NOVEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 04 VOLUME 32 ISSUE 05 FREE
NUS President Liam Burns on Student Activism as the future of campaigning
Student life through the medium of photography
...and other opinions in our Comment section - pages 9-14
In this special features issue, Ingrida Kerusauskite and Dougal Wallace present a range of student images - page 15
As well as science, entrepreneurship and academia news, Community speaks to the editor of Forgotten Letters
The FIFA chief is again in the headlines for the wrong reasons, this time for alleging there isn’t a problem with racism in football
Exclusive interview with Naomi Folb on dyslexia
SOAS evacuated as protester sets oﬀ smoke bomb
Stunt aimed at Bloomberg company Writer Hesham Zakai Editor
The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) had to be completely evacuated on Thursday 17 November a6er a smoke bomb was thrown into a lecture theatre during a careers talk by Bloomberg representatives. There were no reported injuries and the building was back in use later the same evening, though the lecture did not resume. In response, SOAS Students’ Union Co-President Ali Khan said: “SOAS is a proud bastion of free speech, and it is deeply saddening that a perfectly valid protest was ruined by the actions of one party, who felt that they had to disrupt the entire School’s activity to let their point be known. Not only was the action that took place selﬁsh, dangerous, and with total disregard to SOAS students’ wishes, it was also pathetic”. Prior to the incident, there had been a peaceful and vocal protest outside the main building by a group of students whilst the event was taking place inside. The protesters were angry at the participation of the Bloomberg company just days
Students’ Union Co-President brands action “pathetic”
a6er its founder, the Mayor New York City Michael Bloomberg, ordered the evacuation of the Occupy Wall Street movement in Zucco7i Park. Leaﬂets were distributed saying: “On the day in which Occupy Wall Street is arranging its biggest demonstration yet, the company whose founder has tried to crush their right to protest is on our campus, recruiting interns and employees as though it is business as usual”. The outside protest moved in a6er about half an hour of chanting outside. Chants included the popularised “We are the 99%” and “Solidarity with Wall Street”. SOAS security did not try to prevent the group from ge7ing into the building, but refused to allow them to enter the lecture room. As the growing group congregated outside, a smoke bomb was lobbed into the room engulﬁng it in thick smoke. One of the protesters, SOAS Religion student Faduma Hassan, de-
scribed the disarray immediately a6er the incident: “We were just as confused as everyone else when the smoke alarm went oﬀ. We didn’t know what had happened and the person who threw the smoke bomb was not with us”. No one has claimed responsibility for the action, and the protest organisers have said they are unaware who was behind it. Their protest aimed to highlight corporate greed, they said. Arianna Tassinari, Co-President for Welfare & Education at SOAS Students’ Union, said that whilst it was important for students to “keep protesting against the government’s a7acks on education and public services and against the increasing power of the ﬁnancial sector”, the smoke bomb by “unknown individuals” was a “dangerous, stupid and disproportionate act”. SOAS student Kirsten Dewar, who was in the lecture hall at the time, shared her view: “I think that it is absolutely disgraceful that protesters interrupt a recruitment presentation the same week the British government announces a 20.9% unemployment rate for the 16-24 year old. “If they want to graduate and be jobless, that is their problem. However they are in no position to jeopardise my career and they have no right to judge who I want to work for”.
Sepp Blatter in racism gaff
- page 31
Queen Mary University has been attacked for restricting trade union rights after it suspended Vik Chechi, the secretary of its Unison branch. Unions and student activists claim that the
Unison QMU branch
“Management says he was not targeted, as he was suspended from work and not his trade union activities - which is ridiculous. It is an attempt to decapitate the union.”
Chechi was intentionally targeted due to his trade union activities and vocal opposition to cuts and redundancies. The university is countering these accusations, and it claims that his dismissal was on the grounds of misconduct in relation to attendance, time-keeping and for making vexatious and
Play brings you all the latest reviews, interviews and previews from the world of culture.
Peaceful protesters outside SOAS prior to the incident
Queen Mary accused of ‘union busting’
Writer Zafer Khattak
24 PAGE CULTURE PULL OUT
undermining complaints. A spokesperson for Unison QMU branch said, “Management says he was not targeted, as he was suspended from work and not his trade union activities – which is ridiculous. It is an attempt to decapitate the union so that he won’t be able to continue his work.” The spokesperson went on to
say that the suspension was ordered by the same member of management against whom Chechi and colleagues had recently lodged a grievance complaint. Chechi had been involved in mobilising library staff after Queen Mary announced 26 redundancies last summer, following a consultation that Unison say two thirds of employees were not present for. Continued on p. 2
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
Campaign to have suspended union member reinstated continues Continued from p. 1 Supporters of Chechi are outraged by the fact that he was singled out for supporting workers at a time when around 100 academic and support jobs across campus are being threatened. His supporters claim this and other union-related work led to complaints by managers across different departments. These in conjunction with his own complaint against a manager were the motivation for his suspension. They also claim that the university did not adhere to proper disciplinary procedures. In response a QMU spokesperson said that the university could not comment on the employment matters of members of staff, except only to say that Chechi was “Not in any way barred from his role as a representative of
Unison.” Richard Saull, from UCU is quoted as saying, “We were very “We were very shocked to hear shocked to of Vik’s hear of Vik’s suspension and suspension believe that the and believe issues do not that the issues warrant a claim do no warrant a claim of of gross gross misconduct.” misconduct” The campaign to have Chechi reinstated has been endorsed by the lecturers’ union, who last week passed a unanimous motion condemning the suspension. Meanwhile students involved in the group QMU Stop the Cuts have also added their backing. A protest in support of Chechi is planned for Tuesday 15 November outside the Garrod Building in Whitechapel campus.
London Student, Europe’s largest independent student newspaper Editorial team
LONDON STUDENT Malet Street ULU WC1E 7HY 02076 642054 www.london-student.net facebook.com/london-student twitter.com/london-student
London Student has launched a Junior Journalists Schools Scheme, which sees engaged and enthusiastic university journalists visit local schools in London to oﬀer them training and guidance on se7ing up their own newspaper or newsle7er. To get involved, please email: email@example.com
Editor Hesham Zakai firstname.lastname@example.org --
News Editors Hattie Williams Toby Thomas Bassam Gergi Steffani Garcia email@example.com
Comment Editors Rosa Wild Tom Chambers Abubakr Al-shamahi firstname.lastname@example.org
Features Editors Amy Bowles Ingrida Kerusauskaite email@example.com
Community Editor Victoria Yates firstname.lastname@example.org Science Editors Harriet Jarlett Rachel Mundy email@example.com
Academia Editor Valeriya Nefyodova firstname.lastname@example.org
Entrepreneurship Editor Ahmad Bakhiet
Sport Editor Natalie Kahn email@example.com
London Loves Jessica Broadbent firstname.lastname@example.org
Sub Editors Katie Lathan Niki Micklem Ayala Maurer Cathryn Parkes Jonathan Brunton email@example.com --
Art Director Rahim Hakimi firstname.lastname@example.org
Designer Nathan Clutterbuck
Production & Development Manager Alireza S. Nejad
Photo Editor Danielle Bergere
Broadcast Editor Freya Pascall email@example.com Libel Checker Caz Parra
Ahmed Wakas Khan, King’s College London graduate, seen reading the London Student in a Pret A Manger in Russell Square. Ahmed is now World Editor at The Platform Youth Blog.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Olympics delay University of London Graduations until October 2012 Writer Hattie Williams News Editor
Graduation ceremonies for students due to graduate from Colleges of the University of London in summer 2012 have been pushed back to the following October to avoid collision with the London Olympic Games 2012. The new dates have been published on University of London websites although no official announcement has been made. King’s College London was the first to announce the changes. All students from the Dental Institute and School of Medicine (except those from the Physiotherapy and Nutrition and Dietetics Departments) will not be affected by the Games. These schools are to graduate at Southwark Cathedral in July 2012. All other Schools at King’s College London, including the School of Arts & Humanities, Nursing & Midwifery, and Law, will graduate on 9 and 24 October 2012 at the Barbican Centre. Anne Poulson, Director of Students and Education Support and Hannah Barlow, KCLSU President
said in a statement: “The ceremonies will take place on these dates to ensure that both graduands and their guests have the best possible ceremony experience in 2012, allowing for travel and accommodation arrangements to be made without having to compete with those attending the Olympics.” 11,000 athletes, 10,000 Olympic, including ‘team’ personnel such as coaches, track and administrative officials and hierarchy, 20,000
media attendees and 9 million spectators are expected to attend the London Olympics. Not all Colleges have been affected by the plans. Royal Holloway, whose campus is outside of
economic indicators to ‘a big slowdown in the economy I think as a result of the crisis elsewhere.’ He also questioned the way the ﬁgures are collected, leading him to label the one million ﬁgure as, ‘a bit of a distraction’. Labour accused him of being out of touch. Meanwhile, unions representing students and staﬀ at universities have appealed for urgent measures to be taken. Toni Pearce, Vice President of NUS said that, “it is not enough to simply tell young people to wait until things improve as they watch their futures slip away.” The NUS has called on the government to restore EMA, double the amount of apprenticeships, protect care-tolearn schemes and enforce the minimum wage for interns. The University and College Union expressed similar concerns. Its General Secretary, Sally Hunt warned of the risk of “producing a generation with few prospects and li8le chance to alter their situation”. She criticized government policy which she claims restricts access to education
by constructing ﬁnancial barriers and cu8ing the places available to potential students. Youth unemployment is also damaging to the economy as a whole. A 2010 study from the University of York calculated the impact on the economy of 16-18 year olds being out of employment an education for 2008. It found that the lifetime cost to the economy of this lost labour was between £22bn and £77bn. These ﬁgures mean hard times for individual graduates across the country. Daniel Swinhoe graduated this summer with a ﬁrst from University of Sunderland. Despite applying for well over ten jobs a week, he has not found the job he has been trained to do. He told London Student that ‘the job market is always hard in media, but there’s a thin line between hard and nothing’. He describes his struggles to ﬁnd a job as ‘very frustrating’. Echoing concerns expressed by NUS, he cannot aﬀord to live in London doing an unpaid internship. ‘Lunch and an oyster card just aren’t enough’ he said. He
King’s College London
“The ceremonies will take place on these dates to ensure that both graduands and their guests have the best possible ceremony experience in 2012”
Greater London, will for this reason, not be affected and Graduation Ceremonies are scheduled for 9-13 July 2012 as usual. The Goldsmiths College summer graduation ceremonies already take place in September 2012, after the games, and for the same reason students due to graduate in January 2013 will be unaffected. Many Colleges have released provisional dates with “Exact dates to be announced” next year. Students are being advised to “check with individual course organizers for exact dates pertaining to each course” as “These may differ from the announced dates, especially around Easter.” According to the UCL website, the provisional dates for the 2012 graduation ceremonies will be available in January 2012. As yet, Queen Mary have made no changes in light of the upcoming Olympic games to their summer graduation ceremonies and students are due to receive their degrees the “Third week in July 2012.” The 2013 ceremonies for all University of London colleges will follow the normal January and Summer pattern.
Youth unemployment hits one million mark
Writer Toby Youell Last week, youth unemployment rose to a new record high of 1.02 million 16-24 year olds. 21.9% of young people are now unemployed. These ﬁgures come a7er eight successive months of increasing youth unemployment. NUS and UCU have both called on the government to take action on this issue. These ﬁgures come at the same time as gloomy statistics come in from the economy at large. General unemployment now stands at 2.62 million - the highest amount since 1994. The Oﬃce for National Statistic’s ﬁgures revealed that while earnings have increased by a paltry 1.7%, inﬂation has stubbornly stuck at 5%. The latest surge in youth unemployment threatens to match record levels in 1984. Back then, there were 1.22 million young people without a job. Chris Grayling, Employment Minister has a8ributed these grim new
encourages potential employers to visit his blog at danswin.wordpress.com. According to the Careers Group, – an organisation that helps University of London students ﬁnd graduate jobs – the surge in youth unemployment need not aﬀect graduates. Its director, Anne-Marie Martin told the London Student that, ‘competition for good graduate jobs is always high and although it is currently a li8le bit higher than in previous years it is nothing like the nightmare that you might think.’ The organisation oﬀers opportunities to ﬁnd employment, paid internships as well as helping graduates develop their networking skills.
News Editor Note
The author of the Issue 4 article ‘University applications drop by 12 percent’ was misprinted. The article was wri8en by Rae Boocock. London Student apologises for the mistake.
Gilmour released from prison Student Protests
Charlie Gilmour, infamous for swinging from the Cenotaph during the December 2010 student protests, has been released a7er four months in prison. The step-son of former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour had appealed against his sentence, and was released on November 15, though he will be under a ‘home detention curfew’ until at least February of next year. It is believed that he will return to his studies at Girton College, Cambridge at the start of the next academic year in October 2012.
KCL Radio rules the airwaves King’s College London
KCL’s burgeoning student radio picked up the award for the “Best Live Event” at the annual Student Radio Awards on November 9. KCL Radio’s coverage of the annual KCL Vs UCL Varsity Rugby match in March of this year was praised for being “technically impressive”, with the broadcast demonstrating “good use of social media and audience interaction throughout”. The station has gone from strength to strength in the last year, with the imminent launch of a full live schedule about to take place.
Faulkner founds QMSU Aspire Queen Mary
Ruth Faulkner, a Queen Mary history undergraduate, has set-up an Olympicinspired student volunteering project at the college, named QMSU Aspire. The project aims to raise awareness of both the Paralympic games and parasport, and their impact on the Olympic borough of Tower Hamlets. Ruth is a commi8ed Paralympic fan: “I'm hoping to volunteer as a Games Maker as I really want to be involved. You get to soak up the atmosphere, but unfortunately sometimes don't get to see the competitors. This time I'll deﬁnitely see the sport as well.”
Holloway marks 125th anniversary Royal Holloway
Royal Holloway hosted a celebratory dinner to mark the 125thanniversary of the founding of Royal Holloway College on November 8. In his welcoming speech the Principal, Professor Paul Layzell, began by looking back at the two Victorian visionaries, Thomas Holloway and Elizabeth Jesser Reid, who founded Royal Holloway and Bedford Colleges respectively. While reﬂecting on the College’s past achievements, Professor Layzell said it was important to look to the future and expressed his conﬁdence in Royal Holloway’s ability to meet today’s challenges head on, and to continue to go from strength to strength.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
Goldsmiths graduate strikes gold with prestigious literature prize Writer Hattie Williams News Editor Goldsmiths graduate Lucy Caldwell has been awarded the 2011 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the £30,000 Dylan Thomas Prize. Belfast born Caldwell is delighted by her achievements. She said: “I heard the news in an out-of-theblue and completely unexpected phone call - which was utterly thrilling.” Caldwell, who graduated from Goldsmiths with an MA in Creative and Life Writing, published her first novel, ‘Where They Were Missed’ in 2006. Her second novel, ‘The Meeting Point’ was released earlier this year. This latest novel, the story of an Irish missionary couple in Bahrain, won her the Dylan Thomas Prize on 9 November. Peter Stead, founder of the prize, said: “It is a beautifully written and mature reflection on identity, loyalty and belief in a complex world. We have no doubt that this is yet another significant step in what will undoubtedly be a striking career.” The Rooney Prize was awarded in recognition of her achievement and
outstanding promise as a novelist and dramatist. She said: “I'm very humbled and honoured to join the list of writers who have been recipients of the Rooney. And it's a real spur and encouragement.” Previous winners include Deirdre Madden, Anne Enright, Frank McGuinness, poet Thomas Kinsella, dramatist Bernard Farrell and Oscar-winner Neil Jordan, who wrote and directed 'The Crying Game'. Speaking at the Rooney Prize presentation ceremony in Swansea, Caldwell said Wales had played a major role in getting her career up and running. “In many ways my career started here. My very first play was premiered in Chapter arts centre in Cardiff.” Her first short play, The River was performed at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in June 2004 and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival later that year. Her plays have also been performed at the Royal Court Theatre and by the BBC. After receiving her first-class English degree from the University of Cambridge, Caldwell came to London to develop her creative writing. She said of the MA programme at Goldsmiths: “The best thing about it was the fantastic tutors. Now I'm an MA lecturer myself, I really appreciate the work that
Maura Dooley, Stephen Knight and Blake Morrison put in to reading draft after draft of my novel-inprogress so closely, and for their unswerving support.” Shortly after receiving her Dylan Thomas Prize, Caldwell came back to Goldsmiths to meet current Creative and Life Writing MA stu-
Photo: James Davies
“I'm very humbled and honoured to join the list of writers who have been recipients of the Rooney. And it's a real spur and encouragement.”
dents. She was eager to offer encouragement to those following in her footsteps, advising that, “The most important thing is to be resilient... to keep going. Find your own pole star and follow it regardless of the 'success' or 'failure' you encounter.”
KCLSU continue to profit despite a year of 20% VAT Writer Hattie Williams News Editor New management ﬁgures show that gross proﬁt margins for combined food and beverages at King’s College London Student Union (KCLSU) have increased by over 6% in the last year, despite January’s 2.5% rise in VAT. KCLSU said that the proﬁts they have made are not solely due to the raising of food and beverage prices. “The gains that have been made are predominantly down to improvements in eﬃciencies: tighter stock controls, less wastage, more eﬀective staﬃng including investment made in our student staﬀ,” said a KCLSU spokesperson. “These operational improvements have allowed us to keep a lid on any increases we have had from our suppliers, and to increase the value and quality of our food.”
