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gair rhydd y Monday June 8th 2015 | freeword | Issue 1057

In this week’s issue: Why immigration from Eritrea is about more than just Europe, why the Snooper’s Charter is a waste of time, and why English devolution will make the nations less equal

MEDIC Forward: a disaster in consultation

t €1.2mil grant from cancer charity Marie Curie could be “handed back” as leading professor also put “at risk” by controversial MEDIC Forward project

t Plus: BHF confirms 98% of charity’s £5.25mil Wales heart research fund at risk (page 4) EXCLUSIVE Michael O’ConnellDavidson


ore research funding has been put at risk as a result of the ongoing MEDIC Forward consultation, according to School of Medicine sources. Prof. Marian Ludgate, the professor at the helm of the €1,200,000 INDIGO project, is yet another academic to have received an “at risk” letter warning of potential redundancy. Prof. Ludgate conducts research as part of the Institute of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, where many other academics are understood to have received “at risk” letters. This revelation come just weeks after it was revealed that Prof. Alan

Williams, who was also warned that he may be made redundant, was to receive a grant of £1,000,000 from the BHF to continue his research into heart disease. Since Gair Rhydd’s original report, the University has withdrawn Williams’ “at risk” letter, but numerous other academics including Prof. Ludgate are at risk. If Prof. Ludgate’s area of research is disinvested from, it would hail the end of Cardiff University’s involvement in the INDIGO project. INDIGO is a Marie Curie-funded initiative in which Cardiff, working in conjunction with universities in Germany and Italy, is conducting research into

North Wales Health Board a “failure” P20 >>

“to investigate how microorganisms shape the immune response leading to autoimmune disease.” The project is “investigat[ing] the microbiome in Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition in which autoantibodies mimic the hormone TSH” leading to an “over-active thyroid”. Some patients also “develop a potentially sight-threatening condition called Graves’ orbitopathy”. The grant, awarded in October 2014 was hailed as a “major” success for IMEM, with funding for the project set to last a number of years. Since then, however, MEDIC Forward has targeted Thyroid research as a po-

Can the law stop legal highs? P24 >>

tential area of disinvestment less than a year after the grant was awarded. It is understood that if Thyroid research is disinvested from, and Prof. Ludgate is redeployed or offered a redundancy package, the unused grant money would have to be returned. The consequences of this would be “disastrous” according to sources. A source at the School of Medicine, who wished to remain anonymous, said that: “the reputational damage to the School of Medicine would be huge if that grant is handed back, but that doesn’t seem to deter MEDIC Forward.” School of Medicine sources have

A year in Gair Rhydd stories P8 >>

Pictured: King George V Drive, at the Heath Park campus

Continued on page 4

THE FREE WORD EDITOR Michael O’Connell-Davidson GAIR RHYDD CO-ORDINATOR Elaine Morgan NEWS Georgia Hamer Katie Evans Alexander Norton Anna Lewis ADVICE Kirsty Fardell COMMENT Anne Porter Gareth Evans COLUMNIST Jason Roberts POLITICS Carwyn Williams Lauren Boyd Rhiannon Tapp SCIENCE Shanna Hamilton Meryon Roderick SOCIETIES Hannah Sterritt PARK LIFE Vidya Brainerd TAF-OD Steffan Bryn Jones Morgan Owen SPORT David Hooson Rory Benson Joe Atkinson PRODUCTION EDITOR Sum Sze Tam DIGITAL EDITORS Jordan Adams Gregory McChesney SOCIAL MEDIA EDITOR Maria Mellor EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS Jack Boyce Eleanor Parkyn Want to join the team? Editorial conferences are each monday at 5PM. Proofreading takes place on Thursdays at 6PM in the media office during print weeks. Write us a letter letters@gairrhydd.com Tweet us: @gairrhydd

At Gair Rhydd we take seriously our responsibility to maintain the highest possible standards. Sometimes, because of deadline pressures, we may make some mistakes. If you believe we have fallen below the standards we seek to uphold, please email editor@gairrhydd.com. You can view our Ethical Policy Statement and Complaints Procedure at cardiffstudentmedia.co.uk/complaints Opinions expressed in editorials are not reflective of Cardiff Students’ Union, who act as the publisher of Gair Rhydd in legal terms, and should not be considered official communications or the organisation’s stance. Gair Rhydd is a post office registered newspaper.

This is not goodbye, but farewell Michael O’Connell-Davidson is stepping down as the editor of Gair Rhydd, ending three years with Cardiff Student Media


hree years is a long time, and three years is how much time I’ve spent studying Journalism at this university. I will remember the lessons that John Jewell and his faculty taught me for years to come, but it is my time as a student media die-hard that really defined my university experience. Through thick and thin, I’ve been in the trenches with a team of volunteers with little in common beyond a drive to create and produce. And now, those three years are set to come to an end, as I publish what will be my final Gair Rhydd before I graduate. They’ve been great years: I’ve published tens of thousands of words, bagged three national awards and been nominated for multiple others. But all good things must come to an end, and I fear that if I don’t leave now I’ll become part of the furniture. I enjoyed a very non-standard journey through Cardiff Student Media, starting as everybody does as an overenthusiastic fresher; Cardiff Union Television gave me my start (you can still find my interviews with fighting game players and eSports professionals on YouTube), but it was Jo Southerd and Laura Evans, Quench co-editors in 2013, who gave me my first real chance. Under their editorship I instated Quench’s video games section, which has come on leaps and bounds since. I had thought that this would be where I started and where I ended, and would enjoy three years of being willingly typecast as “computer boy”. By some miracle, such pidgeonholing was not meant to be, and I was appointed Quench’s chief editor the following year. Under my direction, the publication transitioned from being a fortnightly supplement in Gair Rhydd to a monthly magazine of its own. We ran some brilliant content, and, while Sum Sze Tam’s Quench is a far more accomplished product than mine, I am proud of the work my team and I produced, and immensely grateful for the support given to me by my deputy editor, Sophie Lodge. While the magazine was occasionally marmiteesque in its divisiveness, Quench remains one of the most unique publications that any Students’ Union prints. It speaks to an audience that the Students’ Union has trouble reaching; indeed, one issue broke free of the university completely, with its digital copy going viral and receiving over two million hits. A prior member of CSM described Quench as “all of WH Smith, condensed into one magazine”, and that’s a very astute description. Quench is an incredibly valuable stomping ground for critics and the high minded - as it was for me. Yet it is Gair Rhydd I will be remembered for, and Gair Rhydd where I truly came into my own. After applying for politics editor - and summarily being rejected - in my first year, I largely stayed away and focused on Quench once my work with the publication began. But at the end of my second year, I was promoted to Head of Print Media, which essentially equated to deputy editor of Gair Rhydd. The sudden (and largely unexplained) departure of Tom Eden, the editor to whom I was then answerable, thrust me to the editorship of a publication yet again: I became the first student editor of Gair Rhydd since the 1980s when Meirion Jones was editor. I remember delivering a training seminar to the Gair Rhydd team in September. They did not really know who I was, and, indeed, I did not really know who I was. I explained that I’d been brought on board to broaden the scope of Gair Rhydd’s news content and to bring in more investigative work, and that it was I who was responsible for the publication’s top down redesign. I wasn’t supposed to be the one delivering the training session, but I sort of winged it. Tom never returned, and I continued to wing it; as the deputy editor,

I was the next person responsible for the publication. At some point or another, I stopped being the acting editor and started being the actual editor. What a long, strange journey it’s been. The journey that was this year’s paper was only possible because of the Gair Rhydd team, who accepted me against the odds. They have shed blood, sweat and tears, and I do not take their efforts lightly. Some have come an incredibly long way, with Sport editor David Hooson and News editor Anna Lewis in particular undergoing a complete transformation from the people they were when I first met them. Others, such as the erstwhile Gareth Evans, remain brilliantly skilled as they have always been; Evans’ growth as a writer and his immense coverage in tackling difficult subjects has earned him in a place in the annals of student media as one of the best writers to ever grace these pages. These three - and the rest of the editorial team, for whom I could write whole essays - have made contributions beyond value, and have helped build a publication that serves more than just the people that write for it. This year, we have served the public interest like never before, and I genuinely believe that our editorial content has done a great deal to enhance the university experience in ways both visible and invisible. I am filled with immense pride when I consider some of the stories the News team and I have published. What great, varied stories there have been. From peeing on cruise ships to drug taking in Y Plas, we’ve done it all. We were one of the only publications to pick up NHS fees for international students, which had been essentially concealed by the home office, and by all accounts the first; The Independent credited us for drawing attention to the matter when they wrote a story about it a week later. I would like to be momentarily immodest and say that I am proud beyond measure of our work on MEDIC Forward. There is no way I can describe the feeling that I experienced when an IMEM PhD student told me that we had saved her project by raising awareness of the absurd circumstance that the School of Medicine’s mismanagement had placed her team into. The story has since been picked up by the BBC and others, but it was Gair Rhydd that provided the initial glint of light. Numerous people (many of whom work in the School of Medicine) have told me that we have done a great deal to safeguard cardiology research in Wales, contributing to a cause that saves lives. But none of this would be possible without my original source, who began drip-feeding me information in March. Their courage is something that mere mortals like I will never possess. I have respect for them beyond measure, for if they had not put the public interest before their own interests then God only knows what state cardiology research in Wales would be in this time next year. Without them, we would not know that Cardiff University is an institution unwilling to divest from fossil fuels (as we revealed on the cover of issue 1039) but entirely willing to disinvest from heart research, and in doing so put the British Heart Foundation’s research efforts in Wales at risk. That the university would be so bullheaded when coronary heart disease is the nation’s biggest killer is beyond both contempt and belief. I can only hope that the consultation ceases before more damage is done. As a publication more generally, we have grown immensely. Our Politics section has become a veritable flagship among flagships, growing to the size of News and Sport and earning its place at the forefront of our editorial efforts. Jordan Adams and Gregory McChesney, our web editors, have worked to enhance our digital offering beyond anything we have engaged in before.

Indeed, Elliot Davies, a former St. Andrew Computer Science student now working at The Times, spoke to me at this year’s Student Publication Association Awards and said how remarkable it was that we had been shortlisted in the best website category when we barely had a website six months earlier. We went on to enjoy nominations across nine of twelve categories including best publication and best design. Each nomination was a great honour, but an honour that was deserved: a further vindication of that blood sweat and tears my team expended that I spoke about earlier. I, myself, had the immense honour of receiving the special recognition award at the same ceremony. William Coles, a former Sun journalist, judged the award and described me as an “inspiration to my team,” but in truth, it was my team who inspired me. Lauren Boyd, one of our politics editors, also received an award at the ceremony for her relentless interview with Yiftah Curiel, an Israeli diplomatic spokesperson; witnessing the tireless devotion to the craft that she and others have exhibited this year has helped me hang on even in the darkest of times. Gair Rhydd has been transformative for many, but perhaps most transformative for me. I have learned things about myself I never really knew, and gained an understanding of topics I never thought I would understand. As a southern Englishman, I never thought I would understand the complex interplay of language and nationality that courses through politics in Wales. And yet I feel that I have an immense appreciation for the politics of devolution and the ongoing evolution of Wales; not as a region of the UK, but as a nation in its own right. I have come to love this nation, and I have come to love this university. While I have never quite known a home - five years ago, I was homeless, a memory that feels like a distant dream - I have found a place here. I doubt I would feel this way were it not for the intervention of the Gair Rhydd, of Quench, and of the many misfits that make up Cardiff Student Media. Many people deserve thanks. Various sabbs, Steve Wilford (hell, the whole damn Union, for giving me enough rope to hang myself and trusting me not to), the printers at Trinity Mirror, who have been exceptionally helpful over the last year, and our legal counsel, Duncan Bloy, who has provided many intelligent answers to the many stupid questions I asked. But more than anyone, I would like to take a quick moment and dedicate my work on this publication to Einir Evans, a member of the university’s Student Support Center. I come from a care background, and, were it not for her help, I would never have made it to university, for I was too intimidated by forms I couldn’t fill in, lacking support that the rest of my peers have. I joke amongst friends that, when we print front pages like this one, perhaps the university would rather that I never arrived. But the reality is that without the university’s investment in vulnerable young adults like me, I would never be here - and were I not here now, then I wouldn’t be wherever I will be in ten years time. More than most, my time at university has changed my life: it redeemed me and added definition to my life beyond being a poor little boy from Bournemouth. I have not forgotten that, and I never will. I hope that this year’s Gair Rhydd has been a meaningful contribution to the university - both to its culture and its history. It is the only mark I knew how to make, and it was one that very many people worked very hard on to make the best it could be. I feel an immense pride in my work here, and, while leaving is bittersweet, I’m very glad that I have something to leave behind. Diolch yn fawr iawn, Caerdydd. It’s been fun - but the rest is up to you. - MOCD



Campus In Brief

Joe Atkinson

Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006, died last week at the age of 55


air Rhydd’s ongoing investigation into the MEDIC Forward programme has revealed that yet more funding is at risk, according to Professor Marian Ludgate of the Institute of Molecular and experimental Medicine, more academics are understood to have been put “at risk” by MEDIC Forward. It has been estimated that Cardiff University contributes about £1 billion to the UK economy, and creates more than 13,000 jobs in Wales. The statistics are based on 2013 data, and suggest that the university contributes to 1 per cent of all Welsh employment. The university has acted to warn students studying in libraries to not leave their laptops, mobile phones and other personal possessions unattended in response to “suspicious behaviour” from two males outside the Trevithick Library. David English, a lecturer at the university’s school of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, announced his retirement after 35 years working at the school. Professor Richard Sambrook, the Director of the university’s Centre for Journalism, said that: “More British newspaper journalists are thought to have been trained by David English than any other person.” The university’s MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, in studying over 11,000 patients suffering from schizophrenia, claims to have been able to provide “the strongest evidence yet” of what causes the condition. They have found that an imbalance between chemicals that excite and inhibit nerve cell activity. Cardiff was the location from a number of highprofile gigs last week, first as 1960s-formed surf rock band The Beach Boys appeared at the Motorpoint Arena on Wednesday, then alt rock band Young Guns played at the Students’ Union, and finally local boys Manic Street Preachers rocked at Cardiff Castle and worldwide phenomenon One Direction soldout at the Millennium Stadium on Friday evening.


Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrats from 1999 to 2006, died last week at the age of 55. Kennedy, credited for having a huge part in the merging of the Liberal party and the Social Democrat party in 1988, was the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber between 1983 and the general election a month ago. For a large part of his life Kennedy battled with an alcohol addiction, though obituaries concentrated on his humanity and political prowess, with David Cameron describing him as an “extraordinary talent.” Ed Miliband returned to the House of Commons for the first time since Labour’s general election defeat and his holiday in Ibiza, making his first back bench appearance in nine years. Reflecting on his election experience, Miliband revealed that his sixyear-old son had reassured his father that on the event of a house fire, “if we ring the fire brigade, they’ll recognise your name because you used to be famous”. A tweet sent out by a BBC reporter that wrongly reported that Queen Elizabeth had been admitted to hospital. BBC Urdu reporter Ahmen Khawaja claimed that the tweet had made after her phone had been “left unattended.” However the BBC claimed that the tweet was part of a “category-one obituary rehearsal”, while the organisation is understood to be undertaking disciplinary proceedings and an investigation as to how the tweet came out. Four people on board the Smiler rollercoaster at Alton Towers were seriously injured as two of the carriages carrying riders crashed. There were 16 people on one of the carriages while the other was empty, with victims apparently suffering “significant lower leg injuries”. Former staff at the theme park stated that the crash was likely to have been caused by human error, and that mechanically it should have been “absolutely impossible.”


It’s all-out civil war at FIFA, as President Sepp Blatter resigned just days after being re-elected for his fifth term in charge of world football’s administering body, with the FBI investigation into corruption in FIFA now apparently circling around the Swiss. This comes after the more light-hearted news that former vice-President Jack Warner was fooled by an article on The Onion claiming that the USA had been chosen to host a World Cup imminently. Warner, one of those implicated in the FBI investigation, used the stoof article as evidence against his arrest. Greece revealed that it would be unable to pay a 300 million euro debt due to the International Monetary Fund as it moved closer to defaulting and potentially exiting the Eurozone completely. Athens claimed that it would make a 1.6 billion euro repayment, a bundle of four owed payments, by the end of June. A document containing the names of 89 EU citizens who had been banned from entering Russia was leaked by Finnish state broadcaster YLE. The names included senior politicians and military figures, the most prominent of which was former Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. New public smoking legislation was brought into force in the Chinese capital Beijing. The regulation prevents people from smoking in offices, restaurants and on public transport, though there are worries as to how the measures will be enforced. Anyone who violates the ban faces a fine of 200 yuan, (£20.99), compared to the current fine of ten yuan, (£1.05). World-renowed Athletics coach Alberto Salazar was at the centre of allegations of doping in his training camps. Salazar, whose Nike Oregon Project stable includes British athlete Mo Farah, denies any wrongdoing, while there are no suggestions that 2012 Olympic champion Farah is under investigation.

Pictured: Charles Kennedy, who died last week at the age of 55 (Photographer: Simon Jones/REX Shutterstock)

Greece revealed that it would be unable to pay a 300 million euro debt due to to the International Monetary Fund


tweet us @gairrhyddnews email us news@gairrhydd.com or visit us online at gairrhydd.com/news

Cont’d: MEDIC Forward putting more research funding at risk

Continued from front page

claimed that the CATS project is set to end in September, despite the next stage of the project (CATS 3) being fully funded. In ending the CATS project, a PhD student attached to the project is set to be academically orphaned and unable to finish her research project. Those familiar with the situation do not understand why Prof. Ludgate’s work has been highlighted as an unsustainable area of research. One observer familiar with the situation spoke to Gair Rhydd and said: “The thyroid research group is currently participat-

ing in several international research programmes but they are apparently unsustainable and not conducting research of sufficient calibre despite attracting not only considerable funding but also international collaboration.” They added: “They are a successful research group with international standing and sustainable funding, there is no possible way that disinvestment can be justified by [MEDIC Forward]’s own criteria, so why are they pushing ahead with it regardless?”

Another, a PhD student in another research group, said: “This is what happens when you have a Dean who doesn’t see the value of Thyroid research.” Cardiff University refused to confirm whether Prof. Marian Ludgate had received an “at risk” letter concerning their area of research, and would not elaborate on matters concerning INDIGO or other associated research projects. A spokesperson claimed that doing so would be “inappropriate” while the consultation

period continues, and offered no indication as to when further information would be available. They added that “at the appropriate time [Cardiff University] will liaise with funders and any impacts will be suitably addressed”. In response, Gair Rhydd has submitted a freedom of information request for the names of academic staff who have been threatened with disinvestment, as well as the business cases associated with said academic staff ; the FOI is due “no later” than July 1st.

Losing hearts and minds:

Pictured: The Sir Geraint Evans Building, which houses the Wales Heart Research Institute.

t Further embarrassment for Cardiff University as School of Medicine cardiologist awarded prestigious BHF fellowship - after being told they are “at risk” of redundancy by University

t £5.15mil of the BHF’s £5.25mil research investments in Wales are focused on Cardiff University, which is considering disinvesting from Cardiology research activity EXCLUSIVE Michael O’ConnellDavidson

Gair Rhydd has received reports that every heart researcher in the WHRI received an “at risk” letter


n academic associated with Cardiologist Prof. Tony Lai’s research group, Dr. Spyros Zissimopoulos, has been awarded a prestigious research fellowship from the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Yet Gair Rhydd can reveal Prof. Lai and all members of his research group - including Dr Zissimopoulos - make up some of the 69 academics also said to have received “at risk” letters warning of potential redeployment or redundancy as part of MEDIC Forward, an ongoing project to restructure the School of Medicine. The fellowship was confirmed by a BHF spokesperson. While they could not offer comment on the fate of the fellowship should Tony Lai’s group be disinvested from, they did confirm that approximately £5,150,000 - of a total of £5,250,000 at the last funding round - of the charity’s funded research in Wales was invested in Cardiff University. Only £94,000 was spent elsewhere: £84,000 was allocated to projects at Swansea University, and just £8,000 was allocated to Bangor. Coronary Heart Disease is the biggest killer in Wales, and numerous observers have described cutting cardiology as being in conflict with the public interest. Prof. Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, spoke to Gair Rhydd and confirmed that the BHF’s future investments in Cardiff University depended on the outcome of MEDIC Forward: “BHF’s future investment at Cardiff University will be dependent on [MEDIC Forward] demonstrating a clear commitment to cardiovascular research through local resource allocation.” It was understood that prior to the withdrawal of Prof. Alan Williams’

“at risk” letter the management of the School of Medicine was considering disinvesting from Cardiology research very broadly. Gair Rhydd has received reports that every heart researcher in the Wales Heart Research Institute (WHRI) received an “at risk” letter. Given that nearly all of the BHF’s research funding in Wales is focused on Cardiff University, divestment on this scale would have had a severe impact on the charity’s current and future research activity. As with Prof. Ludgate, Cardiff University offered no comment on the circumstances surrounding Prof. Tony Lai and his team, beyond stating that it would be inappropriate to comment while the consultation period continues. Dr Zissimopoulos’ research project concerns drugs that can stabilise one of the heart’s calcium channels, ‘RyR2’. When the RyR2 channel is faulty, it can be fatal. It is hoped that this research will help prevent an irregular heart rhythm forming in some patients. In recent weeks, there have been numerous concerns raised regarding the appropriation of funds and working space in the Sir Geraint Evans building, which was built to house the WHRI. As is the case with most medical academics warned that their careers at Cardiff University might end, the cardiologists of the WHRI are part of the Institute of Molecular and Experimental Medicine (IMEM). The building was constructed to secure a working space for academics specialising in cardiology. Yet Gair Rhydd has received reports that researchers with research interests outside of Cardiology have now also taken up residence in the Sir Geraint Evans building in spite

of the fact that the consultation has not yet concluded. We can confirm that at least one academic from another field (Timothy Rainer, a neurologist) is conducting research in the Sir Geraint Evans building. The university refused to offer any confirmation as to the academics currently using the building’s research spaces, instead saying that “no significant changes have been made to the occupancy of the Sir Geraint Evans Building,” and that the “vast majority” of research housed in the building concerned cardiology. A spokesperson said that the University was “very grateful for the generosity of the people of Wales who contributed to the Sir Geraint Evans Building.” But questions remain as to why so many of the researchers working in the building were threatened with redundancy. One source said that responsibility for the “Cardiovascular Research Development Fund”, previously handled by IMEM, had been transferred to the central management at the School of Medicine. There has been no communication about what would happen to the fund should the Sir Geraint Evans Building be repurposed and Cardiology research disinvested from, despite warning of the possibility. The legacy fund was comprised of funding from various sources, including charities and bequeathments (money left in wills for heart research). There are concerns that transferring responsibility for the fund from one management team to another has done more harm than good to heart research, and may have prevented further cardiovascular research. One source within the school spoke to Gair Rhydd and said: “Last year (Before MF was officially an-

nounced) control over the money was removed from the heart research centre and handed to the College, as was the money. That money is now in the College central fund, it will be used for research but not for the research the [benefactors] intended it for. I think if I had left money for heart research to an institute specifically set up for this purpose I’d be pretty pissed off to find out that it was [no longer under their control].” The same source added: “It was done in a very underhand way. Some people have even suggested that it almost equates to theft. I wouldn’t go that far but the intention was to prevent the research group from using money left to them for research to carry on with their research or start anything new.” The University has since confirmed that the fund is now handled by the management of the School of Medicine: “We recognise how important charitable donations are in the support of many facets of medical research including cardiovascular research. We take the management and oversight of donations very seriously and want to ensure that we deliver the best value for money for our supporters and stakeholders.” “To this end, the governance of the Cardiovascular Research Development Fund has now been updated and brought into line with University and Charity Commission rules and guidelines for best practice. The governance committee is now run at College level (the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences) to ensure that funding is available to all cardiovascular researchers, and decisions on resource allocation reflect the wider cardiovascular research strategy beyond the School of Medicine.”

