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gair rhydd y

gair rhydd | freeword Cardiff ’s student weekly Issue 1073 Monday 22nd February 2016 Also in this issue

Comment: What does the future hold for print journalism? P15>>

Guilty: Man jailed for Freshers’ Week rape of Cardiff student

Politics: Why is Wales becoming more eurosceptic? P26>>

• 40-year-old Remus Hamza was jailed for 12 years at Newport Crown Court • The incident was one of three cases of sexual assault that took place in September 2015 in Cardiff city centre • Judge: “You were waiting there hoping that a lone inebriated female would make her way in your direction so you could take advantage of her”

Joanna Beck

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man has been found guilty of raping a female student in September last year as she walked home from the nightclub Pryzm. 40-year-old Remus Hamza denied the charges and claimed that the sex was “consensual,” but it took a jury only 20 minutes to determine a guilty verdict at Newport Crown Court, as

Hamza was sentenced to 12 years in prison. The victim, a 20-year-old victim, cannot be named for legal reasons. She was attacked by Hamza by the National Museum at around 2am on the morning of September 20th 2015. During the trial the jury heard how Hamza had been arrested for exposure in this same area in 2014. The Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Inspector Ian Bourne, described Hamza as “a dangerous predatory

offender who deliberately targeted a vulnerable young woman”. The Sentencing Judge, David Wynn Morgan, reiterated this sentiment as reported by WalesOnline: “You were lurking in the Museum Avenue area behind City Hall in Cardiff. “In light of your previous history there is only one conceivable explanation for you being there at that time. You were waiting there hoping that a lone inebriated female would

Pictured:

Remus Hamza (Source: South Wales Police)

Science: What exactly are Einstein’s gravitational waves? P31?>>

Continued on page 4

Cardiff Students’ Union Elections 2016 • Manifesto pullout inside • Candidates scrutinised (pages 6-8)

Taf-Od: Stadiwm Principality: Y ddadl yn parhau P39>>


2 EDITORIAL Gair Rhydd Coordinator Elaine Morgan Editor Joseph Atkinson Deputy Editors Carwyn Williams Anna Lewis News Anna Lewis Joanna Beck Toby Holloway Advice Gwen Williams Caragh Medlicott Comment Em Gates Charley Griffiths David Williams Columnist Helena Hanson Politics Carwyn Williams Sam Patterson Science Maria Mellor Lizzie Harrett Societies Aletheia Nutt Taf-Od Rhian Floyd Park Life Vacant Sport Jim Harris James Lloyd Jamie Smith Social Media Editor Jack Boyce Proofreaders Tom Morris Get involved Editorial conferences are each Monday at 5pm. Proofreading takes place from 5pm on Thursdays in the media office during print weeks. Write to the editor editor@gairrhydd.com Tweet us @gairrhydd Vote at www.cardiffstudents.com/ yourvoice/ At Gair Rhydd we take seriously our responsibility to maintain the highest possible standards. Sometimes, because of deadline pressures, we may make some mistakes. If you believe we have fallen below the standards we seek to uphold, please email editor@gairrhydd. com. You can view our Ethical Policy Statement and Complaints Procedure at cardiffstudentmedia.co.uk/complaints Opinions expressed in editorials are not reflective of Cardiff Student Media, who act as the publisher of Gair Rhydd in legal terms, and should not be considered official communications or the organisation’s stance. Gair Rhydd is a Post Office registered newspaper.

the free word

Keep up with the elections with us We’ve got a live blog on the go and our reporters are out roving the Students’ Union

Joseph Atkinson

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ello. You’ve probably picked up the paper and thought, “ooh that’s a bit heavier than normal”. That’s because there’s a 44-page student election manifesto package in the middle, and that’s because it’s student elections week, right now! Exciting times then (or maybe not). Some of us will be spared the cringeworthy costumes due to the fact that it’s reading week for many courses. However, despite the gimmicks, and as I’ve harped on in several editorials prior to this, student elections are important and picking the right people is vital going forward - if the wrong person is elected based on low turnout or an

exceptional gimmick, then they’re the person representing 30,000 students and getting paid a healthy amount to do so. You can find manifesto scrutiny in the News section of this week’s issue, where we’re having a look at each and every candidate’s credentials and ideas going forward. In the interests of fairness all candidates will be dedicated equal space depending on the role that they’re running for, and of course there won’t be any bias in the paper we aren’t allowing anyone running for elections contribute to Gair Rhydd this week. You’ll notice that our Politics Editor Luke Brett isn’t on the list of editors this week - this isn’t because he’s been fired - it’s because he’s running for VP Societies. Similarly a number of

CORRECTIONS & CLARIFICATIONS In issue 1071, dated 8th February 2016, an article in the Comment section titled ‘Farage v Corbyn’ was incorrectly attributed to Mark Chesson. The writer of the piece was Sam Saunders. In the same issue, an article in the Science section titled ‘Embryo editing given green light by regulators’ was incorrectly attributed to Lisa Carr. The writer of the piece was Sophie King. Apologies to both Sam and Sophie for these errors. Online versions have been amended.

regular contributors haven’t been allowed to contribute for this week. If you’re a candidate, we’ll be speaking to you this week about your plans for the SU. If you’re student wondering who to cast your vote for, we’ll be running a live blog Monday-Friday with exclusive interviews with candidates and undoubtedly many interesting costumes being snapped by our reporters. We hope that our coverage will be entertaining and informative, and that it will complement the events of the week. My personal aim for our coverage is to increase voting turnout by increasing awareness and participation. This is sometimes a difficult task when dealing with a diverse student body a lot of people don’t understand student politics, or have a misinformed opinion that they don’t matter - this election will determine where at least £140,000 of SU money (partially funded by your tuition fees) will go. Of course, our front page story couldn’t be further from the often jovial nature of a student election. Following the terror incurred after the sex attacks in Cardiff in September,

a 40-year-old man has been sent to prison for 12 years for raping a student during Freshers’ Week. It’s a sobering story that brings to the attention the danger that exists for students in a simple night out in a supposedly busy student area. Elsewhere in Gair Rhydd I’ve taken it upon myself to defend The Tab against an utterly pointless set of attacks by The Guardian last week. While I felt a little uncomfortable defending a rival publication, I also felt it was important to call The Guardian’s bullshit for what it really was. This is our largest issue of the year so far - minus the manifestos in the middle, we have 44 pages - which highlights just how well the editorial team of Gair Rhydd is developing in producing great-quality content in ever increasing quantities. Everyone on the newspaper is doing an amazing job combining studies with volunteering to produce their sections every week and I want to thank them for it. So, enjoy the 44 pages, enjoy the manifestos, and take them seriously. Your vote matters more than you may realise.

THIS WEEK IN HISTORY: GAIR RHYDD 889 23/2/2009

Although now GR has a dedicated Social Media Editor, and you’d be hard pressed to find any student who doesn’t have either Facebook, Twitter or both, back in 2009 the harsh realities of this new platform were just beginning to set in, as a JOMEC student was reprimanded for posting “offensive remarks” about a lecturer on Facebook. Meanwhile in Opinion - or as we now call it, Comment - Siobhan McGurk concluded that “Twitter is the internet for tiny little borrowers who own iPhones.” Columnist “The Boy Thunder” wrote about Jade Goody (“a little bit like Jesus”) and Sky channel 888, which he said was all about fish, and was very relaxing. Perhaps comparable to recent Twitter trend “#DrummondPuddleWatch.” Probably the best headline in the issue was “Seize ‘er Salad!” which topped a story on a Maths students being banned from bringing their own food into the building’s café. Anti-Semitism is back in the news again this week, and so it was in 2009. A member of staff at York University, again underestimating the power of Facebook, posted a picture depicting an offensive Jewish stereotype and was swiftly reprimanded by the higher-ups. However, the news which really shook the Cardiff campus community the previous week’s abandoned Annual General Meeting. It appears that those students that attended were so bored

during the meeting that most of them walked out half way through. The meeting then had to be rescheduled for a week later. If you think there are a lot of SU positions to vote for now, be glad you weren’t studying in 2009 (and if you were, I am so sorry), where there were 20 positions up for grabs. The characters chasing these lucrative positions were no less colourful, with a rather unimpressive Sully onesie (as seen in Monsters Inc) festooning the Politics section. Social media had thankfully not completely replaced the old traditions yet, with the Letters section still in force and even a good old-fashioned forum which readers were invited to share their views on. A satirical Problem Page came under the byline of “Ted Handsome, he’s a ruddy good lad,” an Alan Partridge-like character. Ted said the best way to get girls was to subsist on a diet of “mainly kebabs and processed meat, 20-40 cigarettes a day and a heavy dose of cheap continental lager.” He also said he couldn’t forgive Freshers for talking about their youth even though “they really do have fuck all else to talk about.” In Sport, ladies’ fencing was the focus of the back cover, and the punny headline “Fish slips net” as Fisher athletic appointed the first female manager in professional English football, albeit temporarily. - Tom Morris


EDITORIAL 3

Campus in Brief

Jack Boyce

With support of £400,000 from our Bwrw Mlaen investment grant, Yr Hen Lyfrgell will provide a relaxed environment for people to learn and socialise in Welsh whilst showcasing the language and our unique culture. Carwyn Jones

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ccident & Emergency departments in Wales recorded their busiest month on record in January. New figures have shown that these departments saw 80,438 patients across Wales, which increased significantly from the 73,345 recorded last January. The Welsh Government stated that it was the busiest month on record since the current system of measuring came into place in 2006. The amount of patients that had to spend four hours or more before being treated, discharged or transferred also increased to 21.5 per cent , up from 17.6 per cent the previous year. Targets state that 95 per cent of patients should not spend four hours or more in A&E units. The Electoral Reform Society Cymru has launched an Assembly Election manifesto in an effort to “revitalise” politics for younger citizens, which includes giving the vote to 16-year-olds, an online voting system and a monthly citizens question time programme. Other proposals include a citizens committee to scrutinise ministers and local councillor elections through proportional representation. The society director Steve Brooks claims that these changes would make politics more engaging, as he said: “Voters feel increasingly disconnected from politics. It’s time to bring democracy closer to the people.” A new Welsh language-oriented cultural centre is set to open in the centre of Cardiff in late February. The centre will open on 25th February at Yr Hen Lyfrgell (The Old Library) on the Hayes. First Minister Carwyn Jones and Cardiff Council leader Phil Bale will open the centre, before a launch party in the night. The project received its funding from the Welsh Government under the Welsh language scheme ‘Bwrw Mlaen’ (‘Moving Forward’). First Minister Carwyn Jones said, “With support of £400,000 from our Bwrw Mlaen investment grant, Yr Hen Lyfrgell will provide a relaxed environment for people to learn and socialise in Welsh whilst showcasing the language and our unique culture.”

National

The proportion of students from disadvantaged backgrounds being accepted into Oxford and Cambridge University has fallen over the past decade, according to new figures. The Oxbridge schools take the fewest amount of students from poor socio-economic backgrounds in England, although both Cambridge and Oxford have both received a rise in the proportion of applicants from state schools. Both universities now sit at around ten per cent of entrants from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, down from 12.3 per cent for Oxford and 12.4 per cent for Cambridge. Russell Group universities Durham, Exeter, Glasgow, Imperial College London and Belfast’s Queen’s University have also recorded a fall despite pressure to widen access to higher education. Trinity Mirror, the publisher behind the Daily Mirror, is set to launch a new national newspaper to target a ‘mid-market audience’ by the end of February. The initial title for the newspaper is New Day, which is set to launch on the 29th February and be aimed at the same audience occupied by the Daily Mail and Daily Express. Initial price for New Day is set at 20p, the same price as the Independent’s i when it launched in 2010. A media industry source told The Guardian that New Day will be a “sort of everything for everyone paper in the mid-market rather than a direct attempt at entering the quality market like i.” A 15-year-old boy has been arrested in Glasgow after over alleged computer hacking, with the apparent target being the FBI network in the USA. Reports have indicated that Scottish police arrested the boy under the Computer Misuse Act, with FBI agents sitting in on the questioning. In a statement, Scotland Police said, “Following a search of a property in the Glasgow area on Tuesday 16th February, a 15-year-old male was arrested in connection with alleged offences under the Computer Misuse Act 1990”, but would not confirm if FBI officials were involved.

International

White House officials have stated that US President Barack Obama will visit Cuba in March in an effort to restore ties and end decades of Cold War hostilities between the two countries. Obama will become the first President to visit the Caribbean nation since Calvin Coolidge in 1928. While it has been noted that Obama and the US still does not meet eye-to-eye with Raul Castro’s government over issues such as human rights and political freedom, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said that, “President Coolidge travelled to Cuba on a US battleship, so this will be a different kind of visit.” A large tumbleweed named “hairy panic” has overrun a small Australian town, clogging up homes. Dry conditions mean that weeds have been piling up outside houses in Wangaretta, a small town just outside Victoria in the southeast of Australia. Residents have been forced to clear the weeds for several hours a day, with extreme conditions leading to it reaching roof height in certain areas. Despite the pile-up, authorities have been unable to help with the clearance, as the tumbleweeds do not pose a fire threat. Russia has filed a lawsuit against Ukraine over a £2.1 billion debt. The lawsuit was filed after unsuccessful attempts were made to agree to the restructuring of the debt, according to Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. A Eurobond was issued in late 2013 and had a maturity date of 20th December 2015 while pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was still in power. After Yanukovych’s removal during massive protests, new Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk imposed a moratorium on repayment until debt restructuring could take place. Finance Minister Siluanov has stated that he hopes for an “open and transparent” case that will take place at London’s High Court.

Pictured: The A&E unit at the University Hospital of Wales. (Photographer: Anna Lewis)

US President Barack Obama will visit Cuba in March in an effort to restore ties and end decades of Cold War hostilities between the two countries.


4 NEWS

news

Editors: Anna Lewis Joanna Beck Toby Holloway @GairRhyddNews news@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/news

Cont’d: Man found guilty of student rape

Continued from front page

make her way in your direction so you could take advantage of her. “That’s exactly what you did when [the woman] staggered into your vision. You didn’t know who she was, you didn’t know anything about her and you didn’t know her name. “All you cared about was having sexual intercourse and you chose her because she was extremely drunk and plainly had no idea what was going on.” After the trial, Superintendent Andy Valentine, Head of Operational Policing in Cardiff, described Hamza’s guilty verdict as a reflection of the police’s “commitment to protecting women and young girls from violence, and to keeping our capital safe.” This rape was one of three indi-

vidual sex attacks which happened over a space of five days in Cardiff City Centre last September. The attacks received a large amount of media attention and led to measures being implemented to improve safety in Cardiff for female students after club nights. This included the Students’ Union improving their ‘Safe Taxi Scheme’ which allows students to delay payment for their taxis using their student card if they do not have cash. Taxis faced extra scrutiny during this time after reports that they would refuse to accept custom from young women due to short journeys not being financially beneficial. In response, young women were asked to report taxis behaving in such ways.

Security at the Students’ Union also attempted to increase student safety after the attacks, with many young women leaving the Union nightclub Y Plas being asked how they were getting home and bouncers asking other girls to accompany them. Third year Geography student, Phoebe Crooks, explained how she, along with her flatmate, was asked to walk a young woman home after Flux. “The bouncers wouldn’t let her walk home alone so they asked where we were going and if we would mind taking her. “If the bouncers’s hadn’t stopped her she would have walked home alone for sure and it was about three in the morning”. It is not just the Students’ Union,

however, that have been implementing safety measures at night. A third year JOMEC student who has recently started work at City Arms pub told Gair Rhydd how after her first night they would not let her walk home alone. “They told me I should get a taxi and said if they gave me a receipt they would refund me up to £5.” Superintendent Valentine also stated that the police have taken extra measures since the attack. “South Wales Police takes all reports of sexual violence extremely seriously and, with the Police and Crime Commissioner, continue to work with partners to make tackling this type of crime a priority as part of our commitment to tackling violence against women and girls.”

All you cared about was having sexual intercourse and you chose her because she was extremely drunk. Sentencing Judge

Cuts uncut: Culture in Cardiff reinstated

Anna Lewis

Anna Lewis

The policy is an act that stifles the democratic freedom that should be entitled to the public.” Abdul Rahman Darras

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ardiff councillors have bowed to pressure from the public, reversing proposed funding cuts to the capital’s culture scene. The decision was made following the protest that took place the previous week, attracting up to 1,000 attendees according to onlookers. As a result, Cardiff Council have confirmed that they will not be cutting the culture budget by the original £700,000.

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This includes saving the grants allocated to the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and the Artes Mundi initiative. The Cardiff Contemporary Initiative has also been saved, worth £37,000. Despite the good news however, funding for the New Theatre and St David’s Hall is still in question as the council continues to look for “new operators”. The search continues af-

ter starting back in 2014. As a result a review will be conducted looking into the “costs, income and service delivery” of both venues in an attempt to cut £430,000. Talking to the Stage, Campaign co-ordinator Laura Drane praised the decision: “We welcome the apparent good news from the council about it continuing to invest in Artes Mundi, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, and the community arts

grants.” However Drane reminded WalesOnline that this is only “a one-year settlement and none of us want to be back here in 10 months. Instead, the council should see us as a force for good, an asset to be mobilised.” The council will begin to implement its plans on Thursday despite attempting to reduce council costs by £73 million over the next three years.

The original protest attracted up to 1,000 people.

Cardiff students condemn Government policy

he Students’ Union Palestinian Society has spoken out against a government decision to prevent public institutions from boycotting Israeli goods. According to government officials, the decision was made after the boycott was described as undermining “community cohesion” and Britain’s “international security”. However, speaking on behalf of the Union’s Palestine Society, Abdul Rahman Darras stated that the ban on boycotts is “an act that stifles the democratic freedom that should be entitled to the public.” The new policy was introduced last Monday, with no discussion or vote in parliament. If institutions fail to adhere to government ruling, “severe penalties” may be enforced. Although some media outlets have suggested that the decision could affect Students’ Union, a spokesperson for Cardiff University SU confirmed that it “will not be covered by the pro-

posed change”. The spokesperson continued to clarify that “Cardiff University Students’ Union has the option to ban or not ban goods as it chooses, within the law” and would encourage discussion on the use of boycotts within the Student Senate policy making body. Talking to Gair Rhydd, the President of the Palestine community stressed that “taking away these rights from publicly funded organisations....is taking away the decision of the public to make an ethical stance against the Israeli settlements being built on Palestinian land. Darras also stressed that such settlements are considered illegal under international law as well as Article 49 of the Geneva Constitution. As a result, he continued to explain that failing to boycott goods from this area constitutes a means of “supporting the expansion and growth of further settlements, as well as empowering their illegal actions of ethnic cleans-

ing of the Palestinian people from their territories.” Government officials have defended the decision by stating that such boycotts create “wider national and international consequences” and can “hinder Britain’s export trade” and foreign relations, with potential effect on economy and national security. The decision has been further condemned by politicians and charity’s alike. Labour has described the policy as an “attack on democracy”, whilst the Campaign Against the Arms trade said it was an attack on “the rights of all local people and campaign groups across England”. According to Palestinian officials, the decision will “reinforce Israel’s occupation of territories they seek for an independent state.” Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the policy. Last year the Prime Minister spoke outside the National Union of Stu-

dents (NUS) after the group joined forces with a Palestinian group campaigning for an economic and cultural boycott of Israel. In addition to products association with Israeli settlements, local councils and public bodies will now be prevented from boycotting products from companies involved in fossil fuels, tobacco and arms. This is despite local councils in Leicester and Birmingham previously advocating that companies stop business with Israel. This involves companies such as the waste disposal business Veolia. However, according to some sources the controversial decision may conflict with existing government opinion. Reports in both Russia Today and the Independent have suggested that in an existing Foreign Office assessment of Israel states, the government will not “not encourage or offer support” to business within the occupied territories.

Government officials have defended the decision by stating that such boycotts create “wider national and international consequences”.


NEWS 5

Joanna Beck

Landlords have tried to fit as many tenants in as possible because of this, waste and parking problems increase. Christopher Weaver

Carwyn Williams

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Planning regulations could reduce student community in Cathays

ardiff council are expected to tighten regulations, making it harder for landlords to convert houses into student accommodation with multiple bedrooms. The plans to stop the current student letting system, or perhaps reduce the number of student houses, is likely to be announced in the Council’s Local Development Plan which is set to be released later this year. The new rules will effect planning, making it much more difficult for smaller homes with two or three bedrooms to be converted into Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs). This comes as the student population in Cathays is growing with 40 per cent of all properties in Cardiff falling in the HMO category. It is not apparent what the exact planning regulations will be, but speaking to The Cardiffian, Cathays Councillor Christopher Weaver said: “The over-concentration of HMOs leads to “minimum-standard” accommodation and excessive development, as landlords have tried to fit as many tenants in as possible. Because of this, waste and parking problems increase. “We need a mix of housing to keep a sustainable community year round – it’s good for tenants, their neighbours, and local businesses. The new legislation will allow greater control to ensure Cathays remains a mixed community with a balance of housing.”

Although some think this could lead to students migrating away from Cathays in the next few years, one Cardiff student landlord does not think it will make much difference. Talking to Gair Rhydd he explained: “I think they’ve missed the boat, there are already loads of HMOs out there so I doubt students will leave especially as its such a key location. “I don’t really understand what their motivation for this is, if the majority of residents are now students surely it doesn’t make sense to try to get rid of student housing.” This landlord owns seven student properties holding between six to seven students in each and suggested to Gair Rhydd that there could have been political motivations for the planned regulations. “I don’t know if maybe there are a few persistent residents or if maybe the upcoming elections played a part in the decision and they want to be seen to be doing something.” As well as the planning regulations that are set to be introduced, as of 1st January 2016 private sector landlords and letting agencies have to adhere to the additional licensing scheme, meaning they will have to register and get a license before renting a house. In a report on this the Welsh Government expressed what they wish to achieve from this scheme and how it will make a difference. “The registration system will allow local authorities in Wales to have an

overview of where rented accommodation is located which will benefit both them and landlords by allowing them to disseminate information and, if and when appropriate, intervene strategically.” “In future, if a complaint is received about a landlord or property

on the register then the council can contact the landlord or agent quickly allowing speedier resolution.” The Council’s Local Development Plan is due to be released on 25th of February and is expected to outline the changes to planning regulation following the development.

Pictured: Student housing in Cathays (Photographer: Gair Rhydd)

Welsh parties outline student support policies

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elsh political parties have outlined their proposals for student support in time for the upcoming Assembly election in May. Currently, the Welsh Labour Government in Cardiff Bay subsidy every Welsh students’ tuition fee, ensuring no Welsh student pays more than £3,810 wherever they

choose to study. Labour have not committed themselves to a policy after the election, with Carwyn Jones telling Gair Rhydd in the autumn that the party will wait to see what the Diamond review recommends. The review is looking into student support, and will report back later this year, after the elec-

tion, but has already said the current policy is unsustainable. Despite this, current Education Minister Huw Lewis told the BBC that his party is committed to the principle that students would receive support wherever they decide to study. However, refused to say if the current policy would be available as it is now to all Welsh students, suggesting a means-tested tuition fee policy could be possible. Plaid Cymru are proposing a shake up to the current blanket tuition fee grant system, wanting to only reward Welsh students that return to Wales to study. Their Shadow Education Minister Simon Thomas said: “Plaid Cymru will pay off £6,000 of the tuition fee loans for each student from Wales that returns to Wales to work after graduation.” “Our plans will enable students from Wales to study anywhere they want, and will ensure that the Welsh economy can benefit from the talent of Welsh students. Under Plaid Cymru’s plans, students from Wales who study a three-year degree will have £18,000 of their loans written off.” Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies believes a different approach is needed, saying: “Higher Education funding in Wales needs a radical shake-up – and Welsh Con-

servatives are the only Party proposing a radical new approach which offers students the support they need with potentially prohibitive living costs.” The party announced that they would end the tuition fee grant, and instead offer students up to 50 per cent rebate of their rental costs during term time. The average cost of rent paid per week by Welsh students is £118, meaning an average student could save up to £59 per week. Welsh students choosing to study in England or elsewhere in the UK would also benefit, at a cost of approximately £75 million per year, less than the current system’s over £200 million cost. However, many have criticised this policy saying it would only drive up the price of rent in student areas, with landlords benefitting most. Aled Roberts, Welsh Liberal Democrats education spokesperson, also believes students should receive more support with living costs. Their policy would be to increase tuition fees, but use the savings to provide more maintenance grants to Welsh students and Welsh universities. The Welsh Assembly elections will take place on Thursday May 5th, but students need to ensure they register to vote before April 16th to take part.