They continued, “These gains have also allowed us to reduce market driven increases to our beverages – increasing the average price of a unit by only £0.38 against a net unit increase of £0.45 on our costs over the last three years, and despite rises in VAT.” In 2010, when the new VAT was implemented, Director of Commercial Services, Jane Neary, initially suggested that: “The VAT won’t aﬀect the student prices.” When challenged she explained that “a few product prices may have been very slightly aﬀected” by the application of the VAT increase on visitor prices. These “aﬀects” have immerged in the dramatic increase of Student Union food prices across the University of London. Goldsmiths Student Union, that includes a bar and late night venue, The Stretch, said: “When VAT was reduced, as did our prices, and when VAT was increased again we were forced to pass this cost onto
The price of a KCLSU burger has risen by 32% in 3 years
our customers. The past three years the cost of wholesale prices of alcohol has risen by over 20% on some lines (such as our biggest seller, Smirnoﬀ Vodka) which we could not absorb without some price rises. The Stretch believes it is always very
competitive, if not the cheapest place for students to socialise and we check this regularly.” Commercial costs have been similarly aﬀected at KCLSU. Popular meals such as burgers have increased by £0.95 since 2008; a rise of
32% in three years. The Student Union commented that, as a result of this expense, their burgers, “are not only of a higher quality, but come with chips or a salad.” Whilst prices remain high, the profits from KCLSU are said to have been ‘reinvested’ into Union facilities. “We have been able to reinvest in the fabric of our commercial spaces, such as the recent renovation of our student nightclub, Tutu’s, and in the range of non-commercial support and activities we provide for King’s students,” said KCLSU. Goldsmiths College also pointed out that their Students’ Union, “is currently a charity by its association with a higher education institution and is moving towards being a standalone charity as necessitated by the Charities Act 2006. As a charity (and like all SU’s) we receive funding from a variety of sources but mainly from our parent institution, Goldsmiths College.”
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
27 Universities announce plans to drop tuition fees below £7500 Writer Rae Boocock Twenty-seven universities and colleges have applied to reduce their fee levels for 2012-13. This revision comes after universities have set next year’s fees and many students have already applied. UCU have warned that if the lower fees are approved then students may wish to reconsider their options and find a cheaper alternative. As it is not revealed until the end of the month which universities are revising their fees, many students could be left in limbo. Government incentives for universities to charge less than £7500 have prompted the reassessment. Ministers told universities they could bid for an increased share of 20,000 fulltime undergraduate places next year if they charged less than £7500. This White Paper was however, published after many universities had decided on the next year’s fees. It has been widely judged as a lastminute measure by the government to lower the overall cost of higher fees after more universities than expected - 47 altogether - were planning to charge maximum prices. Nicola Dandridge, head of Univer-
70,000 students have already applied for courses for 2012. UCU said the move by over a fifth of English universities exposed the chaos of the government’s fees policy. General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Leaving universities and students to scramble around trying to save a few quid here and there is no way to run a world-class university sector.” Government watchdog, the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), has said the universities changing their fees and access plans must contact all students who had already applied inform them of changes. This includes allowing them the choice of staying with the financial package that was on offer when they applied or switching to the revised deal. Toni Pearce, NUS vice-president, remarked: “Tens of thousands of applicants now face an anxious wait at an already stressful time. Students looking to access and compare what support will be available to them will be facing weeks of uncertainty and many will find that vital bursaries have been replaced with tokenistic fee waivers.” Labour’s shadow higher education minister Shabana Mahmood echoed similar sentiment. “The government’s rushed and haphaz-
sities UK, said “The delayed publication in June of the government’s White Paper... shifted the goal posts.” This comes just nine weeks before the 15 January deadline for university applications, while nearly
ard cuts to higher education budgets go too far, too fast, with universities unable to plan ahead and frustrated students without the full information to help them apply.” OFFA will assess the revised agreements and inform the twenty-seven
Photo: Flickr User Open Kiko
universities of its decisions by 30th November. The watchdog has said that it will not approve any changes for 2012-13 that reduce the overall level of financial support for students in existing agreements.
National ‘Day of Action’ set for the New union branch for 23rd of November working students Writer Bassam Gergi News Editor
Writer Toby Thomas News Editor
Following their demonstration on November 9th, organisers for the NUS and the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts are gearing up for another Day of Action to protest the Government’s education white paper. The Day of Action is planned for the 23rd of November, and they are calling on students to organise local demonstrations and walk outs from their school or college. Organisers claim that there is a “growing consensus that the HE white paper needs to be re-thought, with even MPs calling for the process to be slowed down.” The Day of Action is in lead up to the strikes on the 30th Nov, in which
A leading Trade Union has taken the unprecedented step of setting up a branch to represent working students. GMB Goldsmiths has gained 60 members since Fresher’s Week. Jon Sullivan, President of the branch, heralded its foundation as “one of the most significant developments in the student movement in the past 30 years”. Speaking to London Student, he highlighted the positive impact achieved so far. Thanks to the intervention of GMB Goldsmiths, a student working at a major clothing retailer who was constructively dismissed and ‘almost harassed’ by his employees was allowed to keep his uniform rather than hand it back to his employer.
Photo: National Campaign Against Cuts and Fees
up to 25 pub sector unions are taking part in an industrial action to defend pensions and jobs. The National Campaign against Fees and Cuts also put out a statement which argued that, “Action now could well bear fruit, so we have is-
sued the 'VC Pledge' which makes demands on universities around no cuts, no privatisation etc.” The VC Pledge is a list of commitments (to condemn the White Paper, to guarantee no course closures or job cuts, etc) which asking Vice-Chancellors or Principles to agree to them.
Sullivan stressed the benefits which accrue from GMB Goldsmiths working closely with Goldsmiths Student Union, because non-union members can still seek advice from the union body. He hopes to expand beyond Goldsmiths in the near future, with LSE and Royal Holloway both within his sights. UCL student and former mixologist Joseph Canterbury said he found the news very encouraging. “During my first year I was working as a waiter in a cocktail bar, and the lack of employment protection was palpable. This is just the sort of thing my fellow workers and I would have benefited from.” On 30th November GMB Goldsmiths will be supporting millions of trade unionists taking part in strike action. The move follows the decision by Sparks, an electrician’s union, to join with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts in the student protests of 9th November.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
World Briefing Writer Bassam Gergi
Illustrator Nathan Clutterbuck
crackdown on free speech USA
Last Tuesday, a judge upheld a court ruling requiring Occupy Wall Street to leave Zucco7i Park, which they have been occupying for over two months. In a surprise predawn raid, police arrested some 200 protesters and detained several journalists. New York Supreme Court, Justice Michael Stallman said that rights guaranteed under the ﬁrst amendment to the US constitution do not entitle OWS to camp out indeﬁnitely in the plaza. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a6er the ruling, "The court's ruling vindicates our position that First Amendment rights do not include the right to endanger the public or infringe on the rights of others by taking over a public space with tents and tarps.” Undeterred, hundreds of protesters returned to the park as night fell on Tuesday, but they will not be allowed to pitch tents or use generators in the plaza. In an article for the Guardian, OWS protesters said, “you can't evict an idea whose time has come”
Student demands met in Colombia
Tens of thousands of students have taken to the streets in Colombia in recent weeks to protest government legislation. The legislation was meant to privatize public education because it sought to establish ﬁnancial autonomy for public universities. The students had called for a month-long boyco7 of classes at public universities a6er the government agreed to withdraw educational reform legislation. The student leaders say, however, that their decision will not bring an immediate end to street demonstrations, including a march still set for Nov. 24. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos’ government agreed to scrap the legislation if students agreed to go back to class.
daughter graduates in Hong Kong
Zimbabwe's First Family, President Mugabe and the First Lady Grace Mugabe, a7ended the graduation ceremony of their daughter Bona Mugabe at City University in Hong Kong. Bona graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) in Accountancy. At Bona’s graduation ceremony, a delegation of Zimbabwean oﬃcials who accompanied the President erupted into applause when her name was called. President Mugabe’s sister Dr Regina Gata led in singing the song “Makorokoto” to cap a joyous day for her niece. President Mugabe said he and the First Lady were the happiest of people yesterday as their daughter had made them proud. “The future is in their hands, they are well equipped to ﬁnd their way into the world,” said President Mugabe.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
to be sent down under AUSTRALIA
On his international trip which included a stop in Australia, President Obama announced a plan to place US Marines in Australia. A White House adviser clariﬁed however that the transfer is independent from the military buildup on Guam. The US would send about 250 Marines to train in Darwin, northern Australia, early next year, and that the Marine force could grow to 2,500 in the next few years. The shi6 has been seen as a power play against rival superpower China, but it also raised questions about the buildup in Guam. Ben Rhodes, a national security adviser for strategic communications, said "This is not a substitute for the ongoing presence that we have in Japan, in Northeast Asia. It doesn't aﬀect our commitment to move forward with our agreements with the Japanese government on issues like Futenma,"
Lecturers have called oﬀ their weeklong strike a6er talks with Labour Minister John Munyes agreed to resume stalled pay negotiations. Lecturers and nonteaching staﬀ had been on strike demanding a be7er pay package as well as allowances. The lecturers who took part in the strike have been assured that they will not be punished for their participation. A6er the strike was announced, Higher Education Minister Margret Kamar declared it illegal and ordered lecturers to return to work. The strike had aﬀected ongoing examinations and placed graduations in jeopardy, leading to widespread delays. The agreement reached between the two sides now allows graduations to go on as scheduled. Labour Minister Munyes said: “We decided on a ma7er of consensus to agree on a return to work formula and to give dialogue a chance. We have agreed that the unions suspend the strike immediately and that the parties mutually commit to restart negotiations within two weeks.”
monks headed to India
5) Chinese CHINA
A group of 30 monks from the Buddhist Association of China is headed to India to strengthen people-to-people relations between the two countries. The highlight of the visit will be a ritual during which new monks will be ordained at the Chinese Buddhist temple at Bodh Gaya. The Chinese delegation is closely linked to the Communist Party and the visit is seen as a signiﬁcant political move. The monks will visit diﬀerent Buddhist sites in India, and hold discussions with monks of the order in addition to meeting oﬃcials at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. The Indian government is planning to keep a close eye on the visiting monks due to their close links with the Chinese government. The ultimate goal of the monks is said to be to convince their brothers to move away from their loyalty to the Dalai Lama.
rice scare in Japan
Authorities in Japan have halted a shipment of rice from farms in the northwest of the country a6er tests revealed higher-than-allowed levels of radioactive cesium. The farms they are from are located around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The steps taken are the latest in a series to limit the side-eﬀects on produce and livestock a6er the March disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Vast quantities of radioactive particles were dispersed during the crisis, harming the environment in surrounding areas. Approximately 154 Ohnami farms have produced nearly 200 tons of rice so far this year. Howeve3r only one ton of rice has been sold to local shops, with the rest kept in storage or consumed within farms.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
Student protests echo across the globe Writer Jaskiran Chohan Wednesday 9th November saw the UK student movement reawaken, stoking the embers of last years fiery protests. The latest instalment in the fight against the cuts featured the regular chants against tuition fees, the Con-Dem government and the reinstatement of EMA. However, new causes have been added to the longstanding one: London Metropolitan Uni versity under threat of privatisation, many universities looking to reduce their already set tuition fees and the coming of a mass strike on 30th November. Wednesday’s protest had a much lighter atmosphere than those witnessed in the last academic year, with attendance easily in the thousands. No major trouble was recorded largely due to aggressive policing. Modified tactics resulted in press statements on the possible use of rubber bullets and warning letters being sent against attendance to previously remanded persons from former protests. The police was able to keep a firm control on the movements of the protesters using a new fluid kettle tactic to control the route. Access to all other side roads was blocked and a separate protest led by electricians was prevented from merging with the students. Horsed-policeman led from the front to stagger the pace of the march and all major companies and banks along the route such as Goldman Sachs were boarded up and guarded in hefty numbers. Simultaneous student struggles are taking place all across the world. Chile is witnessing one of the strongest social movements in its history, against the increased privatisation of their education system. There state scaremonger-
ing has been met with strength in numbers. Its all-encompassing movement has included a high turnout of high school students. Secondary school pupils are also leading the fight against government cuts, with cases of hunger strikes and occupations bolstering university action. Spain is also imminently awaiting a student general strike on November 17th. Groups in the universities of Sevilla, Madrid, Barcelona and Granada are calling for a national day of action. The strike has been called against higher education governing structures that grant significant influence to private companies and businesses. Different to the UK, the Spanish system of tertiary education is dictated by more flexibility, allowing subjects to be retaken until they are passed. New government reforms are endangering this possibility by upping third attempt re-enrolment to some €500. Strikers argue that this will inevitably end in many unfinished degrees among poorer students. They point to Spain’s economic context, which boasts Europe’s highest youth unemployment rate at above 46%. They argue that Spanish youth already faces economically precarious conditions, due to the instable and temporary incomes provided by short-term contracts and the global use of free interning. Tough social circumstances are clearly the motivating force behind the call for a student strike in Spain but momentum is also stemming from the 15-M protest group, lobbying for wide economic and political reform. Spanish students involved in both movements talk of the impact made by 15-M on increasing general awareness and providing optimism and drive to their own struggle. Members in such UK groups as National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts have long underlined
Students take to the street in Bloomsbury
“Members in such UK groups as the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts have long underlined the importance of linking social movements. The importance of 30th November has been continually highlighted as a date that will unify the fight against government cuts”
the importance of linking social
movements. The importance of 30th November has been continually highlighted as a date that will unify the fight against government cuts. Wednesday 9th was a potential stepping-stone towards this, with many chants urging the uniting of workers and students. Also emphasising this were intentions to merge the march of the separately striking electricians and en route construction workers among others displaying vocal
and visible support for the aim of the protesters. While both movements in Spain and Chile are strong within their own rights, the intertwining of social struggles has given them much needed momentum. Groups such as NCAFC are attempting to maintain drive within the movement itself through a national day of action on 23rd November but it is undoubtedly the 30th that all await with bated breath.
year: “If you ask me whether at that stage when you saw those pictures of those criminals pulling those windows down around those officers and throwing things at them and they were unprotected, if there were baton gunners nearby, could that have been a situation when baton gunners could have been used? Then, maybe.” In his interview the Commander went on to reveal that the weapons were available last year: “What the difference is here is that that’s become public knowledge and we’ve made people more aware that that was there.” However he pointed out that rubber bullets have “never been used before on the UK mainland, and I don’t want to be the first person to do that". ULU vice president Sean Rillo Racza, who was Chief Steward
on the day, said: “It’s been a great day of resistance with thousands of students take to the streets against cuts and privatisation. We’re now looking forward to 30th Nov strikes.” As protesting goes, this was destined to be low-key. With no parliamentary vote to bring tempers to the boil, there was only ever a limited amount on the agenda. The Government's White Paper with its “marketisation” of higher education appears to be less immediately emotive than the headline figure of £9,000 tuition fees.
Analysis: the London protests in perspective Writer Toby Thomas News Editor
Media previews of the march were thirsty for violence, and the Metropolitan Police officer in charge of the response appeared to expect it too. On the eve of the protest Commander Simon Pountain told London Student: “History and experience is telling me that this demonstration has the potential to go in the same way as those other ones the same people involved, the anniversary of the Milbank demonstration, and the information that is out there that’s available for all to see indicates that some people might be coming along to cause trouble” These people failed to turn up.
Cdr. “If you ask me whether Simon Pountain at that stage when you
Extended quote on the use of rubber bullets
saw those pictures of those criminals pulling those windows down around those officers and throwing things at them and they were unprotected, if there were baton gunners nearby, could that have been a situation when baton gunners could have been used? Then, maybe.”
A massive police presence combined with a relatively low turnout ensured violence did not steal the headlines. 4,000 officers were present this year to deal with an expected 10,000 turnout;
that compares to the 255 police initially deployed for 50,000 students last November. Unlike last year's demonstration, this did not climax in angry nocturnal scenes but petered out into a carnival atmosphere. The muted disorder is a good sign for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts. Despite their punchy rhetoric, the organization adopted a sensible approach. They've emerged with their reputation boosted. Rubber bullet-firing baton guns had been made available by police, but, despite reports of light bulbs being thrown at officers, they did not come close to being used. Pressed on the circumstances under which the weapons would be fired, Commander Pountain suggested they could have come into use during the chaotic scenes at Milbank last
Photo: Flickr user badheartbull
Protest by the numbers •5,000 to 15,000 student protesters. •£9,000 annual tuition fees. •4,000 police oﬃcers on duty. •24 arrests.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Dark side to Palestine member bid Omar Zaki - page 10
Internships for auction £1500 a piece Laura Lea - page 11
Does disruptive protest work better? The Great Debate - page 12
Students should support the Lib Dems Matthew J McLaren - page 14
Celebrating Christopher Hitchens Kevin Corti - page 14
Activism: The future of student campaigning
Liam Burns NUS President
“The days of campaigns
being run entirely from the centre are in many ways over, if they ever really existed.”