It was done in a very underhanded way. Some people have even suggested that it almost equates to theft



“The decision to disinvest from IMEM was taken long before MEDIC Forward was even announced”

Growing consensus that Institute of Molecular and Experimental Medicine was doomed from the start as observers deride MEDIC Forward as a “sham” consultation EXCLUSIVE Michael O’ConnellDavidson


here is a growing consensus amongst School of Medicine staff that that the decision to ‘disinvest’ from the Institute of Molecular and Experimental Medicine (IMEM) is primarily motivated by the personal research interests of those in the School of Medicine management team, and that the decision to disinvest was made “long before” MEDIC Forward was formally announced. Prof. Colin Dayan, the institute director at IMEM, put himself forward for the deanship at the same time as Prof. John Bligh. Dayan was unsuccessful, and Bligh was appointed Dean of the School of Medicine. Shortly afterwards, MEDIC Forward was launched. MEDIC Forward heralded the arrival of tens of “at risk” letters, mostly targeting IMEM academics including Prof. Dayan. It is assumed that if Colin Dayan was made dean of the medical school, then IMEM would never have been targeted for disinvestment. With business cases yet to be released to academics whose research areas are set to be disinvested from, it is not known

why IMEM has been targeted to the extent that it has at time of writing. One source within the School of Medicine spoke to Gair Rhydd and said that the administration appeared to be fixated on “destroying” IMEM: “You only have to look back and see which professor and institute head it was who was the only other candidate when John Bligh was elected Dean and then you may draw your own conclusions.” “The consultation is a sham, [and] the decision to disinvest in IMEM was taken long before Medic Forward was announced.” It was previously reported that The UCU made a deputation to the University Council, which is set to review MEDIC Forward in early July. In the UCU’s statement to the council, the union said that MEDIC Forward was “a poorly-disguised exercise in removing from the School people who are outside the major areas favoured by the ‘primary influencers’ [within the School of Medicine]”. Cardiff University has refused to comment on whether or not IMEM

was the sole target of disinvestment, only that areas of research deemed “unsustainable” were subject to an ongoing review. On the appointment of Prof. Bligh to Dean of Medicine, a spokesperson for the university only offered that Bligh’s appointment was made “in line with the constitutional structure of the wider university”, and did not comment on Prof. Dayan’s prior candidacy. Vice Chancellor Colin Riordan has reportedly met and spoken to “at least one” minister in the Welsh Assembly about MEDIC Forward. Sources have told Gair Rhydd that Riordan expressed a desire to “pull in a flock of international high flyers who can push up REF scores in 2020 and in order to ‘make room’ for that, [Cardiff University] needs to take out people who’ve been there for 25 years or so but have not done anything world class so far and are now unlikely to.” A University and College Union (UCU) representative, commenting on the meeting, said: “it is now clear that senior management have neither a reliable nor an objective methodol-

ogy for determining who is undertaking world class research or not.” They added that senior management continued to misunderstand the relationship between the School of Medicine, the NHS, and the Welsh Government. The British Medical Association has also expressed concerns of how proposed disinvestment was set to impact the NHS in Wales, describing the process as “all wrong” and calling for the immediate withdrawl of all “at risk” letters. BMA Medical Academic committee co-chair Michael Rees met affected academics. At a subsequent conference, he said: “It seems to me in terms of process, this is all wrong ... Wales is a small country and what happens in its largest medical school is of great importance to the NHS.” Numerous sources have told Gair Rhydd to expect more news “at the end of the month”, where it is assumed more information will be made public. An interview between Prof. Bligh and Gair Rhydd was also postponed until later in the month. The consultation continues at time of writing.

University warns of attempted laptop thefts

Alexander Norton


ocial media reports of the theft of computer hardware on Cardiff University premises have been confirmed by the institution. Although suggestions of theft within the Students’ Union appear to be wide of the mark, similar allegations have been confirmed pertaining to the Trevithick Building off West Grove St. “On Tuesday 19 May, students reported suspicious behaviour by two males at the Trevithick library to security staff,” a Cardiff University spokesperson said. They added: “We are aware of two incidents which were reported to secu-

rity staff on Friday 15th May involving a mobile phone being removed from an unattended bag in the library, and the attempted removal of a laptop in the coffee shop.” The building is part of the Queen’s Complex that plays host to the Cardiff School of Engineering, the Cardiff School of Physics and Astronomy and the Cardiff School of Computer Science & Infomatics as well as the Trevithick Library. Many elements of the building are easily accessible to the public, although access to the car park requires the use of a University swipe card.

Cardiff University moved to assure students that security around the complex would be increased in light of the reports. “South Wales Police are currently investigating these incidents and our security staff are conducting extra patrols around this area and the other University libraries during the busy exam period,” the spokesperson confirmed. However, it was reiterated that the burden of looking after expensive personal equipment must fall on the students themselves. “We’d like to remind all students not

to leave items of value unattended and to report any suspicious behaviour to Cardiff University security staff on 02920 874444.” Claims of theft or attempted theft are relatively commonplace on social media, and whilst all cannot be fully substantiated, the allegations have increased in frequency over the course of the exam period. Any students or staff in need of advice on better protecting their equipment can contact Information Services or visit the IT Shop on the first floor of the Students’ Union.

Django Unchained: Programming convention hits Cardiff

Alexander Norton


ardiff University has played host to ‘Django Con Europe 2015’, an event advertised as being “six days of talk, tutorials and code”. The event, hosted between 31st May and 5th June, also comprised of dinners, workshops and mentoring relating to the popular web application framework. Django is the model of programming behind some of the world’s most popular web applications and software, including Pinterest, Instagram and Mozilla. Last year, the European conference was held in the Île des Embiez in the Mediterranean but this year descended on the Welsh capital, with venues in-

cluding the University and City Hall. The first day of the event was an “open day” which featured various talks and events that were free to the general public, attracting a number of visitors from the university and wider communities. Tickets for the event quickly sold out, although “diversity supporters” (tickets bought and then given to someone who would not otherwise be able to attend) remained on the market at £225 throughout. Cardiff University had also offered scholarships for five students to apply to attend the conference at the institution’s expense. Prior to the event, organisers estimated that around 350 developers

would participate in the conference – people they label the “best talent in the community”. Of particular interest to students might have been the ‘Jobseekers’ Clinic’, held at the Main Building on the afternoon of Thursday, 4th June. Whilst the exclusive event was expensive to attend in person, many of the notes from the keynote talks have been made available online for no charge. The event centres around the developments in web framework and there were plenty of opportunity for visitors to explore their surroundings, with social events taking place in Bute Park, the National Museum of Wales and Urban Tap House.

Organisers had stated that they hoped for DjangoCon Europe 2015 to be “the most diverse and inclusive DjangoCon ever, and to set standards for years to come.” The event was originally scheduled to take place from June 2nd to June 6th. However, due to the release of the One Direction tour dates in Cardiff on the same dates, Django Con was forced to move time due to a lack of available accommodation. In a tongue -in-cheek reaction, event organisers invited fans of the boy-band to visit DjangoCon on its opening day. Following the European conference, the international version is set to be held in the Texan city of Austin between 6th-11th September this year.

Vice Chancellor Colin Riordan has reportedly met and spoken to “at least one” minister in the Welsh Assembly about MEDIC Forward

Security staff are conducting patrols around this area and other libraries

Django is behind some of the world’s most popular web applications and software



As a consequence of the total of the £1bn, a total of 13, 355 jobs have been created

University a “major contributor” to UK economy

Alexander Norton


ardiff University contributes a total of more than £1bn to the British economy, according to a study compiled by Viewforth Consulting on behalf of the institution. The nominal Gross Domestic Product of the United Kingdom is estimated at £1.83trillion, putting the institution’s contribution at 0.054 per cent although much of this is focused in the Welsh economy, where its input equates to a larger share of GVA (gross value added). The study found that direct expenditure on the part of the University accounted for £445.7m of the annual sum, whilst £613m is an indirect consequence of the institution’s presence.

The latter figure (of which £485m is spent in Wales) includes factors such as the expenditure of domestic and international students – many of whom could be expected to study in the United Kingdom regardless, therefore making Cardiff ’s overall influence the subject of debate. The report states that 12,000 students come to Cardiff University from other parts of the United Kingdom, whilst 6,605 come from outside of the country. The report also claims that as a consequence of the total £1.0687bn figure, a total of 13,355 jobs have been created, again focused largely in the local re-

gion and making up almost 1 per cent of employment in Wales. Again, however, the majority of those jobs – 6,091 – were not full time positions created within the University and exist independently outside of it in the wider economy as a result of the institution’s financial contributions. Cardiff University Vice-Chancellor, Colin Riordan, suggested that the figures showed Cardiff University’s place at the economic heart of the Welsh capital. “The study shows that Cardiff University is of significant economic importance to the Welsh economy,” he said. “Whilst the majority of our eco-

nomic impact is felt in Cardiff, the University also has a significant effect in the economy of other parts of Wales, with nearly one-third of all economic impact occurring outside of Cardiff,” he added. Last year, Cardiff University announced plans to invest £300m in a new Social Science Research Park that promises to contribute millions more to the local and national economy. However, critics have questioned the cost of the Cathays facility that has no real precedent in the global academic community. The University has vowed to provide further clarification of its economic influence in a more detailed report due later in 2015.

Celebrated “Journalist’s journalist” set to retire

Anna Lewis


Cardiff University lecturer, described by the Guardian as the ‘journalist’s journalist’, has retired after teaching over 1,000 media professionals. During his 35 years at the University, David English has taught numerous well-known journalists, including Sunday Telegraph editor Ian McGregor and Daily Mirror assistant editor Kevin Maguire. Claiming to teach more journalists than anyone else, English’s former pupils also include Times chief sports writer Matt Dickinson, Mail chief sports writer Oliver Holt, and ITV politics correspondent Libby Wiener During his three decades in the

Welsh capital, the Oxford graduate also witnessed the transition of University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies from a small editorial preparation centre into a nationally recognised achievement, after JOMEC was recently named the best journalism course in the country. However, English has decided to retire from his current position as Newspaper Director at the University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. Before joining Cardiff University, English trained as a journalist with Thomson Regional Newspapers, now known as Trinity Mirror, and worked for both the Belfast Telegraph and the

Journal in Newcastle. Well known for his love of Cardiff blues, and infamous ‘no nonsense’ feedback, English was fondly praised by his fellow academics and pupils. According to Professor Richard Sambrook, Director of JOMEC, ‘More British newspaper journalists are thought to have been trained by David English than by any other person.’ It’s a remarkable track record and achievement. One of David’s highest forms of praise is to call someone ‘a real journalist’ he said. Sambrook continued: ‘The vigour and strength of British newspaper journalism is revered across the world and David’s played a key role in up-

holding and instilling this reputation through all of the students who’ve passed through the School’s doors.’ English has now been replaced by Michael Hill, former Editor of the South Wales Echo and Head of Multimedia for Trinity Mirror. Hill explained that he will be joining at the Journalism school ‘At a time when it is further developing its offering’. ‘The News Journalism course, as it will now be known, will also give students the opportunity to hone their interests further and study specialist reporting modules in data, sport, politics, business, motoring and lifestyle and consumer journalism’ he said.

Clarification: “Damaging cuts facing Careers and Employability”



air Rhydd would like to clarify that despite proposed restructures for the Careers and Employability department, the budgets for such changes are not yet finalised. In accordance with previous years, the department will continue to receive a fixed monetary allowance.

Contrary to claims made by the University and Council Union (UCU), it has also been confirmed that despite the creation of new job opportunities, effort will be made to ‘map’ and recruit existing staff working for Careers and Employability. This will be acheived through ring

fencing all new jobs. As a result, there is no planned loss of staff in future both for the whole workforce and for any female members of staff in particular. Individuals within the Union have also reassured readers that any changes made to the Cardiff Award-

staff or expertise, but instead strive to ‘enhance’ students’ experience. Cardiff University has also confirmed that if existing staff members are appointed to roles graded below their current pay level then pay protection will be put in place for 12 months.


The planned social science research park promising to contribute millions to the economy

English’s former pupils include Sunday Telegraph editor Ian McGregor



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NEWS 924 individual pages of Gair Rhydd have been produced this year

26 different issues of Gair Rhydd have been printed this year

112,000+ people were reached on Twitter on Varsity day alone


he 2014-15 academic year has been a memorable one: on the democracy side there were contested referendums, the exploitation of electoral loopholes and even strikes at student media – all of which had a profound effect on the future of the Students’ Union. In a more social context Dapper Laughs was banished from the premises, Cardiff Medics’ rugby team were banned from P&O ferries over poor toilet etiquette and club night ‘Treatment’ was hit by accusations of staff drug use. Elsewhere, research rankings were found to be built on shaky foundations, the MEDIC Forward campaign was to fundamentally change healthcare education and Cardiff University was found to have a multi-million pound investment in oil and gas. Whether you remember these pieces or better remember more light-hearted tales – think 25kg of cheese being ejected from ‘The Taf ’ or naked hockey players storming Julian Hodge – all of the year’s biggest stories are recounted here.



The NATO summit was held in Newport and Cardiff, with world leaders including US President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande dining in Cardiff Castle – and large numbers of Cardiff University students protesting outside. Cardiff University Students’ Union completed a £3M redevelopment which included an overhaul of club space ‘Solus’, which was promptly and imaginatively renamed ‘Y Plas’ – ‘The Place’. It wasn’t the only element of student life rebranded, with much loved club night ‘The Lash’ rebranded ‘YOLO’, which proved an unpopular choice with many. The Summer Ball, branded ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ and held at the Motorpoint Arena in central Cardiff, recorded a financial loss of £20,000 after being attended by just 1,400 people. A ‘chunderchart’/’shagchart’, distributed to first year students as part of a £25 “Freshers’ Pack”, provoked widespread outrage, with VP Welfare Faraz Alauddin distancing the Students’ Union from the product and calling for an oncampus ban of Climax Promotions’ material. Cardiff University was one of only six British institutions to receive full marks from LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall in their ‘Gay by Degree’ ranking of “gay-friendly” institutions, which assessed the level of equality at 158 universities in the UK.

At the start of the month, a Gair Rhydd survey saw around two thirds of respondents admitting that they had taken illegal drugs – and eighty-one per cent of them had done so whilst students at Cardiff University. An investigation showed that the government plans to hit newly-arrived international students with a “health surcharge” of £150 to help fund the National Health Service. A second survey documented the complaints of students who endure sub-standard living accommodation by letting agencies, with many of those involved being fined for the “wet” and “mouldy” conditions of their homes. Elsewhere, medical students on placement at the University Hospital of Wales told Gair Rhydd that they felt substantial pressure to remain quiet over pressing issues concerning the standard of their education and the NHS as a whole. A study found that the average student works eight hours a week alongside their studies - and thirty hours a week outside of term time – in order to support themselves financially. Finally, an “anti-homeless cage”, erected outside the Sir Martin Evans building for what Cardiff University claimed were health and safety purposes, drew national and international press pressure.


Monday October 13th 2014 | freeword | Issue 1033

In this week’s issue: We say no to YOLO, introduce this year’s Student Elections, debate the value of premium rate halls, and reveal the location of this year’s Welsh Varsity.

High Marks: Student Drug Use Revealed

gair rhydd y Monday December 1st 2014 | freeword | Issue 1039

Cardiff Uni “in bed with oil and gas” Revealed: Cardiff University invests over £2.5 million in fossil fuels and non-renewable energy

Exclusive Gair Rhydd poll reveals two-thirds of Cardiff students have taken illegal drugs

EXCLUSIVE: Georgia Hamer Michael O’ConnellDavidson


survey conducted by Gair Rhydd revealed that over 60% of Cardiff University students have taken illegal drugs. Of this number, 81% said that they had done so whilst enrolled at the University. The data, gathered anonymously online, also found that 31% of those surveyed had taken what they would describe as a ‘hard drug’ and that drug users at Cardiff University spend, on average, £40 a month on the habit.

These findings raise this issue of whether drug culture amongst students is having a negative impact on students academically. With this in mind it is interesting to note that very few respondents who admitted to taking drugs during their time at university reported it to have had a negative effect on their academic experience. One respondent commented, in reference to ‘a friend’, that they had ‘made a test having taken MD’ and ‘still managed to pass’.

Carswell secures first UKIP seat P15 >>

Another student added that they did not believe their use of drugs to ‘affect anything major’ – except their ‘ability not to laugh at mildly funny things’. Of the 38% of students surveyed who stated that they have not taken illegal drugs, a number made comments on how they felt as if they were in a ‘minority’ and that coming into contact with drug users at university is ‘unavoidable’. Marijuana, typically viewed by the students surveyed as ‘relatively

Scientist “Ingests faeces” P16 >>

harmless’, emerged as the most commonly used drug amongst the students surveyed. The most commonly used drug amongst the students surveyed appeared to be marijuana, a drug that was typically viewed as ‘relatively harmless’ by respondents. However, it was also noted that the illegality of the drug and the ‘taboo placed on it by society’ makes it ‘harder to do in a safe and controlled way.’ Within the debate surrounding the legalisation of the drug, a frequent

Pictured: A young man celebrating 4/20 (Photographer: Max Crowe)

Continued on page 5

Jeremy Clarkson: a liability P11 >>

In this week’s issue: Jocelyn Davies AM on the “smacking ban,” NUS Wales President Beth Button on student democracy, building the perfect CV and giving blood while playing video games

EXCLUSIVE: Alexander Norton


freedom of information request has revealed that Cardiff University holds a number of assets in the petrochemical industry valued at over £2.5million. Data provided to Gair Rhydd shows that the institution has strong financial interests in numerous companies including petroleum companies BP, Tullow Oil and Shell and mining corporation Rio Tinto. Also listed are commodity traders Glencore, oil and gas multinational Total, and American energy giant

Chevron Corporation. In total, Cardiff University is shown to have financial links with nine companies in the sector, all of which deal in allegedly environmentally damaging practices and in the trade of non-renewable energy sources. The University’s individual investments range from nearly half a million pounds (£410,800) in Royal Dutch Shell to £194,200 in Glencore. The institution’s total holdings in the industry amount to £2,504,881.

The figures were obtained from the Finance Divsion by student campaign group People and Planet. A campaigner told Gair Rhydd that their request had taken “about six weeks” to receive a response, despite Freedom of Information requests having a legally enshrined deadline of four weeks (or 20 working days). People and Planet alleges that the sum is part of a £1.9 billion investment in the petrochemical industry by British universities. If this figure is accurate, then it equates to an av-

erage of £2,083 per student enrolled across the country’s institutions. Of this, a small proportion is alleged to be invested directly in the shares of the numerous companies that control the world’s oil, coal and gas reserves. The revelations come in the wake of a Student Senate debate focused upon the University’s investment portfolio, with Ethical and Environment Officer Daniel Roberts stating that “investing in companies that put our world at risk can only be a negative”.

Pictured: The BP-owned Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Cardiff Uni is one of BP’s investors.

Continued on page 7

Greater Representation for LGBT+ Women, POSTPONED; Pro-choice union, REJECTED; Recognise Palestine, PASSED; Cardiff-Palestine twinning, PASSED; Ban BAE, REJECTED; Improving postgraduate representation, PASSED; Student Media Restructure, PASSED. AGM, The full report, pages 6-8 >>




Police warned students that thieves were actively targeting student houses whose occupants were absent on a night out – with reports that taxi drivers were thought to be informing criminal networks as to which buildings were likely to be empty. Many students were found to be unaware of their default inclusion in an opt-out system for organ donation set to be enforced from December 2015 under the terms of legislation passed by the Welsh Government. A group of Cardiff students set out to counter a ‘Welsh Alliance’ (a splinter group of the English Defence League) anti-immigration march through the streets of the Welsh capital. Later in the month, Cardiff student and feminist activist Georgia Lubrani was told to “fuck off ” by social media personality Dapper Laughs for her part in spreading a petition condemning him. Cardiff University became an accredited living wage employer for paying all staff a minimum of £7.65 an hour, above the national minimum wage of £6.50. Cardiff teenager Nasser Muthana was widely reported to have featured in an ISIS propaganda video released online, although Cardiff University countered his father’s claims that he had been offered a place at the institution to study medicine. Finally, the Board of Trustees overruled a Student Senate motion to hold a by-election for the vacant post of VP Media & Marketing following strike action on the part of student media.

People and Planet handed information to Gair Rhydd showing Cardiff University to hold a £2.5m portfolio of assets in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries. The biggest night of the student political calendar, the Annual General Meeting, saw issues pertaining to the recognition of the State of Palestine, postgraduate representation and the restructuring of student media pass convincingly – whilst the motion to become a pro-choice Union and to ban BAE Systems from career fairs were rejected. A study found that up to 73 per cent of students are projected to be unable to fully repay their student loans in the wake of a widespread rise in fees. The role of the University Court was called into question following its role in the failed appointment of Griff Rhys Jones as Chancellor of Cardiff University, although the institution denied plans for a restructure. Police raided three separate “cannabis factories” in the student populated district of Cathays, with several students remarking on the proliferation of drug availability in the area. The Student Senate rejected part-time Welsh Language Officer Steffan Bryn’s motion for the creation of a full time role.

