APRIL 18TH 2014
Senate slip-up GLASGOWGUARDIAN.CO.UK
“It’s ironic that a university that seems to place a lot of emphasis on the student experience seems to be doing its best to undermine it in so many ways.” UNIVERSITY RESTRICTS BOOKINGS – 5
“I don’t know about you, but my degree is yet to open an automatic door, let alone the locked door of the current job market.”
• Senate shrink exposes unconstitutional Senate decisions • We break down the extent of the failings • Includes helpful infographic
NO-DEGREE JOBS - 11
“shows seem to promote inclusion with a catch: gay characters can get screen time as long as they don’t act on their... desires.”
QUEERING THE SITCOM - 15
CULTURE – PHOTOGRAPHY
“The Glasgow University Sports Association has had yet another amazing year, and has shown why Glasgow continues to triumph in all things sporting.”
West End Bookshop Guide
The way cleared for the Reid
CULTURE - SHOPPING
GUSA A YEAR IN SPORT - 21
Rosannah Jones The introduction of the new Erasmus+ exchange programme has yet to demonstrate its potential as increased delays, poor communication and changing Glasgow University partnership agreements has led to frustration
among students who were hoping to benefit from the programme. On January 1, the new Erasmus+ programme replaced the previous system with promises that the larger €14.7 billion budget provided by the EU over the next six years would see a greater number of students benefitting from the opportunity to go on ex-
Manvir still missing Euan McTear Glasgow University third year medical student Manvir Singh has been missing since Wednesday 19 March and his whereabouts are still unknown. His family are appealing for any information about his disappearance. Manvir was last seen by friends outside the KFC on Renfield Street at 4.45pm on the Wednesday he went missing. He left his home in Bishopbriggs that same day without his bank card, glasses and mobile phone. There had also been a reported sighting of the student in St Andrews later that day and at Manchester bus station on Friday 20 March, the Manchester sighting subsequently proving false. The 21-year-old is reported to have failed exams without telling his family or friends and this is said to have been out of character for the “warm person.” His dance coach Charanjit Sandhu said: “He always spoke about his studies but nobody knew … Things were starting to get more difficult and he has been spending a lot of time studying and on placement in a hospital in Ayr.” Family and friends had urged Manvir not to worry about his results and to come back home, as did the University. Glasgow University tweeted from its official account to say: “Manvir - if
you need to discuss anything University related, we are here to help. Students’ well-being is paramount.” With no further clues to his whereabouts, Manvir’s parents made a fresh appeal on April 4. His father, Harpal, said: “Manvir is a much-loved son and is known as Sonu to family and friends.” He continued: “We haven’t heard from him or seen him for more than two weeks and we are very worried about him. “We know that Sonu got on a bus in Glasgow and travelled to St Andrews, but we don’t know what happened to him after he got off the bus in St Andrews. “We are keeping in touch with his friends in the hope that they may hear something from him - all we want to know is that he is all right.” His father added: “If anyone has seen Sonu or knows where he may be, please do get in touch with the police so that we know he is safe and well.” His mother, Kirandeep, echoed the calls for her son to return home: “Sonu, if you are watching this, we want you to know that you are not in any trouble and that everyone is worried about you.” Anyone who has seen Manvir Singh since his disappearance or who has any information on his whereabouts should contact the police at Bishopbriggs on the non-emergency number 101.
change. The new programme, which is being managed in the UK by the British Council, claims to be geared towards increasing the social mobility of students involved in the scheme. The British Council website states that: “Almost five million people across Europe will benefit between 2014 and 2020 - doubling the numbers who currently receive these opportunities.” However, the arrival of Erasmus+ has been largely unwelcomed by the potential exchange students across Glasgow University who have encountered more complications with the programme than in previous years. For many second year students at the University looking to go on an Erasmus exchange, the only information available up until February when deadlines for applications were looming - was outdated and misleading. The University’s Erasmus office announced at the Study Abroad fair in October that delays would be likely to occur as a result of Glasgow University having to renew or cancel its agreements with current partner universities in the EU. The University’s 2014/2015 application guide for outgoing exchange students stated that: “The Erasmus office will be able to provide departments and students with a finalised list of partners for provisional selection and application purposes in early January. All outgoing student mobility will be contingent upon Glasgow’s agreement with their partner of choice being fully renewed and valid in advance of their exchange.” With little information available, the only option for many interested students was to research previous partner universities in the hope that Glasgow University would continue to have agreements with them. The onus was also on students to frequently check the University’s Erasmus page for updates, with few or no emails being sent to students to announce the
new changes and deadlines. However, with the finalised list of partner universities being announced a month later than anticipated at the beginning of February, and with agreements for the College of Arts still pending until late February, many students struggled to research universities and apply on time. The University, however, claimed that details of any students missing out on the chance to study abroad have not been brought to its attention. A spokesperson said: “The University has not been made aware of any student having missed out on a placement as a direct result of the implementation of the new Erasmus+ programme.” While the delays may not have directly cost students the chance to study abroad, the lack of information and updates made it much more difficult for students. For example, politics students hoping to go on Erasmus were only given a ten day window upon finding out the new partner universities in which to research the universities, make a decision and submit their application. Several students were left many unimpressed and upset at missing out on an exchange opportunity. Secondyear History student Suzy Richardson said: “I definitely think it was unfortunate that it was so badly organised and so late as well. It’s a shame for us students. If we had known before Christmas how little choice we would have through Erasmus then I would 100% have put my time into applying internationally with Study Abroad! In that sense I think we have been let down by the delays.” Erasmus subject co-ordinators had also voiced their concerns about the University’s efforts to confirm partnership agreements and keep students informed. One tutor emailed arts students saying: “Apologies that the University has been so slow in confirming which European part-
ner universities we will have formal agreements with for next session.” Glasgow University now has over 200 partnerships for the new Erasmus+ programme, but the potential of having so many exchange opportunities in place is not being realised by this year’s would-be exchange students due to the delays in finding out about the partner universities. The Erasmus+ programme has the aim of enabling students from subjects that have previously been illserved by the Erasmus programme the chance to go on exchange. However, subjects such as Economics and Law continue to have the most partnerships with many science and arts subjects having only 2-3 partners - many of which require fluency in another language. A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow told Glasgow Guardian: “The introduction of the new Erasmus+ programme in January 2014 required the formal renegotiation of new agreements with all 350-plus European partners. This entailed a significant amount of process changes, new documentation requirements and the removal of inactive agreements in order to maximise the opportunities available for students. “The process was carried out in collaboration with Colleges and Schools, with clear deadlines set by the Erasmus team. Students were updated as soon as the Erasmus Exchange team and Colleges/Schools had negotiated the new agreements. “Students were given as much information as possible at each step of the process, with the University’s website updated as each step of the process was completed. In addition, the Erasmus Exchange team held regular student meetings and offered drop-in sessions for all students to update and advise them as required.”
APRIL 18TH 2014
Senate slip-up Euan McTear investigates the scale of the unconstitutional activities of the university senate
a level which was not likely to be often reached. While other Scottish ancients had dealt with the problem through the establishment of smaller Colleges of Senate with delegated authority, there was no consensus at Glasgow in support of that arrangement.” Although it was acknowledged that
the status quo was unconstitutional and that other Scottish Ancients had already made amendments, the inquorate Senate of 80 attendees agreed to postpone any revision until the following year. The decision to approve the Council of Senate in February of this year
NEWS IN BRIEF
was quorate. 221 members of Senate voted at that extraordinary meeting with 208 votes for, 11 against and two abstentions. Additional reporting by Hannah McNeill, Sam Wigglesworth and Chris McLaughlin.
Glasgow University won the tenth annual Glasgow Taxis Cup, seeing off competition from Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian to retain the trophy won the year before. The multisport event at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow’s east end saw athletes from Glasgow’s three universities compete across 15 different disciplines. In the end, it was Glasgow University that won the medals, presented by members of the Glasgow Warriors rugby team.
Pharrell and The 1975 have been confirmed as headliners for Radio 1’s Big Weekend, set to take place in Glasgow Green on the 24th and 25th of May. The pair join Paolo Nutini and Rita Ora who had already been confirmed, while more acts will be announced on the radio station over the next month. A DJ event in the city’s George Square has also been confirmed for the Friday night for 14,000 music fans.
The Scottish Premiership was settled just one mile from Glasgow University campus on March 26 as Glasgow Celtic sealed the league title with a 5-1 win at Firhill Stadium against Partick Thistle. With Aberdeen having dropped points the night before, Celtic had the chance to win the league for the third time in a row with a win against Thistle. That’s exactly what they achieved and the team enjoyed some title celebrations in the West End. •
Final year students are looking ahead to the graduation ceremonies which have been scheduled to run from June 26 to July 4. The University is getting ready for the ceremonies by preparing “Graduation Packs” for all graduates. A spokesperson told the Glasgow Guardian that these packs will consist of a map to the nearest Jobcentre Plus, a selection of flyers left unread from the same graduates’ Freshers’ Packs, a Starbucks BOGOF token, a 2014/15 SNAPfax and (if University admin staff have enough credit left to use PullPrint) the degree certificate.
The Students Representative Council (SRC) has launched its new website, www.glasgowstudent.net. Reviews from students have been positive, with one final year student telling us: “I’m so jealous that I won’t get to be around for the full benefits of this website. Everything important is presented in a circle and I love circles. I think the circles represent either inclusion or wholeness or biscuits – all of which are good things.” An SRC representative agreed that the website was a triumph, saying: “We put lots of colours on it to show people that the SRC is like totally whimsical and that.”
GUSA have released a promotional video, The Wolf of Oakfield Avenue, to recruit its 2014 Freshers’ Helpers. With its parody of the trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, GUSA became the 278th student union in the country to make its unashamedly awkward version of the hit movie’s trailer. Set to the Kanye West song Black Skinhead, the video features incoming and outgoing presidents Tom Gebbie and Stuart Law, both of whom are as likely to ever get an Oscar as Leonardo DiCaprio himself. •
IN OTHER NEWS...
Glasgow Guardian can reveal that more than 250 decisions were made or approved by Glasgow University’s Senate since 2008 without the meetings being quorate. This means that meetings have not been sufficiently attended to make votes constitutional. In the five year period from the academic year 2008/09 to 2012/13, Senate approved or endorsed 256 decisions despite all 25 meetings held during that time being inquorate and therefore against the constitution of the University. There are approximately 500 members of Senate, one third of these members are required to attend for a meeting to be considered quorate. All ordinary Senate meetings since before 2008 have not been quorate. The issue of meetings not being quorate led to the creation of a ‘Council of Senate’ at an extraordinary meeting of Senate on February 6 of this year. The Council of Senate will be made up of 128 members, including 12 student representatives, and will vote on most matters. It is expected that the Council will be more likely to meet its quorum of 80 members. Senate will, however, continue to exist and can review the Council of Senate at any time. While decisions approved in the future by the Council of Senate may be quorate, those taken in the past five years have not been. Controversial motions approved by an inquorate Senate in that time have included: · the withdrawal of four Liberal Arts programmes of the Dumfries campus · the closure of Centre for Drug Misuse Research · North American grade equivalences not be supplied on transcripts · the rejection of an SRC proposal to lessen the severity of cheating penalties · the continuation of Turnitin · the American terminology of MyCampus be continued to save costs · changes to the student advisers
structure · Honours exams to be scheduled in weeks 32-34 · all honorary degrees nominations · action being taken if students are absent for more than 2 weeks · the reduction of grants for Open Programme courses · approval of double and multiple degrees with partner universities · that independent work should be exempt from the schedule of lateness penalties for other courses · the continuation of the two semester system · that dictionaries not be checked for notes in large exams (with a declaration form to be used instead) The University has been aware for some time that meetings of Senate have not been quorate and mentions in its Guide to University Governance that the typical attendance is around 100 members. Even this figure has been rare in the meetings from 2008/09 to 2012/13 with an average attendance from the five year period of 95. Attendance was seen to be decreasing further with each academic year, with an average attendance of 115 in 2009/10 falling to 101 in 2010/11, then to 90 in 2011/12 and finally to an average attendance of 76 (less than one sixth of Senate) for the academic year 2012/13. All decisions taken during these poorly attended Senate meetings have been allowed to stand, as the University explains: “The approach that has been taken has been to assume that, as the agenda is circulated in advance of meetings, matters which are controversial and not unanimously supported will attract sufficient members to ensure a quorum and that the range of views held is expressed and that, if sufficiently opposed, proposals are not approved.” With the aim being to “ensure decisions are constitutionally competent”, Senate addressed the issue of its not being quorate in its June 2012 meeting. It was noted that: “Without primary legislation that amended the University’s constitutional position, the Senate quorum remained at
Marking boycott delayed Chris McLaughlin Delayed graduations and examination chaos remain a possibility as university staff and employers continue to be deadlocked in UK-wide negotiations over pay. In what has been seen as the ultimate escalation of the dispute, members of the University and College Union (UCU), which represents lecturers and academics, announced in February that they would begin a marking boycott on 28 April if the Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) did not make an improved offer on pay. Under the
terms of the industrial action, UCU staff would refuse to mark coursework and examinations as well as declining to participate in the work of exam boards. Such action would constitute the first marking boycott since 2006. An offer has now been made of an of 2% pay increase for all higher education staff. Members of the UCU will hold a ballot on the offer and the UCU has stated any boycott will be delayed until Tuesday, 6 May ‘so that the new offer can be fully considered’. It is unclear at this time if this offer will prevent boycott action. Such a boycott could theoretically delay graduations until after the conclusion of pay negotiations, whilst lower year students could potentially
face difficulties in progression from one year to the next. Simultaneously, re-sit diets could be plunged into disorder as students encounter delays in receiving the results of initial examinations. A spokesman for the University of Glasgow said: ”We very much hope that the dispute with the trades unions can be settled as a marking boycott will impact on students at what is the most critical time of the year. If no resolution is, or seems to be forthcoming, we will issue guidance to students and are in discussion with the SRC about the most appropriate timing for this.” Representatives from the collected trades unions met with the UCEA on
26 March, however the employers’ side made no improvement to the 1% pay rise offer which they first proposed last summer. UCU members have been in dispute with the UCEA for the whole of the 2013-14 session, striking a total of six times since October 2013, with three one-day actions as well as three two-hour walk-outs. They have been joined in these strikes by members of other unions such as UNISON, Unite and the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) who between them represent administrative staff, technicians, support workers, librarians, as well as teaching staff unaffiliated to the UCU. Unions claim their members’ pay has fallen 19% as compared to infla-
tion since 2009 and have demanded an above inflation settlement. UK inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) was 1.7% in February whilst the corresponding figure for the Retail Prices Index (RPI) which includes accommodation costs was 2.7%. Unions claim increased revenue from increased tuition fees as well as healthy cash reserves makes such a resolution affordable. They also point to substantial wage increases recently awarded to senior university administrators as evidence that funds are available. At the time of going to press the UCU had declared it’s committee would consider the ballot results on Friday, 2 May.