Pictured: Welsh National Assembly (Photographer: Ferret Boy via Flickr)

Plaid Cymru will pay off £6,000 of the tuition fee loans for each student from Wales that returns to Wales to work after graduation. Simon Thomas


6 NEWS

Cardiff Students’ Union Elections 2016 Candidate scrutiny: Full-time roles

WELFARE EDUCATION

PRESIDENT

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he most contested role during the elections will be the position of SU President. With six competitors campaigning there will be fierce competition to gain the title, with the successful candidate taking responsibility for representing the Students’ Union and supporting the six other full-time VPs. Running for the position of SU President, Alexandra White has promised to improve online resources and put lectures online, in what appears to be a follow up to previous decisions made to encourage lecture recording. During the latest Student Senate meeting, it was decided that the campaign to record all lectures would be renewed. To create a safer Cardiff, White suggests that a “pee-in-a-cup day” be introduced on a monthly basis, in addition to a night bus providing students with transport home late at night. Previously Cardiff Students’ Union established a “safety bus scheme” back in 2011, which identified “vulnerable” students and took them home to prevent assault and robbery. Nadine Dahan promises to scrap printing costs and ambitiously proposes that library fines be eradicated. In terms of welfare issues, Dahan

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his year the role of VP Education will be fought over by seven candidates. At Question Time Megan Cook stated that if elected she would develop Speak Week to create awareness and promote suggestions for improvement for students. By using social media and Twitter Cook suggested that she would be able to maintain contact with students, Her top priorty lies with lobbying for personalised exam feedback, a policy also included in the current VP Education’s manifesto. For Jenna Crocombe the answer lies with making use of course-based societies and liaising with VP for Heath and Postgraduates. Her biggest priority if elected will be to appear approachable

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emaining one of the contested roles for a second year running, eight candidates will fight for the position of VP Welfare. For current Ethical and Environmental Officer Daniel Tucker, the priorities of VP Welfare lie with creating a “safe, inclusive, bilingual Union”, including preventing “hateful, shaming or other exclusionary speech.” Meanwhile, if elected Hollie Cooke would create a well-being committee to represent all student groups including Welsh speakers. Cooke’s manifesto also draws attention to the current problems surrounding the sexual health clinic, including its limited opening hours and the current lack of budget allocated specifically to welfare needs.

like many other candidates stresses the importance of improving support for those suffering from mental health issues, including tackling waiting times. Dahan also promises to support national campaigns for post-study work visas for international students. Other policies include diversifying the curriculum in university and improving prayer rooms around campus. Current Welsh Officer Steffan Bryn is also running for the position of President. In his campaign, Bryn states that he will work to scrap breathalysing tests in place at the Students’ Union whilst promoting sensible drinking. Currently Cardiff SU is part of a trial scheme implemented by South Wales Police in a bid to prevent students from “preloading” or pre-drinking. However, it has since been confirmed by Union officials that breathalysing students forms only part of tests to allow entrance, and is exclusively used on students perceived to be too drunk. In addition, Bryn also proposes to pay student-staff the living wage. The news comes despite an investigation by Gair Rhydd that found that the SU is “unlikely” to pay its students under-25 year old the living wage. This is despite

previous decisions made by the Student Senate to lobby for higher wages for student staff. Meanwhile, VP Societies Hannah Sterritt has promised to change the name of Wednesday night club night YOLO. Previously named the Lash, the change to YOLO has attracted criticism from students over the last two years. Sterritt also promises to introduce a guest speaker series at the SU, in addition to the guest lectures already hosted by the University. As part of calls made by many candidates to improve accessibility to sports matches and facilities on a Wednesday, if elected Sterritt will campaign for free Wednesday afternoons for postgraduate students. Following a Gair Rhydd investigation criticising IMG football for cancelling numerous games, Sterritt’s campaign calls to restructure the league to include poor weather contingency plans. Meanwhile, current VP Education Sophie Timbers’ manifesto pledges to create major changes to infrastructure in the Students’ Union, promising to install a pharmacy and supermarket. This comes despite promising to replace Blackwells with an Amazon pickup spot in her campaigns for her cur-

rent role as VP Education. In an ambitious move, Timbers also promises to lobby for a train station at Talybont halls of residences. Like White, Timber would organise a free night bus from the Students’ Union to stops in Cathays and Halls of Residence. Unlike many candidates, the current VP Education also included plans for the development of Welsh language provisions in her manifesto, stating that she will implmenent a university-wide strategy. For Sebastian Robyns-Landricombe, the role of President is to create a Students’ Union that “fights for the rights of its students.” Having cited issues such as the high cost of childcare at University premises and the SU’s refusal to pay a living wage to student workers, Robyns promises to ensure that the Union does not “place profits against students”. He concluded that it should be a body of students fighting for students. During Question Time, candidates were quizzed on a number of issues including the SU’s participation in South Wales Police’s breathalysing scheme and whether the high costs of NUS membership is justified.

and successful and to improve online facilities, which would include online-only submission and electronic timetables. Meanwhile, Mo Hanafy stated that he will ensure that decisions for some schools will not adversely affect others. By using social media, regular emails and spending lunchtimes in Y Plas, Hanafy hopes to improve student input and develop a new app Sims, Cardiff Intranet and library facilities. For Katie Meechan, her top priority rests with cutting course costs if elected for the role of VP Education, including providing printing credits. Such needs were also included on current VP Education’s manifesto during last year’s campaign week, as Timbers promised to “tackle hidden course cuts”. Like other

candidates, Meechan stressed the importance of using technology to interact with students and creating an electronic platform to discuss ideas. Continuing the work of sabbatical officers this year, Bayan Mohajeri Thacker demands that the ASSL Library remain open 24 hours a day after the end of the trail period in June, accompanied with a security bus to ensure students return safely after studying. In the past the price of keeping the ASSL open 24 hours a day has been a subject of concern for sabbatical officers. Mohajeri has also called for anonymous feedback scheme from personal tutors and the release of average assessment and exams marks for each academic year. Following on from this, Lakota

Hardwick promises to ensure that students receive the best value for money from their course and are provided with consistently high teaching standards to make the most of “Cardiff ’s reputation.” According to the candidate, this will be achieved by making study spaces more “accessible”, especially at the Heath park campus, and improving the existing student rep system in place. For Aliza Taylor the main priority for VP Education is to improve the services available for joint honour students, in response to issues such as timetable clashes. In addition to this, Taylor will campaign for more investment in technology, including online seminar signup, and promote the University’s employability services.

For Mads Page, the Students’ Union does not provide enough support services and as such will fight to deal with this problem. During Question Time, Page also noted that laptops for dyslexic students can sometimes take up to a year to arrive. When talking about housing, she concluded that as Cardiff boasts more houses than students, she would dispel rumours that houses fill up before Christmas. Taking a different approach to other candidates, Jake Smith stressed the need for the VP Welfare to provide a better welcome to Freshers, including arranging more non-alcoholic events such as film nights. Smith also took a harsh line towards bad students landlords suggesting that the Union take a

“name and shame approach”. Speaking of the 2017 Cardiff Council elections, he stressed that student housing and wellbeing be made the centre of attention. For Claire Brosnan, issues to be tackled include lobbying the University to increase the financial contingency fund, increasing the opening hours for the sexual health clinic in Park Place, and fostering more religious support for students including those participating in Ramadan. For Matthew Procter, priorities during campaign week will include emphasising the problems surrounding housing and health. Like other candidates this includes campaigning to ban letting agency fees, whilst also lobbying to allow students to register with two doctors.

By contrast, in Sarah HopkinsWeaver’s manifesto the focus lies on making use of student mentoring system and extending the existing Welcome Crew during Freshers Week. In order to support student she also suggests creating “calm spaces” within the Students’ Union to encourage mindfulness. In her manifesto, current Womens’ Officer Rachael Melhuish promises to focus on problems surrounding finance for students and to “stand strong” against government cuts. At Question Time Melhuish noted that it currently costs £250 for students to take a dyslexia tests, a price which she labelled as “ridiculous” . Jonathan Crisp will also run for VP Welfare but is yet to release a manifesto.


HEATH PARK

SPORTS

POSTGRAD SOCIETIES

NEWS 7

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ith seven candidates running for the position of VP Societies, the role will see tough competition over campaign week. When asked at Question Time whether a cap should be introduced to limit the number of societies, general consensus ruled that such a move would “exclude passion” and “stifle creativity”, arguing in the case of Charlotte Hayre that more societies can only mean more investment into the SU through guild fees. However, Milly Dyer admitted that such action might need to be taken in ten years time, whilst Maisie Hillier stated that a cap is necessary given that “there isn’t infinite funding”. Meanwhile Usman Mahmood Bukhari took a more compromised stance, arguing that there “should be

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espite being introduced only last year, the role of VP Postgrads will see five candidates run for the position. In Question Time, focus rested primarily on the need to intergrate postgraduate students within the wider university community. Talk also moved to the suggestions of creating scholarships for international research students, with all candidates agreeing that such a move would improve the standard of work within the university. First to be questioned was Joshua Headington, who stated that “no-one within uni should feel alienated.” In order to combat this issue, the candidate proposed creating a systems whereby communication can be better integrat-

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s VP Sports, the successful candidate will be responsible forsupporting members of participation sports and performance sports. In Question Time candidates were scrutinised about their ability to balance the needs of both groups as well as the pressure of ensuring that all cubs acquire appropriate funding. If elected the role of VP Sport, Jack Bairstow would instate a 50:50 funding system for teams allowing members to gain qualifications and individual development in skills such as coaching and first aid. Other priorities include improving the coverage given to all clubs to increase membership Meanwhile, Emma Fitzpatrick pledged to support sport club com-

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ith only two candidates running for the position of VP Heath, the sabbatical role will see the least competition of all full-time roles. During Question Time, nursing student Tim Nagle stressed the need to advertise the services provided at the Heath. Explaining his experience at dealing with conflict, Nagle stated that both his previous work within retail therapy and dealing with patients and doctors during his degree has taught him how to deal with problems. Nagle noted that if elected he would seek to involve students at placements and those located outside the Heath. In addition he would engage with Welsh

barriers but not a cap” allowing societies to exist if there is significant support for it. The Question Time event also saw candidates quizzed about the existing tier structure and whether all societies should aim for gold level. Responses included revising the classifications and tier system by Bukhari, and the need for society committee members to do what they feel is best by Luke Brett. According to Joseph Rumming, the tier system risks creating “unhealthy competition” and proposed removing the awards given to those at the top level to avoid this. When asked what their priorities would be if elected for VP Societies, Maisie Hillier proposed creating “stronger societies, improving leadership training and collaberating with societies from

other universities.” This includes utilising Cardiff ’s existing relationship with USW. Charlotte Hayre noted the need to increaser membership, explaining that “people don’t know what’s out there”. She suggested creating a simplified online societies timetable and “buzfeed style quiz”, in order to allow people to find out what they would be interested in joining. Aidan Cammies suggested creating videos promoting societies’ activities on a weekly basis. He also pledges to create a scheme helping societies to obtain sponsorhip, including creating networking events. Meanwhile, Brett explained that he would introduce a ‘wife-swap’ style feature encouraging students to try a different society for a day. This is addition to increasing publicity for societies and

continuing the pre-existing Give it a Go scheme. If elected, Joe Rumming explained hat he would “overhaul the tier system” and encourage students to “love societies again”. His other policies include getting better adverstising for societies and improving communication between groups and the SU. Rumming was followed by Dyer ,who explained that her aim would be to inspire the 20,000 students currently not part of societies. In a more unique move she will campaign to promote a buget travel agent with Give it a Go. Rounding up the Society candidates scrutiny, Bukhari stressed that he would “streamline the SU webpage”, introduce more quizzes and reverse the classifica-

ed through the use of strategies such as emails. Headington also chose to talk about the welfare needs of Postgraduate research students, stressing that solidarity needs to be built with other unions. Asked about his main priority, he concluded that he would bring both university schools and unions together to take direct action on behalf of students. Next to be questioned was Matthew Jenkins, who noted the need to introduce essay writing training for students returning to Masters programmes and create more cultural and arts events to appeal to all postgrad students. For Jenkins the biggest problem for current for postgraduate teaching staff lies with the lack of standardised pay and contracts across all schools, and proposes to fix

this accordingly. Meanwhile Alexander Kuklenko pledged to increase the number of postgrad events, create opportunities to meet with current undergraduates and ensure that drop-in sessions for postgrads are readily available. In the same vein as Jenkins, he stressed the need to obtain fair pay for PG tutors, with regular opportunities to discuss how current PhD programmes can be improved For Subhra Mukherjee, the future VP Postgrad Officer should ensure that there are more cultural events on offer, in order to increase more “avenues for interaction”. In addition she would also create job fairs and careers fairs for postgraduates to ensure that a wide range of opportunities are available

after university. Although she doesn’t mention any specific campaign points in her manifesto she cites the need to be a good leader and listener. Like other candidates, at Question Time Samuel Murray also stressed the need to improve the current postgrad social programme and include daytime events with university schools and representatives. The finance system for paying postgraduates was also critique as he stated that departments are “slow to pay” and are need of structure timeframes. During the event, Murray noted that international postgrad students are required to pay £500 to apply for a visa, and as such would address the way in which non-EU citizens are treated.

mittees, citing that they are essential to helping teams run successfully. During Question Time she also noted the importance of encouraging self sufficient teams through activities such as fundraising. For Toby Lock, importance lay with creating a universal Team Cardiff bringing all clubs together in terms of committees and joint socials. According to Lock if elected he would seek to create one-on-one communication with individual teams in order to ensure that each clubs get what they want from the Athletic Union. Like Fitzgerald, funding remains a high concern from Will Harris as he told the audience that VP Sports should try and acquire sponsorships for teams.

However, he also mentioned his plans to enrol IMG rugby within the AU and ensure that lectures don’t go ahead on Wednesday afternoons. During Question Time, the alleged barrier between VP Sport and the Athletic Union was stated as a main issue to overcome for Elin Harding. Other policies include creating an online booking system for pitch hire and improving facilities such as lighting. For Alisa Macpherson increasing participation in sport remains key, whether at a competitive or causal level. Her other ideas include organising internal coaching and referee programs and creating refresher committee training to ensure a good standard of work all year.

In Beth Stafford’s manifesto she pledges developing existing teams within the IMG league and offering a wider range of sports. Like other candidates Stafford wants to increase student participation, and encourage more clubs to enter BUCS. The candidate also mentioned that all scores for Team Cardiff sports should be published online and in Gair Rhydd, although the BUCS league already features every week. For Daniel Nash, promoting “high performance in sport” is a key part of his manifesto alongside “gaining equality between all clubs”. For Nash this means treating all teams the same, and preventing the Rugby club from receiving undue attention after criticising the paid role of rugby development officer.

Government policies and lobby against any future cuts to health funding. His manifesto includes pledges to spend as much time at possible at the Heath and to increase opening hours and access to student support. Nagle also pledges to encourage more provisions for Welsh speakers especially for those who want to have clinical learning in Welsh. As many enrolled on healthcare courses start university as mature students, the candidate will lobby for more family friendly events for those with children. Meanwhile, Niko Holmes stated that Heath students need to feel comfortable at Park Place, and vice versa, and to improve the support services available.

This follows after a Gair Rhydd investigation criticised the lack of accessibility for the facilities at Cardigan House. Holmes affirmed that as a health student and president of the Dance Sports society, he is confident he will be able to overcome difficulties and solve problems. At the hustings event he confirmed that he would ensure students know what services are available and how to use them. His manifesto pledges to increase the size of the Heath Fayre in order to involve more societies in addition to health-care centred clubs. In addition he will provide support to students on placement including ensuring greater transparency on the costs that students will and won’t have to pay.

Key facts Number of candidates: 54 Number of candidates last year: 51 Salary for full-time officers: £20,000 Highest number of candidates for a position: 9 (Welfare) Number of election days: 5 Number of votes last year: 6,231


8 NEWS

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he only candidate for Black & Ethnic Minorities Officer is Nancy Turnbull, who has vowed to “bring transformations in the student community,” referring to those students who feel “overlooked” because of their “race, gender, sociality or even nationality.” While she doesn’t outline any specific policies that she intends to

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fter Elizabeth Marchant pulled out of the race for Ethical and Environmental Officer, only James Daly remains in the running. In a detailed manifesto, Daly outlines his plans, including to introduce a ‘No Cars on Campus’ day at the University, and also to campaign for the introduction and maintenance of green energy sources across campus.

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Welsh Language

LGBT+ (Women)

here are two candidates for the role of LGBT+ (Open) Officer. Stuart Enyon identifies HIV as one of the greatest challenges facing LGBT+ students. Enyon’s manifesto outlines plans to “campaign to make getting tested for HIV easier for all” and “push for more education about HIV.” Enyon has also vowed to run events

Students with Disabilities

LGBT+ (Open)

Ethical and Environmental

Black and Ethnic Minorities

Cardiff Students’ Union Elections 2016 Candidate scrutiny: Part-time roles

ne candidate is running for the role of LGBT+ (Women) Officer. In her manifesto, Ruth Lewis has stated that her main aim is “to raise more awareness for the community, and in particular, the trans* community,” stating her belief that “there is still a lot of work to be done and progress to be made” in Cardiff. Lewis has also vowed to raise

wo candidates will compete for the role of Students with Disabilities Officer. Charlie Knights makes five key manifesto pledges, including a vow to “combat the issue of the Heath Park facilities” in order to increase accessibility for disabled students. He also wants to give staff guidance and advice to help them better assist disabled students,

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t’s been an interesting year for current Welsh Language Officer Steffan Bryn. Following a narrow defeat in the Welsh Language Referendum last April, Bryn this year continued to campaign for more representation for the Welsh language in the Students’ Union while protesting the appointment of a full-time member of staff dedicated to the language.

bring to the role, Turnbull is determined to increase the visibility of black and ethnic minority students in the Students’ Union, appealing to those students that want their “culture integrated into student society more often.” In her manifesto Turnbull also assures potential voters that she “will be there for you and will be your

thunderous voice!” At the Candidates’ Question Time event in the Julian Hodge building last Tuesday, Turnbull told the audience that she wanted to “bridge the gap between the top marks and marks of BME students” at Cardiff University. She also stated her desire “to generate more awareness and improve integration” at both the

Union and University to make both institutions more accessible for the students that she would be representing. While there are no other candidates for the role of Black and Ethnic Minorities Officer other than Turnbull, students also have the option of voting for RON, which re-opens nominations.

Women’s Officer

Mature Students

From an ethical standpoint, Daly made it clear his desire to: “Enshrine the protection of free speech within the Students’ Union”. Emphasising that point at Question Time, Daly said that “Cardiff University should be a free speech zone; no one should have their voice shut down.” RON is also available to re-open nominations.

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throughout the year in order to increase “education and awareness for all on LGBT+ issues,” and wants services and staff to be “better trained to help LGBT+ students.” Marcus Connolly is the second candidate for the role. In his manifesto he says he will be a “passionate voice” for members of the diverse LGBT+ community at Cardiff.

Connolly is also keen to focus on maintaining and expanding mental health provisions, issues with which affects LGBT+ students “disproportionally higher than the rest of society.” He also wants to increase awareness and services available to students of faith in order to increase tolerance. At Candidates’ Question Time on Thursday, Enyon told the audience

awareness in order to LGBT+ issues that “are some of the most prominent matters to tackle.” Her manifesto goes on to outline her plan to work together with societies and host charity events in order to further integrate the LGBT+ community, and also “work towards the eventual goal of there being no difference whether you are meeting someone

from the LGBT+ community or not.” During Candidates’ Question Time, Lewis emphasised her desire to “make people realise that there isn’t a normal; there is no other,” while encouraging the LGBT+ Association and Society to communicate more and work together. RON is also available to re-open nominations.

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while helping disabled students on placement years is also on Knights’ list of priorities. Similar to Knights, George Watkins also has a five-point manifesto, which includes promises to “work closely with the student support service,” “encourage greater conversation,” “endeavour to minimise prejudice,” “campaign tirelessly” and “leave a lasting legacy.”

Watkins stresses the importance of disabled students having “a personal, approachable representative that is able to both listen to your issues and to do something about them,” asking students to “help him help you.” The Candidates’ Question Time event last Tuesday helped clarify further the primary aim of each candidate, with Knights citing the need to improve ac-

cess to facilities and to signpost them better, and also build more access ramps. Watkins meanwhile said that his top priority was to give those suffering a voice, telling the audience that: “It can be the most isolating thing in the world when you feel you are not able to get through the day.” RON is also available to re-open nominations.

The only candidate for the role looking to replace Bryn is Osian Morgan, whose manifesto vows to continue campaigning for greater representation, saying he will “put pressure on the Union to establish ‘Cardiff ’s Union of Welsh Language Students’ (UMCC).” Morgan also wants to expand the amount of people who can take advantage of the ‘Welsh for All’ language-

learning course, while he has also promised to “assure that the Union implements its new Language Policy.” Morgan is keen to re-establish a Welsh-medium hall at Senghennydd Court, in order to “to unite and strengthen the community of Welsh speaking students.” At the first of the Candidates’ Question Time events on Tuesday, Morgan

said he was “disappointed” of the lack of Welsh translation service available to the audience. He also vowed to continue to campaign for a full-time Welsh Language Officer for the Students’ Union and reaffirmed his manifesto pledge to establish a Welsh Students’ Union. RON is also available to re-open nominations.

o one has nominated themselves for the role of Women’s Officer which is currently occupied by Rachel Melhuish. Because there are no candidates for the role, there will now be a by-election in October of this year.

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ature Students Officer is the other role that has no candidates for election at the time of writing. The current officer in the role is James Roberts, and just as with the Women’s Officer role, it will go to a by-election in October.

that he would “increase education and help supplement current student services to deal with LGBT+ students” and promote “positive thinking.” Connolly said that his top priority was to ensure that “LGBT+ students can get involved in as many societies and give as much support as possible.” RON is also available to re-open nominations.

International Students

he only candidate for International Students’ Officer is Jeevitha Vetrivelan, who at the time of writing had not submitted a manifesto and did not attend candidates’ question time. As with every other role, RON is available to re-open nominations.


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10 ADVICE

advice

Editors: Gwen Williams Caragh Medlicott @GairRhyddAdv advice@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/advice

Alone time:

The transition to independence

Elinor Craven

The 18-to-25 age group are considered to be the loneliest age group of the British population.

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efore you came to university, you’re likely to have heard from friends, family and neighbours how it would be the ‘best three years of your life’. And whilst you will indeed make some good memories and great friends, university can be an isolating place. It’s not surprising really when we consider that students usually move away from the familiarity of home and have to start making mature decisions about their future, the pressures of which means we can sometimes feel lonely and helpless despite living in a thriving city. The 18-to-25 age group are considered to be the loneliest age group of the British population. Not only can this be attributed to a fast pace of life, but also to the fact that we live through our phones, and sometimes lack face to face communication. These factors, along with the increased workload from university courses furthers our feelings of isolation. Your university experience may not be exactly as films make it out to be, and for most of us, our time at uni is often fraught with tiredness and mild panic, but don’t worry, this is normal. It’s not only first years who can feel isolated however, as second and third years can feel even more lonely after moving away from the hustle and bustle of first year halls, where friends were just down the corridor

and something was always going on. Social media updates from our friends, or even people that we barely know leads to the feeling that we’re missing out on new opportunities, which in turn leads to us to compare our lack of social life to others’ apparently jam-packed lives! This is all based on assumption however, and can make us feel worse about ourselves, especially if we’ve been hanging around the house all day in our pyjamas. The fear of missing out (FOMO as I believe it is commonly referred to), stems from seeing what other people have been up to, while you were busy working or napping, leaving you feeling isolated, like you’ve missed out on some vital university experience. But why does what others do have to affect you? You shouldn’t feel pressured to fit into what everyone else is doing, especially since what you see online may not be an accurate account of what is really going on. Your perceptions can often be unfounded and when you think Facebook friends are having the time of their lives, they may actually be worrying about how to pay this month’s rent. As difficult as it may seem, perhaps try to ignore social media for a few days, and see if it prevents you from thinking about what you might be missing out on. Many students will tell you that

the university experience is sadly not non-stop fun; work soon piles up, which makes socialising more difficult. Keeping in touch with friends from halls can be hard for second and third year students, whose added responsibility of looking after a house makes us feel as though we have to grow up and be responsible even if we still feel too young. Research suggests that most people these days only have two or three good friends on who we can rely and isn’t it better to leave university with a handful of good friends rather than many vague acquaintances? The average day for many of us involves working, watching some TV and comfort eating our way through an entire pack of biscuits to fuel us for the mountains of reading that has to be done. University isn’t the same as school, where you had a group of friends in every class and people thought it uncool if you spent lunchtime wandering around the field on your own. Instead it teaches us how to be independent and get used to spending time alone. It is normal for students to spend the majority of their week being productive in the library working, as at the end of the day, you’re here to study towards a degree. You will leave university with good memories and great friends but you will face a good deal of chal-

lenges first. Feeling lonely is normal, whether you’re a first year who is missing home or a second or third year, who is spending more time in the library than at home and missing the freedom of first year. If ever you feel isolated and need to talk to someone, the student’s union provides a great counselling service. Alternatively, go out with or speak to family, friends from home, halls or perhaps course mates, as you never know - they may feel similar to you. Sometimes, just getting out of the house helps, as it is easy to fall into the trap of staying in and ending up feeling even lonelier. Go for a walk, even if you’re alone, you’ll notice how many others are out and about on their own, it is really not so strange. Getting involved in new things is easy in university, perhaps try something like volunteering where you’ll have the chance to meet new people. Don’t assume you’re the only one at home in their room reading, as most of your friends are probably doing the same. Whether you are missing home, or just spending a lot of time alone in the house, your university years can be a difficult transitional period. Loneliness affects us all at some point, so you must remember you’re not alone, and there are always people around to help you get through it.

Pictured: Working towards a degree requires independent study. (Photographer: Joe St. Pierre via flickr)

Isn’t it better to leave university with a handful of good friends rather than many vague acquaintances?


ADVICE 11

Acing job interviews:

Em Gates

The real you is normally someone that people really like. Staying calm and being cheerful are two big parts of standing out to the interviewer.

Raphaele Nutt

If you feel unwell, or notice any change in your physical health it is worth going to your GP to have it checked out.