A Gair Rhydd investigation found that Cardiff University’s much publicised rise to fifth in the Research Excellence Framework was calculated on the basis of just 62 per cent of its output, with the rest of the top ten submitting an average of 87 per cent. Figures published by Cardiff University showed that Vice-Chancellor Colin Riordan claimed £2,300 in expenses over two years in spite of earning approximately £252,000 a year. The Cardiff Innocence Project, containing current and former Cardiff law students, played a key role in overturning the 2002 murder conviction of thirty year-old Dwaine George. The 2013/14 academic year saw 1,494 students seek counselling from Student Support, representing a rise of around 32 per cent on the figures for the two years previously. A nurse at the University Hospital of Wales, the teaching hospital of the Cardiff University School of Medicine, called conditions at the institution “worse than Iraq” and said that many staff were being given responsibilities that they were “too junior to carry”. A People and Planet league table for environmental sustainability saw Cardiff University place an unremarkable forty-sixth, some twentyseven places behind local counterparts Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Looks like a vintage year for Gair Rhydd - news coverage in particular, huge improvement on recent times – a really great focused paper concentrating on Cardiff student issues rather than self-indulgent fluff. Meirion Jones, former editor of BBC Newsnight

gair rhydd y




gair rhydd y

In this week’s issue: Mixed league table results for Cardiff Uni, the youngest ever organ donor, the political priorities of Cardiff ’s parliamentary candidates, and where the parties stand on science

NO Monday May 4th 2015 | freeword | Issue 1052

gair rhydd y Monday March 16th 2015 | freeword | Issue 1048

In this week’s issue: The importance of menopausal whales, continued trouble within the Welsh NHS, assessment cheating on the rise, and a complete guide to the Cardiff Fringe

The most successful referendum in Union history with 2,300+ votes and a victory for the No campaign. But at what cost?

q Union threatened societies and sports clubs with up to £46,000 in cuts, despite the new officer costing “no more” than £26,000 q VP Societies, Barney Willis, intended to “influence outcome” with mass mail q Yes Campaign leader denied the same platform as sabbatical officers q “They preach democracy and participation but have tried to shoot this grassroots movement down from step one.” THE FULL STORY: 4 & 5

Student “urinated on dinner” in public

t An unidentified medics rugby player is alleged to have committed act while on tour t P&O Ferries confirms incident took place; Cardiff University investigating EXCLUSIVE Anna Lewis

Cardiff University Medic’s rugby team have been banned from P&O Ferries, after one student allegedly “urinated on a table where a family were eating”. The incident is confirmed to have taken place on February 12th on the 23.15 departure from Dover. According to a number of individuals familiar with the incident, the incident saw a drunk member of the rugby team urinate on-board the ferry in an area surrounded by families and children. Reports claim that the student was wearing a Cardiff University hoodie at the time during the team’s journey to Amsterdam for their tour. “I was told that one rugby player

Will the war in Syria ever end? P16 >>

got so drunk they pissed in someone’s food,” one anonymous student commented. “It was 100% a medic student that did it,” another student confirmed. “Although I’m not sure whether they actually pissed in the food or just on the table.” Various other sources have corroborated these accounts, although none have offered anything that might identify the individual who mounted the table. A P&O spokesperson confirmed than an incident involving Cardiff Medical students had taken place, but did not confirm any specific details.

The spokesperson did explain that ‘the behaviour of this group meant that we banned them from returning with us.’ According to the spokesperson, the students involved have not been reported to police. However, they explained that the company would ‘reconsider’ if the university felt it to be necessary, hinting that an offence may have been committed. The student responsible for the incident has not been named, with the rugby team allegedly refusing to identify the culprit in order to prevent disciplinary action against the individual. When queried about the incident, Cardiff Medics Rugby declined to

NUS Wales Conference roundup P4 >>

comment. As healthcare students, reluctance to name the student responsible is concerning. If P&O reconsidered and a police investigation was initated, this would likely cause the individual to be judged as unfit to practice. A Cardiff University spokesperson explained that the University had been made aware of ‘an incident involving Cardiff Medic’s Rugby Team’. However, no formal complaints have yet been made to the University. The circumstances involving the incident are now being investigated in order to determine the University’s course of action.


A P&O Ship (Photographer: Paul Smith)

Continued on page 4

Why we need a full-time Welsh officer P14 >>





The results of a German exam, which counted for 70 per cent of candidate’s overall module mark, were discounted from the records due to prior academic confusion over whether the paper was meant to be seen or unseen. Two students returning from Cardiff University Students’ Union club night ‘Flux’ in the early hours of a Sunday morning were attacked in Cathays, with arrests subsequently made. More than 25kg of cheese and enough vegetables “to feed fifty” were amongst huge quantities of food wasted at Students’ Union pub ‘The Taf ’ as the consequence of “a huge fuck up”, according to staff. The Students’ Union was criticised as being “a hostile environment for free speech” as a consequence of measures such as the banning of certain newspapers by political activism outlet ‘Spiked’. Evidence given to Gair Rhydd suggested that a substantial number of people attending club night ‘Flux’ were consuming illegal drugs including cocaine, whilst one member of staff claimed they consistently went to work drunk or high. The Students’ Union later disputed the contents of the report. Cardiff University continued to threaten that students may be ineligible to graduate if they did not repay library fines, in spite of a warning by the Office of Fair Trading that such measures may be illegal. The Counter-Terror and Security Bill was condemned for encouraging universities to spy on students and restricting the principle of free speech.

A frenetic Elections’ Week resulted in Claire Blakeway (SU President), Sophie Timbers (VP Education), Kate Delaney (VP Welfare), Sam Parsons (VP Sports), Hannah Sterritt (VP Societies), Katey Beggan (VP Heath Park) and Katie Kelly (VP Postgraduate Students) elected for 2015/16. The campaign was marred by the late revelation that former students were able to vote, a loophole which a small number had exploited. A student told Gair Rhydd that he “could have been killed” in an incident with a car which he claimed had deliberately attempted to run him over in Cathays. Cardiff University withdrew and re-launched an architectural contest for the redesign of the Cardiff University Students’ Union building amidst industry claims that the terms of the competition were unclear and unorthodox. A petition over the creation of a full time Welsh Language Officer position reached five hundred signatures, forcing a referendum. A member of a Medics’ Rugby team was reported to have urinated on a dinner table in front of a family whilst on a P&O ferry during a team tour to Amsterdam, although a University investigation later claimed no table was involved. Cardiff University Cricket Club was widely criticised after several of its members hung the flag of an Ulster paramilitary group outside ‘Koko Gorillaz’ in Cathays.

Plans to grant students working for Cardiff University Students’ Union the living wage were postponed indefinitely in spite of a Student Senate resolution to push through the proposal as early as 2013. Gair Rhydd and Quench claimed victory in three categories at the Student Publications Association awards, beating national competition for Best Feature (Jason Roberts), Best Interview (Lauren Boyd) and Outstanding Commitment (Michael O’Connell-Davidson). Female academics at Cardiff University were found to earn an average of 18 per cent less than their male colleagues, a substantially bigger gap than the national average of 11 per cent. Cardiff University was criticised for hosting the Qatari ambassador the United Kingdom, Yousef Ali Al-Khater, in the wake of his nation’s numerous human rights controversies. A technical oversight meant that Cardiff University graduates in Dentistry between 2010 and 2014 were not technically qualified in the profession, an error that was quickly resolved. The National Union of Students voted down a proposal to create a Transgender Officer position at the national conference.

Students voted ‘no’ to the creation of a full time Welsh Language Officer position in a campaign which featured accusations of differing platforms and interventions on the part of sabbatical officers. VP Societies Barney Willis claimed that he would again send an email suggesting that societies could suffer budget cuts as a consequence of the creation of a Welsh Language sabbatical officer in an appearance before the Scrutiny Committee. Cardiff University fell from 23rd to 31st in the Complete University Guide 2016, in spite of targeting a consistent place in the top twenty in its “The Way Forward” plan published in 2012. The General Election saw the Conservatives hold the constituency of Cardiff North and Labour seize Cardiff Central as the former secured a national majority for the first time since 1992. Gair Rhydd revealed that sixty-nine Cardiff University staff are set to be made redundant as part of the ‘MEDIC Forward’ programme, with a £1m grant from the British Heart Foundation also on hold due to ongoing “disinvestment”. Heartfelt tributes were paid to a Cardiff University student who died at their residence in Talybont North.



gair rhydd Monday April 27th | freeword | Issue 1051

Varsity Special

RUGBY: 22-27 SHIELD: 13-25 WINNERS: CARDIFF Get the full results in our Varsity special pull-out

gair rhydd y Monday February 16th 2015 | freeword | Issue 1044

In this week’s issue: What Cardiff students expect from the general election, the University threatening to prevent graduations, library cuts protests a success and the 2015 Sport survey results

Y Plastered: Treatment’s drug problem

t “Over half the people that walk through the doors have drugs with them” t Staff alleged to have been complicit in supply of drugs EXCLUSIVE Alexander Norton


opular house night “Treatment” is the site of widespread illegal drug use, staff have claimed. A number of current and former Venues employees have confirmed to Gair Rhydd that the drugs being routinely used at the resident event include Class A substances such as ecstasy and cocaine. One staff member stated that “over half the people that walk through the doors have drugs with them” but that only those “who have brought in a large amount for distribution or those who leave it in their wallet get caught”. “Nobody is ever going to check

“I am a test tube Catholic” P13 >>

JUNE: Cardiff University was named the best university in Britain to study both journalism and dentistry, although the institution’s English offerings fell outside the top fifty nationally and its Economics course was ranked lower than that of Cardiff Metropolitan University. Student Volunteering Cardiff (SVC) ended a ten year stint at the Students’ Union, with the student-led charity moving to an external location and utilising funding obtained from the Innovate Trust to maintain existing employment levels and provide community volunteering. The ramifications of the MEDIC Forward campaign continued to be felt as a €1.2m grant from Marie Curie was revealed to be in danger. Prof. Marian Ludgate, principal investigator on the Curie-funded INDIGO project, was revealed to be “at risk” of redundancy, with the CATS Thyroid project is now set to end in September. Gair Rhydd also confirmed that £5.15m of the £5.25m that the British Heart Foundation’s research funding for Wales is invested in Cardiff University, and many of those responsible for securing these grants are also likely to be affected.

bras or boxers so the majority get away with it,” they added. Those who spoke to Gair Rhydd did not believe that enough was being done to stop drug use at the event and spoke to the publication on condition of anonymity. One employee claimed: “every time I go to the toilet I see hordes of people queuing for the privacy of cubicles [to take drugs]”. Yet the issue of drug usage is reportedly not limited to those who buy tickets; those behind the bar at the Students’ Union have also been alleged to be involved in the supply of drugs.

One worker confirmed that during their induction they were “warned of a possibility of random searches by security” as a consequence of past incidents. It was claimed by the employee that in the past “staff would smuggle in bulk and then pass on to non-staff once past security.” The scrutiny applied to Students’ Union staff has little effect on the personal lives of employees. One worker admitted to Gair Rhydd that they “regularly go to work stoned, as do other people I’ve spoken to”. The event is hosted in Y Plas, the nightclub in Cardiff University Students Union. The union said that any-

Your guide to the Real Ale and Cider Festival P28 >>

one found to be carrying substances will be “refused entry to the venue or ejected and issued with an automatic life ban”. People found to be in possession of Class A substances face a prison sentence of up to seven years. Those involved in the supply of Class A substances face a maximum punishment of a life sentence. The seriousness of the situation was reiterated by another member of staff, who claimed that: “Everybody loves working Treatment. The running joke is all you have to do is serve water because everybody is fucked on stimulants.”


Y Plas on a club night. (Photographer: Cardiff Students’ Union)

Continued on page 4

“The cult of Beyoncé has gone too far” P15 >>

Often, at our weekly Gair Rhydd editorial conference, the News team bemoan our lot - particularly in relation to the likes of our esteemed colleagues in Comment, Politics and Science, who have a remit to produce content that is often inspired by events outside of this institution. We, by contrast, turn up on a Monday afternoon in the hope of pitching compelling stories that occurred within a very small geographical radius since the moment we finalised the last issue’s content on the previous Thursday. To add to our woes, two of those days comprise “the weekend”, on which not much happens. Or so we thought. As you can see from this spread, we have been treated to a remarkable year of news; the pieces we have run have been shocking, emotive and downright funny. No matter how bleak our prospects appeared at the start of each week, we inevitably found ourselves pursuing stories that we felt truly matter. Long term readers might have noticed that our journalistic focus and approach has changed this year – we have tried to pursue stories in the true spirit of the fourth estate rather than reproduce public relations fodder in an unquestioning manner, and

we hope you feel we have done an adequate job. This year we have placed a greater emphasis on relatively serious, investigative journalism that we think is in the public interest – and the credit for this must go to Gair Rhydd editor Michael O’ConnellDavidson, whose determination to carry out serious and public-minded reporting in a thorough and diligent manner has been the beating heart of our output. We have to thank those who worked with us – the public relations teams at Cardiff University and the Students’ Union, the various elected representatives at the latter for their co-operation and Frances Richards and Mike Neat, the university liason team at South Wales Police. In particular, we must show our gratitude to Student Media co-ordinator Elaine Morgan for her tireless work and sunny disposition, director of membership services Steve Wilford for his practical support and advice and Professor Duncan Bloy for his ever reliable legal counsel. Last but by no means least, a huge thank you to you - the reader. We hope that you have enjoyed reading the news as much as we’ve enjoyed writing it.  Alex, Anna, Georgia & Katie

How were your student fees invested in 2013/14?

University Accounts 2013/14 The charts below detail the University’s income and expenditure during 2013/14.

Cardiff University encourages you to understand how your fees are invested. We produce an annual student fee plan report which details our investments over the last year and the ways in which fee income is used to continually improve your student experience at Cardiff. The investment we have made in the learning experience is reflected in a score of 89% overall satisfaction in the 2014 National Student Survey (NSS), which is above the UK average (86%) and Welsh average (85%). At Cardiff, elected officers of the Students’ Union, and student representatives across the institution, work in genuine partnership with senior University staff on the full range of University business. This way of working is firmly established and leads to real actions and outcomes in response to issues raised. It also ensures that the student voice is taken into account at every level. “I am continuously impressed by the level of partnership that exists between the University and the Students’ Union. There is a genuine commitment to working together from the University’s most senior staff and throughout the entire staff body. The development of the fee plan, as with any other project, has been carried out in collaboration with students and is an excellent example of how students are at the heart of decisions made at the University. The investments that have already been made to support students are tremendous and those coming up are equally as exciting.” Elliot Howells, Students’ Union President

Total University Income 2013/14 Welsh Government Funding Research Grants Tuition Fees Other Operating Income


To find out more about how we have invested in your learning experience and our support to students in 2013/14 please visit the University’s website or student intranet and search for Student Fee Plan or look out for an article in the next edition of Student Blas.


21% 42%

College of Biomedical & Life Sciences* College of Arts Humanities & Social Sciences* College of Physical Sciences & Engineering* Library & Central IT Services Academic Support & Facilities Costs, inc. Bursaries, Scholarships and SU Grant Premises Residences & Catering Professional Services Depreciation

Total University Expenditure 2013/14







5% 13% 17%

*Expenditure for Colleges reflects academic school costs, research grants & contracts and services rendered. Figures in this chart do not add up to 100% due to rounding.

Sut cafodd eich ffioedd myfyrwyr eu buddsoddi yn 2013/14?

Cyfrifon y Brifysgol 2013/14 Mae'r siartiau isod yn rhoi manylion incwm a gwariant y Brifysgol yn ystod 2013/14.

Mae Prifysgol Caerdydd yn eich annog i ddeall sut caiff eich ffioedd eu buddsoddi. Rydym yn paratoi adroddiad i fyfyrwyr am ein cynllun ffioedd blynyddol sy'n rhoi manylion am ein buddsoddiadau dros y flwyddyn ddiwethaf a sut defnyddir incwm ffioedd i wella eich profiad fel myfyrwyr yng Nghaerdydd yn barhaus. Mae'r sgôr o 89% yng nghategori bodlonrwydd cyffredinol Arolwg Cenedlaethol y Myfyrwyr 2014 yn adlewyrchu ein buddsoddiad yn y profiad dysgu. Mae hyn yn uwch na chyfartaledd y DU (86%) a Chymru (85%). Ym Mhrifysgol Caerdydd, mae swyddogion etholedig Undeb y Myfyrwyr a chynrychiolwyr myfyrwyr ar draws y sefydliad, yn cydweithio'n agos ag uwch-staff y Brifysgol yn holl feysydd gwaith y Brifysgol. Mae'r weithdrefn hon wedi hen ennill ei phlwyf ac mae'n arwain at gamau a deilliannau go iawn mewn ymateb i faterion a godir. Mae hefyd yn gofalu bod llais y myfyriwr yn cael ei ystyried ar bob lefel. "Mae lefel y bartneriaeth rhwng y Brifysgol ac Undeb y Myfyrwyr wastad yn creu argraff arna i. Ceir ymrwymiad gwirioneddol gan uwch-staff y Brifysgol a'r staff yn gyffredinol i gydweithio. Fel pob prosiect arall, mae'r cynllun ffioedd wedi'i ddatblygu ar y cyd â'r myfyrwyr, ac mae'n enghraifft wych o sut mae myfyrwyr yn rhan ganolog o'r penderfyniadau a wneir yn y Brifysgol. Mae'r buddsoddiadau sydd eisoes wedi'u gwneud i gefnogi myfyrwyr yn rhagorol, ac mae'r rhai sydd ar y gweill yr un mor gyffrous." Elliott Howells, Llywydd Undeb y Myfyrwyr

Cyfanswm Incwm y Brifysgol 2013/14 Arian gan Lywodraeth Cymru Grantiau Ymchwil Ffioedd dysgu Incwm gweithredu arall



Cewch wybod mwy am sut rydym wedi buddsoddi yn eich profiad dysgu a'n cefnogaeth i fyfyrwyr yn 2013/14 ar wefan y Brifysgol neu ar fewnrwyd y myfyrwyr. Chwiliwch am Cynllun Ffioedd Myfyrwyr neu darllenwch yr erthygl am y pwnc yn y rhifyn nesaf o Blas Myfyrwyr.

21% 42%

Coleg y Gwyddorau Biofeddygol a Bywyd* Coleg y Celfyddydau, y Dyniaethau a'r Gwyddorau Cymdeithasol* Coleg y Gwyddorau Ffisegol a Pheirianneg* Gwasanaethau Llyfrgelloedd a TG Canolog Costau cyfleusterau a chefnogaeth academaidd, gan gynnwys bwrsariaethau, ysgoloriaethau a grant Undeb y Myfyrwyr Adeiladau Neuaddau Preswyl ac Arlwyo Gwasanaethau Proffesiynol Dibrisiant

Cyfanswm Gwariant y Brifysgol 2013/14







5% 13% 17%

*Mae gwariant Colegau yn adlewyrchu costau ysgolion academaidd, grantiau ymchwil a chontractau a gwasanaethau a roddwyd. Nid yw’r ffigurau yn y siart hon yn gwneud cyfanswm o 100% am eu bod wedi’u talgrynnu.


Welcome to our Advice section, where we bring you tips for surviving Cardiff University life Email us: advice@gairrhydd.com

Make friends, work hard, be yourself Advice editor Kirsty Fardell gives her own advice about making the most of university

Pictured: Family Fish Bar, the end destination of many a night out, and a destination many graduates will sorely miss

You’ll suddenly reach the end of your degree all too quickly and feel the shadow of real life creeping up behind you

Kirsty Fardell

You’ll never be able to see yourself clearly when you’re at the bottom of a bottle of vodka


f I told you all the details about my time at university, you would not believe me. This is something I am strangely proud to say, and think everyone should be able to say when their time as a student comes to an end. Now at the very end of my educated life I am able to look back at all the time I have spent in Cardiff and contemplate it, wondering what I would have done differently or what I wouldn’t have done at all. I have attempted to write every Advice article this year without including much of my personal opinion. Instead, I have to tried to give a variety of solutions and directions suitable to anyone, so that there is a choice available for everyone. That has been my job – this isn’t the Comment section, so I have stayed impartial and given advice from all angles. But now I have finished my degree and am stepping out of life at university, I feel that I know enough to write an honest article giving some of my own, more personal advice. We are all in this super awesome bubble where you’re given free money and everything is cheap. Going out on a school night is the norm, everyone lives within 10 minutes and you can live in the biggest mess without your mum going ballistic. It’s great – but like every bubble, it will inevitably burst. You’ll suddenly reach the end of your degree all too quickly and start to feel the shadow of real life creeping up behind you. No more free money, no more Revs on Tuesdays, no more pyjama and Ben and Jerry’s mid-day dates watching Jeremy Kyle. There will come a time where

growing up becomes all too real and scary. Everybody has heard the typical story of coming to university and ‘finding’ yourself. That just doesn’t make sense to me – if I am not me, then I want a refund for all the bills I’ve been paying in my name. That’s not what university is about: it’s about being you. You have more time than ever to hang out with your friends and do what you want to do, so if you’re going to put on an act you’ll have to hold it up for longer than ever. Be yourself, find the like-minded people who may well end up friends for life and use your time to create crazy, adventurous memories with them. Someone once told me that you make a living from what you get and a life from what you give, and I have always tried to put this into practice. The more you give to your friendships, your degree, your extra-curricular activities, the better your life will be now and always. At times your degree just seems to get in the way of all the fun you’re trying to have. But actually, you wouldn’t be having this fun without it so give it what it’s worth and don’t leave absolutely everything to last minute. It will all count towards something, so stick to it and get the best you can out of it. When you start university you are literally thrown together with a random bunch of people from all walks of life. It is inevitable that you will not get on with some of them, but it is also inevitable that you will with others. Don’t dwell on the ones you don’t like - sometimes a mutual dislike brings people together so you’ll quickly work

out who those like-minded people are. If you can’t find them in your house then push yourself to get out there and join a club. My third year was the only time I pushed myself to get involved with extra activities, including Gair Rhydd, and I so wish I had started earlier. It has been a brilliant experience meeting people I may not have otherwise met and doing things I didn’t ever think I would have the opportunity to do. There are so many of these opportunities at university that are worth grabbing with both hands and running away with – and the more you give, the more you’ll get out of it. Grab them sooner rather than later so you don’t miss out. There are a lot of things that you will only be exposed to at university due to the hugely diverse group of people you’ll spend time with. Maybe you’ll meet people who are into heavy drugs, who drink far too much or have the weirdest living habits that piss everyone off. Perhaps what they do might tempt you, but don’t try things in an attempt to ‘find’ yourself – you’ll never be able to see yourself clearly when you’re at the bottom of a bottle of vodka. These people may just become the biggest annoyance in your life. During first year I had a housemate who would store pans full of porridge all over the kitchen and another who would start a fight with the biggest guy in the club every time we went out. Another would keep me awake most nights by skyping his imaginary American girlfriend really loudly all through the night. They all nicknamed me the burden of house 127 because that’s what my surname means in Italian, and I was borderline

bullied for being from Essex and having an accent. They all got on my nerves at some point, but I wouldn’t have half of the crazy stories if it weren’t for them. You can learn something from everyone you come across, and perhaps with some your patience is tested, but in the end you will be able to look back and be grateful for that lesson – good or bad. When it all gets a bit too much spend time at home recuperating from the craziness. Your parents will always love to see you and spend some time with you, especially when it’s been a while. You soon realise that your uni versity family cannot replace your real family, so don’t become a stranger to them, stay in touch, and see them when you can. Even when times get really tough you can always get through it. There is always a solution and something that can be done, there is always someone to help you and there is nothing at uni that is life or death. Going into the real world is really scary and daunting, but all of the craziness that happened outside of my studies are what have really prepared me - more than any knowledge I’ve ever crammed the night before every exam. Even the GR team have taught me something - the importance of banterbonding, name puns and that randomly I remind them of Danny Dyer - which I will try to learn from and defnitely never forget, despite how hard I try. However you spend your time at university, don’t take anything too seriously and enjoy yourself to the fullest. And remember, you make a living from what you get and a life from what you give.