Plagiarism on the rise
Gina Mete The Senate Assessors for Student Conduct’s Annual Report to Senate for 2012-13 has shown that the total number of students reprimanded for breaching the University’s Code of Student Conduct has risen significantly over the last two years. There has been a particular increase in cases of plagiarism, with a total of 95 alleged cases in the 2012-13 session, compared to 81, 50 and 60 in the previous three years. Last year’s total represents an increase of 90% on the 2010-11 figure for plagiarism and of those 95 cases, 44 were brought to the Senate Assessors for consideration, while the other 51 were dealt with at School level. In 2011-12 there were 37 cases brought
to the Senate Assessors, while the remaining 44 cases were dealt with by Schools in that year. Plagiarism of other students’ work and published work has increased from last year, while there has been a decrease in plagiarism of web-based sources. In response, Senate has been asked to consider the possibility of having two designated plagiarism officers for each School. Some Schools already take this approach and it was noted: “Although there were workload issues to consider, the Schools who had implemented such a process had found it beneficial.” The general penalty for plagiarism is for the plagiarised work to be reduced to a grade H. The report states that in cases where the plagiarism is “blatant or very substantial”, there
should be no opportunity given for reassessment. Cases of plagiarism at non-Honours level which are also first offences are usually handled by Heads of Schools. The report states that incidences of repeat offences are very rare and credits the disciplinary process. The report stated: “Numbers remain small overall when compared against the student population which exceeds 23,000.” There has also been an increase in the number of students referred to the Senate Student Conduct Committee (SSCC), which is one stage up from the Senate Assessors, for a range of disciplinary reasons. Cases may be passed on to the SSCC if they are particularly serious or if the Senate Assessors have been unable to reach a decision. Twelve cases were brought to the
SSCC in 2012-13, including four allegations of disorderly, threatening or violent conduct (involving five students), one misuse of illegal substances, three cases of fraudulent or deceptive behaviour, one case of disruptive behaviour, one allegation of research misconduct and two students accused of cheating or gaining unfair advantage in assessment. Two of these resulted in permanent expulsion: one for sexual offences and another for fraudulent behaviour. Another incident of fraudulent behaviour resulted in a year-long suspension for the student involved. With regards to cheating, the number of cases in 2012-13 was 18, down from 30 the year before - a figure noted at the time as being “unusually high.” It was mentioned, however, that the quality of some invigilator reports
was not perfect and the failure to confiscate notes, for example, has led to some students escaping unpunished as no action could be taken. Invigilator training sessions were held in November 2013 “in order to emphasise the importance of clear reporting and presentation of evidence.” The report also stated that a common method of cheating is through the use of small notes hidden in English language dictionaries and that with the large numbers sitting many exams it is impossible to thoroughly check all dictionaries in an exam hall. Given that many other universities do not permit such dictionaries, it was suggested that the Senate Assessors may wish to review whether or not English dictionaries should be allowed in exams.
APRIL 18TH 2014
University makes room bookings tougher Clubs and societies quoted as much as £1000 to book a university room
David Santamaria The University of Glasgow’s guidelines for room bookings have make it more difficult for student clubs and societies to book a room in a University-owned building in order to hold a meeting or event. The Estates and Buildings service, which is responsible for administering the University Estate and which manages room bookings, has limited the number of buildings and hours at which a SRC-affiliated society can request to use a room free of charge without consulting the SRC on the changes. Last October, at least 14 buildings were available from 8am to 11.30pm without any notice on possible costs being applied, while the Estates and Buildings webpage currently says that only the Boyd Orr, the Adam Smith and the Saint Andrews building may be used for free. Restrictions have also being imposed on the hours at which a club or society may use the buildings. Booking must now be made “after core teaching hours”, with the permitted timetable now running from 5pm to 9.30pm from Monday to Thursday, except for the Boyd Orr Building which may be used on Fridays from 5pm to 8.30pm. Although the room hire policy approved by the University Secretary of Court says that SRC affiliated societies organising free events for their
members in teaching spaces will not be charged, the Estates and Buildings service warns that any booking outwith these buildings and hours will be liable to “janitorial overtime charges and other potential costs”. Societies have already faced the costs that trying to book a room outside the allowed buildings entails. Glasgow Guardian has had access to the proposed fees that were offered to the Glasgow University Climate Action society after the society asked to hold their ‘2014 Matters: Energy, Environment and Climate Change’ event in the Sir Charles Wilson Building on University Avenue. The event was funded by ‘Stop Climate Chaos Scotland’, a coalition of organisations campaigning against climate change and was therefore viewed by the Conference & Visitor Services Office as an external event. Instead of being charged £136.50 plus VAT for janitorial costs when using a building outwith opening hours, the society was going to be charged the standard cost for holding a conference: £985 plus VAT. The breakdown of the price included charges of £19.20 for using a laser pointer, £76.80 for the projector plus £10 for delivery and added up to £1200 in total. Eventually, the event moved to another venue. Lucy Bretelle, the member of the society who tried to make the booking told the Glasgow Guardian: “They were really not clear in their messages and not helpful. Basically, they just
wanted us to pay a large amount of money: £1200 in total and £100 just to use Wi-fi, which was ridiculous considering we were a society of the University organising an event to which VIPs were invited (for example, the SNP Minister for Environment and Climate Change) in collaboration with an external organisation. They were just really bad at communicating with students which is quite a problem as they work with students.” Discussing how they eventually booked a venue for the event, Bretelle said: “A week before the event things were getting urgent. So I decided to call them and get things sorted out. Of course, the Charles Wilson Building had been booked and was no longer available. They offered the Western Infirmary which was perfect, but we still had to pay £500! Moreover, if they had offered the Western Infirmary earlier, I wouldn’t have gone through all that stress. Anyway, the event happened and everything was okay in the end.” Another issue that has affected clubs and societies when trying to find a venue for their activities has been this year’s overcrowding on campus. The dance society Dancemania, for example, had to leave the gym of the Saint Andrews building where it usually rehearsed to move to the QMU since the Saint Andrews building space was being converted into a teaching venue. SRC Vice-President for Student Activities and President-elect Bref-
fni O’Connor, who included dealing with room booking restrictions in her recent manifesto, said: “Clubs and Societies affiliated to the SRC are at a huge disadvantage due to the restrictions placed on them by the University which is now placing severe restrictions on their events and activities. Charging for room bookings can mean that many are missing out on getting involved at University due to events being cancelled. It’s ironic that a university that seems to place a lot of emphasis on the student experience seems to be doing its best to undermine it in so many ways.” O’Connor also commented on the restrictions to bake sales or other events that a society can perform on campus, which have been reduced to one per society per semester: “Limiting each club/society to one stall on campus per semester means that they may not obtain the funds or publicity needed to carry out their activities effectively. A lack of funding can also put an extra demand on the money we, the SRC, allocate to clubs/societies each year.” She also complained about the lack of response that the SRC has received from the University: “Unfortunately there has been little discussion between the University and the SRC both on the implementation of these rules and the effect it will have on students.” A University spokesperson explained the situation to the Glasgow Guardian: “Space is at a premium
within the University and requests for teaching space must always take priority, but we endeavour to accommodate all requests from student societies. However, the large number of societies and level of requests means we can’t always meet everyone’s requirements but the majority of requests are met.” The University also insisted that the guidelines for room bookings had not been changed and that the current guidelines are those that should have previously applied. . SRC officers have told the Glasgow Guardian that several events have been saved from cancellation thanks to the services offered by the student unions. Both the QMU and GUU offer rooms for meetings of affiliated societies without the restrictions of University-managed buildings and with the added bonus of quicker responses than those made to requests through Estates and Buildings, where the waiting time before being allocated a room is usually three to four days. The SRC also pointed out that not all the changes introduced in the room booking policies have had a negative impact on societies. For example, the policy regarding the number of society members entitled to request a room has been extended from one to three, believing that administrative procedures are shortened if more than one person is authorised to book a room.
Ah, ah, ah, ah delayin’ the Hive Fraser McGowam The new extension to the Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) and the Glasgow University Union (GUU) is estimated to cost the University an additional £516,000, Glasgow Guardian can reveal. At a meeting of the University Court on 12 February, the Finance Committee reported that that they had agreed “to proceed to re-tender” and “to grant delegated authority to a sub-group of the Estates and Finance Committees to authorise additional expenditure.” It was also agreed that “there would be a need for additional funding of £516k minimum including VAT.” This brings the budget for the project to a minimum of £13.9 million. Construction was due to begin in Spring 2013, but because the existing
extension was demolished before the construction work had been put out to tender, and with the cost estimations substantially higher than the initial budget of £13.4 million, the project has been delayed by over a year. The University is yet to complete the retendering process and the new extension is not due to open until mid-2015 at the earliest. In the report of the GUU Board of Management, included in the GUU’s Annual Report and Financial Statements for the year ended 30 June 2013, the then-president of the GUU Gavin Tulloch wrote that: “The commencement and completion dates are still highly uncertain and our earliest realistic target for a fully functioning nightclub facility is Freshers’ Week 2016.” The newly elected GUU president Owen Martin has denied this, how-
ever. Martin told the Glasgow Guardian: “In terms of the 2016 date stated in our annual accounts, this is GUU’s ‘critical date’ for the project. In other words this is the latest possible date that the GUU has planned to operate under the current circumstances of not having a fully functioning nightclub. I would like to re-iterate the current completion date is still mid-2015 as stated by the University. Our critical date is more to do with the deficit funding agreement and we currently have no concerns that cannot be dealt with by the Project Board upon which we sit.” GUSA President-elect Tom Gebbie also spoke to Glasgow Guardian about his concerns regarding the time GUSA will be without the extension: “The Stevenson Building Extension Project being delayed until mid-2015 is obviously a bit disheartening, how-
ever I strongly believe it is better to ensure that the building is of a high quality and affordable rather than rushed. The delay is affecting GUSA and the SRS in that we have to source alternative facilities for club training and provide extra transport for a number of clubs.” Gebbie added: “Furthermore, the gym is at capacity at peak times with many students having to queue for a turn on machines, which should not be happening. We are working hard to reduce the impact of these delays but this does take time and careful management. I am confident by mid2015 we will have a new state of the art facility.” The University of Glasgow said in a previous statement in December that: “As with all major building projects, the refurbishment of part of the Glasgow University Union and the
Stevenson sports and recreation centre is a complex one. We are currently involved in a tendering process that is unfortunately taking longer than we had originally anticipated.” The University has also said: “Whilst the final date of completion has moved from our original expectations we remain committed to delivering the very best facilities for staff and students.” In January 2013, the GUU’s lease of the existing 1960s Extension expired, resulting in the loss of the popular and profitable Hive nightclub. The University intends to replace it with a new five-story structure connecting the GUU to the Sports and Recreation Stevenson Building on Oakfield Avenue.
Students criticised over ‘scrub crawl’ Members of Medchir student society criticised for wearing NHS scrubs on night out Rosannah Jones While sub crawls have become popular and familiar events in the calendars of many of Glasgow University’s societies, Glasgow University medics have recently come under fire for wearing NHS scrubs on their nights out around the underground. MedChir, the University’s society for medics, was responsible for organising the ‘scrub crawl’ on March 7, which encourages students to drink and play games at each subway stop they reach. The event itself is a favourite with medics and has previously been advertised in Freshers’ Guides as “the ubiquitous pub crawl with a twist.” The society claims that: “MedChir does not and has never endorsed the wearing of NHS scrubs or materials. You are responsible for your own actions and we seriously discourage the theft of NHS property.” However, this statement did little to
stop some of the 330 students signed up to participate in the sub crawl from using their NHS placement scrubs as a uniform for the night. The controversy around wearing scrubs in this environment stems from the fear that any member of the public with a medical emergency could think that students are able to provide them with medical attention. Other reasons include hygiene and the argument that the behaviour on these nights, although simply typical student antics, could harm the reputation of the NHS. One student who attended the scrub crawl defended the wearing of scrubs on these nights:“I had heard there were complaints last year for students wearing scrubs on a night that wasn’t the scrub crawl. I wasn’t aware that there were any complaints this year. As far as I know, the scrub crawl has been in existence for a long time as a ‘tradition.’ I don’t think anyone means any harm by wearing scrubs.” Asked whether the stealing of NHS
property was an issue, the student replied: “I don’t know about taking scrubs from the NHS - a lot of folk I know bought stuff online.” The student also pointed out that there are no disputes when people dress up as doctors and nurses for Halloween, that but medics are the only ones who get the blame for doing so. The University also made it clear that it did not condone the wearing of official NHS scrubs on these nights. A spokesperson said: “We discourage all medical students from wearing ‘scrubs’ outside of a healthcare setting. These uniforms, whether provided by the NHS – and therefore their property – or self-purchased are for use in a healthcare setting. “Wearing uniforms like these outside such a setting – particularly in bars and clubs – presents a very poor image both of the individual wearing it and the organisations they represent.”
Face value Law firms asking applicants for pictures
Gina Mete A law firm’s application process, which requires students to include a photograph of themselves, has caused controversy amongst Glasgow University law students. Simpson & Marwick, a firm with offices all across Scotland as well as in London and Newcastle, have asked graduates to submit a photograph of themselves with job applications. Requesting photographs as part of an application process is not illegal under the Equality Act 2010, with a number of companies currently making use of the controversial procedure, but the policy has raised concerns that race, sex and even attractiveness could be taken into account when judging applicants. One third year law student, who wished to remain anonymous, commented: “It’s not altogether unheard of. I know there is one firm, I can’t remember the name, that is renowned for only hiring tall blonde females. It’s not exactly the most moral thing in the world as how someone looks isn’t any indication of how good they will be at their job.”
Another law student, who is in the process of completing her diploma year, applied for a traineeship with Simpson & Marwick. She told Glasgow Guardian: “When I applied I just sent in a CV which has my photo on it anyway, so I can’t remember whether they specifically asked for a picture. I know that there are a few firms who ask for a photo be attached to the application – off the top of my head I think I had to send photos to Turcan Connell and Stronachs. It doesn’t bother me too much as these days employers can easily find out what you look like from LinkedIn or Facebook anyway.” However, Louise Graham, SRC VP Student Support, was less accepting of the procedure. Graham commented: “It is disappointing to hear that firms are asking for photographs of applicants. Although not illegal, it seems like an unnecessary and potentially discriminatory practice which could be uncomfortable for students.” She went on to say: “If companies require an image for professional use (for their website/social media etc) we believe it is better that this be provided after the successful applicant is hired.”
