both college and university, but neither should be regarded as superior to the other. I find university to be more academically orientated and I’m positive that my time here will equip me with crucial knowledge and expertise that will – regardless of what people might
say – put me in prime position for future employment. My time at college focused more on the practicality of subjects, and taught me how to implement learned skills in a working environment - something university sorely lacks. If you find that you’re not cut out for university, there’s absolutely no shame in going to college instead. In fact, many university graduates enrol in college to get a more refined education and experience in the field they’re looking for a career in. A common grievance with almost every fresh-faced university student is to do with the transition from school to university. Moving away from home, being away from your family and the struggle of living in an unfamiliar environment are all factors that contribute to the feelings of isolation and loneliness every student experiences to some extent at university. Many students are left feeling like a fish out of water or alienated in some way and, as a result, education suffers. College is a very different kettle of fish in that most students will stay at home with all the creature comforts that come with it. My time at college showed me that very little changes in the classroom either – smaller class sizes meant that I got to know everyone personally very quickly, just like old times! What sets it apart from
school is that it introduces the more university-like concept of independent learning, which for me made college an ideal platform for bridging the gap between school and university. On the other hand, there’s no denying that university presents you with all the freedom you’d ever dreamed of, and more. 18 years at home with your parents is enough to drive anyone stir crazy and my 21-year stint definitely had me climbing the walls. Now, away from the watchful eye of mum and dad, I’m free to do what I want, which just so happens to be drinking until I can’t feel feelings anymore. Flying the nest also teaches young people life lessons, such as money management and house maintenance – that is, of course, before you discover that your entire month’s student loan has been consumed by alcohol and the smell from that six-month-old pile of Dominoes boxes is kind of offputting. Ultimately, whether you go to college or university generally has nothing to do with brains or apparent lack of them. I can attest to the fact that there are plenty of incredibly clever people that go to college, just as there are some definite ‘heid the baw’s’ at university. Both roads have the potential to lead to your ideal job, it’s just a matter of which route you decide to take.
CONTRIBUTORS Editors Louise Wilson & Claire Diamond. News & Views Chris McLaughlin, Louise Wilson, Jess McGrellis, Hannah McNeill, Gina Mete, Claire Diamond, Rosannah Jones, Euan McTear, Jason Dashti, Amy MacKinnon, Paige Barclay, Cathy Steghs, Alastair Swatland, Zandi Coles, Bradley Ford, Fraser Doig, Ferdinand Goetzen. Culture Jocelyn Spottiswoode, Dasha Miller, Tom Kelly, Fraser McGowan, Jordan Sincalir, Rixta Sievers, Hannah Campbell, Susannah Fitzgeral, David Patterson, Mahdi Lamb, Rebecca Corbett, Imants Latkovskis, Mathhew Sharpe, Cecile Jensen.
Student politicians littered Library Hill again for the recent autumn elections onto the SRC. Whilst we can commend the executives for encouraging more students to get involved in representing the rest of the student population (with only three positions going uncontested and two remaining vacant), we must still remember the vast majority of positions were perhaps less democratically chosen. The elections in March saw a decrease in interest in joining student politics; many positions, including two sabbatical roles, were uncontested. Whilst RON may be an option - which, incidentally, wasn’t an option for half of Thursday due to technical issues - the odds of losing a vote against ‘reopen nominations’ are slim. It is pleasing to see that just three of the remaining 24 positions were uncontested in these most recent elections. Students are proving that they do care about what goes on around campus, and around university life in general. However, a depressingly low turnout for voters - and of course no guarantee that those who did vote did not just vote for their friends - indicates that the SRC is still, for many, a far-off concept which does not affect their own university career. We can only continue to hope the passive student population will realise their importance before the next round of (more important) elections in March. Overcrowding
The news that the numbers of students recruited to this University has risen is perhaps unsurprising for those of us that have been here for a few years. The increased pressure on the library and eateries at lunchtime is noticeable, and Freshers’ Fair garnered many more students than previous years, obvious whilst navigating the throng. This is certainly a positive step for the business side of the University - more students paying RUK fees means more money for the University to invest in its facilities. However, whilst we are waiting for this increased investment to be seen most notably in the Western Infirmary site acquisition - something needs to be done to cater to the excess of students. The reason so many people choose to study here is because of the outstanding education we are promised, but this is compromised if there is not enough space, resources and direct contact with staff. Until the long-term measures are put in place, the University need to seriously consider other ways of coping with its students. Plenty of money is being invested in the future of this institution, and rightly so, but the students in the here and now are being woefully ignored.
Sport Beatrice Cook, Mark Jackson, Claire Saltiel, Jack Haugh, Ailsa Pender, Tom Kelly.
Photography & Illustration Tom Kelly, Saxon Strausz, Thomas Endlein, Dasha Miller, Justin Mayes, GUSA, Flickr Creative Commons. Proofing, Layout & Copyediting Dasha Miller, Tom Kelly, Louise Wilson, Hannah McNeill, Euan McTear, Cecile Jensen, Aidan Turner, Chris McLaughlin, Gina Mete. Got thought? If you would like to provide anonymous tipoffs, retraction requests or articles, you can contact the editors with the information below, or a note attached to brick through the John Mac window just above and to the left of the University gatehouse. Contact email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Hungry for more? We hear you. www.glasgowguardian.co.uk
FROM THE SRC...
Jess McGrellis As Glasgow University accommodation and teaching rooms are continually being put under pressure, the SRC are working as hard as we can to ensure that increasing student numbers are not going to damage your quality of experience while studying here at Glasgow. Part of our work includes getting feedback from the 600 class reps we will train over the next month as well as the 22 Council Members who you will shortly have an opportunity to vote for in our autumn elections. These are the people who you should make aware of any issues you have associated with your learning experience here at Glasgow. As you can imagine, with these kind of numbers the SRC is a loud and powerful voice in the University. While the SRC’s main purpose is to represent our students we have a proud historic role, like many other Student Organisations, of working to raise money for charity. We have already hosted our first RAG (Raising and Giving) event of the year; the Macmillan Coffee Morning at which we raised almost £500 for Macmillan Cancer Support. Our next upcoming RAG event will be for Movember, raising pennies, pounds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. It would be great to have you onboard so contact Breffni O’Connor (firstname.lastname@example.org) for details
on how you can get involved and support Movember. In the meantime, business keeps turning as usual at the SRC. We are increasingly concerned at feedback advising of classes at 7am, big enough lecture theatres are precious space and the extremely limited likelihood of finding a free desk in the library, which appears to be a rare gem indeed to stumble upon. The SRC is calling for the University to find immediate solutions that will solve these problems in the short term, we will continue to review whether such solutions are satisfactory in the interim. For those of you who may be unaware the long term (which can’t come quickly enough), light at the end of the over-crowded tunnel, is the future development of the Gilmorehill Campus over the next few years. The University has purchased around 15 acres of land on what is currently the Western Infirmary site (right next to Gilmorehill). This new space represents a once in a lifetime opportunity for the University to evaluate the entire campus and develop a new strategy informed by what currently works well and what doesn’t. The strategy won’t just be looking at buildings, but how the campus fits together, green space and traffic. Obviously a project of this size it is going to be difficult for the University to balance the needs of all the stakeholders involved: students, staff, the Glasgow community, but I, as SRC President, will be working hard to ensure that the needs of our diverse student community are placed at the heart of this project. The consultation phase is already underway so make sure you keep an eye out on the University and SRC social media for updates on how to get involved in the consultation process. We want to hear your thoughts to ensure students help make Glasgow University the best campus for learning and research. Any questions, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR GUU Paralysis
I read with interest the piece by Adam Williamson in the edition of 10th September 2013, making a “pragmatic” case for a Yes vote in the referendum on Scottish Independence in 2014. The central theme of that article was that devo-max and independence are essentially the same thing and that insofar as there is a debate between the two propositions, we as a political community are engaged in a phoney war. However, he is mistaken when he describes independence as the greatest form of devolution. They are two quite distinct propositions entailing different relationships between Scotland, the United Kingdom and the international community. Devolution involves the United Kingdom vesting powers in institutions of its own making so that Scotland can make its own democratic and administrative decisions about the way it is governed on a clearly defined set of domestic issues. The “maximum” theoretical amount of devolution necessarily excludes giving Scotland the powers that are associated with statehood and separate or autonomous representation in its affairs with the international community. Adam cites the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey’s working definition of “devo-max” as the devolution of all domestic affairs, but reserving defence and foreign affairs. This is fundamentally different from independence. The problem is, to a certain extent, that the independence debate is really two different debates happening at once. This “pragmatic case” that has been adopted by the SNP in recent years focuses far more on responsibility for taxation, welfare and infrastructure: questions primarily of domestic
importance. These issues are ones with which devo-max (in its truest sense, as opposed to the luke-warm flavours of further devolution promised sometimes-maybe-sometimes-never in the wider debate) concerns itself every bit as much as independence. But relative lip-service has been paid to the second aspect of the debate: the international dimension. The questions of statehood and independence are really about whether we should be responsible for forging our own military alliances and defence structures, represent ourselves separately in the European Union, the United Nations and so forth, and operate our own diplomatic relations with other states. This is an altogether more difficult proposition to debate. Beyond rhetoric about the merits or demerits of “illegal wars” and “weapons of mass destruction” (and let’s remember, for every Iraq there is a Kosovo or a Syria - disliking war and nuclear weapons isn’t itself an answer) there are genuine trade-offs between pooling our international influence with the rest of the UK as part of the same state and having our own smaller, but purer, voice as an independent actor. Regardless of your feelings about how it got there, the UK is and remains a significant global actor without which it would be more difficult to ensure security and human rights in other parts of the world, and energy and environmental security closer to home. The real concern the people of Scotland should have is whether the United Kingdom is capable of reforming from within to ensure its interests are properly represented on the international stage. The apparent reluctance to talk seriously about direct representation
of the devolved administrations in EU delegations and the total lack of connectedness between Westminster and Holyrood over things like trade delegations and diplomatic summits should be a point of concern. The UK were central to salvaging the Durban climate talks from total collapse just two years ago, but Scotland’s interests are not being represented as well as they could be, for instance in respect of the Common Fisheries Policy in Brussels. The task of salvaging the Union really rests on its advocates showing its ability to reinvent itself both to reflect Scotland’s ambitions as a nation in a global community and to give it the proper domestic responsibility that befits its rapidly maturing institutions at Holyrood. The reason I (reluctantly) support Scottish independence is really because it is a means to an end for making more accountable institutions responsible for more of how we govern ourselves. As a Liberal Democrat, I make no secret of my preference, in an ideal world, for something tantamount to Devo-Max with an internal UK structure that reflects Scotland’s international interests. My leaning towards a Yes vote in September next year, however, rests on my scepticism that Westminster’s institutions are politically capable of delivering that change. What will be interesting is whether the SNP, in the event of a No vote, work constructively with reform-minded Unionists to try to keep the further devolution agenda going, for both domestic and international reasons, or whether they will sulk and agitate, letting the best be the enemy of the good.