Everything that happens outside of your studies will set you up for the real world

What do you think? Have your say: advice@ gairrhydd.com

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Cyflogaeth Materion ariannol DEWCH I’N GWELD 3ydd llawr Undeb y Myfyrwyr, Plas y Parc 029 2078 1410 Advice@Cardiff.ac.uk cardiffstudents.com/advice




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A digital friend is a lesser friend

Tom Morris

In the Facebook sense, friends are merely people you know of

Jordan Adams

They could have a realtime livestream of everything you’re doing


Pictured: Facebook requests (Source: Kaysha, Flickr)

Facebook gives us onedimensional friendships that can’t compare to reality

can imagine that our parents’ generation (or if you have the kind of hip parents who have Facebook, probably grandparents), views friendship very differently to how our generation sees it. To us, the word ‘friend,’ in its meaning of a person you know and trust, has been blurred with the meaning thrust upon us by Mark Zuckerberg and co’s social network and all those that came before it (in my case Bebo, I’m sure others had Myspace or whatever first too). In the Facebook sense, friends are merely people you know of. You have no reason to strengthen your friendship with them - other than perhaps to add them as your spouse in the ‘In a Relationship’ section of your profile. You are encouraged to collect friends - meet people, learn their name, ‘add them’ and then you’re done. You have a friend: a ‘real’, friend, who you could talk about all sorts of stuff with, invite along to do cool things with, and generally have a good time with. Now look at your friends

list (again, a stupid idea - if you can’t remember who your friends are, are they really your friends?) and see which of them you actually would do those with. For me it’s maybe five or so people. My friends list is a hellish mix of people I barely know, boys I want to be and girls I only wish I could know better. In real life, friendships are so much more complex than that - people you have on Facebook are more like people you know of, not know well. Also, on Facebook, everyone is more or less connected to you on a one-to-one basis. Again, in real life, friendships are different - some might be your best friend who you have a personal connection with, but many are people you might only see as part of a group - that person, to you, doesn’t make sense without that group setting. This is just armchair psychology here from me, so don’t dig into it too seriously, by the way, but there is also that third, well-known factor, of online interaction being totally different to face-to-face interaction. Without

visual cues, people become forgetful and blunder into situations of conflict without even realising it. All of my relationships have been ended by text or on Facebook, and I wonder if they might have been different if those women had asked to meet up face-toface instead. The point I want to make, though, is that at school, you form flimsy relationships with people simply because you’re with them a lot. You add them on Facebook but you don’t message them because you don’t really know anything about them - they only make sense in the school setting. Then at university Facebook comes into its own - it was, after all, designed for American university use. Everything is done on it - societies, student media, sharing of questionable drunk

photographs… the lot. But do you really know all those people you’re ‘friends’ with from freshers’ week? No - I think our never-ending quest to make our friends lists longer gets in the way of actually building a friendship with each person or group. It is easy to forget that you do not know someone as well as you think when you are used to seeing their name pop up as you scroll on by. Then it’s far too easy to offend someone you don’t know well enough by making a crack at their opinions or appearance on their profile. We all need to focus on making sure we know people before we decide to add them as a friend, because Facebook will just let us sit back and watch someone, rather than develop a true friendship with them.

Why the Snooper’s Charter is wrong


...it’s far too easy to offend someone... by making a crack at their opinions or appearance on their profile

There is no excuse for infringing on our basic freedoms

s both a computer scientist and a human of rational thought, the Snooper’s Charter strikes me as perhaps one of the more obvious ways in which the world is slowly edging towards a ‘V for Vendetta’-esque dystopia. The draft bill, which was proposed in the last government but blocked by the Lib Dems, would require internet service providers and mobile phone operators to log and store every moment of your online activities. While your call and email data is already routinely kept for 12 months, the Charter would go as far as to record, in great detail, every kinky website you visit, every questionable Google search you make, every Snapchat of your junk you send, and every embarrassing set of ailments you plug into WebMD. Isn’t that a nice thought? Some bored government worker that you went to school with could just pop your name into a computer similar to the one that vexes Lucius Fox so much in The Dark Knight. They could have a real-time livestream of everything you’re doing. Consider that the next time you find yourself in the dark recesses of Tinder, engaged in exotic conversation with ‘MrChristianGrey101’.

But it goes much further than that. While all of the above may seem almost comical in it’s triviality, the serious implication is a widespread public consensus that “we don’t have any privacy and we just have to accept that.” To many, this is an alarming position to be in. Under the banner of ‘national security’ or the ‘war on terror’, the British public are seemingly only too happy to consciously surrender what many would consider a fundamental democratic right. Watch a sci-fi movie, people. This is where it all begins. Forgive me for playing the war card, but people have died for this stuff. At least the Americans didn’t know the NSA had already been cataloguing every aspect of their lives in giant data warehouses for years. What’s our excuse? Democracy aside, a number of tech firms have threatened to relocate their operations out of the UK should the bill go through. To them, the Charter poses as a drastic enough threat to their users’ privacy and security that they cannot claim to be able to protect their data. Even a threat to their precious long-term economic plan won’t stop these Tory madmen – that’s the severity of the situation.

While I of course agree that the intelligence community needs the sufficient tools to do their job, the noticeable lack of unspeakable horror in an average day goes to show that they are already doing just that. I don’t for a moment underplay the importance or difficulty of their work, but I do question to what extent knowing whom I ‘swiped right’ for helps. So what really is the point of all

of this? If WikiLeaks showed us anything, it’s that the world’s intelligence agencies already enjoy a somewhat relaxed relationship with the laws that bind them. One could take the view that the Snooper’s Charter therefore is just a £1.8bn measure to make the inherently shady business of spying slightly less shady, and does so at the expense of ordinary members of the public’s democratic freedoms.

Pictured: Who’s watching you? (Source: Max Smolaks, Fotolia.com)


Sexism has been ever-present at university Rhiannon Tapp

Female friends have stated that ‘it’s just a given’ and ‘not seen as shocking’ which pains me to hear


We need to talk about and challenge prevailing attitudes to benefit the students of the future

oing to university is without a doubt the best thing I have ever done: university has brought new experiences and people that have changed the person I am for the better. Coming to the end of my three years at university there has been much inevitable reminiscence about the good times. There has, however, been one glitch in my experience that has been there throughout mine and others’ experiences. With university, and the exposure to an abundance of new people and cultures, has come exposure to the continuous existence of sexual harassment, sexist activity and abuse, experienced by myself and those around me. Public spaces in many ways, I have learnt, can be a nightmare. Even more of a learned experience has been the realisation that, in a general sense, there are men out there who believe women are public property. Gyms, shopping centres, restaurants and streets are all places where, in general terms, women can be violated by sexist behaviour. For the most part, people can deal with isolated incidents of cat calling, staring and stalking, and in many cases it may not be considered a problem at all. It is the frequency of these incidents that’s important, when they occur in a non-consensual manner and on a day-to-day basis, as this leads to a psychological burden and fear. Even worse, because of this high frequency of sexist incidents, many women have developed ways to be immune to the majority of such behaviour, to the point where verbal abuse, cat calling,

curb crawling, groping and even physical attacks become something women don’t react to in a sane way, but allow to go over their heads and convince themselves it’s OK. Female friends reflect this attitude stating: “It’s just a given” and “not seen as shocking,” which in many ways pains me to hear. University nightlife in particular is one example of public spaces where sexism of this kind becomes dangerous. Nightclubs are a place of moral anonymity and many people of both genders, in their often drunken state, think it’s acceptable to act on basic instincts. This leads to some of the most unthinkably sexist acts of all time: groping, and in many cases, assaulting. Groping is one heinous way a person can express their sense of ownership and dominance over a stranger. For people who are actively avoiding being preyed upon by others, it doesn’t just physically hurt to be groped, but in cases of repeated experience, can lead to a feeling of helplessness and anxiety throughout the night, all during a time which is meant to be so happy and liberating. It’s not as though this kind of behaviour was not present in life before university, but at university sexism and its counterparts of harassment and abuse are in so many ways institutionalised from the top down. ‘Lad culture’ at university is not something which just presents its worst during the odd events, but something which is ever present and institutional, even traditional, within sports clubs and societies. Recent investigations into Oxbridge

and Russell Group universities have shown how little action is often taken against reports of sexual abuse. The rejection of wanted support from those in positions of authority, including bouncers and managers at clubs, staff in restaurants and gyms, and university staff, only emphasises the notion that this is something victims are meant to control alone, and of course, since that is not possible, leads to normalisation in the minds of men and women that this struggle is acceptable and part of ‘the way it is.’ Sexual harassment and abuse has seen many of what should have been great university nights end before they should, special occasions ruined and friends and housemates left physically hurt and upset. Stories from within just my own circle of friends stem from the small, such as being groped by night-clubbers whilst dancing or in smoking areas; to the painful, where one friend was punched in the stomach so hard she landed backwards on the floor in Revs nightclub, leaving her unable to walk properly for a week, all in retaliation for touching a man’s hat; to the worst of times where friends have been sexually assaulted and raped, either on their way home or within places of expected support and assistance. These stories are not unusual for a group of girls at university to tell, but they often won’t, and herein lies a major truth surrounding sexism: that the victims are made to feel bad about their anger and experiences. So many men and women theoretically against sexist behaviour and the perceived

ownership of other people’s bodies, remain behind a normalised and institutional code of silence, meaning people don’t seek help. One friend put it that: “I still enjoy nights out but constant touching gets uncomfortable, and isn’t something you talk to a bouncer about because it’s just sort of accepted.” This continuous onslaught isn’t something I expect to just go away, and if anything, my university experience of sexism has shown me that we need to play the long game. Getting angry I have learnt, despite its justness, only isolates those who wish to help, and further exacerbates the lack of understanding there is about sexism and abuse. It’s not always possible however, to keep that level-headedness going, and to me at least, it’s not unjustified when a victim decides to stand up and say something about it. We shouldn’t be afraid to challenge prevailing attitudes which hold no one accountable for a pre-existent culture of harmful and unpleasant behaviour. There is a perception that it’s embarrassing when people share views of sexism or feminism - individuals are silenced into shame. This needs to be stopped. It is not embarrassing to make these struggles heard; it is however, an embarrassment that these accounts reflect the ‘civilised culture’ we live in as a whole. Talking about it, can help us understand the social forces at play in provoking sexism alongside the psychological fall-back which leads to people feeling as though sexism is acceptable and ‘the way it should be’.

Pictured: Protection against sexism should go beyond debates surrounding page three. (Source: Southbank Centre, Flickr)

Sexual harassment and abuse has seen many nights end before they should, special occasions ruined, and friends left hurt and upset


Why hard work rarely pays

Gareth Evans

The lawyer from Oxfordshire and the cleaner from Glasgow are both hardworking people


Clinging to the notion that hard work equals hard cash is a way of avoiding awkward truths such as inequality and privilege

o you work hard? Or, to borrow from the parlance of this year’s general election, do you belong to one of the many ‘hardworking families’ that ‘put the great into Great Britain’? You probably do. I mean, it’s unlikely that many people would say no to that question. It really is an inane phrase, ‘hard-working families’. What does it actually mean and why are the political class so keen to use it? I’ll tell you why. It’s because pretty much everyone belongs to a ‘hard-working family’, and that is the purpose of political language, to appeal to the maximum and to alienate the minimum. The lawyer from Oxfordshire and the cleaner from Glasgow are both hard-working people. Of course, their lives, their problems, and their concerns, are most likely incomparable. But they both work hard to provide for their families day-to-day. This renders the soundbite ‘hard-working families’ ideal for a modern political party (in this instance the Labour Party) as it won’t spark controversy and will apply to virtually all of the electorate. In other words, it is mundane airy guff. Now you probably want to stop me here to say that politicians using clichéd nonsense is in no way new or surprising and you’d be absolutely right to do so. However, what I’d like to focus on is the established notion that hard-work will always equal wealth and success. If you work hard enough, if you strive hard enough,

one day you will make it. This is the view espoused by so many, more often than not on the political right, and it is bolstered by much of the tabloid press who viciously attack ‘scroungers’ and the ‘bone-idle’ who are either unable to work or are part of the tiny minority committing benefit fraud (0.7 per cent of welfare spending according to HMRC). It is a narrative that pervades so much of the discourse surrounding political issues and problems. Work harder and you won’t need welfare, that kind of thing. Now, I’d like to believe that this hard-work fallacy was true; of course I would, to live in a perfect meritocracy in which all citizens can achieve great things based solely on their effort and desire should be the ultimate aim. However, even the most out-of-touch romantic would surely concede that this is a long way from reality. Thinking that we live in a meritocracy paints an overlysimplistic picture and ignores all of the barriers that can prevent people from succeeding no matter how hard they work. Allow me to indulge myself with an analogy to illustrate this point. Imagine, for a moment, that all of the babies born today are about to compete in a race. The most successful will be rewarded heavily, and the losers will receive nothing at all. Theoretically, of course, any child can win and so it appears to be a fair proposition. However once you learn that some children will be

starting five-hundred metres from the finishing line, and others a mere ten metres from it, it becomes clear that the result is predetermined and that the race is a formality. This is the reality of our unequal, disparate, society, far-removed from the patronising ‘American Dream’ narratives that seem to have crept across the Atlantic and into the mouths of our Westminster elite. To suggest that hard work and innate talent are the primary factors of success is to disregard this reality. We all started in different positions and there are many socioeconomic reasons for this. It is both the government and the people’s responsibility to ensure that these inequalities are minimised and that our own figurative racetrack is as close to a meritocracy as it can possibly be. In this sense, we have failed resoundingly. In fact, our inequalities have widened and we have drifted even further from the meritocratic delusion that politicians and the right are so happy to portray. The divide between the South-East and the rest of the country seems evergrowing and austerity measures are brutally punishing those who have no responsibility whatsoever for the economic crash. When a child is born into a family that is struggling to get by, they are at an immediate disadvantage through no fault of their own. So if by ‘hard-work’ these politicians mean good grades, then a good job, and ultimately a

stable home with plenty of material possessions, the child in question begins their own figurative race behind many of their peers. But this self-evident truth is contrary to the hard-work fallacy. For example, if you can no longer explain away your wealth and status through hard-work alone then it becomes more difficult to argue against paying your taxes and footing a welfare bill. One of my friends, a Conservative, recently described the UK as a “brilliant and prosperous country.” I had to ask, for whom is it prosperous exactly? If anything this displayed the insular outlook that is symptomatic of those who believe in the hardwork/hard-cash mantra. The reality of the situation is quite simple. Suggesting that hard work will equal success renders difficult discussions: about poverty, inequality, and so on, essentially redundant. Those who are not ‘successful’ (in the conventional, economic, sense of the word) should have worked harder. This Darwinian model is not one I am personally comfortable with basing our society on. Regardless, to be remotely just or fair, it would still require an equal starting point which we are evidently lacking. What I will say is this: as soon as we stop telling those who are without to simply work harder, and we start addressing the deeper reasons for inequality, it will bring a real meritocracy one step closer. That is surely an ambition that transcends all political belief.


Amongst the hardest of workers, the cleaners (Source: Scott Ehardt)

Suggesting that hard work will equal success renders difficult discussions: about poverty, inequality and so on, essentially redundant



The future is bright

Jason Roberts

It is unlikely that in the adult world you will be able to wake up at 12 and eat the remains of last night’s pizza


Life doesn’t end when you finish uni. Quite the opposite, actually.

hroughout this past year I have often given the impression to you, the reader, that everything in this world of ours is one big pile of awful. And honestly, I didn’t intend for it to be that way. The truth is, finding things to complain about is much easier than finding things to praise, especially for me. I mean, I’m one of the few people I know to have strong feelings on such burning issues like what constitutes ‘real’ guacamole (if it doesn’t contain identifiable lumps of avocado and isn’t as thick as cream cheese, IT’S NOT GUACAMOLE DAMNIT). Also, the British don’t do the whole ‘praise’ thing very well because if we did, we’d be Americans. And that would be terrible. We’re much better at sitting at the back, quietly mocking the collective efforts of everyone around us. But this week will be different. This week will hopefully be the week in which, instead of receiving emails telling me that I have committed a blatant attack on the German nationality (apparently, there’s at least one person in Cardiff who really, REALLY didn’t like my take on Lidl), I will be inundated with messages of thanks. Maybe a personalised cake will be delivered to the media office. Why? Because I am going to attempt to convince you, though it’ll most likely be

futile, that life after university will be better than the life you currently live now. (Observant readers may recall that not too long ago, I painted a bleak picture of post-university life in the most recent issue of Quench. For this column to work, I ask that you conveniently ignore that piece of work. Of course, this is working on the assumption that people actually read Quench, which we know to be false.) On the face of it, this sounds like a really dumb idea. You just have to look around you to know that university is a paradise like no other. After all - unless you win the Euromillions jackpot or invent a car that runs on piss - it is unlikely in the fully-functioning adult world that you will be able to wake up at 12, eat the remains of last night’s pizza for breakfast, and spend the rest of your day watching cartoons in bed. And you think going to lectures hungover is bad? Until you’ve spent a day in an hot office with a headache capable of rendering small to medium-sized mammals unconscious, while telephones ring endlessly and your stupid co-workers won’t stop asking you to do your stupid job instead of lying on the desk stewing in your own booze juices, you don’t know true pain. Not only is university a modern-

day Eden filled with unparalleled hedonism, it’s becoming more and more clear that graduate life is quite the opposite; a hellscape in which everyone works 90 hours a week doing data entry for a faceless company that doesn’t pay taxes, so that they can just about scrape together enough money to cover the ever-increasing price of rent, let alone any semblance of an actual life. Of course, that’s if you even manage to get a job. Which again, is looking less and less likely with each passing day. Oh, and of course you’ll have your student debt to pay off, if you ever do manage to land a job that doesn’t pay you in ‘exposure’ or ‘experience’. So yeah, on the face of it, the real world doesn’t appear to have a lot going for it. But our mistake is that we’re looking at the real world through student eyes. Picture yourself in ten years time. Maybe you see yourself married, maybe you see yourself with children, but unless you’re THAT GUY (please don’t be THAT GUY), you don’t see yourself in Glam drinking Jägermeister by the pint. This is because your priorities change when you get older, which is good, because it’s highly doubtful that the country would function if it was socially acceptable for everyone to go out on Mondays.

The point is that as enjoyable as uni life is, you can only do so much, because you’re bound to your degree and the UNAY lifestyle. And although you’ll be bound to a job in the real world, jobs are much easier to shape your life around. For one, they control your income, which will invariably be the biggest factor in determining the sort of lifestyle you lead. Furthermore, providing you find the right line of work, jobs can provide a level of fulfilment that degrees simply can’t (unless you become an academic, but don’t do that. Imagine having to deal with eduroam EVERY SINGLE DAY). I get it, adult life is scary, especially when you compared to the bliss of university life. But there are opportunities out there in the world that pale in comparison to three years of bacchanalia. At university you can only be so much, but free from the shackles of lectures, Cathays and The Lash, you can do anything you damn well please, and you should welcome that opportunity. It might be unpleasant, heretical even, to think of a time where you might be glad you’re not at university any more. But if you ever think that, you should be happy. Not happy because you life at uni was bad, but because your life after uni is everything you hoped it would be. GO GET IT.