Postgraduate applications up Sam Wigglesworth The Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) has released its figures for postgraduate intake at Glasgow University for the academic year 2012/2013 and found that there was an increase of 3.7% from the previous year, while the UK as a whole saw a 5.6% decrease. Glasgow Guardian reported last spring that the academic year 2011/2012 had seen an increase in postgraduate students of 3.1% from the year 2010/2011 and this upward trend has been confirmed by the latest statistics, with an even higher percentage increase in postgraduate intake released this year. The increase equates to approximately an extra 240 postgraduate students from the previous year. The UK figure for postgraduate applications fell again after a 3.4% decrease the year before, while the number of applications in Scotland fell by 2.5% for 2012/13 after a 2.6% fall the previous year. A spokesperson for Glasgow University welcomed the fact that Glasgow was defying the nationwide trend: “We are delighted to see an increase in applications for postgraduate study at the University of Glasgow. We are pleased that more and more people are choosing to study here, which also reflects the high levels of student satisfaction and the excellent learning experience we offer.” Oli Coombs, SRC Vice President for Education, joined the University in welcoming the figures: “It is pleasing that the University of Glasgow continues to be an attractive place for students wanting to continue their studies.” However, Coombs also noted that
these increases in applications could add to the effects of overcrowding on campus. He said: “The SRC remain concerned about the growth in student numbers that continues to increase the pressure on many student services across the University. We are also concerned within certain areas of the University about the impact on pedagogy with lecturers having to deliver material to hundreds of students at a time. While the Western Infirmary development and an increase in the use of online learning will certainly address some of these issues, the University must ensure solutions are found in the short and medium term and we will continue to work alongside the University to ensure this happens.” Overcrowding has been a major campus issue throughout this academic year and has largely been the result of an increase in the overall student population. Many students have complained of not getting seats at lectures and overcrowding at the University library. While the majority of complaints have come from undergraduates, there has been some negative feedback from postgraduate students as well. The Learning and Teaching Committee found that, as of May 2013, the overall satisfaction levels of postgraduate students remained steady at 88%. However, many individual scale items, such as how effective teaching and learning methods were on a particular course and the quality of the teaching support available to postgraduate students, have moved in a downward trend. 60% of the individual scale items were lower than the previous year.
APRIL 18TH 2014
Edward Snowden to be installed as rector
Euan McTear Following his election win in February, Edward Snowden will be formally installed as rector of the University of Glasgow later this month. At a ceremony on April 23 in the Bute Hall, Snowden will be formally installed and although he will not attend in person, the NSA whistleblower is expected to send a video message. Snowden is currently in exile in Russia after being charged with espionage in the US and was not elected as a ‘working rector’, with his campaign team making it clear during the election that a vote for Snowden was a symbolic one. The campaign to elect Edward Snowden said that the election gave students “a unique opportunity to show their support for the US whistleblower.” More than 6,000 students voted over the course of the two day election and Snowden won the most votes in both rounds of the voting with 48% and 51%. His closest rival was Provost of St Mary’s Cathedral Kelvin Holdsworth, whose 1,562 votes fell well
short of Snowden’s total of 3,347. Also standing in the election were cyclist Graeme Obree and author Alan Bissett. Snowden will be replacing Charles Kennedy as rector, with the Liberal Democrat MP recently emailing all students to thank them for their support during his rectorship. Kennedy said: “It has been a great privilege for me to serve two consecutive terms over these past six years. I pay tribute to the scores of students with whom I have enjoyed working and socialising over this period.” Many students have been upset at Snowden’s election and the idea of the University lacking a working rector for the next three years. A ‘No to Snowden as GU Rector’ Facebook group was set up shortly after the results were announced and has more than 650 likes. The SRC, however, has already made it clear that it stands by the “democratic” election. The installation ceremony on April 23 will begin at 11.00am and students are invited to attend. Anyone wishing to go should arrive at the Bute Hall by 10.50am.
1 in 5 students witness sexism in lectures Euan McTear A survey by the Isabella Elder Feminist Society has revealed that one fifth of students have seen incidents of sexism in Glasgow University lecture halls, while incidents of sexism in tutorials has also been reported. The survey was completed by 316 people – one third of whom were male – and asked respondents whether they had seen or experienced sexism in lectures, tutorials, the library, the gym, or either of the student unions. There was also an option to record other instances of sexism on campus. The most common place that sexism had been witnessed was at Glasgow University Union (GUU) with 36% of respondents affirming this. After allegations that two female guest debaters were harassed in the Union last March, an enquiry was carried out and the Board of Management has outlined several ways in which the Union aims to eradicate sexism and become more inclusive. The recent sexism survey investigated whether there had been a change in attitudes to sexist behaviour across campus since the incident, asking if those who had experienced sexism on campus
had experienced it pre or post March 2013. 53% revealed their experience came after that month. The Queen Margaret Union (QMU) had also been the scene of sexist incidents with 15% of those surveyed having witnessed an incident there, but more respondents claimed to have encountered sexism in the library, the gym or tutorials. 20% of participants reported witnessing an incident at the library, and 18% reporting incidents at the gym and during tutorials. The survey also looked to find information on what the response to sexist behaviour on campus had been and 50% of those who had seen sexism on campus claimed that there had been no reaction to the incidents. In only 5% of cases was there widespread reaction, while in 24% of cases there was a minor reaction to the sexist behaviour. The survey was criticised at the Isabella Elder FemSoc AGM, however, with members noting that there was not an option for participants to say they had never witnessed sexism. The survey may not represent a campuswide perspective due to the limited number of respondents. It was also noted that the GUU had shared the survey while the QMU had not.
VIEWS 8-11 7-11
MSP criticises ‘over-provision’ of student accommodation
Euan McTear Sandra White, MSP for Kelvin, has caused controversy after suggesting that Glasgow’s West End was in danger of becoming a “student village”, as she asked the Scottish Parliament what was being done to tackle the over-provision of student accommodation. The SNP member asked Housing Minister Margaret Burgess what action the Scottish Government would take to protect local communities from excessive amounts of student housing. She said: “In my constituency, some areas are in danger of losing what are age old communities and in danger of becoming student villages.” Ms White also asked if Margaret Burgess would meet with community councils to discuss the issue, to which Ms Burgess answered that the matter was not a national one and was for local councils to deal with housing provisions. Ms Burgess has, however, agreed to meet with Ms White to talk the issue over. Ms White’s raising of the issue in public has been criticised by many students and by Glasgow University’s Students Representative Council (SRC). The SRC issued a response to the Kelvin MSP in which Jessica McGrellis, SRC President, told Ms White that: “The SRC were disappointed to see in this article that you were questioning the Housing Minister about how the Scottish Government are planning to stop overprovision of student housing to stop communities becoming ‘student villages.’” McGrellis pointed out that although not all students of the University of Glasgow choose to live in the West End, the area is seen as safe place for
those that do want to stay close to the University facilities that they may be using until late at night. The statement continued to criticised Ms White’s decision to raise the issue on a national level, saying: “Raising this type of question in such a public manner also risks not only alienating the student voting population, but also potentially stigmatising students and student accommodation in general.” McGrellis pointed out in her statement that students should be seen as a positive for a community. She said: “The West End thrives as a community because of the number of students who energise the area.” VP Education Oli Coombs also criticised Ms White’s comments. Taking to Twitter, he said: “Comments from @ SandraWhiteSNP about student housing are unfair, untrue and sow lines of division in her constituency.” Ms White replied, saying that her comments were “not meant as criticism” and that the issue was “about balance.” The SRC was not alone in voicing its concern at the comments, with other students and members of the community taking to social media to join the debate. Ferdinand Goetzen said: “Sandra White’s comments are purely based on her fear that there is an increase of a ‘non-voting’ student demographic in an unstable constituency that she is only just in the lead in. She should be engaging students, getting involved, appearing on campus and even joining the SRC with the Council to improve the housing situation for students, not alienating them.” Former SRC President James Harrison also shared his opinions, arguing that the area actually needed more student accommodation after the in-
crease in undergraduate intake last September by almost 1,000 students. Harrison said: “It’s becoming increasingly apparent that there aren’t enough halls spaces for first years any more. I believe [that] due to an increase in first year numbers last year the University had to put students in hotels until they found them an alternative living space. More student accommodation is needed in the area.” However, Community Councillor Gavin Carre disagreed and defended Ms White. Carre commented that: “In the past two years, there has been a surge in dedicated student residences being built in the Partick, Yorkhill and Kelvingrove areas. This has noticeably affected the West End in both positive and negative regards.” Carre continued: “As a relatively insular entity, the student body generally fails to consider the community around it, and dedicated student halls are more noticeable in this. The drunkenness, anti-social behaviour and noise around these halls is a cause for concern. “I do not believe Sandra is saying here that students shouldn’t live within the West End, but instead is saying that the communities have had enough of insular and dedicated Student Halls being thrown up with little regard for the communities around them.” The past few months have seen several private developers commit to building dedicated student housing in Glasgow’s West End, including an £18 million development on Kelvinhaugh Street, a £17.5 million development on the former BBC site of Queen Margaret Drive and a £15 million student housing project on Dumbarton Road by ALUMNO Developments.
Real world economics taking hold at Glasgow
Faheem Ahmed Rokadiya Founded last year after economics students were given an introductory module in Post-Keynesian economics, the Glasgow University Real World Economics Society (GURWES) expands on that rare glimpse of critical thought that us economics students were later explicitly told to “forget” for the remainder of our degree programme. In that module we were taught an alternative - and more realistic - way of thinking about economics and learned in-depth about the Post-Keynesian school. We believe that the recent financial crisis, and the failure of most economists to predict it, shows that there is a problem in the discipline of economics. The problem lies not only in government policy, but also in economic theory and economic education. Here at the University of Glasgow, there is one
dominant approach to economics, known as neo-classical economics, with other approaches marginalised. Students remain unaware of many other economic approaches such as institutional, ecological, feminist, Marxist and Austrian ones. Many of these approaches are the ones noted for predicting the crisis and because of this lack of engagement with them, GURWES stands as a platform to promote an open-minded and pluralistic approach to economics and has done this in many ways over the past year. We have had speakers from various disciplines, including Neil Davidson from the Sociology department and Dr Cockshott in the Computing Science department. These events have been very well attended and have shown that there is a demand amongst economics students for speakers from different disciplines and with different ideas. We also offered study groups to
help students from all years, since we believe that a solid understanding of mainstream economic theory is essential before appreciating heterodox critiques and grasping the mainstream theory will allow students more time to explore different ideas and take a pluralistic approach to the discipline. Again, we embraced the real world approach by offering voluntary tutorial sessions to students attending the Post-Keynesian module after finding the compulsory tutorials in our previous year to be unsatisfactory since the tutors had little familiarity with heterodox approaches. Looking ahead, in the coming year we plan to set up a History of Economic Thought reading group to encourage students to learn in greater depth about philosophers such as Smith, Marx, and Keynes and their contributions to economics. This will help students to appreciate the history and
philosophy of the subject, something that has been isolated from the current economics discipline. These are some of the things we have been trying to implement at Glasgow University, but the movement is not unique to this campus. Behind the scenes we have been working with over 100 similar societies around the globe, drafting an international manifesto - which will be released this month - to make economics less of a ‘dismal science’. At the beginning of April, we embarked on a trip to a conference in Manchester where we met with many similar societies around the UK and proposed our changes. Previously we gained funding to travel to the Warwick Development Summit last November, meeting like-minded students who showed that it was possible to arrange a conference with over 15 speakers in one weekend. As we are affiliated with the Institute for New
Economic Thinking (INET), we hope to gain funding and set up another conference in the coming year in cooperation with the Adam Smith Business School. The society has expanded greatly since its inception last year and this could not have been possible without a supportive team. We have had many professors and postgraduate students giving us advice and support as well as speaking for us on topics of interest, and for this we are very thankful. We must also give thanks to the Adam Smith Business School for its funding, support and advice - without which we could not have managed to grow to be such a dynamic and active society with over 100 members and a board of eight people with great ambition for the future of the real world economics movement at Glasgow and beyond.
the perfect angle, in the perfect light, with the perfect hair, and send a £3 text off before applauding yourself for a job well done. Do something more. Continue to raise funds for charities that really matter. Host a bake sale, climb a mountain, swim the English fucking Channel. Don’t sit on your ass in front of a computer screen, waiting for the congratulatory comments to wash over you. If every person who posted a no makeup selfie actually held some kind of event, think of the excess in donations. That £3 could have been turned into £300 - and the £2 million into £200 million. Now that would be a truly astonishing sum. To repeat a well-known statistic, one in three of us will be diagnosed with cancer in our lifetime. The odds of beating cancer have improved ex-
ponentially in the past two decades, but sadly people are still dying of cancer every day. We haven’t beaten it yet. But we are nearing a cure, and for that to happen continued efforts need to be made by the charities, the medical experts and us. Cancer charities are incredibly close to my heart and I’d still like to thank everyone who did part with the £3 for their selfie. On a student budget, I understand that £3 can be the difference between eating an evening meal or not. I’m not claiming that no makeup selfies were a bad thing, considering the amount they did raise. I’m just saying that more could, and should, be done. As for the ‘sock my cock’ photographs… Well, those were just plain weird.
Selfie-obsessed Louise Wilson If you’re female, on Facebook or Twitter, and not a total hermit, chances are you’ve been nominated in the past month to pose for a ‘no makeup selfie’ in order to raise awareness for Cancer Research UK. If you’re male, you may have even been asked to do the ‘sock my cock’ photo - though these were less prolific. The good news is that these selfies helped to raise over £2 million. The bad news is that this is just a phase of one-off donations, already faded in the fast pace of the social network continuum. Now don’t get me wrong - £2 million is a fantastic amount going to a great cause. I’m not denying that. But my problem with the no makeup selfie
is the fact that those taking them are only donating as part of self-indulgent exhibitionism. And, on top of that, they are likely to have donated only a mere £3 to the cause via text. Whilst together this equated to a fairly substantial amount, that £2 million is a one-off payment when research is still ongoing and regular donations would be far more useful. And for all the selfies I’ve seen, I can bet that not everyone even donated the small £3. It took a couple of days on my Facebook feed for people to click, realising that a picture of themselves ‘baring all’ would do little to really help Cancer Research and for donation texts to actually be sent. For many, it was just a case of ‘this is a nice thing to do, and it makes me look like I really care’, without actually having to part with any cash.
In the essence of full disclosure, I must admit to taking part in the trend. But before you think I’m full of hot air and I’m undermining my own argument, let me point out that my no makeup selfie had a slight difference. Instead of being completely barefaced, I scrawled the words #WezNevis across my forehead and attached a link to my own JustGiving page. I’m climbing Ben Nevis at midnight this summer, with all donations going to Macmillan Cancer Support. In the few days following my post, and with the help of several friends acting similarly, my JustGiving total leapt up by £319, passing my £1000 target mark. And believe me, my fundraising ambitions are not going to stop there. My point is that if you’re really dedicated to beating cancer and supporting cancer patients, don’t just pose at
APRIL 18TH 2014
Glasgow University Ltd. Alastair Swatland This is the spring of Glasgow’s discontent. Indeed, it would be pretty hard to miss the numerous strikes by university staff over the last few months. And while they seem to be regarded as more of a weekly nuisance around campus, the strikers do make an important point. It’s a well-worn story: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Our Principal, Anton Muscatelli, received a 3 per cent pay rise in 2012, bringing his salary up to £257,000, increasing an already very comfortable salary. Yet academics and support staff have been offered a mere 1 per cent rise in their pay (peanuts, essentially), ef-
fectively meaning they have received a 13 per cent cut since 2008. On top of this, the percentage of the University’s budget going towards staff salaries has dropped from 58 to 55.5 per cent over the last decade. It seems like staff are being pushed down the pecking order. However, it’s hard not to feel this is only part of a wider issue affecting the University of Glasgow. Firstly, by giving senior management a greater pay rise, this is only widening the gap between the elites of the University and the general staff, who make up the majority of those employed at Glasgow. Moreover, it shows a shocking lack of awareness on behalf of the University over the treatment of its employees, essentially telling them
that they have to do the same jobs for less, while the richest get along just fine, thank you very much. For staff, the problems are not merely financial. According to a recent survey, Glasgow ranks among the top 20 universities in the UK for staff stress and dissatisfaction. It seems like Muscatelli and co aren’t doing enough for Glasgow’s staff, and consequently we are seeing this reflected in the industrial action of the last few months. Yet the issue here does not merely end with Glasgow’s staff. Students are also feeling the effects of the increasingly myopic, money-driven structure of the University. It seems that Glasgow University is happy to treat its students like anyone else, charging them for services that cost ludicrous
amounts. I spoke to Jane Hamilton, President of the Paediatrics Society, who told me of the difficulty she encountered when she approached the University to host a conference. She was informed that the cheapest room would cost at least £1000 for a day. “It’s such a shame,” she says. “We want to be able to invite students from all over the UK, or even from all over the world, to see our beautiful university. It’s a real shame that student services are run like a business in this way, making things like national conferences almost impossible. “For some student societies looking to host a conference, it can cost them in excess of £2000.” It is saddening to hear that the Uni-
versity does not give its own students any allowance when it comes to using the main building’s facility, especially as Jane recalls: “I went to a conference in Aberdeen and the society had access to their whole medical building and all rooms at no extra cost. To them, £2000 sounded ridiculous.” Glasgow University seems to be increasingly profit-driven, at the expense of its staff and even its students. Perhaps this is the way the University is looking to run itself now, giving itself a rigid business model. Maybe students will continue to become customers and the University will continue to find more ways of squeezing profit out from wherever it can.