There is no doubt that there has in many ways been a sea-change in the nature of campaigning over the last few years. Much of this has been well-documented – the eﬀects of technological innovation, and most speciﬁcally the rise of social media, are clear and dramatic. Associated with this, but not entirely dependent on it, has been the rise of very loosely organised campaigning approaches, such as that epitomised by UK Uncut – campaigning on speciﬁc issues, and thereby bringing in people who otherwise hold myriad political views, in an innovative and exciting way. Whilst this change has been commented on a fair bit, far less has been said on the eﬀect that this has had and will have on campaigning organisations – and there is a great deal for us at NUS and all within the student movement to think about here. But change for us extends beyond this; both the nature and profundity of the further and higher education reforms also challenge us to think diﬀerently about how we campaign most eﬀectively. Radical national reforms, which by their very na-
ture – pu3ing the onus on individual institutions to set prices and implement cuts, encouraging competition within the sector – have particularly local impacts. How we best campaign on this in a manner which is coherent nationally but relevant locally is therefore a challenge now more than ever. The campaigning landscape has undoubtedly changed, and this forces us to think diﬀerently. And that is why the Student Activism 2011 event which took place on Saturday at Goldsmiths and brought 1000 activists to London – was organised by NUS, but more crucially oﬀered an opportunity for all of us as a student movement to discuss these issues, to share our experiences about how we are already both overcoming the diﬃculties and to harness the opportunity to develop our thinking for the future. Student Activism 2011 pulled together workshops, debates, training sessions and talks, organised by student oﬃcers and ﬁgures from other sister organisations, such as trade unions, third sector organisations and activist groups. Contributors in-
cluded UK Uncut, Oxfam, the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC), the Education Activist Network, UNISON, Unions21, Liberty, Amnesty, TUC, Plane Stupid and MIND but also students' unions sharing their local experience with others. This is the biggest student activism conference ever seen in the UK and it is very unlikely to be the last. Sessions were led by many seasoned campaigners, but also by those who might never thought of what they do as ‘campaigning’ at all – the sports sabb who thinks that the local youth club should remain open; the college student who sets up a Facebook group about the closure of their local library, and gets it into the local paper; or the mature student who sets up a petition to improve childcare services on campus, because without this they can’t keep studying. And whilst these are issues that many in the student movement have been thinking about and engaging with for some time now – we are also reaching out to students who might have never directly engaged before with their students’ union, and
for whom NUS will really just be the people that oﬀer that discount card. Student Activism 2011 reﬂects in some way the changing landscape of campaigning. Yes, NUS is o2en best placed to undertake the necessary logistics and organisational know-how to put on and promote such events. But we can in no way claim to have a monopoly on campaigning. This event showed a way of giving students the space, time and support to discuss, teach and mobilise in their own ways- and presented a new way of discussing the new challenges and new opportunities that we face as campaigners. The days of campaigns being run entirely from the centre are in many ways over, if they ever really existed. This event points to a future where students are empowered to put themselves in the driving seat. Whether or not you a3ended on Saturday, I hope many more of you will see involvement in your student's union, NUS and the broader student movement as a powerful opportunity to bring about change.
Agree? Disagree? Your views: firstname.lastname@example.org Omar Zaki SOAS
“The right and orthodox thing for Palestine to do is become a recognised state through the peace process”
Walaa Quisay SOAS
“The zeal with which some prominent elite feminists approached be8ering the ‘helpless, oppressed, and ignorant’ rural and urban poor women turned a good portion of modern Arab women against their activism”
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Dark side to Palestine member bid
I was thrilled for Palestine when it was admi8ed in UNESCO on the 31st of October, as it was an indication of support for Palestine from the international community and added greater strength to its ongoing bid for UN membership status, with 107 votes yes, 14 no and 52 abstentions it was a good show of support for Palestine. However, the US has withheld its $65 million dollar contribution (22% of UNESCO budget) in accordance with a 1990 and 1994 US law created by Senate Foreign Relations Chair Claiborne Pell and then Chairman Dante Fascell. US payments to any UN aﬃliated organisation that admits Palestine as a member will be withheld, those funds are needed for educational, cultural and scientiﬁc programs and grassroots projects across the world including tsunami warning systems in the Caribbean, preserving historical and cultural sites, literacy programs in Afghanistan and media training in Tunisia & Egypt.
Ibrahim Khraishi, head of the Palestine UN envoy in Geneva, announced they would seek membership in 16 other UN organisations. If one can imagine this impact on one UN agency can one imagine it to 16 others? As someone who has great faith in the aims of the UN, I can’t describe the negative impact this would have on humanitarian works, economic assistance, diplomatic bridges, educational and grassroots programmes across the globe, including America’s own foreign policy. The US is a keystone in the foundation of the UN, being one its founding architects, and whether you like it or not its a key player in the UN. According to the White House Oﬃce of Management and Budget the US government contributes $7.691,822,000 billion in total to all UN organisations. These funds contribute to everything from protection of engendered species to creation of aviation rules & regulations to peacekeeping missions in Darfur,
South Sudan and Lebanon. The US also played a major role in founding and funding war tribunals in Rwanda & Sierra Leone. We must be realistic; Palestine is not yet a state and hence should not be entered into a UN agency given the same rights as member states, also its UN membership bid will never pass though the Security Council where it’s expected to be rejected. The right and orthodox thing for Palestine to do is become a recognised state through the peace process, and yes the Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahu has been the main obstacle of peace with its failure to engage with Mahmoud Abbas and its continuous construction of settlements in occupied West Bank, but the fate and livelihoods of millions cannot be put at risk because of this brave yet in vain political message.
The current realities of targeted suppression of the ‘marginalized’ Arab peoples are tearing the fabric of traditional politics and conﬂicting identity politics are emerging. Traditional politics in the Arab world, whether it was concerning Feminism, Nationalism, Islamism, or Socialism have always had a utopian undertone to them. This almost always meant that there was a disconnect between realities on the ground and ideology. This disconnect meant in the case of ideological leadership that oppressive regimes, regardless of ideologies, end up looking the same (whether it was a nationalist socialist regime, a liberal capitalist, or an absolute monarchy). They all become a family business. As with marginalized political ideologies including feminism this leads to a massive gap between the masses it supposedly addresses and the theory it proposes. It is rather interesting to point out that there is no single word in the Arabic language to denote ‘feminism’; rather feminists in the Arab World refer to themselves as ‘Women’s Rights activists’. No direct equivalent to the term was in coined for a variety of reasons: 1. Feminist movements hoped to tear down an unjust and hierarchical structure within the family and this was very problematic. In the late O8oman period when feminism in the modern sense of the word surfaced, a movement of women ﬁghting for their rights and identity as women was by far less a8ractive because it appeared more hegemonic; in contrast to an
advocacy for decency that promoted the be8erment of situation of women. 2. Most of the early feminists were of the O8oman elite and were not revolutionary. 3. The Feminist movement was a direct oﬀspring of classical liberal Western intellectual scholarship. Feminist movements in the Arab world followed in the footsteps of 19th Century French feminism and seemed not to progress beyond that point. Its main failure was that it presented itself as the ‘Just’ social change but it was viewed by many as an elite intrusion. This was not entirely inaccurate. The zeal with which some prominent elite feminists approached be8ering the ‘helpless, oppressed, and ignorant’ rural and urban poor women turned a good portion of modern Arab women against their activism. In essence liberal Feminists and selfproclaimed Radical feminists such as Nawal al-Saadawi have fallen into the same trap that justiﬁed male chauvinism to begin with and entrapped them in a very ugly and snobbish image. For example, Nawal al-Saadawi once set up a campaign to educate rural women about contraception. In the point of view of a rural woman, here would be a bunch of women unaware of her typical day-to-day life a8empting to correct it. Another manifestation of this unhealthy imposition of ideals, in Tunisia for example, was the myth of the ‘enlightened despot’ Habib Bourguiba, who freed the women from clutches of tradi-
tionalism. In the political context, the cultural and semantic debates reserved the limelight. The cultural debate is of course shamelessly abused by those who want to materialize on the suﬀering of the Arab Peoples, in general (whether under direct colonialism, neo colonialism, and dictatorships), and Arab women in particular. In liberal circles this culture debate is known as ‘Islamists VS Women’ and in Islamist circles this debate is known as ‘the empowered Muslim woman VS the inﬁltrations of cultural western imperialism’. Sadly, women and our very real grievances get lost between this empty show of strength (this is not the only victim of elite politics at war in the Arab world). This action and reaction never ending ‘political merry-go-round’ transformed religion into the chauvinists of the Arab world’s leaning stick and a ground justifying the racists’ Islamophobia. The Arabs revolted a7er they had completely lost faith in utopias, great leaders, and ideologies. Revolution was a question of survival not bravery. The ‘Cliché liberal feminist’ may have the loudest voice in condemning chauvinism but not much else. Arab men will never accept feminism in principle; no one relinquishes power willingly but they are made to accept it when the woman ﬁghts and asserts herself. No one being can free another; rather one is only freed when they free themselves. And that’s what the Revolution is about.
Legacy and failures of Arab feminism
Baber Ahmed’s injustice threatens justice for all Nadia Chan
Baber Ahmed: 37 years old, designated as a category ‘A’ prisoner and has served time in a number of prisons within the High-Security Estate. He is the ‘boogieman’ your parents warned you of; I certainly would be anxious to invite him for tea and scones. He is the deﬁnition of a dangerous individual, but why? What is the reason for him being held in custody? Hmm, good question. Baber is accused of raising support for Chechnyan and Afghan ‘terrorism’ and is the longest serving prisoner held without charge, or trial, in UK history. He was born, raised and worked here and the allegations against him are said to have taken place in this country, however there has been a request from the US to have him extradited. No hard evidence has been unearthed; therefore, being sent into another jurisdiction is completely unjustiﬁed. The extradition is bad news not only for the British born Baber but any other U.K citizen. If extradited Baber could face a life sentence, execution or even rendition. The most frightening thing is that if one citizen is subjected to this kind of treatment, then who is to say that other citizens are not going to fall victim to the same fate? Even if you believe Baber Ahmed is guilty and deserves to be brought to justice (and this is what the petition calls for, justice.) Baber is entitled to a fair trial in the U.K. To quote Martin Luther King, ‘injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. The signatures on the e-petition have exceeded the 100,000 threshold; the campaign was run by his family and a8racted the support of people across the country through YouTube, Facebook and Twi8er; even though the main stream media have largely ignored the plight of Baber Ahmed, the campaign has been successful.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Laura Lea KCL
“I cannot begin to imagine how many internships are ge4ing bought and sold in this way.”
Ayya Harraz SOAS
“The exiled family of Rifaat al Assad, uncle to Bashar al Assad, is clearly plo4ing their return to Syria but will their a4empt be successful?”
£1500 for an internship? So much for hiring according to talent
I recently found myself at a charity’s annual fundraising dinner and awards night in central London. I’d had no previous involvement with the charity, but like many other third year undergraduates in London, I was happy for some paid work. A large part of the night consisted of a silent auction, typical of this sort of aﬀair, where the 500 or so guests can boost their egos and ﬂash their cash in the name of a good cause. Among the 30 prizes being auctioned, ranging from designer jewellery to shooting at a country manor, there were one to two week internships. Although I’d heard of such things doubtlessly happening before, I had never experienced it myself. Yet here were four work experience opportunities available: one at an incredibly well established law ﬁrm, two at corporate investment ﬁrms and the other at a London-based events company. Each package was auctioned for at least £1500 a piece, which incidentally means that this incredibly deserved charity received at least £6000
to put to good use. But here is the moral dilemma: whilst the huge signiﬁcance placed on internships allows them to be valued and sold, with all proﬁts going directly to the charity, the beneﬁts are not so onesided. As many of you will have experienced: the competition in most areas for these internships is really tough. In the past I have consoled myself, that perhaps such and such a company just wasn’t looking or I wasn’t quite suited or qualiﬁed enough. But now, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps the time or position weren’t available, because someone else, completely regardless of qualiﬁcation, experience or personality, had ﬁlled the space thanks to a generous parent. At this particular event, the prizes concerned had been donated due to particular contacts, or by the main sponsors, supporters and investors of the charity. So for the companies concerned, donating a week of work experience is a quick, easy and free way of demonstrating their generos-
ity. With charity auctions happening on a weekly basis over the city, I cannot begin to imagine how many internships are ge4ing bought and sold in this way. Needless to say, this makes it even harder to ﬁnd the motivation to go through the grueling process of work experience applications, once again. But how will this system ever change? Most charities aren’t in the position to be picky about prizes, especially when they know how much they can be worth to them. And we can hardly expect the bidders to get on the moral high-ground as they are arguably demonstrating great morals in generosity already. And so we are le3 with the companies themselves: to hope that they ﬁnd the integrity of their own establishment to recognise that skill and potential cannot be bought. In the mean time let’s not hold our breath, but keep persevering in the hope that someone soon will see our value.
A combination of Syrian army defectors, struggling opposition parties, the fear of becoming the next Libya and the suspension of Syria from the Arab league is overwhelming but the peaceful uprising that’s slowly turning into a civil war might be the window of opportunity that uncle Rifaat has been seeking. Rifaat al Assad, well known in Syria as the ‘Butcher of Hama’ for leading the Syrian army and the defence brigades into Hama in 1982 and butchering around 40,000 people, has made a sudden reappearance. The younger brother of Hafez al Assad was not banished on the basis of the massacre he commi4ed but for attempting a coup against his brother. On Sunday Rifaat al Assad caught the media’s a4ention when he took on the reigns of a new opposition movement. He not only declared that he ‘is now best placed to bring the latest crisis to an end’ but also claimed that he, ‘the butcher of Hama’, has always defended democracy. As much as he claims his allegiance to the people of Syria and their right to freedom, it was, and still is, Bashar al Assad who funds Rifaat al Assad’s luxurious life in the a4empt to keep him out of Syria. Rifaat’s former ties with the current regime and the emergence of his National Democratic council fails in comparison to his son’s efforts to re-emerge as a political ﬁgure. Ribal al Assad, the ﬁrst cousin
of Bashar al Assad, is the founder of The Organisation for Democracy and Freedom in Syria. He has made several appearances on programmes such as BBC Hardtalk and has given talks in a few London universities. Although Ribal states that he does not work for his father and doesn’t share the same politics as him, this is contradicted by the fact that he works for the Arab News Network (ANN), a television station that his father owns. Ribal al Assad has not only become the spokesperson for his father’s political aspirations but is also working on a political agenda of his own. His blatant plot to regain his family’s ‘rightful’ position in the Syrian government unfortunately does not stop there. Back in July Rifaat and Ribal al Assad were invited to address MPs and Lords at a private meeting in the Houses of Parliament, The Guardian reported. In a recent interview with AFP and Le Monde, Rifaat al Assad says that he wishes to lead the transition. He argues that "the solution would be that the Arab states guarantee Bashar al-Assad's security so he can resign and be replaced by someone with ﬁnancial backing who can look a3er Bashar's people a3er his resignation." So, why is it that Rifaat al Assad is conﬁdent that he is the ‘ﬁnancial backing’ for Syria? Last month, reports poured in that Bashar al Assad and Rifaat al
Assad’s families have been selling most of their property as quickly as possible in an a4empt to liquidate their assets. Reports by Yalla Finance and the French magazine Charlie Hebdo stated that Rifaat alone has sold oﬀ huge properties in the U.S, London, France and Spain. Regardless of the ‘ﬁnancial backing’ that Rifaat or his son may have, they are unforge4ably the most hated Syrians. With their scandalous and atrocious reputation it is unlikely they will be able to get very far. Wagdi Mustafa, the Syrian le3ist oppositionist, in an interview with Al Ahram newspaper claims that Rifaat al Assad was excluded in several diﬀerent conferences of the Syrian opposition ‘because of their direct relationship to the US’ and that they ‘strongly refuse any foreign military intervention in Syria as these people tend to call for.’ But the only way Rifaat al Assad or his son will ever be able to step inside Syria again is if the current regime ﬁnd themselves pushed into the furthest corner by their people - and in a desperate attempt to keep their interests aliveonly then will they turn towards Uncle Rifaat, ‘The Butcher of Hama.’
He has the money, but does he have the support?
THE GREAT DEBATE
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
Agree? Disagree? Your views: email@example.com
Does disruptive protest work better?
Last year’s student protests saw everything from nonviolent civil disobedience to broken windows. This year, November 9th saw thousands of students marching peacefully. Which is more eﬀective tactically? Can protest work be4er if it disrupts the everyday life of the city?