Pictured: Contrary to popular belief, opportunities exist outside the bacchanalia of Cathays (Photo: Jen, In my neighbourhood project)

Free from the shackles of lectures, Cathays and the Lash, you can do anything you damn please


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Report outlines substantial failing in North Wales Health Board

Patients treated like ‘captured animals’ in a mental health unit and family concerns were ignored

Emily Jones Carwyn Williams Rhiannon Tapp

Campaigners have reiterated calls for a public inquiry into the whole NHS in the wake of the horrific report

The Welsh government has since carried out unannounced mental health spot checks across Wales


n investigation into the Tawel Fan ward of Bodelwyddan’s Glan Clwyd Hospital has proven a string of allegations against nurses, doctors, managers and their governance. In the damning report, it suggested that patients at the ward were not treated properly, and denied the basic standard of care expected by the Welsh NHS residing in the ward. The health board’s independently commissioned investigation was carried out in 2014 and gave their final report in September last year. However, due to a police enquiry, and reluctance by the health board, it was only published on May 28th, to the disgust of the public. The unit was closed in December 2013, but this report has showed a failure of mental health services by the health board, and there were fears that it could be replicated in other units. The treatment received by patients has subsequently been described as “shocking” and “inexcusable”; resembling the treatment of ‘captured animals’ at a zoo as opposed to a mental health ward, as one family in an independent report described. It has been discovered that patients have been treated on the floor, or in soiled beds, lacking their proper medications and often left unsupervised whilst also subject to strict regimes and restraints that dispel independence. One family member of a patient described the ward: “It was like when you go in a zoo and see animals that have been captured there for a long time and that’s all they’ve got to do is walk around and around.” The report outlined that “the culture on Tawel Fan ward did lead to the restriction or curtailment of the dignity, privacy, choice, independence or fulfilment of individuals who are or could be deemed vulnerable, and that this has resulted in ‘institutional abuse.’” Despite the unit having closed, many have commented on how such abuse could happen without the knowledge of the public, and indeed

potentially ministers, for so long. It has been reported by Kirsty Williams that concerns were first raised about the unit in 2012, yet these were seemingly ignored or not taken seriously enough. With the independent report questioning whether the ward has maintained even their patients’ basic human rights, with regimes and practices said to amount to “institutional abuse” as described by the report’s author, health specialist Donna Ockenden, the name of the welsh NHS and thus the Welsh government has come under extreme scrutiny by health officials and politicians. While the government have promised to invest £19.5 million in mental health services across Wales, it is clear that funding gaps have hit the north of the country hard. Campaigners have reiterated calls for a public inquiry into the whole NHS in the wake of the horrific report about the mental health ward. Carwyn Jones last week rejected calls for a public inquiry into this matter however, as it would take too long - up to two years - to complete. In the Senedd last week, Carwyn Jones also said that the report highlighted: “Shocking, appalling and unacceptable behaviour on the ward,” while on Friday Health Minister Mark Drakeford apologised for these “gross departures from basic standards of care.” The Welsh government has since carried out unannounced mental health spot checks across Wales, saying that failures to this extent are not being repeated, despite it being conceded that improvements were needed at home wards. Health officials and politicians alike have announced that this incident in Denbighshire should not be viewed in isolation, and have stressed it should fuel investigations into the Welsh NHS on a larger scale. With the Welsh Assembly Elections rapidly approaching next year, this is sure to be a hot topic in the campaign. In the General Elec-

tion, the Conservatives gained the Vale of Clwyd seat from Labour, and it is thought the NHS and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board problems were to blame. The unpopular decision was made to downgrade maternity services earlier this year, and many concerns have been raised on the outof-hours GP services, as well as the poor performance at the Accident and Emergency unit. The police investigation has not resulted in any charges being pressed, but seven employees have been referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Council and three to the General Medical Council. At the height of the internal scandal, Bernie Cuthel was appointed the interim Director of Primary, Community and Mental Health, and said last week that the problem was being tackled “head on.” This is the latest in a long list of high-profile problems with services operated by the board running hospitals across North Wales, thus highlighting the large gaps in the levels of quality care in the area in comparison to other parts of the country. There have been further calls for Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to be put into special measure after a number of reported failings, and a decision will be made this week on that matter. Improving mental health services became a prevalent issue during the May 2015 election yet Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has voiced his fears this week that mental health will continue to take a backseat as a “Cinderella service” under the Tories. Lamb insists that unless the government invest £3.5 billion into mental health services over the next five years, the system will buckle under financial pressure. Yet David Cameron has made it clear that he will not stop his attacks on the state of the Welsh Labour government-run NHS now that he has won the election, in an insistence that Welsh health care is substandard in relation to the rest of Britain. The Conservative leader has relentlessly attacked Labour for its stewardship of the NHS in Wales

during the last parliament. The shocking reports of the treatment of the patients of the Tawel Fan ward seem to solidify Cameron’s damning remarks. Labour may struggle to regain the trust of Welsh voters in time for the Assembly Elections as improvements to mental health services and the Welsh NHS as a whole seem to be few and far in between. In 2006, the Welsh government announced a ten-year mental health strategy, which aimed to make ‘individuals have a better experience of the support and treatment they receive and have an increased feeling of input and control over related decisions.” The Welsh government has introduced a number of other strategies since, including ‘Together For Mental Health,’ implemented in 2012 and 2013. There are a number of memberled mental health charities in Wales, two of the major groups being Hafal and Gofal. Mind Cymru is the Welsh sister charity of the organisation Mind operates across all of Wales and encompasses Hafal and Gofal. Hafal believes that mental health strategies of the Welsh government have been working in Wales over the last ten years. Hafal stated that they “agree services have improved along the lines of extending primary care provision and driving a more holistic, personalised recovery centred approach,” particularly with regards to enforced acts from 2001 to 2011 which covered child, adolescent and adult strategies which have “encouraged positive change.” They added that they would however, have liked to see improvements taking place more quickly and more uniformly across Wales. Charities such as Hafal have provided successful primary care for patients alongside secondary care for the families of those patients, providing independent sessions for carers to get support. However, because of the centralised nature of such charities, there is a gap in the local support provided, as was perhaps the case with the Tawel Fan ward which found itself lacking provisions.

Pictured: Above: Health Minister Mark Drakeford (Source: Welsh Government) Bottom left: Entrance sign at Glan Clwyd Hospital

Hafal believes that mental health strategies of the Welsh government have been working in Wales over the last ten years

” “

This is the latest in a long list of high-profile problems with services operated by the board

POLITICS 21 Is Cardiff Airport flying to success?

Maria Nikolopoulou

Flybe’s presence at Cardiff Airport constitutes a step to making Wales more accessible to tourists


Pictured: Cardiff Airport (Photographer: Bryon Davies)

New Cardiff Flybe hub and Thomas Cook are off to Florida

s of June 1st 2015, British low-cost airline Flybe has its new hub at Cardiff Airport, introducing an extended 11-route network that includes flights from the Welsh capital to Munich, Paris, Milan, Cork, Faro and Glasgow. The airport was bought by the Welsh government for £52 million in 2013. In November it received a £3.5 million commercial loan from the Welsh government to develop more routes and “improve choice for passengers.” In a Senedd debate concerning the Airport earlier this year, Tory AM Byron Davies said there had been “no significant improvement” in the number of passengers since its purchase. According to figures for the year 2014, the number of passengers using Cardiff Airport decreased by 38,000 (3.6 per cent), totaling just over one million. First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones welcomed the launch of Flybe’s new services, stressing that: “The airport as a whole will benefit from the improved network.” In turn, the chief executive of Flybe, Saad Hammad, said: “We’re targeting 500,000 passengers over the next 12 to 18 months. We’ve signed a ten-year agreement because

we wanted to be sure about the longterm future here. That’s what really clinched it ultimately, that level of commitment, it made us really hungry to be here.” It is estimated that thanks to this partnership 50 new job openings will be created. Debra Barber, Managing Director at Cardiff Airport, said: “Our partnership with Flybe gives the people of Wales and beyond more choice in routes, more frequent services and great value flights, as well as creating opportunities for more visitors to come to Wales.” Apart from Flybe, the Welsh government-owned airport provides the base for the Irish budget airline Ryanair which returned to Cardiff last October, operating weekly flights to Tenerife, after eight years of nonservice. Another low-cost company, the Slovakian-based Speedairways, is planning to launch a series of routes from early 2016, including flights to Vienna, Larnaca, Malaga, Alicante, Dublin and Rome, bringing in another 300,000 passengers in its first year. The airline also negotiates for daily flights to London and other major UK cities depending on demand. Reporting on the aims for the

coming year, Jason Thomas, Chief of Staff at Cardiff Airport said: “Longhaul is one of the areas of focus for us.” Thomas Cook Airlines has announced it will operate a one-off flight to Cancun next summer, adding a second long-haul destination from the Rhoose-based airport to the U.S. Last year, Thomas Cook Airlines announced flights to Orlando on August 28th 2015 and May 25th 2016, both offering 14 night holidays to the popular U.S. destination. Coming back to Flybe’s presence at Cardiff Airport, BBC Wales economic correspondent Sarah Dickins comments that it “does not fully fulfil the Welsh government’s vision of Cardiff becoming a long haul-hub,”

but it constitutes “a step to making Wales more accessible to tourists” without, however, measuring up to Bristol. Cardiff Airport got public attention during the Nato summit, boosting its international profile, as its services were used by world leaders. The airport is expected to be in the spotlight again this year as it is estimated that it will welcome about 30,000 passengers coming to Cardiff to attend the Rugby World Cup taking place between September and October. The coming year will be decisive in showing whether Cardiff Airport is capable of attracting more passengers and becoming the success story the Welsh government imagined it to be.

A week in the Senedd with Carwyn Williams

First Minister’s Questions Following recent damning reports, the Welsh NHS was on the agenda, with emphasis given to the report outlining appalling conditions in Tawel Fan phsyciatric ward at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. Carwyn Jones confirmed that action had been taken, including introducing spot checks at mental health wards across Wales. He added that despite there being some issues at some centres that need to be addressed, we can take assurance that the situation at Tawel Fan is not repeated elsewhere to the same extent. Andrew RT Davies made the point that on Thursday the First Minister made it clear he wanted Sepp Blatter to step down as FIFA president, but did not comment on the report,

with the minister replying, saying this was such an important matter that he waited to discuss it in the Assembly. What was interesting from FMQs however, was that Jones would not take responsibility, referring to changes Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board needs to implement. Jones added that a public enquiry would take too long, and the health board will learn difficult lessons, and people will take responsibility for the treatment. Kirsty Williams questioned why changes were not implemented when families raised concerns in 2012 about the treatment of patients. Jones replied, adding the health inspectorate may need some changes to give ministers the information needed to address these questions. The minister also re-

jected calls that pressures had arisen due to the closure of many community hospitals and departments. There were also fears put forward by Mark Isherwood that housebuilding was down 50 per cent on what was needed, and more needs to be done, but Jones said that housebuilding was increasing, and councils have begun to build again in Wales after a break of many years. Leanne Wood was in the mood for Europe, firstly talking about the Human Rights Act again andbefore moving onto the EU referendum. Carwyn Jones agreed with her that morally the UK should only leave the EU if all four of the family of nations voted to leave individually, saying: “If the human rights act is abolished, it changes the constitution of Wales”, and therefore would need the Assembly’s approval. Janet Howarth joins the chamber Janet Howarth is the new Conservative member for the North Wales region, after the resignation of Antoinette Sandbach MP following the General Election. In her first speech in the chamber she said she hopes to continue the good work Sandbach has done for the people of North Wales. She also emphasized what an exciting time it is to be joining the Assembly, in a time of change, while mentioning that health and education are priori-

ties for her. Howarth was a councillor in Llandudno and runs a bed and breakfast there. £1.5 million for Welsh Language Centres Six new Welsh language centres are to be opened thanks to additional funding from the Welsh government. Cardiff Council are set to receive the most with a £400,000 investment to the opening of a centre at the old library in the city centre. The purpose of the centre will be to encourage people to use Welsh in an informal environment, to learn or just practice the language as well as hold a range of events targeting tourists, learners and young people. Smoking banned in vehicles with children Members last week approved the Smoke-free (Private Vehicles) Regulations 2015 that makes smoking in a car with at least one person under 18 an offence. This change will come into law on the 1st October this year, the same date as an equivalent law in England, with a fine of £50 for the breaking of this law. Health Minister Mark Drakeford said that a child has the right to travel without having detrimental health consequences, and the law is about coming about a new culture.

For the year 2014, the number of passengers using Cardiff Airport decreased by 38,000

22 POLITICS Tributes pour in for former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy, dead at 55

Daniel Heard

Mr Kennedy had previously taken the party to its best election result since the 1920s at the 2005 contest

Robert Thomas


he former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy has died at his home in Fort William at the age of 55. The ex-MP’s death was not believed to be suspicious, with the cause of death later being confirmed as a “major haemorrhage,” a “consequence of his battle with alcohlism,” according to a statement released on behalf of his family, who said: “It is with great sadness, and an enormous sense of shock, that we announce the death of Charles Kennedy. Charles died at home in Fort William yesterday. We are obviously devastated at the loss. “Charles was a fine man, a talented politician, and a loving father to his young son. We ask therefore that the privacy of his family is respected in the coming days.” Mr Kennedy had lost his seat in Ross, Skye and Lochaber to the SNP’s Ian Blackford in last month’s general election. An MP since 1983, Mr Kennedy had previously taken the party to its best election result since the 1920s at the 2005 contest. It was at this election, interestingly, that the party succeeded in regaining the seat


of Ceredigion, its first gain from Plaid Cymru. His political career began in the Social Democratic Party, winning the Ross, Cromarty and Skye seat to become the youngest MP of the time at the age of 24. Taking over as party leader from Paddy Ashdown in 1999, he went on to lead the party through its most successful period. His leadership was marked by his opposition to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which helped propel the Liberal Democrats to their best result in more than 80 years with 62 seats in 2005. This remains the highest number of Liberal Democrat MPs returned at an election, and the best result of any British liberal party since David Lloyd George’s tenure. However, in January 2006, following months of rumours about his long-suspected drinking problem, Mr Kennedy admitted he had been receiving treatment for alcoholism and called a leadership contest. While he declared that he wanted to carry on, he was forced to stand down in the face of the threat of mass resignations by senior colleagues. At his best, Kennedy had the abil-

Pictured: Charles Kennedy at the Scottish Spring Conferency in March (Photographer: James Gourley, Liberal Democrats)

ity to rise above the crowd and speak for in an easily expressed and easily understood language. His ability to cut through the evasions and clichés of modern politics was a quality so many others struggled to emulate. He also had a great and natural sense of humour. It made him one of the few politicians who could master every form of television interview or appearance, such as his notable guest slots on programmes like ‘Have I Got News for You,’ without looking awkward. After stepping down as leader, he continued to play a high-profile role in the Scottish politics, campaigning against independence in the run-up to last year’s referendum. Less than

a month ago, Kennedy, who lost his beloved father in April, said that serving as an MP had been the “greatest privilege” of his life. Not even he was able to retain his seat in the May election, and this said something about Scottish politics, something about the almost outrageous collapse of the Lib Dems and something about Kennedy’s diminished political allure. Cardiff Central AM Jenny Rathbone was accused of being insensitive on Twitter, saying it was “a sad end to the demise of the Lib Dems.” But there won’t be a single person in politics feeling anything other than sadness and loss over this, and there are few political passings of which that can be said.

English devolution plans will worsen the UK’s Asymmetric Devolution Settlement

he new Tory government are determined to give more localised power to the English regions in an attempt to form a ‘northern powerhouse.’ This move however, could end up giving a higher level of devolution than those held by the Welsh Assembly in some areas, and without a referendum. The measures, outlined in the Queen’s speech two weeks ago, and in the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill specifically, would give English authorities powers over areas

such as planning, housing, transport and policing. The bill includes introducing elected mayors for combined authority areas - whose powers would include undertaking the functions of Police and Crime Commissioners, something the Welsh Assembly government has no control over. There has been widespread criticism in the way the bill will bring about an enhanced devolution deal for the metro regions of England whilst ignoring more rural counties’ desires for localised powers.

As expected, the provisions in the bill are deliberately generic, which means that while it will be used to confirm the Greater Manchester Devolution Deal, it can be applied by order to specified combined authorities as they come forward, including potentially Cardiff. Crucially, the measures contained in the bill only apply to England and Wales – the legislation does not cover Scotland or Northern Ireland, which may have an impact on the journey of the bill through Parliament. This is especially important to remember with the backdrop of English votes for English laws (EVEL), which permeated through party campaigns in the run up to the General Election. England and Wales are a joint judiciary – they adhere to the same system of (English) law, so while the Welsh Assembly would technically have already been given many of the powers mentioned in the bill, those relating to policing would apply to Wales as well. This is a concern for those who have campaigned to bring about a Welsh judiciary, or at least to give powers over Welsh police forces to the Welsh Assembly – something that Labour mentioned would be in their Queen’s speech if they had won the election.

Whilst the bill seems to open the door to local government reorganisation in England, should local authorities in an area be willing and the proposal meets the Community Secretary’s approval, it is inevitable that many areas of England will not sign up to electing their own mayors. A situation could arise whereby Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland will each have their own variety of devolved power, with the latter gaining even greater fiscal responsibility whilst only certain city regions of England will have any direct powers. This is a weak step in the direction many across the political spectrum want to take in terms of creating a more federal system of British politics to settle the EVEL question and deliver home rule for all in our ‘family of nations.’ This was after all a phrase coined by David Cameron before the Scottish referendum. Whilst transfer of power to the regions is a positive step towards greater decentralisation from Westminster only an all-encompassing regionalised England will deliver a sustainable devolution settlement, not the trickle down kind drawn up by the Tories in their bid to stem UKIP support by putting the ‘concerns’ of England top of the agenda.

His ability to cut through the evasions and clichés of modern politics was a quality so many others struggled to emulate

Giving a higher level of devolution than those held by the Welsh Assembly

Pictured: Manchester is set to be the first English city to recieve an extended devolution settlement including some powers over policing (Photographer: Zuzanna Neziri)

POLITICS 23 Why we need to talk about Eritrea

Aimee-lee Abraham

We are presented with as onlookers, then, is a façade of natural beauty masking systematic torture

Daniel Heard


ou’d be forgiven for knowing very little about Eritrea, but as you are reading this thousands of its citizens are drowning in the Mediterranean. Eritreans are attempting to flee a country in which communications are at their most tightly controlled in the world. North Korean human rights violations have been covered extensively in Western media, as has the plight of Syrians fleeing the grips of the shared enemy we find in IS. Eritrea rarely occupies mainstream page space, despite the fact that President Afwerki’s regime is measurably more restrictive even than Kim Jong-un’s. To point this out is not to claim that suffering should be comparative or competitive in nature, but to critically interrogate the reasons why this is the case. Why is it that Kim Jong-un has morphed into a quasi-comical symbol of dictatorship itself, manifesting in front page spreads, memes and politically incorrect Halloween costumes, while Afwerki remains virtually unknown beyond Sub-Saharan climes? The answer may be depressingly simple: westerners rarely go there, nor are they particularly threatened by the regime. Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists both rank the former Italian colony first in terms of state censorship levels. The eradication of independent journalism in favour of a nationalised media began in 2001, and has since exacerbated the longstanding culture

of fear accumulating to form black holes of information. Battered by the wars that ravaged the country prior to its independence from Ethiopia in 1993, Eritreans exist in an ominous bubble of paranoia, with the constant threat of state surveillance rendering many silent. Data compiled by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU) shows that it is also the least connected country in a global context. Less than one percent of Eritreans have Internet access. Those who do, largely located in the capital, Asmara, have to contend with painfully slow dial-up connections. Similarly, only five per cent of the population own mobile phones. Acquiring one is a luxury that can only be attained through a lengthy court application, and stateowned company EriTel registers all cellular communications. The suffocating presence of government forces drives many Eritreans to run, despite the shoot to kill border policy and threat of indefinite imprisonment without trial if caught. The little footage that exists of Eritrean life is harrowing in its absence of horror; foreign journalists have long been barred access. Instead, the world is presented with contradictory snapshots. Eritrea’s escapees tell of unimaginable cruelty, but the country’s self-enforced isolation has minimised the damage to natural resources, allowing for the maintenance of stunning landscapes. What we are presented with as onlookers,

then, is a façade of natural beauty masking systematic torture. Citizens sing the praises of the government with fear dancing in their eyes. This all grows pertinent if we are to consider that Eritrea is a key player in staggering levels of global migration, rarely absent from our headlines. Eritreans make up a significant amount of the world’s displaced people, currently second only to Syrians. The problems facing them embody the butterfly effect; trickling silently into global policy while attentions divert elsewhere. Issues also surface closer to home than you may realise. Mustafa Hameed, a co-ordinator at the Cardiff Trinity Centre, works directly with the Eritrean community seeking refuge here. He tells Gair Rhydd that over one hundred Eritreans, most of them young males, are regularly accessing their essential services. These range from advocacy assistance, to food and clothing banks, to weekly English language classes vital in

their perusal of an education once intangible under the constraints of military conscription, which Mustafa explains is akin to ‘state-led slavery’. Many Eritreans in Cardiff arrived here with extraordinary odds placed against them, making the treacherous journey across the Med in rogue ships driven by people smugglers exploiting the desperation of the vulnerable. These fellow human beings are thoroughly deserving of our assistance and understanding, no matter how loudly our media vilifies them. As Zoe Williams so eloquently wrote in her Guardian response to Katie Hopkins’ claims that migrants fleeing the most impoverished countries in Africa should be shot, we should not silence such controversialists, but challenge them. We need to ‘articulate the human empathy that makes these deaths important’, and we need to try to understand the political and social catalysts driving the plight of the individual. We can start by talking about Eritrea.

Pictured: Above: Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea (Photographer: Andrea Moroni) Below left: Edward Snowden revealed the extent of NSA surveillance on American citizens (Photographer: Platon)

Reformed mass surveillance legislation for U.S.A.


he legal authority for U.S. spy agencies’ collection of Americans’ phone records and other data has expired after the US Senate failed to pass legislation extending the powers. The Senate

voted last Sunday to move ahead with reform legislation that would replace the bulk phone records programmes revealed two years ago by Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor. The vote came after an exhaustive debate pitting Americans’ distrust of intrusive government against fears of violent attacks. It was a victory for President Obama, who, as a Democrat, had pushed hard for Congress to advance the reform measure. He has called it a compromise that addressed privacy concerns while preserving a programme his administration describes as important to protect the country from attack. Final Senate passage was delayed by objections from Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian and one of the many Republican presidential hopefuls, who fulminated against the NSA programme as illegal and unconstitutional. As a result, the government’s collection and search of phone records was set to terminate when provisions of a post-9/11 law known as the U.S.A. Patriot Act expires. Still, eventual resumption of the phone records programme in another form appeared after the Senate voted 7717 to take up the reform legislation,

called the U.S.A. Freedom Act. In a recent poll, 60 per cent of Americans, both Republican and Democrats, said they believed the Patriot Act should not be re-authorised in its current form. Approximately 80 per cent said they found it concerning that their government was collecting and storing their personal information. For once, two diametrically opposed groups in Washington, the liberal arm of the Democratic Party and the conservative Republican Tea Party wing, are actually on the same side of this “political hurricane”. Both are adamantly opposed to all or most of the Patriot Act provisions, calling for major reforms that would significantly curtail or even end it. From a strict privacy standpoint, opponents of the NSA’s bulk data collection argue that even without the actual audio portion of collected calls, the government can glean sensitive information of a personal nature on every American that would be subject to potential abuse. For privacy advocates, the possibilities for government abuse are unending. On the other side of the argument are both Republicans and Democrats who are just as vehemently opposed to any reform whatsoever, particularly in light of a growing threat against the

US by ISIL-inspired ‘lone wolves’. The problem for those opposed to any changes in the law is that the NSA has yet to show any evidence, even in closed testimony before Congress, that bulk data collection has ever prevented a terrorist attack. However, Congress will pass compromise legislation and the president will sign it into law. In the end, both sides in the political debate can claim a partial victory. Privacy advocates will be satisfied that bulk data collection is no longer in realm of ‘Big Brother,’ and law enforcement agencies will still have the tools necessary to track suspected terrorist, albeit with the additional burden of having to obtain court orders for telephone metadata. On our side of the pond, a tribunal last year found that Britain’s legal regime governing mass surveillance of the internet by intelligence agencies does not violate human rights. Rights groups brought cases against GCHQ following American whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations on the extent of electronic surveillance in both the UK and U.S. But the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) said it had identified several areas where it has concerns about the adequacy of our legal safeguards.