School of soft knocks
Euan McTear I reckon University life could do with a bit of a mean streak. It’s great that most students come to Glasgow University and others across the country and leave with a degree, a pile of debt and (almost) no experience of abuse or of having their lunch money stolen. But it’s just all a bit too nice and that’s not a good thing for the next stage of our careers: actually going into the world of work. The thing is that we students are no more than a few years away from being in a real job in that big bad world out there. And we’ll be arriving straight from this little University Avenue bubble of niceties. First things first, people like those on the Students Representatives Council (SRC) do a really great thing.
They help students with academic issues, with problems at home, with stresses, with anything really. Yet in the world of work there won’t be all these good souls looking out for your needs. In an office there won’t be, for example, a Welfare Week, nor a destressing puppy cuddling event nor a team campaigning to change the office water supplier due to some ethical issue that nobody was really aware of. There might be a sexist song like Blurred Lines that comes on the office radio, but - I’m sorry to tell you - there won’t be an outcry and a campaign and a meeting to ban it. Chances are that you’ll just have to bear it and listen to that terrible song once in a while. That very same day, you may get an email from a colleague which details his “crazy weekend” or which
rants about a “mad client.” Obviously that isn’t 100% PC with mental health awareness such an important issue. Once again, however, it’ll just have to be ignored and taken for what it is: the way the real world works. All these campaigns that the SRC and similar groups organise to rid everything imperfect from our campus are great. However, in the world of work, there simply isn’t time or the desire to aim for a completely perfect working environment. Of course it would be great if every little issue could be tackled, but when there are targets and deadlines to be met, the mentality is to just let the little office issues go. I know most students on this campus will be well aware of that, but there are certainly some who will be arriving at their new job expecting everything to be as PC and perfect as at this University.
We have to wake up though, and accept that we will one day be called a “cunt” at work by someone or other (and if not, then we won’t have been doing the job properly). When that day comes, there won’t be a tutor or SRC representative to go running to. I’ve worked in plenty of offices before – one before I started my degree and a couple more during. I’ve done so for a total of over four years and while that may not seem like a lot, it’s been more than enough time to realise that the change from University to a job in the real world is a transition unlike any other. You can’t spend several years at a university where you can complain about the slightest little offense caused and then move into the real world and expect to have your comments similarly taken on board from day one. This is why I’m arguing that it would
be better for all of us if the University was a little bit meaner. Right now we spend four years (roughly) in this bubble of niceties, political correctness and campaigns for every little thing that’s wrong on campus. It’s good that things work well here on campus and that morals are an important part of life. That’s not, however, how it works in the real world. This is a simple truth and is why it might be better if university prepared us for entering that real world by acting a bit more like it and less like an unrealistic ideal. Disneyland is more comparable to the real world than a university campus. Upon leaving University Avenue, some of us will be in for a major shock.
News & Views Rosanah Jones, Euan McTear, David Santamaria, Chris McLaughlin, Fraser McGowan, Gina Mete, Sam Wigglesworth, Faheem Ahmed Rokadiga, Alastair Swatland, Kathryn Gilmore, Louise Wilson Culture Kate Snowdon, Louise Wilson, Imants Latkovskis, Adam Sorice, Tom Kelly, Matthew Sharpe, Francesca Hashemi, Belen Casanas, Rebecca Corbett, Aidan Reid Sport Beatrice Cook, Jack Haugh, Stephen Trotter, Aidan Reid
Proofing, Layout & Copyediting Tom Kelly, Kate Snowdon, Louise Wilson, Hannah McNeill, Euan McTear, Imants Latkovskis, Beatrice Cook, Jack Haugh. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography & Illustration Tom Kelly, Kate Snowdon, Frank McElhinney Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia Commons.
FROM THE SRC...
A personal message from Louise
Sadly, as this is the last issue of the year, it also marks my last ever issue of the Guardian. It has been an extreme privilege to work with many talented writers, photographers and designers in my time here, and it is with a heavy heart I am now leaving Glasgow University, and the Guardian. I have worked on the Guardian for four years now, and it is by far the best thing I have done at university. I have enjoyed every minute of chasing after stories, throwing together articles and crying over font choices and the huge amount of work has definitely been worth the reward of seeing six editions of a newspaper you helped produce. The loyal team of editors and contributors, many of whom I pleased to call friends, have done the Guardian name proud, successfully putting together the newspaper in its 82nd year. This brings me on to the exciting prospect of putting new people at the helm; applications for the editorial team will shortly be opening, and forms can be completed online. Two of my four years have been spent as an editor, and I sincerely encourage anyone with a passion for writing or design to apply for one of these positions. We will also shortly be released a guide for the available position - you should definitely check it out if you’re even remotely interested. For those of you just wanting to continue as a regular contributor, ensure you are signed up to the mailing list and you will be contacted again in late summer. There are also opportunities to write for glasgowguardian.co.uk if you are in need of some writing release over the coming months. The pleasure has been all mine.
CONTRIBUTORS Editors Louise Wilson & Claie Diamond
The end of the year has arrived at last. Whilst you have all hopefully been enjoying an Easter break, we in the Guardian office have been busy putting together this last issue together for the academic year. We hope it provides some entertainment in your revision breaks. Many of you will be starting the look for accommodation for the next year. Whilst most of you will get on fine, unfortunately it is no myth that landlords often take advantage of students. Make sure you are aware of your rights, read over your contract before you sign it, and make sure your deposit is placed under a Tenancy Deposit Scheme. You should also not have to pay anything before signing a contract. If you need further help with this, or find yourself uncertain of your situation, the SRC Advice Centre is there to help. A concern of many students across the country this summer is also the marking boycott set for the end of April in response to the pay dispute between various teaching unions and university management. Whilst it has now been delayed (though not cancelled), we hope the marking boycott will not cause too much of a delay with the grading of examinations, and the disruption is dealt with before it becomes an issue.
Jess McGrellis This will be my last contribution to the Glasgow Guardian as SRC President, which feels a little odd as I’ll still be in post for another three months. Anyone who’s been in a short fixed term position like this one will be familiar with the feeling of frustration as I run out of time to do everything I would like to. Having said that, I’m pleased to say that the SRC’s new website is now up and running. The new website, which can be found at our old address www.glasgowstudent.net, is more functional and will allow us to keep you up to date with the campaigns the SRC are working on. It’s prettier too! In my last column I referred to the industrial action that has taken place throughout this academic year. Marking boycotts are still scheduled to begin on the 28 April if a pay increase cannot be negotiated before then. The 1% increase that has been offered will mean that academics will have suffered a 13% pay cut in real terms since 2009. A marking boycott at this time of year could have serious repercussions
on students’ abilities to graduate. The SRC’s hopes that pay negotiations will have a positive outcome so marking boycotts can be avoided. April 1 also saw the report stage of the Immigration Bill at the House of Lords. Despite protests from the SRC, NUS and other groups across the UK it looks likely that this atrocious bill will be passed. If enacted, all students will now have to prove to landlords that they have the right to live in the UK before they can secure private accommodation. Securing accommodation, particularly if this is being done in advance of arriving to study in the UK, is already a difficult process without this extra barrier being added. Landlords who fail to carry out proper immigration checks could be fined £3,000, which may cause some landlords to be reluctant to rent to international students due to the potential risk of a fine and additional administration. Further to this, international students could now be charged to access the NHS. With these additional charges, an undergraduate student would accrue an additional cost of £600 over four years, while a Postgraduate Research student with a partner and two children could pay as much as an extra £2,400 over four years. The stringent attendance monitoring and visa checks that the University is forced to undertake already creates an unwelcoming environment to students who are travelling to Glasgow to learn. The Immigration Bill is yet another barrier to students being able to study in the UK, as well as sending a hostile message to students who have a right to study here, and who make our campus culturally diverse and thus more interesting. There are numerous petitions online against this bill so please take the time to sign and attempt to intervene. Thank you for taking the time to read the SRC’s column. Good luck in any exams you have coming up and all the best in your future endeavours. You can still email me at email@example.com until 1 July.
APRIL 18TH 2014
Too educated for the job? Kathryn Gilmore objects to jobs only for those without degrees
Kathryn Gilmore Ah, the great graduate job hunt. The sheer thrill/utter terror of not knowing what to do with the rest of your life, which blankly stares back at you upon graduation as if to say “…so what now?” It comes to us all (make the most of your blissful University years, o youthful freshers). Currently im-
mersed in this joyous activity myself, I have noticed an increasingly widespread and altogether worrying trend: “ineligibility for applicants with a degree.” I am an arts graduate. I hold a degree in subjects I pursued solely out of interest and enjoyment of studying in a supportive environment with fellow enthusiasts. I am yet to decide quite how I would like to earn a living for
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Dear Sirs, The recent Rectorial election showed the political engagement of the University’s students, which is to be applauded. However, the role of Rector is an important one in helping to represent the interests of students and an absentee Rector simply cannot serve that func-
tion as well as one who is regularly present on campus. Hopefully this will be remembered in the next Rectorial elections. I remain your obedient servant, Christopher Ruane. Airmailed from Hong Kong.
the next fifty years of my life, but it very probably will not be in a career related to my degree subjects – such is the nature of arts. Thus, I find the phrase “applicants with a degree are not eligible to apply for this position/training scheme” to be somewhat baffling. My degree gave me many transferrable skills, but did not train me in the job-specific knowledge often required for said positions/training schemes that I am keen to apply for; I have no idea how to programme a radio station or correctly preserve ancient artefacts or manage historic parklands. And yet I’m completely ineligible to apply because I have a degree. How does that work? A degree should absolutely not entitle anyone to a job - of course it shouldn’t. I, personally, did not pursue my University education for this reason. So why does not having a degree entitle anyone to a job? To be discriminated against on the basis of education, abundant or lacking, is entirely wrong. My forays into the great graduate job hunt have revealed that this discriminatory practice is widespread across the arts areas I would like to eventually go into. In an ironic attempt to increase accessibility, this exclusory phrase (often asterisked down at the very bottom of the application form just below the description and your own excited enthusiasm to apply) is often a legal obligation for organisations. To me this seems bizarre, backward and not a solution to any kind of problem; simply moving an obstacle does not get rid of it. Indeed, let’s invert the notion for a second. Were organisations to only offer access to those with the highest levels of education there would be
absolute uproar, and rightly so. Or, alternatively, exchange the adjective “graduate” in the sentence “graduates are not eligible to apply” for any other, literally any other: female, Jewish, white, short, English (I could go on, but you get the jist). It doesn’t seem quite so acceptable anymore. I fully appreciate this is a tough job market – organisations simply have to find a way to narrow down applications they are swamped with and, in conjunction with the increasing pressure to (ironically) widen access, this application form clause seems like a win-win situation for employers. But ultimately, discrimination in any form is wrong. Because that’s what this is - discrimination. The only difference is it’s acceptable. It is acceptable, encouraged even, to discriminate against graduates because the misconception is that we have all the opportunity in the world; that doors will open for us regardless. We don’t need this particular scheme as we’ll be handed something else involving a six figure starting salary and a suit in a few months. I don’t know about you, but my degree is yet to open an automatic door, let alone the locked door of the current job market. In fact, because of this “graduates need not apply” practice, thus far my degree has actually hindered any kind of long-term job hunting process. I might not have expected my degree to particularly assist in my quest for work post-graduation, but I absolutely did not anticipate it would block off potential routes entirely. Of course, this is not the case with all potential graduate employers. In many cases, specific degrees are required and graduates with skills acquired throughout the course of their studies are essential. However, the fact
there are examples of this discriminatory practice at play at all, in any sector, I find to be totally and utterly appalling because closing opportunities to graduates is effectively punishment for pursuing education. Society seems to be sending out a fairly unmissable message that enjoying any given arts subject to the extent that I did and wanting and being able to continue my learning to degree level was the wrong thing to do. You will feel guilt and you will never be allowed to have a job you’d quite like to have, ever. Is this really the case? Is this the message organisations should be sending? Yes, graduates can apply to multiple companies who all run fabulous graduate schemes: accountancy, law, finance, business, management, PR, marketing, events. But what if you would like to do something else? Is university just a way of channelling us all into a relatively narrow graduate scheme genre? I don’t know about you, but this is not what I signed up for. Success, in all its wonderful and wacky forms, should be recognised. Making one form of success completely invalid, into a shame almost, is wrong. Plain and simple. To make anyone feel ashamed of who they are, what they have achieved and the choices they have made is horrific. I don’t know how we’ve got to a point where it is acceptable to stomach discrimination just because of who is being shut out. For now, my own graduate job hunt continues despite the frequent obstacles in my way. Thus far, radio production apprenticeship programmes continue to elude me. Of course they do - I have a degree in history.
Glasgow Christmas spirit - find festive articles on pg 14-15 Photograph by Frank McElhinney. For more information please turn over.