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How to make yourself stand out

he second I started lectures in my third year, my family and friends kept hitting me with questions like “So what are you doing next year?” and “Are you staying in Cardiff, or are you coming home?”. I’m not going to lie, in your third year, those are the three most stressful questions you could ask. Because of this, and also due to the fact I am an annoyingly organised person who is prone to panicking, I started applying for jobs a lot earlier than other people I know. I have had phone interviews, faceto-face interviews, Skype interviews, online video assessments, online reasoning tests, and homework tasks to be completed, in hope that someone will fill the ominous void that is my future. When there are so many different types of interview out there on so many different forums, the key is to be yourself. I know it sounds cliché, but when you stop acting like you have zero skills or bigging up that one week of work experience you did in year ten at school, the real you is normally someone that people really like. Staying calm and being cheerful are

two big parts of standing out to the interviewer, and to be honest being optimistic and cheerful has actually got me through a lot in life. What’s more is that those are actually two characteristics that employers have commented on during my interviews. I have had more interviews than I can count. Of course, this isn’t bragging, because if I’d been any good, I would have had one interview and not needed to do any more. But that’s also not to say that not getting an interview means I’m crap, it just means that the market is incredibly competitive for graduates, and there were just other people who were better suited to the role. And that is OK. The employers know what they’re looking for, and if you’re not the right fit right now, it just gives you a bit more time to work on your CV and application letter so that you’re ready for what is out there. There is no point rushing into the first job offer you get, it might not be the right fit for you and you don’t want to be unhappy in a job and end up quitting when you could have held out on accepting and perhaps be working in your dream career.

When going to interviews, there a are always a few things you should remember and these tips lay a good foundation on what to prepare when meeting your potential employer for the first time. Research the company; Know what they do, how they do it. Make sure that you know a few statistics such as customer satisfactions or some profit revenue data, something that you would be interested in contributing to. Look into what your role would be and come up with reasons why you would be good at it. Be on time (be early); There’s a chance they might be ready for you before your allocated time. There’s a chance they might be late. But being punctual and being ready shows good time management and that you’re eager to meet them and discuss the new potential job. Being enthusiastic is something that employers don’t forget, and it’s something which will help you stick out from the crowd. Bring a portfolio; This really wows the interviewer. Have you written for the newspaper? Bring in an article. Have you designed a website? Print it

out and point out all the features that you created. Have you done an internship? Make a log of all that you did there and talk about how that could relate to the new job. An interview is basically just an advert for you, so make sure they see all you can do in that brief time. But mostly, be yourself, be optimistic, and show them how great you are. Imagine they know nothing about you and you have to convince them that you are right for the job. It may seem daunting, but be confident and be yourself, and the right job will eventually fall in your lap.

Pictured: Remember to stay friendly and calm under pressure (Photographer: Rilee Yanditt via flickr)

Being self aware: The C word

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Cancer, the word no one wants to hear, but everyone needs to know about.

ancer can be seen as a bit of a taboo topic amongst young people. This is because some people don’t want to discuss something so potentially life destroying. Alternatively, some don’t realise that it can affect them, Yes it is more common as we get older, but anyone can develop it. Cancer that is diagnosed at an early stage, before it’s had the chance to grow or spread to other areas of the body are more likely to be treatable, with a successful outcome. If the cancer spreads, the treatment becomes much harder and normally decreases the chance of survival. There are more than 200 different types of cancer, each one having different symptoms; it is impossible

for anyone to know all of them, but knowing what your body looks like and feels like means you have a better chance of recognising something different. Understandably you may now be thinking what about the parts of your body you can’t touch or see to notice any change. Do not fear. If you feel unwell, or notice any change in your physical health it is worth going to your GP to have it checked out. That doesn’t mean that every time you feel under the weather you have cancer, as at our age it is highly unlikely. There are many charities that can offer support to those directly or indirectly affected by cancer. Cancer Research UK help fund scientists,

doctors and nurses to help beat cancer, but every step they make towards the illness once and for all relies on every pound that is donated. Cancer Research also provides information to the public, in order to raise awareness of cancer and help people deal with having the diagnosis and treatment. CoppaFeel are a national charity that are on a mission to stamp out the late detection of breast cancer. They want to ensure that individuals know the signs and symptoms , and have the confidence to seek help if they notice something is wrong. Like other charities CoppaFeel relies on donations in order to do the valuable work in educating individuals. Breast cancer can affect both men and women. Equally, Prostate Cancer UK fights to help more men survive prostate cancer, and subsequently enjoy a better quality of life. They do this by conducting research and providing people with information on prostate cancer. There are always fundraising events that you can take part in to contribute to the valuable work that these cancer charities do, just because no one in your family or friends have been affected by cancer does not mean you should sit back and do nothing. Helping to raise money and awareness now will lead to a better future where we can say goodbye to cancer taking lives once and for all!

Here are some of the key symptoms to be aware of: Breathlessness Unexplained vaginal bleeding Persistent heart burn or indigestion Croaky voice or hoarseness Looser stools Persistent bloating Difficulty swallowing Cuts that won’t heal Mouth or tongue ulcer that won’t heal Heavy night sweats Unusual breast changes Blood in your urine or faeces Unexplained weight loss A new mole, or changes to an existing mole Coughing up blood Persistent cough Problems urinating Persistent and unexplained pains Unusual lumps or swellings on any part of your body


12 ADVICE

Mind your language!

Emma discusses how our language can feed into societal ableism

Emma Tranter

So many of these words are so ingrained in our vocabulary that we don’t consider the ways that they’re harmful.

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here are plenty of words in our language that we know are offensive and harmful - particularly slurs that are sexist, homophobic or in other ways oppressive. While the use of these slurs is certainly an issue, many of us are aware of their meaning and history, and know better than using them, particularly in an insulting context. However, when it comes to ableist slurs - language insulting based on disability or mental illness - these words are so frequently used that we don’t often consider them as offensive or harmful. So many of these words are so ingrained in our vocabulary that we don’t consider the ways that they’re harmful - ‘stupid’, ‘crazy’, and many others are so common that we just consider them negative words, without considering their history and meaning. But these words do have a specific meaning: they are based in the idea that intelligence and mental health are fair things to insult. When we use words that are tied to disabilities - whether physical disabilities,

intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses, the implication is there is something inherently bad and wrong about the people who live with those conditions. Often ableist slurs aren’t used with bad intentions: a lot of people respond to bigotry by using ableist language. More times than I can count I’ve seen people call Trump or Farage ‘psychotic’ or ‘delusional’, which is incorrect and unfair. It’s completely reasonable to say racist bigots are evil, but to blame this evil on mental illness is unfair and inaccurate. Millions of people all over the world experience psychosis and delusions, and don’t express violent, oppressive beliefs - it isn’t fair to tar all them with the same brush. Mentally ill people are much more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, and to portray them as violent and evil is in itself dangerous and oppressive. And it’s not just slurs that are the problem - so often people use the language of mental illness and disability as adjectives incredibly inac-

curately. We’ve all heard people describe perfectionism as ‘a bit OCD’, or else call an unpredictable situation ‘bipolar’ or ‘schizophrenic’. Words like these are not adjectives for any circumstance or situation, they’re associated with illnesses and disorders that are already highly stigmatised, and throwing them around casually only belittles the experiences of people who live with these disorders and illnesses. Avoiding ableist, harmful language isn’t the only way to deconstruct our internalised ableist attitudes but it’s definitely something we all should try to be aware of. You might think

that it’s ok to use language like this if it seems like you haven’t offended anyone, but you never know for certain that the people you’re with aren’t mentally ill or disabled in some way. Even if no one around you is offended, your efforts shouldn’t be limited to when there are people present to offend, especially as the people who are around you are probably influenced by your language, and may be encouraged by your use of offensive words. Whilst there are plenty of other issues of ableism that need to be tackled, considering your language is a small way to show respect and consideration toward these issues.

Pictured: The importance of words in our society can’t be overstated (Photographer: Pierre Metivier via flickr)

Fight the urge to light up!

Struggling with giving up smoking? Rachel Barter gives advice on how to kick the habit for good.

Rachel Barter

Make sure you keep going through the first month before you make any set decisions, and after that it only gets easier.

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hether you’re a social smoker or more of the pack-a-day lifetime type, we all know smoking is bad. If you’re at the point that you are aware that you want to quit (and, firstly, go you for getting to that point) then half the battle is already won. You may already know that stopping smoking will alleviate your risk for an abundance of diseases and illnesses. You may already know that it can cause discolouration of the skin and teeth and leave you looking a little worse for wear. You may already know that smoking affects your mind-set and attention span. Now that you’ve made a decision to move away from these risks, what next? Firstly set goals and make sure they’re realistic. If you’re attempting to go completely cold-turkey from your typical 20-a-day routine, then it may not come as a surprise that a serious re-think may be in order. Quitting can be a slow process, but as long as you’re making a conscious effort to make the reduction work, you will most likely feel the benefit a lot sooner.

Secondly, be sensible about your cravings. Though cravings tend to be most intense for the first week, they can linger for months, meaning you have to maintain self-control for longer than some people may expect. Nicotine withdrawal symptoms usually last several months, so don’t give up! Make sure you keep going through the first month before you make any set decisions, and after that it only gets easier. Also, you should try and anticipate challenges. If you know there a certain times in the day that you tend to enjoy a fag, whether that be after a meal of with your morning coffee, make sure you go out of your way to avoid them at these times especially. Try and replace it with something more beneficial- a type of food or chewing gum. Make a time table and reward yourself with a snack you like or that long bath you’ve been yearning for. Make sure you remove cigarettes or tobacco. The easiest way to avoid temptation is to not have it. Thismeans getting rid of all cigarettes available to you (and lighters too,

if you feel that’s necessary). If you don’t have anything in the house or in your bag it takes a far greater amount of effort to actually be able to smoke, and won’t just be done out of boredom and routine. Remember that there is plenty of support out there. Let your family and friends know about your decision to quit smoking. Not only will this give you motivation to keep going but it means that people will be keeping checking on you. The more people that know that you’re trying to make this change, the less they will tempt you. Confide in friends you know have gone through a similar thing with quitting their bad habits. Hearing positive stories always works as an effective motivator. Try and be positive. It’s going to be difficult; dealing with addiction is always hard. But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Health benefits far outweigh smoking benefits (which are actually shockingly fleeting). Making this change can really benefit you in other parts of your life. For example, increasing your lung capacity for exercise, and there-

fore making those library stairs more bearable. Finally, as obvious as it sounds; keep at it. University brings with it an environment that lends itself to such vices; social smoking now has a bit of a fan-base, with meeting new friends in smokers areas’ being commonplace and being offered cigarettes a regular occurrence in club smoking areas. The most important thing to remember is that you are in control and have the ability to refuse this. Good luck!

Pictured: We now live in a society that is far less accomodating for smokers. (Photographer: Roine Johansson via flickr)


National Student Employment Week Monday 22nd - Friday 26th February

To celebrate National Student Employment week Jobshop will be running a daily prize draw - come up to the 4th floor and register to be in with a chance of winning! We are open Monday - Friday, 10am - 3pm. Prizes include 5x £10 CUSU food/ drink vouchers – vouchers must be spent in one transaction. Winners will be drawn daily at 3pm.

4th Floor, Students’ Union

029 2078 1535/6

Jobshop@cardiff.ac.uk


14 COMMENT

comment

Editors: Em Gates Charley Griffiths David Williams @GairRhyddCom comment@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/comment

Why The Guardian’s attacks on The Tab were wrong and hypocritical

Plurality isn’t destroying student journalism; it’s making it better

Joseph Atkinson

Just as there does not exist one form of ‘journalism’ in the professional world, there also isn’t one in the student bubble.

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never thought I’d see the day when we at Gair Rhydd would ride to the defence of the Tab. I’m sure they don’t need to be defended in any case, but I actually felt compelled to write this piece as a show of solidarity to fellow student journalists. Last week The Guardian published a couple of illthought-out jabs at the online student newspaper criticising it for (a) not paying its writers and (b) driving out traditional student newspapers (i.e. Gair Rhydd). I don’t want to go into much detail about the first article, which stinks of hypocrisy and was a weak argument. Published on Valentine’s Day, the writer complains that the The Tab do not pay the vast majority of their student contributors. The only question that this opinion piece evoked for me was: who gave the green light for this article in the first place? Ask people who have had work experience at The Guardian, or one of its thousands of its ‘student bloggers’, and you’ll be lucky to find anyone who’s benefitted financially for dedicating their time and expertise to contributing to one of the biggest newspapers in the UK - which, by the way, I’d hazard a guess at saying has more financial clout than The Tab. I don’t get paid for editing Gair Rhydd. I do not care. The 20-strong editorial team of Gair Rhydd don’t get paid. They do not care. Not once have they raised the issue of pay with me or anyone else at the SU, and I’d be surprised if they did in the future. In terms of career-development, the experience of writing, editing and designing a

newspaper is worth more than money. The friends you make along the way are priceless. I’m sure all of those that contribute to The Tab would say exactly the same. The Guardian published the second article of its bizarre mini-campaign the following day. The headline: ‘The Tab is squeezing out old-school student media’. While I feel that this take has more of a leg to stand on than the laughable one criticising unpaid experience, it still just doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny. Diversity is key here; just as there does not exist one form of ‘journalism’ in the professional world, there also isn’t one in the student bubble. Gair Rhydd, due mainly to the fact that it is funded by Cardiff Students’ Union, has a responsibility to act as more of a traditional ‘public watchdog’, looking out for the interests of students in the Welsh capital. Certainly I and previous editors have gone down that route, but it has been more sensational and softer, in the very recent past. Most student newspapers have that responsibility, and The Tab fills the space that remains – the space for entertaining, funny, controversial journalism that does, and always will, attract readers. Student newspapers, or more specifically, those that are funded by Students’ Unions, are as much a part of the problem of causing a lack of plurality as The Tab is. Gair Rhydd’s need for advertising is minimal compared to The Tab. There’s a pot of money at the SU dedicated to funding Gair Rhydd, which pays for the printing process, the equipment needed to make the paper and

all of the other opportunities that student media has to offer. The Tab don’t have that pot of money. They are selfsufficient and represent the direction in which the media is heading - online. They are innovative, very clever, provoking and are pretty much the only format that student media can survive in outside of the union-funded model. The University Paper, our biggest print rival, doesn’t seem to be doing all that well. They depend on advertising too, and a lot of it. The last issue of the Uni Paper that I actually saw was from the beginning of the academic year; its front and back page were a wraparound advertisement for the student staple, Red Bull. Inside, it’s quite hard to distinguish what counts as an advert and what counts as an article. And by the way this isn’t me having a go – it’s just what they have to do to get by. Compare it to Gair Rhydd, and we’re extremely lucky to have guaranteed backing that means we can be free of the demands of advertisers. The Guardian article claims that “student newspaper budgets are heavily reliant on increasingly tight-fisted student unions”, quoting editors of student papers up and down the country who cite budget cuts and comment on The Tab’s popularity (not one of them complains about The Tab, by the way). The article references the downsizing of Forge Press up in Sheffield or the outright closure of the London Student just last year. How this is linked to The Tab, I’m not really sure. In the view of the writer that penned the piece, would the student body be served better by just a

single student paper with a single narrative and editorial standpoint? Certainly not; for me, the competition provided by The Tab makes us better, sharper, and more on the ball. They are a threat to our readership and they improve us because of that – we look at ways to expand online, to attract readers and to innovate. If we do that half as well as The Tab have (who have now made inroads in the US by the way), then we’ll be doing a very good job indeed. The decline of student newspapers simply mirrors the decline of the industry in general. Just last week The Independent announced plans to close its print operations and transfer to an online-only format. These are sad times for print, but it’s the reality of a world in which much more is possible on a computer screen than on a piece of paper. Student newspapers, just as professional ones do, have to adapt their content to survive. So we’ll adapt and we’ll take inspiration from The Tab, I’ve no doubt. And while we won’t be running a ‘clubber of the week’ spread anytime soon, or putting out a poll to find the ‘fittest fresher’, the act of criticising The Tab for its articles is self-defeating and a waste of time. That’s not to say that I haven’t done it before in private, but to publish an attack on its content would be pointless and childish. Yes it’s sensational, yes it’s smutty, yes it’s inconsequential at times, but those aren’t terrible things – student life is sensational, smutty and inconsequential at times, and The Tab reflects that perfectly - that’s why it’s so successful.

Pictured: ‘Stories you care about’ A selection of the Tab Cardiff ’s articles (Source: Joseph Atkinson)

For me, the competition provided by The Tab makes us better, sharper, and more on the ball. They are a threat to our readership and they improve us because of that.


COMMENT 15

The death of print newspapers

As The Independent makes plans for its final print edition, George Caulton discusses the landmark decision and the future of journalism

George Caulton

The movement of The Independent marks a significant shift in relation to the contemporary digital landscape.

Adam Muspratt

I suppose you have to shake a tree to see what falls out, but there is the argument to be made that the out campaign is running out of time.

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o more than a week ago, Evgeny Lebedev declared that the multi-national newspaper branch, The Independent will be making a drastic decision, being the first national newspaper to become entirely digital, ceasing to produce a print copy. Following recent statistics in relation to the demise of print journalism, the last print newspaper of The Independent will be released at the end of March 2016 and will then be fully enhanced online due to a decrease in print readership. Despite The Independent moving to a digital platform, this does not mean that the newspaper was unsuccessful. Founding editor, Andreas Whittam Smith stated that the newspaper “condemned to innovate health coverage and education coverage, they created the first Saturday magazine and were the first quality newspaper to become tabloid, which The Times immediately followed”. Indeed, The Independent undeniably had a successful run in regards to print media, and achieved a lot in its time as a live source of print jour-

nalism. Since 2009, The Independent has seen a steady fall in their broadsheet newspaper circulation. In 2015, the circulation was below 100,000. In fact, Cardiff University’s director of undergraduate studies in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, John Jewell stated that “circulations [are] continuing to spiral downwards (daily sales of The Independent stand at around 40,000, down from the highs of 423,000 in 1990) the future of the print edition would have been one of managing further decline”. Whilst this may be the case, there has been a chiasmatic effect- as print journalism circulation has decreased, The Independent’s digital platform and e-media editions has increased in viewers. It is not only The Independent however, that has become a victim to this cause. Other global branches of news such as The Financial Times and The Telegraph also correlate with the findings of The Independent. The movement of The Independent marks a significant shift in relation to the contemporary digital landscape.

With news being made much more accessible on mobile apps and the internet, many other print organisations will be soon to follow. Evgeny Lebedev commented that “the newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers”, “they’re showing us that the future is digital”. John Jewell stated his belief that “the future is digital”. The advancement of social media has allowed society to become ever more digitalised, offering a platform where communication between social capacities between friends and news features can be fused together, which in turn re-shapes the opportunity of the media. Websites such as Twitter and Facebook are also seen as news hubs in themselves due to news having the capacity to spread across the world in a matter of seconds. This therefore, challenges the need for print newspapers due to a quicker, more informative e- platform replacing the necessity of print journalism. Whilst newspapers are seeing a notable shift in media platforms, both formal and legal documents such as

UK laws and statutes continue to be printed on vellum (AKA goat skin). Indeed, this may be a tradition and a way of preserving the original documents yet as we move into the digital age, there is no reason why this archaic method should continue to be enhanced. As times change and alter, these aspects need to compliment the ever changing mediated environment. Indeed, for journalists and regular buyers of The Independent it is rather saddening that at the end of March 2016, The Independent newspaper will be no more in our high street stores. 2016 marks a further addition to the ever- growing digitalised culture. From a more personal perspective, journalism is an ever-growing industry and I, like many others, am not at all surprised to see print media begin to move over to a digital platform. The statistics given and the advancement of technology show a drastic change in society’s consumption of media input. Although it may be saddening, look at The Independent’s shift as a transformation of society and the media industry as a whole.

Journalism is an evergrowing industry and I, like many others, am not at all surprised to see print media move over to a digital platform.

Cameron’s EU ordeal has barely begun

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avid Cameron has immersed himself within a struggle of titanic proportions. On Thursday he held a summit with EU leaders to schmooze out an updated EU deal, in which he hopes Eurosceptic MP’s and the British public will get behind. Thus far, negotiations have been painted as a triumph by Cameron and his ilk, but fortunately the British public has cast away the wool from its eyes in recognition of the farce that it currently is. As opposed to a fundamental restructuring of Britain’s relationship with the EU, all he has managed to negotiate for is a rather inconsequential ruling on child benefits, meaning that they will be withheld from new migrants for four years, and a red card system which is essentially a whistle to let the EU parliament know that you have found grievance with an impending law or bill. It’s hardly a breakthrough as it’s an extension of the already in-place yellow card system, the only notable difference being that national parliaments will have 12 weeks instead 8 to formulate an opinion on why the

impending draft should be changed. It should be renamed “red-herring” in all honesty. The BBC have reported that there was a growing consensus among top EU leaders that they would back the deal, but it remains a fairy tale situation because many countries have strong conflicting positions on key aspects of the deal such as immigration – these concerns most notably stem from Poland’s PM Beata Szydło and Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis, both stated that they had outstanding issues with the welfare benefit restrictions as they fear it discriminates against certain people. It will be interesting to see what Cameron now announces with his return to the UK. If the EU won’t even spring for these paltry proposals, I fear we won’t be getting a modern-day Magna Carter but more like a modern day Chamberlain-like white paper, with nothing on it. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the PM is undergoing these ‘negotiations’ in some ill-sighted attempt to placate Eurosceptics in the hope that

they will give him a pat on the back for trying his best. To gather more support, he surely needs his political heavy hitters, but the likes of Boris Johnson and Theresa May remain on the fence about Brexit. Ostensibly, he has the mild-mannered Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond on his side who provided a very strange case for the UK staying. On the Andrew Marr show he suggested that without the United Kingdom’s financial backing, the EU would undoubtedly fall apart. A “contagion” would spread to other countries and they would similarly want to leave, he determined. I didn’t realise that other countries detest EU membership and were just waiting for one of the big-boys to leave before they could go on their merry way. Furthermore, why would the British public want to be responsible to prop up an entire economic bloc? Unless the Foreign Secretary is a closet Brexit campaigner, it would not be amiss to suggest that this interviewer was quite the snafu. On the other side of the camp, capitalisation on the David Camer-

on’s lacklustre deal has been somewhat subdued, no-doubt a result of the infighting between the various anti-EU campaigns most notably between Leave.EU and Vote leave. To make the issue even murkier another group called Go Movement have thrown their hat into the ring, ostensibly giving the electoral commission another headache. I suppose you have to shake the tree to see what falls out, but there is the argument to be made that the out campaign is running out of time. At the moment the polls show a slight lead for the leave campaign, but this is a fact that Cameron is no-doubt be aware of, meaning that he will want to get the referendum out of the way ASAP, lest the gap widen. As such, the fact that there is yet a coherent and obvious banner for the Brexit crowd to rally behind is worrying for the out group. It seems that each side is trying its best not to win the argument, the situation may shift decisively depending on the PM’s ability to bring home the bacon.

Pictured: Polls currently show a slight lead for the leave campaign (Photographer: Giampaolo Squarcina via Flickr)

It will be interesting to see what Cameron now announces with his return to the UK.


16 COMMENT

Should sex education be made compulsory?

As politcians debate making the subject compulsory in schools in the United Kingdom, Gair Rhydd looks at whether this is a good idea for parents and children alike

FOR: James Alston

Currently independent schools, academies and free schools are not required to provide a program of sex and relationships education (though it is encouraged). This must change.

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ast month, a number of MPs wrote to the Health Secretary Nicky Morgan asking for Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education to become mandatory, specifically calling for compulsory sex education. Unfortunately – shamefully, even – Morgan has brushed off the concerns and instead said that the government will keep compulsory sexual education ‘under review’, which I take to means that she’s not bothered. Her argument is that the quality of PSHE teaching is low – Ofsted found that 40% was ‘less than good’ – and that this needs to be improved before it is made mandatory. But Suzi Price of the Huffington Post refuted this beautifully: ‘Imagine if that was another subject... “We don’t teach science very well, so let’s not bother.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense.’ She’s right. It doesn’t make sense. On the contrary, compulsory sexual education makes inarguable sense. We need to take the Dutch model. Their sexual education begins as early as four and doesn’t only cover the actual sex itself, but also sexuality, contraceptives, STIs and emotional honesty. There is a requirement to teach about sexual diversity and primary schools are required by law to offer some form of sex education. Sexual coercion and abuse are also covered. The statistics are astounding. On average, Dutch teens have sex no earlier than other European teens and the majority of the Dutch said their first experience was ‘wanted and fun’. Nine out of ten teens used contraceptives their first time and the teen pregnancy rate is one of the lowest in

the world. STD and HIV rates are also low and the studies suggest that honest and comprehensive sexual education is integral to maintaining sexually healthy people in society. There is no reason not to adopt this model. Sexual education should cover everything – and that means everything. The practical side (infections, contraception, virginity, physical changes etc.) and the visceral side (homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality and everything in between, gender, sexual violence, relationships etc.) All the evidence suggests this kind of sexual education works to maintain healthy sex, and it is ever more important in a society which smears sex over our televisions and laptop screens. Not only must sex education be synoptic, it must be mandatory. Currently independent schools, academies and free schools are not required to provide a program of sex and relationships education (though it is encouraged). This must change. We must learn to talk openly about sex and sexuality. Moreover, parents should not be allowed to remove their children from sexual education (which they can if a lesson is on something which isn’t on the curriculum, if they are nineteen years old or below), because it is essential that young people are as intelligent sexually as they are academically. How are they expected to live joyful, healthy sexual lives if they are never taught about sex? Let’s have a conversation. And let it include everything, and everyone – because only then can we really start fixing these issues.