80 per cent of people said it was concerning that their government was collecting and storing their personal information


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The blanket ban on legal highs:

Shanna Hamilton

It will put an end to the game of cat and mouse in which new drugs appear on the market more quickly than the government can identify and ban them


Public health landmark or rolling disaster?

ince the Conservatives came into power in Westminster last month, some argue they have been rather hasty in pushing for a controversial ban in their Home Office bill, outlined in the Queen’s speech a few weeks ago. Not only is it a logical paradox, but a blanket ban on legal highs has been described as “disastrous”, “absurd” and even “idiotic” by prominent scientists across the country. Will such a clamp-down prevent unnecessary deaths and criminal activities, or in the words of Matthew Scott writing for The Guardian, is it simply a case of Theresa May wanting to “ban pleasure?” Officially described as ‘new psychoactive substances’, or NPS, legal highs are made up of various chemical ingredients and produce similar effects to illegal substances such as cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy. Before last month, legal highs were not covered by the UK’s drug legislation, the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, because of the way substances are classified. A slight composition alteration technically produces a completely new drug, so a ban of an illegal substance is easily avoided. The legal high trade is a booming business in the UK, with 101 new substances reported in the last year alone, a 25 per cent increase on the previous year. Over 450 substances are being monitored across Europe, and according to the European Centre for Drugs and Addiction, use of such substances has also increased by more than half. The government are right to be concerned, with 120 deaths attributed to the use of legal highs in 2013. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “The use of NPS that poses a health threat has grown rapidly over the past decade and there

have been increasing reports of the availability and manufacture of such substances.” This, along with the alarming rate at which new drugs are produced from a simple chemical structure alteration, are the main points of defence for the government’s Psychoactive Substances Bill that was announced last month. The Home Office bill is going to ban trade in “any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect”. This includes both ‘laughing gas’ and ‘liquid gold’, substances that appear popular with students and the party scene across the country. The use of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, seen as a student’s right of passage by many, are only allowed by a special exclusion clause to the law, which would otherwise make enjoying a soothing cup of tea a criminal offence. Mike Penning, Minister of State at the Home Office said: “The landmark psychoactive substances bill will fundamentally change the way we tackle new psychoactive substances – and put an end to the game of cat and mouse in which new drugs appear on the market more quickly than the government can identify and ban them. The blanket ban will give police and other law enforcement agencies greater powers to tackle the reckless trade in psychoactive substances, instead of having to take a substance-by-substance approach.” However, this blanket ban has been deplored across the country, not only for the illogical objective to criminalise something defined as legal, but for its repercussions on scientific and medical research. Professor David Nutt, a notoriously outspoken advocate for legalising drugs, said: “It’s going to end brain research in this country. It will be disasterous.

The ban on legal highs has been very destructive to research into Parkinson’s and into anti-smoking drugs. For example, the only drug for Parkinson’s is a cathinone [this is a class of drug that includes mephedrone, or M-CAT, a now banned substance]. We’ve already seen massive impediment to research of interesting compounds by current law.” James Rucker, a psychiatrist at King’s College London, is particularly concerned about this legislation, especially as the current laws have already made some research so difficult. “Hundreds of papers, involving tens of thousands of patients, presented evidence for [LSD and magic mushrooms] as psychotherapeutic catalysts of mentally beneficial change,” he said. Any studies using LSD are almost impossible and require difficult application processes and stringent regulations, despite strong evidence they can help mental illness. Discussing his worries about a blanket ban with The Guardian, Rucker said the new law “centres around the self-reinforcing fallacy of legally defining a drug as having no accepted medical use without the evidence that there really is no medical use for it. UK pharmaceutical research into psychiatric disorders has rapidly diminished over the last decade or so anyway, and this regulation will not help. We derive no benefit from this approach.” A spokesman of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation echoed this sentiment and went further in criticising the bill, outlining that the UK government has not prevented illegal drug use in the past with its banning approach. Martin Powell said that the UK’s drug policies were “a rolling public health disaster” and added, “Rescheduling psychedelic drugs to allow medical research would

be a tiny step towards a more rational approach. But only legally regulating a number of illicit drugs, so that doctors and pharmacists control them – not criminals – will minimise harm to individuals and society.” Pertinently, he added, “Because if 50 years of failed prohibition has proved one thing, it is that there is no third option in which no one takes drugs.” One of the most damning comments comes from Matthew Scott writing for The Politics Blog at The Guardian, a criminal barrister at one of the oldest chambers in London. He writes, “Of all the many idiotic, ill thought out and pointless laws ever passed, this would be one of the silliest…As if to highlight the bill’s absurdity, whilst bona fide drugs researchers are turned into criminals, homeopaths are left unaffected. A pointless exemption has been given to homeopathic preparations, even though there is no chance whatso-ever that the silly little pills of nothingness and quackery would have any effect on your brain anyway, except a placebo.” Scott ends his well-written article, titled “Theresa May wants to ban pleasure”, with the same outlook as many UK scientists, including myself. “The bill is a textbook example of bad legislation, it is unnecessary, incomprehensible, largely unenforceable, and, by encouraging professional criminals into a new area of business it is likely to prove entirely counterproductive.” While the government’s efforts into tackling preventable deaths from legal highs should be given merit, the notion of a blanket ban, or in fact the act of criminalising all drugs, whether they be previously legal or not, still needs serious examination, because frankly it will not work, as proven by history.


Above: The legal high nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas” is often inhaled from filled balloons (Source: Ellie at The Bracelet Writer’s Journal)

As if to highlight the bill’s absurdity, whilst bona fide drugs researchers are turned into criminals, homeopaths are left unaffected

SCIENCE 25 The science of the FIFA corruption scandal Maria Mellor

Corrupt individuals have ‘primitive moral thinking’ as they favour their personal loyalties over the formal rules

What makes global organisations turn to crime?


IFA is currently facing corruption charges for $150 million in bribes. The huge corporation comprising of 209 member nations has been accused over recent decades of crimes associated with money laundering, accepting bribes and rigging elections. Now, certain FIFA officials and marketing and broadcasting executives have been arrested following an FBI investigation. Reportedly millions of dollars have changed hands between marketing executives and the FIFA officials for exclusive marketing rights. Corruption, the abuse of power for private gain is not unheard of in today’s society, being a common topic in fiction and a worry in politics. In the world of science, research has been done into what causes corruption and why. Firstly, there is the matter of the individual and how personal matters lead people to corruption. In a 2012 survey, researcher Katherine DeCelles and her team looked into what happens to people in power, finding that those who abuse it tend to have a ‘weak moral identity’, while in 2005 David Levine described corrupt individuals as having ‘primitive moral thinking’ as they favour their personal loyalties over formal rules. We can however only speculate on the moral identities of those involved in the FIFA scandal, but perhaps these researchers have found the root cause.

There is, of course, the matter of wealth gained in corrupt activity. We can confidently assume that those involved in the FIFA scandal did so for the sake of private gain. A study from the University of Utah and Harvard University looked into how money affects decision making. Participants were split into two groups and asked to perform simple tasks, anagram unscrambling for example. One group was given subtle cues intended to subliminally remind them of money, thus putting them into a ‘business mindframe’, whilst the other group in different ethical scenarios and found that those who had been exposed to the money-related cues performed less ethically than those who hadn’t. As co-author of the study Kristin Smith-Crowe states ‘the mere subtle exposures to the concept of money’ gave the participants ‘motivation to pursue their own self interest’. With this in mind, it is perhaps unsurprising that corruption occurred, what with FIFA being such a huge corporation with such access and reach. Corruption happens because of greed, and this study has shown that greed is perhaps an entrenched part of human nature. Social psychologist Marina Zaloznaya believes that corruption is influenced by an organisation’s culture, thus becoming institutionalised and familiar. There is evidence to suggest

that this was a contributing factor to the FIFA scandal simply with the length of time that suspicion has surrounded the company and the number of people supposedly involved. An investigation is under way into how the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts were chosen. Qatar and Russia were chosen respectively to host despite being far less viable than the other options. If it is true that corruption is what led to the success of these bids, this indicates how it may be part of FIFA’s culture. Arrests, investigations and contro-

versy are all part of the surface of the FIFA scandal, but what lies underneath are the social and psychological aspects. At the moment, the focus of the authorities is transparency, as they attempt to resolve doubts and see the whole truth of the matter, and things may be resolved eventually with punitive measures. To get to the root of the matter however, one must look at the causes. The science of corruption is a complicated matter with varying opinions of different psychologists, but perhaps further research may help to resolve certain issues.

Pictured: Sepp Blatter is to resign as FIFA president as there are reports he is under investigation in the US (Photographer: Steffan Schmidt, AP Photo/ Keystone)

The idea of a cancer cure is “fundamentally wrong” New drug is promising, but should not be sensationalised

Shanna Hamilton

Trying to develop a single ‘cure for cancer’ would be like trying to develop a single cure for AIDS, depression, the flu or a broken leg


ancer immunotherapy is nothing new. The method of harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight off invading and aggressive cancer cells has been tried and tested since the mid 1970’s. So why is it then, that I looked in despair at my Facebook timeline last week? The latest cancer ‘cure’ of course, splashed across the headlines and exploding over social media. Even The Telegraph was not shy of a bold, sensationalised headline: ‘‘Cure for terminal cancer’ found in game-changing drugs’. What is this new ‘spectacular’ research and more importantly, can we even cure cancer? At an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, Dr James Larkin and his team from the Royal Marsden Hospital presented trial data that suggested a combination of two cancer drugs can help shrink tumours in nearly 60 per cent of people with advanced skin cancers, called melanomas. This was compared with only 19 per cent of cancers shrinking when one of the drugs was taken alone. Larkin said, “By giving these drugs together you are effectively taking two brakes off the immune system rather than one, so the immune system is able to rec-

ognise tumours it wasn’t previously recognising and react to that and destroy them.” While Larkin was confident about the promise that the combination therapy holds, the suggestion of a ‘cure’ does not appear to have originated from the hospital consultant: “For immunotherapies, we’ve never seen tumour shrinkage rates over 50 per cent so that’s very significant to see. This is a treatment modality that I think is going to have a big future for the treatment of cancer.” Some scientists have somewhat hyped up this research, which bear in mind has involved a limited trial of under 1000 patients, as more promising than others. Professor Roy Herbt, the chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Centre, said, “I think we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way oncology is being treated. The potential for long-term survival, effective cure, is definitely there.” However, many disagree with the notion that we could ever cure the terminal disease. Professor Paul Workman of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, explained, “It’s very unlikely there will ever be a single ‘cure’ because cancer is made up of more than 200 different diseases

– like breast, lung, bowel, prostate and blood cancers – and the latest molecular research is breaking these classes down into many more subgroups.” Naomi Elster, writing for the Royal College of Surgeons added: “The reality is that many researchers, myself included, don’t believe we will ever cure cancer. For a start, trying to develop a single ‘cure for cancer’ would be like trying to develop a single cure for AIDS, depression, the flu or a broken leg. We’re making progress

in designing treatments for specific cancers, but they adapt quickly, with many of them evolving in such a way that they can resist being killed by drugs.” So in the whirl of excitement about the latest cancer drug, let us remember that the disease is undeniably complicated, and while scientists’ efforts may one day keep it permanently at bay, many believe a ‘cure’ is unattainable, and the media should take responsibility for giving people false hope.

Pictured: Breast cancer cells (Photographer: Anne Weston, London Research Institute, CRUK)

0 2 E 1 5 N U J H 11TH MAY - 12T 1 5 0 2 N I F E H E M D E F 2 1 1 1 E G M AI –

COMING TO A LIBRARY NEAR YOU! YN DOD I LYFRGELL YN AGOS I CHI! cardiffstudents.com/revisionaid

SCIENCE 27 Review: The Upright Thinkers by Leonard Mlodinow

Meryon Roderick

Until the final section it is easy to forget that he is a physicist at all because his grasp on the other areas of science, not to mention history, is so strong

Meryon Roderick

It is thought that this technology may one day lead to the development of scanners that would allow people to turn on the lights... with their thoughts


umans as a species are a paradox. Our understanding of the rules that govern nature has forced us to accept that there is very little that separates us from other species. The great philosopher Aristotle truly believed that men were the perfect creation of the gods with everything else (including women) representing a lesser deviation whereas now many young children could explain the rudiments of natural selection, a process that unites every single species on Earth. However, as we strip away the barriers between humans and animals, the one thing that still separates us from any other species is this very ability to understand the world around us. Charting the rise of human thought and reasoning is usually attempted in stages or by focusing on one particular breakthrough in our long history because of the enormity of the task. Much more rare is an attempt to describe the whole development of human thought from our first attempts to form working societies through to 20th century breakthroughs in quantum physics. Rarer still is for the story of our species to be told in such a compelling, funny and humanising way as it is in Leonard Mlodinow’s The Upright Thinkers. The book is formed of three parts, the first of which traces our rise from the shrew like mammal Protongulatum donnae through to modern humans via the ape like Australopithecus afarensis and the tool using Homo habilis. In doing this, Mlo-

dinow examines our innate drive to reason and understand using experimental evidence alongside anecdotes from his own life and the experiences of his father who is a Polish holocaust survivor. This linking of complex concepts to often quite touching real life occurrences is a recurring theme throughout the book and one of its main strengths. It allows you to connect on a personal level with ideas that can seem intimidating in other contexts. In my view the first section of the book stands out as the strongest because of the sheer pace of new information that it throws at from the fact that ancient Indian mathematicians disapproved of negative numbers to an account of the first true city, Uruk, which stood for thousands of years. The second and third sections of the book follow the story of the development of true science beginning with Galileo and then Newton’s rejection of Ancient Greek notions that had been accepted for centuries like the idea that the Sun orbits the Earth. The second section focuses very heavily on Newton’s life, which does mean losing the rapid-fire introduction of ideas and concepts that makes the first section so compelling. However, in doing this Mlodinow really emphasises the fact that whilst Newton’s major achievements were in Physics, the mode of thought that he introduced to the scientific world completely changed everything, finally allowing every area of science to escape its non-scientific roots.

The third section moves past science by observation and ventures into one of the most challenging areas of modern science: quantum physics. Here, as in the first section the facts and theories come thick and fast and some of the more advanced bits such as Werner Heisenberg’s explanation for the movement of electrons aren’t for the faint hearted. Mlodinow’s work as a physicist really comes into play here as he explains these difficult concepts clearly, leaving you feeling cleverer with every passing page. These tough forays into the world of Physics are interspersed with the stories of the lives of many of moderns Physics’ greatest minds including Albert Einstein himself, told in a way that

makes these towering intellects seem utterly human. What Mlodinow achieves in this book is staggering. Until the final section it is easy to forget that he is a physicist at all because his grasp on the other areas of science, not to mention history, is so strong. By interweaving all of these strands he creates a truly comprehensive picture of how we grew as a species in such a comparatively short time, from discovering stone tools through to understanding the atom. The tale is told in such a warm and inclusive way that you feel like you too could be part of this amazing and unpredictable story. For any aspiring research scientist or anyone who likes big ideas, this book is a must read.

Pictured: Leonard Mlodinow is a physicist and author who has written and coauthored several books, including The Grand Design with Stephen Hawking. He has also been a screen writer for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Macgyver.

Brain implant could allow you to mind control your TV


Paralysed patient procedure harnessed for home appliances

magine just thinking that you want to watch a film and the television turns on. Maybe you want a cup of tea. The kettle automatically boils. This world could become a reality due to a new brain implant that has been developed for use in patients suffering from paralysis. The implant was originally designed for Erik Sorto who is paralysed from the neck down and it has allowed him to control a robotic arm with amazing precision. He can shake people’s hands, play rock paper scissors, and drink a beer by controlling the speed and trajectory of the arm. The implant consists of two electrodes placed in Sorto’s posterior parietal cortex. The computer that controls the arm was then trained to associate certain patterns of neuronal activity in this area of Sorto’s brain with certain movements. It is thought that this technology may one day lead to the development of scanners that would allow people to turn on the lights or other electrical appliances with their thoughts. The implants were further tested by being places in different people who were then made to play the prisoner’s dilemma, which is a mind game

involving deciding whether or not to betray another prisoner. The researchers found that they were able to accurately predict what people were going to do based on their thoughts. This second test shows that more abstract intentions can also be decoded by the implants. The possible applications of this technology are wide ranging. It is hoped that one day a paralysed person may be able to control a humanoid robot using a similar implant that would be able to carry out day-to-day tasks around their home. Whilst this possibility is clearly exciting, some are sceptical about the more commercial proposals. Jörn Diedrichsen, a neuroscientist at University College London says “It’s hard to get really high-quality brain signals with non-invasive technology. You have to ask whether you’d want to have invasive surgery to not have to press a button on a remote control.” Beyond this however, this emerging technology raises more profound questions. Should we be funding research into a technology that could effectively allow mind reading? Also, if it is possible to decode people in-

tentions, is it possible to know what people are going to do before they even know it themselves? This would

affect how we perceive free will and could change our understanding of what it is that governs our decisions.

Pictured: Erik Sorto can use a robotic arm controlled by a brain implant to shake hands with people, play rock paper scissors, and drink a beer. (Credit: Spencer Kellis and Christian Klaes / Caltech)


Barney Willis

Looking back over the Act One calendar it’s understandable why our members are so passionate about the society


tweet us @gairrhyddsoc email us societies@gairrhydd.com or visit us online at gairrhydd.com/societies

Barney’s Concluding Note

ello everyone! This is the last note I will be putting in Gair Rhydd ever! Most of you will be gearing up for the summer and thinking about next year, however we should take stock and think about the year just done. Instead of the normal update on what is going on in the world of societies, I will be using this week’s column to give an overview of the entire year! We start at the beginning: the Societies Fair in September was a fantastic success. As ever, the Fair offered a chance to see not just the societies of Cardiff but the people who run them. This was my fourth fair and I think I can say it was the best yet – the use of Y Plas as a venue was awesome and we easily had 4000 people come through over both days. Signups were strong and would result in a roughly 8% rise from last year. Even more encouraging was the increase in societies choosing to attend the Freshers’ fair AND the Heath Fair! The more we can do of this the better – there are so many Heath students yet to join a society outside their course based one and we should be

trying to engage with them as much as possible. On the whole – the Fair was a massive success. With a bit of tuning concerning the presence of companies and another big marketing push, I am sure the Fair of 2015 will be even bigger! Term one was mad. After the calm of summer we had hundreds of events and bookings. I regularly received over 100 emails a day and things got pretty crazy! Give it a Go, our new programme of low commitment activities and day-trips got off to a flying start with never-beforeseen language classes, trips to Brecon and events tailored at the non-drinkers among you! We also had a number of large scale student events such as a Dance Showcase and yearly favourites like the Act One Panto. For the first time, we launched a coordinated marketing push of all these activities under the banner of the ‘Societies Winter Showcase’. I attended as many events as I could and loved every second – you guys did great! We kicked term two off with a Refreshers’ Fair and, for the first time in years, it wasn’t a failure! Hooray!

Despite my worries that relentlessly spamming the student population wasn’t the most effective marketing strategy, people came to the Fair in their hundreds. It wasn’t as big as the original Fair but it still gave dozens of societies the chance to show off to people they might have missed the first time round. Later that term, we were blessed with the twin spectacle of the Cardiff Fringe Festival and Go Global. For the first time, we scheduled these events together but it didn’t do anything to diminish their popularity. Go Global sold out and was widely regarded as one of the most fantastic nights in the Union calendar. Cardiff Fringe saw more student groups than ever before create their own events, signalling a shift from the Fringe being a primarily Union organised event to one led entirely by the societies that make the week worthwhile. Some of the best events include the Music Showcase, featuring representatives from almost every musical group in Cardiff, and Inner Child Day organised by Student Minds. The latter saw students armed with giant batons hitting each other

off podiums, which is just fantastic. The puppy room was also incredibly popular! Term three was mostly comprised of elections, handover, and Societies Council. During this term, we rounded off the entire year and collected feedback for my successor to make use of. Her name is Hannah Sterritt and she has been the dutiful editor of this section for a full year now! She will do a fantastic job I do not doubt – get to know her if you are around next year! Finally, no round off of the year would be complete without mention of the Societies Ball. Absolutely flawless from start to finish is the only phrase that described the evening – if you missed it this year I highly recommend that you don’t do so next year! So there you have it. That was a brief summary of the year. I would go on but I suspect only a few of you will have made it this far into the article! Thank you all so much for an incredible year – I won’t forget how lucky I was to get a chance to work with you all and I wish you all the best in whatever you go on to do in your futures!

Pictured: Top from left: Freshers’ Fayre, WEMS hike, Airsoft skirmish. Middle: Baking society Welsh cakes, Music Society third years, Real Ale & Cider festival Bottom: Art Society Giant Art Attack, Greek & Cypriot Society at Go Global, Ollie McLoughlin, a Big Band member at the Societies Ball

SOCIETIES 29 Act One set to perform at Edinburgh Fringe Things Can Only Get Bitter & The Count of Monte Cristo get two week runs

Tom McLean Rhys Edwards

This August, a revival of the Cardiff University production heads to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for nine performances

Hannah Sterritt

The band will be playing at Ghent Festival, with its capacity reaching 100,000 people some days


his year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe will play host to Things Can Only Get Bitter- a thrilling new political drama, and The Count of Monte Cristo, a sold out production from earlier this year, from Cardiff University’s Act One. Things Can Only Get Bitter is performed by a six-strong cast of Cardiff students. The play promises to electrify the festival with a sharp script in an intimate environment. The script follows the run up to a general election, where one minor constituency office is in turmoil. Stephanie Glendenning is the sitting MP, struggling to cope with the pressure. Her campaign is as fragile as her state of mind, but instead of helping, those around her use her vulnerability to try to outmanoeuvre one another. Whether it’s her twofaced intern, Lily, or a slimy cabinet minister, Samuel, everyone around her is playing power games, and she’s losing. Old loyalties go out the window as backs are stabbed and knives are twisted. The voters don’t matter, the campaign doesn’t matter, morals certainly don’t matter. All that matters is power, and the lengths to which people will go in order to cling on to it.

Things Can Only Get Bitter will be on in Spotlites @Merchant’s Hall every day at 1.30 pm from the 6th to the 15th August. However, Cardiffbased theatre fans can catch a preview at The Other Room at 7pm on the 2nd of August. It’s a fab chance to see the show before it’s run on the Edinburgh stage - and it’s free! The sell-out adaptation of classic thriller The Count of Monte Cristo was first performed earlier this year, where this original adaptation played to a sold out audience, with many people having to be turned away at the door. This August, a revival of the Cardiff University production heads to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for nine performances at the Spotlites Theatre. This original adaptation, written by Cardiff University graduate Rhys John Edwards, reimagines Alexandre Dumas’ classic thriller, setting it in modern day. The play follows a young journalist, interviewing Edmond Dantes, a notorious serial-killer who recounts his tale of corruption and greed. A talented cast, selected from the drama society are reuniting for the world famous Fringe Festival to once again perform in this reinvented thriller, set in the poisonous world of

investment bankers. Writer and Director of the production John Edwards said: ‘‘The real challenge when setting this piece in modern day was attempting to find a place in our world in which these characters could inhabit. The antagonists of Dumas’ time were corrupt aristocrats, whereas the villains of today are much less clear cut. After some consideration, I figured the closest modern day equivalent are the self-interested corporate entities or in the case of this play - bankers. As soon as I found the place of our modern day villains, the rest came together quite

quickly’. Assistant director Dan Huntley said: “It’s actually a lot of fun. Certainly not what you’d expect. It will be enjoyable for those who are fans of the original and those who have never heard of it!’ The Count of Monte Cristo is performing at Spotlites Theatre, Merchants Hall at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, August 23rd through till the 31st. With a perfect afternoon slot at 1.30pm running for a total of 60 minutes, this production is ideal for a bit of post-hangover entertainment. Tickets range from £4 concessions and £6 standard price.