I write in response to the article entitled ‘The day the porn was still there’, published online on 16 September 2013, by Imants Latkovskis. In the interests of full disclosure, I am a member of the Open Rights Group Supporters’ Council - the ‘London based NGO’ whose views were criticised in the original piece. However, the purpose of this response is not to rise to defend the content of the organisation’s claims; that job is for somebody else - and not what I signed up for. Aside from the over-use of emotive language, and massively reductive statements (“ticking the ‘I want porn’ box is unlikely to be the start of a dystopian future.”), Latkovskis has managed to miss the point completely; the thrust of the article seeming to be that ‘illegal porn is bad, so it’s good that they want to block it’. Latkovskis states that in justifying the proposed filter, David Cameron was ‘referring to child pornography, which seems to be forgotten about quote after quote.’ However, he himself is guilty of confusing two quite distinct issues. This isn’t something that he should feel
too bad about though, as the proposals have been deliberately designed to have this effect. We have to separate out whether the purpose of an on-by-default Internet filter is either to: a). prevent access to illegal material, e.g. child pornography, or b) prevent people (ostensibly children) from accessing any pornography. These are two very different aims, and require equally different approaches. It’s a moot point for the purposes of this letter that none of these type of filtering systems actually work effectively in any regard. If you aren’t sure about that, just ask yourself when the last time was that you used a VPN to get onto American Netflix, or a proxy to peruse certain eye-patch clad torrent websites. Rarely, I’m sure. The concern that any sort of default Internet filter will inevitably also block access to other content is not an unfounded one. Mobile operators such as Orange and T-Mobile have already blocked sites under categories headed ‘Chat’ and ‘Forums’ from their service without an explicit indication that you want to gain access - something
that you often cannot obtain until you have been a customer for 6 months or longer. Nobody should have to submit their name to a database with tickboxes against the categories of content they have chosen to view, or what information they want to exchange, and that is a realistic consequence of these proposals. This fundamentally isn’t about pornography, and to suggest that those who question a blanket, State-mandated Internet filter are advocating free and unfettered access to ‘material depicting rape and child abuse’ is at best disingenuous, and dangerously misinformed. Yet another badly thought out, technologically incompetent piece of legislation (if ISPs are not pressured into this ‘voluntarily’) which will do nothing to protect children, nothing to stop the spread of illegal material, and only serve to further squeeze the freedom to communicate and disseminate information online.
- Graeme Cowie
- Stephen McLeod Blythe
Ferdinand Goetzen The Glasgow University Union, one of the oldest student unions in the UK, has for decades stood strongly at the centre of university life. It has been a place of entertainment, academic prestige and buzzing social events all in equal measure. Since its founding in 1885, the GUU has played an important part in the lives of many students. However, with recent events and changes around the Union, some have spoken of its decline. Has the Union put its best days behind it, or can it recover from this slump? The current board, revolving around President Gavin Tulloch, has been given the mantel at a most difficult time. The Union that once so effectively combined academia with students’ social life is suffering from a loss in popularity, and, in some circles, even infamy. Freshers’ Week was a disappointment, and the Union has had to watch as a number of its current and potential members flee to Queen Margaret Union. The decline of the GUU has had a variety of causes, but two, in particular, stand out: the first is the demolition of the Union’s nightclub, Hive, a major source of income. The second is the series of events surrounding the misogyny scandal in March 2013. In autumn 2011, the University was pushing for the demolition of Hive in order to make space for an expansion of its sports facilities. Out of fear that the Union would have to close, its members protested against the proposal and reached a compromise in which the University committed to working with the GUU to develop a new social space. Despite this compromise, the GUU must still put up with over an entire academic year without Hive. Student club nights and other social events have had to limit themselves to using the Debates Chamber and other rooms that aren’t designed for clubbing. As a result, reports of this year’s Freshers’ Week have seen students disappointed with the GUU, leaving the Union near empty on nights where the QMU was packed. Though it has had its fair share of critics, Hive had become a cult club on campus, a place where most students could afford a fun night in which
they were sure to see many friends. Hive was consistently busy on Thursday nights, and its demolition has put a real dent in the Union’s popularity. In addition to the GUU’s social paralysis, it has been academically crippled by the misogyny scandal earlier this year. In March, members of the GUU were accused of heckling and making inappropriate sexist remarks about two girls from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh. The alleged offences made at the Ancients Debate resulted in the disaffiliation of numerous societies, University-wide outcry, and a rally against the GUU. The Union’s failure to react appropriately and immediately only made matters worse. These events have put the current board in the hopeless position of having to recover the Union’s image. Unfortunately, this appears to have led to paranoia amongst the GUU executive team, who have seriously compromised the Union’s academic events by avoiding anything that has a remote chance of resulting in complication or controversy. Political debates with speakers that have even the slightest potential of being controversial require extra security (a cost that many societies cannot afford), and the filming of such events has been banned. The new board, clearly overwhelmed by the chaos left behind by its predecessors, has resorted to these strict and overwhelming new rules in an attempt to negate any potential bad press. The problem is that Tulloch’s team have yet to realize that they cannot forever evade controversy. The GUU would be better off addressing the problems at their source: the tolerance of discrimination within the Union. Hive might now be beyond the grasp of the board, but it is not too late to make an actual change within the Union - one that doesn’t require the compromise of its events and their quality. One can hope that Tulloch’s team make a real difference, though it must be said that little of worth has changed in the first few weeks of the semester. The demolition of Hive and the consequences of the misogyny scandal still loom over a crippled Union, leaving it, for now, as little more than a shadow of its former self.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
Boats, trains and no automobiles Part II of our series on easy ways to escape the city. Jocelyn Spottiswoode By now you've been in Glasgow for a few weeks, and if you're needing a break from hectic city life here are three amazing places to get to using public transport. This is the second installment of my three part series highlighting the coolest places around.
Centre spread: explore unseen Asia
Oban and Tobermory Getting there: Starting with a train at Glasgow Queen Street, about three hours, you can either stay where you are or get the connecting ferry across to Tobermory, on the Isle of Mull. Why: This is more of a weekend trip than a day event, although if early morning starts don’t scare you there is no reason you can’t make it on a Saturday. Oban is fondly known as the Seafood capital of Scotland so if you like everything fishy this is the place for you, not to mention Tobermory is a picturesque fishing village. What to do: In Oban you can embrace the sea life and go on a Seafari or visit the Sealife Sanctuary. Renting bikes and exploring the town on your own steam is also an option. Over on Mull, you can visit Duart Castle, Mull Pottery, The Mull Museum, and Baliscate Standing Stones. What I like best about Oban and Tobermory is not what there is to do there but the character and the feel of different parts of Scotland. Travelling out here, away from big city life, you can truly start to feel how varied Scottish culture is.
Pollok Country Park Getting there: Although you can get trains to Pollokshaws West, the bus is easier; the 34, 45 and 57 run from the city centre and stop opposite the Park’s main entrance. Why: Although you’re not strictly leaving Glasgow city limits this park is well worth a visit. It’s easy to get to and for those of you who don’t want to commit a whole day you can tick all your boxes here: peace, clean air, art, history and walking all within easy distance of a Glasgow city fix when the quiet gets too much. What to do: Pollok Country Park is famous for being home to the Burrell Art Collection, which was originally owned by Sir William Burrell and is widely recognised as one of the greatest art collections ever put together by one person. At the moment the museum has an Impressionist exhibition on until the middle of January. As well as the museum you can also visit Pollok House and wander through the Park, which was gifted to the Glasgow Corporation on condition that it remained a public park.
Inverness Getting there: Trains depart from Glasgow Queen Street to Inverness regularly and take about three and a half hours to get there. Prices vary according to time and day. Why: Inverness is a small city nestled in the heart of the Highlands. Its most famous attraction is the Loch just outside town, but it also has plenty of other interesting things to see and do whilst there. What to do: Inverness has more to do than most people think. Not only does it have the usual shopping street to wander down, there is also the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, St Andrew’s Cathedral and a castle (currently used as a courthouse). Above the city is Craig Phadrig, originally a stronghold for Pictish Kings, where you can enjoy forest walks overlooking the Moray Firth. The best way to reach the famous Loch is down the Caledonian Canal. There is plenty to do at the Loch, including looking out for Nessie.
Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective
Dasha Miller Tom Kelly Asia is perhaps the top of many a student bucket-lists; it boasts unique and alternative cultures to those which we in the Western world have come accustomed. Yet places like India and China tend to go unseen due to the increased expense of acquiring a visa as a UK or US citizen. And even if one should manage to acquire such a visa, many travel sites suggest you only place common tourist destinations on your itinerary. Thus it is becoming harder to see the smaller corners of these beautiful countries. In this issues centre spread we featured some photography from Thomas Endlein, our photo editor, and Saxon Strausz, a second year nursing student. Both are talented photographers on the campus who this year had the privilege to travel to Asia. While both visited China, Thomas continued his travels in India where he took the photograph you can see in the top right hand of the spread. All the other photographs are from Saxon's travels in China. We particularly wanted to share these with you as they were great examples of student photography, as well as showcasing the lesser explored parts of the Asia. We hope you enjoy this quick window into some of the most exotic places in the world.
Fraser McGowan When it comes to oil paintings, I am something of a novice. I have no idea what the ‘depth’ of a painting means, and I couldn’t tell you a single difference between Impressionism and PostImpressionism. I suspect that this is precisely the reason why I enjoyed Jack Vettriano’s exhibition 'A Retrospective' as much as I did. I didn’t give the technical aspects too much thought, and instead I allowed myself to be thoroughly entertained by the paintings. I feel like art critics should try to do the same. Even if you know nothing about art, you are probably familiar with a few of Jack Vettriano’s paintings. His most famous works have been reproduced on mugs, notepads, jigsaw puzzles, calendars and greeting cards, available in just about every gift shop in Scotland. In the UK, his prints outsell those of Van Gogh, Dali and Monet. This achievement seems even more impressive when you realize that Vettriano has
received no formal training. Vettriano’s work may be considered permanently embedded in the public conscious now, but in the past he has been the target of his share of scathing criticism. The Daily Telegraph once described him as the Jeffrey Archer of the art world, a purveyor of “badly conceived soft porn”, and more than one critic has succinctly described his work as “brainless”. This seems unfair. To describe something as “brainless” is to imply that not much thought has gone into it. Nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to this exceptional collection of paintings. The first thing you notice is that his paintings are extraordinarily vivid. People are drawn to them exactly because of the forceful aesthetic impact. This effect is achieved through Vettriano’s bold use of colour; he is clearly not a painter that favours subtle tones. However, to reduce his success merely to a combination of pretty colours on a canvas would be doing the painter injustice. There is much more to it than that.