Thelma Dorhn Goldsmiths
The word ‘violence’ recently, unlike 1 million of our peers, has not found itself short of employment. In 12 months we have seen violence against A Window, escalating to violence against Bins, rapidly transforming into violence against Walls, Grass On Parliament Square, via Paint, and in a shocking culmination violence against Poundland. Some might argue it is impossible to inflict violence on that which is not alive, and that any harm, felt distantly via property revenues in the millions, is barley felt at all, definitely wouldn’t leave a bruise. What is the difference from this abstraction of what one side of media call “violence” against property to the Guardianista application of economic “violence” against ordinary working / middle class people, similarly non bruising? How can you call it violence, we’re not even touching your flesh, silly! And that’s what violence is, isn’t it, harm? What’s harm? Perhaps that’s where the difference lies. Objects aren’t receptive to harm, they don’t mind, they never say anything any way. Unfortunate humans possess a wealth of ways to experience harm, the big softies. Unlike the victims on the other side of the “violence” in a social turmoil (windows, etc) they often voice it. Only, apparently this hasn’t made much impact within the Ears That Be. You can be harmed in different, sneakier, ways. Never having the opportunity to live further than hand to mouth, in an world of competition, odds against you, would be considered pretty harmful for your soul. This struggle has never been seen in any human society ever. And if we’re dead set on physicalities here in our harm/violence diagnosis, then we needn’t look further than nutrition
and privatized healthcare, and the quality and length of life which that affords. Those imposing this kind of unequal social scenario certainly wouldn’t like it - they haven’t clawed their way to the position they hold for nothing. Someone’s got to have an hard existence, for you to have a breezingly wealthy one. Never spend all that money? Might as well keep ahold of it for a rainy day, whatever that is. That’s big vague stuff. How about us, London Students. Aware of the New College of Humanities? At £18000 p/a it fills a well needed gap in education as funding for humanities got axed, big time. This private institution is endorsed by the University of London so they can use our taxpayer subsidized libraries, whilst at the same time gaining degrees that devalues ours. A small dig reveals who is behind this new institution, one ColemanGetty PR Consultancy, whose notable recent achievements include the task of “reasserting the link between Parliament and Big Ben.” That’s a job? What is it with this government and PR men anyway? Is this just a false-profit swelling bubble to sit on now that we haven’t got any actual industries (requiring dangerous amounts of proles steering) to milk? Well, if it is you’re not invited, unless you’ve got £54000 in which case..! I don’t agree with hitting Ministers. It would be like laughing at a condemned man. But property is different, property which enables and ensconces these sneaking ladder pulling organisations. Government buildings are yours anyway, built through your tax, and putting a roof over plans to stamp you down - do as you wish with them. If you want to smash up your den to stop some spoilt kids in the neighborhood scheming against you in it, it’s your clear right. And it might just get a bit of attention. After all, the papers love a mess. Emmeline Pankhurst stated The argument of the broken window pane is the most valuable argument in modern politics. And she made the change we needed.
“Those broken windows cost an awful lot. They cost us credibility.”
“The word ‘violence’
recently, unlike 1 million of our peers, has not found itself short of employment.”
Joshua Ferguson Heythrop
The very idea that protests need to be disruptive is one that is doubtless going to cause much contention in the minds of the general public. Lest we forget that the general public is the group that we want to win round, let me start by deﬁning my terms. An eﬀective protest is one that raises the issues by bringing them to the fore through the medium of public demonstration. If more people start talking and thinking about the issues that caused the protest, then it has been an eﬀective protest. If all people are talking about is the disruption caused by said protest, then the protest, in my mind, has been a failure. This was more than adequately demonstrated in the ﬁrst of the student protests last year. Many thousands of students ﬂocked to London to demonstrate their anger at the proposed increase to tuition fees and cuts to the education system. The fact that so many students were there for one purpose was nothing short of admirable; but we (and I speak as part of the student body here) were betrayed by a small but vocal minority who don’t seem to understand that anger does not mean violence. From that moment on, all that anybody could focus on was the broken windows at Millbank, the clashes with the police, and that bloody ﬁre extinguisher. I can think of no more potent an example to back up my point. In her interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight following the Millbank debacle, the then ULU President Clare Solomon made a horriﬁcally embarrassing a4empt to defend the actions she and others made at Millbank, all the while seeming to be blissfully ignorant of the betrayal she had done to her own cause and the cause of the student body as a whole.
Violent disruption can only serve to engender antipathy and hostility towards a group and their cause. A cool head, not a hot one, is what is needed if the student body is ever going to be taken seriously as a political demographic worth listening to. In stark contrast to this, the November 9th protests this year were much more of a success. There was very little (if any) violence or disruption on that march, the atmosphere was friendly and passionate throughout, and subsequently it was the issues for which we were marching that were discussed, not the broken windows or the tactics used by protesters and police. Clare Solomon and her ilk are always keen to trot out the line that “a few broken windows are nothing compared to what the government’s doing to our education”, failing magniﬁcently to see the point. Those broken windows cost an awful lot. They cost us credibility, they cause the protests to lose focus, and they cost us the support of the public at large. Breaking into buildings and terrifying receptionists and working people who have got children to feed and mortgages to worry about is going to make us all look like petulant, thuggish children throwing a tantrum and ﬂinging our toys out of the pram. Peaceful protest is the only way to truly make our voices heard. I think it is a terrible shame when people can’t see the sense in not smashing up the city where you have to live and work within the society you so vociferously decry. Co-operating with the police is the best way to protest. Most of these policemen will sympathise, they have student debts and mortgages, and the police have cuts of their own to look forward to. Furthermore, these policemen are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If they intervene too much, they’re accused of being heavyhanded fascists. Too li4le and they look like they’re ineﬀectual. Disrupting the society in which we live can only be harmful to the student protest. The sooner we realise that and start acting on it, the be4er.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Agree? Disagree? Your views: firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew J McLaren Heythrop
“Altogether they have im-
plemented 75% of their election manifesto – not bad considering that they only have 9% of MPs.”
Kevin Corti LSE
“Hitchens' career has been
nothing short of awe-inspiring to those who feel beleaguered by mainstream representations of political and social reality.”
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
Agree? Disagree? Your views: email@example.com
Instead of scapegoating over tuition fees, students need to celebrate the Liberal Democrats’ victories
It’s no secret that the Liberal Democrats aren’t exactly popular among students right now. In fact some students have gone so far as to deface eﬃgies of Nick Clegg on campus. But this anger and viliﬁcation is misplaced. Not only have the Lib Dems done the best they can for students in the electoral circumstances, but they have succeeded in doing a whole ra4 of things that students care about, from gay marriage to protecting the NHS. The Liberal Democrats stood on a platform of abolishing tuition fees, just as they had successfully done in Scotland when in coalition there with Labour. Unfortunately, the Liberal Democrats did not win the election last year. Far from it. The voting public returned just 57 Lib Dem MPs, to the Conservatives’ 306 and Labour’s 258. For the sake of stable Government that would protect Britain from the still on-going international economic storm, the coalition with the Tories was formed. But the Liberal Democrats had no choice on fees, unlike Labour, who broke manifesto pledges on fees not once, but twice, at a economic prosperity and a powerful majority government, and who commissioned the Browne report.
So who were the Liberal Democrats supposed to negotiate with on fees? Even if the electoral arithmetic had permi5ed a stable coalition with Labour, they were as unwilling to budge on fees as the generally pro-privatisation Tories. So, faced with this no-win situation what did the Lib Dems do? They did exactly what they SAID they would do – they focused on the four key commitments that formed the foundation of their 2010 election campaign. Fair taxes, a fair start for every child, a fair future; creating green jobs and cleaning up politics. In every one of these areas the Liberal Democrats have secured victory. Low earners are already beneﬁting from the increase in personal tax allowance and have about £200 extra in their pocket a year. The pupil premium has just been rolled out meaning that for every single child on free school meals their school will receive an extra £488 per year. Chris Huhne’s Green Investment Bank is now a reality, and with real ﬁnancial muscle behind it. And we had a referendum on a fairer voting system, are now in the process of democratising the House of Lords, and bringing in
policies to register lobbyists. Altogether they have implemented 75% of their election manifesto – not bad considering that they only have 9% of MPs. They ensured that the Government’s HE policy made sure not only that maintenance funding remains secure, but in some areas was enhanced. Despite the NUS’s willingness to sacriﬁce this vital lifeline necessary for poorer students to go to university merely for the sake of bringing down working graduate contributions, Liberal Democrat ministers fought tooth and nail to ensure that not only was a university education still free at the point of use (unlike the ﬁrst tuition fee system introduced by Labour) but that students could aﬀord to study without having to work 40 hours a week to pay their way. Nick Clegg has made social mobility a personal priority. He simply wasn’t in a position to stop rising fees; but going well beyond manifesto commitments he made sure that £7billion was invested in early years education despite austerity measures elsewhere. This is when the Government can make a diﬀerence to people’s life chances – by the time people are at an age to consider going to uni-
versity, whatever damage is caused by an impoverished background tends to already be done. So, yes, Liberal Democrats had to enter coalition with the Conservatives. And yes, that coalition meant that their pledges on fees could not be kept. But, not only have they done everything they can to make sure that HE policy does not negatively aﬀect students (it only aﬀects graduates and at a rate proportionate to their economic success), they have done a truckload of things while in Government that we as students ought to care about: making sure that the poorest people get to keep more of their own money, making sure that inequality at birth isn’t necessarily inequality for life, making sure jobs that not only boost our economy but also help our environment are being created and supported, and radically shaking up the way politics is done. Bearing all this in mind, along with the fact that the Liberal Democrats are still the only party that believe in free tuition, is it not time to get behind them? Next time we should make sure that they get a hell of a lot more than just 57 MPs.
On November 9th, several of the world's most notable public intellectuals gathered at London's Royal Festival Hall to discuss and celebrate the life and mind of Anglo-American journalist Christopher Hitchens. The event, which was hosted by uthor and television personality Stephen Fry, was entitled The Life, Loves, and Hates of Christopher Hitchens and featured actor Sean Penn, poet James Fenton, authors Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis, biologist Richard Dawkins, and other close friends of the cancerstricken writer who for the past few decades has championed the virtues of free thought. Hitchens is probably best known for his ﬁerce condemnations of religion. But far from being merely a critic of blind faith, Hitchens' journalistic endeavours encompass a wide array of social issues. He is the only writer to have visited North Korea, Iran, and Baathist Iraq. He has produced biographies on George Orwell, Thomas Jeﬀerson and Thomas Paine, as well as scathing critiques of Henry Kissinger and the Clintons. He spearheaded a public relations campaign in defence of Salman Rushdie during the Sa-
tanic Verses aﬀair. And he was one of the ﬁrst political commentators to argue passionately for armed intervention against the Serbian ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims in the early 1990s. The Bosnian situation reﬂected what was perhaps the ﬁrst visible sign of Hitchens' evolving belief that the frustrating circumstances of reality at times justify the use of armed intervention – a belief that manifested in his now famous support for the Iraq War in 2003. But whether you were for the war or against it, an hour spent hearing Hitch defend the intervention will cause you to question everything you think you know about the subject. Hitchens' career has been nothing short of awe-inspiring to those who feel beleaguered by mainstream representations of political and social reality. His a5raction as an orator stems from a ﬂawless ability to engage audiences with both wit and reference to historical context – abilities which have earned him the label as perhaps the ﬁercest debater of our time. Those who have gleaned the full ambit of his journalistic bibliogra-
phy know him as a thoughtful and eloquent professor of literary wisdom. He represents a living, breathing “Rose5a Stone” of past and present knowledge, unencumbered by the all-to-frequent human tendency to blindly selfidentify with Le4 or Right (and in doing so sacriﬁce the responsibility of thinking for oneself). For the past 18 months Hitchens has been living with (rather than “dying from”) stage-IV oesophageal cancer, but his eﬀorts to engage in civil discourse with ideological foes have notwaned. He still makes numerous public speaking engagements, pens columns for Slate and Vanity Fair, and even found time late last year to take on Tony Blair in a debate concerning the merits of the modern Catholic church and in the process made intellectual mincemeat out of the former PM. On display at the Royal Festival Hall was very much a discussion of Hitchens' embodiment of a life commi5ed to thought. Sean Penn commented on Hitchens' careerlong skewering of the tyrannical Kissinger. Salman Rushdie spoke of Hitchens' “enormous gi4 for personal friendship.”
|Richard Dawkins spoke on the virtue of questioning authority. The most poignant words were given by Fry, who noted that “Christopher Hitchens can rightfully be described as a hero. Not of the Le4 or of the Neo-con Right, not of Libertarianism or Liberal Humanism, but a hero of the mind.” It was a true celebration of the idea of the “public intellectual”, and a thoughtful reminder to us all that a furious thirst for ideas and knowledge is possible in today's celebrity-obsessed and politically-divided culture of counter-Enlightenment malice.
Celebrating Christopher Hitchens - a voice of wisdom in a divided world
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
London Student protest
London Student life
London Student life
London Student life
Student life abroad
London Student Protest - page 15
- page 18
- page 19
- page 19
by Ingrida Kerusauskaite
THE LYRIC PIC
-Every issue, we open up our centre spread to submissions from photographers in a new competition called ‘The Lyric Pic’.
The idea is to shoot an image that you associate with one of your favourite lyrics. For example, you may choose to take a pastoral picture of forests to accompany Bob Dylan’s ‘upon four-legged forest clouds the cowboy angel rides’ lyric. Send your submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The best submissions will feature in the paper throughout the year.
INSTITUTION: NEW YORK UNIVERSITYLONDON
CAMERA SETTINGS: Nikon D40X Exposure: 1/60, Aperture: f/5.6 ISO speed: 200
LYRIC: Every leaf on every tree And every drop of water in the sea Every grain of weathered sand That smashes itself onto dry land Every stone and every petal, everything that's elemental You are never gone Jann Arden
LOOKING THROUGH THE LENS OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER:
This photo was taken of one of the flowers in a bouquet given to me and my sister in celebration of our art exhibition. I found the flower intriguing as it was the only one in the bunch that had water on it.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
London Student Life
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
by Dougal Wallace
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Student Life Abroad: China 20
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
by Ingrida Kerusauskaite
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
We focus on literacy and literature this issue, see our interview with Naomi Folb below - page 22
Can you teach entrepreneurhship? We assess the possibilities - page 23
Have we found the next frontier? Examining the recent Mars 500 simulation - page 25
Rachel Mundy Harriet Jarle+
Academia is a difficult profession by all accounts, see our guide to help you decide if its right for you - page 26
Valeriya Nefyodova ACADEMIA EDITOR
Every student uses the internet a lot, but how much is too much? Saul discusses internet addiction and how to combat it - page 27
PSYCHOLOGIST IN RESIDENCE
Writing the Book on Dyslexia The Green Column
London Student spoke with Naomi Folb, Editor of Forgotten Letters
Writer Jenny Cobb KCL
Dyslexia is something that is more o6en than not misunderstood, both by suﬀerers and non-suﬀerers alike. Dyslexics are usually thought of as people who are no good at reading or writing, a stereotype that Naomi Folb, editor of the recently launched book Forgo7en Le7ers: An Anthology of Literature by Dyslexic Writers, is commi7ed to changing. The book itself consists of a collection of poems wri7en exclusively by dyslexic writers, all of varying expe-
motivation for the project was her personal experience of dyslexia: “Despite being told I was dyslexic when I was 7 years old, I had read very lit-
termined to change the common conception of dyslexia as something that prevents people from being able to write and enjoy literature, and the idea for Forgo7en Le7ers was born. Naomi is clear about her opinions on the interpretation of dyslexia; “I never set out to deﬁne dyslexia. I did not want to understand what it was, rather I was interested in interpretations of dyslexia, and the experience of being dyslexic…what I was interested in was opening up a discussion about the way in which dyslexics perceive their experiences. I do not accept that dyslexia is a sign of an ab-
tle about dyslexia. What I had read was that dyslexics did not make very good readers or writers. However, postmodernist and feminist theory led me to understand that these books on dyslexia were not wri7en for me. The authors were always speaking about dyslexia but never to dyslexics. I came to wonder why this was, and if we might understand dyslexia diﬀerently, indeed as a difference rather than a deﬁcit, if the reader and writer was assumed to be dyslexic.” Evidently, Naomi was de-
normality or that “We have to dyslexia is somestart seeing thing that can be dyslexics as overcome with having a ‘pride’. I do not see great many dyslexic writing as opportunia category for itself. ties for innoI think dyslexic vation” writing is important, critical even, for understanding dyslexia and contesting the perception that dyslexics need to be spoken for.” Clearly the motivating factor Continued overleaf...