The beast with two backs: sex shop interview Imants Latkovskis It can be difficult to talk about sex with a straight face and a sober mind. The people of today are by no means a prudish bunch, but despite the candour granted to sex, the matters of the bedroom are still extremely private. Glasgow Guardian spoke with a student with a fair bit of insight into people’s attitudes about sex. Kirsty works in Luke and Jack, a Merchant City sex boutique and art gallery that just celebrated its fourth year anniversary. Having just “reorganized the BDSM wall,” Kirsty sat down to discuss what she has learned from her experience. Guardian: How long have you worked in Luke and Jack? Kirsty: I’ve worked there for three years, which makes me the longeststanding employee aside from the managers and owners. Guardian: What do you enjoy about working there? Kirsty: I really enjoy when you get a customer who is really uncomfortable. The majority of customers we get are quite uneasy at first, and to take them and to make them feel comfortable to talk to you about what they want to buy or what their desires are, that’s what I really enjoy. Guardian: Since you deal with such sensitive and personal issues, do you ever feel awkward? Kirsty: We get some customers who just think it’s funny to come into a sex shop, or to phone in the middle of the day and ask if we have any black, vibrating dildos, which isn’t funny for us, it’s just a little bit unimagina-
Centre spread This issues centre spread comes to us from Frank McElhinney and is entitled 'East from the Library'. This is a solargraph taken with a rooftop pinhole camera, depicting the demise of the building which would make way for the Glasgow School of Art's new £30m Reid Building, the Foulis Building. Starting in 2011 McElhinney placed six pinhole cameras on six rooftops overlooking the campus redevelopment site and replaced them every six to twelve months. The long-exposure the capture allows the viewer to see the building fading out as it is destroyed. McElhinney tells the Guardian: "Developing chemicals would have instantly turned the negatives black so they were scanned instead." The scanning of the negatives leaves them erased, meaning the photographer is only able to scan them once. As McElhinney puts it: 'The act of scanning is itself a deadly embrace in which the analogue negative is destroyed by light." This image and five others were chosen to be exhibited in the Reid building for its grand opening which took place in April. The opening caused quite a stir as the building is opposite an architectural marvel in Mackintosh's School of Art building. Ceremonial opening duties fell to local actor Robbie Coltrane. Students have been in the building since January.
tive. And I once had someone offer me £5,000 to pose naked, tied up in yellow rope [laughs], which was awkward. We try to have the first half of the shop as a non-sexual area with underwear, magazines, lube, things that can’t offend anyone. And then you turn around the corner and you see the explicitly sexual things. And upon seeing this, some people go into this frame of mind, which isn’t their fault, but which is purely animalistic, and suddenly they ask you if you’ve tried a particular thing or whether you’d want to, which is unacceptable, but you can’t blame them for it because it’s not a decision they’ve made. Their brain has just gone into a sexual state of mind, and they can’t help it. It happens rarely, but it does happen. Guardian: Do you think someone could find the shop offensive, and what would you say to them? Kirsty: A lot of people stick their head around the door, and then immediately leave. I wish those people would actually come into the shop and browse because a lot of our stock is purely sensual, like massage oil - it can’t offend anyone. Besides, if you are at the stage where you stick your head in, you are curious, and if you actually spoke to any of the staff, we would be helpful and tell you what those things are for. Like, there is a product that just looks like an egg, and most people have no clue what it is used for. I get more of a sense of reward when I help people who feel awkward or clueless, rather than from the people who are confidently embarrassing. Guardian: Do you think working there has had an impact on your own
attitudes about sex? Kirsty: I think it has opened my mind. The first time I went in there, before I got the job, was awkward – I stuck my head around the door and was about to leave just like the people I was telling you about, but I had had a few drinks so I had the Dutch courage to go in and ask questions. Working there has given me this mindset that everyone’s sex life is completely different, and who are you to judge someone who likes fisting or electrostimulation or any other specific thing, who are you to say that they are any less normal than you? Everyone is different, and I would never judge anyone. There have been customers who come into the shop with things that I would have never before considered – like wanting to cover your sexual partner with custard before sex, which definitely doesn’t float my boat - but there is nothing wrong with that. Having an open mind is a completely positive thing. Guardian: Do you ever feel like customers really open up to you? Kirsty: There are customers who, for example, want to buy a magazine that has a word in the title that they’re not comfortable saying, so they’ll have to write it down or point to it. But there are some customers who are open already, but even they become more liberated since they talk to you about something that is so personal. Guardian: What do you say to the idea that sex toys are unnecessary, that sex is better without them? Kirsty: I think that the best way you can improve your sex life is to know your body and to know someone else’s
body, and the best way to do that is to experiment. You can’t tell someone “I really like this” unless you know what you like, unless you’ve gone out and experimented. Guardian: Do you think your shop is different to other, perhaps, more mainstream ones? Kirsty: We’re the only LGBT-themed sex shop in Glasgow, but we also get a lot of straight customers, and they’re not only coming in because we’re alternative, but because we try not to commercialize or objectify like more mainstream sex shops would. We aim to keep sex as beautiful and aesthetic as it is. I believe people should put sex on a pedestal. We shouldn’t put women or men specifically on the pedestal and say, “you’re an object.” It’s the connection that we have between us that is beautiful, and we should cherish that and make the most of it. And having an art gallery downstairs also changes that because it gives it an aesthetic dimension and a classier feel. Guardian: What would you say about the relationship between art and sex? Kirsty: I wrote an essay in first year on emblems, pictures or words with symbolic meaning, and I added a paragraph about how the context of poetry changes your connection with it. So if you go to the gallery downstairs, regardless if you’ve been upstairs, you’ll look at art on the walls and you will make a connection. Suddenly, a thistle will become phallic because you know there is a sex shop upstairs. Similarly, when you look at a sex toy, when you know there is an art gallery downstairs, it will become less
animalistic and more aesthetic. Guardian: What would your advice be to make people feel more comfortable about sex? Kirsty: I think to experiment is the best advice I can give. Everyone judges everyone else’s sex life because they’re not entirely comfortable with their own, and if you know what you want and don’t want, then you can experience it better. But if you’re prudish and unwilling to step outside your safe zone, then you’re not going to experience sex to the best of your ability. Guardian: So do you believe it’s important to break down the stigma and shame associated with sex and talking about it? Kirsty: Absolutely, and I think that’s why we get quite a lot of straight customers, because we’ve already broken a social taboo of having LGBT sex products. This is definitely a positive thing and it should permeate in the rest of society. The fact that we sell non-sexual products helps as well. For example, I had a customer who just wanted to buy a card for his male friends who just got engaged, he was straight himself, but he wanted to buy a card specifically from an LGBT shop, and afterwards he wandered around. And as he was wandering, he was opening his mind to other modes of perceiving sex. Guardian: Do you ever see working at a sex shop as a taboo topic yourself? Kirsty: Only with my parents and taxi drivers [laughs].
FEBRUARY 13TH 2014
CULTURE CULTURE 12-20 12-21
How I met your father Adam Sorice has his say on HBO’s Looking and Queering the Sitcom Adam Sorice In the pilot episode of HBO’s newest show Looking, Jonathan Groff’s character Patrick struggles through one of the oldest sitcom tropes: the ill-fated first date. Traversing the typical subjects of past relationships, career struggles and the uncertainties of wine bar appetisers, Patrick’s incompatible companion soon decides to bail without even the good manners to split the bill evenly. (Not classy, cheapskates of the world.) However Looking gives this well-worn depiction of the single life a noticeable twist: both characters are gay men. While claiming that non-heterosexual romance doesn’t feature prominently on modern television may sound laughable to modern audiences, it’s a reality many queer viewers have come to accept without even realising. LGBT representation in modern media is undeniably progressive in 2014; shows such as Glee, Modern Family and Brooklyn Nine-Nine all feature queer characters and narratives as part of the fabric of modern life. However, all these shows seem
to promote inclusion with a catch: gay characters can get screen time as long as they don’t act on their sexual desires. The problem can be traced back to the canonical birth of the modern TV homosexual, Will & Grace. The show’s original premise (gay guy and female best friend decide to live together following simultaneous breakups) should have positioned Will Truman as an exuberant, active participant in the New York gay scene but instead he sits around and pines for (literally) years. Despite premiering almost fifteen years later, Modern Family encountered similar problems with its physically unaffectionate relationship between gay partners Mitchell & Cameron. Only after a Facebook campaign from fans of the show did the two actually kiss on screen. LGBT inclusion can be understood to have reached a similar stumbling block in films and television as encountered by ethnic minorities. Although it now feels strange to watch anything without a range of sexual identities and ethnicities in the mix, these characters often gravitate to the
background of stories and their differences are only referenced when a specific narrative needs to be told. For all that Glee’s cast boasts significant diversity, the universal issues tend to be reserved for the straight, white characters while the black woman Mercedes is only called upon to represent cultural oppression or sassiness, or the gay guy Kurt a camp musical number. And while the original white characters were thrown together in every romantic arrangement imaginable, the cast’s two Asian characters were immediately paired off and pushed to the sides of the ensemble drama. Glee’s only particularly memorable use of the characters was when Mike’s family demanded that he abandon his musical dreams after scoring an A- in Chemistry (an “Asian F”) in order to secure his future as a doctor. Although modern television loves to brag of its successes in portraying equality, the narrative spaces open to minority characters are often stereotypical and limiting upon closer inspection. Within this context, Looking be-
gins to look pretty revolutionary. The San Francisco-based sitcom following the lives of a group of gay male friends not only positively depicts romance and sexuality but also doesn’t treat these stories as restrictively queer. In fact, while specifically gay issues are addressed within the show, the majority of the problems encountered by the characters are inherently mundane. Although some queer critics have argued that Looking comes across as too ordinary, ‘ordinary’ actually offers wider possibilities for acceptance and inclusion. Despite groundbreaking queer media such as Queer as Folk and Brokeback Mountain depicting intriguing characters facing identity and cultural challenges, they’re not the kind of people you’d necessarily want to be related to or have to work with. Just as HBO’s Sex and the City proved in regards to female sexuality, the only way to promote cultural acceptance of anti-normative behaviour is not to portray it as radical, divisive and dangerous but to celebrate it by treating it as merely an everyday occurrence. Looking’s eagerness to promote
queer romanticism beyond the realms of anonymous casual sex is both long overdue and likely a hard sell to many straight viewers reluctant to watch a show they fear is primarily about the challenges of douching. Thus it’s no surprise that the show homages pretty much every mainstream sitcom in TV history, from the constant allusions to Golden Girls to Patrick’s romantic date at the planetarium lifted straight from Friends’ mythology. There’s even an extensive conversation about tops and bottoms in terms of being ‘the Ross’ and ‘the Rachel’, very much sounding the death knell on gay sex being a culturally transgressive act ever again. Looking shows that gay people face the exact same kinds of problems as everyone else, whether they are exciting, steamy, controversial or downright tedious. It may not be the most original, most controversial or even most attractive show on television (Russell Tovey’s butt aside) but Looking achieves something very important: proving that gay people are just as incapable of getting their lives together as anyone else.
Formula for film success
Matthew Sharpe It’s often touted that when a director is handed a gargantuan budget to play with, there is a certain set of guidelines they should adhere to in order to ensure the film’s financial success. The most common suggestions would be to cast an A-list star, to make sure the budget is big enough to be news-worthy, and to have some sort of identifiable or remarkable visuals. The unsuccessful release of John Carter of Mars serves as testament to the validity of these criteria; it didn’t
satisfy the A-list star category and as such never truly found its audience (Mark Kermode remarked that had it been called Tom Cruise of Mars it would most likely have made its money back). Given that so much money is ploughed into audience testing and market research, along with the solid set of rules to stick by to avoid a boxoffice flop, it becomes all the more frustrating when studios waste money on what ends up being an entirely mediocre film like Need for Speed which still turns out to be a financial failure. Had that film been an avant-
garde, fresh take on mainstream action cinema filled with creative risks, I would have no problem. “At least they tried,” I would say. However, it was extremely bland, with nothing new to add to the genre. This is why I’m suggesting that with such safety in their investments so long as they follow the “rules” I mentioned, why not take more creative risks? Recently I saw Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. It was marvellous. There were 6 different narrative perspectives and framing devices within the opening 20 minutes. It was extremely quirky and not at all bland,
and, what’s more, it has made a profit. Why, then, must mainstream blockbusters be so generic, as though they were made by a committee? With the studio’s investment all but secure, why can’t directors take more artistic gambles? The truth is that filmmakers increasingly have to make their work as broad and unremarkable as possible, in order to garner the biggest audience. Something as universal as Titanic, for example, is always likely to remain one of the highest grossing films of all time, because it is completely generic and without quirks. No
demographic is alienated, and everyone goes home moderately satisfied. These are the cinematic versions of TGI Fridays or Nando’s. They are the film adaptations of shredded wheat. They are as though Adrian Chiles took up a career in directing. They aim for the middle, and hit their mark perfectly. Worryingly, there is a proliferation of them in recent years. Studios: give the filmmakers some creative licence before it’s too late and, eventually, Generic Action Film #25E4B becomes the most successful movie ever.
Come tae glasgow bebé Belén Casañas One of the most frequent questions I get asked during the very British activity that is small-talk is: “why did you come to Glasgow?” To be perfectly honest, before applying, I had not heard much of the university or the city. Although I am now in love with both, sometimes I still sing to myself, “I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien, I’m a Spanish girl in Glasgow.” Spain and Scotland have nothing in common. But in order to explain why, some clarifications need to be made about what is commonly thought of us: we are only known for siesta and fiesta (statistically, Spaniards work longer hours than most Europeans; we do party hard though), we drink a lot, we kill animals for fun (not everyone supports bullfighting), we are poor (the third richest man in the world, Aman-
cio Ortega, is Spanish, although Spain is not economically great), we are the best at football (that’s true), and it’s never cold in Spain (it is, in many parts, even more so than in Glasgow). A stereotype that, I feel, happens to be true, and one which makes me feel very proud of my culture is partying. I do not understand clubs here closing at two or three. The first time I went out and lights came on that early, I freaked out that something was wrong and we were being evacuated. I also feel like a sober alien when people start drinking at eight o’clock; that's usually around the time we finish having lunch! I won’t get used to alcohol being expensive either, or the fact that, as a friend of mine once said about the volume of the shot measures, “alcohol here is non-alcoholic”. It also happens to be very common to steal road signs. For some inexplicable reason.
A fellow Spanish native Carlota, who is doing her exchange year in Glasgow, told me that she “cannot get used to timetables. Everything happens earlier in the day: you eat early, drink early, close the party early. While in Spain we do everything later”. Indeed, maybe that's why we are in recession. Despite all of this, I love Glasgow. There are so many things this city and all the students living here should be proud of, especially regarding life at the university. The education system is more practical and makes you relate much more to the subject - it actually makes you like what you study. I’m used to a system where the teacher would say: “This essay is an A, and it might come up in the exam.” I would then go on to learn fifteen essays, word by word. Another exchange student, Alessandra, was amazed how much the
education system in Glasgow differs from the one back home. Having regular seminars, tutorials and tests can be a pain sometimes, but they are extremely helpful. “I wouldn't do anything otherwise,” she says. She also remarks about how important it is to have office hours for getting in touch teaching staff. “Back home the lecturer might as well be a prince. There’s no way you can approach him.” Another Spaniard in Glasgow, Carlos, a fourth year Aeronautical Engineering student told me he was shocked to see such friendly people. “Even if they don't know you, they want to talk to you and help you if they can. Someone once saw I was lost, and took the time to walk me where I had to go. I couldn't believe that. Although I have trouble understanding their accents, Glaswegians are amazing.” Personally, I too am gobsmacked at how the university, and the city,
are willing to help students - from discounts on food, shops, transport, museums, SnapFax, and all the offers printed on a rainforest’s amount of fliers. But by far my favourite part of being a student in Glasgow, the crème de la crème of my time here, is the abundance of clubs, societies and ceilidhs. In Spain, there are only a few student associations, but if you join them, you’ll probably fail your degree - the time commitment won’t mesh well with the inflexibility of your timetable. So it’s fantastic knowing that your hobbies and skills are valued by the University, whether it's a sport, volunteering, or the Cheese Society. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to start the “Clubs should stay open all night” society, and I hope to see you all there.