Vettriano’s paintings capture a series of intimate moments, some more erotic than others. Paintings like 'Game On' or 'Fetish' have an overtly sexual theme, which some prudish critics seemed to have a problem with. But this intimacy goes beyond Vettriano’s more sexualised paintings. In 'Cocktails and Broken Hearts' and 'Playing the Party Game', the intimacy is made more subtle and thus more intriguing. Sunglasses, back views and profiles are recurring features in Vettriano's work. This makes his paintings seem enigmatic. The viewer puzzles over the snapshots, constructs their own private narrative and draws their own conclusions. These paintings do not operate like conventional oil paintings do. They are unpretentious, unabashed, and genuinely meaningful. Whilst there is no shortage of glamour in Vettriano’s work, it is obvious that this allure conceals a number of insecurities. There are glimpses of vulnerability and flashes of frailty, beneath a surface of cool and collected gran-
deur. It is a subtle reminder that people tend to construct images of themselves by hiding behind illusions. It also reminds us that, despite our differences, all people have the same basic preoccupations, concerns and fears. His self-portraits are even more impressive. Vettriano abandons the glamour, and paints himself in flashes of extreme despair, channeling an eerie sense of honesty and vulnerability. Vettriano is a painter who strives to do as many different things as possible. Some paintings, such as 'The Singing Butler' are intended to be humorous; others, like 'In Thoughts of You', are meant to be touching. Art connoisseur or not, this exhibition is an experience that should not be missed - and it offers so much in exchange for so little. Jack Vettriano: A Retrospective, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, runs until 23 February 2014. Tickets cost £3 for students.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
Mum is here, hide the cheesy pasta
Eloise Birtwhistle When faced with the painstaking responsibility of entertaining friends and family who have come to visit, choosing the right place to go for lunch can be an ordeal. Naturally, you want to show them the best that Glasgow can offer. Ideally, you also want to make them jealous that you live in such a vibrant city. But with so many independent cafés and restaurants in the West End, we really are spoilt for choice. But fear not! If you keep these 3 cafés in mind, you’ll be certain to get the choice right. Tchai-Ovna. Tucked away at the quiet end of Otago Lane, Tchai-Ovna can be a challenge to discover on your own. Yet, once you have, you may find yourself coming back again and again. This café is unlike any other I have ever been in. Not only does it have a very relaxed feel, with the option to sit on sofas, cushions on the floor, or to borrow a hot water bottle and a blanket to warm yourself up in their rustic tea garden, it is also deli-
ciously, almost enticingly, fragrant. The smell of cardamom and other ethnic spices teeming in the warm air is enough to make every visit memorable. Primarily a tearoom, there is an incredibly wide range of teas available from all across the world and a decent selection of food as well. The food is mostly Middle Eastern and entirely vegetarian. But even as as a meat eater, I found myself tempted by everything on their menu. Eventually, I ordered the Middle Eastern Platter of Delights, which was £11.50 between two. I feel like this is probably the best item on the menu, as it combines a wide range of different foods, such as falafel and humus with olives and vine wraps, which means you can try a variety of different things. The layout of Tchai-Ovna works well to make you feel snug and cozy. The seating areas, especially the alcove around the corner offer privacy, but without totally making you forget that you’re in a busy café. With mismatched furniture, dimmed lighting and a changing selection of artwork, the café creates a very comfortable
and relaxed environment. Warm cup of desi chai in hand, this is the perfect getaway for a cold, gloomy winter afternoon. Smile Café. This one deserves my recommendation as the most parentfriendly, although, having just won one of the top accreditations in the Beverage Standard Awards in 2013, it is a venue worthy of showing off to anyone. Smile serves a wide range of authentic Italian food, mainly focusing on hot and cold paninis, but also offering other dishes such as antipasto and homemade pizza. I chose a warm fortino panini, which was made with roast beef, smoked cheese and sautéed mushrooms. I also nibbled on the Sapri and the Ispani from friends, each of which cost just under £5 and was served with Italian salad and crisps. The paninis, which are made in front of you, were not only a delicious combination of flavours, but the perfect sized portion; filling even for a late lunch. Although there is a selection of hot and cold drinks to go with your meal, the clear champion for me is the thick
Italian hot chocolate, reasonably priced at £2.50. However, I would advise ordering this before your meal as the richness may be a bit too much on a full stomach. A sachet to make your own Italian hot chocolate is also for sale alongside other Italian basics, like pasta and sauces and homemade Italian biscuits. Despite being very small and cozy, the front wall is entirely glass, so the cafe creates a very light and open feeling. The decor, made up of postcards and artwork, continues the authentic Italian theme. Perfect on a bright and sunny day. Taco Mazama. Don’t let appearances deceive you. Despite the simple and modest design, Taco Mazama is no ordinary takeaway. Conveniently located on Byres Road, this Mexican eatery is becoming increasingly popular with students and the wider public alike. Not only does it offer a steal of a £3.99 lunch deal, but also a gorgeous blend of flavours packed into a hearty portion. I chose the burrito and was right to not be deterred by the ‘mini’ descrip-
Open to op(era)tions Rixta Sievers Opera. Take a long look at that word and tell me what springs to mind. This is a task I have asked of a number of my friends, and, based on their answers, I have to conclude that my generation just isn’t very keen on this particular artform. They might like music, films, or even musicals, but the reaction to the opera is often a firm "no thanks". The reasons for this are many and varied: it's too expensive, it's too long, you have to dress up to go, or it's only for older generations. Pick any of these excuses and I'd be hard-pushed to disagree. These are all legitimate concerns. Opera can be expensive, and the shows often do go on for hours; you would feel out of place if you showed up in casual clothing, and, if you are the average university student, you would probably bring the average age down by at least thirty years. Despite all of this, I still go to the opera. At the age of six, I fell in love with the music, the singing, the drama and the emotion. But above all, I fell in love with the absurdity that comes with it. My first memory of an opera is watching Hansel and Gretel. It was in Polish, a language I don’t understand. It was also one of the scariest things I had seen - both the stepmother and the witch were truly evil characters. They wore garish makeup and extravagant clothing, and when they started to sing, the performance turned sinister. I got goosebumps, and a real sense of fear for the lives of Hansel and Gretel. And even though I didn’t understand
a word of what was said, all the emotion and the drama, all the fear and the rejoicing, did not pass me by; instead, I felt I had found a deeper understanding of the story. I felt like the music and I had connected, and my imagination had taken off. Yet for so many people I know, opera seems to be a strange and intimidating artform. To a certain extent, I do agree with them, because it is a long-winded and complex piece of music, where people sing instead of dying. And more often than not it is in a foreign language, so you will barely get a grasp of the story. But if you give it a chance, if you go just once, then you will see that, maybe, you can connect with it like I have. Maybe it will move something in your core, maybe you will shed a few tears at the bittersweet ending of a classic, like Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky, or maybe it will uplift your imagination, like Mozart’s The Magic Flute. All the excuses I listed are still valid. But if you have some spare time any day of the week, take a couple of hours off from the rest of the world and immerse yourself into a story. Glasgow is a fantastic city to experience an opera performance. There is the Scottish Opera, where a student ticket costs £10. A number of other theatres in Glasgow show the odd opera performance if you keep your eyes peeled. Even Cineworld on Renfrew Street has live screenings of the some the best performances from around the world, if you go on a Saturday night during opera season. And of course, watching opera in the cinema comes with an added bonus: you can go in torn jeans and a t-shirt.
tion, as I ended up quite full before even starting on my tortilla chips. The burrito was warm and comforting, with an excellent range of flavours starting from spicy bits of beef and chorizo in hot salsa and all the way down to cool, refreshing lettuce. The flavours are really left up to your own taste, as Taco Mazama employ a three stage make-your-own system with a wide selection of ingredients. If you are looking for a little more spice in your life, I would recommend going for the extra hot salsa along with jalapenos. Good not just for a cheap, quick lunch on the go, but also for sitting in. There is a certain charm to Taco Mazama that I’ve never noticed in any other fast food place. It’s simple and unpretentious, yet wholesome and endearing. Even down to the little red plastic baskets they serve food in. Perfect for a simple yet filling lunch on one of those days when you have no patience for anything too fancy.
To viper, the beer bar and back
Rebecca Corbett Laziness overcomes all of us, and as you start to fall into a daily routine, you also notice that your evenings are following that same, dull pattern inherited from first year. My personal one hovers between Ashton Lane, Hillhead Bookclub and Viper, all of which fall worryingly within about a kilometre of my flat. Not quite the adventure I planned university to be. Without a little exposure to the world outside of your bars of choice, you might never notice how much Glasgow has to offer. Frequenting the same place can be relaxing, but a total crime if you live in a cultural capital of the UK. So with one eye on our wallets - which are in need of some serious TLC - let's take a look at what other places have to offer... Literally a pint with a side of culture, Oran Mor’s popular ‘A Play, A
Pie and A Pint’ feeds, hydrates and entertains you for under £10. Here you can break out of the bubble without leaving the neighbourhood. Located on the corner of Byres Road and Great Western Road, this converted church dominates the West End landscape. The lively bar is often frequented by live musicians, meaning you can enjoy a break from Blurred Lines, Roar or Miley Cyrus, and instead enjoy your pint with a live backing track. The Citizens Theatre is a beautiful traditional theatre in the Gorbals, and offers tickets for 50p for one hundred lucky people for each of its main performances. This isn’t a deal riddled with terms and conditions; the “no catches, just an old-fashioned queue” mantra says it all. Simple and effective, the queues are known to go round the block. Get there early for a chance to grab a bargain. The Stand, just behind The Old Schoolhouse, offers live comedy for £2
every Tuesday - perfect if you’re trying to avoid the dreaded overdraft. Comedians of all shapes, sizes and standards come and stand up at Red Raw. Whether they are trying out new material, or attempting their first crack at comedy, you are guaranteed a laugh. Doors open at 7:30pm; get there on time to avoid the disappointment of not getting in on the limited seating. This hidden gem is becoming more well-known and popular - and students have on occasion been known to see Frankie Boyle or Kevin Bridges. Bargain. The Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet charge £10 per ticket to students for all of their unsold tickets. Turn up an hour before the performance and you can find yourself with the best seats in the house for only £10. Suddenly, going to see the ballet at Christmas isn’t such a financial challenge. Just remember to bring along your student card.
Blue Jasmine review Imants Latkovskis Woody Allen is not one to compromise on style. Indeed, that’s probably the reason why you either love him or hate him. All of his films even start off the same: white Windsor font over black, inoffensive jazz music, cast (in order of appearance) and then ... go! His new film, ‘Blue Jasmine’, is an exciting comeback after a series of irritatingly bland productions from Europe. From the painfully pseudointellectual ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ to the pointless 92-minute rant that was ‘Whatever Works’, fans were right to question whether it was all going downhill from here. But 'Blue Jasmine' is something else. It tells the story of Jasmine French, a college dropout, turned spoiled trophy wife, turned neurotic mess. Swept off her feet by the promise of grandeur and love (in that order), Jasmine abandoned her degree to marry soonto-be obscenely rich stockbroker, Hal. With her designer clothes and jewellery, house on Park Avenue and a sea of superficial friendships, Jasmine skimmed through life effortlessly until she was rocked back into reality. Crushed by her husband’s unfaithfulness and made penniless by his imprisonment, Jasmine moves to San Francisco to find her feet. Having spent the last twenty years in a glamour-induced coma though, her feet have sadly atrophied, causing this to be more of a challenge than she first thought. The film’s excellent storytelling isn’t just limited to the impeccably
nuanced dialogues and interludes of piercingly awkward and dry schadenfreude humour. The narrative structure, vaguely akin to 'Annie Hall', runs both of Jasmine’s lives side by side - the glamour on the East coast and squalor on the West. Short of closure over the death of her previous life, Jasmine dwells on the comfort and confidence she used to enjoy. The audience constantly catch her talking to herself, reliving scenes of her gilded memories, unable to let go. The remarkable thing about Jasmine, and indeed the film, is that she’s an extremely flawed, yet enchanting, character. Woody Allen has found someone who can play a neurotic better than himself (and that's really impressive), while at the same time showing so much emotion. Teetering between frailty in one scene and resolve in the next, Jasmine feels authentic. There is the Xanax-popping, Martini-drinking, mascara-smudged cliché part of her character, of course, but she unravels and proves to be much more than a type. Jasmine’s curse runs deeper than just her denial and vanity - it stems from her stolen freedom. She gave her life up for her husband and when she needs it back, too much time has passed for her to know how to start over. Ella Fitzgerald’s song ‘Blue Moon’ is the key to Jasmine’s character - playing when she first meets Hal, the song goes on to haunt her. “You saw me standing alone / without a dream in my heart.” Ironically, Jasmine fails to realise this herself and talks about the song yearningly as a symbol of her lost love.
