Page 1

.. S T O N







March Edition 2014

INSIDE Lecturers' Industrial Action -­‐ Possible Next Step Page 6 World Down's Syndrome Day Page 15


Aston Students' Union's Official Magazine

Page 27




50% OFF




DOM 4L ESS Collection






233 3000

110 Constitution Hill, B19 3JS



455 7644

Unit 14b Broadway Plaza, B16 8SN


Delivering Until 5AM EVERYDAY /DominosBhamCentral



Late Night orders at Edgbaston may be prepared and delivered from Birmingham Central Store. If you are planning a collection from the Edgbaston store please note that it closes at: 1am Sun–Thurs & 4am Fri–Sat.


*50% off any full menu priced items (excluding ice creams) when you spend £40 or more. Collection or delivery. Offer only available at participating stores. Not valid with any other offer. Redemptions online only at Subject to availability. Min. order on debit/credit cards £9.99. Card must be shown, swiped and signatures verified. To see our general terms and conditions, see our page ‘boring legal stuff’ at Offer valid until Midnight 31st March 2014.


Letter from the Editor...

Hi all! I hope that February treated you well and that you are ready to take March by the horns! As news periods go, this time of year is exciting for one big reason: AWARDS. We are no different here at Aston as we hold our Students' Union and AU Colours events to recognise the impact those 'special people in charge' have on our social committees. Not only that but the A.S.U also hold the My Astonishing Academic awards ceremony to recognise those all-important lecturers who go above and beyond the role to deliver exceptional experiences for their students. Of course, it's not all awards and shining smiles. With conflicts brewing internationally and industrial action continuing to affect our university life, it's important to maintain a positive outlook. With that said, dive right in to an edition packed full of seasonal gift ideas, music reviews and even competitions! Don't forget you can always submit your own articles via email and get involved via Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy!

Ryan 2


Cover image thanks to Cheeky Rastall Photography


Page 5

Student News

Page 6

Men's Fashion

Page 8

Taylor Swift Gig review

Page 9

Basia Bulat Interview

Page 11

Kerrang Tour Review

Page 13

Radkey Interview

Page 14

World Down's Syndrome Day Page 15

Lent AoK and RAKNomination

Page 16

Mothers' Day Presents

Page 17

DGTL Competition

Page 18

St Patrick's Day

Page 19

Dancing on Ice Competition

Page 2+


Page 22

100 Days of Happiness

Page 23

Pole Fitness

Page 25


Page 27

Please be aware, any views expressed in articles are not necessarily reflective of the view of iAston or Aston Students' Union


The Team



The Team: Editor: Ryan Skeet Co-Editor: Alex Rymer Features: Francesca Whittle Chairperson: Olivia Springate Alex Rymer Taylor Swift, Page 9

Media: Becca Smith Chief Photographer: Georgie Rastall This Month's Team: Ryan Skeet Becca Smith Francesca Whittle Alex Rymer

Josh Crawley Kerrang Tour, Page 13

Joy Warmann Ollie Ogden-Barker Olivia Springate Josh Crawley Enya Quin-Jarvis See your face here next month! Email your submissions to:

Joy Warmann Acts of Kindness, Page 16



A.S.U. News What's been going on this past month in Aston Students' Union?

Go Green Week The Love it or Leaf it tree where people left Valentine's / green messages

Up-cycling event where people made their own cushions from old fabric

Around 15 bags of rubbish were used to make this sculpture of the Aston Campus

All-in-all Go Green Week showed that Aston Students are capable of some really positive feats when we try. The pub quiz was a great laugh and some really handsome cards came out of the week's final day.

RAG Events RAG managed to raise almost ÂŁ2500 for charity during the events of Valentine's Weekend. Apocalypse was a hoot with the ever-visible t-shirt "modifications" making their mark. Who knows what was in the punch but it certainly made for a fun night and was popular as ever. Bring on this month's Lost event!



Industrial action could mark failure for graduations Next month could see some very upsetting revelations for some of our readers. Or not. Some of you may remember that back at the end of October, your lecturers held a one-­‐day strike. This industrial action was agreed upon on a cross-­‐union basis after ballots which stemmed from failed pay discussions between unions and the UCEA (Universities and Colleges Employers Association). This disruptive action looks set to continue and even escalate over the coming months. The first day of strikes was supported by three unions: UCU (The University and Colleges Union), Unison and Unite. In December, a second day of strike action took place and a further union joined in: EIS (The Educational Institute of Scotland). This meant the cancellation of lectures and a cessation of support for the entire day. In January of this year, another strategy was employed. This involved hour-­‐long walk-­‐outs staged by lecturers on the 23rd and 28th of the month. Another of which happened on the 10th of February after a third one-­‐day strike on the 6th. All of these activities clearly disrupt the students’ learning and hamper progress. In some ways this is far less damaging than the next proposed action: a marking boycott said to begin April 28th (right around dissertation time). If marks are not delivered on time, this could result in the failure of final year students in graduating in the normal way. Clearly this would be very damaging to those who have dates set for their graduate jobs to start or those applying for post-­‐graduate study. Lecturers are not paid for time taken out for industrial action and some universities are threatening severe financial consequences if a marking boycott takes place. The proposed pay increase for university staff is 1% (less than inflation) and staff are not prepared to accept this. The UCEA claim that the pay terms that UCU are arguing for are ‘neither affordable nor sustainable’, whilst the UCU state their demands are just. It is for this reason that an agreement has still not been reached and the proposed action looks near unavoidable. Should surpluses go to increase staff salaries instead of on accommodation improvement works?