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n Wales, Sex Education comes as one of the last things you learn in Personal and Social Education, a subject mainly taught in secondary school that gets precious little attention. This is bizarre, as it is probably the most important subject, but is sidelined, as it was in my school, in favour of extra Physical Education, Religious Education, and Welsh. It is taught by embarrassed teachers who often will be teaching the students in other subjects later. To avoid this situation, the teachers might just put on a few old VHS tapes for the pupils to watch. The memory of the hilarious video on hygiene we watched in year seven or eight comes to mind- though it wasn’t technically sex ed. It was a badly animated cartoon where a boy and a girl attempt to seduce each other at a school disco but keep having to stop because one of them, usually the girl, yells out shrilly “Some of your bits ain’t nice!” The boy would then quickly run home and wash his hands/teeth/balls before coming back to resume the interaction as if nothing had happened. The sex education is also just thatsex- but not sexy, and not loving. There is no such thing as relationship education, and that s the thing that should be explored. Furthermore, there is nothing about sexual pleasure- just cold, hard, and rather scary facts. In fact, depending on what age the proposed new sex ed curriculum is aimed at, it could be quite scarring, with those children exposed to

it left confused and terrified about the whole subject. Perhaps if the emphasis was on relationships rather than just sex, the very groups who are at present opposed to the idea of letting their children do sex ed would be more inclined to allow it. If there was more discussion about the kind of processes that lead to a happy sexual relationship such as dating, courtship, and even “going out on the pull,” the whole subject would seem less embarrassing and more natural for all involved. Whilst I do believe that sex education should be compulsory for all teenagers, it’s focusing on all the wrong parts. The biology isn’t what needs the most attention, it is all of the other parts. Major reform of the Sex Education curriculum is needed before it can be considered an essential requirement for all of Britain’s young people. In conclusion, the whole subject lacks investment. It seems ridiculous to consider making it compulsory when what it so desperately needs is a complete overhaul. As it is, it is far too centred on sex and not relationships, with very little thought given to alternative viewpoints such as those of differing religions, cultures or sexualities. The curriculum as it is only highlights why you should only have sex in one way –safely, but not happily, with no mention of what positive benefits you might get, only the negatives. No wonder that we live in such a sexually confused society if that is the way we are educated around it.

AGAINST: Tom Morris

The whole subject lacks investment. If we are to consider making it compulsory it needs a complete overhaul.

Pictured: Is this the right enviroment for learning about sex? (Photographer: US Department of Education via Flickr)


COMMENT 17

Social stigma is holding back awareness of sexual abuse

With two major cases of child abuse being brought to the news this week, is the taboo subject that is letting these events slip through the cracks?

Dan Heard

Perhaps this is where the lack of discussion around the subject stems from the fact that those who weren’t directly involved don’t want to become involved.

Charley Griffiths

If people wanted to seek out these sites, a simple Google search would do the trick. Advertising this at a bus stop isn’t productive in addressing its specific target market.

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his week, professional footballer Adam Johnson pleaded guilty to grooming a teenage girl and disgraced former artist and television star Rolf Harris was charged with further counts of indecent assault, despite currently serving a five year prison sentence. In this whirlwind week of revelations, questions have once again been raised over whether there is something of a stigma surrounding sexual abuse. Just why is it such a controversial subject to discuss, even when what has occurred simply needs to be confronted, yet never really is? When they discover that they have been abused, victims most frequently report feelings of betrayal. These kinds of feelings can often depend and more often than not be a result of how close they were to the perpetrator, and in turn how much he or she cared about them. Furthermore, it also needs to be considered just how much the victim felt they had been manipulated, either emotionally of physically, or captured by their situation.

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Adam Johnson allegedly met the girl in question through social media. He was her favourite Sunderland AFC player, an England international and occupied a role which should have seen him be something of a role model to people her age. Rolf Harris, meanwhile, was something of a “national treasure”, hardly off of our screens in decades, and supposedly adored by thousands of children. His victims ranged from participants on his shows, to competition winners, even to friends of his own daughter. Yet this appeared to count for nothing when you consider their actions. This process of betrayal affects not only victims’ feelings of security and trust in others, but also their selfworth. Human curiosity often intervenes once terrible events such as sexual abuse have happened, which leads to a questioning, a search for answers from their victims as to why this happened, why they were abused, and, significantly, what this now means for them and the rest of their lives. Perhaps this is where the lack of dis-

cussion and the real awkwardness around the subject stems from the fact that those who weren’t directly involved don’t want exactly that- to become involved. And while those who often suffered in silence wish to confront it, they are met with rebuttals, or even worse, nothing. There are endless answers to why it happened. And as it would appear to be in the case of the likes of Johnson and Harris, an abuse of the positions of relative power and almost authority they had over their victims. A process of publicly highlighting the true dynamics of sexual abuse is needed, which is also, undoubtedly, also the most difficult thing to do. In my opinion, and I know just how controversial a subject this is to discuss, even in a comment piece such as this, the only way of helping victims feel less stigmatized is to communicate what happened, to talk about it, to spread awareness so that it happens to no one else. This information needs to be highlighted, but until that happens, victims will continue to feel alone, and the stigma will remain.

Pictured: Awareness of child abuse, needs to stop being a taboo. (Source: Patrik Nygren)

A process of publicly highlighting the true dynamics of sexual abuse is needed, which is also the most difficult thing to do.

Is social politics going too far?

pinions have been split over the removal of an advert for gay cruising website ‘Squirt. org’ from two Cardiff bus stops. Removal complaints from the public have branded it ‘inappropriate’. Since then, Squirt.org have hit back at the public, saying the decision raised questions of sexual discrimination. Attila Szatmari, the digital business director of Squirt’s parent company, told Wales Online: “What is not known is whether people are taking exception to the promotion of casual sex or gay casual sex”, as the advert was approved by the Advertising Standards Agency. Plus, the advert hasn’t been removed from other cities such as Manchester, Glasgow, London and Edinburgh. Now, I would understand the cries of homophobia if the advert was simply two men holding hands (which in my opinion would be a perfectly acceptable method to advertise a gay dating app). But the advert clearly promotes casual sex. It pictures two men, one with his shirt open pulling the tie of the other man (holding a tablet), with ‘Non-stop hookups’ written in large letters underneath. And the name of the site, Squirt! I mean come on. That raises enough inappropriate connotations on its own. I can’t help but think that the advert is kind of pointless anyway. In the internet age, if people wanted to seek out these sites, a simple Google search would do the trick. Advertising this at a bus stop isn’t produc-

tive in addressing its specific target market. So in response so Szatmari’s comments, no it is not people hating on the advertising of gay sex, but just casual sex in general. If the advert was for a straight dating app, with a woman in her underwear wrapped around a topless man, my reaction would be the same. Any advert of this kind would be awkward to explain to a child: ‘Oh yes dear, lots of adults don’t like meaningful relationships!’ This is basically the real life equivalent of those weird online pop ups for ‘hot single mum’s in your area!’ Or, back in May 2015 when private bus company New Adventure Travel launched their bus service with a topless woman hiding her modesty with the slogan ‘Ride me all day for £3’. That was unacceptable, and so is the advertising a dating app branding itself as “a completely uncensored hookup/cruising site for gay, bi, and curious men who want to skip the pretence of dating and get right to the sex”. Charming. I am not someone to advocate banning anything that could possible offend someone, but you have to admit that this advert has no place at a bus stop where anyone and everyone can see it. Essentially, I am fed up with the whole ‘sex sells’ mentality in general. If you have to resort to such desperate measures for your company to get attention, you can’t complain when people call you out on it.

Pictured: Cardiff Council has banned this advert unlike many other UK cities. (Source: Squirt.org)

The name of the site is Squirt! I mean come on. That raises enough inappropriate connotations on its own!


18 COMMENT

Church of England were not ‘trolling’ Dawkins After the Church of England tweeted their ‘prayers’ for atheist intellectual Richard Dawkins, Sam Patterson examines whether this was well-intentioned or ignornant

Sam Patterson

I’m of the view that the tweet was likely made with the best intentions, it was the Church demonstrating they have nothing against Dawkins.

Joe Fletcher

Before I came to university I dismissed rugby as a violent game for thugs.

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n Saturday the 6th of February Richard Dawkins, esteemed biologist, author, and public intellectual, was admitted into hospital following a stroke. Doctors say he is expected to make a full recovery. The Friday following, the Church of England tweeted “Prayers for Prof Dawkins and his family”. Many on twitter took this as a sarcastic comment at Dawkins expense, but the church responded saying that the tweet was meant with sincerity and denied allegations that this was an attempt to “troll” Dawkins. Richard Dawkins, along with other figures such as the late and great Christopher Hitchens, is commonly thought of as being a representative of the “new atheist” movement, but what exactly is it that is “new” about this recent wave of popular atheism? The answer is: not a whole lot, except for the fact that it is immensely popular. The kind of arguments employed by new atheists are hardly any different from the arguments which have been made my atheists throughout the centuries. A common tactic employed by these new atheists is to compare fundamentalist Christian claims, to claims which might seem at first extremely far-fetched, which are in actuality similarly lacking in adequate substantiation upon further inspection. The tendency of new atheists to compare the fundamentalist Christian conception of God to a “flying spaghetti monster”, works along the same lines as Bertrand Russell’s teapot. Bertrand Russell, an esteemed and historical English philosopher,

I

mathematician, historian and social/ political commentator of the early twentieth century, used the example of a hypothetical teapot orbiting the Sun between the Earth and Mars as a means of highlighting the burden of proof, and the warped perception thereof common to many fundamentalist and evangelical Christians. Christianity is steadily on the decline in Europe and North America, and figures like Dawkins are undeniably someway responsible for this (along with popular education and rising standards of living of course). In light of this, you’d be forgiven for thinking Dawkins might have a sour relationship with the Church of England, but that is not the case. Dawkins’ relationship with the Church of England is not nearly as sour as one might be tempted to believe. Back before Christmas, the Church wanted to air a short video in British cinemas in which various peoples from various occupations and social backgrounds said lines of the Lord’s Prayer. However, three of the largest UK cinema chains: Odeon, Cineworld and Vue, refused to air the video. Richard Dawkins, along with the Muslim Council of Britain, came to the defence of the Church of England, he said “if anybody is ‘offended’ by something so trivial as a prayer, they deserve to be offended”. Judging from this, it’d be hardly careless to suppose that Dawkins’ followers were likely far more ‘offended’ than he, by the Church’s tweet. It’s easy to see why many mistook the tweets to be ill-intentioned. Christianity does seem to have some-

what of a problem when it comes to tone, and perhaps this goes some of the way explaining the notable lack of successful Christian comedy within the Anglo-American cultural sphere. Go ahead, try typing ‘Christian comedy’ into Wikipedia, the article is practically a stub. Even when Christians do excel at comedy, and by the way they are indeed capable of doing so (see Jeremy McLellan, a comedically literate Christian with a not too shabby Facebook following), the jokes are normally made at the expense of more conservative/anti-scientific elements of the faith. Examples of “Christian” groups seeking to ban comedic material on grounds of blasphemy are numerous, perhaps the most notable of which in the UK being the case of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, which was banned and prevented from screening by multiple town councils across the country upon release in 1979. The film was also criticised by multiple conservative “Christian” groups and individuals, such as Mary Whitehouse, a “social activist” known mainly for her opposition to socially liberal elements within the media. It’s easy to see how whoever was behind the tweet, however well-intentioned they may have been, failed to realise how it could have been taken the wrong way. I’m of the view that the tweet was likely made with the best intentions, it was the church sending the message that they have nothing against Dawkins, that they perhaps appreciate his sporting, and that they have the best intentions for all, Christians and non-Christians alike.

Rugby binge drinking is not a problem that needs to be tackled

n 1985 the Sporting Events Act banned football fans from drinking “in view of the pitch”, which still stands today. Given this, I will focus on tackling drinking at the rugby in comparison to football. We are in Wales in the middle of the Six Nations, after all. Essentially: you can still drink alcohol in your seat at a rugby game. I suppose you still CAN at a football match, if you enjoy washing down your suds with a criminal record. Before I came to university I dismissed rugby as a violent game for thugs. But I have actually come to quite enjoy rugby. It is a game of great skill and intelligence, played by completely normal (slightly oversized) people, with strict rules in place which limit injuries. Certainly not the free-for-all of violence that I first thought. It is true that opposing sets of fans are mixed-in together at matches, and that supporters are generally less violent than in football, though I am adamant that the distinction is not so clear cut as many would have you believe.

The image often painted for us is the barbarous, violent football fan, screaming obscenities and spitting bile, pie in hand. Compare this to the friendly rugby supporter, chatting to the New Zealander in the neighbouring seat about the weather on his side of the pond. Dare I say that the latter is portrayed as something which embodies Britishness’ – polite, wellmeaning and civil. We all love a good game of rugger don’t we? Football fandom is just a dark spot in our society: something distinctly uncivilised and (dare I say) lower-class, which is only tolerated because its’ fanbase would only go and commit crime elsewhere in society if they couldn’t let off steam down at Old Trafford on a Saturday. This quite frankly a snooty view implicit of a superiority-complex, and one which I have become increasingly exasperated with. Bringing this back around to the subject of the article, banning pitchside drinking at rugby matches is the only law I can really conceive (practically), which could be used to attack rugby-match binge-drinking.

Rugby fans have, however, earned their right to drink in view of the turf. They do not need to be held in separate pens as football fans do, and the sport is clearly not afflicted by the same mob-culture. However, football is not an un-salvageable hellhole of violence and chaos. If we take Britain as a whole, it is undeniably our national sport. Without doubt. It has the largest fan base and is by far the sport most ingrained in our culture. Whether we like it or not, football is something distinctly ‘British’. There is no point in the police tackling drinking at rugby matches because there is simply no great problem. However, the game could yet succumb to violent culture (from which football could eventually depart). Rugby fans still harbour the potential for hooliganism. The gap between rugby and football fandom is not so stark as many would have you believe. With the latter, as is often the case in society, a small minority spoil it for the vast majority. For now though, rugby fans deserve a drink, but no-one is untouchable.

But what would Jesus make of all this prayer business? In the Sermon on the Mount, he says: “But when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.”, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” I think Jesus would be just as uncomfortable in a loud evangelical mega-church as I would.

Pictured: Above: One of Dawkins’ athiest publications. (Photographer: Endemoniada via Flickr) Below: Rival rugby fans sitting together, unlike football fans, who are separated. (Photographer: Marc via Flickr)


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THE GAIR RHYDD COLUMN 21

Big, bad bouncers

With great power comes great responsibility, so why can’t they just be nicer?

Helena Hanson

There is nothing in the world more annoying than being around drunk people when you’re sober.

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here are few jobs that I can think of in the whole world that would be more shit than being a bouncer. With a job description that surely must be along the lines of ‘stand in the blistering cold in the early hours of the morning and piss off drunk people’, it would probably never be my profession of choice and not just because I’m 5’5 and start crying when people bump into me in a club. It’s testing work, because so much of the job automatically associates you with being a dick, but so many club bouncers are just that. I do understand that there will be shitty people in whatever profession you look at. That said, if you’re a train driver, or a librarian, or a footballer and you’re a bit of a jerk, then so be it, but those in a position of responsibility, like security personnel, who have a duty to safeguard and protect cannot be racist, sexist, rude, nasty people, and unfortunately many of them are. It is a tough job, there is no taking away from that. It is dangerous, and I’m not a betting woman but I’d put money on getting spat at, verbally insulted and criticised by irritating columnists who have never worked a security shift in their life is probably incredibly frustrating and annoying. They do need to be credited for having the patience to deal with incredibly intoxicated morons who just want to start fights and cause trouble, and we all know there is quite literally nothing in the world worse than being around drunk people when you’re sober. They perhaps don’t get appreciated enough for the carnage that they prevent, however, as beautifully articulated by Uncle Ben from Spider-Man,

with great power comes great responsibility, and by this I mean that they should stop being such arseholes. The way I look at it, they have similar responsibilities to police officers. Their job is to keep people safe. So why is brutal, sexist or violent behaviour almost expected from them, whilst if a police officer had hoisted an intoxicated woman over his shoulder and told her “this is why we don’t let slags in” (this genuinely happened to a friend) there would be pandemonium. I’ve also had a bouncer threaten to kick me out of a club if I didn’t give him my phone number, had another one call me a bitch when I asked him to take his hand of my arse, and had another tell me I couldn’t go into the club unless I hoist my skirt a little higher. Hurrah for feminism. We’ve all been there. You spend twelve hours getting ready, carefully negotiating the correct dinner so you don’t bloat, having six showers to get your fake tan to an acceptable shade of marmalade, taking out a mortgage to get a taxi and queuing for fifty miles to get to the door of Glam. Only then to be turned away because you supposedly have had one too many glasses of Echo Falls, despite having walked the length of the Nile in conditions similar to the Antarctic and having already stopped twice to get fried chicken and a sausage. Their job is important, massively important, but when did that become an excuse for acting inappropriately, or rudely, or nastily. Only last weekend my friends and I were turned away from one particular night out in Cardiff (begins with F and rhymes with ducks) for absolutely no reason other

than the bouncer took a dislike to one of us. In fact, when I asked another member of staff why it was we were being denied entry, he pointed towards my friend and said “it’s because he just has one of those faces”. Brilliant. As it turns out, there is very little you can do if you have ‘one of those’ particular faces, as facial reconstruction surgery costs almost as much as it does to get into Glam on a Saturday night. This is why, now hear me out, I am not opposed to the introduction of breathalysing in certain nightclubs. Having a piece of equipment that can decipher between someone who is genuinely heavily intoxicated and someone who just has ‘one of those faces’ could actually be incredibly useful. This would mean that upon entrance to a club, when I stumble up the stairs and fall arse over elbow, after being breathalysed I can prove that this is simply down to the fact I cannot walk in the heels I’m wearing, rather than because I’m paralytic drunk. It saves the bouncers having to argue with a very angry woman in painful shoes about to what extent reciting the times tables is an accurate way of measuring blood alcohol content. (I maintain it’s a very good way). Surely it would make their job easier too, rather than having to argue with a squabble of drunk and angry teenagers about how many pints is too many and whether their definition of ‘too drunk’ is universal and accurate, the breathalyser can give a simple statistic and save the rumpus. Of course there will be the odd few that will dispute and insist that the breathalyser is wrong, like on Jeremy Kyle when they insist

that the lie detector is mistaken after they’ve been caught lying, but it would sure as hell eliminate the frustration of being rejected when you’re genuinely sober and are asked to leave because you’re ‘clearly absolutely wasted’, when in actual fact you’re just a really terrible, uncoordinated dancer. That said, the current content level that works out at around three drinks would have to be increased significantly. The restrictions for getting into a club should absolutely not equal the alcohol limit to drive. In an ideal world, the level of blood alcohol content that was accepted would have to vary depending on how drunk you have to be to enjoy each particular club. For example, Walkabout on a game day would have a lower level, as you don’t need to be heavily intoxicated to enjoy that, whilst if you find yourself in Live Lounge at nine o’clock on a Friday night it must be accepted that the limit will be at least quadrupled as you have to be at least sixteen VK’s in before you can accept the snogging 40-somethings and the girls that get on stage. Ultimately, I suppose the best way to avoid bad bouncers is to try and avoid being bad drinkers. Usually, if you are polite and (pretending to be) sober and you have your ID prepared, it will be fine. Unfortunately however, if you just have ‘one of those faces’, there is very little you can do. You can either get that facial reconstructive surgery, or campaign for breathalysers that allow you to be a reasonable level of intoxicated. Drunk enough perhaps to be able order twelve orange VK’s withough feeling guilty, but sober enough to remember all your times tables.

Pictured: No entry, bouncers suck. (Phographer: Simon Lieschke via Flickr)

I’ve had a bouncer threaten to kick me out of a club if I didn’t give him my phone number.


22 POLITICS

p politics

Editors: Carwyn Williams Sam Patterson @GairRhyddPol politics@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/politics

Debate erupts following death of Scalia Republicans plan to block Obama’s nominated replacement for the conservative Supreme Court judge, is this constitutional?

Pictured: Supreme Court Juctice Scalia (Photographer: Levan Ramishvili)

“ Brett Jones

Justice Scalia’s opinions were consistently made on the basis of very conservative originalist and textualist readings of US law.

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n the morning of the 13th of February Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was discovered dead at a Texas ranch. He was at the very least a divisive character on the Court. In 1989 he led an effort to overturn the Courts decision in Roe v. Wade a case which famously underlined a woman’s right to have an abortion. He voted with the majority when the court decided to stop the vote recounts happening in Florida during the Bush and Gore Presidential election. Later, when asked about the decision he said, “We did the right thing. So there! ... get over it. It’s so old by now”. And in 1996 he dissented when the Court voted in favour of a woman who’d brought a case against the Virginia Military Institute which had turned her down due to their maleonly admission policy. But in 1990 he also voted in favour of the family of a woman in a vegetative state who wanted to remove her feeding tube, believing that these would have been her wishes. Lower courts had ruled against them but Justice Scalia stated that the woman’s wishes were not “better known to the nine Justices of this Court any better than they are known to nine people picked at random from the Kansas City telephone directory”. It can be tempting to look at the world solely in terms of them and us, good and bad, wrong and right. But

under close scrutiny all boundaries tend to blur. Justice Scalia had a strong record in defending freedom of speech, in 1989 his vote was crucial in the case of Texas v. Johnson where flag burning was protected as a form of protest. And just as he often favoured states’ rights over the federal government he often supported individual rights over states rights. For example he voted in favour of the idea that a thermal imaging scan of the home of a suspected marijuana manufacturer constituted an unreasonable search of the premises. His service on the Supreme Court began when he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in September 1986. One of those who was on the committee that vetted him (and voted for his approval) was the now Vice-President Joe Biden. It is also well known that he had a longstanding friendship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second female appointee to the Supreme Court, a noted liberal who was appointed by President Bill Clinton. It’s comforting to have one simple outlook on things but that doesn’t always make for an accurate analysis. Justice Scalia’s opinions were consistently made on the basis of very conservative originalist and textualist readings of US law. Often this mode of interpretation favoured his naturally conservative outlook, but when

it did not he proved himself capable of following his principles rather than his prejudices. Of course his record can stand for itself. What is done is done. The pressing implication of his death is that it opens up a seat on the Supreme Court. Who will be appointed to do what is still to be done? The Court is now split 4-4 between conservatives and liberals. The Constitution grants the President the power to nominate the next Justice, but only with approval from the Senate. President Obama has already stated his intention to make a nomination within weeks but the Republican controlled Senate has expressed its intention to block this move. Procedurally, it will be very easy for the Senate to block any nominee however doing so until January of 2016 runs a large political risk. Whilst the Court is split evenly any contentious decisions that come before it will likely produce a split decision, legally this will mean that the decision of the lower Court stands. The Supreme Court will be stopped from doing its job. If the American electorate begins to see Senate objections as Republican obstructionism then this could dent the popularity of the party and in the year of a Presidential election this could be disastrous for them. The Republicans could respond by saying that they are fulfilling their constitutional role of properly vet-

ting the President’s nominees and that he is trying to play politics with the highest court in the United States by packing it with liberals. How long this could last is debatable. But there are less orthodox procedures to introduce roadblocks and delay the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice until after the next President is elected. We may be seeing the first signs of this with the conspiracy theory lines being thrown around regarding Justice Scarlia’s death. These provide an opportunity for mainstream Republicans to extend the selection process whilst keeping their hands clean, they can say that whilst they think the allegations are over-the-top and ridiculous they have uncovered some inconsistencies in the official story and that the process can only go forward after these have been investigated. This one conspiracy theory may not provide enough material to stretch through the year but the birther controversy certainly proved capable of lasting. Even if this story fades quickly it may be a sign of things to come. Looking back on Justice Scalia’s decision in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election case there is a historical irony that the man who was so pleased to see the judiciary speed up a political appointment may become the cause of a judicial appointment severely delayed by politics.

In 1989 he led an effort to overturn the Courts decision in Roe v. Wade a case which famously underlined a woman’s right to have an abortion.

The Court is now split 4-4 between conservatives and liberals.


POLITICS 23

Jack Pickering

These deals put governments under pressure to bow to the wishes of big business, and this creates a serious problem.

Jamie McKay

He famously attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest on Robert Mugabe, and was left permanently injured after being attacked by his bodyguards.