Woody Allen’s films are often diagnosed with the inability to captivate people under 40. Labelled as “boring” or “slow”, most of his films go unnoticed to young moviegoers. Where there used to be a generation eager to see the latest Allen film, there is now a generation eager to avoid it. This might well be because cinema has changed a lot since the 70s and 80s, while Woody Allen has chosen to stay true to his style - troubled, yet resolute and witty characters, poignant dialogue-driven storylines, skin-crawlingly dry humour, and, above all, quiet philosophising on what is right and what is wrong. Maybe in a decade of explosion-driven Michael Bay films, this formula no longer works. It might equally be the case that the problem doesn’t lay with our attention spans, but rather with the director himself. Maybe Woody Allen has in fact exhausted his creative potential and is now doomed to repeat the same dull and dusty steps. Maybe his films really are riddled with tiresome clichés that our generation no longer finds relevant or interesting. How many self-obsessed, neurotic, emotionally dysfunctional characters does the world really need? Either way, if you forgive ‘Blue Jasmine’ for the slow pace, some mild moralising and an overall lack of inane chase scenes and actually try to enjoy it for what it is - a story - you might find yourself mesmerised by Allen’s one absolutely indisputable quality: his superb storytelling.
There’s a searing topic of debate among filmmakers and critics these days, and it’s one that needs resolving: has the line between cinematic homage and blatant theft become too blurred? Of the hundred highest grossing films of the last ten years, 75 of them are remakes, sequels or adaptations of source material, such as comics. Almost all the rest seem equally unoriginal and generic, tending to stick to very strict and predictable formulas. This isn't by any means a new phenomenon though - cinema has always used copying as a tool for creation, just to varying extents and degrees of subtlety. This might not always be a bad thing though. As film theorist Kirby Ferguson once wrote: “Copying is how we learn. We can’t introduce anything new until we’re fluent in the language of our domain.” Essentially, the inspiration behind creativity is replication – altering and combining the old to form something new. This was something that struck me as I was watching this summer’s remarkably similar yet predictably awful releases – ‘White House Down’ and ‘Olympus Has Fallen’. Same Presidential-themed mayhem, same groan-inducing tripe. When I delved further into less recent productions, I discovered just how deep the derivative rabbit-hole goes. Take the latest outings for James Bond and Batman in Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises. They were both the third canonical act in a trilogy from a franchise that dates back to the 60s. They both dealt with the themes of resurrection and rebirth. And most interestingly, they both featured five damningly similar characters… ...the aging protagonist, who at one point seemingly dies, only to return triumphantly. He also struggles with a physical and mental breakdown, as well as childhood issues. ...the elderly superior or guardian of the protagonist who is nearing retirement, and urges the protagonist to be vigilant of their safety. At the end of the film, they are given a convenient way out, which signals the end of the character. ...the flirtatious occasional love interest for the protagonist, with whom he shares suggestive banter (among other things). She is feisty, but comes to the hero’s rescue at the last second. ...the foreign and mysterious secondary love interest, who works for the main antagonist. She dies, partly because she’s really irritating, but mostly because it allows for a selfcontained and conveniently short love story. I’m not suggesting that these films copied each other, merely that they adopt certain conventions of cinema and character that have been, and will continue to be, used repeatedly. Clichés, essentially. This is why there is an inherent hypocrisy in filmmakers’ claiming intellectual property
theft for films that are essentially the same as the ones that inspired them. Creation requires influence, so why would you monopolise great ideas? ‘Star Wars’ is famously compiled of mythical elements from Joseph Campbell’s book ‘The Hero With A Thousand Faces’. There were many narrative structures there that could form the plotlines of a successful film, but it was only when George Lucas fully popularised these elements by combining them to create something new, that an era-defining blockbuster was made. Despite the unoriginality, it was the borrowing, reshaping and merging that allowed Lucas to create such a brilliant work, the success of which few would dare to question. According to box office lists, ‘Avatar’ is the most successful film of all time. According to everyone else, it’s also the least original. Its unprecedented revenue is testimony to the power of a little imitation and recombining. The basic narrative framework has been stuffed with the plots from ‘Dances With Wolves’, ‘Pocahontas’, ‘The Last Samurai’, ‘Ferngully’, ‘The Last of the Mohicans’, ‘Dune’, ‘Lawrence of Arabia’, and ‘A Man Called Horse’. The collective gross of all of these films is not even half that of Avatar’s. However, the film industry is not as hopelessly trite as I might have made it out to be. Imagine if we re-released classics from the 20th century, such as ‘Citizen Kane’. They would still be considered classics, but they would be seen as very derivative. The reason for this is that they had a massive influence on great films that followed. They set templates and inspired ideas, which were then reworked. Think of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, for example. If it was released today, people would bemoan the concepts it seemingly borrows from other films, such as the 2011 masterpiece ‘The Tree of Life’. What I’m getting at here is that films inevitably reference one another. In order to continue making good, let alone great, films, we must pinch and modify the aspects of films that have already stood the test of time. So without a little copying, the medium will never progress. Essentially, we shouldn’t complain about narrative plagiarism, because that is what cinema and, by extension, all art forms are about. You may think the films you watch are quirky, original and unique works of innovation, but they’re not. Deep down, when we examine their components, all films are the same. All popular songs use the same set of chords. All modern novels follow similar narrative beats and character arcs. There are, of course, exceptions, but my point is that, despite the sense of unimaginativeness, we should embrace this culture of copying. No film is ever made in vacuum, no film will ever be totally clean of references. And if there were be such a film - no one would understand it or like it.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
Back to basics in Bolivia
Jordan Sinclair Giant spiders, exotic diseases and long drop “toilets”. No electricity, hot water or Internet. Sounds like hell on earth, doesn’t it? Well, despite what it sounds like, I somehow managed to cope. This summer, I spent six weeks in Bolivia, volunteering for a charity called
Inti Wara Yassi, which runs three animal sanctuaries throughout the country. As a vet student and a keen traveller, I felt that this type of project would be perfect for me. No stranger to hard work or roughing it, I knew I had to expect very basic facilities and tough working conditions. But even I could not have imagined the true extent of both.
During my time there, I was allocated a puma to walk every day, as well as given other responsibilities concerned with looking after the house animals. This involved preparing food and cleaning enclosures of the birds, chonchos, tapirs and tejons. I also participated in some construction work, such as building a new puma cage and a set of monkey enclosures. The daily
trek with my puma, Carlos, involved a fifteen-minute walk through a waisthigh swamp. With time, I learned to love the swamp, and eventually accepted crossing it as one of my duties, just like caring for Carlos. Building a bond with him was incredibly rewarding and unlike anything I had ever done before. In the beginning, it seemed surreal to be living in the jungle and working so closely with such seemingly dangerous animals. But before long, sleeping beneath mosquito nets, eating dinner (which was usually rice) at a candlelit table, and having only a deck of cards and each other’s company for entertainment started to seem commonplace. There was no electricity at the animal parks, and the showers were always cold, which was actually refreshing after the heat and humidity of the day. Every day was a constant battle against mosquitos; we had to compromise between wearing enough layers to avoid being bitten and few enough to avoid overheating in the tropical environment. But we soon got used to the new lifestyle. I strongly believe that I made some of the best friends I’ve ever had while in Bolivia. Within a short space of time, our group got to know each other inside and out; without any effort at all, we just seemed to click. I feel like this was not only down to us being coincidentally like-minded people, or sharing such harsh conditions, but mostly because we had no access to internet or other electronic media. We entertained ourselves simply with each other’s company. At home, people seem to be so bothered with tweeting, tumblring
and facebooking that they have lost the skill to communicate in an authentic way. Because of this shared exile from technology, my group in Bolivia bonded and became such good friends that it was heartrending to say goodbye. We promised to keep in touch and to have regular reunions. I am so happy to say that two of them have already happened. After spending six weeks in Bolivia, I had mixed feelings about coming home. I loved every minute of my time away. I made great friends and had adjusted to living with just the basics. It felt strange to suddenly be thrown back into the modern, consumerist, mediaobsessed world once again. Even small things like flushing the toilet seemed like a novelty at first. Crossing roads in the UK felt unnatural when I had gotten used to everything being the opposite way around. Driving for six hours on a smooth motorway back up to Glasgow felt like nothing compared to the 23hour journeys on horrific dirt tracks that I had come to accept as normal. Going to South America really was a life-changing experience, in more ways than I could have imagined it would be. It opened my eyes to a different way of life, and allowed me to appreciate just how much we take for granted every day. The experience truly changed my values and my outlook on life, and I can honestly say that I would give up electricity, hot showers and the internet in a heartbeat if I had the chance to go back.
Interview with Theo Hessing Rebecca Corbett Ready for a change from his work in on an international development project, Theo Hessing turned his hand to creating his documentary. Straight out of film school, he found himself on a plane to India in search of telling some of the untold stories in Tibet. In 'A Sacrifice', he tells the story of Lhamo Kyab, a Tibetan political activist jailed for expressing his national identity. Hessing tells his story and explains that Lhamo Kyab’s sacrifice was not an exception, but is worryingly common, and is told with a brutal and moving honesty that few film-makers achieve. I was fortunate enough to interview the man behind the documentary about his experiences filming ‘A Sacrifice’. Guardian: What inspired you to create a film about Tibet? Theo Hessing: Making a film about Tibet was something I’d always been interested in. I became more interested in it when I met my girlfriend, who is half-Tibetan. Her dad has an amazing story in his own right. He grew up in a nomadic part of Eastern Tibet, actually not far from where LhamoKyab was born, and had this incredible trajectory where he ended up in the UK as one of a handful of lucky kids sent over to be educated here. He had been identified as a lama within the monastic system in Tibet and they’d wanted him to go into the monastery, but his parents decided against it and he ended up becoming a very successful businessman instead. His story captivated me, and he also grew up in Dharamsala, where the film
was made. So it was a combination of interest and my girlfriend’s dad’s connection with Dharamsala, which made accessing people and organisations over there easier. Guardian: How did you find your particular story? Theo Hessing: The gung-ho approach I took to finding this story is perhaps one I would think twice about repeating, because I went out to India without any idea about the story I was going to tell. I spent almost a month interviewing people, including a lot of former political prisoners. It was through the interview process that I discovered how many Tibetans had committed these huge sacrifices for their country and people. I met many former monks and nuns who had been involved in protests inside Tibet. These protests would often only last a few minutes - three, ten, fifteen minutes because the Chinese crackdown on any form of protest in Tibet is so swift, but the consequences were inevitably extensive spells in prison. Guardian: So these three minutes protesting would equal three months in prison? Theo Hessing: More like three years. And as Tibetan political prisoners they are probably treated worse than anyone else inside a Chinese prison. Almost everyone I interviewed had been tortured. As a Tibetan political prisoner, it is also difficult to return to a normal life after being released from prison, because the police follow you and accost you so regularly. Monks and nuns usually aren’t allowed to return to the monastery. Many former political prisoners are forced to
flee the country, which often means leaving their families, sometimes for good. Communication with their families once they are outside Tibet is also restricted because the Chinese authorities monitor phone calls and internet communications so strictly. So I got really interested in the motivations for getting involved in these protests, given the incredibly high prices people had paid, especially because many of the protests never even made it to the news. I was interested to explore the motivations for these sacrifices. Guardian: I have heard about the selfimmolations – did you experience any news of them when you were over there? Theo Hessing: They were happening a lot while I was filming in India - at that point they were rising rapidly in the run-up to the Chinese election last November. There was a candlelight vigil and prayers going on almost every week as each new self-immolation was announced. I felt that all these self-immolations were a mirror on a macro-level for what I was learning about on a micro-level in my interviews. However, I gave myself a hell of a task trying to edit these two strands together - self-immolation and the personal story of LhamoKyab - as this connection appeared much less obvious visually when I put the footage together. Despite that, I felt there was a story in bringing the two together. Guardian: Did you find it difficult working in such a different culture? Theo Hessing: I always find the cultural aspect fascinating, that’s actually one of the most interesting aspects
for me - to be immersed in an environment that is so different. It was really exciting to learn more about the Tibetan culture, and how religion especially influences people’s worldview. I found in discussions and interactions with Tibetans that people’s belief, for example in reincarnation or the inherent value of practicing compassion and selflessness in daily life, could lead them to make different decisions, reach different perspectives, and act differently towards others than would perhaps be common in our own culture. This is also the case at an organizational level – for instance the Tibetan Government-in-Exile periodically consults a deity, whose pronouncements can have an influence on its policy direction. Can you imagine the British Government doing that? Guardian: Did you come across any problems with the Chinese government at all when they found out what you were doing? Theo Hessing: I never had any intention of filming inside Tibet, I just knew it would be too risky. But I didn’t have any problems in India. When I returned to the UK I received a slightly strange message on Twitter which seemed to come from a Tibetan organisation, saying that someone had written ‘a horrible blog about me’, but when I followed the link it took me to a fake Twitter login page that I later Googled, and found entries in Chinese and about hacking. I suppose it’s a form of intimidation, although I can’t be sure who the message was from. China monitors the internet closely, but I was honestly surprised that my film had gained any attention
whatsoever, as it’s a comparatively small project. I certainly harbour no ideological opposition towards China – I think it’s a fascinating country with a rich culture and history, although I disagree with its government’s policies in Tibet and I think that the slow eradication of Tibetan culture inside Tibet is tragic. I did not set out to make a film that is partisan or anti-China, and I don’t think my film is either of those things, but I suppose that from a Chinese governmental perspective any film that gives voice to ordinary Tibetans could be seen as threatening. Guardian: What are your plans now? Anything in the pipeline? Theo Hessing: I am about to travel to Australia to document my dad’s life there in the 1950s and 60s – he was a well-known painter in Australia who arrived as a Jewish refugee after WWII. As my dad died when I was a teenager, there’s a lot that I don’t know about his life, which was very rich. His personal journey took him from the ghettos of Eastern Europe to the studio of Fernand Léger in Paris, via an internment camp in Cyprus and Israel at its inception, to Sydney, happenings with Claes Oldenburg in New York and later with Yoko Ono in London. I will be filming interviews with artists from that era who are still alive – many are now very old. I’d like to eventually turn my journey into a short film, although it’s a long-term project as it could take me to several other places first.