Pictured: The Count of Monte Cristo previous performance

Let’s Bruge-y: Jazz society bring sax appeal to Bel-jam


he Jazz Society are embarking on their annual tour to Europe this summer between the 17th and 22nd July. This year, the society will be based in Ghent, Belgium, with excursions and gigs in Bruges, Ostend and Ypres. Following on from successful trips in the past few years playing at Idstein Jazz Festival near Cologne, Germany and Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the society’s Big Band will be playing several gigs around the country, including two at the Gent Festival and in bandstands on the coast. Cardiff University Big Band is highly regarded around the university, and has had several performances at society balls and around Cardiff this term. The 21 piece auditioned band will be playing many differing jazz standards and also some new pieces introduced to the band especially for the tour. Ghent Festival, the location of the first two gigs for the band on the tour, will draw in a massive audience, with the capacity of the festival reaching 100,000 people some days. Alongside the gigs, the 34 strong tour group will be taking in the best that Belgium has to offer, with visits to Bruges including a brewery tour and hiring bikes to see the sights of the city. In addition, there will be trips to a water park and the Flanders

Fields museum. The contrasting activities will hopefully appeal to everyone attending, with plenty of time to sightsee and tour the many beer halls of the country. The Jazz Society has achieved many successes this year, building upon the success of the previous years. The tour will once again be a highlight of the year for many, and the last thing those graduating will take part in before they leave university. Another trip will be to Ghent Jazz festival, where Gregory Porter, Neneh Cherry, Snarky Puppy and GoGo Penguin are playing the night we are attending. Alex Davis, Big Band’s MD, said “I can’t wait to take the band on their third tour. We have some really exciting gigs in Belgium and the band are enjoying the new repertoire. Hopefully the weather can stay nice and we’ll have a great time!” Other activites this year for the Jazz Society alongside the four rehearsals they run for different ensembles a week have included a trip to Bristol to see Postmodern Jukebox. This American band play ‘vintage’ covers of modern popular songs in a jazz context, and were on a UK tour in Feburary. The Jazz Society were also one of the ensembles responsible for running the Music Showcase which won best society collaboration at

this year’s society awards. Jazz Society President, Kathryn Weatherby, stated that “We are really looking forward to our tour to

Belgium this year. We have a great band that have improved a lot this year and even more people coming to enjoy the trip, so we can’t wait!”

Pictured: Luke Andrews at Montreux Jazz Festival 2014

Visits to Bruges including a brewery tour and hiring bikes to see the sights of the city


Katie Ward

Last of the summer climb in the Pyrenees for WEMS


ardiff Wilderness and Expedition Medicine Society (WEMS) is a society open to all healthcare students wanting to get involved with practical emergency

medicine. Throughout the year we organise hands-on teaching from older medical students, doctors and specialists like the Air Ambulance

Pictured: WEMS members up a mountain

Service, to provide members with the skills needed to tackle medical emergencies in remote and wilderness settings. WEMS isn’t all hard work though; we take part in adventure activities throughout the year, like kayaking, surfing, caving and climbing as well as regularly organising hikes and weekends away to Brecon, to get out of Cardiff and make the most of the stunning Welsh countryside! A highlight of the WEMS calendar is our summer expedition. For the last two weeks of August we head overseas, to take part in all things WEMS-y in places with fewer severe weather warnings and a more extensive wine list than the Woodville. Past destinations have included the French and Slovenian Alps and this year we’ll be travelling to Ariege, in the Midi-Pyrenees.

There, we’ll be climbing all 2800m of Mount Valier, as well as canyoning, kayaking and even cycling a bit of a past Tour de France, in an attempt to work off the cheese. After a year of tents, mud, bunkhouses, mud, hostels, insect bites and more mud, the summer trip is set to be a welcome opportunity for us to enjoy the great outdoors from the relative comfort of a poolside lounger, at a French villa, a perfect basecamp location for numerous activities. After ten days in the Ariege countryside we’ll be spending a long weekend in Paris, to sample the Parisian sights, food, wine and nightlife before dragging our sorry, sunburned and cirrhotic selves back across the channel, for the start of term. It will be a WEMS expedition like no other!

Cardiff ’s Students for Life society discuss euthanasia

Toni Saad

The word euthanasia refers to the intentional act of hastening death in the face of terminal disease or terrible suffering


n Wednesday 13th May, Students for Life, Cardiff University’s Pro-Life society, invited Gregory Jackson to deliver a seminar. He leads the Alliance of Pro-Life Students, a UK-wide organisation which supports student societies like ours. His aim: to help us argue rationally against euthanasia. First of all, what does Pro-Life mean? The Pro-Life view consists roughly of the belief that innocent life must be protected from conception to natural death. To some, ‘pro-life’ just means ‘anti-abortion’. This is partly true. Abortion is one issue the Pro-Life view opposes. But it is not the only one. Another biggie is euthanasia. The popularity of Lord Falconer’s recent Assisted Dying Bill signals that public opinion is turning in favour of euthanasia. To help us make a rational defence of our opposition to it, we invited Gregory Jackson. He began with definitions (bear with me). The word euthanasia comes from the Greek words for ‘good death’. Today, it refers to the intentional act of hastening death in the face of terminal disease or terrible suffering. But it can be further defined (bear with me again). Euthanasia can be active (e.g. by initiating a life-terminating procedure like a lethal injection) or passive (e.g. by removing or omitting life-sustaining treatment). And depending on whether the patient consents, does not consent, or cannot consent, euthanasia is voluntary, involuntary

or non-voluntary, respectively. Active voluntary euthanasia is what Gregory scrutinised. He noted that the pro-euthanasia lobby offers arguments to do with bodily autonomy. Possessing dignity and autonomy in a free country gives me the right to choose the time of my death. It is my right to die, and to be helped to die, when I see fit. So goes the argument. But if individual autonomy is sufficient justification for euthanasia, why should only the terminally ill have access to it? If autonomy is the chief consideration, why deny anyone their right to die? Must we grant death the broken-hearted poet or the disillusioned philosopher on their request? Does consent excuse killing? The obvious answers to these questions suggest that autonomy alone cannot justify euthanasia. If not autonomy, what then? Some say that killing can be compassionate. It is cruel to sustain the lives of those who suffer unbearably. The most compassionate thing to do is to hasten their death. So goes the argument. Quite apart from the elusive definition of ‘unbearable suffering’, and the obvious fact that eliminating sufferers is not identical to eliminating suffering, this question remains: if suffering justifies euthanasia, why exclude sufferers who cannot consent? Don’t they have the right to have their intolerable lives terminated too? We don’t want to follow the trail laid down by this reasoning. The

After a year of tents, mud, bunkhouses and inset bites, the summer trip is set to be a welcome break

Pictured: Members of the Students for Life society

law normally defines killing without consent as murder. So it seems that this argument is incapable of justifying euthanasia too. Both lines of reasoning, autonomy and suffering, run into trouble. The logic of the autonomy argument leads us to death-on-demand. The logic of suffering supports the termination of life without consent in some cases. Both possibilities are deeply disconcerting. But maybe they are simply a pretext for something else. Perhaps something else is driving the euthanasia lobby. I suggest it’s to do with judging quality of life. Those who are judged, by society or doctors, to have poor quality of life, to have nothing to live for, are the ones who can be killed. They are the ones who would be better off dead. I think this is the crux of the issue. Can someone’s suffering be so terrible that death becomes a “severe mercy” (CS Lewis). Can someone’s life be so burdensome that we allow a fatal disease to take its natural course? Yes, of course. But can quality of life be accurately defined? If it can, can it be adequately established in law? And, if so, is killing ever the best

option? Dr Richard Hain, a consultant in paediatric palliative medicine, writes: “Making it legal to kill people is a terrible idea... An idea that will forever impoverish the community of persons by codifying that it can be better to kill a person than to continue to care for her; better to help her to die than to help her to live.” Caring is better than killing. Instead of announcing that some lives are not worth living, let’s make them count by caring for them. Let’s ensure that good palliative medicine and compassion are always available. Suffering is a tragic fact. It’s even more tragic that some people believe their life to be worthless. But the greatest tragedy of all would be to uphold this mistaken belief by extinguishing these lives. When someone tells us that their life doesn’t matter, we need to get alongside them and say “your life does matter because you matter to me”. Perhaps this article hasn’t changed your mind on euthanasia. That’s okay. But euthanasia legislation will soon return to Parliament. Are we willing to discuss it intelligently and openly? I think we must.

Instead of announcing that some lives are worth living, let’s make them count by caring about them

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Rhagrith cenedlaetholdeb Prydeinig

iau fod pawb fydd yn darllen y blogiad hwn yn gyfarwydd â’r hen ddadleuon yn erbyn yr iaith Gymraeg a’r ystrydebau sydd yn codi fel bwganod blin bob tro mae rhywun yn crybwyll y geiriau dychrynllyd... ‘the Welsh language’. Maen nhw’n amrywio o’r “does neb yn siarad Cymraeg, felly pam trafferthu?” i’r deufeddwl hynod hwnnw: “pam mae’r bobl hurt ‘ma yn siarad iaith farw?!”. Wel, os felly mae hi, rhaid bod ni siaradwyr Cymraeg yn sombîs i allu siarad yr iaith hon ar dir y byw a hithau dal i fod yn ‘farw’. Ond at ei gilydd, dyma’r dadleuon gwirion sydd gan amlaf yn sylwadau ffwrddâ-hi, sarhaus a di-feddwl. Dyma sothach y meddwl gwrth-Gymraeg. Fwy llechwraidd a pheryglus o lawer yw’r honiad bod yr iaith Gymraeg yn annatod ynghlwm wrth genedlaetholdeb Cymreig, ac felly’n rhyw offeryn i’r Cymry hyrwyddo eu diddordebau eu hunain ar draul pawb arall. Pan fo’r gwrth-Gymraeg yn codi bwgan cenedlaetholdeb, maent yn ceisio sefydlu deuoliaeth rhwng Prydeindod (da) a Chymreictod (drwg); yn bur aml, maent yn gwneud hyn yn echblyg ac yn bwrpasol. Mae nifer o siaradwyr Cymraeg yn cael eu hunain mewn cyfyng-gyngor yn y fath ddadl, yn enwedig pan fo’r Prydeinwyr yn galw arnynt i gofio am yr hyn rydym wedi ei gyflawni ‘gyda’n gilydd’ fel gwlad, ac yn dannod iddynt am feiddio ‘rhwygo’r deyrnas’. Yn hwyr neu’n hwyrach, byddant yn datgan yn hunan-

fodlon ‘Better Together!’. Yn wir, gall ymddangos yn dipyn o dasg ymateb i’r ddadl honno. Ond, a dyma ond mawr: rhaid yw cofio mai cenedlaetholdeb yw Prydeindod yntau. Mae cenedlaetholdeb Prydeinllyd wedi’i sylfaenu ar imperialaeth, ac yn y bôn, mae’n feddylfryd trefedigaethol. Dyma’r ideoleg a oedd y tu cefn i ddifa pobloedd a’u hieithoedd a’u diwylliannau ledled y byd. Edrycher ar hanes yr Iwerddon, er enghraifft. Lladdwyd yr iaith Wyddeleg yna i bob pwrpas, a phan oedd malltod y tatws yn gyfrifol am fethiant y cnwd hwnnw yr oedd cyfran sylweddol o’r boblogaeth yn llwyr ddibynnol arno, allforiwyd bwyd o’r wlad i Brydain pan oedd y werin Wyddelig yn newynu. Bu farw dros filiwn ohonynt. Yn Affrica, triniwyd y bobl frodorol fel bodau israddol gan fynnu yr oedd eu diwylliannau yn anwar ac yn gyntefig; gorfodwyd felly yr iaith Saesneg a diwylliant Seisnig arnynt. Dyma ond dwy enghraifft allan o gannoedd. Dyna Brydeindod yn ei hanfod. Mae cenedlaetholdeb Cymreig yn hollol wahanol wrth reswm. Nid ydym yn ceisio disodli diwylliant neb; nid ydym yn mynnu mai’r eiddom ni yw tir neb arall; nid hawlio adnoddau neb arall ydym. Craidd ein cenedlaetholdeb ninnau yw maentumio ein hawl i reoli ein hunain fel cenedl, ac nid ufudd-hau i reolaeth pobl eraill nad ydynt yn poeni dim amdanom ac yn ein trin yn nawddoglyd ac yn watwarus.

Anodd credu felly sut gall Prydeinwyr ddannod i’r Cymry am siarad eu hiaith eu hunain a choleddu’r awydd i reoli eu hunain, oherwydd yr hyn a wnaeth Brydeindod oedd gorfodi i bobloedd eraill siarad Saesneg ac ildio rheolaeth eu gwledydd i’r Ymerodraeth Brydeinig! Un o hynodion selogion Prydeindod yw ffromi ynghylch cenedlaetholdeb yr Alban a Chymru ond anwybyddu yn llwyr eu cenedlaetholdeb Prydeinllyd, trefedigaethol eu hunain. Mae’n rhwystredigaethus dros ben ceisio dangos iddynt pa mor wirion yw’r ddadl, ac anodd ydyw peidio â sgrechain “MAE UNDEBOLIAETH YN GENEDLAETHOLDEB!” am ei bod yn gwadu hawl cenhedloedd bychain y Deyrnas ‘Unedig’ gan orfodi

iaith a diwylliant Lloegr arnynt. Os ydym yn bwrw mai hyrwyddo rhyw wlad benodol yw hanfod cenedlaetholdeb, yna mae hyrwyddo Prydain mewn gwrthhgyferbyniaeth â Chymru a’r Alban yn genedlaetholdeb Prydeinllyd. Ond, a dwyn y llith hon yn ôl i’w phwynt gwreiddiol, pan gaiff cenedlaetholdeb ei lusgo i mewn i’r ddadl yn erbyn yr iaith Gymraeg, mae’n werth atgoffa’r casáwyr bod dweud wrth bobl y dylent ddim siarad eu hiaith eu hunain, ac ymhellach y dylent siarad iaith un o ymerodraethau ffieiddiaf hanes a wnaeth ddifa ieithoedd a diwylliannau ledled y byd yn enghraifft o’r union fath o genedlaetholdeb dinistriol y maent yn ei geisio ei briodoli i’r Gymraeg.

Defnyddwyr Tai

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12 june 2015

tickets available NOW It’s here, Cardiff University Students’ Union’s end of exam extravaganza. From the team who brought you DTBD Xmas and DTBD Wonderland. Big Summer Blowout is a Summer themed party. You can expect a huge BBQ with your favourite street food, carnival games and YOLO/FLUX DJ’s bringing you your favourite summer club anthems. We’ll also be hosting carnival style games such as Hook a Duck, Ring Toss, and a Coconut Shy. Every time you buy something in our food court in Y Plas, or the Taf, you’ll get a free scratchcard featuring all kinds of prizes from free drinks to tickets to the event. (Ends 11th June 2015).

vip tickets now available cardiffstudents.com/summer


Taekwondo still kicking in Cardiff

Pictured: Cardiff University Taekwondo Club

Brenna McInerney

Rory Benson


his year the pressure on Cardiff University Taekwondo club was higher than ever as they entered the year on the back of winning Grand Champions at the British Student Nationals, being undefeated at University level in over 4 years and yet again dominating over Swansea at varsity. However, under the guidance of coach Dean Matthews and president Brenna Mac, the club has pushed itself to higher levels having extended their accolades. The club’s competitive season began in November when they travelled to Guildford for the UK Open Championships. This competition is attended by clubs from all over the UK and Europe not just university squads.


After a hard days competing the day was a success with several members coming away with gold medals and the club ranking first out of the universities, and eigth overall school, a huge achievement. Also in November the university sent two of its students to Glasgow to compete in the Welsh National team, scooping up a silver and bronze in the tough international competition. Over Christmas the club hosted its first ever competition on behalf of ITF Wales at Talybont Sports Centre. This competition was primarily aimed at beginner and intermediate level, and so this was the first taekwondo competition for several of the clubs members.

However, once again the club took overall university, and several of its members performed spectacularly in winning and taking the Welsh Open title in their categories. The biggest competition of the year was the British Student Taekwondo Nationals hosted at Worcester University. Having stormed the competition last year the pressure was high to repeat the performance – which they most certainly did. Having dominated all round, especially in the black belt division, CUTKD once again took the biggest student title on offer. Having never lost at Varsity and it being hosted by Swansea this year, the victory was especially sweet. Swansea didn’t stand a chance and fell at the

hurdle in both patterns and sparring disciplines, even with their questionable rule bending and changed plans. Looking forward, next years’ President Ceri Morgan will be looking to carry on the club’s reputation as the highest ranked university taekwondo club. CUTKD might be at the top, but they’re only looking up from here. The club puts its successes down to being a welcoming, social and keen club with many dedicated members who work hard and play hard. The club’s instructor, Mr Matthews, has been a part of the club since he set it up in 1998, and its through his excellent teaching and guidance the club has its reputation as one of the best martial arts clubs in the country.

Pictured: Cardiff University Taekwondo Club at Varsity

Cricket promotion party put on pause

ardiff University Cricket Club crumbled to a disappointing defeat in what could be their last match of the season. Gloucestershire posted a score of 229, on a pitch doing very little, but Cardiff could not respond and slumped to a 44 run loss. Gloucestershire elected to bat on a track that had seen six innings’ in the previous week after winning the toss, but got off to a poor start as Wibley and Khan took a wicket each within the first eight overs. Khan bowled some difficult lines for the opposing batsman to face and Wibley bowled well, with Cardiff well on top in the early exchanges. Cardiff did not continue in the same vein however, and despite limiting Gloucestershire to 70 off the

first 25 overs, no more wickets were taken. Gloucestershire’s batting was scratchy, but the third wicket partnership had taken them over the 150 mark with 15 overs to go. The runs were piled on in the final 10 overs, with the partnership only being broken with five overs left on the board. It was not a good day for Cardiff with the ball and in the field, and they were punished by some undeniably average batting by Gloucestershire. Coming off the field dejected, Cardiff knew some work was still to be done with the bat. Joe Collins-Wells and Ollie Burland opened up the second innings and, in only the second over, Burland was clean bowled on his first delivery. With disaster striking early from

the team from South Wales, it was up to Baig to step up and bring his side back into the game. A whirlwind 70 kept Cardiff dreams in tact until a moment of madness overcame Baig, who was caught easily by the keeper after premeditating a Dil-scoop off the slowest leg-spinner in the county of Gloucestershire. Wickets began tumbling after Baig’s dismissal, with Collings-Wells spectating from the not-strikers end. Joe must have got bored at the far end as he decided to call Andy Day for a third run, which led to his downfall. Day run out for not very many. Benson played some shots, but hit one down long-on’s throat on 18, before Castle was caught plumb in front of middle by Gloucestershire’s wily off-spinner without troubling

the scorers. Blight dug in for a few overs, but was eventually given out trapped in front of all three stumps as Cardiff slumped to a disappointing 44 run defeat, and Gloucestershire go ahead of Cardiff in the table, but have played an extra match.. Had Cardiff had won the game, promotion would have been secured, but they are now dependent on a Swansea second team concession and a superior run-rate to be promoted. There weren’t many positives to take from the game for Cardiff, and the Gloucestershire team added insult to injury by beating Cardiff ’s saucers in a boat race after the match. If ever there was a day to forget for CUCC, it would be this one.

If ever there was a day to forget for CUCC, it would be this one



Gair Rhydd: A year in sport



September November saw the first ever Medics’ Varsity, that Cardiff won comfortably against Bristol University. The event, held at Bristol’s Coombe Dingle, was a Cadiff whitewash, with victories in rugby, football (pictured above), hockey, netball and squash. The Autumn International series (pictured below) was a mixed bag for Warren Gatland’s Wales team. Defeats to southern hemisphere sides Australia and New Zealand were juxtaposed with an unsurprising victory over Fiji and a more difficult 12-6 win over South Africa.

Continued from back page

As freshers and returning students descended on Cardiff, the city was already well into the sporting swing. In football, the Cardiff City Stadium hosted the UEFA Super Cup final between Spanish sides Real Madrid and Sevilla, with the trophy being lifted by Real captain Iker Casillas (pictured), after Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo’s double gave the Champions League winners a 2-0 victory over their Europa League-winning counterparts. Cardiff City FC’s season also got underway in August, with good early form descending into mediocrity by September - form that would eventually cost manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer his job. Also over the summer of 2014, Cardiff University student Natalie Powell won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in the judo, while pole vaulter Sally Peake, also a student of the university, won a silver medal.


Russell Slade, a journeyman of the lower leagues, took over to little fanfare but optimism that his down-toearth style would reap rewards

There were signs of hope for Cardiff Blues, who registered a record-breaking points total en route to winning their European Cup home tie against Rovigo. The final score of 104-12 was also their biggest-ever winning margin. They backed this up with a bonus-point win over Grenoble to make the quarter-final of the Cup. However, these proved to be the season’s main highlights as the Blues’ form stalled after this point.

December December was a relatively quiet month for sport. The IMG league finished its first phase as students left Cardiff for the Christmas Recess. Cardiff City’s good early form under Russell Slade soon wore off and fans were calling for the new boss’ head as his side went on a disappointing run of form during the hectic winter period. Meanwhile, Cardif Blues were suffering a similarly poor run of form.

Gair Rhydd Sport started February by focussing on LGBT+ issues in sport, as part of LGBT+ History Month. This was also the month that we launched a survey to discover Cardiff students’ views of participating in sport while at university. However, the most memorable events in this month were the first fixtures on the Six Nations, which took on an added significance in a World Cup year. Wales started the tournament with a disappointing loss against England at the Millennium Stadium. Winger George North (pictured) reignited the debate over player safety in rugby when he was knocked out twice in the England game. Elsewhere in the world, Super Bowl XLIX was held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 and Katy Perry performed the halftime show. Meanwhile, a video emerged of a group of Chelsea fans racially abusing a fellow passenger on the Paris Metro after their side’s Champions League tie in the French capital.


January As mentioned in September, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not long for the chop, and Vincent Tan was quick to act in October. Leyton Orient manager Russell Slade (pictured) was chosen to replace the former Manchester United striker as his side’s form floundered towards the wrong end of the league table. Slade, a journeyman of the lower leagues, took over to little fanfare but optimism that his down-to-earth style would reap rewards. The Cardiff Half Marathon attracted more than 16,000 competitors, the most ever at the event to date. The event ran alongside and accomodated the British Half Marathon Championships, with Ryan McLeod and Emma Stepto being crowned British male and female champions respectively. It was announced that the 2015 edition of the Welsh Varsity, the annual student sporting competition between Cardiff University and Swansea University, would be held in Swansea for the first time since 2010, with the showpiece rugby fixture taking place at the Liberty Stadium.