other reason is that I did an MA and BA in literature and this introduced me to concepts of identity and representation.” This enthusiasm for literature seemingly gave rise to her ﬁrst ideas for the anthology as a project. Similarly, it is evident that a central
The authors were always speaking about dyslexia but never to dyslexics
Forgotten Letters is available now. Images Courtesy of Naomi Folb
rience, age and background. We spoke to Naomi in order to explore what motivated and inspired her to create this innovative book. Having recently completed her PhD in dyslexic identities at Goldsmiths University, Naomi, who is herself dyslexic, describes how she always enjoyed writing poetry and books. “Although I was - and am - a terrible, stu7ering, slow, reader - I loved books as an object.” As her studies continued, her interest in reading and writing developed. “The
The Cost of Comingling Writer Ben Parfitt UCL
Whether you know it or not, someone at your university is sweating to reduce your environmental impact. Throughout the University of London, dedicated staﬀ members and entire departments are working to green the capital’s campuses. Even the bi7er Kings’-UCL rivalry extends to the environmental arena - Kings’ ﬂex their muscle with their ‘Green Ambassador’ scheme, while UCL ﬁght back with a ‘Green Champion’ initiative. The green bug has engulfed unions too and Ethics and Environment Ofﬁcers are now charged with responsibility of administering NUS Green Impact. This national scheme is the NUS’s ‘ﬂagship’ environmental policy and aims to “empower individuals and departments by encouraging, rewarding and celebrating practical environmental improvements.” It is Getting in hoped that staﬀ and the spirit of students will ac- recycling. tively seek to green Flickr User their institutions Passion Leica from the bo7om up. As NUS launch Green Impact 2011/12 this month, Students’ Unions embark on an annual race for Gold, Silver and Bronze accreditation with one union scooping the ultimate environment accolade of ‘Green Impact Union of the Year’."Last year a record 88 students’ unions took part in our scheme,” explained Susan Nash, NUS’s Vice President Society and Citizenship 2010/11. “They captured an array of novel ideas, including energy audits of students homes, a roo6op vegetable garden with bee hives, and a part-time carnivore scheme to reduce the consumption of meat.” The biggest challenge faced by universities and unions is you. They want to get you involved. Speaking to one head of sustainability, I was told that they: “take student views incredibly seriously. We want to hear from you how to best reduce the amount of waste produced by the
university. We need you to help fellow students change their behavior.” Green Impact, Green Champions and Ambassadors are all a7empts to do just this. Universities are crying out for student involvement but it seems that largely we just ain’t bothered. “I suppose it’s a question of communication,” I was told. In order to reduce the need for effective communication, many universities have chosen to simplify things for us. Recycling on campuses now takes the form of just one bin. We are now freed from the arduous task of separating plastic from paper. The shackles of sorting have been removed. Instead, a process of commingling is widely practiced, whereby mixed recyclable waste is collected and later sorted by hand or machine. This makes it very easy for students and staﬀ to recycle and propels university recycling ﬁgures through the roof. As a UCL Green Champion explains: “UCL is re-using, or recycling, over 60% of this waste each month, assisted by new dual compartment external waste bins.” The two compartments diﬀerentiate between mixed recycling and other waste. Comingling, however, creates up to 20% more waste than traditionally sorted recycling. According to Campaign for Real Recycling – an alliance of diverse environmental groups – it is thought that between one tenth and one ﬁ6h of commingled waste could end up in landﬁll. By comparison, just one per cent of separated recycling is thought to be wasted. The reason is simple: the sorting process is far from perfect and different recyclables o6en mingle in unwanted places. Plastic, cloth and glass can all creep into sorted paper batches to the extent that the paper can no longer be recycled. Comingling may prevent the paper sat in front of you from ever being converted into yet another paper. Follow Ben on @bparf
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
A Daunting Task Ahead
The plight of literature and literacy in modern times Writer Victoria Yates Community Editor
On the 19th of October I went to spend my evening within the warming intellectualism of the RSA’s walls. It was not a professional trip; no review or report to produce, rather a sort of familial tradition wherein my father and I spend a few hours in the presence of great debate. This particular night we had tickets to the RSA/BBC Radio 4 corroboration, “Four Thought”. I had never attended this particular style of event before and as we entered the Benjamin Franklin room to the chorus of “there’s free wine!” and se7led onto the forced mingling mixed tables that li7ered the room like a well-lit comedy club, I was honestly not sure what to expect. It was an evening of the great dialogue. To say nothing of the brilliant opening presentation on the American health crisis, nor the irreverently frank Eden project discussion, or the unique conception of drugsbased YouTube research within the DEA, my evening was completed when I had the immense pleasure of seeing James Daunt resting slightly anxiously in the wings. For those of you who have never strolled the length of Marylebone High Street to ﬁnd a gem of an old-fashioned bookstore (and ﬂagship of Daunt Books) where geography has its own cavern and books are laid out in old, thick wooden bookcases, you will nevertheless have had contact with the Daunt legacy. NowaDigital systems sprouting up like weeds throughout the world of reading are... a support system to the physical book, not a replacement
days you will ﬁnd the Daunt name on a far more proliﬁc masthead; the man himself ensconced in a meeting over the future of one of the high street’s most iconic bookstores, Waterstones. Daunt took control of the failing company in May, bringing his independent store charm and veneration of the wri7en word in an attempt to not only change the
monetary fortunes of the store, but perhaps their approach to their product as well. Daunt’s talk was one of a true bookish romanticism. He argued that when he started out in bookstores he never would have conceived 92% of the of his profession British public as having any believes that impact on sociliteracy is vital ety but conto the economy tended that now and essential we are at a crisis for getting a moment; si7ing good job in the same ship, albeit largely coincidentally, with the libraries who are struggling to keep their place in British society. The staggering statistic that one sixth of adults in this
Rock your Business by David Fishof
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”; 4 in 5 CEOs in America read Harry S. at least a book a Truman month, the average American reads one a year. You may not agree with his politics but perhaps he was on to something.
country have trouble reading was still swirling around the room’s collective consciousness when he began discussing the way that bookstores had failed this country. For Daunt, they had allowed the commercial imperative to stop their engagement with the local community; to prevent the possibility of that inspirational transmission that is such a huge part of my childhood memories. Where contention arose was in Daunt’s assertion that the digital systems sprouting up like weeds throughout the world of reading are, and should
British public believes that literacy is vital to the economy and essential for ge7ing a good job, a quarter of children and young people do not recognize this link between reading and success. 30% of ﬁve to eight year olds read a book everyday, a ﬁgure that drops to 17% of ﬁ6een to seventeen year olds. It would seem that young people have lost their love aﬀair with reading books. This isn’t news, the slow death march of the pleasure reader has been sounding for a good few years now, but we now have a glimmer of hope. The same study that displayed staggering weaknesses in British literacy also informs you that teenagers are also more likely to read alternative sources such as blogs and websites. In this I undoubtedly need to concede to my father’s opinion, technology has changed the social fabric and we can’t hope to reverse those eﬀects, no ma7er how much shiny red heel clicking we do. Perhaps our modern issue lies in the partisan divide between the traditionalists and the modernists for whom books will suﬀer the fate of vinyl within the next decade or so. A comFlickr User: o5com mon goal has to be the celebration of and engagement with ease of Amazon or the ebook revolureading, on whatever platform can tion saddens me. most grab a7ention. I don’t want to For those who caught it I recently see libraries and bookstores relewatched Stephen Fry’s Planet Word, gated to history, but then I don’t truly a remarkable documentary on the believe they will. complexity of language and our relaReading is a hot topic of debate in tionship with it. The combined skills today’s media, policy, and educaof the BBC cinematography team, tional arenas whose reformations Fry, and his wide ranging guests and challenges are emblematic of the made for a compelling series which new age we live in. It’s a ma7er of again touched on this modern crux importance for those of us entering of word and the modern age. the adult world as its institutions In their report Literacy: State of the begin to quake under the weight of Nation 2011, the National Literacy change; thank goodness I could read Trust reported that while 92% of the about it.
for innovation. Dyslexic writing is not something that you can simply deﬁne but there is a way of thinking that a lot of dyslexics share, which enables them to do things with language, as in ﬁnding new ways of thinking and seeing the world, that is very exciting and interesting.” Indeed, for Naomi, these plans don’t end here. On the future, she
says, “I want to publish writers by dyslexic writers but also oﬀer writers expertise. In the course of my PhD I have learnt a great deal about dyslexia, and writing, and of course there is much that I still do not know. What I can provide dyslexic writers is an opportunity to discuss their own writing projects and give fair and helpful feedback so that they can develop as writers. At this stage we are trying to reach as many dyslexics
Writing the Book on Dyslexia
Continued from p.21... behind Forgo7en Le7ers was not only about changing the wider perception of dyslexics as non-writers, but also to go a step further into proving their literary worth and the importance of the message that their writing can put across: “I think that we have to start seeing dyslexics as having a great many opportunities
be understand as, a support system to the physical book, not a replacement. As we rehashed the debates over dinner my dad staunchly disavowed this belief. He argued that such an opinion was antiquated. For him it was simple; the ketchup is out of the bo7le, we can’t reminisce our way into the past. Digital aﬀords the reader an incredible selection of conveniences. It ﬁts far be7er with our instant gratiﬁcation world, and is arguably more compatible with our constant commuter movements. And yet, I love books. I love the paper, the feel of the product, the look of the type on the page and (to fall to cliché) the smell. The idea that libraries are closing, and bookstores are threatened by the
as possible, who like writing and want to publish their work and let them know about RASP and the kind of service we provide. We have also just opened submissions for another anthology. This one is going to be a bit diﬀerent, I’m not going to give too much away but the theme of it will be ‘subversion and disobedience’.” More information on Naomi’s book and other similar projects can be found at www.r-a-s-p.co.uk
On Amazon, recent publications concerning entrepreneurship are plentiful. One of the first edgy titles to appear is “Rock Your Business”. Fishof teaches how entrepreneurs should look at the music market for hints on how to do business. It is eye-catching, as most of the other books look like mere guides or checklists. For instance, “The Complete Guide to Selling a Business” by Steingold claims to be the most comprehensive, easy-to-use guide for businessmen, and is just the first one of a list of hand and textbooks.. Available on Amazon for £8.99
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes [COMMUNITY]
Winner of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 2011, Barnes’ offering was heralded as the New Yorker to be “[an] elegant, playful and remarkable novella' while The Times eulogized, `it is a perfect novel of positively European economy and power (shades of Schnitzler, shades of Camus)... It is beyond the wit and depth of any current British writer'. Barnes presents an enigmatic and engaging book that has distinguished him as a true force in the modern literary landscape. Available at Foyles for £7.79 (40% off)
Surely You're Joking Mr Feynman by Ralph Leighton, Richard Feynman [SCIENCE &TECH]
A series of charismatic anecdotes are not the regular format of a scientific autobiography, but that isn't the only rebellious thing about Richard Feynman. Hilarious and charming, his series of anecdotes will enthuse even the most jaded of scientists to get back behind their lab bench (although no scientific knowledge is required to enjoy his disparaging wit and intolerance of stupidity). A must read for any aspiring scientist. Available on Amazon at £5.89
by Stephen King [PSYCHOLOGY]
The master of the suspenseful psychological thriller, Stephen King’s newest offering has jumped to the top of my must read pile. The engrossing plot line follows a time travelling teacher who finds a portal to 1958, and sets out to prevent the assassination of JFK. In the decidedly capable hands of King’s artistry the reader is transported to the hub of vintage Americana and one of recent history’s most poignant tragedies to watch the unfolding of a new era. Available at Foyles for £12.99 (35% off)
by Charlotte Bronte [ACADEMIA]
Arguably Charlotte Brontë's most refined and deeply felt work; the narrator Lucy Snowe travels to the fictional city of Villette to teach at an all-girls school where she is unwillingly pulled into both adventure and romance. Her struggle for independence is overshadowed by both her friendship with a worldly English doctor and her feelings for an autocratic schoolmaster. Our verdict: a truly classic novel, can hardly be called light-hearted, but is an intriguing tale with a rich psychological plot. Available on Amazon for £6.29
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Learn Your Lesson
Is a business plan necessary?
Writer Carolina Mostert When related to entrepreneurship, the concept of teaching becomes more complex and fascinating. Entrepreneurship lessons could not be compared to maths lectures: first of all, entrepreneurship is anything but perfect. It does not have timeless rules and tricks to solve problems and manage calculations; it has no right and wrong answer. S e c o n d l y, Entrepreneurship is The reality is, not an exerwhen you start a cise but business, you’re more of an in for the long art. If I run. Furthermore, were asked you’re committed to place En- think along the trepreneurlines of getting ship either married or signamongst ing up for a mortthe science gage degrees or the humanities, I would abstain my choice. Besides dealing with economic and financial matters, it calls on creativity and personal engagement; it requires a structured and rigorous work as much as a risk-taking, unruly attitude. Were the question “can Entrepreneurship be taught?” to be answered with the head’s firm
Writer Martyn Hopwood Can you teach entrepreneurship? Flickr User Sean MacEntee
nod, yes, at least –I’d say- yes, but in a different way. If Entrepreneurship can be taught, its students may rejoice: the subject is entirely about them. What do they want to make out of that Entrepreneurship lesson? What is their goal, their aim, where will that classroom lead them to? The teacher may function as a source of inspiration, but still, it is the young entrepreneur who needs to be driven by his own will, who needs to feel and find his own reason to be inspired. Nonetheless, I believe it’s fair to say Entrepreneurship is teachable, but to an extent. In terms of its techniques, theories and useful stories –as if it were an Economics lecture of some kind- it may be taught. However, after
that, Entrepreneurship goes beyond: it’s not a subject anymore, it’s not a lesson, it needs and bears no teacher. Entrepreneurship is a personal and Enroll on a practical admarketing venture, of course and do one individthe marketing ual only and yourself completely
who feel the company is lacking in a certain market. The people who think they can do a be:er job. Should you become a carbon credit broker and think maybe certain markets could be more proﬁtable - get investment - tweak the model and start up. If you start work as a trainee engineer for a large engineering ﬁrm and see a product or idea that the company isn’t exploiting, set up independently and sell your version. You might start work in a research role for a pharmaceutical company and see a way medicine could be distributed more eﬀectively in the developing world – then why not start up your own distribution ﬁrm. Learn the business model, then reinvent it and improve it. Do things from a diﬀerent angle. Sell the same concept but cheaper. Sell the same product, but have diﬀerent branding or more dynamic advertising. Sell a similar product into a diﬀerent market. Take the business model to a different country or continent. Create an online version of the business model. Start a similar concept, but with lower internal costs. By basing your start-up on a busi-
ness model you know – you will have an in-depth knowledge of the industry and have the right the contacts. In addition, colleagues could be hired for an easy way to gain a suitable workforce. And you will have a start-up that is very likely to come into fruition and become successful. Leaving a secure corporate job would be a diﬃcult decision and would aﬀect your life in a big way. Imagine that a9er a few years in the secure job, you leave and start a business - people like what you do - the
unique. All it has are students, or better, pioneers with more or less experience, who are teachers to themselves. Someone once said: “an entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it”. I think this quote sheds light on a few of Entrepreneurship’s
main aspects. To begin with, Entrepreneurship has to do with practice. Some would argue that instead of sitting in a classroom, a budding entrepreneur should get outside and running. Personally, I believe that the classroom is useful to get the theory and the basics; after that, of course, the entrepreneur –to be called somust plunge into the practice. Furthermore, Entrepreneurship has to do with talent: if you’ve got the sparkle, it will show. Entrepreneurship is triggered by an inner drive, which is itself a sort of talent, a passion, an individual force. At last, I think that before the answer, one must consider the initial question: could its “can” be replaced by a potential “should”?
Quit corporate world for entrepreneurship? Writer Martyn Hopwood
The tedious recession has blown over. The wobbly Eurozone has been tranquilized. You have got your BSc in Mathematical Economics form the LSE. Now you are si:ing at your desk at JP Morgan watching the New Zealand dollar bounce capriciously on the bank of ﬂat screens before you. However, last night, while watching Dragons Den you told your lovely new partner your fantastic business idea to sell that, amazing Thai delicacy you scoﬀed in Bangkok, on the streets of London. Your partner is a bit of a banker-basher and thinks it’s a great idea - so in order to impress, you want to take your next 25k bonus and buy a ﬂeet of old burger vans. This is not a good reason to leave a good corporate job. The budding entrepreneurs with the best chance of start-up success who give-up the corporate world for the start-up world - are the people who become dissatisﬁed with the way the company does things. Executives who feel the company oﬀers a bad service. Workers who feel the company charges too much. Clerks
so you stay in the corporate world 15 years into the future you have been demoted - big mortgage to pay – now you’re immured by your own lack of initiative. business thrives. Fantastically, a9er 5 - 10 years you are presiding over a 26 million pound turnover. Maybe you like security, so you stay in the corporate world - 15 years into the future you have been demoted big mortgage to pay – now you’re immured by your own lack of initiative. But you could leave the good job -
start a business, which turns out to be a total ﬂop – and end up screwing up your career. Then again you could stay at the FTSE 100 Company and eventually wind up CEO. Probably, it all comes down to personality. Conservative, cautious and risk-averse people who like the idea of a good pension will stay in the big corporation. Thrill seeking, adventurous, rebellious people who like to challenge the norm just might quit the corporate world for the entrepreneurial world. Think of your future corporate life like being an F1 racing driver behind Sebastian Ve:el. Just before the perilous chicane on the last lap of the Monaco Grand Prix – you stay back, stay cautious and come in second place - Or you plant your foot into the ﬂoor - risk repainting the Hotel de Paris rouge with the contents of your helmet - take over – and win – and be the victor with the jeroboam of champagne on the podium. If you do wind up working on the FX desk at JP Morgan – yet still think the burger van idea a game changer – stay where you are.
You have the world beating game changer idea - the concept that will make you millions. So you can retire to the South of France at 25 and buy an absolutely massive yacht. What’s the next step? Possibly a business plan – do you really need one? Running a successful operation requires discipline. A business plan is going to help achieve and maintain that discipline by providing a certain amount of guiding rigidity and mental scaffolding. A successful venture requires planning – thinking into the future – setting out goals. A concise plan will also provide insight into how much investment is needed. A plan should also give you an idea if the concept will work. If you are looking for an investment into your project – a business plan is essential – a potential investor isn’t going consider putting cash into your start-up without a good proposal. If you cannot be bothered spending time getting a good business outline together - nobody is going to trust you with investment money. Sometimes a business plan is unnecessary. You may have a huge knowledge of the industry and subsequently know exactly what needs to be done to get things rolling. Possibly you want to get making money and a business plan is a waste of valuable time, time which could be better spent. Perhaps you aren’t interested in getting investors so you don’t need a plan in writing. But, if you are serious about your start-up, a decent business plan is virtually requisite. Not having a business plan is like going for a long trek in the mountains without a map – you might find your way, but it’s going to be a whole lot easier with a basic map. Things can change day to day when running a business, so make amendments to the plan as the business develops. A business plan doesn’t have to be adhered to religiously. Arguably, it’s not totally essential to have a business plan - it all depends on your personal style. I would imagine Bill Gates probably had a business plan, and Steve Jobs didn’t.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
Research in Brief
Dogs Catch Yawns BIRKBECK [ANIMAL SCIENCE]
Yawning is contagious, but just how ‘contagious’ depends on the empathy you show towards that person. The more empathetic you are, the more ‘contagious’- whether you are a human or a dog! A study at the University of Birkbeck, published in Biology Letters, found that 21/29 dogs who observed a human yawning, then yawned themselves. Previously, contagious yawning had only been seen in humans and chimpanzees. Scientists think this means that dogs have a rudimentary form of empathy, and that many more animals may show contagious yawning.