Toss the tickets to Tenerife
Rebecca Corbett The other day, following my regular procrastination routine, I clicked on a BBC link that led me to the ten most beautiful islands in Europe. As I started scrolling down the list, I expected to see beautiful Mediterranean destinations with white sandy beaches, turquoise water and the promise of a sun-kissed glow. Undeniably, I was surprised when I was met with the Isles of Lewis and Harris in Scotland as joint number one on the list. They do have beautiful beaches with dramatic coast-lines, and both offer the promise of that desperately needed escape - but how was this ideal, brochure-worthy location still on a local
map? The problem is that that the local map is regularly thrown out the window. Skyscanner, EasyJet, the promise of air-miles and duty-free perfume take its place. If you can get to Europe for less than £100, why not just get on a flight tomorrow? But what about the £5 trip to the nearby world heritage site? What about the scenic train journey up to Scotland's own mountain range or to the home of the famous Loch Ness monster? These might seem like clichés to you, but I refuse to believe that beautiful places are only accessible behind a terminal gate in exchange for a boarding pass. But there you are, boarding pass in hand, making sure that your stupidly tiny bottles of shampoo that hold just
enough to keep an underfed guinea pig clean, are well and truly concealed in their plastic bags. Passing through security, bare foot of course, holding up your trousers, you are in the undiscovered land of minute discounts and oversized packets of cigarettes and, if you're lucky, an evergreen plant pot. The alternative adventure is only a train ride away; up in the mountains, near Ben More, in a blizzard at 11.30pm I was presented with my transport: a small rowing boat. My bottles of shampoo were of normal size and I had not been given a boarding pass. Instead I was given an oar by a woman wearing a head torch and a plastic poncho and asked to row. Somehow I don't think that this level of customer service would ever
be found on any aeroplane, not even when handed pretzels. The weekend continued, leading me to a house built by a man called John. John's wife asked him where they would live, so he gathered old windows, fallen down trees and abandoned planks and built the place where I would escape for the weekend. This hobbit house in a glen by Loch Voil was one of the maddest places I have ever been in. The best thing about it? The only time I had to take my shoes and belt off was to go to sleep after a long day travelling. The glens near Ben More were more peaceful, and the trip ended up as as one of the most relaxing holidays I have ever been on. It didn't even pretend to be an undiscovered land
with a singular pot plant - instead, it offered a forest. A forest whose paths were covered with untouched snow, rather that trampled by a horde of tour guides and their groups. So maybe the option of a staycation, rather than a vacation - which asks you to vacate yourself and sometimes your luggage on the way, isn't quite so bad after all? With youth hostels perched on the edges of cliffs, hiding between mountains, but still close enough to a beach for a swim in the sea, maybe it's time to find that old local map you threw out of the window? It offers a peaceful and refreshing change, one that I would encourage everyone to try.
FEBRUARY 13TH 2014
CULTURE CULTURE 12-20 12-21
Metronomy: album review Franchesca Hashimi “All I know how to do is tour,” drawls Metronomy frontman Joseph Mount. He’s talking about the inspiration behind their fourth album, ‘Love Letters’. Released in March 2014, work began almost two years earlier as the Devonshire quartet toured for the acclaimed ‘English Riviera’. It's the album which cemented Metronomy's commercial success. However, for all we've come to love the eccentric crew, Love Letters, while still a masterpiece in its own right, breeds the essence of tortured artists. Arriving in 2006 with the LP ‘Pip Paine’ (‘Pay the £5000 You Owe’), the edgy opener ‘You Could Easily Have Me’ forewarned the identity of this band. The album never really developed or settled down. It's rapidly manic and low-key overtones made a silhouette for Metronomy's staple production: organ synths, wonky beats and percussive twangs - the crèmede-la-crème of pop-infused odysseys. This 2011 release, jump started by acoustic hardware and electronic
production, is proof that Metronomy have stuck to their roots. It’s an illogical progression, considering multiple layering resurged with a cleaner cut style, but unsurprising at that. ‘Love Letters’ preach disengagement. On a first listen, it's repetitive and underwhelming. On the second, it oozes dark intelligence. Mount's ability as a songwriter is clearly distinguished, with most of the ten tracks superbly written. The listener lumps together similarities from, as Mount describes it, "up its own arse intelligent dance music”. It’s the nurave era those in their early twenties look back on with wistful embarrassment - “neither intelligent nor dance," but at least we appreciate the lead vocalist’s honesty. It’s the same truth we see in his songs. ‘Love Letters’ fawn over the same issues that, well, a love letter would: heartache, splitting up, getting together, the stars - it's basically the ingenious fluff inside Mount's head. Once you've come to terms with the Morrissey-esque benignity of the album, it's easy to fall very deeply into it. The analogue production - which
Fall Out Boy Kate Snowdon I’ve read a few reviews of Fall Out Boy’s gig at the Glasgow Hydro, the last date of their European tour. While all the reviews are reasonably fair, I have come to one conclusion: they just don’t get it. This misunderstanding isn’t just limited to the various reviewers floating within the dubiously literate space that is the blogosphere, even national newspapers are coming out with gloriously unrelated and unsubstantiated claims. These range from calling ‘This Ain’t a Scene’ the band’s signature tune, to bringing up an issue with the way the set was arranged, with some flat out saying the band chose the wrong songs. To these people I must ask, were you even there? Having relentlessly refreshed three different ticket websites on the morning of the ticket release, until the nine o’clock alarm bell went off and I hyperventilated my way to securing standing tickets for me and two friends, having queued for five hours in the rain and cold with the flu and a fever, and then somehow worming my way to three rows from the front, I’d hazard a guess that other reviewers weren’t quite as committed as I was. Opening with the deep rumbles of the ‘The Phoenix’, the set was electric from the beginning. I lost my handmade sign within minutes, but didn’t notice until the third song as the moshing was so intense. I say moshing, but it was more of a weighted shove, by the entire crowd, as every pre-pubescent female surged for the stage, to the extent that bassist Pete Wentz ordered everyone to take a step back, and implied we should all take a deep breath and calm down. It was heartening to hear two songs back to back from ‘Under the Cork Tree’, one of the band’s golden oldie records from their adolescent days, mixed in with crackers from the new album, and everything in between. The band made full use of their creative environment – the screens either side of the stage were made full use of the
whole time, and the boys creatively used the lights on the camera phones of the fans to light up the whole stadium at one point. Their cover of Michael Jackson's ‘Beat It’, notably featured on their most slated album ‘Folie a Deux’, highlighted the extent of their progress – whilst guitarist Joe Trohman was, according to my inside sources, formerly unable to play the solo to ‘Beat It’ live, he hit all the right notes this time round. Lead vocalist Patrick Stump (swoon) had also notably upped his live performance game, as the cringeworthy 2008 live DVD ‘Live In Phoenix’ can prove when compared to his vocals during the sneaky acoustic set Fall Out Boy managed to pull off at the Hydro. While an old Iggy Pop interview played on the main screens, the band rushed back to the standing area to play three of their oldest songs, including the glorious ‘Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy’, creating a lapse in time, whereby the audience was led to believe they were privy to the early, intimate gigs of the days of Fall Out Boy yore. This was loudly, yet pleasantly, interrupted by Andy Hurley’s drum solo. This was crucial to securing both the old and new fans, where both sides of Fall Out Boy were showcased – their harder, rockier image side by side with their 18-year-old selves’ love songs. The rest of the set held the crowd as fascinated and entertained as the beginning of the gig had. The fans were mesmerised by the band until the very end. Had the kinetic energy been harnessed from the forward movement when Pete Wentz appeared in reaching distance, it would have been enough to power the homes of hundreds of whiny Wordpress reviewers. I think this unfailing passion for the band - no matter if the songs were old or new, if they were fast, slow, acoustic, or like the final song of the evening, ‘Saturday’, written to mosh to - says much more about Fall Out Boy than any of their reviewers can. With fans this dedicated, they must be doing something right. More than just being gorgeous, that is.
Mount says is his "little venture" - is fitting to the band's heritage. Recorded in Hackney's Toe Rag studios, Metronomy quietly follow the likes of Madness, The Kills and The White Stripes. Their latest record is obviously very personal to the main man. Indulgent or charming, it's up to you to decide. When the melodies and simplicity do come racking in, placed alongside Mount's crackly voice and retro synthesisers, my bet is you'll forgive the maverick attitude. It should be said, however, this isn't a concept album comparable to marmite, unlike their previous accolades. ‘Love Letters’, like the title track, is a boxy but organic tribute (to whom we're not quite sure). The line ‘I keep on writing’ is sprung from Mount himself while the call of ‘Love letters’ is a dusky harmony from drummer and vocalist Anna Prior. Admittedly, Mount's monotonous frailty borders pain-in-the-ass powerless singing, however, for Metronomy fans, it's not like you weren't expecting that. ‘Boy Racer’ has the funky dance glare of the 2008 album ‘Night Out’.
The drums are toy-like but they provide a healthy beat. Whistling flute percussion, jazzy bass lines, an undisputed melody and wild juxtapositions affirm the unconventionality and eccentricity of the English four-piece. A certain stand-out track is the first release, ‘I'm Aquarius’. No real connection to astrology or Lovers Rights, just plain old clever word choice. Mount's quivering voice protrudes this track, creating an eerie, simple and all-encompassing electricity. The lyrics are quite simply beautiful. The lo-fi analogue is on point with the ripple of baby synths underplaying Anna Prior’s "shoo doo doo ah". The whole track is a surreal composition - it's sleek and sensual, and that's before we’ve even mentioned the video. Directed by Frenchman Edouard Sailer, this production is certainly not lo-fi. It's a big budget music lick although no fancy computer techs are playing with the editing software. It's spacey and four-dimensional, and strangely familiar. Sphynx cats envelop a mis en scène of burning suns, an alien goddess and derelict eternity. Mount travels the cosmos, fluctuat-
ing in his human astronaut suit, eyes blue, calm and staring. You feel his existence threatened by the super universe that's filled with weird theories. It's odd, to say the least. Futuristic and otherworldly, just like Metronomy. Die-hard fans might not instantly like this album, but after careful thought, and trust of Mount's words, we realise they've not stuck to what they do best and tried an improved style. Which must be applauded. The closing track ‘Never Wanted’ reinvents the band as the guys who made it and now wallow in puddles of pity. As the soft English accent whispers "it only gets better" as a reference to all that's bad about the music business, it kind of makes you feel disdain for Mount. There's nothing worse than a musician complaining about the project that makes them loads of money. That being said, ‘Love Letters’ is not a sell out. For the near annoyance of the Devon-born crew, they're undeniably talented. The word "idiosyncratic" has been used a lot to describe Metronomy's fourth album. It's an apt description, and the reason we'll always go back for more.
FEBRUARY 13TH 2014
CULTURE CULTURE 12-20 12-21
From Aladdin's Cave to converted garages: west end book shop guide Rebecca Corbett When I was younger, I would go to charity shops with my dad. He would always make a beeline for the books as I would be left wondering why he wasn't more interested in the clothes. However now, aged 21, I find myself doing the opposite. Walking past the cheap and cheerful clothes, I instead make my way to the bookshelves and begin to tick titles off my reading list and pick up a few others for fun reading. Maybe after three years of a literature degree, I've finally accepted my inner bookworm? As a literature and theatre student I am presented with a list of books every year. Before I can get excited about them, however, a shadow comes over and reminds me of what this will do
the old bank account. After three years of avoiding bankruptcy and online purchases, local bookshops have come to my rescue. These five little establishments will help you embrace your inner bookworm, while saving a few pennies in the process. Voltaire and Rousseau - Otago Lane. This shop is an Aladdin's cave of books - as you enter, you are hit with a musty smell of print, and all you see are piles and piles of books, some reaching up to the ceiling. Picking one from the pile is a bit like playing Jenga - you have to think strategically to avoid toppling the literary mountain. However, quite often that one book you are looking for happens to be at the very bottom. This is a great place to have a browse. You may not find exactly what you were looking for but you might find something you just re-
ally want, perhaps even for 50p. Caledonia Books - Great Western Road. This is a more organised bookshop with a vast array of novels, nonfiction and maps to choose from, so you will be able to find most books here. The staff here are very helpful, and 9 times out of 10, they will know exactly how to help you find what you need. This traditional old bookshop has a feeling of an old library, and for this reason you will find yourself whispering like a mouse and tiptoeing around the aisles as the staff sit pensively by the fire. Thistle Books - just off Otago Street. Hidden away in what looks like an old garage lies this beauty of a bookshop. The two men who run it are exceptionally helpful. In addition to their great collection of books, they also have a large selection of sheet music. If music
is what you are after, you will be met by a lovely man who will be more than happy to talk to you about music for as long as he can and answer any queries you have. Charity Shops - all over the place.I would particularly recommend Shelter on Great Western Road, the Oxfam Bookshop and Cancer Research on Byres Road. A bit of a cliché and slightly more expensive, Oxfam Books have a great selection, a lot of which are donated by students. Prices here will be around £4, which is definitely bargain. As expected, charity shops are hit or miss - sometimes you will wander in and find everything you need, but other times you will only be able to find Victoria Beckham's autobiography (to be honest, I would probably buy this) and a bewildering selection of chick lit and science fiction. It's
still worth a look in case you manage to tick a few more books off the reading list and save a few pennies. You'd also be helping a charity which is definitely better than donating to retail companies. SRC Second Hand Bookshop John McIntyre Building. This is one of the best places to go for course books. If you go at the beginning of each semester you will be provided with a lot of students’ hand-me-down books. This is also a great place to sell your books if (unlike me) you want to get rid of them. Personally, I am very guilty of keeping all of mine to make myself look more cultured. However, it's also really good for textbooks and other course specific material that you wouldn't be able to find in charity shops.