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Confused about TTIP? That’s the point

here’s been more than enough to fill the headlines recently (the war in Syria, the ongoing refugee crisis, the climate talks in Paris, as just a few examples), yet what hasn’t been reported on much are the new set of Trans-Atlantic trade deals being negotiated between the EU, the US and Canada. If you have heard of them, you’ve probably heard that they’re concerning to many who care about labor rights, environmental protections, food safety regulations, internet freedom, access to affordable medicine, local procurement policies, and more. If you don’t know much about them, there’s a good reason for that; they’ve been discussed in secret, with very little democratic oversight. Until recently, not even MPs were allowed to see the TTIP negotiation documents, with security-cleared specialists still not able to access the dedicated reading rooms, let alone public. The free trade deals I’m referring to are the TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and TISA (Trade in Services Agreement) with the United States, and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) with Canada. These deals are aiming to establish a number of things, such as the Inves-

tor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism that would establish a special supranational court system which transnational corporations can use to sue national governments when their profits are threatened. This sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theories, but it is real, and similar systems have already been used by Vattenfall (a Swedish energy company) to sue the German government for £1 billion over environmental regulations placed on one of their coal fired power plants. Meanwhile, U.S. tobacco company Philip Morris has sued the governments of Uruguay and Australia for implementing public health policies to discourage smoking. This part of the agreements is probably their most publicised element, due to the impact it could have on crucial pieces of legislation and regulation where corporations are involved. Regardless of its potential uses, it will likely make governments much more wary of challenging or hindering the operations of big business. In addition to this, the fact that both the CETA and TTIP negotiations are looking to establish the ISDS system in parallel means that if one fails, then the other can be used instead, as the corporations

commonly have branches in both the US and Canada. If you think corporations or business in general should be regulated or managed in any way, for any reason, then you should probably be concerned about this element of the agreements. However, the trade deals contain more than just the ISDS. A lot of what is being discussed concerns the “harmonisation” and “mutual recognition” of regulations between the EU and the US/ Canada. These are intended to lead towards more similar regulation for businesses both in Europe and the US/Canada, so that the obstruction to business posed by regulation can be minimized, and profits maximised (obviously). Meanwhile, some experts are concerned about the potential for privatization of many public services through the TISA agreement, which aims to liberalize the trade of services including banking, healthcare, and transport. This is all a bit obscure and arcane even for people who have followed trade deals in the past, however it is essential that we understand what they mean and how they could impact our lives (especially given that they have no expiration date). For example, washing chicken in chlorin-

ated water is a common practice in the US, and regulated against by the EU. This issue of regulation goes both ways; financial firms in the US are more stringently regulated in the US than in the UK, and this “harmonisation” to lower regulation standards could allow them to continue their risky practices in the UK. These deals put governments under pressure to bow to the wishes of big business, and this creates a serious problem. When we’re facing a world with job insecurity, a changing climate and widespread environmental degradation, as well as threats to our vital public services, these sorts of trade deals and the threats they pose are unacceptable. The fact that these deals have been discussed far away from the public eye and without any kind of democratic oversight is especially galling. We need to learn as much as possible about these trade deals and work to stop them wherever possible. A set of talks organized by People & Planet Society on these Free Trade deals are being held on March 5th, from 5:308:30 pm, in Cathays Community centre, just off Cathays Terrace. The event is completely free, and will include dinner. Come join in if you want to learn more.

advocate of trans rights but has been unsettled by the banning of individuals purely on the basis of their views. Tatchell has dealt with attacks from his supposed ‘comrades’ before. He travelled to what was the German Democratic Republic (DDR), or East Germany, in 1973 to attend the 10th World Youth Festival in East Berlin. Representing the GLF Tatchell was subjected to abuse from the Communist Party of Great Britain and the National Union of Students. He was banned from conferences, had his leaflets confiscated or burned and even interrogated by Stasi agents. Even in recent years Tatchell has

found that some progressive circles still have trouble with LGBT rights. In 2004 he and some LGBT Arab friends from his current campaign group, Outrage, attended a proPalestine rally in central London carrying signs reading ‘Israel: stop persecuting Palestine! Palestine: stop persecuting queers!’ Other marchers attacked Tatchell, calling him a racist, a Zionist or a CIA agent. Tatchell’s record as a human rights campaigner is impressive. He has consistently proven that, unlike some other activists, he believes that Universal Human Rights are Universal. Certain student politicians could learn from this attitude.

Until recently, not even MPs were allowed to see the TTIP negotiation documents, with securitycleared specialists still not able to access the dedicated reading rooms, let alone public.

Civil rights campaigner Peter Tatchell celebrates 50th year of activism

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eter Tatchell, the Australianborn human rights campaigner, will celebrate his 50th year of activism. Over the years he’s protested against Australia’s historical mistreatment of their Aboriginal peoples, the Vietnam War and the death penalty, among various other causes. He is probably most famous for his dedication to various LGBT campaigns. Tatchell accepted that he was gay when 17, in 1969, by 1971 he had moved to London to avoid being conscripted into the Australian Army and became a leading member of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF). A brave move given the prevailing social attitudes of the time. In 2001, he famously attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest on Robert Mugabe, and was left permanently injured after being attacked by his bodyguards. Tatchell frequently placed himself at the forefront of the push for LGBT rights in the UK, organising sit ins at pubs who refused to serve ‘poofs’, protesting police harassment and the medical classification of homosexuality as an illness. By the late 70s and well into the 1980s he was heavily involved in campaigns against the racist and often-violent National Front and the British National Party. Given this proud record in cam-

paigning for equal rights, making great advances along the way, it may come as a surprise to hear that the national LGBT representative for the NUS has accused Tatchell of racism and transphobia. NUS representative Fran Cowling has refused to share a platform with Tatchell at Canterbury Christ Church to discuss “re-radicalising queers”. Cowling failed to provide any evidence to back up her attack on Tatchell but claimed she was speaking for ‘the membership’ who ‘believe’ Tatchell shows these bigoted attitudes. When pressed further the NUS admitted the membership had never decided against Tatchell. Though it may be that, like many other activists, was angered by Tatchell signing a letter to the Guardian on Valentines Day last year in which he defended the right of controversial feminist speakers such as Germaine Greer, Julie Bindel and Kate Smuthwaite to speak their minds. The Unions current policy of ‘no-platforming’ has seen these speakers barred from Universities across the United Kingdom, Greer gave a lecture at Cardiff University last year amid great controversy and attempts by students to have her banned. Tatchell has long been an

Pictured: Tatchell protesting Russian “Gay Propaganda Law” with Paul O’Grady in 2013 (Photographer: Jason via Flickr)


24 POLITICS

Is anti-semitism on the rise?

Record numbers of Jews leaving France in wake of hate crime Joseph Cotter

In France, anti-Semitic attacks make up over half of all hate crimes, despite Jews only making up one per cent of the population.

Joseph Cotter

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t had been hoped that anti-Semitism had all but been extinguished in the West by the realisation of the horrors of the Holocaust. The mantra of “never again” has echoed through the last seventy years ensuring that when and where anti-Semitic feeling did rear its ugly head it was promptly neutralised. Yet last month, at an award ceremony dedicated to those who have helped protect persecuted Jews, President Obama claimed that “Here, tonight, we must confront the reality that around the world, antiSemitism is on the rise.” Is this true? Looking to the US, there are certainly indicators that the President is right, particularly in universities. A survey produced by Trinity College showed that 54 per cent of Jewish students experienced anti-Semitism at least once on campus within the first six months of the 2013-14 academic year. Last year, at the University of California, Davis a Jewish fraternity was painted with swastikas, and at the University of California, Los Angeles members of the Undergraduate Students Association argued against the eventually successful appointment of the Jewish Rachel Beyda to an official position in their Student’s Union due to her “conflict of interest, because of her involvement in the Jewish community.” In Europe, it is also clear that antiSemitism is a growing problem. In France especially, where 74 per cent of French Jews make a conscious effort to hide their identity out of fear of attack, anti-Semitic attacks make up over half of all hate crimes, despite Jews only making up one per cent of

the population. The issue has become so dire in France that since 2012 the numbers of French-Jews making Aliyah (the return of Jews to the land of Israel) has doubled, and then doubled again, and last year 7,900 made the journey. At home, despite Theresa May’s claims that anti-Semitism has “no place in Britain” (which has the second highest Aliyah rate in Europe) anti-Semitic attacks rose last year rose by 50 per cent since 2014. So what has provoked this growing anti-Semitism? For many, the answer lies in the disrepute of Israel, and its obvious ties to Jewish identity. In his most recent scandal, ex-rock star and pro-gun advocate Ted Nugent made a controversial Facebook post titled “So who is really behind gun control?” with pictures of twelve influential Jews such as “Jew York City mayor Mikey Bloomberg”, claiming that they “hate freedom, hate good over evil.”. Notably, each image was emblazoned with the Israeli flag in the bottom right corner (Nugent has since claimed that his post was not aimed at Jews, but rather “Jews for gun control [who] are Nazis in disguise”). Moreover, the previously mentioned attack at the University of California, Davis, was provoked by a student vote endorsing a boycott of Israeli goods. The same is true in Europe. In Germany, where anti-Semitism is perhaps taboo, Jewish students have reported receiving hate mail as a result of the Israeli-Gaza conflict in in 2014, and pro-Palestinian rallies have seen the chant “Jew, Jew, cowardly pig, come out and fight alone” has become increasingly popular. Jewish and Israeli

identities are so closely linked that the growing anti-Semitism can and should be seen as a reflection of antiIsraeli feeling, and as such those who wish to attack Israel feel they can do so by attacking Jewish people on the other side of the globe. Jews, too, feel this connection-in a recent poll, 84% of British Jews said they feel that antiIsrael boycotts constitute a form of intimidation against their people. The growth of Islamic extremism, especially since the emergence of the so-called Islamic State, may also have contributed to the rise of anti-Semitic attacks. Of the eight attacks France experienced last year, three directly targeted Jews, and in Britain 45 per cent

of Jews reported feeling threatened by Islamic extremism. It should also be noted that, unsurprisingly, the rise of anti-Semitism has coincided with the global financial crisis. Far-Right parties that capitalised on the credit crunch, such as the Jobbik movement in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece or the more subtle Front National in France all contain to varying degrees anti-Semitic politics that, though never mainstream, have grown in popularity. Whatever the causes, it is undoubtedly the case, that anti-Semitism is on the rise. This is an issue that must be addressed, carefully, properly, and swiftly.

Pictured: Haifa, Israel’s thirdlargest city (Photographer: Israeltourism via Flickr)

Pupil reported for wearing Free Palestine wristband

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17-year-old schoolboy has been reported to the government anti-radicalisation programme “Prevent” after wearing “Free Palestine” badges and wristbands. Rahmaan Mohammadi’s teachers at Challney High School for Boys Luton referred him to the programme after he was found to be wearing pro-Palestine badges and wristbands, and was in possession of a leaflet arguing for Palestinian rights from the pressure group Friends of al-Aqsa. He had also previously asked to fundraise for children affected by Israeli occupation at the school, and his 14 brother had been approached by teachers to encourage Rahmaan to “stop being radical.” Talking at a meeting held last week by Students Not Suspects, a campaign aimed at fighting the controversial Prevent, Mohammadi said “I need to talk about the reality of Prevent…As a Muslim, I fight for Justice, the equalities of

freedom, and Prevent itself is fighting that. It takes basic human rights away.” Mohammadi reported he had been visited by police carrying a “massive folder with [his] name on it” and was told not to talk about Palestine in school. Bedfordshire Police told The Sunday Times “The officers spoke to the boy and were satisfied that he was not a risk and he was given advice and support.” The Prevent programme came into action last year, and those working in public organisations (most significantly, schools) must report “extremist ideology” to the programme to prevent terrorism and the spread of extremism. In its short life the programme has received heavy criticism as ineffective, inefficient, ill-thought out and even as a breach of civil rights, as it is feared Prevent will be used to report “those engaged in political dissent” according to an open letter published in The Independent last July. Most recently, the programme sparked

controversy after it was extended to cover pre-schools, since which children as young as three have been referred to the programme as potential risks. Critics have argued that this story epitomises the problems with the Prevent programme. Firstly, it creates distrust between teacher and pupil-as Mohammadi has stated that “Prevent creates paranoia. In school…if a senior member of staff was walking past, we would whisper to each other saying, ‘What if they’re listening to our conversation?’” More worrying for critics is the implications this story has for civil liberties. A schoolboy has been questioned as a terrorist for a valid political belief, and has been told that said beliefs are not only wrong but dangerous-this, Yusuf Hassan of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies believes, shows that “the government are policing thoughts with initiatives like that of Prevent.”

Supporters of Prevent however claim that this example can be used to show how Prevent is effective in the fight against extremism. Beliefs and organisations such as those linked to Friends of al-Aqsa can be totally benign, but they’ve also been linked to terrorist and extremist activities in the past. This is why Rupert Sutton of Student Rights (a campaign against extremism on university campuses) has claimed Mohammadi’s school “was right to be concerned” when they found him on more than one occasion to have leaflets produced by Friends of al-Aqsa. This is a possible indicator of potential extremism that was investigated and found to be benign, but another such example may not have been. The only way to tell the difference between safe political expression and growing extremism is to investigate each case, which can only be done if each potential threat is reported to an organisation such as Prevent.

Mohammadi was told not to talk about Palestine in school.


POLITICS 25

Conor Holohan

Putin remains, in the eyes of many, the one keeping this war alive.

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Russia ignores Syria ceasefire, and threatens world war

ast week it was agreed at Munich that the warring parties within Syria would observe a ceasefire so that urgently needed humanitarian aid could be safely distributed across the region. This didnt stop Russia from bombing civilians. In the meeting, Saudi Arabia announced its interest in sending troops to Syria to back the US-led coalition fighting ISIS. Russia’s Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev has been quoted as saying at the meeting; “All sides must be forced to the negotiating table instead of sparking a new world war.” This comment is rather sensationalist and far-fetched, but Medvedev is right to warn countries that are angling to send troops to Syria – an act that could significantly change the balance of power in the severely destabilised country which has lost 400,000 of its citizens since the civil war began – could lead to serious conflicts between nations. This is because Syria is the perfect place for a proxy war, and with Russia being in agreement with Iran and Assad that Assad should stay,

and with Saudi Arabia attempting to both increase its influence in the Middle East and improve ties with the West, there could be heavy clashes. Regardless, if Medvedev is even remotely close to being on the money rather than spouting off the most transparent heap of Russian propaganda, it would indeed be the actions of his own nation that have probably inflamed the situation so dangerously and with such deceptive cowardice. The US defence secretary Ashton Carter was not adverse to Saudi involvement, but only if it took the form of training local forces to better deal with ISIS. This realistically means, finding some moderate anti-Assad, anti-ISIS opposition in Syria – if any at all exists – and arming them. These armaments would have to be handsome given how saturated with terrorist groups the region currently is. There is little need for this from Saudi Arabia; if they’re honest with their intentions they’re being overly sentimental and trivial but they’re most probably not – they’re more inter-

ested in establishing the religious and political and dominance of Saudi Arabia over Iran as a power in the Middle East. Meanwhile, ISIS are struggling. Little moral or practical credit can be gifted to Russia who claim they are aiming strikes at ISIS when in fact they’re propping up the Assad regime and intentionally targetting civilians (the just under fifty per cent of the total citizens there were before the war began). ISIS have made no real progress since they walked into Palmyra in May last year. Arial assistance to the

Kurdish in Iraq and Syria have made for leaps and bounds of progress and the ISIS’ infrastructure is beginning to crumble beneath the weight of the US-led coalition of nations. It was reported that the group have halved the salaries of its army. Russia continues to support Assad by hitting rebel positions, in the last few weeks Russia hit multiple hospitals, and subsequently denied that there was any evidence that this was the case. Putin remains, in the eyes of many, the one keeping this war alive. What happens next may be up to him.

dent of the EU commission JeanClaude Juncker told the Western Balkans when he took office in 2014 that “no further enlargement will take place over the next five years”. But the application is seen as a signal to EU leaders that Bosnia’s political and ethnic divide can be salvaged. In addition, EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini said it pointed towards further European unity. “It is

also a powerful message for the citizens of the European Union that our project of integration is still a powerful one,” she said. After June saw an EU pact to deepen political, trade and economic ties with Bosnia, the EU Commission made a positive report on BosniaHerzegovina’s enlargement process noting that the country is “back on the reform track”.

Pictured: Protestors opposing the Russian administration in Istanbul (Photo: Freedom House via Flickr)

”Bosnia-Herzegovina applies for EU membership

Ellise Nicholls

Unresolved wartime quarrels in Yugoslavia have hindered the countries development as whilst the Bosnian Serbs feared for their autonomy.

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n Monday 15th February, a quarter of a century after the war ended, Bosnia-Herzegovina formally applied for membership of the EU, the bloc’s foreign policy chief said at a conference in Brussels. Dragan Covic, chairman of the tripartite presidency, said the application is “an opportunity for us to demonstrate that we can reform our country for the benefit of all citizens”. Hoping to catch up with its neighbours on the EU path, Covic said the country would speed up the required reforms with the expectation of granted candidate status by 2017. “There is no way back for BosniaHerzegovina, we must catch up with our neighbours” he said. Still reeling from a civil war in the 1990s, the EU foreign policy representative Federica Mogherini praised the country but ensured that “a lot still needs to be done” for BosniaHerzegovina to become a successful applicant for an EU candidate state. The decision-making is largely complicated by their political and ethnic entity split. Whilst the Bosniaks and Croats mostly reside in the region of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbs tend to live in the Republika Srpska. The division followed the bloody civil war in the former Yugoslavia that destroyed much of its infrastructure and killed some 100,000 Yugoslavs. In April 1992, the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia. For the following years, Bosnian Serb forces backed by the Yugoslav army targeted Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats for atrocious crimes re-

sulting in what is considered to be the worst act of genocide since the Nazi Regime in World War II. In December 1995, US led negotiations ended the conflict with a ceasefire. Unresolved wartime quarrels in Yugoslavia have hindered the countries development as whilst the Bosnian Serbs feared for their autonomy, Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats felt hostage to the Serbs lack of will to reform Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to a joint statement by High Representative Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, EU commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement, Bosnia-Herzegovina has many areas in need of improvement within the country’s political, economic and social spheres. The former Yugoslav Republic remains amidst the grip of poverty, corruption and high youth unemployment. The joint statement said “We expect that the authorities at all levels will ensure that the challenges the country faces when it comes to its judicial system are addressed constructively”. At a time when the EU is facing economic and political challenges, such as Britain’s impending referendum on its status within the EU, Mogherini says the application is “good news” to both Bosnia and the EU. Whilst the EU considers the application as an achievement for the people of the Balkan nation, the 28 country bloc has a sceptical approach to enlargement and full membership of Bosnia-Herzegovina is likely to take years. “Membership is not possible within a couple of months or even a few years” said EU neighbourhood commissioner Johannes Hahn.Presi-

Pictured: Is Sarajevo going to be an EU capital? (Photographer: Carwyn Williams)


26 POLITICS

New poll reveals eurosceptic Wales

UKIP set for almost sixth of Assembly seats and 45 per cent want to leave EU

Ryan Coolahan

Why should people vote to stay in an organisation which they have no idea how it works?

Dan Heard

Free childcare is an amazingly important pledge, as students will quickly find out in just a few years’ time if they haven’t already.

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he latest poll released by ITV in collaboration with the University has revealed an increased feeling of Euroscepticism in Wales with UKIP showing a 2 per cent increase in support for UKIP, aligning with England. The poll also showed 45 per cent support in Wales for leaving the European Union, and 37 per cent opting to stay. These results predict that within the Welsh Assembly, nine seats will be taken by UKIP (all being list seats). These findings have been welcomed, quite obviously, by anti-EU campaigners with the growing support of leaving the EU in Wales. These results are somewhat unusual due to the large amount of funding that Wales receives from the EU, particularly in the agricultural industry, getting €270m a year, amounting to over £5 billion between the periods of 2000 and 2013 according to Jill Evans MEP. Wales is also set to benefit from £500m worth of EU investment from 2014 through to 2020 (predicted to generate £4bn in the Welsh economy). But this money could be put into doubt if the UK votes to leave. As we can see there is a significant amount of money flowing in to Wales from the EU. Other big benefits for Wales being in the EU include opportunities to work in other

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EU countries and the ERASMUS study abroad programme. So why is UKIP becoming increasingly popular within Wales? It can be argued that the average person simply doesn’t know enough about what the EU actually does for them on a personal level that they feel it is a waste of money. People do not understand what MEPs actually do within the European Parliament. We see a much lower turnout for European Parliament elections than we do for local or general elections. In 2014 there was a 35.6 per cent turnout and UKIP was the largest party. These results back the claim that people have become disinterested with the EU, or even that the lack of knowledge leads them to become uninterested. Why should people vote to stay in an organisation which they have no idea how it works? However it is also possible to argue that due to this lack of knowledge many refrain from voting in EU parliamentary elections, yet the ones who have the stronger opinions, much like UKIP tend to vote due to their stronger feelings, thus showing a heavily biased result. This lack of knowledge can lead to voters becoming sceptical about how they benefit. We saw that even last year in the general election UKIP received 13.6 per cent. Thus leading to

the conclusion that people simply do not know enough about what the EU does that they have become sceptical about the membership of Wales. It is also a possibility that people are losing faith in the two predominant parties, Labour and Conservative. Again in the general election last year we saw an increasing number of people voting for “third parties” such as UKIP, Green, Plaid and SNP. This can be a result of the growing mistrust of the two larger parties, potentially even the Lib Dems due to such things as the frequent expenses scandals we see all over the news currently, the latest being John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons. People may begin to feel distrust for these larger parties, thus voting in protest in elections for many of these “third parties”. It is clear that Euroscepticism is increasing across England & Wales. This

Regional seats prediction North Wales 2 UKIP, 1 Conservative, 1 Plaid Cymru Mid & West Wales 2 Labour, 2 UKIP South Wales West 2 Conservative, 1 Plaid Cymru, 1 UKIP South Wales Central 2 UKIP, 1 Conservative, 1 Plaid Cymru South Wales East 2 UKIP, 1 Conservative, 1 Plaid Cymru

will in turn lead to a nerve-racking wait come the EU referendum in the next year.

Welsh Labour outline key policy areas But neglects student matters

elsh Labour’s assembly election campaign got underway last week, with first blood as it were drawn up in North Wales, where First Minister Carwyn Jones outlined what he described as six key policy areas and pledges which their manifesto will aim to deliver on before the upcoming Assembly elections in May. Mr Jones was speaking after being given a tour of the Airbus UK plant in Broughton, Denbighshire, a place that he called a ‘beacon for Wales’. His comments come only weeks after the controversy surrounding the potential loss of over a thousand jobs at the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot first erupted, though the policies that Mr Jones said would be covered in the manifesto did not relate to that particular bit of business. The six polices are a promise of an additional ten weeks of free childcare for working parents (something which, again, has caused much controversy and debate in recent times), tax cuts for small businesses in Wales, quality, useful apprenticeships for one hundred thousand young workers, and a new treatment fund to combat lifethreatening illnesses.

A further one hundred million pounds would also, according to the outlined pledges, set aside to improve school standards and also towards doubling the capital limit for those in and about to enter residential care. Mr Jones also made clear his feelings on Britain’s position within the European Union, urging the country to remain within the EU, and opposing the ‘out’ campaigners that have dominated domestic headlines in recent days and weeks. Businesses like Airbus, (with, again, no mention of the Tata situation) would be drastically affected by leaving, ahead of the possibility of a referendum later this year. Before the pledges were even announced, Labour drew a backlash from Welsh Conservative Party leader Andrew RT Davies, who said that the proposed apprenticeship scheme was nothing if not “fantasy economics” on Mr Jones’s part, the First Minister responded that costs had been properly totalled. “We are talking about £200m on the apprenticeships, over the course of five years, bearing in mind of course that includes the current scheme that pays for apprentices aged between 16 and 24,”. Despite the variety of these pledg-

es, none of the six were aimed directly at dealing with issues important to students, despite the fact, as it was well publicised during last year’s General Election that the votes of students could prove decisive in several key constituencies throughout Wales. Here at Cardiff University, we even ran with the slogan “24,000 students, one constituency - you do the maths”. In response, Jenny Rathbone, Assembly Member for Cardiff Central gave an exclusive statement to Gair Rhydd on what she felt was the biggest issue for students- free child-

care. “Thirty hours of free childcare forty eight weeks of the year is an amazingly important pledge, as students will quickly find out in just a few years’ time if they haven’t already.” She said. “At the moment unless you have other family members to help out or a very well paid job, it is almost impossible for both parents to keep working after having a baby. This interruption of, generally, women’s working lives until their children start school is the biggest reason why women still don’t have equal pay some forty years after the Equal Pay Act.”

Pictured: Above: Will Wales throw the EU away? (Photographer: Peter Kurdulija) Below: Local AM Jenny Rathbone (Source: Grafic House)


ticke availa ts ble cardif fstude at: Tocyn nts.co na m cardif u ar gael a fstude r nts.co : m

mething There’s so one! for every ywbeth Mae yna r i bawb!


28 SCIENCE

science Pakinee Pooprasert

While a few patients did not respond dramatically to the placebos, most did and this poses a very promising future for the field.

Tom Morris

Obese people have more anticipated effort for walking which leads to increased judgement of distances.

Editors: Maria Mellor Lizzie Harrett @GairRhyddSci science@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/science

Possible placebo cure found for Parkinson’s

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arkinson’s is a progressive disease where the brain becomes damaged over many years, with the classical symptoms being tremor (involuntary shaking of particular parts of the body), slow movement and stiff and inflexible muscles. Currently patients with Parkinson’s are given multiple drugs to slow down the disease progression, and many studies are conducted with the aim of finding a Parkinson’s cure or treating it more effectively. In a revolutionising study, Italian neuroscientists report that the brain cells of people with Parkinson’s disease can respond to inert (placebo) drugs. This response wears off after one day, but the effects demonstrates that it might be possible to reduce the medication needed to treat this disease by interspersing real drugs with placebo injections or pills. While a few patients did not respond dramatically to the placebos, most did and this poses a very promising future for the field. In patients with Parkinson’s, the characteristic tremors and stiff muscles are due to the death of dopamine-producing brain cells. Currently, doctors alleviate these symptoms by prescribing drugs such as apomorphine, which activates dopamine receptors. Additionally, for conditions such as pain and immune disorders, tri-

als have shown that it is possible to train people to respond to placebos, and this made Benedetti and his colleagues - researchers who led the work at the University of Turin wonder whether the same applies for neurological disorders. The study involved 42 people with advanced Parkinson’s disease who were having deep brain stimulation, allowing Benedetti’s team to measure the activity of individual neurons in the thalamus, a region that is inhibited by lack of dopamine in Parkinson’s patients. During the surgery for deep brain stimulation, participants were given a saline injection which was told to be apomorphine. Interestingly, it produced no response, unless the patients had been preconditioned by having received 1-4 daily injections of the actual drug before the surgery. It was observed that neurons showed increased activity and muscle rigidity dropped in patients who did respond to the saline after the injection. This was assessed by a neurologist who was not told of the purpose of the study, to prevent any bias. Furthermore, it was found that the larger the number of previous apomorphine injections, the greater the subsequent response to the saline. This meant that if the patients had received four previous injections, there was “no difference between

drug and placebo response,” Benedetti explained. While this training is short lived, it only lasted a maximum of 24 hours, Benedetti hopes that it may be possible to lengthen the placebo ‘memory’ of patients by giving them the real drugs for longer. Why is this study revolutionary? “Because of its clear demonstration that clinical response and neurological activation are clearly linked and can be trained,” stated Christopher Goezt, a neurologist at Rush University Medical Centre in Chicago, Illinois. Furthermore, “Though the group sizes are small, the results

seem compelling,” says Tor Wager, another neuroscientist at the University of Colorado Boulder. In addition, Espay, a neuroscientist at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio who has studied placebo effects in Parkinson’s predicts that placebos could ultimately be used in clinical practice to reduce the amount and cost of medication. Despite the clear results, what remains unclear is how exactly the effects works. Goetz postulates that it may be a ‘Pavlovian response’, in which patients conditioned through experience associate injections with symptomatic relief.

