POST-BIRTH ABORTION Roger Smith discusses the moral issues surrounding the abortion debate To most people, it seems a clear-cut issue: post-birth abortion is tantamount to murder; the pre-meditated murder of a gurgling, innocent baby. However, under examination, it seems less than obvious. For example, in the UK most people are prochoice, and the upper limit to abortion is 24 weeks. The most premature surviving baby was born at 21 weeks, five days. Had he been in the womb, it would have been perfectly acceptable to kill him, so why the vast change in moral standpoint after birth? Consider also, the fact that humans tend to fail the “Mirror Test” up until the age of about 15 months. This means that up to that point babies cannot recognise themselves in a mirror and as a result can be judged to lack self-awareness and higher order brain function. On this basis they rank somewhere below adult primates, elephants, dolphins and orcasanimals which can be legally hunted and the killing of which provokes outrage mainly due to their rarity and suffering. Human babies are abundant and, provided it is done mercifully and without
suffering, need not be treated differently. The anti-abortion position becomes more consistent if one is wholesale against it. If one firmly believes human beings have souls which are present immediately after conception and that any form of abortion is thus morally wrong, it seems a perfectly consistent position to hold. I cannot prove human beings are soulless and animal any more than the opposing side can prove they are imbued with a Godgiven spirit. Neither position is more objectively correct; but both seem to be consistent with the principles behind them, unlike the current legislative position. The viability of a foetus does not seem to be a sufficient condition for setting an abortion limit, since it depends heavily on the progress of medical advances. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that in a few decades’ time a foetus will be able to undergo some form of “artificial gestation” after a mere period of days after conception. Indeed, UK abortion law used to allow abortion up to 28 weeks rather than the current 24- the lim-
it being lowered to reflect advances in medicine. At some point the underlying principles will have to be explicitly decided upon- if there comes a point where foetuses are considered viable at all different stages of development do we ban the procedure completely and make a tacit admission that previous abortions were, perhaps, “wrong”? The points above only apply to the abortion of the unwanted. Where the mother’s life or health is at risk the waters are somewhat muddied. Under those circumstances even that most hard-line opponent, the Roman Catholic Church, allows for it in certain cases under the Principle of Double Effect laid down by St. Thomas Aquinas and included in the Catechism as a justification for self-defence. I hope I have shown the difficulties of forming a logically consistent moral position on abortion, which I believe is part of the reason why it remains such a controversial topic.
SPARE A THOUGHT Luke O’Boyle makes a case for civilised behaviour among students As a second year student, I feel fairly justified in saying I’m pretty used to the sights around town. The more memorable landmarks would likely be the Radcliffe Camera, Carfax tower, Oxford Castle, and the large number of homeless people inevitably passed when shooting off ten minutes late to a lecture you may well have slept through. I’m not going to argue that you should give away lots of your money, or take part in every/any charity event. Sure, doing those are definitely noble endeavours, but I would be a major hypocrite for arguing that, and there is the obvious fact that we are students- we’re all pretty poor and we don’t all have lots of free time. This little piece then is focused to the minor, and yet still pretty important, issue of manners. By now I’m used to watching streams of people making their way past the Big Issue sellers, either as if they don’t exist, or worse yet as if they carry some form of disease and so it is best to walk on the other side of the pavement.
The simple fact that you might not have the spare change to purchase a copy of the Big Issue isn’t really a fair reason to ignore the homeless vendor offering it for sale. Manners do go a long way, especially when you’re refusing to part with the £1.70 that is being requested. If you don’t have the money to give, then at least say that, and throw in a polite apology. Crucially, you know you have somewhere to sleep that night, and can get a (relatively) cheap, warm dinner from your college hall, whereas the homeless vendor doesn’t enjoy the same situation. I’m definitely not arguing that everybody has to buy copies of the Big Issue. We’re all students, and we have the right to enjoy what little money we have. If you choose to refuse to spend £1.70 towards a person who’s far less privileged than yourself, and instead put it towards an unhealthy batch of £2 cheesy chips from your local kebab van, then that’s up to you. The fact that each vendor has to initially purchase each copy themselves for 85p, and is thus, proportionately, spending far more of their own
WONDERACLAND When does renovation become destructive? Géraldine Cirot discusses.