We came back to university to good news, as Vincent Tan (pictured) reversed his summer 2012 decision to rebrand Cardiff City, that involved a change in colours from blue to red and a change to the design of the badge. Many cynically put it down to a dramatic dip in crowd numbers. The return to blue prompted an initial turnaround in form, with the first match a well-attended victory over Fulham, but ultimately January proved to be another disappointing month for Bluebirds supporters.

March brought the conclusion of the Six Nations, which came down to a nail-biting final day. Wales stopped Ireland’s unbeaten run to ensure they both went into their final games on equal points with England. All three won these matches to remain on equal points, with the Championship going to points difference. Wales’ thrashing of Italy by 41 was not enough to stop Ireland, who lifted the trophy after beating Scotland 40-10. The Cricket World Cup also ended in March. England had an awful campaign, only managing victories against Scotland and Afghanistan. Three convincing losses and a more narrow defeat to Bangladesh saw England knocked out at the group stage (pictured). Co-hosts Australia and New Zealand went on to contest the final, a low-scoring affair that the Aussies won by seven wickets. Goals from star players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey secured a 3-0 win for Wales in their European qualifying away fixture against Israel, to briefly put them top of Group B and keep them on course for qualification.

2014/15 IN SPORT April

The biggest day of the year for most of Cardiff University’s clubs, as well as for many other students, took place in April, with the 2015 Welsh Varsity being held in Swansea. It was the first time since 2010 that Cardiff fans had to travel west and the men’s rugby match (pictured), staged at the Libety Stadium, once again served as the day’s climax. The away day atmosphere seemed only to motivate Cardiff to some brilliant performances, as they won the Varsity Shield by a dominant 25-13 scoreline. Cardiff also managed to claim the Varsity Cup for the first time since 2012, by winning the men’s rugby match 27-22. This year’s Varsity also took part in the Rainbow Laces campaign to show support for LGBT sportspeople. Gair Rhydd Sport staged its most ambitious Varsity coverage ever. We produced a 16-page supplement as part of our special Varsity issue, featuring match reports from all of this year’s events. On the main Varsity day, we provided 12 hours of live Twitter updates and a simultaneous live blog. Our online coverage reached over 110,000 people.

Alexander Norton

The real problem with England, aside from a crippling tendency to collapse at crucial moments, is their prowess with the ball




What’s next?

Having failed to impress in their first games of the season, Glamorgan found some impressive form in May. They managed to get their first win on the board in the County Championship, beating Essex by 89 runs. This put them third in the Division Two table after five games. With Lancashire already comfortably ahead of the rest, it is looking extremely competitive for the second promotion spot this season, with Glamorgan well in the hunt. A week earlier, the Welsh county got their limited-overs campaign off to the ideal start, beating Surrey in front of a crowd of 13,000 at The Oval (pictured). The total of 455 runs scored in this match was the most runs ever scored in a Twenty20 match in England and the third-most ever in the world. Unsurprisingly, Glamorgan’s 240-3 was their highest score ever in this format. Earlier in May, the county were embroiled in a spot of controversey due to a tactical early declaration in their Championship game against Derbyshire, who labelled the declaration ‘against the spirit of cricket’.

There is so much sport going on over the summer that sadly we’ll miss out on covering. England will be kicking off their Ashes campaign at the SWALEC Stadium in Cardiff in July, a preview of which can be found below. Meanwhile in football Wales will be looking to build upon their good start to their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with games over the summer and the start of autumn, starting with this weekend’s game with Belgium at the Cardiff City Stadium. Perhaps the biggest event of 2016 starts in September, just before Freshers’ week; the Rugby World Cup descends on Cardiff, with Wales’ group matches against Uruguay and Fiji being held at the Millennium Stadium, while fixtures with England and Australia are at Twickenham. The Rugby World Cup will be the next Gair Rhydd Sport team’s first real challenge, and we wish them the best of luck. This year has been a pleasure - we hope that you’ve enjoyed reading the section as much as we have making it. - David, Rory and Joe

Gair Rhydd Sport staged its most ambitious coverage of Varsity ever. We produced a 16-page supplement as part of our speical Varsity issue

Preview: Cardiff to host Ashes opener

or the second time in three home series, the SWALEC Stadium will play host to the maiden Test of the Ashes - a prestigious honour that not everyone believes Cardiff is worthy of, with some expressing a preference for a more illustrious backdrop. Nevertheless, this England team also represents Wales and it is in the capital of the latter where the most venerated rivalry in world cricket will resume. The last time these storied rivals did battle at Sophia Gardens, an unprecedented last wicket stand between Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar earned England a crucial draw on their way to a series victory. The bowlers’ 12-over resistance has gone down in cricketing folklore as “the miracle of Cardiff ”. But six years on and having endured a fivenil obliteration eighteen months ago on Australian soil, will a similar act of escapism be required? England arrive in Wales having not fully recovered from the aforementioned humiliation, its Test line-up in a state of flux and its offfield preparations disrupted by the spectre of Kevin Pietersen and the departure of coaches Andy Flower and Peter Moores. Appointed just last month, new coach Trevor Bayliss is an Australian – the source of consternation for factions of the Barmy Army. The new man has plenty on his plate, but one problem that appears to have made a timely disappearance is the form of previously embattled captain Alastair Cook.

The 30-year-old opener is his country’s all time leading Test scorer, but had been in relentlessly poor form prior to scoring his first century in almost two years in the West Indies last month and following it up with a majestic 162 against New Zealand at Lord’s three weeks later. The prolonged search for an opener (a two-and-a-half year process) to partner Cook also appears to have stumbled on a possible long term solution in Adam Lyth, who hit a maiden hundred last time out at Headingly. All down the order, there is firepower if not consistency – Ian Bell, Gary Ballance and Joe Root are a world class trio of proven run scorers but appear unable to synchronise their bouts of good form; against New Zealand, each was found wanting. There is also potential in the middle and lower order, with the likes of Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes capable of innings-defining turns at the crease and Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad also useful on their day. Indeed, if each batsman were to achieve their average then England would close an innings on 405 runs – respectable, although hard to reach against rejuvenated fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and his Australian colleagues. The real problem with England, aside from a crippling tendency to collapse at crucial moments, is their prowess with the ball. Jimmy Anderson, now England’s all time leading wicket-taker, is invaluable. But at 32, the talismanic

Pictured: Recent record breaker Jimmy Anderson (L) and Monty Panesar (R) rescued the Cardiff Test for England in the 2009 Ashes (Photo: Hamish Blair, Getty Images)

Lancashire bowler is nearing the end of his international days – and a 50over ODI World Cup followed by test series’ against the West Indies and New Zealand will have sapped his reserves. New addition Mark Wood and Stuart Broad will look to lighten the load, whilst Root and Stokes have also proven themselves capable of delivering timely wickets. But there is a grave problem in this post-Graeme Swann world: a lack of spin. Moeen Ali impressed against India last summer, but the part-timer has been in less sparkling form of late. Without an alternative, England will find it desperately hard to bowl out a stubborn Australian lower order.

Yet for all their troubles, England remain a fundamentally decent side. The problem is that a combination of competence and home advantage may not be enough to overcome an Australian side that is amongst the best. All in all, England (held to draws by both the West Indies and New Zealand so far this year) are not favourites to reclaim the fabled urn. But then, in 2009, England arrived in the Welsh capital in eerily similar circumstances – that is, on the back of a humiliating Ashes whitewash eighteen months previously. What unfolded next will remain forever seared in the memory of Australian captain Michael Clarke.

For all their troubles, England remain a fundamentally decent side

38 SPORT Euro 2016 qualifying: Wales v Belgium preview

Dan Heard

The 58-year dream of qualification might just become a reality


hris Coleman’s Wales squad have assembled to prepare for their Euro 2016 qualifier with Belgium at the Cardiff City Stadium this coming Friday. After the 3-0 victory over Israel at the Haifa International Stadium, Wales now mount a serious challenge for Euro 2016 qualification, after going five games unbeaten at the start of their qualifying campaign. There is a growing sense of excitement and anticipation around the Wales camp, demonstrated by the 33,000 capacity crowd expected for the Belgium match, the first sell-out crowd for the national side in over four years. Not since Wales last played at the Millennium Stadium in March 2011 has the national side

witnessed a sell-out crowd, when they hosted England in the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign in Gary Speed’s inaugural competitive match as manager on home soil. This is a top-of-the-table clash in Group B, which sees both sides equal on 11 points after five games heading into the match. Despite Belgium’s superior goal difference, after a 5-0 win against Cyprus and 6-0 win against Andorra, both teams have only lost once in their last ten international matches. Wales’ last defeat came in a 2-0 friendly loss to the Netherlands last June, while Belgium were last bettered by Argentina in last’s year’s World Cup quarter-final. This campaign has seen similar results for both sides, both drawing against Bosnia-

Pos. Team 1. Belgium 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Wales Israel Cyprus Bosnia-Herz Andorra

Pld. 5

W. 3

D. 2

L. 0

F. 13

A. 1

Pts. 11

5 5 5 5 5

3 3 2 1 0

2 0 0 2 0

0 2 3 2 5

7 9 9 5 2

2 6 10 6 20

11 6 5 5 0

Herzegovina and against each other in Brussels last November. Both teams have also beaten Andorra, Cyprus and Israel. The visitors head in to the game without Manchester City’s influential captain Vincent Kompany due to suspension, after receiving a red card in Belgium’s clash against Israel. Everton forward Kevin Mirallas returns from injury to bolster an already talented front line consisting of fellow Toffee Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea’s PFA Player of the Season Eden Hazard, and losing FA Cup finalist Christian Benteke. Gareth Bale will of course be seen as Wales’ key man, as the Real Madrid winger has been influential in maintaining an unbeaten start to this qualification campaign. He is Wales’ top scorer, netting four goals in five games, and has two assists to his name. His individual ability, combined with his pace, trickery and free-kick accuracy alone has ensured victory for Wales when team performances have been lacklustre, i.e. Andorra away. Bale’s performances and his ability to rise to the big game occasion has also improved others around him and helped spur the team to victory over the likes of Cyprus and Israel. Although the critics have been out for Bale in Madrid this season, Coleman has got the best from Bale in a free attacking role, and if Bale plays, he’ll win his fiftieth cap in front of a packed

Rugby World Cup: Wales coach Gatland goes against selection policy

Liam Corcoran

There are 14 players in the squad that do not ply their trade in Wales


ast week Warren Gatland named his preliminary 47-man World Cup squad that will travel to Qatar, Switzerland and Poland before they line up to face Ireland in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match on August 8th. Ross Moriarty is perhaps one of the biggest shock inclusions in the squad; the powerful Gloucester back-row is accompanied by Bath second-row Dominic Day, who was previously at Llanelli Scarlets. In addition, fellow rookie forwards Kristian Dacey of the Blues and Exeter prop Tom Francis have been included. There is also a call up for Wales U-20s captain Rory Thornton. Along the backline the uncapped inclusions were Tyler Morgan and Jack Dixon of the Newport Gwent Dragons, Ospreys winger Eli Walker and Gareth Anscombe, the Kiwi import from the Blues. Exeter winger Tom James is also called up, which is a surprise given his last cap came in 2010 against New

Zealand. In terms of omissions, last Monday’s announcement would have been disappointing for back-rows James Davies and Josh Navidi, of the Scarlets and Blues respectively, with the latter being hailed as one of the Blues’ best players this season. Wales’ strength in depth across the back row also meant a summer off for Cardiff flanker Josh Turnbull and Aaron Shingler of the Scarlets. Elsewhere there were no other major shocks, with Sam Warburton being confirmed as skipper for the tournament. It is perhaps a surprise for supporters that there are 14 players in the squad that do not ply their trade in Wales, something which goes against ‘Gatland’s Law,’ where the Kiwi coach said that those based in Wales would have a better chance of inclusion than those elsewhere. After the announcement, Gatland was quick to ensure Welsh fans that no stone will be left unturned in a

thorough assessment of his squad to ensure that they go into this World Cup with the best preparation possible, saying: “The players will face a tough couple of months of intensive training. We will be taking them to Switzerland, Qatar and Poland and I can assure everyone they are no holiday camps.” The squad will first meet up on June 15th, which pleases Gatland as he wants to maximize the time spent together training before the tournament, citing the team’s form in the 2011 World Cup, where they reached the semi finals and came so close to the final. After facing Ireland on August 8th, the team will travel to North Wales for another training camp before having one more chance to impress against the Irish, this time in Dublin, on August 29th. Following this series of tests and training camps, Gatland will name his final 31-man squad on August 31st, which will precede one final test against Italy on September 5th before the tournament begins.

stadium. For Belgium, however, Radja Nainggolan could well be their standout performer. Though he may seem unlikely as Belgium boast the powerful strike force of Benteke, Lukaku and Hazard, the A.S Roma midfielder has been at the heart of Belgium’s qualification campaign. A versatile player, blending defensive duties with attack, he has pitched in with three assists, the most this campaign. Nainggolan also scored the crucial equalizer against Bosnia-Herzegovina ensuring Belgium’s unbeaten streak continued. Also, look out for the in-form Fellaini. The Manchester United midfielder has excelled under Louis Van Gaal at Old Trafford and is Belgium’s top scorer this qualifying campaign with three goals. Another point of interest to the Welsh and Belgians will be the BosniaHerzegovina v Israel tie elsewhere in the group. Well-fancied Bosnia have performed poorly thus far this campaign, losing to Israel and Cyprus, and will want to impress in front of home support to push for a play-off position. A win for Israel could see Wales drop to third in the group if Coleman’s men don’t ensure a draw against Belgium, but if the Bosnians win, and Wales successfully navigate a result against Marc Wilmots’ side, the 58 year dream of qualification might just become a reality.

Pictured: Marouane Fellaini (L) and Radja Nainggolan (R) could be key for Belgium (Photographer: Bruno Fahy/ Getty)

Wales’ warm-up and World Cup group stage fixtures August 8th, 14:30 Millennium Stadium Wales v Ireland August 29th, 14:30 Aviva Stadium Ireland v Wales September 5th, 17:00 Millennium Stadium Wales v Italy September 20th, 14:30 Millennium Stadium Wales v Uruguay September 26th, 20:00 Twickenham Stadium England v Wales October 1st, 16:45 Millennium Stadium Wales v Fiji October 10th, 16:45 Twickenham Stadium Australia v Wales

SPORT 39 Interview: Sam Parsons

Next year’s VP Sport talks to Gair Rhydd about his plans for the Athletic Union, his sporting background and YOLO Joe Atkinson

I completely believe being involved in a sports club or society shapes your time at university. You will never regret getting involved from day one

We simply cannot control every member of the Athletic Union, but we can trust those elected to the committee of every club

First of all, what is your sporting background, and why did you run to be the President of the Athletic Union? I have always been involved with sport from a very young age. I was four years old when I first picked up a rugby ball at my local club and haven’t looked back since. I was lucky enough to represent my county at age-grade level, and then in my year out before university was fortunate enough to play for Auckland University in New Zealand for a year. Since coming to Cardiff I have been part of the Rugby Club since Freshers’, culminating last year in being Chairman of the 200-plus strong club. Aside from rugby, I enjoy cricket, football, tennis, snowsports and wakeboarding. However, I can’t wait to learn more about the vast range of sports we offer here and broaden my horizons. How did you get involved with sport at university, and what would you say to those on the fence about joining a club? I got involved with sport through the Freshers’ Fayre. It’s a one-stop shop for all the sports we have to offer here and all the information can be found in one place. The only reason I can see people to be on the fence about joining certain sports is financial costs; I hope to ease this process, one of the main points in my manifesto. In terms of advice to these people, I would just say jump in. I completely believe being involved in a sports club or society shapes your time at university. You will never regret getting involved from day one. You were President of the Rugby Club as it won its first Varsity Cup since 2012. What sort of changes have you made to ensure that sort of success? First and foremost, the success was not due to my leadership. The victory put the cherry on top of a season that every member of CURFC 2014/15 involved will remember for a long, long time. I was lucky enough to be involved last summer in the process of appointing our new Head of Rugby, Louie Tonkin. He has come in and the success in Varsity largely comes down to him. Secondly, the culture that Louie, the rest of the committee, and I instilled was bought into by every member of the club. The 23 that took to the Liberty that night truly encapsulated that. I hope the club will go from strength to strength, but I have no query over whether they can repeat the feat next year. What is your vision for the Athletic Union under your leadership? We are lucky to have an Athletic Union as prolific as the one we do, therefore I hope to just improve this through my organisational skills, along with providing transparency on all matters. We are now just a week before the start

of the handover period, so I am yet to see where we can improve in certain areas. However, through the close contact I have had throughout the year with Bryn and the rest of the staff in the AU, I believe it to be operating at a grand level. What will you do differently to current AU President Bryn Griffiths? Bryn has done a fantastic job this year; he’s always there for a chat and couples this with always finding the time for you. The only thing I would do differently is a social highlight that was unfortunately missed this year: AU’s Got Talent. What do you feel are aspects of the AU that need improvements? As I said previously, I am yet to read the feedback that was given by this year’s committees about areas in which the AU can improve, yet through personal experience I think one area that could be improved is providing necessary information well in advance. This is possibly the only thing that I myself think calls for improvement, yet like I said, I will be looking over all the feedback given and doing my best to address all points raised. There have been a number of notorious incidents over the last few years involving sport clubs, from members of the Cricket Club displaying unionist flags outside a pub to a medics’ rugby player urinating on board a ferry. Do you plan to reduce examples of such incidents, and if so, how? There will always be a possibility of events like these grabbing the headlines and doing their best to tarnish the great name that Cardiff University has. We simply cannot control every member of the Athletic Union, but we can trust those elected to the committee of every club to instil a culture that doesn’t encourage this sort of activity. The importance of introducing a positive culture will be the main message of my talks with all returning committee members in September, and something that is important to myself that I will upkeep throughout the year. Varsity is the biggest student event of the year for Cardiff University students. After a mostly successful event held in Swansea in April, how will you approach the 2016 edition? Varsity this year was a massive success. I know a lot of people were dubious about the change over to Swansea, but from everyone I have spoken to I think it lived up to previous years. In terms of next year’s instalment, there are two things that are key to my approach. Firstly, I obviously want to bring it back to Cardiff. I don’t know how feasible this is due to contracts and other legislations that go above my head,

but this is something I would love to do. Secondly, and quite simply; no draws. Football this year finished 2-2. It’s a travesty that one of the highlights of the year boils down to a draw; penalties and their equivalents in other sports will hopefully be a welcome introduction to the excitement of the day. In your manifesto you pledged to “endeavour to reduce the personal financial costs to students in sport.” Where will you find the money to make these reductions? Right now, I can’t provide a solid answer. My initial ideas however circle around the concept of introducing a payment scheme where the individual can pay over a certain amount of time, rather than forking out the money upfront in September when a whole lot of money is flying around. This is just one idea, I look forward to working with the AU alongside Stuart Read and Cardiff University Sport to see if further reductions can be made. You also want to “increase student participation levels”. How will you go about achieving this? Give it a Go sessions this year worked wonders, I want to work with Josh and the team to introduce more of these. Furthermore, I hope to work with those partaking in IMG sport to increase their representation and see where we can increase areas that would benefit them. By opening up the possibilities and opportunities for individuals to get involved in sport, I hope this will transfer into more numbers being involved from an early stage in their university careers. You plan to implement an “award scheme” for clubs that increase membership. What form do you envisage these awards taking, and how would they be assigned? My initial idea for these is a financial reward, working on the means of membership increase (combining with my second manifesto point in increasing students involved in sport). By introducing an incentive, I believe clubs and their committees will work

harder in gaining more members and therefore increased interest too. Are there any other policies that you are planning to implement in addition to those detailed in your manifesto? Currently, no. Aside from AU’s Got Talent, my main focus of the year will be the three points laid out on my initial manifesto. I hope once I settle into the role however, I can reassess these points and address the needs of the AU to ensure I leave the position in a positive manner. There has been frustration at how the IMG leagues are run, with team’s regularly having games cancelled after expenses have been paid. Do you want to tackle these issues? As I said previously, I want to establish a relationship with all those involved in IMG sports. I believe that in doing this, the organisation of the leagues can be improved and instances like this become eradicated. And finally, our comprehensive AU survey earlier in the year revealed widespread disdain for the renaming of The Lash to YOLO. As you are to soon become a member of CUSU’s staff, what are your honest opinions on the rebrand? Honestly, it is still ‘The Lash’. I have not heard one person call it ‘YOLO’, and nor do I expect to. It’s probably not what I should be saying but this is a fortnight before I take position. If I have to call it ‘YOLO’ when I am a fully-fledged member of staff then so be it, but I can’t see the Wednesday regulars calling it anything but its true name. In terms of the rebrand, I think it was a tricky spot they found themselves in as the place itself went under such drastic transformation last summer, perhaps a change of name was necessary. After all, it’s only a name. I think a lot of people find pride in the sense that they were here when it was officially ‘The Lash’. Those entering their third year of study are the veterans, and I am confident they will enlighten our incoming Freshers of ‘the good old days’.

Pictured: Parsons after being elected VP Sport and AU President in February (Photographer: Gregory McChesney)

Penalties and their equivalents in other sports will hopefully be a welcome introduction to the excitement of Varsity

I have not heard one person call it ‘YOLO’, and nor do I expect to


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Cardiff’s year of sport in review

In our last issue of the year, we look back on this academic year’s sporting action in the Welsh capital

Joe Atkinson David Hooson


t’s been a busy year of sport in Cardiff. From the rebrand of the city’s football club to the university’s success at Varsity and everything in between, we’ve done a month-by-month review of the year’s sporting action. It was a disappointing year for both Cardiff City and Cardiff Blues, but the decision to return to a blue kit for

Interview with next year’s VP Sport P39>>

the former was a positive ray of light through the gloom. Meanwhile it was a widely positive year for Wales’ national sides as well, with the football team rising rapidly in FIFA’s world rankings. Despite a disappointing showing in the Autumn internationals and a third-placed finish in the RBS Six Nations, there is optimism for Warren

Gatland’s Welsh rugby side as they go into this September’s Rugby World Cup, which is being hosted across the UK, with games being held at the Millennium Stadium. Glamorgan County Cricket Club’s season is up and running, months before the Ashes once again land in Wales, with the first match of the series taking place at Glamorgan’s

Wales face Belgium challenge P38>>

SWALEC Stadium. At Cardiff University, sport has also thrived, especially at this year’s edition of the Welsh Varsity that took place in Swansea for the first time since 2010. Cardiff dominated the event all round, and a first win over Swansea uni’s rugby club since 2012 capped off what has been a fantastic year of sport to cover in the Welsh capital.

Continued on page 36

A preview of Cardiff’s Ashes opener P37>>

Profile for Michael O'Connell-Davidson

Gair Rhydd 1057 - 8th June 2015  

Cardiff's student weekly

Gair Rhydd 1057 - 8th June 2015  

Cardiff's student weekly

Profile for mikeocd