10 minutes with: student author David McCrae Belén Casañas A Dutch family in London. Its members involved in the heroin trade, exposed to crime. Violence, dual identities, lies, manipulation and confrontation surround the family. Uncle against nephew, ruthless cunning against hopeful aspirations. Either they overcome their differences, or the illicit family empire suffers a tragic end. ‘Innocence Lost’ is a riveting crime thriller, written by University of Glasgow undergraduate David McCrae. Third year Psychology student and President of the Psychology Society, David is a writer in his free time. He started the novel as a fresher, wrote a good first draft during his first year at university, and published it at the end of his second year. He is now working on the second installment of what he intends to become a trilogy. Glasgow Guardian met with David to talk about his experience as a writer, and the difficulties of publishing a novel. Guardian: ‘Innocence Lost’ is a well-rounded novel - it has intrigue, violence and conflict, and hope and
aspiration at the same time. How did the plot come together? McCrae: I ideated it a long time ago, but it was never more than a plan for the future. One day, I got inspired and started putting my ideas onto paper. Same with the characters - the family existed in my mind already when I was a kid. I always wanted to write a story about a family called the Van Stormblades, and the idea for a Dutch crime family came from that. Guardian: What inspired you to become a writer? McCrae: I’ve always loved reading, and all the books I read as a child have somehow influenced this thriller. Although my favourites were books of the fantasy or medieval genre, like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, which have nothing to do with the novel, they did inspire me to create my own world with my own characters, and lose myself in them. Guardian: Is this the first piece you have written? McCrae: Yes and no. I always had many grand ideas about possible novels, and I have written bits and pieces before, but I never managed to complete a whole novel. ‘Innocence Lost’ was in my mind for years before I
started it. I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m very happy to say I am actually a writer now. Guardian: About these ups and down, what were the main difficulties you encountered when writing the novel? McCrae: Motivation. Very often I thought I was writing pages and pages of something that no one might ever read. Finding a reason to sit down and write was definitely the hardest part. Guardian: You haven’t mentioned lack of time as a difficulty, which for a full time student is a scarce resource. How do you find the time to write? McCrae: We all have some hours in the day when we simply procrastinate. After classes and other activities, we all go online, watch TV and so on. That’s the time I used to write the novel. I usually spent around two hours a day, and aimed for a thousand words. It is easier said than done, but there is always time to do something if you really want it. Guardian: Some would say that with everything that has already been written, it is hard to be truly original. How do you think you managed to stay away from clichés? McCrae: ‘Innocence Lost’ is a very
personal novel, and definitely a part of me. I always observe the world around me; if I see a group of people, I imagine what they are talking about. When writing, I tried to think abstractly and outside the box, instead of being in full control of the story. This allowed the characters to develop themselves, and the story, too. Only in this way can a novel have unexpected outcomes and intriguing cliff-hangers. Guardian: What do you think is the strongest point of the novel? McCrae: Definitely the characters and their development, psychological depth and complex relations, but also the ending. I don’t want to give it away, but the whole novel is full of tension and small climaxes that build up to a totally unexpected ending. Friends have told me that the imagery I used was very powerful, and so was the manipulation of language, that adds to its thriller characteristics. Guardian: Would you say your characters reflect your own personality? Or were they inspired by people you know? McCrae: All characters have borrowed from my personality, but at the same time they are all different to each other. I cannot say that any
one of them is a pure reflection of me, or that I relate more to one than to the rest. At all times, I tried to create new personas, so none of them are inspired by anyone I know. Also, after a while characters start developing themselves and it is no longer completely up to me what they would say or think. I guess it is inevitable that characters end up somehow similar to their creator, so if someone who knows me reads the book, they will see bits of me reflected in everyone. But not of themselves. [laughs] Guardian: Regarding the difficulties of publishing a book, what encouraged you to do it? And what obstacles have you encountered as your own publisher? McCrae: Friends and family gave me good feedback, and that motivated me to publish it. It makes all the effort worth it. However, all the advertising and selling is completely up to me, which is very hard. For now, I’m focused on finishing the second part which will come out in September. ‘Innocence Lost’, the first book of the Sneijder Trilogy, by David McCrae is available as an ebook on Amazon.
Review: Elbow Aidan Reid The English alternative band Elbow’s latest record “The Take Off and Landing of Everything” is a slow, melodic odyssey, yet it is an album that seems to lack real impetus - an album you are eagerly waiting to ‘take off’, but one which might fail to deliver. Fantastical, wandering lyrics and melodies aplenty - what is not to like about this latest addition to the Elbow canon? Over a soft drum beat, this is a record packed full of talented musicians taking time and passion to create the bluesy ‘northern soul’ sound that Elbow have become famous for. Yet for all of the jam session vibes this album sorely lacks variety. Musically, there is little discernible change from song to song, none of them really altering the pace dramatically. Even those that do, such as ‘New York Morning’, still have an echo in the rest of the album. This is not to say that this is a bad sound to strive for though. During the opening salvo of ‘This Blue World’ and ‘Charge’, you can’t help but be taken by the methodical pace, as it carries you off into heady thoughts. It should also be stated that, with Gus Garvey on vocals, it is extremely difficult to create an uninteresting song. His voice, gravely and soulful, further adds to the hazy melancholic tone of the songs.
Yet for an album which carries on like this for nearly an hour, without much in the way of variety, it requires something out of the ordinary to liven proceedings. This only really occurs on one occasion, but what an occasion it is! ‘My Sad Captains’ is one of the best individual songs I have heard this year and, at the very least, one of Elbow’s finest. It is only slightly more upbeat in its melody and pacing, but it stands out amongst the rest of the tracks with the kind of soulful lyrics that are a sure to be belted out by festival goers this summer. After this song, though, the haze of the muffled drum and vocals grates towards the finale, to the point where many of the tracks simply potter along, rather than engage with the listener. Elbow is undoubtedly a band in their creative prime, and one who resisted the temptation to try and recreate their big moment of glory from million record selling ‘Seldom Seen Kid’. They have stuck to a style that suits them, and on ‘My Sad Captains’, they demonstrate why they play for festival crowds. Yet by its finale, this album sounds lackadaisical and in real need of sharpening. In its current state, the length only serves to blunt the melodic excellence they aspire to.
Keeping it reel
Louise Wilson on films that exceeded the novels on which they are based.
Louise Wilson It is a truth universally acknowledged that a bookworm in possession of their favourite story must be in want of a good film adaptation. Sadly, though, most of us feel let down when our favourite books hit the big screen - they either leave too much out, the characters do not live up to our expectations, or the film just completely misses the whole point of the book. However, there is a silver lining to this disappointing cloud. Difficult as it may be to believe, not every film is doomed to be worse than the book. Some are just as good, and some, dare I say it, are better. Here are five films that I believe were much better than the book they were based on. 21 / Bringing Down The House
Robert Luketic’s ‘21’ brought the largely unknown book ‘Bringing Down The House’ into the limelight back in 2008. The book is a great recollection of all the events of the MIT students who ‘took Vegas for millions’, but something about it just doesn’t flow. It’s written as though all the events aren’t connected, that they just happen independently of one another. The film manages to keep the plot going in an exciting way, keeping the audience thinking about it for days.. It also stars Kevin Spacey, which in my view will only ever be a positive. P.S. I Love You
Whilst I wasn’t expecting a great work of fiction when I started reading
Cecelia Ahern’s novel - it is chick lit after all - I was hoping for a little more than I received. The film, however, managed to tug on my heart strings, leaving me in tears but satisfied with the ending. In a word, it was great for catharsis, as with any soppy-but-sad romance film. How tear-jerking was the book? Not at at all. The only thing worth crying about might be the terrible writing. The premise of the book was great - a deceased lover leaving behind letters to help the protagonist move on - but the way it was executed was so poor that I was surprised I actually managed to make it to the end. If you’ve not read the book yet, let me offer a word of advice - don’t.
definitely rate it highly. The Lion King / Macbeth
Before I continue, Macbeth is great and I love Shakespeare generally. But let us remember that Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be performed, not read, and whilst I love going to watch a production by the RSC, it’s not always convenient. For many of us, ‘The Lion King’ will have been our first encounter with the Bard. The story encompasses the gripping tale of Hamlet and his uncle Claudius in child-friendly terms, proving Shakespeare is for everyone. In fact, even those who boldly claim they hate Shakespeare would be hard pushed to argue that they hate The Lion King too.
The Muppet Christmas Carol
This one might prove controversial considering the love affair our school system has with Dickens and the number of people who adore his work. The book is based on an excellent idea, the writing isn’t poor and the ending is satisfying. So why is the book worse than this film adaptation? Quite simply because I hate Dickens. With a passion. This is definitely more of a personal gripe against the man’s sheer overwhelming use of description, but I really do struggle to get through a Dickens novel in one go. The Muppet Christmas Carol on the other hand takes all the best parts of one of the greatest Christmas stories, and creates a funny, light-hearted tale using childhood favourites. Maybe I feel so strongly about it because I saw the movie as a kid and have watched it every year since, but either way, I would
This might be considered heresy by comic book geeks the world over, as Neil Gaiman’s ‘Watchmen’ is one of the few graphic novels that gained noteworthy critical attention outside of Marvel and DC. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the graphic novel, but for me it had one fatal error: the ending. For those of you familiar with both the film and the book, you’ll know the endings are entirely different. I won’t spoil it for the rest of you, but suffice to say that the ending of the film just made more sense. The big reveal for the book seemed to come out of nowhere, and didn’t follow on from the rest of the plot. In fact, that’s probably the reason why the director opted to change it.
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APRIL 18TH 2014
GUSA : a year in sport
Beatrice Cook breaks down the year that’s been for Glasgow University sport
Beatrice Cook The Glasgow University Sports Association has had yet another amazing year, and has shown why Glasgow continues to triumph in all things sporting. Alongside the University’s recent victory at the Glasgow Taxis Cup - at which a nailbiting basketball final led to Glasgow taking home the Cup against rivals Strathclyde and Caledonian for the fourth year running - GUSA has in no small part helped the University’s continued success in the British University and College Sport (BUCS) league tables against our peers up and down the United Kingdom. And, in the recent election of the new GUSA Council, with Tom Gebbie at the helm, it looks like the coming year will be equally as strong for the Association. One of the key additions to Glasgow University Sports and Recreation Services in this past year has been the new partnership with Nike and Kitlocker, which greatly improved the quality of kit, and also reduced the waiting time for clubs to receive new clothing. The partnership has helped reinforce GUSA’s unique identity, and has given clubs a renewed sense of community and individuality. Nike has undoubtedly proved an enhancement to Glasgow University, its distinctive brand giving sport at Glasgow the competitive and professional edge it deserves. The University of Glasgow has con-
tinued its sporting success following its win in the ‘Most Improved University’ category in BUCS last year (2012/13), which saw us jump from 35th in the table to 28th, the biggest leap that any university has achieved across the UK. This has given the Association a boost in terms of pushing the competitive aspect of club sport at Glasgow, and as it stands, the University of Glasgow will be finishing in the high 20s in the table again this year. GUSA finalised its first ever strategic plan this year, which, in conjunction with its operational plan, laid out ideas as to what it plans to achieve every single year for the near future, and maps out where the Association hopes to increase success in next. Speaking of success, the membership to club sports increased this year by approximately 8.4%, with an overall increase of female membership at 14.5%, despite issues surrounding the closure of the Kelvinhall and increased pressure on the space in the Stevenson Building. The University won the Glasgow Taxis Cup this year by four points, which was considerably closer than the previous year. Stuart Law, the current GUSA President, was spectating at the tense basketball final: “It came down to the basketball match at the end, with a three pointer with 3 seconds to play. When that went in, the whole place erupted! There was double the amount of people [supporting] than last year, which was huge, and that’s four in a
row for us, so pressure is on for Tom [Gebbie]!” Freshers’ Week this year was another huge success for GUSA. Alongside an amazing space-themed Party at the GUU, the Association continued its drive to push forward recreational sport, with activities throughout the week including taster sessions, as well as a packed out Freshers’ Fair playing host to the hordes of sports clubs over at the Stevenson building. The GUSA Ball was another massive success for the Association; a sell-out event, 750 students descended on the Hilton Hotel in the centre of Glasgow to celebrate the University’s sporting accomplishments this year. GUSA has had a new teammate this year in the shape of Gus the Tiger. The mascot has proved to be a good publicity tool throughout this year, with Law believing that Gus grabs the attention of new and prospective students: “Having this mascot on campus, especially during open days, means people think ‘Oh, whats that?’, and then you get to talk about how great sport is at the University of Glasgow. We don’t rent it out to clubs at the moment,but we try and get Gus along to things so there is a bit of an atmosphere, which makes it better for the teams who are playing.” The Sports Association has also fundraised over £2000 for charity this year, and continues its push in the welfare department to make sport equal and fair for all students at the University of
Glasgow. Seven members of the GUSA Council have gone through their Scottish Mental Health training, including newly elected President Tom Gebbie, as well as Vice President Caitlin Kelly and Secretary Sandra Perry. The Buddy System has taken off this year for GUSA, with ten people having now been buddied up, and the concept was also a finalist in the Commonwealth Games ‘Game Changer’ Awards. Despite some issues surrounding the closure of the Kelvinhall, which has limited space for activities and training opportunities for clubs, Stuart Law remains positive that GUSA can help resolve these problems: “We hold our hands up and say there is a problem, we know that. Certain clubs aren’t happy with their new placement, and unfortunately at the minute, that’s just the way it’s got to be. We’re putting a bit of pressure on the University to get the Stevenson extension open, because once that’s done, that’ll free up more space. At the minute, [the build] is out to tender, with the date of completion around August 2015. We have hired more coaches to sort out travelling to training and we’ve increased the minibus fleet up to eleven minibuses to try and help with that as well.” There have also been issues surrounding the question as to whether students at the Glasgow School of Art were able to get membership to the sports facilities at the University, to which Law responded: “About a year
ago, we had our final discussion [about Glasgow School of Art membership]. At the minute there is a cap of 250 GSA students being allowed to join the Sport and Recreation service, but they’re not allowed to join GUSA clubs because that comes under BUCS rules. We’ve agreed to help [GSA] any way we can, so from that, myself and Chris [Millar, former GUSA President] helped them set up a sports union. Their sports union was also been nominated for a ‘Game Changer’ award as well.” Law remains extremely positive about these issues, and this positivity has manifested itself into another brilliant year for the Association. Alongside the continued sporting success on both a club and recreational level, it seems that, yet again, the University is going from strength to strength. With the Commonwealth Games rapidly approaching, and with the next lot of Freshers eagerly lining up to take their places, it is obvious that the future of sport is secure at the University of Glasgow. Turnover for interview with newly elected GUSA President, Tom Gebbie.