What is interesting to note is that (here at Aston at least) financial surpluses exist. In the Annual Summary of Accounts 2012-­‐13, it was laid out that decreases in funding from the government are ‘more than offset’ by the increased income from £9000 student fees. One student argued what we are ‘paying for a service’ and ‘problems with the management… [should] be dealt with separately’. Equally, it has been suggested that if these surpluses arise from extra cash injected BY the students then it should go back in a way which BENEFITS the students.


News The UCU claims that its members are facing a 13% cut in real terms and that many are earning less than a living wage. According to Prospects (the UK’s official graduate careers website), salaries for lecturers range from £33,000 -­‐ £43,000+ (which equates in hourly terms to more than £15 assuming that lecturers work 40 hours a week and not factoring in weeks off for holidays) clearly far higher than the agreed living wage of £7.65 per hour. Of course, the strikes encompass all university staff who are union members and this includes not only lecturers but also kitchen staff, facilities and clerical staff. It is believable that these sections of the workforce could be far more adversely affected by the 1% pay rise than the lecturers and it stands to reason that industrial action includes all union members. The figures highlight inequalities in the system when vice chancellors can be seen to receive bonuses in excess of £20,000 (of which, according to the Birmingham Post, Aston’s Vice Chancellor Dame Julia King donated £12,000 back to the university). Overall support for the industrial response is waning and some lecturers refused to down tools during the recent action. All the more reason for the outrage felt by some students at the actions taken by their lecturers: in one instance a seminar was cancelled and students were refused access to the same seminar held on a subsequent day for a separate group of students. They were told that ‘the point of the strike is to be disruptive and that it defeats the point if you can get the contact time anyway’.

Students claim the picket lines are not visible on campus.

Some students have raised concerns over whether the strikes are actually warranted as publicity over the reason behind them is minimal. Picket lines are not visible on strike days and one student suggested that the lecturers may ‘use it to catch up on work or simply as a day off’ going further in complaining that ‘there just appears to be little pastoral care from some lecturers’. Unless it is made clear that this action is affecting us as students and how badly it is disrupting our education, the actions are in vain. The first step is understanding the situation. The situation clearly needs to be resolved for the students to have a positive experience of university life to look back on.



!"#$%&'(%)*+#&'+,&-./&01,&2#3",45& 6"77(&(#3&',(#8*"&)(9"&:""#&%"(,7)*#;&<+,&="#$%&>?,*#;&<(%)*+#&+@A&+#&A)"& B*;)&>A,""AC&& & & & & &


& &


K"+&G+D+&>)*,A&-..F&6@,A+#& &



















L"#*=&MN*%A"3&I+;;",%&-..F&M+?=(#& &















In this moment now, capture it, remember it … Taylor Swift’s RED tour comes to London 02 Arena

Alex Rymer

On the last night of her 5 nights in London, which she has affectionately dubbed “Fundon”, Taylor Swift upheld all expectations. Her latest album ‘RED’ has been touring America and Australia for most of 2013, and finally reached London at the beginning of February, much to the audience’s clear delight. And yes, I was one of the screaming teenage girls that has been waiting for her return to England with the excitement of a two-­‐year-­‐old. The sweet teenage swooning that filled her earlier albums has been replaced with tales of adult heartbreak and catchy pop songs such as ‘22’ and ‘never ever getting back together’ that stick in the heads of even the most sceptic listeners. Her single-­‐titled album ‘RED’ clearly inspired the red colour scheme of the concert – the colour of desire, hatred, all of the more grown-­‐up emotions associated with the relationships she describes in her songs. This wasn’t any kind of normal concert. This was a Taylor Swift concert. The storytelling that occurs on stage is a reflection that these songs are not written just to be heard, but to be told through video and concert. Each song had a different set, background, and involved a complete outfit change to suit the mood of the song: the set for ‘Mean’ became a merry-­‐go-­‐round and her outfit echoed the western tone of the song. I’ve never felt so underdressed in my life – we must have been the only ones who were not holding signs with “13” (Taylor’s lucky number), “We love you Taylor” or “capture it, remember it” (a lyric from her album-­‐titled single ‘Fearless’) painted in red (surprise, surprise). Her quirky country style was mimicked by groups of girls sporting her iconic Keds and red shorts combination. Surprisingly, a lot of the Taylor Swift's crowd pleasing '22' audience was made up of girls in their mid-­‐20s and 30s, dedicatedly singing along accurately to every word. And yes, I admit, so was I. Her multiple talents as a musician and songwriter were evident whenever she picked up a different instrument – the banjo used to accompany her double platinum hit ‘Mean’, the baby grand piano for the sombre and emotional ‘All Too Well’, her Taylor acoustic guitar used to accompany her more serious songs such as ‘Long Live’ – the songs seen as strong enough not to need a crowd of street dancers, musicians, clowns on stilts, and other supporters. Of course her best instrument was her voice; staying strong throughout the fast-­‐paced changes of the set.