Pictured: Patients were given placebo injections (Photographer: John Donges)

Distances seem further for obese people

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verweight and obese people see distances as at least ten percent longer than skinnier people do. It’s not just that extra distance means extra effort - it really is the case. Spatially in the brain, a mile is perceived as a greater distance the heavier you are. Psychologist Dr Jessica Witt, who investigates the perception of spatial layout, has published a few papers on the subject as well as most recently giving a talk. She wrote that “a person’s ability to perform an action affects their perception of the environment.” This makes a lot of sense, think about how short a walk it seemed to the Students’ Union from Talybont when you were in first year, but now, as you’re not used to the walk, you probably wouldn’t bother going up there. I’ve heard plenty of second and third years say “I’ve got an exam/sport up in Talybont, oh it’s such a long walk,” when they no doubt did it every day just a few months before. Witt found that when throwing a ball the same distance, the target

seemed further away if the ball was heavier. For the obese participants, extra effort was applied mentally to walking the same distance as a fit person breezed through, and thus was judged as being a longer walk. The effect was seen to apply to gradients as well as a hill may appear steeper to a heavier person that it might seem to someone slimmer. These two effects were not apparent as much in those who were just overweight as those who were obese. According to the study, a person weighing 23 stone sees objects as being twice as far away as someone who weighs nine stone. To put it simply, obese people have more anticipated effort for walking which leads to increased judgement of distances. The study also found some interesting anecdotes about body image. If an obese person only perceived themselves as overweight it made no difference, they would still have the adverse effects on judgement as their obese friends who more easily admitted to their size.

Pictured: Weight affects how you percieve distance (Photographer: Marjan Lazarevski)

“ These findings seem to show that obese people live in what one reporter described as an “altered reality,” where the extra effort caused by being heavier manifests itself as a world where everything is further away.

However, the study offers no explanation of why people sigh when anxious, sad or stressed. This could perhaps be an important area for future research, promoting collaboration between neuroscientists and psychologists.

These two effects were not apparent as much in those who were just overweight as those who were obese.


SCIENCE 29

Why McDonald’s Happy Meals don’t mould Maria Mellor

Despite the lack of scientific research or any evidence to actually suggest that gluten-free diets are beneficial to the health of those who do not actually need it, 28 per cent of Americans are following a diet without gluten.

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(But that doesn’t mean they’re poisonous)

irculating the internet recently has been a Facebook post showing a six-year-old McDonald’s Happy Meal that hadn’t gone mouldy, with the owner warning everyone away from McDonald’s because of all the ‘chemicals’ they supposedly put in their food. This isn’t the first time someone has done this kind of experiment - Buzzfeed left burgers from seven different fast food chains for thirty days with a Burger King burger ending up completely covered in greenish fluff, compared to a McDonald’s burger which hardly changed. Does this mean that Burger King is better for you than McDonald’s? Gair Rhydd Science is here to explain the science behind it. Growing mould requires a set of ingredients - mould spores, water, nutrients and a hospitable environment. Without one of these things, mould can’t grow. Mould spores are all around us in the air, so the reason for the immortal burgers couldn’t be a lack of spores. You’d think there would be some kind of water content in a McNugget, as well as some kind of nutrients. Mould can grow on walls so surely it can grow on fast food? Apparently not. It’s not just this one person who has tried keeping food from McDonald’s for far longer than they should. In Iceland the chain was shut down in 2009, but one man kept one of the last hamburgers ever bought there for six years, three of which it spent in the National Museum of Iceland. Health advocates have been using ancient burgers as a prop to show parents to help keep their children away from junk food. Karen Hanrahan, from the blog Best of Mother Earth, for example has had hers since 1996 that she uses as a prop. She, like most other health advocates who follow this chain of thought, believes that it is because there are so many preservatives and so called ‘chemicals’ are what keeps it from rotting, and you therefore should not be putting it in your body. A McDonald’s Happy Meal may not be the healthiest thing for you, but there are other reasons why you shouldn’t want to eat it.

” Science questions: Answered

Is “breaking the seal” an actual thing? On a night out, it may seem like after that first pee you’re constantly rushing to the toilet, but in actual fact there is no such thing as breaking the seal. There is no seal to break! It’s true that alcohol makes you need to pee more, as alcohol inhibits the hormone that conserves water in your body, meaning that more liquid is sent to your bladder to be let out in urine overall. You will need to pee a lot if you’re drinking alcohol, but not because you’ve broken any seal.

By law companies cannot lie about what they put in their food. You can go on the McDonald’s website and find out exactly what goes into every item on their menu, and honestly there’s nothing out of the ordinary or incredibly bad. In fact in their burger patties they unequivocally state that it’s “100 per cent Pure Beef. No additives, fillers, binders, preservatives or flavour enhancers. Just pure forequarter and flank. A little salt and pepper is added to season after cooking.” So what does stop it from going mouldy? What seems to be the key factor is the moisture content of McDonald’s meals. J. Kenji López-Alt, a restaurant-trained chef and managing director of the blog Serious Eats, performed an experiment with the patties, finding that

The fries are, like the name suggests, fried at a very high heat, which not only kills most of the pathogens in them, but also removes most of the water content. The burgers on the other hand are thin, allowing water to escape easily, especially as the burger cools down. Most McDonald’s food has a high fat content, and as Barry Swanson, a professor at the Washington State University says: “Anything that is high in fat will be low in moisture,” therefore creating awful conditions for mould to grow. Furthermore, they’re stored in packaging made of cardboard and paper that allows the moisture to escape - if you tried to keep a McDonald’s burger in a sealed plastic container you’d probably be left with nothing but fluff within the fortnight.

The salt content of McDonald’s food doesn’t help either. A six-piece portion of McNuggets has about 12 per cent of an adult’s recommended daily amount of salt in it, and a portion of fries has about ten per cent. The salt dries out the food even more, giving mould spores hardly any chance to grow. You shouldn’t be scared of food just because it doesn’t mould. If this were the case we’d all be swearing off dried rice and oatmeal for life! While we’re not advocating excessive consumption of Maccy D’s, there’s no harmful ‘chemicals’ that haven’t been approved and regulated, or that you couldn’t find in any other food. The reason why people have found that their Happy Meals haven’t gone mouldy is simply due to the lack of moisture available to help mould grow.

Pictured: Leave a Happy Meal in your room for days and it won’t go mouldy (Photographer: Memphis CVB)

Does drinking through a straw actually Why are Jaeger bombs so bad for you? Can animals tell if you’re sad? get you drunker? Jaeger bombs often seem like a good idea While Bubbles the goldfish won’t be able to tell There is scientific evidence to suggest that you do get drunker when you drink alcohol through a straw! Using a straw creates a vacuum, meaning that you’re not taking in any air as you would when drinking normally. The feeling of intoxication is created in part by a slight lack of oxygen in the brain, thus being made worse by the use of a straw. Also using a straw lowers the boiling point of alcohol, causing some of it to be consumed as vapour, meaning it goes into the lungs and gets absorbed into your bloodstream faster. However, many scientists disagree, saying that while the theory of a straw creating a vacuum is correct, the effects would be so small you’d hardly notice them.

at the time, although our hangovers would strongly disagree. Many researchers have suggested that the mixture of caffeine and alcohol can often be more dangerous than sticking to straight alcohol. Alcohol acts as a sedative, inhibiting the brain’s neural processes. Caffeine is on the other end of the spectrum, stimulating our neural pathways and causing alertness. However it also stimulates adenosine receptors found in the brain which inhibit neural pathways in similar ways to the receptors inhibited by alcohol. This creates a double negative response and greater reaction if both drugs are consumed simultaneously.

if you’re upset, research has suggested both dogs and horses are able to perceive our emotions. To test this in horses, authors showed them photos of either happy or angry faces and measured to see if horses looked to the left or right - looking left has been associated with negative stimuli. They found a relationship between looking left and increased heart rate when viewing angry faces. With dogs, a study showed that dogs could discriminate between the emotional expressions of human faces they could distinguish pictures of both happy and sad faces.

Tweet us your questions to @gairrhyddsci


30 SCIENCE

Bionic Bunny? More like Cryonic Bunny Joseph Atkinson

Every neurone and synapse looks beautifully preserved across the entire brain. Kenneth Hayworth

Natasha Fiera

Damage to this area could therefore affect coordination, memory and learning ability later in life of the unborn child.

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A rabbit’s brain has successfully been frozen and thawed

an Solo in Star Wars. Philip J. Fry in Futurama. Austin Powers in... Austin Powers. While it’s difficult to think of three more different characters, all three of them have one thing in common - they’ve all been frozen and successfully unfrozen with no side effects to speak of. While the concept is one that’s been widely used in science fiction, it’s taken one step closer to becoming science fact after scientists successfully restored the frozen brain of a rabbit to near-impeccable condition. The breakthrough brings to the end a five-year drive to successfully preserve the brain of a small mammal, after the Brain Preservation Foundation (BPF) offered a reward to anyone who could successfully do so without causing damage to neural connections essential to a brain’s function. The team who worked on the project, based in California at the 21st Century Medicine research institute, have earned their company just over £18,000 after they successfully used a recently developed technique known as ‘aldehyde-stabilised cryopreservation’ which involves subjecting the brain to the chemical glutaraldehyde, which is toxic, which allows the brain to be frozen at -135C. The President of the BPF, Kenneth

Hayworth, who is a neuroscientist by profession, praised the researchers, saying: “Every neurone and synapse looks beautifully preserved across the entire brain. “This result directly answers a main sceptical and scientific criticism against cryonics - that it does not provably preserve the delicate synaptic circuitry of the brain.” While this development represents significant progress in the field of cryonics, it still remains to be seen how long it will take until such processes can be used to successfully revive a human from cryogenic freezing. Companies exist that specialise in cryonic preservation, one of the most prominent being the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in the US, which charges $200,000 for a whole-body freeze. In 2013, 23-yearold Kim Suozzi opted to have her head cryonically frozen, at a cost of $70,000 having crowdfunded via Reddit. Suozzi, who died of terminal brain cancer, chose to undergo the procedure in the hope of some future technology being capable of reviving her mind in some form. While the process of reviving a human body from cryonic freezing may still be a long way away, research-

ers are now hoping to replicate the process with the brains of larger mammals, such as mammals and primates, but expressed caution at the prospect of doing the same with human brains due to the inevitable delay between death and the brain being delivered to a brain bank. This milestone is one of many made in the field over the years, a major one being to prevent vitrification - the formation of ice on the

brain. The BPF hopes to develop a way of retaining a brain’s memories while it is cryonically frozen. “There is compelling preliminary evidence from the neuroscience literature that preserving a brain at the ultrastructure level might also preserve the memories stored in the brain” read a statement from the foundation, which expressed its excitement at the implications of the recent progress in the field.

mothers. Hence, the e-cigarette vapour potentially could affect not only brain development but could also affect male fertility. British Fertility Society’s chairman, Professor Adam Balen,said: “Whilst e-cigarettes may help some people to stop smoking real cigarettes, one cannot escape the reality that various chemicals are still being inhaled that have potentially harmful effects both to health, fertility and also the non-consenting participant that is the baby.” It is under the assumption that the nicotine within the vaporizer is the most harmful component of the e-liquid, due to its addictive properties. Studies have additionally demonstrated that besides nicotine’s addictive characteristics, it is in fact harmless and the other chemicals in the vapour have actually more of an effect on nervous system development than tobacco. A study exposed mice to the va-

pour from an e-cigarette without nicotine, revealing the largest number of changes; some genes of the mice were enhanced and others reduced and females were in fact more susceptible than males. Professor Zelikoff, New York University states “What people don’t realise is that even without nicotine there are many things that are given off when you heat up and vaporise these products.” Smoking an e-cigarette containing harmful vapour, should be regarded in the same way that second hand smoking is. New York University has given us first-hand evidence that smoking e-cigarettes can be just as unsafe as regular smoking - despite having zero tobacco. Although the research was conducted on mice as opposed to humans, it is now recommended by The British Feritility Society that pregnant women “avoid all kinds of smoking”.

Pictured: The successfully thawed rabbit’s brain (Source: Brain Preservation Foundation)

E-cigarettes could be harmful for fetuses

R

ecent research from New York University’s department of environmental science challenged the assumption that e-cigarettes are healthier to use during pregnancy than tobacco-containing over the counter ‘fags’. The study suggests that the vapour from e-cigarettes could be equally as harmful as tobacco to pregnant women and their unborn babies. Scientists warn pregnant e-cigarette users that vaporizers may damage the development of their unborn babies’ brain. This could be an increasing problem as many women who fall pregnant may begin to use these products to protect their babies against the health risks of the tobacco-containing cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes, generally referred to as ‘e-cigarettes’ are commonly used as an alternate way to smoke - without the use of tobacco. These battery-powered vaporizers contain eliquids which produce a vapour, which the user will inhale. E-liquids contain two main chemicals - propylene glycol and vegetable glycerine, they are available with varying concentrations of nicotine and additional flavours to make smoking a more pleasant experience. Many individuals view these products as being less damaging than usual over-the-counter cigarettes, they are often used to help people quit smoking and gradually diminish their dependence on nicotine. As ecigarettes have only been available in

the market since 2004, the long-term health risks are still questionable. Scientists identified this potential problem when conducting a study on mice. The volatile substances in the ecigarette vapour were shown to have detrimental effects on the activity of thousands of genes in the developing frontal cortex of the mice’s brains. This particular section of the brain is responsible for higher mental functions, such as voluntary movement, long-term memory, moral integrity and social cognition. Damage to this area could therefore affect coordination, memory and learning ability later in life of the unborn child. Similar to the use of ordinary cigarettes during pregnancy, the risk of learning difficulties and attentional deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) are positively correlated with the vapour from e-cigarettes. Another study (which is still being continued) revealed that exposure of e-cigarettes to mice just after birth or mice in late gestation, cause hyperactivity and faster paced movements in the offspring than the offspring of mice who have not been exposed to e-cigarettes. Additional studies by the research team, examined the offspring later in life of a mother who was exposed to e-cigarette vapour. The three to fiveweek-old-male offspring had lower concentrations of sperm - which was significantly less active than the sperm from the offspring of the non-exposed

Pictured: Vaping may be better than smoking, but it’s still bad (Photographer: Daniel Riquelme)


SCIENCE 31

Making (gravitational) waves in science history

Lisa Carr

Larger objects create bigger distortions, pulling smaller objects inwards and this relationship is also dependent on the distance between each object.

I

f you haven’t been hiding under a rock for the last week, you will know that one of the most monumental steps forward in science of our lifetime has been taken. On 11th February, US researchers from the newly upgraded LIGO laboratories, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory announced that they had detected gravity waves. This validates the final unconfirmed prediction from Einstein’s theory of relativity – the long foretold but thus far unseen gravitational waves became reality. The very fabric of our universe was found and this has huge consequences on what we understand about the universe – the doors of discovery have been opened. The scientific method is a series of theories, falsifications in the quest to find truth. Finding proof for such a long-standing prediction is a huge celebration for science, many previous experiments to find gravitational waves fell short, and despite scientist’s assurance that these waves existed none had been observed directly. In 1974 astronomers Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor detected pulses of radio waves from two dead stars that were losing energy and spiralling towards each other. This resonated with Einstein’s equations of general relativity but at this stage the ‘E’ from E=MC2 was missing. The elusive E was emitted by gravitational waves, but at that stage it was beyond our measurable capabilities. On the 14th September at around 09:50GMT, LIGO laboratories 3,000 miles apart in Washington and Louisiana both detected a ripple of gravitational wave within milliseconds of each other. The wave was detected from the merger of two black holes 1.3 billion light-years from Earth. Considering that these waves travel at the speed of light, scientists detected a pulse that was emitted 1.3 billion years ago, putting into perspective the scale of the universe. The two black holes in question were orbiting one another before colliding and merging into one single black hole. To picture the scene, imagine you’re blowing bubbles, two of the bubbles float into each other and become one larger bubble. Now picture one bubble being 29 times the mass of the sun and the other being 36 times the mass of the sun and

you can imagine the scale of the collision and the reason why the universally-relative weak signal managed to be detected by the receptors on our little rock of a planet billions of miles away. According to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, massive objects warp space and time around them. His initial ideas in 1905 theorised that the laws of physics were the same for all non-accelerating objects, the speed of light within a vacuum is the same independent of the speed of individual observers and space and time are all interwoven on a single continuum. Many people may know this idea from the movie Interstellar – events that occur at the same time for one observer can occur at different times for another (picture Matthew McConaughey on a distant planet with a dilated time scale due to its proximity to a Gargantua, his daughter grew up to be an old lady before he returned home in relative time scales). Einstein spent 10 years attempting to include accelerating objects in the theory and he eventually determined that massive accelerating masses should produce ripples in space and time, distortions that we identify as gravitational waves. Larger objects create bigger distortions, pulling smaller objects inwards and this relationship is also dependent on the distance between each object. These waves are incredibly difficult to detect, scientists’ expected that their LIGO interferometers would need to detect disturbances no bigger than a fraction of the width of a proton. Protons are the particles that make up the nucleus of all atoms. In a typical human of around 70kg, there are about seven billion billion billion atoms. The minuteness of detection required for a gravity wave is beyond our comprehension; LIGO achieved this incredible feat using split high-powered laser beams and light paths down vacuum tunnels. Trawling through background noise, tremors and vibrations, a more distinct gravitational pulse can be found amongst a plethora of general earth hums and years of research and stimulations means the unique pulse could be identified. The recorded data fitted perfectly in with modeled expectations and equations, an accomplishment for the scientific method and a feat for the patient

scientists who had waited ten years to detect the waves. Importantly, scientists at our very own Cardiff University developed many of these theoretical models. A super-computer in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University was used to examine the data from the LIGO interferometers, demonstrating our research excellence. The university’s Gravitational Physics Group used computer simulations of black-hole collisions to produce theoretical models to compare measured signals to confirm that the recordings were of gravitational waves and not other phenomena. Media conferences were held on campus during the announcement that gravitational waves had been detected. 900 scientists worldwide were involved in the experiment, but our university played a crucial role in the first direct observation of binary black holes, a system of two black holes in close orbit around each other. This discovery and detection provides a multifaceted answer to many different questions that arise from theoretical physics. It gives us a new understanding of what goes on in the sky, beyond what we can see in our visible light spectrum

and beyond our detection. But this isn’t the end of the road; this discovery opens up a new wealth of questions that we are about to embark on a journey to answer. Black holes are elusive, we only know of their existence indirectly. The gravitational influence of black holes is so great that light can’t move past them, we just see material surrounding them at high speeds. Gravitational waves are the language of black holes; the only information that comes from them and through them. By detecting gravitational waves we have validated our first inferences of black holes. As with much of physics, the biggest answers that we will find out from here will be to questions that didn’t even exist before. We are on a long process of discovery. This is not so much a case of ‘Einstein was right,’ we don’t even know what right is in regards to the universe. All we know now is how much there is to discover. As LIGO spokesperson Gabriela Gonzalez said: “This is just the beginning. This is the first of many to come. Now that we have detectors able to detect these systems, now we know that binary black holes are out there, we begin listening to the universe.”

Pictured: A model of the gravitational waves (Source: Charly W. Karl) Below: Einstein’s elusive theory finally has concrete evidence (Photographer: Orren Jack Turner)

Einstein eventually determined that massive accelerating masses should produce ripples in space and time, distortions that we identify as gravitational waves.


32 SCIENCE

What could leaving the EU mean for science? Gair Rhydd looks at the pros and cons of leaving the EU from the perspective of science research

Lizzie Harrett

Numerous pros and cons have been argued with respect to staying put or leaving.

For more science news, visit our new website: gairrhydd.com

S

hould we stay or should we go? A referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the European Union (EU) awaits us, perhaps as early as June. Indeed, as Gair Rhydd goes to press this week David Cameron will be locking horns with Brussels big-wigs, in an attempt to negotiate new terms and conditions for continued EU membership that the public will be more amenable to. The ‘In’ and ‘Out’ campaigns are already heating up in response to the impending vote. Nigel Farage is smoking fags, necking pints and holding public meetings across the country in a bid to convince us to leave, working alongside groups such as ‘Grassroots Out’. On the other side of the argument the crossparty ‘Stronger In Europe’ campaign group is upping the ante, churning out Pro-EU press releases, leafleting the public and launching their movement across the country. Numerous pros and cons have been argued with respect to staying put or leaving. From Jess Philips MP stressing that increased queuing times at airports would infuriate holiday makers to the complex financial arguments quoting trading rules and regulations put forward by The City, many are adding their two cents to the debate. However, for those with a strong interest or investment in scientific research there are another subset of arguments to consider. Whether you are a fanatical physics fan, have

a passion for parasitology or just enjoy dipping into Gair Rhydd Science when you have a spare ten minutes between lectures, the arguments below should be considered when you put pen to ballot paper. Money talks (and delivers scientific breakthroughs), so an important factor to consider when debating science and EU membership is who pays for this research. We rely on EU grants for around 16 per cent of all science funding. We are also incredibly successful at winning EU grants, being allocated around £5.5 billion worth of grants between 2007 and 2013, coming second to only Germany. What’s also very telling is that the 73 per cent of the £200 million increase in science research grants and contracts income between 2007 and 2013 came from EU sources. This is while George Osborne applies cuts to UK government science research funding when you factor in inflation. Member of the ‘Leave.eu’ campaign and cancer researcher, Angus Dalgleish, opposes these pure statistics. He argues that we would be able to make up the shortfall lost from EU grants, stating: “We would have a far bigger budget for funding our own science.” He claims that if we left we could redirect annual contributions towards EU membership, which is currently around £13 billion, to science funding instead. Another argument put forward by Eurosceptics is the example of some non-EU members such as Norway

and Israel gaining access to these research and funding schemes by paying for inclusion and ensuring they adopt specific EU rules, such as freedom of movement. This may be harder for the UK, our past success at winning these grants may come back to haunt us, making it much more expensive to renegotiate entry. The case of Switzerland should also be considered; who left the EU in 1992 but gained access to funding programmes. However, in 2014 the country voted to restrict free movement and was formally booted from these schemes. The Swiss government had to make up the shortfall and their participation in these schemes has since been restricted, paying more for less. Christian Sengstag, head of research at The University of Basel summarised the impact this has had on Swiss science, saying the best candidates for research positions “will think twice before accepting a position in Switzerland.” Scientific research is largely a collaborative affair. If you consider the recently confirmed gravitational waves, it was a large-scale research project involving scientists from all over the globe with some involved even flying the flag for Cardiff University. Research is becoming more and more international. In 1985, 85 per cent of all research papers published in the UK were only authored by British scientists. That figure now stands at just 50 per cent, with all the

growth in UK input coming in the form of international collaborations. How much of this international collaboration can be put down to EU membership? Around 15 per cent of academic staff at UK universities are EU nationals. While these members of staff are unlikely to lose their visas or grants, in the future it could be harder for EU citizen to obtain research jobs here and for EU research groups to collaborate with us. Angus Dalgleish dismisses this, arguing that universities already maintain successful collaborations with non-EU members. However, collaborative output of research papers last year where the UK is partnered with at least one EU state (13,336) is double that of UKUSA collaborations (6,242). Collaborations with China are even lower, at 1,432. It appears our research infrastructure is built around European collaborations, which you couldn’t alter with a quick fix. The future that Eurosceptic groups have for science and research funding if we vote to leave the EU appears to currently be simple theory, assuming that we will easilyww be able to divert equal funds to research. It is very telling that UKIP’s 2015 election manifesto contains just one sentence about the state of science in the UK, claiming they would “increase funding” for STEM subjects. Perhaps something to ask Nigel about if you see him downing a pint outside a pub somewhere.

When you have a spare ten minutes between lectures, the arguments below should be considered when you put pen to ballot paper.