These are a few of my favourite things
Hannah Campbell I admit it: I love musicals. And I would scream it from the rooftops. I just think they are marvellous and uplifting. But I really understand some people’s aversion to musicals. It may seem silly to see people singing and dancing in the rain for seemingly no reason at all. But what’s so wrong with a little spontaneous expression of joy? But I think the outright refusal to watch any sort of musical is a little sad and also a little absurd, almost like saying "I don't like books" or "I don't like cake". Just like books and cake, there are a variety of musicals out there, and almost certainly there is one for everyone - even those 'too cool' to be 'seen dead' watching one. Now, let's try to find a musical to tickle your (ear) tastebuds… Once (2007) Set in the centre of Dublin, two buskers meet on Grafton Street and make music together. It is as simple as that. All of the songs are interwoven into the plot, so it is cleverly disguised. This is a charming and witty modern day musical helped along by Glen Hansard’s hauntingly beautiful songwriting. Once is an unpretentious, unassuming look at the struggles of two very different musicians. The magnificent acting carries the film and you cannot help but be touched by its tragedy. The Producers (2005) This musical makes a mockery of the musical industry. It is hilarious; it is ridiculous; it is fabulous. Leopold Bloom and Max Bialystock meet under strange circumstances and decide to write a musical that would become a flop in order to claim insurance money. They put on ex-Nazi Franz Liebkind’s Springtime for Hitler – the most offensive and terrible play ever written. Scantily clad women in SS uniforms march around, forming a swastika. Meanwhile, Bialystock sleeps with the female octogenarian population of Manhattan. As bizarre and outrageous as it sounds, it is a must-see.
B ugsy Malone (1976) A weird and wonderful take on prohibition. Shootings, theft and prostitution – forget Gatsby, Bugsy Malone has it all. It is not just a children’s movie and it is not just a musical. Thirteen year-old Jodie Foster sings: “If you're lonely, you don't have to be lonely / When they talk about Tallulah, you know what they say / No one south of Heaven's gonna treat you finer / Tallulah had her training in North Carolina.” The film certainly oversteps the line. Yet, the innocent acting of these children turns something that could have gone so wrong into a timeless, multilayered comedy. West Side Story (1961) Two opposing groups, two beautiful young people; their eyes meet across the room and they fall in love. Sound familiar? West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet. Set in 1950s New York, the Jets and Sharks detest each other. But can young lovers bring them together? Well, not really - but we still love Shakespeare, even if we don’t like musicals. We all know the ending, but the fightdance routines just make this classic tale so darned cool. Singin ’ in the R ain (1952) In 2006, the American Film Institute named Singin’ in the Rain the number one greatest movie musical of all time. Don’t let this put you off! This film is a work of cinematic genius, a musical in its purest form. It is a look back at the transition from silent movies to talkies in the 1920s. As a movie about the movie industry, it does not take itself too seriously. The film has achieved legendary status. One myth is that the rain used in the most famous dance scene, apparently performed by Gene Kelly in one take, was actually milk. Another is that Kelly made his co-star Debbie Reynolds cry because her dancing was not good enough. This film has not only the greatest choreography but also one of the funniest scenes in any film – when Donald O’Connor performs 'Make ‘Em Laugh'. I challenge anyone not to like this musical.
The happenin' at Haddowfest
Susannah Fitzgerald Any mention of a festival in Edinburgh is bound to invoke images of August pavements packed with loud American tourists, along with more PR people and leaflets than University Avenue during SRC election week. However, the city’s most recent offering proved to be a little different. Haddowfest took place between 11 and 12 October and featured some of the best-loved faces on the indie scene, along with plenty of new talent. Now, in its fourth year, the festival swapped its usual one-day format for two, promising even more entertainment for those brave enough to handle a whole weekend in some of the capital’s favourite drinking haunts. The venues included Maggie’s Chamber, Sneaky Pete’s, HMV Picturehouse, Cabaret Voltaire and the Liquid Rooms; all far enough apart to explore the Old Town but close enough to avoid splashing out on taxi fares that would set any Glaswegian’s heart racing. Choosing to take on what the Saturday had to offer, we got together at Queen Street Station and headed east. The day got off to a fairly quiet start chilled out acoustic sets from the likes of Green Man Running and Aaron Wright with Jacqui Abbott in Sneaky Pete’s, with something a little fun and quirky sandwiched in between, such as Ded Rabbit in Maggie’s Chambers. The diversity of venues, each one offering a slightly different feel, meant that during the day the festival-goers were free to disperse and discover some of the
lesser-known acts before assembling at the main venues for the headliners in the evening. The first to draw a noticeably bigger crowd was The 10:04’s, who took to the stage in Cabaret Voltaire. With the event named after the band’s drummer, Paul Haddow, the group are festival veterans, and their solid performance proved why. With memorable, melodic songs the band sounded not unlike a Scottish version of White Lies or Editors. A stroll through the dreich weather of the Cowgate and the Grassmarket brought us to our next destination - the HMV Picturehouse. The Merrylees, another firm Edinburgh favourite, pleased the crowd with their unique brand of indie rock tinged with distinct Western influences. The one drawback was that, as the biggest venue on the bill, the Picturehouse didn’t deliver the same intimacy that had been tangible throughout the rest of the day and is, arguably, one of the best things about smaller festivals like Haddowfest. Yet this wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits, even if the rain did manage to do just that to our clothes as we traversed back across the cobbles to the Liquid Rooms, where we would remain for the rest of the night. At around 9pm, JonPaul Palombo bravely graced the stage as a solo act. This daunting task didn’t stop him impressing the crowd with catchy acoustic numbers and a strong voice before the last two bands of the night. Next up was The OK Social Club, whose energetic set list and clever lyrics drew big support from the crowd.
Winners of the 2013 Scottish Alternative Music Award for “Best Live Act”, they lived up to their title, boosting the atmosphere in preparation for the final performance of the night. The headline act of the festival was We Were Promised Jetpacks and the crowds packed in to hear the boys’ performance. Having supported Jimmy Eat World on their North American tour, Bon Jovi at Hampden and gracing the prestigious Coachella lineup in 2012, a high standard of performance was expected; and delivered. The haunting element of the band’s songs entranced the audience, but the energy with which they were delivered was matched by an equally enthusiastic support. The party continued for another three hours with DJ sets and plenty of drunken revellers. As the last of them stumbled up the stairs of the Liquid Rooms and the doors were shut, thus concluded another successful Haddowfest. Fans of the Scottish music scene, great live bands, or those looking to uncover some new local talent should keep their eyes peeled for the release of next year’s lineup sometime around September 2014. Even if you’re not particularly familiar with the acts, those who just want a great day out with their friends, or maybe fancy a good way to explore the capital, will find all of these things in Haddowfest. The welcoming and contagiously fun atmosphere of the event is undoubtedly one of its greatest attributes and is what it allows it to successfully draw in fans, both new and old, year after year.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
Review: Trad Sessions Review: David Patterson “Have you brought your tools?” is the question asked to me and my friend Luc as we step into Waxy O'Connor's. The man asking is Steph, who has been running folk sessions for the last 13 years. From a distant corner of the pub come the sounds of Scottish folk rhythms, echoed through incessantly foot-tapping punters who have come for a pint and an earful of Glasgow's finest folk players. At the beating heart of Glasgow's music scene is Trad – traditional folk music. The Sessions organiser Susan claims this to be “Glasgow's original soul music.” Just by looking around, you can feel the warmth radiating off the smiling crowd. The best folk musicians, both young and old, play with such energy and enthusiasm, slipping into each reel, jig and rhythm with perfect ease. Accordionists, fiddlers, a clarsach (harp), a bodhran (Irish drum) and cello players and guitarists all make up the troupe who are paid for their services with free drinks from the bar. Starting at Waxy's, they play (and drink) their way to the Flying Duck and finish at the Ben Nevis in the West End. Sitting back, sipping a pint and letting each ditty take control of your tapping foot is my perfect hangover cure from the all-night session the previous evening. And the best part is that it’s absolutely free. Yet whilst Trad has been on the rise across Scotland for the last 20 years, it is still largely unknown to the masses of party-going students at the University. “It wasn't advertised in Glasgow uni,” says Glasgow University Erasmus student Kristian. “I heard that Glasgow
was a great music town, but I had to find out about these sessions off the internet.” Indeed, looking around the Irish pub, you can't help but notice how small the crowd actually is – with the 8 or 9 players as the majority. Luc, an accomplished guitarist and accordionist from the Conservatoire, tells me that Glasgow has the best sessions out of the ones he’s played in. “The Ben Nevis is brilliant for crowd participation, but I'd like to see more Scottish music students getting in on it,” he adds. Once the last tune has reverberated, we head to the Flying Duck at 7pm. Hidden away on Renfield Street, it’s notably busier than Waxy’s, with a younger crowd who swarm the kitchen-like bar where pints of lager are only £2.30. After the folksy hum in Waxy's, the music here takes a slight turn. I watch a mandolinist twang out a blues melody while a bodhran player thumps out a slow, swing-like rhythm reminiscent of Louisiana. Susan explains to me how the Sessions are a “big melting pot that is always evolving, with a fusion of different styles and genres.” I find this to be true in popular artists like Mumford and Sons, whose popfolk is lauded the world over. Whilst we unwittingly nod our heads in appreciation, Susan goes on to say what these sessions mean to her: “When it comes to people who aren't involved in folk music, it’s about breaking down the twee stigma.” I certainly don’t profess myself as an expert on folk music, but I really don’t see any of the stereotypical folk players around – ones who usually range between 70 and 90 years, warbling on about losing some lass in a tartan storm. Instead you feel invigorated by the diversity and find yourself smiling,
with the morning’s hangover now a distant memory. This energy is taken even further when the case-carrying few stagger along Argyle Street and into the Ben Nevis. Foot-tapping now turns into ground-shaking stamping and you have to grip your glass before it dances its way off the table. With bits of thatched roof and stone on the walls, you get a sense that the highlands are weaved into the very room and brought to life through the raucous tunes that are thrashed out on fiddles and beaten on bohrans, a cojon and even a djembe. By far my favourite percussion instrument is the whisk that Steve whacks against the table in time to the thick Celtic sounds. There is an agreement among the musicians that the Ben is the best of the three venues, so they host two other weekly Trad nights on a Wednesday and Thursday. It also appears to be a favourite for the listeners. The inebriated throng slowly orbits the bar and the one-drinktoo-many bar patrons clap, stamp and shout out their appreciation. I grab a chat with one of them who’s a regular at the Sessions, coming for the “good tunes and good banter”. He continues: “I prefer this to rock gigs, as you’re not screaming into your friend’s ears. It’s a hidden gem of Glasgow that more people should know about.” The Session winds up at last orders and is met with loud shouts for more. Luc tells me that everyone calls it “Sunday Funday” and after 10 hours of energetic strumming, picking and beating, I have to agree. Free music, decent pints, a lively atmosphere and so much energy from both players and crowd – who says Sundays are dead?