Music At times, it almost seemed that there was too much happening on stage to process – her movements were occasionally hard to detect within the large dance group preforming street, hip hop, and ballroom dances to suit the song. The movement of the stage itself was enough, without ballerina violinists and red flag wavers to focus on. Every song was punctuated with sparklers, ribbons, and enough action to keep everyone entertained. There was a bit much to take in at times, but the atmosphere was electric with the excited screams and emotion from the crowd. Support came from The Vamps, a young talented group who have also supported The Wanted on their UK tour – and are releasing their debut UK album later in 2014. They played their famous ‘Can We Dance’, and other less known singles such as ‘She’s the One’ and ‘Last Night’ – and although their jeans were the skinniest I have ever seen in my life, their performance shows that they have huge potential to be the next big thing. Being the last night of her tour, the crew thought it would be funny to put a stuffed cat on top of the baby grand piano, much to Taylor’s hilarity: “I can’t play all too well with this cat staring at me”. Playing guitar with a band member during ‘Holy Ground’

You can see why her fans fall in love with her at her concerts: her tearful performance of ‘All Too Well’, one of the more emotional songs of her album that was accompanied by a baby grand, was surrounded by fans bowled back into their seats. She tells all of her ‘writing secrets’ to her fans during these emotional times, with tales of how she writes her songs at night, and how her songs are everything that she wants to tell people but feels “too uncomfortable” -­‐ giving her advice to budding creative writers and song writers everywhere. Crowd interaction played a large part in the show, especially in revealing the show’s secret guest: “fire is red, and what does fire do?” and this was answered with the appearance of none other than Ellie Goulding, singing one of her more famous recent singles ‘Burn’, sending the crowd into a frenzy of screaming young girls. Two hours later, it was all over. A two hours well spent, and although an encore would have added spontaneity to the heavily choreographed set, the whole thing could not have been better. She delivered, 5 out of 5.

Have a great gig experience you'd like to tell us about? Tweet us @iAstonMagazine



Basia Bulat Interview Joy Warmann

Basia Bulat is a folk singer/songwriter and is unique to say the least. She’s travelled over to the UK from Canada for a short solo tour and after the Birmingham leg of her tour I was lucky enough to be able to sit down and chat with her… I’ve heard that you studied in London. I soon found out that this was not actually London, England but London, Canada. How do you find that the two cities differ? They’re complete opposites, except for in name. We even have a Thames River, an Oxford Street and a Piccadilly Street. All the names are the same but it’s only 300,000 people. It’s a university town. It’s probably got more in common with Birmingham than it does with London, England, but it’s a very sweet town and there’s like a very cool and small but strong music community and even though the roots are disparate, they’re very interesting. Like history of the kind of avant-­‐garde and like punk music in London which is cool. The biggest band that has probably come out of London, Canada is called The Nihilist Spasm Band, a cool kind of noise band. Before I found out about your music I had never even heard of most of the instruments that you play. What inspired you to pick up instruments like the autoharp and the charango? Everything kind of ends up being by happenstance. I want to say like “Oh, it was this grand plan!”, but it really wasn’t. I started playing piano when I was a kid – my mum taught piano – and when I was in school we had great music programmes. Then my neighbour was selling an autoharp out of his garage so my mum picked it up and she’s like “Oh, I think you’ll like this ‘cause it’s kind of weird”... Then the charango, I ended up on a cultural exchange at the BANNF Centre for The Arts in Canada and there was this amazing charango player and I just fell in love with the instrument. I started seeing it everywhere and hearing it everywhere. I think I’m always drawn to things that look small but sound big. People think it’s a ukulele but when they hear it and it can be plugged into an amp, it can be a little bit fierce. You’ve toured with a lot of different artists and in different countries. What is the most unexpected place that your music has taken you or the most unexpected collaboration you’ve had because of it? I think the most exciting has been the response to my music in Spain. I was so lucky that I had the opportunity to learn Spanish when I was in school and to make friends from around the world like within the Hispanic diaspora, then to go to Spain and play and sing (a little bit) in Spanish – just there’s something that’s always kind of connected. I’ve always been interested in their literature and poetry so it still blows my mind. When I was first learning Spanish never in my dreams did I think “Oh, I’ll be playing in this theatre in Madrid and there’ll be all these people there and they’ll clap or sing along” – that was really out of this world for me you know. Many have said that your latest record Tall Tall Shadow is more electronic than your previous albums. I’ve noticed that quite a few mainstream artists have also recently gravitated towards a more electronic sound. Did anyone or anything influence this decision for you? I think like in general it was probably going to happen. I think this record’s still pretty folky but I think in general you always want to grow and change.