Hope For Cancer KCL [MEDICINE]
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, affecting about 36,000 UK men each year. The Institute of Cancer Research has reported exciting results about a new, daily hormone pill that can extend the life of a patient (in an advanced stage of the cancer) by an average of 5.2 months - raising the total to 18.4 months. The pill blocks the cancer cells interacting with the testosterone that the cells need to grow. The phase III trial has been so successful that all participants receiving a placebo treatment are now to be given the drug instead.
Better Memory? KCL [NEURO SCIENCE]
Scientists at Kings College London have published results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describing a new way that long-term memories can be formed. Normally, connections between neurones will strengthen during memory formation. However, when the capability to do this is reduced, neurones are seen to ‘sprout’ and form less flexible connections compared to ‘healthy’ ones. This nerve sprouting has been found to occur more frequently in people with cognitive disorders such as autism and Alzheimer’s disease.
DIY Doctors QUEEN MARY [HEALTH]
Cervical cancer can be prevented, yet it kills 273,000 women annually worldwide. Screening offers crucial early diagnosis but in some parts of the world screening is unavailable and in others a woman may never make it to the clinic. A new DIY test detects the virus responsible as well as displaying the result. A scientist at Queen Mary University of London led a study, published in The Lancet, showing that uptake for this DIY test was much greater than for clinic appointments in Mexico.failing to wash their hands properly with soap after going to the toilet.
The Science of...Dreams
Writer Maria Botcharova
New research suggests it may be possible to read the content of our dreams while we sleep. Scientists in Germany have shown, using a simple brain scan, that dreamt actions may have a very similar eﬀect on the brain as wakeful reality. Dreaming can be a very real and intense experience. Many of us have had dreams that help to resolve nagging dilemmas, or ones that plunge us into a ro:en mood. However, the brain activity responsible for creating our dream worlds has, until recently, been largely inaccessible to analysis. No observer can pinpoint exactly when someone is dreaming without disrupting the dream, and so scientists have not been able to study the underlying processes. However, a group of scientists, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Munich and the Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, have worked with colleagues at the Charité hospital in Berlin to apply a novel approach to this research. They studied a group of subjects known as ‘lucid dreamers’. This characteristic allows individuals to become aware of their dreaming state, and to alter the content of their own dreams. Subjects could thus indicate the onset of their dreams by performing prearranged eye movements, and make themselves ‘dream’ of clenching a ﬁst. A series of brain scans could then determine the location and intensity of brain activity during this dream action. Intriguingly, the results suggest that dreaming the action of clenching a ﬁst excites precisely the same brain region as a regular, wakeful ﬁst clench - but with about half the intensity. It might not seem too surprising, that a dreamed action has similar eﬀects on the brain to a real one. It has been suggested
Writer James Lloyd
60 seconds with...
James Lloyd speaks to Paul Parhamwho has been studying how global warming could af-
Concious dreaming? Flickr.com/ 5528736139
Be My Friend?
In our quest to conquer the social media world, we have now got a facebook page. If you like us you’ll get loads of information about listings in London and first access to the online edition of the paper. You’ll also be the first to know when the New London Student website launches! Like us: facebook.com/ldnstudentscience
that we normally have to stop ourselves from acting out our dreams using a part of the brain called the brain stem, “During a norwhich can prevent mal dream, our muscles from you are acting becoming tense and you have enough to move. emotions. What is particuLucid dreamlarly interesting is ing adds a the fact that this meta-insight research means into your real we can measure state.”” the actual content of someone’s dreams by an external device. With a li:le imagination, it might be possible to extend the technique to any number of dreamed scenarios. Martin Dresler, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry, sees a natural continuation for found today?
PP Malaria is predominantly conﬁnedto
the work: “We can measure not only simple movements during sleep but also the activity pa:erns in the brain during visual dream perceptions.” Yet this research has the potential to question a far more fundamental part of our existence. Group leader at the Institute, Michael Czisch, believes that lucid dreaming may be very informative in understanding the mechanisms behind consciousness. “During a normal dream, you are acting and you have emotions. Lucid dreaming adds a meta-insight into your real state. You are realising that in fact you are lying in your bed, sleeping. This is a fascinating jump in consciousness.” If it is possible to understand the diﬀerences in brain activity between these two states, then it might be possible to explain how humans are conscious at all.
also be driven by the response of the par-
interaction between mosquitoes, parasites
mates conducive to mosquito and
and humans, rather than any one in iso-
LS Why is malaria of interest to climate
happens in the long-term.
vironmental (e.g. land use changes) and
ted by mosquitoes. There are four main
where transmission is currently absent or
ventions) factors will also aﬀect malaria,
malaria, although Plasmodium falci-
malaria may change over the coming
types of parasite responsible for human parum and Plasmodium vivax are by far
limited, so the global distribution of
spread of malaria?
uncertainties in the predictions.
and climate is just one of these – a key
question is to be:er understand its role
sible, but generally tend to include fever,
LS Presumably the changes in malaria
LS Where is the disease most commonly
and uncertainties. The science gradually
epidemiological (e.g. the impact of inter-
consensus that our warming climate is
reality is that within most scientiﬁc disci-
tions, which generally equates to reduc-
cioeconomic (e.g. poverty), demographic
tions and control strategies against
headaches, diarrhoea, muscular pain and
something that should provide exact and
(e.g. changing human distributions), en-
Symptoms are o9en quite similar to ﬂu
and depend on which parasite is respon-
becomes more accepted as evidence is
compared to the others.
important for the planning of interven-
PP There are multiple determinants. So-
century. Understanding these changes is
the most common and widespread.
predictions. Science is o9en perceived as
plines there are almost always unknowns
conditions. One possibility of climate
change is an expansion of those regions
munity pulling together to reduce the un-
LS What other factors could aﬀect the
PPMalaria is a potentially severe and lifethreatening infectious disease transmit-
(2) distrust in the science. In the ﬁrst case,
deﬁnitive answers to problems, but the
ment and behaviour depend strongly on ambient temperature and other climatic
As we head towards Christmas and end of term deadlines, we look at the Science of...coffee addiction so you can see how your all nighters affect your body. Plus, look out for our review of theWildlife Photographer Exhibition.
lation that will ultimately determine what
LS What exactly is malaria, and what are
many aspects of their survival, develop-
gions outside this tend not to have cli-
Rachel Mundy A 'Science Communication' student at Royal Holloway.
ditional human behavioural shi9s. It’s the
human demographic factors and any ad-
Harriet Jarlett Currently studying an MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College.
this is solved by the climate science com-
latitudes between 30°Nand 30°S, so the
majority of cases are in the tropics – re-
asite to changing conditions, as well as
PP Since mosquitoes are cold-blooded,
FACT OR FICTION goldfish memories last longer than three seconds? It's science FACT. Goldfish have a memory span of at least three months. Sorted. Follow us @LS_science
fect malaria at Imperial College’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change.
Tweet of the Week
gathered to support theories and predic-
ing (or at least quantifying) inherent In some sense, the second case is harder to overcome and may require longer! It cer-
tainly requires the scientiﬁc community to pull together, but also, arguably more
LS Despite the overwhelming scientiﬁc
importantly, it requires us to be:er com-
caused by humans, there are still a lot of
depend on changes in the location of
think this is?
PP Yes that’s true, but these changes will
climate change naysayers. Why do you
There are probably two main reasons for
this – (1) uncertainty in the science, and
municate scientiﬁc uncertainties to the While considerable progress is still re-
quired to address (1), it is perhaps just as, if not more, crucial to ensure we invest
substantial time in (2) as well!
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Mars: Will We Ever Get There?
Writer Josh Howgego Last week in Russia, six men dressed in bright blue climbed out of a tin can, where they had lived in isolation for the last 520 days. Looking victorious, these were Earth’s latest returning astronauts, but the world’s media were about to greet them with one enormous shrug. The international crew of ESA’s Mars500 experiment had spent 17 months rammed into a mock spacecraft, in a Moscow hanger. They had been taking part in an experiment designed to simulate the isolated conditions that would be encountered on the long journey to the Red Planet. The event has received much attention in the news, but most of it is negative. “What is the point of this experiment?” ask the nay-sayers. “We can’t
hope to realistically replicate the conditions Mars travellers would experience.” After all, they know they can leave at any time if they really have to, and there is no risk of the hanger ’s oxygen system failing - so how is it of any help? It’s true, there are many elements to a lengthy, intergalactic trip that this experiment in no way replicates. How would dealing with meteorite showers impact their mental health? How would being almost weightless for three years affect the body?
Writer Salman Ghani
searchers sequenced the genome of a marijuana strain called ‘Purple Kush’ and compared it to ‘Finola’ hemp. The hemp only contained a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). The research was published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Genome Biology and Dr Page explained that “a detailed analysis of the two genomes suggests that domestication, cultivation, and breeding of marijuana strains has caused the loss of the enzyme CBDA synthase.” Further analysis showed that a gene responsible for THCA production was “switched on” in marijuana but had been “turned off” in hemp. The researchers used RNA-sequencing to analyse the enzyme transcriptome. It revealed strikingly different gene expression levels in the hemp and marijuana strains. The genes responsible for a particular coding protein (THCA synthase enzyme) were more abundant in marijuana, meaning higher levels of THCA production. Today, common derivatives of cannabis such as hashish are the most widely consumed illicit drugs in the world. Their use has also been recognised in the treatment of multiple sclerosis and chronic pain.
Would the pioneering travellers even have muscles left, in order to take humankind’s first steps onto the Martian surface? This experiment does not tell us the answers to these questions, but it was never intended to. ESA already has countless studies into how long-
For over a millennium marijuana has been used for both its medicinal and recreational properties. Yet the origins of the ingredient that makes is psychoactive- tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) - was unknown, until now. The unique pharmacological properties of cannabis are due to the presence of cannabinoids, a group of more than 100 natural products that mainly accumulate in female flowers buds. Why certain types of cannabinoids are only found in marijuana was unclear. A team of researchers, led by Jonathan Page and Timothy Hughes from Canada wanted to solve the mystery of a plant whose genome had not yet been published. In order to figure out why cannabis plants are known for their Dr Jekyll style “split personality”, as claimed by Noami Attar in Transcriptome Biology. How come marijuana gets you high, but hemp does not? Genome sequencing has revealed that marijuana (Cannabis sativa L.) does contain the potent psychoactive chemical THCA, but hemp (Cannabis L.) doesn’t. The re-
Events under the microscope Ghosts of Birds Past ART REVIEW[LA ROCHELLE SCHOOL] Reviewed by Alexandra Ashford FREE
First Astronaut out of the Mars 500 Capsule. ESA / IPMB
term weightlessness would affect muscles with their ‘bed-rest’ experiments, while the six month stints on the International Space Station (ISS) has dealt with the physiological effects of long-term space travel. Instead, Mars500 was to simulate the feelings of a man 200 000 000 km away from the nearest air supply, without actually putting him there. Some have suggested that we use the ISS to conduct these kinds of experiments instead. Undoubtedly, this would better simulate the weightlessness of the journey and there are always things to do – experiments to
conduct, jobs to do and new people arriving on an almost daily basis. However, this utterly misses the point of the expedition. These experiments and jobs were also conducted on board Mars500, but the point was to see if the six men would be friends at the end, not whether their leg muscle was depleting. The mistake that many have had made in critiquing this project is mistaking an individual experiment for an actual attempt to get to Mars. Going to the Red Planet is the mother of all research projects, and it will take many small steps like this one before we even get close.
Hemp seeds are also a very good source of fibre, oil and proteins. Dr Page adds: “Decoding the cannabis genome will help answer basic questions about the biology of Cannabis sativa and further the de-
velopment of its myriad applications including strains for pharmaceutical production, and the breeding of hemp plants with improved agronomic characteristics and fatty acid profiles.” Scientists think they have unlocked the secret as to why some hemp plants have psychotropic properties Elizabeth Eisen
A myriad of iridescent feathers, huge albatross sculptures and delicate needlework, Ghosts of Gone Birds brings extinct glorious birds back to life again. Part of Bird Life International’s Preventing Extinction initiatives, Ghosts of Gone Birds is a multimedia art exhibition depicting the bird species the world has lost because of humans, and raises awareness of the current extinction crisis. Artists include Ralph Steadman, NormanAckroyd, Rob Ryan, and Jamie Hewett (aka the guy who created Gorillaz) to name but a few. Steadman, best known for his work with the late Hunter S. Thompson, has produced an entire room full, top-tobottom, of extinct bird illustrations (and some he just made up) - wittily including benches with binoculars to view them through. This exhibition is thoroughly recommended for artists, conservationists and birdwatchers alike. See them now before they are gone!
EXHIBITION REVIEW[V&A] Reviewed by Alexandra Ashford FREE
At the entrance is a stunning and enormous gorilla, made entirely of coat hangers (the calling card of Scottish artist DavidMach).Asymbol of power, up close it becomes incredibly intricate and The Power of Making is a testament to works such as this one. Intense dedication and meticulous craftsmanship have gone into every completely breath-taking exhibit. From contemporary high-fashion couture, to delicate medical equipment, almost every craft, every technique, every process in making something is represented. The word ‘craft’ can make you think of knitting, cross stitch and greetings cards… a little old fashioned and dull. Here, ‘craft’ is big, bold, modern and exciting. New technologies such as 3D printers show how the process of making is evolving. Every item is attention grabbing, made from entirely different materials, in entirely different contexts. Altogether, the effect can be a little overwhelming. It’s the sort of feeling I imagine you might get from walking into Aladdin’s cave, but that’s not a bad thing.
Science Events this week
In case you were wondering where all the cool geeks were hanging out this week...
HIDDEN HEROES [SCIENCE MUSEUM] An exhibit which celebrates great concepts which have become part of daily life. Be it a tea bag, a zipper, or condom, these objects are classics that thescience museum are hailing as heroes. SKEPTICS IN THE PUB [UCL] On December 2 2011 this popular group is holding a winter quiz night. Entry is £5 and you can reserve your place online.
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
The Road to Academia:
A Crash Course in How To Get Into It Writer Luke Blaxill KCL
So, you want to become an academic? Want to join the cutting edge of research and enjoy an almost unparalleled amount of professional freedom? If you want to become an academic, the first question must be ‘why’? To get into academia, you must spend a minimum of four years in postgraduate study- which you may have to pay for yourself. Once you get your doctorate, the academic job market is insanely competitive, and most entry-level positions are temporary. Plus you may have to move all over the country in your hunt for work. Oh, and the pay is pretty meagre given the time and monetary investment needed to get there. Still interested? OK, but prepare for a rough ride! Here are some quick tips to help you plan each stage of your route: Second-Year Undergraduate: Have a Think. You probably don’t need to do too
Writer Emily Ray KCL
Deciding to study abroad can be a scary prospect. Not only do you have to get to grips with being in a different country, surrounded by different people and being hundreds of miles away from home, you also have the obligatory university work to do! Furthermore, it can take a lot of preparation before you’re even on your way. But is the hard work really worth it? I spoke to Tom Atterson, Study Abroad Senior Officer at KCL, and some London students to weigh up the pros and cons. LS: What are the benefits of studying abroad for students?
TA: There are many benefits to studying abroad, from increased independence and resourcefulness, to improved language and communications skills, to the chance to experience another culture and
Bio: Luke Blaxill is a final-year PhD student in History at King’s College London. He is the author of The Alternative Guide to Postgraduate Funding, a handbook on strange and unusual methods of funding postgrad study that has sold over 100,000 copies. See www.gradfunding.co.uk much yet, but do have a think about your third year project or dissertation and the kind of thing you might research, even if über-vague. If you’re a scientist, casually contacting a potential supervisor is a good idea to make sure you get a place on a lab project.
Final-Year Undergraduate: Position the Pennies First things first: make sure your project/dissertation is great! This might be important later, and also gives you your first real taste of proper academic research. If you hated it, then academia probably isn’t for you. The next thing is to apply for Masters courses: the deadlines will start at Christmas time! Part of the reason is to try to get a grant: pre-funded Masters and Research-council funding deadlines are earlier. However, if you are willing to pay yourself, you can apply later
Finally, make sure you get a good degree. A first isn’t essential, but a 2:1 certainly is!
Masters: Crossing the river Styx The most important thing will be your thesis or project. Make sure you choose it carefully as – in all likelihood – your PhD will stem from it! This project could also go on to be the basis of your first journal article! Also, develop a close relationship with your supervisor. You’ll need to be thinking about a PhD throughout, and he/she can help. If you’re in the humanities or social sciences, think about that original and dynamic piece of research that we really need. If you’re a scientist, identify and make links with labs that you could join.
Brain food and entertainment around UoL FIND OUT MORE
extra bits that really make the difference! First, try to publish your Master’s dissertation in a journal early: that will get you noticed! Second, try to get yourself known and noticed by academics: secretary to a seminar, staff-student liaison officer, and any teaching you can get are all great. So are conference papers, and posters: travel around, meet the big fish, and learn to interest others – even from outside your field – in your research. Ultimately, as with many things in life, it’s who you know that counts when the chips are down! Network, network, network!