Mahdi Lamb A slick follow-up and prequel to Janelle Monáe’s first studio album ‘The ArchAndroid’, the ‘Electric Lady’ pulls out all the bells and whistles to deliver an outstanding album. For those not keeping up with the sci-fi laden concept albums from Big Boi’s record label 'Wondaland, Monáe tells stories of a futuristic society where androids coexist with humans. The story plays homage to the rich history of peoples’ prejudice towards the misunderstood – be it because of race, sexuality or other identity. In the story, the protagonist Cindi Mayweather is an android that has fallen in love with a human and, for such a heinous crime, is wanted for disassembly. On the run from the authorities, she is soon to be branded a messiah in a “society that uses time travel to suppress freedom and love”. She then creates a following to bring positive change to her society. ‘The Electric Lady’ marks the fourth and fifth of seven suites of the story. With such a dynamic story, you could easily be fooled into thinking that the album focuses more on narrative and falls short of ear-friendliness. Fear not, as there is a slew of amazing tracks that will wear out your LP player (or whatever the equivalent is in the mp3 world) as it has mine. And if you ever needed a stamp of approval, then you couldn’t ask for anything better than Prince appearing in the opening track. The album also features the likes of Erykah
Badu, Miguel, Esperanza Spalding, and Solange Knowles (make no mistake, Beyoncé’s sister packs just as much of a musical punch – take a gander at her last EP ‘True’ for quite an eargasm). As ever with Monáe, the musical styles vary from funk to R&B and pop, and even reggae. In fact, despite the futuristic sci-fi themes in the story, the singer/songwriter/producer (no wonder she caught Prince’s eye) plays homage to the artists that have had an influence on her. Bar the obvious influence on the track ‘Givin’ Em What They Love’ which features Prince, the album draws influences from Stevie Wonder (‘Ghetto Woman’), reggae music (‘What an Experience’), cinematic music (‘Sally Ride’) and even early Michael Jackson (‘Can’t Live Without Your Love’). With such depth and artistic creativity, I would be genuinely surprised if this album wasn’t mentioned in at least a few end-of-year lists. Aside from musical tributes, Monáe also references the first woman in space, Sally Ride, and the first African American to be awarded an Academy Award for best actress, Dorothy Dandridge. It is obvious that Monáe is bringing in nods to historical barrierbreaking to show that, despite its peculiar setting, Cindi Mayweather’s story is as timeless as human prejudice. So if you’re game for some real upbeat, fun and funky music, as well as an immersive story to go with it, prepare your ears for ‘The Electric Lady’, and once you’re done, prepare again as this album is nothing short of addictive.
Tom Kelly talks about the QMU Whisky Club, who serve drams at a perfectly normal temperature.
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Tom Kelly My usual shopping list will include 40p meatballs, 29p pasta and toilet roll that doesn’t deserve the name. I buy the same cheap crap week in week out, and the staff at my local Tesco refer to me as a ‘regular’. What’s my point? I’m cheap and everyone knows it. It’s the way most students are - our lives are lacking in the luxury such fine surroundings imply. I may take my lectures in a beautiful building from 1870, but I’m still going home to live in a flat where one of the walls is falling down. But every time I decide to treat myself, my bank balance screams a little louder. What is
a student to do? About a year ago, I found what I was looking for: The QMU Whisky Club. Every month (roughly) I sit down to six beautiful half-drams of one of the finest beverages known to man. I don’t mean bad whisky - I’m not talking about Jack Daniels - I mean the good stuff; the Balvenie Doublewood 12 year old (matured in two distinct casks: one Whisky Oak, one Sherry Oak), or perhaps the Caol Ila 18 Year Old 1994 Sassicaia Wood Finish. Distinct, flavourful whisky of the highest quality with smoked applewood cheese and crackers to go with it. This absolute luxury is not something I allow myself through gritted teeth and
leaves me scrambling in my sofa for the lost pennies - £6 is a luxury I can afford. Starting from humble beginnings, not unlike my dilapidated flat, a group of skint friends decided to buy a nice bottle of whisky together and drinking it periodically. The idea grew to be one of the most available fineries on our campus. Each event opens its doors to 100 people. Connoisseurs and whisky virgins alike are guided through the whiskies in a fun and unpretentious way. Shorts and t-shirts will do just fine here (in fact that’s become a uniform for one particular regular), and trust me - that guy in the suit will be yelling that he’s getting
cherries on the nose just as loudly as you once we’re five drinks down. You might be thinking that you know nothing about whisky, that you don’t even like whisky. But I put it to you that whisky is a diverse and complex drink - the whisky for you might be out there lurking behind the bar or at some booze festival you’ll get dragged to. People call death the leveller, but I think whisky is too. I attended the most recent Whisky Club (their fortieth meeting) and sat with connoisseurs, newbies and Whisky Club’s executive, and I find that each dram is an adventure, often something new for everyone in the room. The nose, the palate, the finish - all
echo the years of work, the years of variable, individual and fascinating work that have gone into the whisky. While they’ll help you work out the recommended guidelines for traversing this alcoholic quest for differentiation at the club, no one at the table’s word is the be all and end all. When I began to review the experience on a whisky by whisky basis I realised I would be in part missing the point. This is not a run through of good whisky, a handshake, and a goodbye - it’s the manifestation of the idea that nothing is too good to be shared. Besides, it’s the only luxury I can afford.
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The world is your oyster Cecile Jensen I don’t share many of my fellow English Literature students’ indisputable enthusiasm for the great Bard. Nevertheless, respect must be given where it is due, and Shakespeare did make a valid point in The Merry Wives of Windsor, when the hero Pistol utters: “Why then the world’s mine oyster / Which I with sword will open”. This statement has never been truer than today, when technological innovations of the past century have given us innumerable opportunities to explore foreign parts of the world and broaden our perspectives on our own lives, as well as those of others. Along with the geographic and temporal obstacles that have long ceased to be an impediment to travel, full-time student status is also no longer a significant boundary between the student and the world beyond campus. I implore everyone to seize your figurative sword and prize open the oyster that is lying at your feet. I grant that the prospect of leaving
the comfort-zones of daily routines and stable circles of friends, only to throw oneself into the expansive unknown is daunting. But the advantages of making these sacrifices are worth every tear, every twang of homesickness and every frustrated oath muttered against the administrative nightmare that is an inevitable part going on exchange (academic requirements to meet, papers to fill out, study permits to apply for…). Stepping outside the habitual frame through which you see the world, you realise how vast and diverse a place it is; you become aware of how standards that apply within your own community are not necessarily transferable, and find yourself naturally adapting to the conventions of your new setting. Moving from the safety of my home in Denmark to Glasgow for university back in 2010, one of the things that struck me most during my first months was the chattiness of Glaswegians. It’s a stereotype to say that Danes are naturally reserved people who prefer not to engage in conver-
sations with complete strangers; I’ve always fought this accusation off ardently with the argument that people in Denmark are just as outgoing as people anywhere else in the world. After a few days in Glasgow however, it quickly dawned on me why Glaswegians would be inclined to label us European northerners as peculiarly uncommunicative: I found people in Glasgow to be chatty in the extreme. My experiences with shop attendants at the supermarket asking me how my day had been and what my plans for the evening were was an unexpected culture shock, and left me in a state of confusion every time I paid for my groceries. My thoroughly sceptical Danish way of thinking didn’t understand whether they expected me to reply with a lengthy, informative answer or not (and if not, then why bother asking?). I gradually learned to respond to these politely conversational stock questions in the expected manner (“Not bad, not bad, yourself?” or alternatively deliver a short rant about the weather), and appreciate
the cheerful way they compensated for long queues at Tesco, suffered with rain-drenched hair. Then last September, I found myself uprooting once again when I went on exchange to Montreal, Canada. I quickly realised that this move across the Atlantic meant re-adjusting the settings I’d set for my student life in Glasgow. French is the official language in Quebec and should be respected as such, taxes were not included in store prices, tips were required in all sorts of unexpected situations (ranging from eating out to going to the hairdresser), and shop attendants did not ask me how my day had been, making long queues at Provigo (Montreal’s Tesco equivalent), suffered with snow-drenched hair, that bit more annoying. However, Montreal had much to compensate for these minor differences which, after all, ceased to be annoying or even noticed, once they had been incorporated into the daily routine. Glasgow, Montreal and Copenhagen are not cities that are normally
compared for their dramatic cultural differences; all three are generally considered to be highly developed, western, urban metropolises, sharing many characteristics associated with this status. Yet my experiences with all three have taught me how wrong it is to generalize between cultures that might seem almost indistinguishable at a superficial level. The lessons I have learnt from my close encounters with the three cities stand as examples of how important it is to learn to navigate in a world that is as diverse as the number of people that inhabit it. Travelling for longer stretches of time, and engaging intimately with different countries and cities and the ways of life they represent, you learn to be tolerant and open-minded, and not to judge or criticise the unexpected. You learn that home is special because of the unique composition of qualities that make it “home”; qualities that you can’t presume to find anywhere else.