Music For me anyway, to do whatever is a challenge so like my first two records, the challenge was that I’d never recorded before but I kind of fell in with a group of people where we had a similar aesthetic and the challenge was to record onto tape, like the old school way. I heard this amazing interview with Bjork and she was talking about how with electronic music, there was more space for women in that world. I don’t think that I’m making electronic music – I’m listening to more of it now, especially since listening to Bjork’s interview and hearing about the idea of the actual way of making it being a bit feminine and I’d never really thought of it like that. I don’t know so it’s kind of exciting in that way, it’s like “Oh the thing I don’t know or think about, I wanna go do that.” Arcade Fire’s producer worked on Tall Tall Shadow with you. Have you had the chance to listen to their new record Reflektor yet? Yeah it’s great! It was myself and Tim (who plays like a million other instruments in the band) and Mark who engineered this record and the previous record and it was so fun. Working with my brother and Tim and Mark it was like I had three brothers basically – they were all making fun of me constantly and just finding all sorts of ways to tease me. But yeah, I feel like that’s something I really love with Arcade Fire – they do change with every record and they’re always doing something different, so that’s something I think I’m drawn to in a lot of artists like that now. I really admire that in people, just to keeping pushing yourself and trying different things. That’s not to say that it’s bad to just do your one thing and be the best at it but for me I’m hoping that I can keep trying something new. Your brother Bobby plays the drums in your band. How do you think having a sibling in your band affects touring? ...he actually also has a whole other life in film and TV. He works on like film and TV crews with lighting and electrical departments; he’s working on a show called Orphan Black, so right now he’s not touring. But when we do tour and when we do make music together, it’s kind of weird. I feel like everybody has the same experience with their siblings where you can drive each other nuts but you also have the capacity to read each other’s minds. So it’s like just being aware of the fact that you’re with your sibling all the time, but at the same time I’m pretty lucky because he kind of knows, like sometimes when I’m writing a song he knows what it’s about before I even realise what I’m saying. I think it’s a pretty typical sibling relationship, but it’s a good one. What are some of the artists or albums that you’re listening to at the moment? Well I am still listening a lot to Reflektor. I’ve kind of been going back through all the My Morning Jacket albums and this band from Canada called Braids. I’m listening to a girl that I love, her band is called US Girls, she’s a really amazing mix of analogue like old and new. It sounds like girl groups of the future but recorded with like tape and samples. It’s almost like the girl groups were from a different planet, but from the 60’s. Um, I really love the singer/songwriter Willis Earl Beal and he’s pretty much, I feel like, one of the best singers of ‘our generation’. The things that he says in his songs they just hit me really hard and that’s always a good thing. Listening to the newest Timber Timbre which is sort of like I guess if Serge Gainsbourg made folk music -­‐ it’s kind of spooky and moody and beautiful. Well, I’ve been listening to Prince actually like non-­‐ stop lately too! Even though her UK tour is now over, you can keep up with Basia via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram for news about more shows and hopefully albums.



Kerrang Tour Review I would forgive a number of you for writing Kerrang tour off as something for 14-­‐year-­‐olds looking at previous line ups. However the one I attended on February 13th was something special, with hopes that I may suffer a concussion from concert related injuries as to just ignore another valentines day the morning after. The Kerrang Tour more than exceeded my expectations.

Josh Crawley Seasoned metal fans would be quick to write Crossfaith off, however this was not a stereotypical metal gig. Koie demanded circle pits and thus he received with a tornado of bodies dressed in black

colliding into each other in the middle of the Opening the night were a little known band called Baby Academy dance floor. (Shame Propaganda is Godzilla. After previously seeing them open another nothing like this). show in Birmingham, a few friends and I converted to the Godzilla cult and could only wait with watering

Finally after an anthemic set and a blinding cover of

mouths for what is about to happen. Baby Godzilla are

the Prodigy’s "Omen", Crossfaith departed only to

complete perpetrators of chaos in the live scene.

part way for me to relive my biggest guilty pleasure

Leaving the stage behind the band immediately throw

in music. The Jacksonville Nu-­‐Metal giants Limp

themselves and their instruments into the audience,

Bizkit. I’m sure anyone reading this born between

screaming directly into the face of audience members

1988 and 1995 will have a special place in their

with their signature brand of angular disjointed noise.

heart for Limp Bizkit, blending rap and metal it was

Baby Godzilla are like a sledgehammer to the face for

one of the few bands a primary school playground

breakfast, you aren’t expecting it at all but it certainly

war between skaters and footballers could make

wakes you up. For those of you aware of The Dillinger

peace over.

Escape Plan and Letlive, this is a level above, but a level below G.G Allin, best they don’t get arrested though.