Pictured: The facts about funding (Designed by Lizzie Harrett)


34 SOCIETIES

societies

Editor: Aletheia Nutt @GairRhyddSoc societies@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/societies

Cardiff Volunteering:

Rachel Jones

T

Get involved with National Student Volunteering Week

his week is National Student Volunteering Week, which is geared towards getting individual people involved in volunteering, offering loads of one-off and taster events for you to try out different types of volunteering! Luckily for you, Cardiff Volunteering have put a handy list of events together for you, so you can see what takes your fancy at a glance! Monday 22nd February 2016: Today we have two events happening! First up is the great british jailbake off! Don your aprons and bake a cake for charity! We will be accepting submissions in CSEV between 9am-11am, with judging 11am-12pm and cake sales in the food court from 12pm-3pm. Prizes for best tasting and best decorated. All proceeds to Cardiff Volunteering to help fund our volunteering projects. The second

event happening today is a Day At The Farm. Experience a day at Amelia Trust farm with a variety of activities, including helping with the animals, habitat creation and woodland management! We’ll be meeting at 10am and returning at 5pm. Tuesday 23rd February 2016: We’re creating a pollinator garden in Grangetown! Join us for a day of planting and generally getting your hands dirty. A great chance to get some fresh air and make a visible difference in a local community. This event will take place from 11am – 4pm. Wednesday 24th February 2016: Calais Clothes Sort - Join us for an afternoon of sorting out clothes donations for refugees at Calais Camp and locally in Cardiff. If you can only pop along for an hour that’s fine too! Any help welcome, we’ll be sorting from

1-5pm. Thursday 25th February 2016: Blind Bowling - Interact with those with visual impairments during a game of bowling, including being a sighted guide and experiencing the impairments first hand using specially created goggles! In conjunction with Cardiff Institute for the Blind. This will be taking place from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. Friday 26th February: Jailbreak Briefings – all teams must attend and these will be happening regularly throughout the day. If you haven’t heard of Jailbreak, where have you been!? Jailbreak is the biggest event of the Volunteering Calendar, and is happening 4th-6th March. You have 52 hours to get as far away from Cardiff, and back again. The catch? You can’t spend ANY money on transport, and have to beg, borrow and busk

your way across the world. Sounds like your bag? Head to www.cardiffstudent.com/Jailbreak to enter a team and read the all important T&C’s, you’re running out of time to sign up! Finally, just a reminder to those of you in Sports Teams or Societies, or completing the Cardiff Award. These events all count towards your tiering system, and can mark off a load of points, including volunteering, fundraising and community work. For those of you doing the Cardiff Award, these all count towards your hours, so completing Jailbreak and two other events and you’ve done your 70 hours! To sign up for any or all of these events, head to www.cardiffstudents. com/volunteering and click on National Student Volunteering Week! As usual, if you have any questions, drop us an email on volunteering@cardiff. ac.uk or pop in for a cuppa and a chat!

out more about what actions you can take. Free admission, SU Reception, 18:00-21:00. For further information contact UAEM@cardiff. ac.uk. Wednesday 24th February Drop in for cheap and healthy fruit, veg and smoothies for every taste. Come visit this stall for some yummy, fresh, cheap and local fruit and veg. They will be making fresh smoothies and handing out delicious fruit all for free. They will also be selling loads of reduced bags (over)packed with tasty fruit and veg. Front of the SU,11:00-16:00. For further information contact FruitAndVeg@cardiff.ac.uk. Thursday 25th February

Monday 22nd February Cardiff Volunteering are having a day at the Farm. Experience a day at Amelia Trust farm with a variety of activities, including helping with the animals, habitat creation and woodland management! Don your wellies and get out into the Welsh countryside! Our friends at Amelia Trust Farm will be on hand with plenty of activities to keep you busy throughout the day. Transport will be provided - please wear old clothing and bring a packed lunch and plenty to drink! £4 per person, meeting at CSEV, 2nd floor CUSU at 10:00 am. Tuesday 23rd February UAEM Cardiff welcomes the annual Youth

Stop Aids Speaker tour to Cardiff : A chance to hear stories from young people affected by HIV. A third of the world’s population does not have regular access to essential medicines and this figure rises to 50% in the poorest parts of the world. Medication for HIV/AIDs is one example: only 37% of the 37 million people living with HIV are accessing the treatment they need. UAEM Cardiff believes students and universities are uniquely positioned to tackle this issue by calling for an alternative Research and Development system for producing our medicines driven by global health needs not profit. Come along on 23rd February to hear the stories of two inspirational speakers (one International and one from the UK) who have been affected by HIV as part of the annual Youth Stop AIDs Speaker Tour; and to find

In conjunction with Cardiff Institute for the Blind Cardiff Volunteering are holding an evening of Blind Bowling. Interact with those with visual impairments during a game of bowling, including being a sighted guide and experiencing the impairments first hand using specially created goggles! £3 per person, CSEV, 2nd Floor CUSU, 17:30-21:30, for more information, please email volunteering@ cardiff.ac.uk. Friday 26th February In partnership with numerous cultural societies in Cardiff University Student’s Union, AIESEC Cardiff presents the Global Village! A show case of the different cultures and nationalities here at AIESEC Cardiff and an introduction into what it’s like to be a Global Citizen with AIESEC. There will be workshops, food, drinks and performances from societies like YUVA Society, Afro- Caribbean Society, the Kazakh

These events all count towards your tiering system, and can mark off a load of points, including volunteering.

Society and many more! £3 per person, 4A and 4B, Students Union at 17:00-19:00. For further information contact AIESEC@Cardiff.ac.uk. Saturday 27th February Learn about the work at Cardiff Dogs Home and take some dogs out for much needed exercise and attention whilst fundraising for Friends of the Dogs Wales. Ticket sales go towards covering transport costs - any surplus will be donated to FOTD. Please bring some snacks and wear old clothing with appropriate footwear. If you have been to a Puppy Power event before, please do not sign up as you will be asked to give up your space for those who haven’t had the chance yet! £5 per person, CSEV, 2nd Floor CUSU between 10:00-16:30. If you have any questions, email volunteering@Cardiff.ac.uk. Tickets will sell out fast! Sunday 28th February Come and learn how to cross stitch, needle felt or to do some crafting. Meet new people and have great fun. If you are interested in learning how to cross stitch or needle felt and in meeting other people who are enthusiastic about crafting, join StitchSoc for a great session where they will be sharing their skills, tips, tricks and experience. Whether you are an absolute beginner or have experience in the field, this event has something for you. If you have any cross stitch needles, thread and fabric, or needle felting resources please feel free to bring them, otherwise resources are available to borrow. £1 per person, Main Building Workshop Room at 13:00-15:00. For further information contact stitchsoc@ cardiff.ac.uk.


SOCIETIES 35

Yuva Indian Society celebrates Indian culture

Avantika Raj

It is our aim to constantly keep changing and improving ourselves in a manner that benfits both are members as well as other students of Cardiff University.

Aimee Hardman

Y

uva, which translates to ‘youth’ in Hindi, is the Indian Society at Cardiff University, created to advocate Indian culture in the Welsh capital. The primary role of Yuva is to showcase India by celebrating important Indian festivals such as Diwali (Hindu New Year) and Holi. While India is well known for its colourful festivals and mouth-watering (literally!) food, Yuva also embraces all that makes modern India great. As the country changes with the rest of the world, we represent the current generation through events such as Bollywood nights and burning the dance floor with our crazy hip moves at Go Global - as Darcy eloquently phrased it in Bride and Prejudice: “It’s just like you’re screwing a bulb with one hand and petting a dog with the other”. Yet unsatisfied with the typical image of Indians as bauble heads with big red dots on their foreheads, shaking their heads and leaving the rest confused on whether we’re saying yes or no, the current Yuva committee decided to take our role one step further to recreate the definition of what it means to be Yuva. An unforgettable tragedy occurred on 16th December, 2014 in the form of the attacks in Peshawar, Pakistan on young children attending the Army Public School. Shaken by the catastrophe, Yuva performed a tribute to the victims during Go Global in 2015. Yuva is a non-profitable organisation that not only caters to students but also now and then strives to do our bit for others. Therefore, we seek to participate in events every year to raise funds for donation and charity. This year we didn’t solely perform singular events to raise funds but also collaborated with the Pakistani Society to raise funds for the Peshawar Charity initiated by the famous Pakistani politician Imran Khan. Spending many a-night matching step-by-step and listening to the same soundtrack until every word and tune was burnt into memory, members of both societies worked hard to commemorate the innocent through the medium of dance. With other participants such as the Malaysian society, a beautiful evening incurred. Despite political enmity and assumed barriers the current generation of the two countries set aside all discrepancies and came together to make a difference.

As representatives of the international community, we believe that many aspects of the Students’ Union can be improved, especially in regards of providing more transparency with the University’s communication with students. We believe in helping the Students’ Union set up a framework which revolves around providing International students with services that are not easily accessible. Steps to initiate such a framework have already begun! In the aftermath of the floods in Tamil Nadu, India in December, 2015, the Yuva society along with the Students’ Union set up an emergency system initiated to confirm the well-being of students during such drastic times. Immediately after the occurrence of a traumatic event such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack, the Students’ Union will provide students of the attacked country with information on contacting local authorities to ensure that family and friends are safe. This is a big step in ensuring the mental well-being of students during such distressing situations and also acting upon a gap in the services provided to the students of Cardiff University. The ball has begun to roll and we don’t want it to stop! As stated on our website, Yuva is a society of students, run by students, and solely for students. Hence, it is our aim to constantly keep changing and improving ourselves in a manner that befits both are members as well as other students of Cardiff University. As times change, we want the image of Yuva to transform from a society whose sole purpose is to represent Indian culture in Cardiff to a society whose role in the Students’ Union is much bigger. We wish to make the SU more friendly in terms of providing International students with more information upon arriving in Cardiff, as well as improving inductions that occur in their native countries. Furthermore, by performing more collaborations with other societies, we can encourage the unification of countries and cultures thereby further exposing the different cultures and traditions of the world to Cardiff students. Finally, as the new committee will take their place in the next coming academic year, this goal to improve and change will not waver or come to standstill - the changes have started and hopefully the domino effect will not stop.

Act One are putting on Blithe Spirit: It’s set to be spookily good

W

hen socialite Charles Condomine hosts a seance for research into his next novel he gets more than he bargains for. Filled with Noel Coward’s quintessential wit, Blithe Spirit promises laughs-a-plenty and proves the past can come back to haunt you. Charles’ first wife, Elvira materialises from the spirit world, determined to drive a wedge between Charles and his current wife Ruth. Hilarity ensues

as Charles tries to balance two wives, a seemingly useless maid and eccentric medium. The show’s director, Lucy Howlett, who is an avid fan of the playwright, was keen to take on the play: “Noel Coward’s dramas endure for a reason they are some of the funniest around, and arguably Blithe Spirit is the funniest.” Lucy also shares her thoughts on the small and tight knit cast: “It has been

a joy and pleasure from start to finish, and from our first read through as a cast I knew we had something very special.” Production Manager Aimee Hardman also has high hopes for the show, commenting: “Blithe Spirit is a delight of a play providing endless laughs for both Lucy and I - and hopefully the audience.” This production will be more than just the comedy, as Aimee explains:

“From a production standpoint the play is set in the 1930s providing us with a fantastic aesthetic to work with. From costume to set the play is a feast for the eyes.” Come along and enjoy the spell binding Act One cast in Llanover Hall, on the dates of February 25th, 26th and 27th. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets are £7/£8 each and you can buy your tickets by vising www.buytickets.at/blithespirit.

Pictured: Members of Yuva Indian Society.


36 SOCIETIES

Students For Life:

Toni Saad

Issy Sutherland

O

The relationship between disability and abortion

n February 2nd Students for Life (SFL) was pleased to welcome Philippa Taylor, head of public policy at Christian Medical Fellowship. Her subject was the relationship between disability and abortion, and due to SFL’s secular views, she spoke only from an ethical/legal perspective. Abortion became legal in the UK in 1967 with the passing of the Abortion Act. Thus, one reason (among others) a woman can be granted an abortion is if her unborn child has a severe mental or physical handicap. And this might seem fair enough: can’t a mother choose whether or not to keep her child? And isn’t it unfair to force a woman to go through the emotional distress of having the child? Moreover, who will bear the heavy burden of the child’s complex care needs? At first blush abortion for disability might seem obviously legitimate. It has been suggested, however, that this

I

sort of abortion constitutes discrimination because it targets a group based on their disability: it is a form of ableism (see the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995). In any other sphere of life we would call this discrimination, so why we are so slow do so in the context of abortion? Now, some argue that abortion is always a fundamental right. In the context of gender-selective abortion, Ann Furedi, the head of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the leading independent abortion provider, has urged those who consider themselves pro-choice to have the courage of their conviction: “You can’t be pro-choice only when you like the choice”. How does this relate to disability? If the idea of discriminating against the disabled in everyday life seems unthinkable, then we might feel uncomfortable about accepting that it occurs before birth. There’s a contradiction between our commitment to equality

for the disabled and a woman’s right to choose. Furthermore, the UK rightly goes to great lengths to accommodate the disabled, yet allows for the disabled to be erased before they are born - a bleak message to the disabled community. Of course, none of this makes life any easier for the families who care for disabled children. But it’s worth noting that abortion isn’t necessarily straightforward. Philippa Taylor discussed studies which show that women who opt to give birth to their disabled child - even if it only lives for a few hours - are able to grieve much better than woman who choose abortion. Many women would rather welcome a new member to the family, if only for a short while, than never to have known them. Additionally, as Philippa Taylor reminded us, there are alternatives to abortion. For example, the Zoë’s Place Trust hospices which provide the specialist care which some disabled new-

borns need, and give the families a suitable place to be with their baby. Studies have shown that awareness of such care reduces the likelihood of choosing abortion. The talk ended with a brief look at some of the positives of disability. We heard stories of the joy that disabled children bring to their families, and the remarkable successes of disabled people like Karen Gaffney (an accomplished swimmer and charity executive). To our pleasant surprise, we learnt that 99 per cent of people with Down’s Syndrome consider themselves happy. Abortion is always going to be a difficult issue. But in the light of disability and the disabled, it seems to cast a dark shadow; the discrimination it suggests should give us pause. It is axiomatic that we should wish equality for all in society. But is it possible to square this noble desire with the current treatment of the disabled unborn? To us at least, it seems unlikely.

Art Society put on a Valentine’s Day card-making workshop

f you’re not already a member of Art Society then why not? Our society is about three little things that mean a lot – creativity, inclusion and fun. You don’t have to be the next Picasso to join in! We welcome all abilities as long as you are open to learn new things, re-

lax and have fun! We always have a laugh and hold a variety of events. A couple of weeks ago we held a Valentine’s Day card making workshop, the cards created were all great. We have picked some of our favourites to show you, make sure to take note for next year.

The talk ended with a brief look at some of the positives of disability.


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38 TAF-OD

taf-od

Golygydd: Rhian Floyd @Taf_od tafod@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/tafod

Trychineb y Sea Empress

20 mlynedd yn ddiweddarach, a oes gwersi wedi’u dysgu?

Rory Wade

Cofiaf weld pobl mewn dagrau wrth weld traethau tywod euraidd yn cael eu mygu dan fas du o olew. Gordon James

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ynododd yr wythnos diwethaf 20 mlynedd ers un o drychinebau amgylcheddol gwaethaf Prydain a ddigwyddodd oddi ar arfordir Sir Benfro. Yn ystod y nos ar Chwefror y 15fed 1996, tarodd llong olew Y Sea Empress greigiau St Anne’s Head ger Aberdaugleddau, cyn gorlifo 70,000 o dunelli o olew i’n moroedd. Cafodd y digwyddiad effeithiau hynod ddinistriol ar fywyd gwyllt lleol, a bygythiodd ddyfodol diwydiant twristiaeth a physgota Sir Benfro hefyd– ardal sy’n enwog am ei brydferthwch naturiol a statws fel Parc Cenedlaethol. Yn yr oriau’n dilyn y trychineb, cyhoeddodd yr awdurdod lleol gynllun argyfwng wrth i gychod ‘tynnu’ (tugboats) geisio cydbwyso’r llong a’i hail-arnofio hi. Bu awyrennau hefyd yn hedfan drosti gan ollwng cemegau mewn ymgais i leihau’r difrod gan yr olew a oedd yn llifo o’r llong. Fodd bynnag, yn fuan, roedd hi’n amlwg taw trychineb ecolegol ar

raddfa fyd-eang oedd hwn – ar y pryd, dyma oedd y 3ydd arllwysiad olew gwaethaf yn hanes Prydain, a’r 12fed gwaethaf yn y byd. Cafodd miloedd o adar eu lladd ac oddeutu 120 o filltiroedd o’r arfordir wedi’i halogi gan olew. Costiodd y broses glanhau tua £60 miliwn. Mae Gordon James, Cyfarwyddwr ‘Friends of The Earth Cymru’, yn cofio edrych ar effeithiau’r arllwysiad: “Roedd graddfa’r effaith gan y trychineb nawr yn dod yn glir a’r boblogaeth leol wedi’u harswydo. “Cofiaf weld pobl mewn dagrau wrth weld traethau tywod euraidd yn cael eu mygu dan fas du o olew ac adar yn gwneud ymdrechion diwerth i geisio dyrchafael eu cyrff allan ohono “Fe wnaeth nifer o bobl, gan gynnwys gwirfoddolwyr o FoE Sir Benfro, mynd mewn i’r môr budr mewn ymgais i achub yr adar.” I nifer, roedd hwn yn alwad i ni i ddeffro a chymryd mwy o gyfrifoldeb a gofal dros yr amgylchedd. Ym marn

Nick Ainger, fodd bynnag, – cyn-MP y Sir – nid oes gwersi wedi’u dysgu ers y trychineb. Wrth siarad â BBC Radio Cymru, dywedodd Mr Ainger bod cael gwared ar fflyd llongau tynnu argyfwng y DU wedi agor y posibilrwydd o drychineb tebyg yn y dyfodol. Fe wnaeth y llywodraeth glymblaid cael gwared â’r fflyd yn 2011 fel dull o arbed arian. “Rydym mewn sefyllfa, 20 mlynedd wedi trychineb Y Sea Empress, 23 mlynedd ar ôl Y Braer, ble nad oes gennym gerbydau tynnu mewn-argyfwng wedi’u lleoli o gwmpas ein harfordir” meddai Ainger ar y sioe Sunday Supplement. “Credaf y dylai’r wers gael ei ailddysgu yn fuan iawn cyn i ni wynebu trychineb newydd,” ychwanegodd Ainger. Cred Dr Malcolm Smith (prif wyddonydd Cyngor Cefn Gwlad Cymru) fod trychineb Y Sea Empress wedi cael dylanwad enfawr wrth helpu i wahardd tanwydd llawer mwy dinistriol rhag cael ei ddwyn i mewn i Aberdaugleddau - rhywbeth a oedd

wedi’i chynnig ar y pryd. “Cyn y trychineb roedd yna gynnig gan BP i fewnforio Orimulsion o Dde America i Aberdaugleddau a’i losgi yng ngorsaf bŵer Penfro. Mae Orimulsion yn gyfansoddyn trwchus ofnadwy sydd angen cael ei gynhesu i osgoi mynd yn solid.” Yn ôl Dr Smith, rhybuddiodd y Cyngor y byddai hyn yn ormod o risg – “Byddant wedi hwylio trwy ddyfroedd a oedd yn bwysig yn rhyngwladol i fywyd gwyllt. Os oedd llong yn arllwys Orimulsion, ni fyddai’r sylwedd wedi arnofio ar arwyneb y môr, byddai wedi boddi, gan lenwi gwaelod y môr a lladd popeth mewn golwg. Roedd gwely môr yr ardal yn un o’r rhai mwyaf cyfoethog yn Ewrop, ac roedd gennym frwydr yn ein dwylo.” Trychineb Y Sea Empress wnaeth atal cynlluniau BP yn nhyb Dr Smith, ac er iddo gael effaith ofnadwy ar fywyd gwyllt yr ardal, cred fod “canlyniad positif wedi dod ohono, gallwch ddweud taw bendith guddiedig oedd hi.”

Yn y llun: Gwylan wedi’i staenio gan olew (tarddiad: Flickr)


TAF-OD 39

A yw dwyieithrwydd yn dda i’r ymennydd?

Dan Heard

Gall henoed dwyieithog brofi llai neu braidd dim dirywiad gwybyddol.

Rhydian Jenkins

Mae colli enw ein stadiwm genedlaethol wedi achosi tipyn o ddadlau.

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rbyn heddiw, mae ein poblogaeth fydol yn gynyddol ddwyieithog, neu hyd yn oed yn gallu siarad mwy na dwy iaith. Mae’r ‘trend’ newydd hwn, yn ôl ymchwil yn cael effaith positif ar ein cyfarwydd-der gwybyddol. O ganlyniad i’r gallu i siarad mwy nag un iaith, mae’r ymennydd yn gallu, yn ôl ymchwil, gweithio’n gyflymach, a chanlyniad hynny yw ein gwneud i dalu mwy o sylw at waith a lleihau’r amser mae’n ei gymryd i ddatrys problemau o gymharu ag ymennydd unieithog. Ar ben hynny, gall fod yn ddwyieithog gael effeithiau positif ar ddau begwn y sbectrwm oedran, gyda phlant dwyieithog mor ifanc â chwech neu saith fis oed yn medru ymdopi’n well i newidiadau yn eu hamgylchedd, ac felly, gall henoed dwyieithog brofi llai neu braidd dim dirywiad gwybyddol na phroblemau sy’n codi’n naturiol o ganlyniad ei oedran. Rydyn ni fel bodau dynol yn cael ein hamgylchu, fel petai, gan iaith ac ieithoedd bob mu-

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nud o bob dydd. Rydym yn defnyddio iaith nid yn unig i fynegi ein teimladau, ond hefyd i gysylltu â phobl eraill sy’n rhoi teimlad o hunaniaeth i ni fel unigolion yn ogystal â’n cynorthwyo i ddeall y byd o’n gwmpas yn well. Mae yna 6800 o ieithoedd gwahanol ar draws y byd, ac wrth gwrs, gan nad oes dewis gennych yn y mater o ble cewch chi eich geni, mae yna ddisgwyliad naturiol i ddysgu iaith mor gynted â phosib ar ôl cael eich geni yn y man hwnnw. Awgryma arbenigwyr bod y dalent o fedru dechrau dysgu iaith mor fuan yn eich bywyd yn diflannu’n gyflym - mor fuan â naw mis wedi’ch genedigaeth - wrth i ddarnau’r ymennydd sy’n gallu ymdopi â dysgu ieithoedd newydd fynd yn fwy ac yn fwy di-werth. Serch hynny, mae’r ffaith bod y gallu gennym i ddysgu iaith newydd yn yr ysgol uwchradd (Ffrangeg, Almaeneg, Sbaeneg neu Gymraeg ail iaith yn fwyaf tebygol yng Nghymru) yn beth rhyfeddol i mi. Fodd bynnag, mae

Yn y llun: Chwith: Arwydd dwyieithog (Tarddiad: Flickr) Isod: Stadiwm y Mileniwm yng Nghaerdydd

“ hyn yn elwa eich ymennydd mewn sawl gwahanol ffordd felly byddwn yn erfyn ar unrhyw un i ymgymryd i ddysgu iaith newydd pa bryd bynnag y gallant yn eu bywydau. Mae ymchwiliadau newydd diweddar yn dangos fod ymennydd dwyieithog hefyd yn gallu adfer anghytundebau a hyd yn oed gwrthsefyll clefydon yr ymennydd fel ffurfiau gwahanol o orddryswch, dementia ac Alzheimer’s am gyfnod hwy mewn bywyd. Mae’r sylweddoliadau hyn wedi achosi i nifer o ysgolion cynradd, uwchradd a hyd yn oed rhai colegau a phrifysgolion i ail-feddwl eu polisi ar ddysgu ieithoedd yn ogystal â chyhoeddi gwersi a gweithgareddau i annog dwyieithrwydd mewn pobl ifanc. Mantais sydd gan Gymru yma felly am fod gwersi Cymraeg yn rhan hanfodol o’r cwricwlwm.

Yn bersonol, rydw i wedi bod yn dysgu Cymraeg ers pan oeddwn yn bedair blwydd oed, ac nid yw erioed wedi teimlo fel sialens, nac ychwaith yn dasg anodd. Mae hi wedi bod yn broses hollol naturiol. Yn wahanol i’r Gymraeg, teimlais fod astudio Ffrangeg ac Almaeneg yn yr ysgol uwchradd wedi bod dipyn yn fwy o sialens. Wrth edrych ar fy sefyllfa heddiw yn y brifysgol, rwy’n astudio at radd mewn newyddiaduriaeth. Rwy’n astudio dau fodiwl trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, ac yn gobeithio y bydd hyn yn arwain at swydd ym myd cyfryngau - trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg gobeithio. Mae dwyieithrwydd wedi agor cymaint o ddrysau i mi fel unigolyn, a gyda’r newyddion ei fod yn dda i’r ymennydd hefyd, rwy’n falch iawn o fedru dweud fy mod yn ddwyieithog!