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OCTOBER 30TH 2013
The presidential line Our sports editor speaks to GUSA President Stuart Law. Beatice Cook With over 15,000 members, and 2,000 students using the gym daily, it’s no surprise that with the role of being President of the Glasgow University Sports Association comes great power and pressure. The recent closure of the Kelvinhall sports complex has undoubtedly caused problems for the association, but Law, during the recent Glasgow Guardian interview, assured me that the future is still bright for sport at the University of Glasgow. Guardian: Introduce yourself, and your role in the GUSA council. Stuart Law: I’m Stuart Law, and I’m the President of the Glasgow University Sports Association. Within that role, I look after the council, and help out the council members where I can. My role as President means I oversee the organisation and running of 48 sports clubs, a recreational programme and various sports events that run throughout the year. I also liaise with the Sport and Recreation Service to ensure that the student’s opinions are heard, and to ensure the best deliverance of sport possible. Guardian: How did you initially get involved in GUSA and the GUSA council, and how can new students get involved with GUSA, and the council particularly? Stuart Law: In my first year, I spoke to the then President a lot as I played hockey with him, [and we spoke] about what GUSA was all about and how people could get involved. I really
liked the sound of it, so I thought I’d run for council, and was lucky enough to get on as Ordinary Member. I ran again every single year. I would say start speaking to people as soon as you can, and apply for other committees, as well as try being a Fresher’s Helper. Guardian: How are you settling in to the new role? Stuart Law: I’m really settling in, it’s really good fun. It’s probably the best job I’m ever going to have, because you have the freedom to do what you want in terms of promoting sport as there are so many things you can do, and it’s all up to you. Guardian: How was FW13? Stuart Law: That’s the fifth Fresher’s Week I’ve done at the University of Glasgow, and it was hands down the best one I’ve been involved with. I couldn’t be more proud of how the GUSA Helpers were, some people were even saying they were the best helpers on campus, and that gave me a really good sense of ownership that it had been a really successful week, and that all of that hard work myself, the council and the executives had put in over the summer had paid off. Guardian: What will GUSA be focusing on this year? Stuart Law: Many different things; we’re trying to increase participation across all club sports. In doing this, hopefully the level we compete at will increase again. We’re trying to get ourselves up the BUCS (British University and College Sport) tables, with a big jump up last year. A few projects
I’m working on include making sure Wednesday afternoons are kept free for sport; this is something that has been ongoing for about fifteen years now. I’m also finalising the first ever strategic five year plan GUSA’s had, which is quite a big project. We’ve also got a few new policies, including a new Equality and Diversity policy, as well as discipline and safety procedures. Guardian: With the closure of the Kelvinhall, how will GUSA and the SRS overcome problems , including lessened training space? Have you faced problems so far? Stuart Law: A lot of work has gone in over the summer, and we’ve had to look at local schools and sports complexes all over Glasgow. We purchased few new minibuses and are now up to a fleet of eleven, which is to make up for clubs who used to train indoors, such as at the Stevie or Kelvinhall, and now have to get a bus somewhere. We’re working hard to make sure people have the same provisions as before. We have had a few comments from clubs; certain clubs need storage, or certain levels of space to train, and it’s not the ideal scenario for them. The activity hall at the Garscube isn’t the biggest, and that’s where there are a few issues. Hopefully within two years time it’ll be resolved. Guardian: With University’s recent win at the BUCS Conference for ‘Most Improved’, what makes GUSA such a great institution? Stuart Law: The reason why winning
that award was so good was that it’s something that Glasgow University has never really focused on in terms of getting BUCS points. You look at some of the bigger universities such as Loughborough, where BUCS points means everything, and that’s what sport means to them, but I think at Glasgow it’s great because we look beyond that. It’s great if we get them as it means we’re competing at a high level. But it’s more about getting people involved at all levels, and we try and cater for everyone. That’s what makes Glasgow so unique, and not totally focused on the competitive aspect. Guardian: Any upcoming events students should know about? Stuart Law: We’ve got the Monster Dash coming up on November 10; we’ve made it bigger this year, and we’re also now catering for small children to take part. This is good because there are a lot of mature students at the University, and this means they can come along and take part with their kids. We’ve also got the Big GUSA Quiz coming up on November 22, which is always a good night and a big fundraiser, although the charity hasn’t been decided yet. As well as that, the GUSA Ball is already starting to be planned, and that’ll be on February 8. Guardian: Any final thoughts? Stuart Law: Getting involved in sport at University is one of the best things I have done; it has helped develop me as a person, and I would fully recommend to every student to get involved at any level of sport!
Boycotting will teach Fifa a lesson
Tom Kelly Yaya Toure met with Jeffrey Webb, the head of Fifa’s anti-racism task force just after Toure’s team Manchester City lost to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. According to a spokeswoman for Webb, speaking to the BBC, the two had “a good conversation.” I don’t know exactly what could possibly constitute “a good conversation” between these two, considering Toure, just three days prior, was telling BBC Afrique that a boycott of the Russian World Cup in 2018 was possible due to abhorrent recurring instances of racism from fans towards black players in Russia. This even began to affect Toure personally when he represented Manchester City in a Champion’s League game against CSKA Moscow and was subject to
monkey chanting. A part of me which is growing increasingly dissatisfied with Fifa’s ability to manage world football; I am concerned this may mean “a good conversation” for Fifa and the Fifa World Cup in Russia in 2018, but not necessarily a good conversation for football more generally. Don’t get me wrong - I am in part very pleased with Sepp Blatter’s, head of Fifa, response, which was to call the current punishment for incidences of racism (stadium closures) quite weak, and establish that he desires to see teams expelled from competitions when incidents of racism occur instead. But when on BBC Radio Five Live Leroy Rosenior, formerly of West Ham, suggested that players threatening with a boycott might lead to stronger action from Fifa and Uefa on issues of racism in football his ex-
act words were “boycotting the World Cup, which is sanctioned by Fifa, is a threat that maybe needs to be a serious threat because you want the authorities to come up with something off the back of a threat which will actually get something positive happening.” I think he hit the nail on the head and the earnestness of that threat genuinely ruffled the feathers of Sepp Blatter and as a football fan I want them to remain ruffled. In the last two years, I think the various instances in Russia and Italy - as well as closer to home - have led a lot of football fans to begin to worry that we’re actually moving backwards on not only this issue and others too. I remember the media shock when Hulk and Axel Witsel arrived at Zenit, St. Petersburg to a letter requesting they be sold on due to their race from the main fans’ association. Football
has been a global game for a long time and players of all different races have been competing in it for even longer. A whole generation around the world have been brought up worshipping footballers, without race being an obstacle or even a novelty (now I think about it two posters hung on my wall as a boy: Peter Schmeichel’s and Andy Cole’s) and yet these issues persist. I think the threat of a boycott should be maintained, precisely so that Fifa really learn from this in a way that lasts and sticks beyond an individual rule change. I would like to see players not only boycott the Russian World Cup but also the next to really get to the heart of these problems. The 2022 World Cup has already generated worldwide dismay that Blatter’s only response to questions about homosexuality being outlawed in Qatar, was to joke that the LGBT community
visiting should then simply refrain from acting on their homosexuality. While uncertain it is possible that, following the coming out of Robbie Rogers (an American international player), other international players may follow suit over the next nine years until the Qatar World Cup. FIFA has to recognise their responsibility to players when choosing host countries to pick locations where positive environments are possible, and where hostility won’t threaten to damage the tournament, noth in relation to their responsibility to the black players taking the field in Russia and potential gay players taking the field in Qatar. Whilst I don’t think any kind of fan protest will make a huge dent in Fifa’s thinking, a player boycott like the one Toure suggests certainly could.
Wake up to wakeboarding
Beatrice Cook Whilst the idea of flying across a freezing cold loch with only a thin wetsuit to protect you from the Scottish elements may not tempt everyone, I’m here to let people know why they should be getting involved in one of the most exhilarating and more accessible sports around. Originating from California, which is definitely the more stereotypical location for all things rad, the sport was born out a lack of waves and a desire to further one’s surfing skills. Wakeboarding is a high speed watersport, where the participant is towed primarily behind a purpose built speed boat whilst attached via bindings to a board. The wake created by the boat gives the boarder a guaranteed clean wave to ride along, which you can then progress to doing tricks across. It’s not just purpose built boats that allow wakeboarders to practise their skills; pulley tows, cable parks and jet skis can also be used, and Loch Lomond Wakeboard, as well as Fox Lake near Edinburgh, offer the facilities to kickstart your love for wakeboarding. Loch Lomond Wakeboard, Scotland’s first purpose built wakeboarding school, uses three Nautique boats,
including a brand new 210 super air which provides a pro-sized wake. Based on the shores of Loch Lomond itself, the loch provides calm and flat water for people to practise on, which in contrast with surfing (where crossshore winds can be a complete nightmare) means that you are sure to get a clean wave every time. A session amounts to 15 minutes of wakeboarding, which in the grand scheme of things is a very long time. If you compare that to surfing, where a surfer will only catch a wave for a couple of minutes at a time, this means you are likely to progress at a far more rapid pace. This consistency means that, no matter what level of experience or fitness you have, wakeboarding is immediately accessible to everyone. Meanwhile at Fox Lake, Scotland’s only cable wakeboard park, wakeboarders are pulled across the lake via an overhead cable, cancelling out the need for power boats and noise. With the addition of kickers and jump trails, you’ll have honed your surface 360s and boardslides in no time. Out of wakeboarding have come several hybrid board sports, including wakesurfing and wakeskating. Wakesurfing is where a surfer trails behind a boat, surfing the boat’s wake, whilst not being directly attached to
the craft itself. The boat’s wake mimics an actual wave, and after setting themselves up on the wave through using a tow rope, the wakesurfer then proceeds to drop the rope and ride the face of wake. One of the key differences in wakesurfing to surfing is that the board itself is far shorter and wider. From wakesurfing, tanker surfing was born, with wave-starved surfers over in America using the enormous wake of passing oil tankers to fuel the passion for surfing. Wakeskating is the little brother of wakeboarding adaptions. It’s very similar to its predecessor in that the rider is towed behind a craft of some description, and uses a board to do tricks. However, unlike wakeboarding, the style of board is inherently different; the top surface of the board, like a skateboard, is covered with griptape or a soft, high-traction, foam covering. Wakeskaters normally wear specialised shoes while riding, giving them more grip and ability to master some steezy tricks. Another difference in wakeskating is that it doesn’t really require a wake, and riders prefer to use a cable system or jet skis to create as small a wake as possible. Wakeboarding and the rest of the board sport family is far more popular and well recognised with our friends
on the other side of the Atlantic; even across the border, the English wakeboarding community is much larger, with Red Bull hosting the annual Harbour Reach event in June at the Albert Docks,Liverpool. The event plays host to fourteen of the UK’s greatest wakeboarders, allowing them to showcase their skills. Even Wales, playing host to the summer festival Wakestock, is in on the act, but Scotland isn’t one to be left out when it comes to showing off its sporting prowess and partying skills. Loch Stock, a wakeboarding tour begun in 2008, “brings together all the pockets of riding from around Scotland for one epic weekend a month during the summer…a Loch Stock weekend is the perfect place to get into the summer spirit, and enjoy good music and company at the water’s edge.” The future is looking bright for wakeboarding. It is currently being considered for a place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics alongside seven other sports. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) will see whether cable wakeboarding will be a viable sport to add to the swelling numbers of sports featured in the prestigious Games. Des Burke-Kennedy, of the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation, said: “The IOC is
committed to supporting youth-centred events to ensure their fan base thrives in the future…Cable Wakeboard is a youth-focused lifestyle discipline from the booming board sports category.” Wakeboarding is most definitely worth giving a go, especially if you’re a keen skater, surfer or snowboarder. The University of Glasgow is fortunate enough to have its own wakeboarding society. Over the past couple of weeks, the club has been hosting a ‘Wake What’ event, with the society’s head honcho Justin Mayes taking a few lucky students over to Loch Lomond for an afternoon of wakeboarding and good banter. With music blasting out of from the boat over the loch as you land your first gnarly Ollie Backside 180, it’s no wonder that the buzz you get from wakeboarding has translated into it being the fastest growing watersport, with over 3 million participants worldwide. So, if after all this spiel about wakeboarding in Scotland means you’re keen to give it a go, I have one final thing to add: as I’ve been reliably told, ‘wakeboarding isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle.’