There was a special energy in the room for this concert, aided by a combination of a perfect setlist

Next on stage were a band, which could only be

featuring six songs from opus of teenage angst that

imagined by a horde of drunk Dungeons and Dragons

is Chocolate Starfish And The Hot Dog Flavoured

players: Nekrogoblikon certainly whipped an un-­‐

Water. People were ready to party, me included who

expecting crowd up again with basically what is the

received a personal shout out from Fred Durst on

equivalent of Bez from The Happy Mondays only kitted

my dance moves during "Full Nelson". Further

out head to toe in a goblin costume. With good

highlights of the night included the best cover of a

atmosphere in the building, Nekrogoblikon joyfully

George Michael song ever when "Faith" dropped.

played through their back-­‐catalogue climaxing on a three-­‐minute song about giraffes. It’s a break from your usual song topics of love, money and fame isn’t it? “We are Crossfaith and we are the future” proclaimed

Light-­‐hearted and jovial for the 75th concert I have been to over the last seven years of being a passionate music fan a little nostalgia can be an absolute joy. I just feel sorry for the 16 year old girls

Koie Kenta front man of arguably Japan's most exciting that decided to stand behind me and were obstructed by a 22 year old 6 foot 3 gent acting like metal band right now before kicking into the aptly named “We Are The Future”, channelling metalcore

a 12 year old who had consumed too many

influences combined with exciting aspects of





Radkey Interview Joy Warmann Radkey comprises a trio of brothers from St. Joseph, Missouri, between the ages of 20 and 16 making adrenaline fuelled rock music. They’re currently in the middle of their UK tour but had a little time to chat… I've heard that you are trying to "bring rock music back to the forefront" so to speak. If you could put together the perfect rock band, who would be in it and what would they play? Well Kurt Cobain would probably be on lead vocals, and we’d probably have John Entwistle on bass. Um, maybe John Bonham or someone on the drums and for guitar, I don’t know, maybe someone like Jimi Hendrix. 2013 was a huge year for you with playing Jools Holland, touring and a new EP “Devil Fruit” release. Do you have any main goals you'd like to achieve in 2014? A lot more touring and to put out a new album definitely. What was it like touring with Drenge? It was really cool, they were really cool dudes. They shared their green room and their beer and food with us, which was really cool and it was just a really cool tour. I wonder how many people actually knew that it was like an all siblings kind of thing. As far as "sibling bands" go, did your bands differ much? Not too much, I mean it’s all pretty much loud, guitar rock music. Tickets for Radkey’s UK tour are available Do you think that your sound would be different if you weren't home schooled? to purchase on their Facebook. Other I definitely think so and I also wonder if we would even be in a band. ways to keep up with the boys and to keep an eye on that album release are via Why’s that? Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. I don’t know it just seems like school has a lot to it that would distract us from deciding on doing anything like that. I've heard that you guys are into things like superheroes, comics and anime - if you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I think I would do teleportation just because if I kind of put it in the real world it would help me escape quite a few dangers I think and I could use it pretty well, so I would say teleportation. And because of Nightcrawler I would want like the puff of smoke. Everyone normally chooses flying though… Yeah, which you know I mean I guess if you could fly really fast. I’m just trying to think of which would be like the most convenient. Your song "N.I.G.G.A (not okay)" was recorded on tape. Was this in any way influenced by Dave Grohl's recent choice to return to tape? Yeah, that definitely made tape really cool again, like it brought it back. I think a lot of people were really into doing it again, at least like in the mainstream kind of way. You toured a lot last year and even went on a plane for the first time. After all that, do you have your eyes on any festivals or countries that you'd like to play in the near future? Yeah we definitely want to play some of the main UK festivals and we want to hit Japan too. We definitely just want to do as much of that kind of stuff as we can. Is there any new up and coming talent from Missouri that we should be keeping an eye out for? Yeah I mean there are cool bands like Maps For Travelers, Soft Reeds and The Architects and stuff like that, that I would really keep an eye out for.


Awareness Get Your Socks On For World Down Syndrome Day by Rebecca Smith The 21st March 2014 will mark the 9th anniversary of World Down Syndrome day. This day not only recognises those with the disability but those who work with and put timeless effort and care into those affected. Down's syndrome, also known as Down syndrome, is a genetic condition that typically causes some level of learning disability and a characteristic range of physical features. Although children with Down's syndrome share some common physical characteristics, they do not all look the same. A child with Down's syndrome will look more like their mother, father or other family members than other children with the syndrome. People with Down's syndrome also vary in personality and ability. Everyone born with Down's syndrome will have a degree of learning disability. The level of learning disability will be different for each individual. Down's syndrome is one of the most common genetic causes of learning disability. Around 750 babies are born with the condition each year in the UK. Down's syndrome affects people of all races, religions and economic backgrounds equally. The condition is caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21 in a baby's cells. It occurs by chance at conception and is irreversible. As yet, no one knows what causes the presence of the extra chromosome 21. A Heart Warming Story... Toddler Henry White has Down’s Syndrome. He also swims like a fish and boasts a beaming smile that lights up the corners of the darkest room every time he enters the water at his regular Aqua Babies swimming class. Now his teacher and bosses at Aqua Babies have recognised the happy two and a half year olds infectious enthusiasm by posting a giant poolside picture of him at the Aqua Babies Centre at Timperley near Manchester, to mark World Down Syndrome Day. Henry’s mum Emma, speaking from the family home in Withington, said: “We started Henry at Aqua Babies when he was just four months old following advice from our paediatrician who felt the exercise would strengthen his neck muscles. He now loves going to his regular classes and has made lots of friends.” For more information and to read more inspiring stories like Henry's go to: Lots of Socks... To raise awareness of World Syndrome day the charity want people to wear socks. Brightly coloured, striped, the bolder the better! To order your official socks and make a donation to charity go to:­‐of-­‐socks.