10 minutes with: Tom Gebbie, GUSA President Elect Beatrice Cook It has been yet another (black and) golden year for the GUSA; the University’s recent win at the Glasgow Taxis Cup, as well as a clear increase in sports membership alongside continued success in the BUCS tables sees the Association going from strength to strength. Newly elected GUSA President Tom Gebbie, who triumphed over rival Matthew Knaggs with a solid 532 votes to Knaggs’ 390 at the recent elections, managed to spare some time to chat to the Glasgow Guardian about all things GUSA. Guardian: How do you feel being made President of the Glasgow University Sports Association? Gebbie: It didn’t really sink in at first – it’s fantastic. It was quite emotional on the day because you put so much effort in. We’ve got a fantastic new council, and I’m really looking forward to working with all of them. I think Matt [Knaggs] did a great
campaign; he kept me on my toes the entire time and on the day, there were points where I thought I’d lost it. I think it’s better to have opposition as well; it cements your position and means you’ve fought for it. All the campaigners did a fantastic job, especially considering how awful the weather was, and it was good to see so many people coming down to vote. Guardian: What are your plans for the coming academic year? Gebbie: We’ve got Freshers Week coming up, and we’re looking forward to getting all the new helpers in. We’ve got the Equality and Diversity training, which is something the GUSA Council did this year, but I thought it was important that one member from each club committee did it as well, just because they’re the ones who are going to be more involved and facing things, and making sure people are treated fairly across all the different sports. Guardian: With the closure of the Kelvinhall facilities, how will you
tackle any issues that surround this? Gebbie: We’re going to meet with the Sport and Recreation Services to help make the Stevenson extension building get sorted as quickly as possible. Over the summer months there’s going to be quite a bit of disruption, so we’re going to ensure that there are alternate facilities to train in, whether it be for gym users or clubs who are here over summer, as well as ensuring that people are trained well enough to drive the minibuses, so there are fewer incidents and less minibuses out of action. Guardian: What has been your highlight of the past year? Gebbie: My sporting highlight has to be winning the Scottish 1A [Men’s Water Polo] – the atmosphere was incredible. It was the day after elections as well, so it was like the best week of my life. We’d lost twice already, and we knew we were a better team. It was just about playing better. It was such a tight match, but winning that was incredible. The Glasgow Taxis Cup
ran pretty smoothly - we could probably publicise it a little better, but as a whole, we did do really well. It was a lot tighter this year, but we’ll try and up that next year, and bring it back for a fifth year in a row. Guardian: How will GUSA be getting involved in the forthcoming Commonwealth Games? Gebbie: [By] building the legacy; I believe that there will be a hype around Glasgow after the Games, there will be students who want to come to Glasgow and get involved in sport, and especially in Freshers Week, I think it’s important that every club push their publicity to be as appealing as possible for as many students as possible, particularly international students. Guardian: What would you say to new students joining the University of Glasgow about sport and the Association? Gebbie: Even if you are just joining the gym or GUSA, it’s a great way of getting involved – you make loads of
Club Profile: Shorinji Kempo Stephen Trotter “Shorinji Kempo? Is that the one with the sticks?” Well, no. But sometimes we train with sticks. Shorinji Kempo is often confused with Kendo, which also exists at the University of Glasgow, but they are very dissimilar. Shorinji Kempo, as with many other martial arts, was developed in Japan, but unlike many martial arts, does not claim to be ancient: it was developed post-WWII. Although it incorporates elements of Shaolin Kung-Fu, as the founder of Shorinji Kempo trained at a Shaolin Temple for a while, it bears little resemblance to its mother martial art. Developed as a response to the chaos and despair present in Japanese society post-WWII, the founder of Shorinji Kempo developed it to help people build a strong mind, body, and spirit. More than just a system of self-defence (and it most certainly is a system of self-defence), it contains a philosophy of strengthening the individual and developing the person in aid of building a better society. The Glasgow University Shorinji Kempo Club has been around since the 1970s, and we’re still a highly respected club within the British Shorinji Kempo Federation (which is celebrating its 40th anniversary). The club has always provided high-quality training, and continues to do so today. Our head coach has over 20 years of experience (he himself picked it up at Glasgow University), and he is aided and abetted by several black belts in teaching the techniques and philosophies of Shorinji Kempo to the members of the club. In addition to a head coach who has trained longer than some freshers have been alive, one of our coaches is a police officer, and relies on what Shorinji Kempo has taught her on a daily basis. Shorinji Kempo incorporates both “hard” and “soft” techniques into a holistic system of self-defence, although you wouldn’t think some of our “soft” techniques are very soft when they’re applied. “Hard” techniques (or Goho,
as we refer to them) consist of a small number of punches, kicks, and blocks, albeit applied creatively resulting in a wide array of techniques for use in most self-defence situations. As if that wasn’t enough, we offer two for the price of one. We also have a whole host of techniques under the “soft” category (known as Juho); releases and wristlocks, and some very uncom – I mean interesting – pins. Although there are two categories, there is a very blurred line between the application of one or the other. As far as competition goes, there aren’t that many. There is an annual national tournament, the Taikai, where one can enter into several categories: Randori (free sparring), Kata (stylised single form), Sotai Kata (stylised pair form Kata), and Embu (paired choreographed display of techniques). If you don’t like all the attention centred on you, there’s even a group Embu, where a large group (or club) perform Kata together. There is also an annual summer camp, where we get together with all the other clubs for a couple of days to be trained by the most senior instructors in the UK. We also have a University Training Seminar, this year was hosted by the Glasgow club, which is very similar to the summer camp. Considering the martial art is quite small, you quickly get to know members from other clubs. We grab a pint (of whatever floats your boat) after our training sessions and seminars, and we have the occasional “bad martial-arts” film night or game night. And because we’re a quite small club, you’ll get to know everyone. Our training sessions are intense, but it makes relaxing at the pub afterwards feel well earned. If you fancy coming along to a training session, we train twice a week (Monday 8.30-10.30pm and Wednesday 9.00-10.30pm). Alternatively, you can get in touch with the captain via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. ac.uk, or on Facebook.
new friends, whether you do club or recreational sport. It is honestly one of the best things you can do at university. I know I wouldn’t have had half the fun at university if it wasn’t for GUSA and the sports that I’ve been involved with. I highly recommend it to every student to get involved in any way possible. Guardian: Any final thoughts? Gebbie: I know that clubs are performing a lot better, they’re publicising themselves a lot more, they’re pushing their teams, and they’re also being more inclusive. It’s good that we’re still managing to keep the classic ethos of keeping everyone involved, but also pushing to become more elite. Towards the end of my term as President next year, there are going to be chances for clubs to go for development status - that’s basically a chance for clubs to have extra funding and support. And, as our good friends at Nike say, ‘Just Do It!’
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APRIL 18TH 2014
Perches, liver birds and red devils: the role reversal
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Aidan Reid It seems rather poignant that Sir Alex Ferguson’s legacy at Old Trafford can be summed up by one of his most definitive quips to the media: Manchester United would one day knock Liverpool “off their fucking perch”. With hindsight, it is hard to quite capture how absurd such a claim would have sounded back in 2002/3, at a point where a faltering United side looked frail and Ferguson was coming under scrutiny. Not as absurd, however, as those amongst the footballing community who would have predicted the stark contrast in the two club’s over the past nine months. Manchester United, who in 2012 were Forbes’ richest club in the world for an eighth consecutive year, have been unable to match their financial success with success on the field. Once at the top of league tables, Man United now face a place in the Europa League - and even this is not a certainty. The manner of their season, stumbling from one crisis to the next, has been cast in sharp relief by Liverpool’s transformation. They currently sit top, almost
guaranteed a Champions League place, and with a manager who is unlikely to draw as much comment and ridicule. You could well be led to believe that, in a single summer, Ferguson’s good work of over two decades evaporated overnight, and that Liverpool suddenly morphed back into the dominant side of old. Yet as hapless as David Moyes has been, and as improved as Liverpool have been, this version of the story is far too dismissive of Liverpool’s gradual progress, and far too complimentary toward the state of Manchester United before Ferguson departed the scene. The shameless decline of Liverpool seemingly poked fun at their former glory days, all the way down to the ultimate lows of a painful 2010/11 season, with the embarrassment of relegation spoken of as a serious possibility. So much so that money was unwisely thrown around with such wild abandon that a mouth watering £35 million was spent on ‘big lump’ Andy Carroll alone. Since that ultimate low, however, they have been building. Rather than a splurge of cash upon top level recruits, younger prodigies have been sought. With the team already possess-
ing the envious talents of Luis Suarez and their talismanic leader, Steven Gerard, this was not a complete redo, but rather a lick of paint around the edges. But one must not forget that the now extensively lauded Brendan Rogers found himself in such muddy waters as Mr Moyes in the not too distant past. With one solitary season of top level experience, compared to Moyes’ ten, it seemed a ‘no-brainer’ to select the Scot over any of the other candidates. But with the men at the top tightening the purse strings, one feels this was always going to be a difficult task. Liverpool, on the other hand, threw their trust towards a younger collection of talent, in the hope that their high spending would garner big reward. By contrast, since 2011, United have been slowly unravelling. That year, they won the title convincingly, all the while making it to the Champions League final. This was to be the last great season Ferguson would muster out of his final incarnation of a United team. In 2012, it is easy to forget that they were 8 points clear in April before conspiring to do the very un-Ferguson like nicety of blowing said lead in 4 games flat.
This was coupled with going out at the group stage of the Champions League, their only wins coming against that European powerhouse, Oțelul Galați. Thus, it seems little wonder that with his twilight years approaching, for the 2013 season, Ferguson seemed to be pulling all punches, willfully splashing the cash on the likes of Robin Van Persie, in the hope of a successful finale. However, with an ageing squad in dire need of some new life, this victory now seems somewhat bitter sweet. And with promising youngsters such as Nick Powell, and even Paul ‘The Octopus’ Pogba being cast away, it appeared very much like Ferguson refused to look beyond one more precious Premier League, and the effects of which are now all too clear. Ferguson got to leave on a high, but Moyes was left with a side that had been built to last one more year. Undoubtedly, he could have done better, but the inertia Ferguson allowed to settle around the club made the united job a poisoned chalice for whomever took it this season. But, with £40 million being splurged on two attacking midfielders, in a team not bereft of attacking talent,
one has to question Moyes’ short term tactics. Liverpool’s rise and United’s fall suggests more problems than solutions at Old Trafford. With an ageing squad, the loss of their distinguished Emperor, and short term gain prioritised over their long term future. The recent banner at Anfield, labelling Rodgers ‘the carefully chosen one’, fits perfectly into the Liverpool narrative of the past three years, of slowly pushing forward and developing. Ferguson, as great a manager as he was, lost sight of his former beliefs, in pursuit of a glorious retirement, and to raise that perch his team now sit atop a little higher. As a result, however, United now face a rebuilding process on an unprecedented scale.
Gregor Townsend: a soundbite Beatrice Cook After GUSA’s Sport and Wellbeing Week success earlier this year, and with Glasgow Commonwealth Games rapidly approaching, it seemed only right to have a (quick) chat to one of Scotland’s most influential sportsmen, the former Rugby Union star and Head Coach of the Glasgow Warriors, Gregor Townsend. Glasgow Guardian discuss some of his views on sport and the legacy of the forthcoming Commonwealth Games. Guardian: Sport and wellbeing are intrinsically linked - how can sport, on both a competitive and recreational level, affect young people? Townsend: It’s massively important for young people especially, because if they can get in to sport or master movement and skills at a young age, they’ve got more chance of staying in that sport at an older age, and we all know that recreation and sport is important to our health. So if we have that culture of getting active, then we’re going to be healthier and live longer. But also, sport provides more than just health benefits; you come together as a group, whether it’s in a team, or whether it’s just a group of people going out for a cycle, or even
dancing together. There are so many benefits to society by being involved in sport. Then on the other side, there’s just watching sport, so with the Commonwealth Games coming up, it’s really inspirational watching people achieve things - we saw it with Andy Murray in the summer last year and the affect that had on the country, and then the Olympic Games the year before that. Guardian: What are your thoughts on the upcoming Glasgow Commonwealth Games, and how do you think it will create a new ‘legacy’ for Glasgow? Townsend: We’ve already got fantastic facilities in the Emirates and the Velodrome – you’re going to get a massive sporting event in the city, which is going to make the city look great. There will be Scottish people doing well, so you get the country behind it. I think there’s been a big change in the last ten years; when the Commonwealth Games was on in Edinburgh [in 1986], the whole nation wasn’t behind it. Then, with the Olympics in London and the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, you can tell, with the amount of volunteers getting involved, and the amount of tickets sold, there’s a real buzz behind it. I think it’ll be a great success.
APRIL 18TH 2014
The real legacy of Glasgow 2014: community Jack Haugh on why there’s more to look forward to than the games themselves
Jack Haugh Walking through the bustling streets of Glasgow, passing by thriving shops, ecstatic beggars and enthusiastic crowds, one cannot help but to be embraced by the warmness of anticipation. The usual anger and distaste has been rightly replaced by an unfamiliar vigour as our proud and noble city looks forward to what is sure to be its biggest summer in living memory. In the late summer months, as the days grow long and the sun makes its annual appearance, the all the world’s eyes will be centred on Glasgow. As the best of the old British Empire collide, the mix of nationalities, rationalities and personalities will warm the heart and the mind with their bountiful splendour. But as we wait in anticipation for the moment that Usain Bolt lights up the 100 metres, or for the time that a host of Scottish talent will attempt to conquer the world, with an incredibly amount of attention surrounding the likes of Imogen Bankier and Michael Jamieson, there are those already looking toward the future.
The word ‘legacy’ is often thrown about in relation to these major events, including the ‘Legacy of London’ to the ‘Legacy of the Winter Olympics in Sochi’. However, more often than not, the word has more power than those who swear by it. From the moment the London 2012 Games were secured, all the way to the final podium, the word ‘inspire’ was never too far from the press. Dedicated London groups all looked to improve the city and the United Kingdom - from the darkest of alleys, to the brightest of suburbs. Despite the harsh economic times that we live in, sport seems to be blossoming, with elite Olympic and Paralympic sports seeing an overall budget increase of 13%, our brave Paralympians seeing a 45% increase in their own budget. With £125 million secured for every year up until Rio 2016 for elite sport, the signs are very positive indeed. Plus with some of the world’s greatest sporting events set to descend upon our weary shores - from the Cricket World Cup, to the European Hockey Championships - the UK is currently a mecca for all things sporting. However, it is perhaps in our new
found fondness and acceptance of such athletes that one can say the legacy will be felt the most; over 80% of those questioned by the UK government believe that a much more positive image will be bestowed upon our disabled community. Surely no greater legacy can be held than that? However, despite the money being thrown willingly towards our athletic and sporting communities, the signs are not altogether positive, and leaves one questioning any such chance of ‘inspiring a generation.’ On the cusp of the success of London 2012, the UK government released a ten-point plan aimed at turning the UK into a true tour-de-force, and this included over £1 billion to be invested in the Youth Sport Strategy which aims to build strong links between schools and sporting clubs. Yet, contrary to this, the number of 16-25 year olds actively involved in sports clubs has dropped by over 53,000 in the space of a year. However, these numbers are not the least bit surprising, as success seems to not instantly breed success. No, in fact it is quite to the contrary. For example, after Andy Murray’s historic victory at Wimbledon last July, one might have
expected a sharp rise in those regularly playing tennis. These numbers in fact dropped so sharply that Sport England has sworn ‘special measures’ against the Lawn Tennis Association unless the numbers improve. So perhaps it is not a numbers game we should be playing, but rather a community one? Statistics only tell half the story, and in our technologically focused, relatively cold country, it is perhaps little wonder that people are not so inclined to pick up a racket, ball or stick and punish themselves against the merciless weather. The East of London and Glasgow’s East End are not too dissimilar. Both are long forgotten heartlands of a bygone era, struggling to cope in our world of splendour. The decision by both the London Olympic Committee and the organisers of Glasgow 2014 to utilise their poorest areas could yet prove a masterstroke and may leave behind the biggest legacy one could hope to find. In the government’s official document, it is sworn that 75p from every pound spent on developing the Olympics will be used to benefit East Lon-
don. Additionally, the development of large numbers of clean, usable and affordable housing should secure the safety and security of over 11,000 residents for the generations to come. For there to truly be a Glasgow 2014 legacy, the communities across Scotland must see such a benefit. In particular its East End - and with £10 million already being invested in 64 projects across 20 local authorities, £5 million being invested to the Young Person’s Fund, and over 700 homes being created in the Athletes Village, one has to suggest we are well on our way. This is where our Commonwealth legacy will lie. While one can only hope for another heroic Alan Wells, for the god-like Usain Bolt to appear, or even for a grand showcase on Scottish shores, the real legacy of Glasgow 2014 will be found off the track and within the community itself.