Founded in 1869, the Glasgow University Rugby Football Club is one of the University’s oldest student groups. Although we have had some troubled times in our history, the club has seen a huge amount of development in recent years, both on and off the field. Following the appointment of our new coach Peter Jericevich last year, our level of coaching significantly improved - leading to the promotion of both our 1st XV and 2nd XV in their respective leagues. We have become more professional in our set up with
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Club Profile: Men’s Rugby Mark Jackson
the introduction of strength and conditioning programs to sit alongside our two weekly training sessions. The club also caters for those who don’t want to take rugby too seriously, and we welcome anyone to come and play for us, regardless of your past rugby experience. Along with our 1st and 2nd teams, we have a development XV, a fresher’s team and also interfaculty teams, so there really is a level of rugby for everyone. Off the field our numbers continue to rise, with last year seeing the first annual Rugby Ball. This was a fantastic night in the GUU, and we are planning to make it a regular date on the
social calendar. The Rugby Ball is just one social event we offer. Along with other major social events such as an annual tour and a ‘fox’ hunt, we are always keen for a few beers after a win on Wednesday afternoons. Looking ahead to next year, we are hosting our first pre-season camp, which will hopefully put us in a position to gain yet more success. We have also brought in an assistant coach and are in the process of creating a new website. If you’d like to get involved in a successful and sociable sports club at the university, look no further. We will be delighted to see you!
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OCTOBER 30TH 2013
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Clare Saltiel This summer Glasgow will hold the largest sporting event ever to take place in Scotland. In the run up to the Games, with masses of funding pouring in to prepare the city, new infrastructures being build and existing sports sites re-vamped and exciting jobs offered to students this summer, Glasgow is an exciting place to be. But preparations raise an important issue: while large sporting events undeniably benefit and bring together communities, the build-
ing of new sport ‘cities’ and projects of ‘urban regeneration’ routinely damage the lives of the city’s poor and vulnerable. A look at the glamour of past sporting competitions can unearth evidence of destruction to a significant percentage of the population which is largely ignored. Displacement of people and businesses has occurred to a massive extent in past years, often weakly and untruthfully justified, and unfortunately it looks like Glasgow will follow suit. But when faced with massive events such as the Olympics
Club Profile: Ski and Snowboarding Club Ailsa Pender The Glasgow University Ski and Snowboard Club is one of the biggest sports clubs on campus, and we pride ourselves on being an extremely social and welcoming club. GUSSC offers everything from weekly ski and snowboard lessons on the dry slopes at nearby Bellahouston Park, to our infamous socials. The club welcomes skiers and boarders of all abilities, and we hope to provide a fun experience for all. Every year we enter members in the racing and freestyle dry slopes competitions at BUDS (British Universities) and SUDS (Scottish Universities), and usually finish in the top five both in team and individual events. We also enter competitors to the British Champs in the Alps at Easter. On top
of all this, GUSSC runs day and weekend trips to Scotland’s finest slopes, catering to all abilities. We take our members on a annual week-long trip to the Alps over Christmas to enjoy the snow and après ski to the full. The trips are getting bigger and better with every passing year and last year’s trip to Val Thorens was a massive success. The club’s trips are notorious, and are a great way to meet other GUSSCateers who love both snow and partying. We also take a group of students to the BUSC Main Event over the Easter Holiday, which is always an unforgettable week. The GUSSC committee are always happy to answer any questions you have about events, trips, lessons, or just general enquiries about the club. You can visit our website: www.gussc. com. GUSSC are always happy to help!
and the World Cup, so supported by the media, the council and politicians, what hope do those with very little access to power have to voice their concerns? In 2007, the Centre for Housing Rights and Evictions reported that the Olympic Games have evicted over 2 million people in the last 20 years, and name it as one of the top causes of displacement and house price inflation in the world, and evidence shows that the Games largely negatively affect the homeless, poor and ethnic minorities. In 2008, the Olympics were responsible for evicting 1.25 million residents in Beijing, and the process was repeated in London in 2012. Every Olympic city chooses a poor location, and we can see why in the case of Clays Estate in the East End of London, where 450 residents were displaced before the housing estate was demolished in 2007 to make way for the Games’ Athlete’s Village. In this case the London Development Agency claimed the estate would be demolished even if the Olympics didn’t happen in London, but on further investigation residents discovered that there actually were no alternative plans for the site. As well as forced displacement of people often without the means to defend themselves, the 2012 Olympics directly targeted the homeless and sex workers in their endeavour to clean up the city: in the lead up to the Games there was an increase in the arrest of sex workers and brothels were shut down in the Olympic area, conveniently blamed on community concerns. And similarly in Vancouver before the 2010 Winter Olympics, begging and sleeping on the streets were made illegal, and new benches were made, designed so that no one could lie down on them. Right now we are witnessing another case of the vulnerable being
exploited by rich and unstoppable powers in the name of sport. Asian migrant workers are being forced into slave labour in Qatar where $100 billion are estimated to be spent on infrastructure for the 2022 Olympic Games. Workers from the poorest countries in the world such as Nepal have entered into false contracts and found themselves held in labour camps in terrible conditions, with their passports confiscated and wages suspended to prevent them from leaving. Workers have died over the summer at a rate of one a day, mainly from heart attacks and from accidents occurring on-site. While considerations are being made as to the suitability of the desert heat for a few hundred footballers, workers are dying due to the harsh conditions they are being made to face, often whilst being denied access to drinking water. In Glasgow it seems that once again a city is undergoing a process to hide homelessness and poverty. Its attempts do not solve any problems, but rather result in dangers for the vulnerable people that are displaced and those who try to provide aid for them. Over a thousand people in low-income housing have been evicted and re-housed in the east end of Glasgow since demolition began in 2000 for the new Commonwealth Games velodrome, arena and Athletes Village. The site promises to provide 1500 new homes for sale and rent after the Games, yet only 20% of these will be available for affordable socially rented housing. And the rest of city is feeling the effects of the pre-Games ‘social cleansing’. For over 8 years the thriving soup kitchen supported by Glasgow University Service to the Homeless and numerous other charities has operated in the city centre, but in recent months the soup kitchen has come under threat from the council, and many ser-
vice users are to be issued with exclusion orders from the city centre. In a meeting this month, the soup kitchen was represented by The Salvation Army, Quakers, Catholic Workers, Destiny’s Church, ROKPA, Routes Out and Humanists to protest against the move of the kitchen location to an unsafe and inconvenient one on the south side, which would risk the personal safety of service users and volunteers and potentially result in territorial disputes amongst the homeless of the area. A representative from Community Safety Glasgow informed the attendants of the reasons behind the proposed move: a planned redevelopment of the financial district combined with complaints from the residents of the buildings outside which the soup kitchen operates. As in the case of Clays Estate in London, these reasons seem like a thinly veiled attempt to push evidence of poverty out of Glasgow city centre in preparation for the Games. In addition, proposals by Glasgow City Council to introduce begging bans such as those seen in Vancouver are currently being considered. Glasgow is well on its way to following a long tradition of exploitation and lack of consideration of the poor, homeless and vulnerable members of its community while others celebrate the upcoming sporting event. The displacement of residents and eviction of the homeless remains largely out of the media’s attention, which is incredibly damaging and allows the tradition to continue. By raising awareness of this issue, the Glasgow University Service to the Homeless hopes to help reduce the number of people set to lose out in the upcoming competition. The Dialectic Society will be debating whether ‘Deprived communities will be the real losers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games’ on November 4 at 6pm, John MacIntyre room 201.
OCTOBER 30TH 2013
The loneliest role in football Jack Haugh discusses being a referee of the beautiful game.
Jack Haugh An icy breath of air escapes the gritted teeth of a solitary figure resting at the centre circle. As friendly banter and eager chatter swarms around the beaten up pitch, players from opposing teams race through their warm ups whilst a small crowd, made up of angry coaches, pushy mums and bouncing dogs, gathers expectantly on the touchline. As the clock rapidly approaches eleven, the referee, dressed head-totoe in shiny black kit, glances at one of his many watches and gestures to the coaches. Ignoring his call at first, the budding Sir Alex Fergusons continue to offer one last inspirational speech to their distracted teams. Players jostle for position, the throng of spectators clamour for the best view, and the lone figure puts the glistening whistle to his lips; in a moment, the game is underway. This isn’t an unusual sight of a Sunday morning in the parks and fields of our fair country; across the land, teams gather and matches are played at varying levels of intensity. However, as this tumultuous affair rages on, there is often a forgotten man – or woman – who is perhaps more com-
mitted to the game than any other. Referees are never far from the headlines, and barely a day goes by without news of another blunder or ill-judged decision filling column after column with barbarous comment. In recent weeks, referees have failed to escape the spotlight once more as they are berated by both the media and players; in Spain, an all too familiar story emerged as Cesar Muniz Fernandez was accused of awarding Real Madrid an undeserved a stoppagetime penalty, from which they won the game against opponents Elche. Now, whether or not Mr Fernandez was correct – which, incidentally, he wasn’t – is beside the point when every man, woman and child came out to say so. Even Victoriano Sanchez Arminio, Chief of the Spanish Referees, commented that he was perhaps not in the right frame of mind to award such a decision. Fernandez continued to be attacked from all angles, with some of the Elche players having to be restrained from hurting the ref. Meanwhile, AC Milan’s Mario Balotelli was given a three match ban after he threatened to kill the referee, Luca Banti, following being sent off in a game against Napoli in late September. This aggressive and childish
behaviour left a lot to be desired from the player, with the referee only doing his job. For such a job that doesn’t involve bearing arms, referees certainly seem to come under fire. But, not one to complain, Banti got on with the job and ensured that the heated match reached a conclusion, with AC Milan eventually losing 2-1. The majority of post-match comments focused on the behaviour of the superstar Balotelli and less so on the heroics of the referee; I found page after page discussing the life and times of Balotelli, but barely a word about Banti. Herein lies the problem of the modern footballing world: it’s always looking for a scapegoat. Rarely, if ever, is the referee spoken of when he has an uneventful game. Instead, we find ourselves latching on to the smallest error and amplifying it to an almost apocalyptic disaster. We are so quick to scrutinise and examine every detail of the referee’s performance that we often forget to properly value the role of the referee. When I think back to the football matches I have attended over the years, one question hits me: “What was the name of that ref?!” And yet, week after week, game after game, season after season, these
saviours of sport continue to play a vital role in quelling mid-match quarrels and enforcing the rules of the game with little reward other than a meagre payment which often barely covers the cost of petrol. Why? If the response of Jordan Rankin, of the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth League, is anything to go by, then it is purely for the love of the game. Jordan Rankin received his SFA qualification in 2011, and has been busy working his way up the refereeing ladder in the hope of reaching the top, enabling him to referee Scottish Premiership and Scottish Cup matches. However, one cannot begin to comprehend the hectic nature of his schedule. From training once a week, to liaising over one, two and sometimes even three matches in a single weekend, Rankin has been thrown well and truly into the deep end of Scottish football. On recalling a time when he was told he would be refereeing two matches on a Sunday, in Kilsyth and East Kilbride respectively, it’s obvious how underappreciated referees often are. On the completion of the first, a mad dash through mid-Sunday traffic ensued, with Rankin arriving a mere five minutes before kick-off for the lat-
ter. His reward? A stream of abuse, booking and even having to send the manager to the ‘stands’- a particularly comical moment when the manager decided walking up and down the touchline was tantamount to removing himself from the pitch. This is a regular occurrence in the life of a Sunday League referee. Time after time, petulant managers who should know better refuse handshakes, payment and even threaten reportage to the SFA. Despite this, Rankin continues refereeing in the hope of reaching his goal: to ref in the Champions League Final as his idol Howard Webb did. This sums up the dedication of a referee. Most youngsters look to Ronaldo, Messi or Xavi as they try to emulate their skills and finesse in streets across the country. It’s rare that a person longs to pull on the distinguished black kit of the ref. Instead, players become referees not through a passion for the job, but instead out of an eternal love for the game. On the surface, the referee is a completely different animal in the sporting world, bred out of necessity rather than pleasure. In reality, I believe the referee is the thoroughbred of football – just a misunderstood one at that.