There is, on Banbury Road, a house for poets and novelists who have long mislaid their powers of invention. Walk into the hall and uninspired writing will be gone forever. The Acland site, purchased by Keble College in 2004, provides graduate living accomodation for the generations of students breathing new life into what used to be the Sarah Acland Home for Nurses, Yet, something remains of those sterilized days. Washed-out colours, long, low corridors. Plugs above the bedsteads waiting for medical appliances to start throbbing again. A rickety chair by the window to sit and gaze into space until the wounds are healed. For some residents, the discovery of Acland must in many ways resemble Jane Eyre’s arrival in Thornfield Hall, an isolated gothic mansion. The disconsolate landscape of grey fitted carpets and equally cheerless wallpapers, intricate hallways and
staircases, may indeed evoke some of Jane Eyre’s impressions as she describes Thornfield Hall: “The breakfast, dining, and drawing rooms were become for me awful regions, on which it dismayed me to intrude”. Four years ago, Keble’s bursar reportedly declared that it would cost approxi mately £45 million to erase these “awful regions’ from our emotional maps. Some wonder why the renovation of the Acland site has not yet been defined as a priority. Others frequently hold improvised conferences in the first-floor kitchen, arousing in their audience deep anxieties as to whether or not the morgue has been preserved, and offer to search for it on Halloween night. Acland is now an old lady and as new student accomodation springs up in town, it is about time we started celebrating her peculiar beauty. On Jesus College’s website one can read that “just over one week ago, 31
income in the hope that people might in fact show consideration and care and make their investment worthwhile would hopefully push you to occasionally forgo the extra pint before a night out, and instead put it towards a more moral cause. However, it’s not my place to tell you what to do with your money. Nonetheless, it really doesn’t take much to be polite, and although it is easier to just drift on by, there is no reason not to show some manners and respect, and look at the Big Issue vendor and apologise when you say you can’t buy a copy of their magazine. Whether your reasons are valid or more selfish (tut tut), the vendor will likely respect that you at least acknowledged them. Meanwhile, I will aim to take on the advice of a far nicer person than myself and strike up a conversation with some of the sellers I’ve seen around. I see no harm in being friendly to those outside the University as well as fellow students, once in a while. It might even make someone’s day.
lucky undergradate students moved into the brand new Ship Street Centre”, which offers a spacious and modern environment - “en-suite bathrooms” and “an incredibly fast internet connectivity”. Still, the place has no history, no secrets to tell. Most of us have come to Oxford University not just because it is one of the best in the world, but also because it has a soul. Beyond this struggle between history & modernity lies an intriguing question: no one knows for sure if Acland will be renovated and when. What remains to be agreed upon is whether or not it is truly desirable. As Oscar Wilde once wrote: “The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last”.
EVERY LITTLE WASTES By Rachel Savage
TOLERANCE RETURNS TO OUCA Jake Coltman reports the latest scandal
Every Sunday at 8:30 a new disgrace is piled upon the name of the University of Oxford by these misogynistic, racist, homophobic, upper middle-class white men who seem to fervently believe that the sun is still to set on the British Empire. To admit OUCA membership, even in confidence and to your closest friends, is to own up to being a member of an elite club of douches; a move which even the most dedicated Old Etonian would carefully cultivate for several terms before going through with it. This was certainly the state of play when I enrolled last year, and it genuinely put me off joining (omg what a douche!) for the whole first term. While the heat has recently been toned down, the consensus hasn’t; and one can imagine intense Laboury types still walking the streets of Oxford bubbling with lefty indignance at what they heard happened at the last P&P from a friend of someone who was there. I’m not implying that OUCA is an organisation that will appeal to everyone, indeed it takes quite a specific type of person to appreciate it; but I would say that it no more deserves hugely negative press and consequent societal rage than does the Space Club. When defending OUCA, I always remind of a book that I read about the French Revolution. When trying D’Anton, the tactic the prosecution used wasn’t to level any specific accusation, but more to use generalised slurs that couldn’t be defended by pointing out the specific inaccuracies in claims. Similarly, the only way to defend arguments like “OUCA is full of douches though, isn’t it?” and “they’re a bunch of racists” is to set up a counter-veiling narrative in the hope that actually factual support will convince. In my experience, OUCA is the single most accepting group of people I have ever met. Whether you want to drink until you can’t stand up or don’t want to drink, are gay or straight, poor or rich, On a quick dash to the shops to restock my mini fridge, the bounty of Lincoln College accommodation not including any access to communal kitchens or fridges other than in the regularly pilfered JCR, I encountered a direct attack on that hallowed motto “Every Little Helps”. On the way to the dairy aisle, I was accosted by the sight of a tray full of cakes and biscuits that was about to be thrown away. My thrifty student instincts kicked in and I asked whether they were being offered at a reduced price, or even for free. The man holding the tray looked at me, puzzled, so I pressed my case - surely they must be able to offer me a deal on said sugary goods before confining them to the skip. The staff member, who seemed unable to give me a concrete answer, gazed stupefied up the aisle towards his supervisor, who stunned me by stating, “We don’t reduce bakery goods. You’ll