Lent AoK and RAKNomination Joy Warmann

Every year people around the world (Christian and otherwise) partake in Lent -­‐ whether it’s giving something up or taking up something new, thousands of people use these 40 days as a chance for self-­‐improvement and introspection. Last year a UK-­‐based Christian organisation called Soul Action put forward a slightly different idea for lent that caught a lot of people’s attention. Soul Action proposed that rather than giving something up for lent one should try to perform a new “Act of Kindness” every day for the 40 days of lent. People were free to think of their own unique acts of altruism but Soul Action also provided a list of suggestions ranging from, paying for someone’s coffee in the queue behind you, to buying a copy of the Big Issue and striking up a conversation with the seller. Although it can be tough task to stick to for each of the 40 days, if you can help or better even just one person’s day in that time then you’ve succeeded really. Another way of brightening up someone’s day during lent can be to take part in a RAKnomination. Out of the recent silliness of NEKnominations (basically the downing of a filthy pint), has stemmed something good in “Random Acts of Kindness” nominations. If you haven’t already guessed, people are nominated to film themselves performing a random act of kindness and then they nominate others to do the same. Some examples from friends of mine include: donating a pint of blood, giving bone marrow and one has even given a homeless person a happy meal with £100 in it! There’s no limit to the acts of kindness that you can carry out with a little bit of imagination. This year, lent begins on the 5th of March so there still time to think of ways to spread some happiness until the 17th of April and even afterwards! You can read the full LentAoK list here: Then why not tweet us your ideas @iAstonMagazine


Seasonal Mother’s Day Presents You’ve got to treat the most important woman in your life to something fabulous, so Francesca Whittle and Becca Smith have searched around to get you all organised for the big day (Sunday 30th March). They’ve picked the best of the high street so you can get one up on everyone else and give something amazing!

Eye Serum £22 House of Fraser

Almond Handy Gift Set £12 The Body Shop

Sequin Scarf £16 Next

Pavlova Bombe £4.99 Selfridges


Coin Purse £3.99 New Look

Mini Cava and truffles £6 Tesco

Intimately Beckham £11.99 Boots

Bangle Tealight Holder £9 Monsoon

Vintage Rose Jug £25 Marks and Spencer



To enter: email with your Name, Student Number and mobile number. Include "DGTL Comp" as the subject. Competition closes 7th April at 2pm and winners will be contacted by 5pm the same day.


Seasonal St Patrick’s Day Ollie Ogden-Barker Every year on March 17th people around the globe celebrate St Patrick’s Day, a holiday dedicated to Irish culture. Everywhere people are wearing green as either a mark of respect or national pride, but did you know this has close connections with troubles between the Catholics and the Protestants along with the Irish flag? Wearing Green on St Patrick’s Day is nowadays thought of as a mark of respect to the man who brought Christianity to Ireland. Originally the colour was blue (the colour of his clothing), but it was changed to green to represent the green lands of Ireland. So, green is the colour associated with Christianity and Orange is associated with the Protestants (in olden times, often referred to as ‘Orangemen’ due to the secretive Orange Society in 1795 to meet the demand for Catholic Emancipation in Ireland). Now on to the flag, green on one side, orange on the other, white in the middle. White is a colour associated with peace and unity, and so we can understand what the Irish flag means, a unity between the Catholics and the Protestants. However interesting, this causes it to be a sad Ironic image in relation to the modern troubles in Northern Ireland.


Seasonal All that and we haven’t even scratched the surface of St Patrick and who he was, or what he did. He as born in 385AD somewhere in Britain (either Scotland or Wales) and little of his early life is known. However, when he was 14 in true heroic adventure style he was captured and taken to Ireland by slavers, where he spent the next six years of his life. According to legend, a voice came to Patrick urging him to escape. When he did escape, he made it back to Britain on a pirate ship. However, the voice came back urging him to return to Ireland. When he returned he was ordained a priest and spent the rest of his life converting Ireland to Christianity. No easy task by any means, he was harassed by the thugs and the royalty of the population equally. The holiday itself was a minor Christian holiday until the 1970s, where it caught on in the states. Groups of Irish-­‐American citizens had been celebrating St Patrick's day the traditional way with a large feast, however it spread. People all over the world celebrate St Patrick's day in different, yet similar ways. This is usually done with excessive amounts of the colour green, lots of eating and drinking, shamrocks, and the toast ‘may the roof above our heads never fall, and may we friends beneath It never fall out’. Chicago has an interesting tradition where they dye the river green for a few hours. Although an immensely impressive sight, the true mystery stands at how every Chicago environmental and animal protection agency seems to be totally okay with it. Tradition right? Birmingham’s local St Patrick’s day festival preparations are underway and the organisation behind it has already released a schedule for festivities. The previous events have gone down in legends almost as grand as St Patrick’s himself. The list can be found here:­‐festival