PhD: The Gates The PhD is your big chance to fly. Your thesis is critical, but it’s the
Postdoc: The Kingdom of Hades So, you’re a doctor? Impressive. You’ve now got to get a Postdoc position, and eventually a lectureship. Not easy, but a good publication, some teaching experience, and – most of all –the ability to talk nonsense yet sound clever, will get you far. Good luck!
sive? Where's the most expensive/cheapest place to study?
English is the language of instruction.
How To Get a Head: a hands-on history of the skull Speaker: Jack Ashby,
Join Grant Museum zoologist unravelling the story of the animal skull using amazing museum specimens, accompanied by free glass of wine. Time: November 29, 6.30pm Place: UCL Grant Museum
Tony Hawks - Random Fun
A comedian, best selling author, film producer and regular member of some of the UK's most famous TV and radio panel shows life on stage in his warm and entertaining new show. Time: December 4 and 5, 7.30pm Place: Bloomsbury Theatre
Is studying abroad worth it?
alternative approaches to the learning and teaching of your subject (not to mention reduced tuition fee costs.) “Global” and “international” are such common buzzwords these days, there’s also something to be said for adding an international dimension to a standard BA or BSc degree. It’s a way to stand out from the crowd and mark yourself out as being up for – and capable of – something a little different.
LS: Do employers look favourably on those who have studied abroad?
TA: Leaving university with two transcripts rather than one (one from the degree-awarding home university, and one from the partner overseas) is certainly something impressive to show future employers. As more and more UK graduates have to look abroad for work, having studied abroad as part of a UK degree becomes a greater addition to a student’s credentials. LS: Is the scheme particularly expen-
TA: One common misunderstanding about studying abroad is that it is supremely expensive – it really isn’t, depending on where you go. I think I’m right in saying King’s is one of the very few universities who not only reduce fees if students go away for a full year, but also do it if they’re just going abroad for a single semester. There is additional funding available, from Student Finance England’s Travel Grants, to the Erasmus Mobility Grant, to institution-specific awards such as the King’s Arts & Sciences Fund, Partnership Grants and the Santander Study Abroad Awards. LS: Must students know the relative language in order to study in a particular country? Are classes taught in English?
TA: More and more universities overseas are teaching in English. Whilst a large number of our outgoing students from King’s study at universities that teach in the host country’s language, as part of a degree in French, German, Hispanic Studies, etc, more and more students are studying in places like Hong Kong and Singapore, where
LS: Can you take modules outside of your individual degree programme?
TA: Some are able to be more flexible than others, allowing their outgoing students to take advantage of the specialities of the academic staff at partners or by taking courses outside of their main discipline, but this does vary from department to department.
Students’ first questions should change from “why should I study abroad?” to “why should I not?” LS: .How soon should you start thinking about it? TA: We start talking to prospective students as early as the College PreApplication and Post-Offer Open Days that the College arranges each year. We’re then also present at the annual Freshers’ Welcome Fair, and start briefing students a few weeks into the first semester of the first year, to get them thinking about where they’d like to go. LS: Studying in an exotic country
sounds like a dream come true, but is there anything that students should really consider before deciding to take the plunge? TA: It’s not for everyone, and of course there are lots of factors to consider. We hope that, as awareness grows of the benefits and relative ease of studying abroad, students first question will change from “why should I study abroad?” to “why should I not?”
Proofreading/Proposal Writing Services
Need urgent help with editing / proofreading your Masters or PhD assignments/thesis/research proposals? We provide a stress free service in track mode. Charges: £15 for 1000 words. We have edited 1000's of essays- so why not improve your chances of a be1er grade now? Contact our experienced and professional team: email@example.com. More info: www.phdentry.com
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
Dr Saul Hillman works as a psychologist at The Anna Freud Centre/ University College London. He also has his own practice as a hypnotherapist/life coach/NLP practitioner.
We will be looking at the psychology of debt and spending. Please email me with any letters or experiences you have in this or any other area
BL is a first year male student at UCL. PROBLEM: I know I have a problem with weed and my friends tell me this. It’s been such a part of my life for about 3 years now and even more so since I started at university. Things are really messy right now and I know I need to sort things out. Saul Habits can take over your life as you are experiencing now. BL Sure, but things were ﬁne when I was younger, I could get by but now things are ... Saul ... spiralling a bit out of control? BL Sure, they are. I sort of feel trapped as I don’t know any other way of being. Saul That’s understandable, your memories for the last few years are very entrenched with this and I guess your use of cannabis has been a very big part in your identity and lifestyle. Is that fair? BL Well, I suppose you’re right though it feels a bit sad to look at it like that. Saul We o1en need to acknowledge that these habits we carry around with us are not wholly bad and negative, they obviously serve a purpose and have a massive gain in our lives. Would you agree? BL Well, yes, I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t get anything out of it.
Saul Precisely! Using will power itself it is not always easy to give something up that you know is bad for you. BL I know I tried to give up but especially being at uni it was hard. Saul How badly do you want to give it up? BL I do I suppose Saul Maybe not enough. You’re afraid of a life without it. What would a life without weed be like? What could replace it? BL I haven’t thought really, I don’t drink that much and don’t really want to. Saul You’re struggling with solutions. Do you think you are ready to give up? BL I do want to try but all my friends.... Saul What about limiting your participation in it? BL I’ve tried... Saul I sense excuses here. How have you tried? Why not say you do it on Friday and Saturday nights but do other things the rest of the week? BL Yes, you’re right, I am procrastinating. Saul I know it sounds silly but write a list of things you can do to have fun that don’t involve this. BL I will try Saul Good luck, maybe watch a nice DVD with a cup of cocoa tonight (laughing)
Saul can be contacted on 07939 523 025 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and resources visit www.saulhillmantherapy.com LinkedIn, MySpace, Twi2er, and the Addictive and destructive behavrest do provide huge beneﬁts but iours are everywhere in society and there are losses from excessive use. go beyond the most publicised ones It is believed that up to 10 percent of such as alcohol, drugs and gambling. Internet users have a serious deAddictive personalities invariably rependency to the net that is not dissult in individuals being stuck in similar to that of alcoholism or drug negative cycles and paralyzed by an addiction and though some people inability to go forward in their lives. remain sceptical about its dangers, it Habits form familiar neural pathis still being treated in some parts ways which make it more diﬃcult to given its repercussions. break the pa2ern of a particular beThere are o1en common reasons haviour. why we engage in addictive behavOf course, habits are comfortable as iours. These may be to nurture onewe feel more secure with the familself, to relieve stress, to provide a iar and routine, and though many of break, to reward oneself, to make sous would like to get rid of or change a habit, this is o1en quite challenging given its dominant role. Fortunately, there are many diﬀerent approaches that allow a way out of any ruts we fall into. One of the most recent and recognised problems aﬄicting people of all ages, and especially young people, is online addiction which can take a whole variety of difWired in. Flickr User Frederico Morando ferent forms including social cial situations more comfortable or to networking, online gaming, chat provide some form of control. These rooms and fantasy role play sites. reasons vary across conditions and The reality and stimulation of the Inindividuals. In the case of all addicternet is understanding given its contions, it may be helpful to explore stant, ever-changing source of other ways in which these functions information and entertainment, and can be served rather than through its accessibility from most phones this behaviour. and computers. The overwhelming There is also a reality that those adnature of the web with email, blogs, dicted to the net are o1en those grapand social networking enables incespling with other problems in their sant communication and commenlife including other addictions. The tary on just about anything. Internet’s omnipresence is amazing, But as with all hedonistic pursuits, it real, aﬀordable, accessible and of can be excessively used to the detricourse an opportunity to be anonyment of people’s studies, work, and mous. It could not be more perfect relationships. The compulsive use of and though many may struggle to the internet, as with any habits, may equate its perils with that of drugs relieve negative feelings such as and gambling, it is increasingly afstress and loneliness, whilst its acfecting how people conduct their cessibility and anonymity is safe and lives. can be a way of temporarily losing Solutions oneself online. For many people, an important asClearly, the world of Facebook,
pect of overcoming addiction is to ﬁnd alternate ways to handle diﬃcult feelings. Using the internet as an example, even when one’s computer usage is back to healthy levels, the painful and unpleasant feelings that may have prompted you to engage in excessive use in the past will remain. So, it is worth spending some time thinking about the diﬀerent ways you intend to deal with stressful situations and the daily triggers or irritations that would normally have you logging on. There are a number of steps you can take to get this or any habit under control. While you can initiate many of these yourself, it may be important to get some outside support as well. It can be all too easy to slip back into old pa2erns. • Recognize any underlying problems that may support your addiction. If you are struggling with depression, stress, or anxiety, for example, the online addiction might be one way to self-soothe diﬃcult moods. • Build your coping skills. Perhaps blowing oﬀ steam whether it’s on the Internet or with alcohol is your way of coping with stress or angry feelings. Building skills in these areas will help you weather the stresses and strains of daily life without resorting to the compulsion. • Strengthen your support network. The more relationships you have in real life, the less you will need the Internet for social interaction. Set aside dedicated time each week for friends and family. • Set goals for when you can use the Internet. For example, you might try se2ing a time, scheduling use for certain times of day, or making a commitment to turn oﬀ the computer, tablet, or smart phone at the same time each night. • Stay connected to the offline world. Visit libraries, shops and places of interest and entertainment. Treat the internet as a tool and a
In Conversation with the Doctor
means to an end. Therapy itself can help provide stepby-step ways to stop compulsive behaviours and change perceptions regarding all habits including computer use. Therapy can also help you learn healthier ways of coping with uncomfortable emotions, such as stress, anxiety, or depression. With all habits, we can alone or with others learn to change our perception of the destructive habit, either by associating it with something aversive
(e.g. a negative emotion) or by identifying the triggers for the problem and replacing those with positive and new behaviours. The challenge is to set up a new plan which incorporates the new behaviour which may mean less time on the net or in the case of other habits, less time in the pub or smoking. And ﬁnally, it is helpful to think of oneself as healthy and energetic and to perceive the habit we are trying to get rid of as unappealing.
LONDON LOVES with Aphrodite
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
Ancient History a strong passion for ships, Ben is friendly, easy to
talk to and also likes to act.
The Date: Ben’s Report
I arrived ten minutes late, still wearing my uniform from work. After heavy traffic and an accident in the Croydon area, when a waitress ushered Olivia upstairs from the lower ground floor of Dishoom I looked like a total berk - not to mention a bit flustered. Happily, my profuse and lengthy apology started off a long period of amiable chatter and the waiter had to come over three times before we even ordered drinks. Having never done this sort of thing before, and agreeing very much on the spur of the moment I had, needless to say, been feeling rather nervous. Olivia turned out to be not only charming but also very easy to talk to, and made it a thoroughly enjoyable evening. I asked her how she had got herself involved in in this feature for the Student and she told me she had been on a few blind dates in the last year or so, and that she thought they were a lot of fun. I have to say that I agree with her; after all I could have been at the library or had my nose in a Latin grammar, and instead I spent an evening having dinner with an attractive young lady! - and a young lady
moreover who I would not have been lucky enough to meet had I not put aside my fears and gone for it. Reader, take note. For my part, I'm not sure how well I did that evening, though I did my best not to let my more antisocial tendencies bubble to the surface. I tried to keep my explanation of my dissertation – on a subject which I think only myself and my supervisor find interesting – as short as it could reasonably be, and apart from one very short rant about aircraft carriers I managed to keep politics away from the dinner table until the cloth was drawn. Nonetheless, no phone numbers were exchanged when we parted ways outside the tube station, so I'm not sure that the flower of romance is about to blossom. We have however agreed to stay in touch – not difficult as we are both at the Strand campus and both doing plays with the drama society this term – and I have at the very least made a friend, which I hope would qualify it as a most successful evening by anyone's standards.
The Date: Beth’s report
‘Sorry for the fancy dress’ he says. Ben was in his Navy cadet uniform. I hid my amusement well – I think – mak-
Second year student Olivia also enjoys
acting, alongside her part in the KCL netball team. A
chilled-out, blind-dating expert, there was no wor-
ries that this date would be lacking in conversation!
ing my apologies too for my dishevelled appearance. A friend asked me afterwards if I ‘actually went to the date looking like that? - I’m a serial dater. Not because I’m so alluring but I’m signed up to sites, so it’s refreshing to go out with someone my own age. We had a bit in common like an interest in amateur dramatics and Shakespeare. ‘There is nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so’ is apparently his favourite line. I learnt a lot for a first date; Ben brought up personal insecurities, base levels of happiness and explained how he doesn’t believe in fate but in the randomness of life. I maintained the ‘everything happens for a reason’, so we disagree there. He talked for a long time about his dissertation, apologising for boring me - it’s not boring but completely bewildering. We had our differences in opinion too. Although he said he isn’t confrontational he still wants to go into the military ‘because there’s nothing hard about blowing people up from 35 miles away.’ I try to explain that I don’t agree with war or understand people who want to be in the military, - I don’t think I articulated it well but the conversation was interesting. So much so that the waiter comes over three
num bers S n
A third year KCL Naval Reserve with
times before we look at the menu. The food was good - neither of us knew what a Bombay bajhi was – but they’re delicious! The staff were also very attentive. They all seemed to know the deal and tiptoe around any potential awkwardness which was nice. The date was definitely a success, certainly as good as any other first date I’ve had. It only felt slightly odd walking to the tube with a man in a full ceremonial naval uniform - when I say full I mean even the hat was on. It must have looked very picturesque to the tourists around Leicester Square when a man came along and thrust a rose into his hand in an attempted sell... We politely refused so the man stalked off but not before hitting Ben in the ‘family jewels’ with his unsold flowers. Apparently it hurt. My phone was broken so I said I’d add him on Facebook – although I accidently told him ‘I’ll see you online’ in what he called a ‘deeply un-cool parting shot’. He’s right of course, but it was 11:00pm on Sunday and I had an essay due tomorrow that I hadn’t started...Cool isn’t my priority. I don’t know what will happen now, my friend request is pending – awkward.
Our new colum devoted to romantic haunts in the big smoke. This issue Flora Neville tells us why Somerset House is the place to be for winter romance:
Along with going to the gym, a Chinese restaurant, or a karaoke night, perhaps ice skating should be an activity strictly reserved for long-term relationships. - If this is your view, I encourage you to alter it and flit over to Somerset House for a wonderfully Christmassy and almost sickeningly romantic foray. To be totally honest, the thought of gingerly edging my way round and round the ice rink, clinging to the sides, while enthusiastic pre teens carve up the scene in spangled skirts, leaping and twirling with abandon does not fill me with Christmas cheer, however mulled wine most certainly does. It was in fact the mulled wine that wooed me out of my converse and into a pair of lethal skates, and it is fair to say that whatever your level of proficiency, mulled wine is a must. Go just before it gets dark and the (slightly garish) lights begin to twinkle, there is absolutely no need to see this as a get-yourmoney’s-worth-skill-improvingactivity, do a few token laps, a few token leaps, if you’re feeling brave, then give in to the alluring smells of oranges, cloves and red wine, it will warm the most freezing hands and the most stony heart.
Flora Neville, KCL
Afterthoughts from Aphrodite
A mysterious man in uniform and dinner in the heart of Christmas-ready London - sounds like something from a movie, right? Anyone would think that a charming young man wandering through covent garden at 11pm with a lady is living the dream, but alas this was not the case this week. A friendship may follow, but the evening did not end in a Disneyesque manner - as the thorn-incident went to show. (I promise not every date is this dangerous....!) Perhaps Remembrance Sunday was never the wisest of choices for an evening of Romance...?
If you are a Lonely Londoner and fancy some good old fashioned company and a free meal, do contact Afrodite at: email@example.com with your name, age, university and 3 words to describe you. Find some romance today....
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
London Student Community: The rise and rise of the student worker Writer Daniel Cooper President, SURHUL
As a result of several decades of attacks on education funding in the UK, where there are now no living grants, no free education and ever lessening public funding and enormous tuition fees, a lot of students, probably including yourself, are forced to enter the labour market and get a job. In recent years the number of young people at work has increased dramatically. The rise in the number of working students has been particularly sharp; between 1996 and 2006, the number of students in full-time education who supported themselves through paid work grew by 50%. Employment for young workers is heavily concentrated in industries and sectors where staﬀ turnover is high, wages are low and conditions are, to put it Between 1996 mildly, not good. and 2006, the According to a number of stuTrade Union dents in fullCongress (TUC) t i m e study, young education workers account who supfor nearly 40% of ported themthe entire works e l v e s force of the hosthrough paid pitality sector work grew by (hotels and 50% restaurants). This includes nearly 250,000 working students. The minimum wage, too low to live on even at its top rate of £6.08, is tiered according to age. Essentially this means that a worker aged 18 could be paid less for doing the same job as a worker aged 22. To make matters worse, workers are not entitled to full employment rights (including sick pay and holiday time) until employed in a job for at least twelve months. When many young workers change jobs fairly regularly or work for erratic periods because of academic commitments, this means that many young workers are working long hours for low wages with the bare minimum of legal protection! Throughout my time as a student I worked long hours for Superdrug in Egham. During my time there we had our wages cut by 25%, our tea break time was sliced in half, as well as the amount of holidays we were entitled to; this is a fairly common experience. In Spring 2008, it was revealed that some high-street cafés such as Strada and Café Rouge had been paying their workers below the legal minimum wage and using tips to “top-up” wages to the legal level. Government talk about how much more university graduates can expect to earn is not much consolation during an eighthour shi4 behind a bar, or stacking shelves in a supermarket. Because
A combination of rising fees, rent prices and day-to-day living costs has been accompanied by
an increase in the number of students seeking work. This year, Goldsmiths Students’ Union and
trade union GMB have gone into partnership to represent working students. The move is a
significant step for student workers and represents the inception of the first trade union branch specifically for students. Meanwhile, Royal Holloway Students’ Union
President Daniel Cooper and his fellow Sabbatical Officers have initiated a campaign centred
on the rights of students in the workplace. In this article, Daniel discusses the issue of student
workers at University.