Stadiwm y Mileniwm vs Stadiwm Principality

tadiwm y Mileniwm neu Stadiwm Principality? Pa un sy’n gywir? Dyma sydd wedi bod ar dafodau’r Cymry dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf, gydag un o brif sefydliadau fwyaf eiconig ac adnabyddus Cymru yn colli’i enw gwreiddiol. Pan gyhoeddwyd y llynedd y byddai Stadiwm y Mileniwm yn cael ei ailenwi fel Stadiwm Principality, mae’n deg dweud bod nifer o farnau cadarnhaol a negyddol wedi codi yn gymdeithasol ac yn y cyfryngau hefyd. Newidwyd enwau nifer fawr o stadiymau’r Deyrnas Unedig dros y blynyddoedd diwethaf megis Aviva Stadium (stadiwm genedlaethol tîm rygbi Iwerddon, a arferai gael ei adnabod fel ‘Lansdowne Road’) ac Emirates Stadium (stadiwm tîm pêl-droed Arsenal a arferai gael ei adnabod fel ‘Highbury’). Felly, mae colli enw ein stadiwm genedlaethol, Stadiwm y Mileniwm yn swyddogol, ar gyfer enw hollol estron wedi achosi tipyn o ddadlau o ystyried hunaniaeth a hanes hirhoedlog y stadiwm. Serch hynny, mae’n symudiad strategol cadarn gan Principality gan eu bod yn edrych i dyfu eu busnes y

tu allan i Gymru, felly credaf fod y cytundeb yma mewn gwirionedd yn un fuddiol i’r ddwy ochr. Ers y penderfyniad i newid enw’r stadiwm, mae’n rhywbeth rydw i’n bersonol wedi ceisio addasu i, ond fel nifer o bobl eraill, mae’n dal i fod yn anhawster. Heb amheuaeth, bydd yn cymryd amser hir i bobl yng Nghymru i gyfeirio at y stadiwm yn ôl ei enw newydd, ond rwy’n hyderus na fydd yr enw yma’n amharu ar frwdfrydedd nac ychwaith awydd y Cymry i fynd i’r stadiwm i gefnogi ein tîm cenedlaethol. Rhaid i ni ganolbwyntio ar fuddiannau’r fargen yma gan gwmni Principality, serch ein teimladau cychwynnol. Dyma benderfyniad a fydd yn gynorthwyol i Gymru yn economaidd, am fod y fargen gwerth oddeutu £15m dros gyfnod o ddeng mlynedd yn ôl bob son. Mae’n amlwg fod y newid yma wedi derbyn safbwyntiau a barnau cadarnhaol ac eto negyddol gan amlaf, ond ni ddylai ein hatal ni fel cefnogwyr brwd i barhau i gefnogi ein tîm cenedlaethol ar un o gaeau mwyaf eiconig chwaraeon y byd, er ei enw gwahanol.

Mae dwyieithrwydd wedi agor cymaint o ddrysau i mi fel unigolyn, a gyda’r newyddion ei fod yn dda i’r ymennydd hefyd, rwy’n falch iawn o fedru dweud fy mod yn ddwyieithog!


40 SPORT

BUCS Results: Wednesday 17th February Presented by:

H/A

Sport

Cardiff Team

Opposition

Result

W/L/D

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American Football

Mixed 1st

Swansea University 1st

13-21

L

A

Badminton

Mens 1st

Durham University 1st

7-1

L

H

Badminton

Mens 2nd

Cardiff Metropolitan University 1st

3-5

L

A

Badminton

Womens 2nd

University of Gloucestershire 1st

8-0

L

A

Fencing

Womens 1st

King’s College London 1st

95-110

W

H

Football

Womens 1st

University of Bath 2nd

3-2

W

A

Football

Womens 2nd

University of Winchester

2-0

L

A

Football

Mens 3rd (Medics)

University of Gloucestershire

2-0

L

H

Golf

Mixed 2nd

Bournemouth University 1st

2-4

L

A

Hockey

Mens 1st

Reading University 1st

2-1

L

H

Hockey

Womens 1st

University of Leeds 1st

4-2

W

A

Hockey

Womens 2nd (Medics)

University of Southampton 1st

3-0

L

A

Hockey

Mens 3rd

University of West of England 3rd

1-2

W

H

Hockey

Womens 3rd

Aberwystwyth University 1st

4-5

L

H

Hockey

Mens 4th (Medics)

University of St Mark and St John

4-3

W

H

Hockey

Womens 4th

Royal Agricultural University 1st

4-2

W

H

Lacrosse

Mens 1st

Nottingham Trent University 1st

6-12

L

A

Lacrosse

Womens 1st

Imperial College London 1st

12-11

L

H

Netball

Womens 1st

University of Manchester 1st

57-31

W

A

Netball

Womens 9th (Medics)

University of South Wales 5th

1-51

W

H

Rugby Union

Womens 1st

University of Bath 1st

20-8

W

A

Rugby Union

Mens 3rd

University of Exeter 6th

25-13

L

H

Rugby Union

Mens 6th

Southampton Solent 1st

50-0

W

H

Squash

Mens 1st

King’s College London 1st

w/o

W

A

Squash

Womens 1st

Northumbria University 1st

3-1

L

H

Table Tennis

Mens 2nd

Southampton Solent 1st

12-5

W

H

Table Tennis

Womens 2nd

University of Sussex 1st

1-4

L

H

Tennis

Mens 1st

Cardiff Metropolitan University

4-8

L

A

Tennis

Womens 2nd

University of Exeter 4th

0-12

L

A

Ultimate (Outdoor)

Mens 1st

University of Bath 1st

15-7

L

H

Volleyball

Mens 1st

University of Gloucestershire 1st

3-0

W

H

Volleyball

Womens 1st

University of Birmingham 1st

w/o

W

Wins

Draws

Losses

14

0

18


SPORT 41

Cardiff hosts Southern Universities’ Dance Competition

Sophie Barnes

It’s just like Strictly but on a bigger scale with fierce rivalries between the universities. Kshitja Nevgi

Shaun Davey

The Cardiff Uni show will be a massive night of entertainment and fun, and will be the perfect warm-up for the upcoming Varsity. Dan Barratt

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n Saturday 13th February 2016, Cardiff welcomed one of the toughest and most sought after competitions in the UK – and we are not talking about the Six Nations Rugby match between Wales and Scotland! The Welsh Capital greeted over 500 dancers from across the south of the United Kingdom to Talybont Sports Village seeing them go head to head on the dancefloor for Ballroom and Latin American dancing titles. As this competition is part of the UK University Dancesport circuit, it is the second largest competition held before the national event, with the main event in Blackpool featuring over 1000 dancers. Cardiff won the bid to host the Southern Universities’ Dance Competition (SUDC) back in November 2015, so it has been a long but rewarding process for all of the SUDC committee involved. The city last hosted a competition on this scale back in 2013. Amongst this year’s organising committee there were experienced dancers who had organised the competition three years previous as well as fresh ideas incorporated by dancers who had since joined Cardiff University Dancesport. The home turf proved a successful

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advantage for the Cardiff team, captained by Ed LeBrun Powell and Jenna Crocombe, where they had winners in the advanced, same sex and intermediate Latin categories, as well as the ex-student advanced Ballroom section. Laurence Lovell, who also co-organised the 2013 competition, said of the 2016 SUDC: “It has been three years since Cardiff University Dancesport Club has hosted an event on this scale. It has also been a while since Cardiff have had wins at SUDC, so we are thrilled”. As well as the Cardiff University Dancesport Team, we also saw fake tan, gelled hair and sequined appearances from the likes of Cambridge, Exeter, Southampton, Oxford, Reading, Aberystwyth and Swansea. The day also welcomed a fantastic demonstration from the UK ranked number two, Professional Latin couple, Gunnar Gunnerson and Marika Doshoris. They managed to get over 500 dancers on the floor at one point for an entertaining Salsa amid the middle of their Latin demo. The cheers rocked Talybont Sports Hall in honour of one of the world’s top 20 Latin couples, who were also introduced to Dylan and Daisy -our resident AU dragons.

Mrs Stevens was watching her daughter dance for Team Cardiff saying that: “The atmosphere was electric and the demo couple were incredible”. She further congratulated all of the SUDC committee involved in hosting an excellent day. Kshitja Nevgi, a member of the SUDC 2016 Committee, describes the event as “just like Strictly but on a bigger scale with fierce rivalries between the Universities”. The SUDC 2016 Committee President, Carrie Gwyther, declared that “we could not have wished for a more enjoyable day. The SUDA committee’s hard work really paid off ; I would like to thank each and every one of them for making this process possible. I would also like to thank the ‘competition makers’ for giving up their entire day to help out with the running of the event on the day itself when our

committee were dancing. Also a massive thanks to everyone who helped to set up and clear away – it was a huge operation”. The SUDC Committee also wish to thank Sean Perry and his team, all seven of the adjudicators, all of the scrutineering and music team as well as Talybont catering for their outstanding services on the day. Cardiff University Dancesport Club are now training hard for their biggest competition of the year – the national all-University competition held in Blackpool later this month. For more information on the sport you can find the club on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. For more information regarding the success of SUDA you can find photos/videos and details on the ‘SUDA’ Facebook page. Results from SUDC 2016 will be available online soon.

Pictured: Competitors in action at last week’s SUDC in Talybont Sports Hall (Photographer: Sophie Barnes)

Cardiff prepare for 2016 University Boxing Show

aving only been around for just over three years now, Cardiff University Boxing Club has rapidly risen to become one of the most popular and highly competitive sports clubs the Athletic Union has to offer. Although boxing is a highly aggressive sport, it also places great emphasis on technique, concentration and physical stamina. The club has many fights and shows throughout the year but on the 29th of February, CUABC debuts its first spectacular show in Y Plas, at the Student’s Union. The event, sponsored by the Cardiff ’s Grosvenor Casino, sees eight amateur bouts between competitors Cardiff from other universities; including Bristol University. Doors open at 6:30pm with the first bout commencing just after 7pm. The Boxing Club aims to accommodate each person individually, so whether you’re into boxing or not, the event will be entertaining for all and a showcase of some of Cardiff universities’ fittest and brightest amateur boxers. People who are interested in coming to the event are en-

couraged to look out for reps around the Cathays area over the next week or so. Tickets can also bought from the Students’ Union website now. With the development and success of the club praised in recent years, people are encouraged to come down to a fantastic venue with friends, housemates and coursemates for an entertaining night of boxing and the chance to get behind Team Cardiff. Gair Rhydd and Cardiff University TV will be there to report on the event and FAD (Funky Ass Dancing) will also be hosting a fantastic half-time dancing event. Tickets are £4 online and £5 on the door. CUABC Social Secretary, Dan Barratt, will be in action on 29th and is hopeful that the months of hard work in and out of the ring that has gone in to this night will make for a great event. He said: “The Cardiff Uni show will be a massive night of entertainment and fun and will be the perfect warm up for the upcoming Varsity. It will be a great atmosphere and it would be great if we could see a new influx of boxing fans coming down to the show to get a

first taste of what boxing has to offer”. Barratt also added: ”The event will hopefully bring added vocal support and, with the backing from students and supporters, the events will become a regular fea-

ture of the AU sports calendar.” If you have any further questions regarding the events people are encouraged to contact the Cardiff University Boxing show Facebook page for any further questions.

Cardiff University Boxing Show Fixtures

Y Plas, Cardiff Students’ Union, 18:30-22:00 1.) Matt McFerran (CUABC) v Reece Cammock (BUABC) 2.) Jordan Daruvalla (CUABC) v Alex Maguire (BUABC) 3.) Jack Pattison (CUABC) v Ben Rose (BUABC) 4.) Dan Barratt (CUABC) v Ben Nicholls (BUABC) 5.) Ian Williams (CUABC) v Sam Bernard (BUABC) 6.) Brad Meddings (CUABC) V Crispin Boden-Tebbet (WUABC)

7.) Alice Gillman (CUABC) V Zara Siddique (CUABC)

The event will hopefully bring added vocal support and, with the backing from students and supporters, the events will become a regular feature of the AU sports calendar. Dan Barratt


42 SPORT

Profiled: Cardiff Uni Volleyball Club

Tim Erskine

The club has one men’s and one women’s team, both of whom have had a successful year so far.

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ig, set, spike! Volleyball is a fast-paced and exciting sport to watch and play. The indoor version involves passing a ball between teams of six across a net. Players usually receive the ball with a dig, which will hopefully be a nice composed pass enabling a set, which puts the ball above the net for a spike down to the opposing team’s side. Cardiff University Volleyball Club is a hugely diverse and welcoming club so if you’ve ever wanted to get your hands on some balls and have sets this could be your chance. The club offers two beginner sessions a week, a high competitive level for experienced players, and a joyful social extravaganza. Beginner sessions take place on Tuesdays at 6.30pm and Sunday at 4pm inside Talybont Sports Hall, and involves some fitness, a variety of drills, and games. The first challenge is learning how to control where the ball goes when you pass or serve it, which you can be

taught with patient and caring instruction. As players progress they soon begin learning the more challenging tasks of spiking and tricky plays to score points. At volleyball you can dive like a falcon in a desperate attempt to save a point, spike like a bear to the unsuspecting opposition, or mingle like a sloth finding friends. The sport is good for fitness by always involving sprinting, squatting and jumping. Its team interaction makes it fun, and the technical complexities of its ball handling make it a lifelong skill development. The club has one men’s team and one women’s team, both of whom have had a successful year so far. The teams play against local clubs in Wales and other universities in the BUCS leagues. Through a combination of regular training, individual desires to improve, and wise guidance from team member and Coach, Mo, the men’s team have had nine wins and two losses in the league this year. Addition-

ally, they came first in Student Cup qualifiers and went to play among the top 16 student teams in the country. This was a much more challenging endeavour. They came away from the weekend tournament placed 15th with ambitions to improve next year. Meanwhile, with thoughtful and hard-working players under Coach Steve’s leadership, the women’s team have had 11 wins and just three losses with varying complementary talents throughout the team. Being part of a sports club is just like being a part of a community. Starting volleyball at university can begin a lifelong hobby. Play, coach, referee, set up socials, lead decision making – volleyball needs it all and the club provides opportunities for this personal development, which is essential to the running of the club. On the social side, volleyball

is a fantastic way to make great friends. Socials range from laser tag and Christmas tournaments to pub quiz fundraisers and drunken obstacle courses dressed in all manner of fancy dress. Weekends away include beach volleyball in the summer and a trip to Warwick with clubs from across Britain. Many people would like to try a new sport at university and get to know people through it. For some, that’s volleyball, and they come to love it. Many of the club members now live with people they’ve met through the sport. There are often new faces at beginner sessions and socials. So whether your socialising starts with ‘what do you study’ or ‘I like the way you dig’ the volleyball club is here for you. For more information on joining the club, find us on Facebook or on the Cardiff Students’ Union website.

Cont’d: Wales start Six Nations brightly

Continued from back page

Rhys Thomas Cardiff Blues Columnist

Roberts has certainly come back rejuvenated following his move to Aviva Premiership outfit, Harlequins. Another star for Wales this year has been a more unsung hero, Luke Charteris. The 6”10 second row has been dominant in the line out and the set piece has really become a platform for the Welsh attack, as showed with George North’s try against Scotland. He has also been strong in defending opposition lineouts, with his gargantuan arms swimming up the maul and disrupting the drive of the attackers on more than one oc-

casion. With France, England and Italy coming up it won’t be getting any easier for Wales, with the French and English both holding 100% records at the moment. Wales would be favourites for the French clash but would need to be strong going forward as Guy Noves’ side will be confident in defence after keeping Ireland out for 80 minutes in Paris. If the likes of Roberts and North keep up this form, then Wales have to remain confident that they can claim the title and this will only be

helped by the return of scrum half, Rhys Webb, who has made two appearances for the Ospreys, since completing his return from a four month injury lay-off. Wales welcome France to Cardiff ’s Principality Stadium this Friday evening, before a crunch clash at Twickenham with England on the 12th March and a home game with Italy to end the campaign on the 19th. With both France and England having one hundred per cent records so far, it seems likely that only three wins in their final three games will

secure Wales a famous fifth Six Nations crown.

Up until last week, Treviso had been winless at the bottom of the PRO12 league. After Cardiff Blues came to town they were still rooted to the bottom of the table but had picked up four points and their first victory of the season. This isn’t the first time the Blues have come unstuck in Italy - last September they lost to the only other professional Italian team, Zebre, out in Parma. This is especially unfortunate as the Blues had been picking up wins in the league and gaining some momentum for a charge up the table, but this unexpected

loss is an unwelcome setback. Having players away with the Wales Senior and Under 20’s squads is no excuse there is more than enough quality in the team with players like Josh Navidi and Rhys Patchell to be able to put away European rugby’s worst professional team. In more positive news, veteran Wales prop Gethin Jenkins has extended his contract with the Blues, and will be at the capital city region until at least 2017. Jenkins has been a stalwart of Wales and Cardiff Blues teams for many years

earning 121 Wales caps, 164 Blues appearances as well as 5 British & Irish Lions caps against New Zealand and South Africa - an injury in 2013 ending his hopes of securing more in Australia. He has not started for Wales yet this year, but he has made his impact felt off the bench in the RBS Six Nations. Despite his advancing years he still has much to give to both club and country, having revolutionised the role of the prop forward into one which involves more ball-carrying and hitting rucks around the pitch instead of simply scrummaging and mauling.

By the time this is published the Blues will have faced Leinster at the Arms Park and next Sunday will host Ulster in what is a trio of home games against Irish provinces, with Munster still to come in mid-March. For the Leinster match they will have most of their Wales squad members available due to their release by Wales for the week - Cory Allen, Gareth Anscombe, Alex Cuthbert, Kristian Dacey, Tom James, Josh Turnbull and Lloyd Williams - which could help them get back to winning ways as they enter a tricky set of fixtures.

Pictured: The men’s and women’s volleyball team in action. (Photographer: Cardiff University Volleyball Club)


SPORT 43

Euro 2016:

Who’s on course to board the plane?

Rich Jones

With 13 goals and eight assists from his limited 17 appearances, it is clear Wales can count on Bale to continue to be their match winner.

Dan Heard Cardiff City Columnist

I

t is less than four months until Wales take on Slovakia in their opening 2016 European Championships game – and competition to board the plane to France is hotting up. While the football season is in full swing and reaching an exciting climax for a number of clubs, one eye for all Welsh players is sure to be on the nation’s first ever European Championship Finals appearance. With just two friendlies against Northern Ireland and Ukraine in March left for players to prove themselves on the international stage, club performances could be vital in deciding who will be representing The Dragons in their first major tournament since the 1958 World Cup. There is little doubt that Wales will be relying on a handful of key players to spearhead their campaign. Star man, Gareth Bale, has endured an injury-plagued season for Real Madrid which will certainly cause a degree of worry for Chris Coleman, but when fit he has nonetheless enjoyed arguably his best season since his move to Spain three years ago. With 13 goals and eight assists

With the tactics (or lack of them) of City boss Russell Slade called into question on numerous occasions during his tenure at the Cardiff City Stadium, owner Vincent Tan appears to have intervened - by suggesting that the key to ending the Bluebirds goal drought in recent games is simply “shooting more”. Tan, who only last week confirmed he would be converting around £60 million worth of debt owed to him by the club into equity, is alleged to have told Slade and his squad at a training session that he wants to see “30 or 40 attempts on goal” every game.

from his limited 17 appearances, it is clear Wales can count on Bale to continue to be their match-winner provided he is injury-free come June. Although Bale understandably is the headline-grabbing member of this Welsh side, two players maybe of similar importance are captain Ashley Williams and Aaron Ramsey. Ramsey has continued to be a mainstay at the heart of the Arsenal midfield as they battle for the Premier League title, with a fine performance helping them to earn a crucial last-gasp win over fellow high-flyers Leicester last weekend. Tottenham left-back, Ben Davies, and Leicester midfielder, Andy King, have also found themselves right in the midst of one of the most wideopen title races in recent memory, which certainly bodes well heading into the high-pressure environment of Euro 2016. At the other end of the Premier League table, Williams has continued to earn plaudits despite Swansea’s struggles, with his rock-solid showings at the centre of their defence keeping them out of the relegation zone. Yet elsewhere, there are certainly

Slade, whose position at the club teeters from safe to on the verge of the sack on a weekly basis, agreed with the eccentric Malaysian. “The more attempts at goal, the more you take, the idea being you score or test the goalkeeper,” the former Leyton Orient manager said. Apparently though, Tan felt that for every 30 shots City had on target, they would score at least three goals, and so on, while goalkeeper David Marshall was singled out for praise, thanks largely to his continued heroics between the posts this season. This isn’t the first time though that Tan has offered his evident

places up for grabs in Coleman’s starting 11. Midfield duo Joe Allen and Joe Ledley have both found minutes hard to come by in the Premier League this season with Liverpool and Crystal Palace respectively. The pair have started just eight Premier League games between them, with Allen recently suffering a hamstring injury likely to keep him out for up to a month. The same could have also been said for defender James Chester, but in recent weeks he has finally broken into the West Bromwich Albion side after previously not started a game since August. Similarly, goalkeeper and current Welsh number one, Wayne Hennessey, has made the Crystal Palace starting spot his own this season having spent much of the 2014/15 campaign on the bench. Although lack of game time for the likes of Ledley, Allen and Chester has been far from ideal, they are almost certain to be at least on the plane to France – something which cannot be said for a number of players on the fringes of Coleman’s plans. One player in danger of missing out is Wolves midfielder, Dave Edwards. He found himself frozen out of the international scene just a couple of years ago as the Molineux outfit slid down to League One, but after establishing himself as a crucial piece in their revival he found himself back in the Wales fold during their qualifying campaign. However, a broken metatarsal suffered against QPR on January 23 is expected to

keep him sidelined for 12 weeks, leaving him with little time to play his way into the squad.

tactical nous to his manager. During the ill-fated Premier League campaign, rumours circulated that Tan entered the dressing room following an away defeat to Tottenham, and offered the players a large “bonus” of around £4 million to avoid relegation, much to their shock (also, even bribery didn’t work, as City still went down). Former defender Danny Gabbidon also claims that, during his and Scott Young’s brief caretaker stint last season, Tan questioned why defenders weren’t scoring enough goals from their own half, following former skipper Mark Hudson’s effort from the

halfway line against Derby in 2012. Whether Slade will take on board any more of his boss’s advice in the coming weeks, it remains to be seen. His contract expires at the end of this season, with no headway being made over a new one. Perhaps Tan saw the display against Charlton only last weekend, where City were held to a goalless draw with the Championship’s bottom side, and saw how effective his shoot on sight policy was. From 18 shots, only three were on target from the visitors’ makeshift frontline of Anthony Pilkington and Tom Lawrence. Any more ideals, Mr Tan?

Just down the road from Wolverhampton, uncapped Walsall striker Tom Bradshaw is a dark horse to make Coleman’s squad. He earned his first call-up for the friendly against the Netherlands last November, and he has continued his rich vein of form to bag 11 goals as Walsall launch a surprise promotion push in League One. Meanwhile, a number of promising youngsters have opted to go out on loan in the recent January transfer window with the view of booking their places to France. Young forwards Tom Lawrence and George Williams have sealed temporary moves to Cardiff and Gillingham respectively whilst Jonny Williams has made the switch to MK Dons on loan. With Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes both holding down regular starting spots in the Championship and performing well, they are likely to be battling for just one or two spaces to join them as alternative attacking options heading into the tournament. The spine of the Wales team may be all but set in stone, but there are certainly plenty of unanswered questions prior to Euro 2016. As the season draws to a conclusion over the coming weeks, manager Coleman will undoubtedly have a number of selection headaches to consider before naming his 23-man-squad.

Pictured: Above: Gareth Bale will hope to lead Wales to glory at this summer’s tournament. Below left: Wales players in action before the friendly against Netherlands in Cardiff last November. (Photographer: Jon Candy)

The spine of the Wales team may be all but set in stone, but there are certainly plenty of unanswered questions prior to Euro 2016.


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Editors: Jim Harris James Lloyd Jamie Smith @GairRhyddSport sport@gairrhydd.com gairrhydd.com/sport

Also this week

Cardiff hosts Southern Unis’ Dance Competition P41>>

Wales make positive start to 2016 Six Nations campaign

We profile Cardiff University’s Volleyball Club P42>>

With teams enjoying a two-week break from the action, Gair Rhydd Sport assesses Wales’ unbeaten start to this year’s Championships Liam Corcoran

W

ith last week marking the first weekend break of the 2016 RBS Six Nations Championship, we finally get a chance to take a breather and look back at how the tournament has gone, especially for pre-tournament favourites Wales and how they’ve dealt with the tag. Going into the tournament, it seemed the onus was on England with their new face set up, with controversial captain Dylan Hartley and new coach Eddie Jones seemingly doing well so far, though they have failed to set the tournament alight. Wales on the other hand seemed to be the most stable nation going into the campaign, with Warren Gatland taking charge of his 8th championship and with a familiar squad lining up, it was a case of taking it that one step further for Wales. All the signs suggested that this would

be more likely than ever given the change happening in the England camp and Ireland’s poor World Cup campaign along with their catalogue of injuries. It seemed quite appropriate that Wales began their campaign in Dublin at the Aviva Stadium against their toughest opponents of the tournament, where a win could kick-start another Grand Slam campaign. Expectations were high for Wales, so when Joe Schmidt’s men held them to a 16-16 draw there was a sense of deflation within the camp, despite the championship still being in their own hands. One particular positive from the performance was the character showed by the side, coming back from 13-0 down to save the draw. As well as this, the returns of Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams were a welcome boost to the side and the mountainous performance of Jamie Roberts left Welsh fans purring. Aside from the result in Dublin, there was a cause for concern

amongst Welsh fans as Dan Biggar limped off injured in the first half with suspected ankle ligament damage. When the fly half was then named in the starting line up to face Scotland, Gatland branded his recovery a “miracle” and captain Sam Warburton commented on how hard Biggar had worked to get back into the side in time. It was everything we have learnt to expect from a Wales v Scotland match, an absolute rollercoaster ending in heartache for the Scots, as a try from George North, ending his recent drought in Welsh colours, put the game out of site for Scotland. Man of the match and Wales’ player of the tournament, Jamie Roberts, put in another unbelievable performance, which was appropriately topped off with a barnstorming try just when Scotland were creeping into the driving seat. Despite a late try from Duncan Taylor, Wales ran out 27-23 winners to keep alive hopes of a Championship win.

Pictured:

Wales in action against Ireland in their Six Nations opener earlier this month. (Photographer: Jordan via Flickr)

Continued on page 42

How is Wales’ squad shaping up for Euro 2016? P43>>

Boxing: Cardiff prepare for showdown in Y Plas P41>>

Gair Rhydd 1073 - 22nd February 2016  

Cardiff's student weekly

Gair Rhydd 1073 - 22nd February 2016  

Cardiff's student weekly

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