Tweet us your St Patrick's Day Pics! @iAstonMagazine




The first celebrities to join the Dancing on Ice Final Tour 2014 have just been announced. The incredible line-up includes three former winners of the Dancing on Ice ITV show: 2009 winner Ray Quinn, 2010 winner Hayley Tamaddon and 2007 champion Kyran Bracken. They will also be joined on the tour by comedian Joe Pasquale. More celebrities will be announced soon. The tour, which stops at Birminghamâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s NIA 18-21 April 2014, stars skating legends Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. Audiences will get to see Torvill & Dean perform exclusive mesmerising skating routines, created for the live tour.

We are giving away a pair of tickets! To enter simply email: with your Name, Student Number and mobile number. Include in the subject "Dancing on Ice Comp". Competition closes 2pm on 7th April and winners will be contacted by 5pm the same day.


Interest There is a world of start-­‐ups in Birmingham You may be aware that Birmingham has recently been named as 'start-­‐up hotspot' and most entrepreneurial city outside London. This was highlighted in a report by Start-­‐up Britain which drew on last year’s Companies House data to assess where new companies were started across the UK. However did you know that in the last 12 months BSEEN (Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network) a project led by Aston University has helped to start up 80 student and graduate businesses? Many of these are based at Birmingham Innovation campus on Birmingham Science Park, just off campus by Costa Green pub. Carolyn Keenan Project Manager BSEEN takes up the story “We have been overwhelmed by the enterprising attitude of students and graduates at Aston University. We have met some impressive budding entrepreneurs with a vast range of business ideas. For graduates being your own boss is now an appealing career choice. Whilst students who set up a business during their studies or as their placement year gain an extensive range of business skills that really enhance their CV and further career prospects.” Two of Aston University’s first class Computer Science graduates, Samuel Jones and David Bennett, have recently set up a software product development company; Codevate Ltd with support from BSEEN. Over the last few months they have won a significant number of new contracts. With this level of continued growth they hope to be able to employ some fellow Aston graduates in the near future. Aston graduates Christos Orthodoxou and Anisa Haghdadi established Class Careers. The company is changing the way school leaver recruitment and careers talks in schools are carried out. Its mission is to connect school leavers aged 16-­‐19 directly to employers through the power of live webinars, streamed from their offices directly to school classrooms across the country. The company won the Kickstart 2013 Youth Entrepreneur Award and are beginning to work with a number of employers including Pinsent Masons LLP. Ben Smith Aston graduate set up Frumtious Limited last year. The flagship product is a pot of real fruit, blended with a vegan setting agent. Only natural ingredients are used in its production, ensuring it provides a healthy, easy and convenient source of fruit on-­‐the-­‐go. Frumtious has already won the Aston Enterprise Award, in association with Ernst and Young. It has worked with London based market research company Marketest, had investment to develop the product’s nutritional values and has started working with Umamidesign, a branding agency with expertise in the food sector. If you would like to be your own boss, why not apply for BSEEN? This programme offers a great package of intensive start-­‐up support including a variety of workshops, networking opportunities, tailored mentoring, a business grant and free work space. For further information please visit www.b-­‐



100 Happy Days Olivia Springate

Searching the tag #100HappyDays on Instagram brings a whole range of different photos back, some including flowers, ice cream and shoes and other, more sentimental photos with friends and family are also there too. It’s fascinating to see just how smaller things can really make us happy on a day-­‐to-­‐ day basis and that maybe seeing these small beacons of happiness could really improve our lives.

Since the New Year rolled in, there seems to be a new craze floating around social media. Unlike many other photo challenges such as the ‘30 Day Summer Challenge’ or even the ‘Hair Photo A Day Project’, this challenge only has the theme of posting one photo a day of something that makes you happy.

In order to become a part of 100 Happy Days just go to and sign up.


Why not tweet your happy photos @iAstonMagazine #100HappyDays

website, Visiting the of the people 100happyd an you be challenge ‘C days in 00 happy for 1 ask you to a row?’ and hoto a ep post just on ething that day of som happy, in makes you mplete the order to co challenge.