Team bonding From left to right: Daniel Cooper (President), Katie Blow (VP Education & Welfare), Jake Wells (VP Student Activities) and Sarah Honeycombe (VP Communications and Campaigns)
many bar workers are part-time or student workers, we sometimes let management mess us around because we won’t be in the job too long or we’re only doing it to earn spare cash. It shouldn’t be that way; all workers, full-time and part -time, student or not, are entitled to decent wages and a safe workplace. I believe the situation for young people in work is scandalous. I think the only way to change it is for us as young workers to get organised and ﬁght back. Many of the basic rights we take for granted in this country were won because working-class people, organised in trade unions, fought for them. That means it’s always worth knowing exactly what your legal rights on key issues are. This way you can make sure that, at the very least, your boss isn’t treating you illegally. These will generally be about your wages,
Whilst being an individual member of a trade union is useful, a union’s real power comes when a whole group of workers in a workplace are organised and can stand up to management as a collective, rather than as individuals.
your contract-type, the amount of hours you work and other rights, e.g. health and safety. A trade union is an option for engaging with your rights, giving you support whilst at work. Trade Unions are collective organisation of workers in a particular workplace, sector, industry or across several. Joining a trade union as an individual entitles you to access the union’s services and beneﬁts. If you are disciplined or dismissed unfairly at work, the union’s legal services could help you get your job back or claim compensation. As a union member, you’ll also be
able to raise grievances at work if you think you’re not being paid correctly, if your workplace’s health and safety isn’t up to scratch or if you feel you’re not being treated with respect or feel bullied by your managers. Trained union representatives will also be able to help you through any disciplinary or grievance processes at work. It’s also worth joining a union even if your workplace isn’t that bad, or even if you really get on with your boss. Obviously, not all bosses are ruthless, calculating robbers; in fact some are perfectly pleasant human beings. But their position as a manager means that when it comes to the crunch, cutting that corner on health and safety, upping your hours, cu5ing your wages or sacking you altogether can sometimes come before what is good and right for you. But there is more to joining a union than for support with problems. Em-
ployers do not give away anything out of the kindness of their hearts; the union collectively can push for improvements to pay, holidays etc. Whilst being an individual member of a trade union is useful, a union’s real power comes when a whole group of workers in a workplace are organised and can stand up to management as a collective, rather than as individuals. Trade unions around the world have led inspiring campaigns that have helped young workers stand up to some of the most exploitative corporations on the planet. In New Zealand they ran a “Supersize My Pay” campaign. In 2005/6, the Unite union in New Zealand ran a campaign aimed at organising young workers working for high-street fast-food and coﬀee chains such as McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and Starbucks. Although low-pay and exploitation were rife in these workplaces, many unions in New Zealand had given up on trying to engage with them. Unite's approach was consistently based on helping workers ﬁnd issues they could organise around collectively, even if they appeared trivial. For example, when workers in a large multiplex cinema had their rights to complimentary tickets taken away, Unite helped them organise a dispute. This shows that campaigns can be built even around the most basic, dayto-day issues to help workers build up conﬁdence to take on the bosses over bigger issues like pay. The “Supersize My Pay” campaign saw the ﬁrst strikes of Starbucks workers anywhere in the world, and eventually succeeded in winning signiﬁcant wage increases for workers across a variety of workplaces, including the abolition of the youthrates of the minimum wage. The campaign showed that when workers see trade unions as tools for helping them ﬁght for concrete change in the workplace and society, rather than as providers of services, big victories are possible. Most people earn a living by hiring themselves out to an employer who pays them a wage. If you work for a wage, you’re a worker. You could be a plumber, a bar worker, a trapeze artiste or a teacher, but you’re still a worker. Employers come in all shapes and sizes, from big private corporations to individuals like the local pub landlord. The state is also a major employer, with workers like nurses, teachers and many other public service workers on its payroll. The relationship between the workers and the employers lies at the heart of the economy. SURHUL is running a campaign around your rights at work and how you can get organised if your boss is treating you badly!
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
The end of Martin Johnson
Oxford v UoL
Sport Editor Natalie Kahn looks back on the reign of the World Cup winner as England manager - page 30
The gaff-prone FIFA chief is again under pressure for comments made relating to racism in football - page 31
Sam Bailey provides a match report for the hard-fought drawn between two formidable teams- page 31
London 2012: The inside track
Daniel O’Donnell examines the issues, triumphs and decisions relating to the Olympics in the run up to London 2012 page 32
Farewell: The exit of Martin Johnson Flickr user: Slagheap
Writer Natalie Kahn Sport Editor Martin Johnson sat hunched forward at the press conference where he declared his departure as manager for the Elite squad of the Rugby Football Union. Towering over the RFU’s Elite director Rob Andrew, the man who lead the English side to World Cup glory in 2003 spoke calmly about the decision which he said had not been taken lightly. In fact, Johnson made every indication that his decision had been a long time in the making and that the recent World Cup failure was simply the final nail in the cofIt is never, fin. This should ever that not be terribly easy, not in surprising to life and ceranyone who tainly not in has followed rugby England’s progression since Johnson accepted the manager position in 2008.
Martin Johnson’s integrity as a man and rugby player is beyond question. His performance as lock is one of the best in rugby history. And still, why anyone though that would just automatically translate into great coaching ability is bewildering. It is never, ever that easy, not in life and certainly not in rugby. When Johnson accepted the position he had not coached even a junior side and even more worrying, he would be in a managerial position above players who he in many cases considered to be his brothers. His fierce loyalty which won hearts and minds during his captaincy backfired spectacularly as his trust was squandered again and again by the players, most recently in the World Cup. Johnson was thrown headfirst into the deep end in 2008, with the sinker that is the RFU senior management tied to his ankle and asked to swim. In his own words, his time as man-
Martin Johnson will now be sepending a lot more time in the spectator stands. Photo by Flickr user: Murky
ager has been that of a ‘steep learning curve‘, which is a shocking revelation to absolutely noone. The qualities that made Johnson a great player and a great captain became his weaknesses as manager. His penchant for putting his faith and trust in his players and his unwavering loyalty led to him defending and giving them the benefit of the doubt, where other managers may very well have stepped in and laid down the law. In addition to this, while being one of the best locks of all time, Johnson never truly demonstrated that he had a vision for the game as a whole, an understanding that would have made up for his lack of coaching experience. Johnson spent his playing career fiercely protecting his flyhalf, a role he is now reprising for the benefit of Rob Andrew, while men like Sir Clive Woodward call for responsibility to be taken by the senior management. Woodward in particular has lambasted the lack
In his own words, his time as manager has been that of a ‘steep learning curve‘, which is a shocking revelation to absolutely no-one
of support for Johnson by the RFU and the thoughtlessness of not complementing Johnson’s leadership with experience.
As manager, Johnson got off to a very rocky start in 2008 and while the team did improve throughout his term as manager, it remained inconsistent. The progress which took the form of bringing new blood to the international stage was often offset by peculiar decisions regarding starting players and captains, and an unwillingness to shake up the coaching team. While there were some triumphs, these were against oppo-
sitions that have arguably (and astoundingly) shown less consistency than England and the Six Nations victory last year lost some of its sweetness after the defeat in Dublin during the final weekend. Regardless of this, Johnson has done an admirable job with all the odds stacked against him and with the circus that is and has been the RFU senior management around him. He should not, at the very least not solely, be blamed for what has transpired during the last three years and should be remembered as the man who brought England the Webb Ellis Cup as captain above all else. And while Johnson has made his exit and left the building, Twickenham remains and with it, the question of the future of the England Elite squad.
Rumour has it that calls have already been made to Nick Mallet, the man who coached South
Africa to 17 wins in a row. He however has said that he is not interested in the job with Rob Andrew still in the director ’s seat. Some are harking for a return of Woodward, to restore the squad to its former splendour but the likelihood of him leaving his Olympics job seems highly unlikely. A lot of focus, and rightfully so, has been steered towards the Saints’ wonder worker, Jim Mallinder who breathed life into the Northampton side and engineered their climb from division one to just short of the Heineken Cup last season. His experience and proven skill makes him a favourite but many believe he is not best suited to deal with the ‘management upwards‘ that comes with the job. While Johnson’s successor will need to possess both skill, experience and vision, the RFU should take this opportunity to not just choose a new manager but also choose a new path for the Elite squad and for the union as a whole. The lack of accountability, of leadership and direction has been evident, long before the World Cup, with the various departures at senior management level a blight on the record of the world’s most well funded rugby union. The standard is set from the top and for England rugby to excel again, a new tone has to be set within Twickenham, within the heart of the RFU. The players so honoured by the England shirt should be held accountable to their management and vice versa and both are to be held accountable to the rugby community as a whole. The mantel lies on the floor and a momentous task lies ahead for whoever picks it up. With the combined efforts of a new manager and a new disposition of the RFU, hopefully England Rugby will rise again to the heights of the 2003 World Cup and Martin Johnson hoisting the Webb Ellis Cup over his head.
LONDON STUDENT VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5
#Bla"erOut: The not so trendy thoughts of FIFA’s President website and also with Blatter ’s own little battle with Twitter favourite, Rio Ferdinand.
FIFA is by no means squeaky clean, as Andrew Jennings from the BBC Panorama investigations of years gone by will testify (and continually tries to bring people to justice), though with a leader who has not only awarded the World Cup to two highly contentious countries and been accused of turning a blind eye to calls of corruption - Blatter has his own book of rhetoric gaffes.
Writer Daniel O’Donnell
#BlatterOut. That’s the topic that’s been trending on more than one occasion on the micro-blogging website, Twitter since its inception. One only needs to type this into the search bar to see just how people feel about the FIFA President. Sepp Blatter may, by time of
Under the cosh: FIFA President Sepp Blatter Photo by Flickr user thesportreview
this article being published, actually have fulfilled the wishes of those calling for the 75-year old to leave office. The calls for immediacy have come after arguably his biggest gaff yet.
Last week, he suggested that racism does not exist in football and that if any comments were made on the pitch, a la alleged John Terry, then it should be settled by a handshake. I hardly need to emphasise the point here that such disregard for such a
huge issue is totally against everything that the head of a global organisation should be portraying. The fact that he continually is trying to cover his tracks, and yet somehow manages to dig deeper, only emphaLast week, sises just how he suginept this man gested that is for leaderracism does ship. You only not exist in need to look at football FIFA’s attempts on their own
Last year, when the World Cup was awarded to Qatar he joked that homosexuals should probably refrain from sexual activity, as it’s illegal there. He managed to pick a fight with feminists too by saying that female footballers who want more exposure in the media should ‘probably wear tighter shorts’. Another example is when he found out about John Terry’s affair with Wayne Bridge’s wife he said that ‘in South America he would be applauded’. Oh yes, he also managed to compare footballers to ‘modern day slaves’. Obviously he was talking
Last year, when the World Cup was awarded to Qatar he joked that homosexuals should probably refrain from sexual activity, as it’s illegal there.
about the fact that it’s such a burden to get paid millions of pounds to play a sport you love, instead of that age old love of being forced to do back-breaking work in return for unimaginable living conditions.
In many ways FIFA is more influential and far reaching than the UN, amazingly has more Olympic stadium initeast London The as member states. It’s certainly one of the most powerful institutions in sport - which is why it’s so important that a man who is in control of billions of dollars and influences millions of lives is doing so with the right attitude. He quite clearly isn’t, which has culminated in an ever-growing call of #BlatterOut.
Oxford v University of London ends all square Writer Sam Bailey
Oxofrd University “Blues” 2 University of London “Purples” 2
The University of London ‘Purples’ side (ULFC) is a representative team, made up of the best players from across the University of London’s colleges. On Sunday October 30th they traveled up to Oxford for their first competitive game of the season against a ‘Blues’ side who already had their BUCS league campaign fully underway.
In the stadium where Roger Miller ran the first sub 4-minute mile, it was ULFC who did the early running, knocking the ball
around nicely and creating problems for the Blues from early on in the game, with Amos marshalling the backline assuredly.
However it was Oxford who took the lead against the run of play, after a lobbed cross into the box was judged to have struck Phillips’ arm. The suggestion from the London defence was that it was in fact the Oxford striker who had handled the ball, but that didn’t stop the referee awarding a penalty to Oxford. Goalkeeper Bailey guessed the right way but could not get a strong enough hand to keep it out. One - nil Oxford. ULFC weren’t disheartened though, and came out of the blocks again all guns blazing, the equalizer coming shortly after the restart, as Juan Dorrego
shimmied past a defender, found room in the box, and fired the ball across the goalkeeper and into the net.
The purples stuck to their attractive style of play, playing to feet quickly and creating space in behind the Blues, and it was not long before coach Andy Zeller ’s philosophy paid off, as Chris Gaughan put ULFC in front with a well-taken volley on his weaker left foot from a ULFC corner. At half-time ULFC made a few changes, and Oxford came out strongly, boldly changing formation to add another attacker for the Purples’ defence to deal with. However, they still struggled to create chances, as Phillips, Amos, Lorentzen, Gaughan and Fiorotto defended solidly.
With just over an hour gone, however, Oxford found their way through, with a second questionable penalty decision. With a Blues striker through on goal, Bailey rushed out to meet him, and although getting two clear hands on the ball, was deemed to have brought down the player unfairly, much to his annoyance. The resulting penalty was calmly dispatched by the Blues to level the game again.
There was time enough for a winner, but the tiredness of the ULFC players began to show on a heavy pitch, almost all of whom had played a full game the day before for their respective college teams in the ULU league. Although the Oxford players had not had such an energy-sapping weekend of foot-
ball, they seemed content to settle for a draw, and did not threaten much further.
All in all, it was a positive start to the season for ULFC, who can count themselves unlucky not to have beaten an ever-competitive Oxford side on their home turf. Even better than the result was the fluidity the team showed in their play, despite having many new players making their debuts, which can only bode well for the coming months. For more information on ULFC, visit: www.ulfc.co.uk
ULFC Squad: Bailey, Gaughan, Phillips, Amos, Loretnzen (Fiorotto), Ware (Michael), Osbourne, Bakke, Beck, Dorrego, Chapman (Blyth)
VOLUME 32 ISSUE 5 LONDON STUDENT
The Inside Track: London 2012 Every issue, Daniel O’Donnell examines the issues, triumphs and decisions made by the various organising commi ees in relation to the Olympic games that will aﬀect everyone in London next summer.
Writer Daniel O’Donnell
The Barcelona games of ‘92 were considered one of the best ever games staged for the Olympic games based on their legacy and the simple fact that it turned a city around. In the last issue, I argued for how well the Olympics can regenerate a city but just how much of an impact does it have on the country? Spreading far and wide
It’s interesting to see whether the Olympics has an effect on the country it’s being hosted in. Of course, it’s quite obvious that there will be a huge impact on the city’s economy, whether it be for better or worse, though the more relevant question is whether the Olympics will effect, and hopefully, benefit the majority of the population across the UK. I question that it will.
I have always been a huge Olympics fan and I can’t wait for it to come to London, especially now that I live here. Though I’ve always had one burning question, just why is it that it is only in London? Yes, the sailing is in Weymouth, the rowing in Eton and some of the football across differ-
ent parts of the country. But why is it that the Olympics has to be centrally hosted by a city and not across the country?
In relation to the article in the last issue about the Barcelona games, we saw a radical change in the outer suburbs which ultimately saw the regeneration of the city with huge success. Though while London isn’t really going through the same tough times as Barcelona was, wouldn’t it make sense to spread the events over the country instead of just in an already overcrowded capital? I tried contacting the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to enquire whether it is possible to make a bid for the games by a host country as opposed to a city but I never got an answer, and their website only explicitly states ‘host city’ indeed it has only ever been that.
If we could start the process again, I would put forward a bid for ‘Great Britain 2012’ and not London. Think about it, not everyone is forced to travel by tube, more people are likely to see events and they would be nearer to them. We could see world class cycling in Manchester and Glasgow at the
velodromes there, track and field at a regenerated Crystal Palace, canoeing in Wales, beach volleyball in Devon (or my home town of Bournemouth, preferably), shooting in Surrey and equestrian events at West Lothian in Scotland. The list goes on. The point of this being that these facilities, which act as the ‘National Centre’ for the respective sports anyway, would be dramatically improved and would have continual use. As a consequence the infrastructure and transport links could be improved to and from all these venues and local businesses enhanced. Also, as the athletes would only need to live next to
their venue it would mean having long term sustainable housing that is spread around the country instead of just in one part of East London.
those who would argue about whether it would work with people travelling everywhere etc., it does work and with huge success in the FIFA World Cup. I wouldn’t usually advise anyone let alone That effect is already being seen in the IOC in taking tips from FIFA, Weymouth and Portland as prop- but maybe, just maybe this could erty prices have rocketed and the be the exception. main road to the seafront improved, with businesses only ben- Daniel writes a blog to accomefiting. It’s these small yet pany pieces written for London significant changes that we could Student on his website potentially see in different parts of www.daniel-odonnell.com the country. I wouldn’t want to argue with the IOC but I don’t see why it should only be a city that benefits. And
Published on Nov 21, 2011