4 | 5 | 6 JULY























Get Active Pole Fitness – The new gymnastics By Enya Quin-­‐Jarvis “Are you coming pole dancing tonight?” This was a question I was recently asked during my lunch break at work. Pole dancing? Are you kidding me? Why would I want to flaunt myself like that? But the reality is that pole dancing has become the new spin class as recent research now reveals that there is not a town in Britain that does not hold adult pole dancing classes. Once something which belonged in seedy gentlemen’s clubs in an undeniably erotic act, pole dancing is now breaking out of its negative connotations and rebranding itself, becoming a commercial sporting trend which is being embraced by today’s young women. Although, it’s not the type of pole dancing we are used to. For me there is something highly disturbing about the thought of this becoming a commercial trend with teenagers provocatively twirling around a pole in an act more commonly used as a way to sexually arouse the male fantasy. However, increasingly more independent pole dancing companies are being set up around the country in an attempt to buy into this popular trend, which is now branding itself as a ‘sport’ more commonly known as pole fitness. My opinions aside, I felt that the only way to truly understand the concept was to observe one of the many pole fitness classes conducted by Body Synergy, a local fitness company, at Birmingham City University and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. From push-­‐ups and intense cardio at the start of the class, to challenging balancing positions on the pole, it was a far cry from the sexualised body roles typically associated with pole dancing. Lucillie Marshall, Director of Body Synergy and pole fitness instructor, feels that it’s people’s ignorance towards the sport, which is leaving it stigmatized by society. “People will always see a pole and a person and think sex, but until you have tried it you don’t understand that work on the pole is like doing a gymnastic skill.” From her strict dance background in ballet, Lucillie Marshall pushes the students who want to progress, introducing new weekly challenges which put physical strength and endurance to the test through rigorous balancing positions which challenge core strength, upper body strength and stabilisation. “Pole fitness is the same as gymnastics because gymnastics involves strength, flexibility, muscle endurance, and agility in order to complete the physical skills and pole is essentially the same thing.”


Get Active With a 75% increase in the number of pole fitness competitions being held in the UK, the sport is being established on a more serious level with events like The World Pole Sport Championships showcasing the advanced pole abilities which Lucillie described to be the hardest gymnastics she had ever seen. However, unlike gymnastics, pole fitness is yet to become recognised and respected within the sporting industry, an ignorance which has encouraged campaigns from The International Pole Dancing Federation (yes there is such thing) for competitive pole fitness to be recognised and featured in the 2016 Olympics. It suddenly dawns on me that, like the sporting industry, my previous misconceptions of pole fitness were based on pure ignorance of the sport. Who am I to discourage young women from engaging in physical activity during a time of increasing obesity and the need for health awareness? Lucillie Marshall feels that pole fitness provides an alternative exercise to the monotonous evening gym sessions: “Health and fitness is a big talking point already as we have an epidemic of diabetes and obesity and people are looking for alternative ways to get fit; people are increasingly bored of using the gym and want to do something a little bit more fun.” I start to realise that it’s not just the physical aspect which draws people to pole fitness but it’s the sociability of the sport. It allows for individuals of all ages and sizes to take part in an activity which brings together, people whose paths would not usually cross. 25-­‐year-­‐old Jennie Marvin was excluded from taking part in sports during childhood due to suffering from a rare congenital heart condition. However, since joining pole fitness it has given her the confidence to challenge herself in everyday life with her most recent accomplishment being successfully climbing Mount Snowdon, something she never thought to be possible. Jennie explains, “Since I have joined Pole Fitness I feel confident and feel like I can do more things in life. The support that they give is incredible; you fall, there is someone to pick you up off the floor and coach you back onto the pole.” If such sports have the ability to change the lives of today’s young women and give them a reason to be healthy then who’s to say that pole fitness is not a sport. In fact I feel mightily embarrassed of my initial opinion as the term “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it” comes to mind. Unlike pole dancing, pole fitness empowers women giving them confidence and improved health.

Ask me again if I am coming pole dancing tonight?

Aston Students' Union has a Pole Dancing club. Contact Got an interest or activity you want to shout about? Tweet us @iAstonMagazine



Elections Meet your candidates in this month's Students' Union Elections! Be sure to vote between the 10th and 14th to make your voice heard!


Ben Diffey

Udayan Roy

Patrick Chen

Vice President Education & Welfare

Jema Wyatt 27


Vice President Student Activities

Christian Daly

Owain Huw Luckwell

Vice President Finance, Media & Entertainment

Fandy (Fandumem) Adeoye-Wakama

Tsvetan Dimov


Elections Aston Editor

Charlie Avery

Executive Secretary

Jordan James Kirkwood


Ahmed Hassan

Equalities & Environment Officer

Michael (Mike) Withers

International Students' Officer

J端rgen Dreyer


Elections Marketing Officer

Eve Carney

RAG Officer

Katie Wootton

Sam 'Miguel' Johnson

Tom Bourke

Student Engagement Officer

Amy Digpal

Campaigning begins Monday 3rd March and voting opens Monday 10th March. Candidates Questions are 1pm Tuesday 4th March and Monday 10th March. Voting closes 12pm Friday 14th March and results will be announced at Union Colours on the evening of Friday 14th March.



Bumper edition full of reviews, gift ideas and gritty news.