northern or southern, black or white, you will find absolutely no element of judgement about your lifestyle in a way that could not be said as readily about college life. Sure there are racist jokes, sure there are sexist jokes but that’s what they are; meaningless jokes that don’t carry sub-text. The failure to see the difference between such jokes in the mouths of Oxford students, made amusing as much by the irony and shock value as the jokes themselves, and in the mouths of a skinhead in Burnley ready to follow the punch line up with a firebomb leads to much of the aberration. Indeed the most outrageous jokes that you hear come from the mouths of the offended race or gender. The obvious lefty comeback is that this is an attempt to fit in, but in the context of a voluntary intercollegiate society this is spurious to the extent of being ridiculous. Now, let me talk about the Labour club: a group of serious people who meet up even more regularly, bring little shame on the university and are one of the best student campaign bodies in the country. Yet they are far more sinister than OUCA in that their notions of how the world should be are far more rigid. Gone is the light-heartedness of OUCA and in its place is a drive to a vision that leaves little room for varied discussion. I remember a conversation at a Magdalen formal discussing the week’s OUCA debate, something along the lines of whether Rhodesia should have been allowed to leave the Empire, one Laboury type stormed out before the food had even arrived because one of the other diners had dared to support OUCA’s right to use the word Rhodesia in a debate. Compare the tolerant, accepting attitude of the Conservative Association against the blind rigidity of the Labour club and ask yourself where one might be more likely to encounter judgement or silencing of opinion. have to buy them at full price.” Full price for cookies that not only does my expanding waistline not require, but that are about to be thrown away! This was incomprehensible to me. We are meant to be in an environmentally-aware age, where every respectable chain store is falling over themselves to appear eco-friendly, yet Tescos were trying to charge me full whack for what was essentially rubbish. The sheer waste of it left me fuming as I left the shop, factory farmed milk in hand. And though I said it was a quick dash to the shops I lied. Carrying a cello on one’s back never helps with speed, and I was certainly not feeling helped by the monolithic supermarket monster. We are told “Waste Not, Want Not” by countless government quangos and scrupulous grandparents, but many companies are clearly not paying attention. Or making sure that scrounging students are helped in every, little, blindingly obvious way.
The Oxonian Vigilo et Vox
HOT BROWNE MESS
We take a closer look at the Browne Review Lord Browne’s review of university education has undoubtedly caused great controversy among us. A brief perusal of the internet will bring up any number of angry parents who fear that they won’t be able to send young Sally to university after all. Even in our fair city, many of you will have seen the police trying their best to constrain the recent protest. Yet much of this anger is misinformed and ill-directed. This article is not trying to make a claim for Browne’s work, indeed we believe that one’s conclusion will probably come from the readers’ normative values. Instead, we suggest the reader should make the effort to fully understand the Browne review before deciding to condemn or support. To begin with, many of the allegations against the Browne review are true. He does recommend raising the fees for undergraduates and he does propose moving towards a market in education. So far so bad, this is enough for people from OUSU to suggest that this will somehow represent a “kick in the teeth to people from disadvantaged backgrounds”. Yet this is objectively untrue. The government will continue to lend students 100% of their fees up front, in addition to a maintenance loan. As such the strategic environment facing prospective students and their families hasn’t changed at all; they currently pay, and will continue to pay, nothing up front. So the argument must be that the high levels of debt incurred will put off poorer students who won’t be used to such sums of money and will hence be frightened to risk such debt. This is wrong both as an argument and as an empirical statement. Firstly, there is absolutely no risk attached to the debt itself. Part of the Browne review is that the starting point for repayments has been moved from £15,000 to £21,000, as a result the bottom 30% of graduate earners
will be made better off from the changes, despite the increased fees. At the extreme, if a graduate never earns more than £21,000 in a year, said graduate will never pay back a single penny of the debt. The only real risk is the lost earnings during the years of study, but this problem exists under any system of university education. Secondly, there is no empirical evidence that high debt burden puts people off university, and as such any claims to that end are merely guesswork and assumption. On top of these, now mitigated, downsides, Browne’s proposals offer many overlooked positives. The most well known of these is the market in education. At present, every undergraduate pays broadly the same amount, no matter which institution you go to. As a result, we here at Oxford, benefitting from incredibly costly and beneficial degrees, pay the same as a student at a much lower cost and less beneficial degree at say, the
BITTER WORDS A regular revelatory column by Oliver Haste. This issue: tourists Oxford developed as a town during the twelfth-century. A simpler time. A time without cars, cyclists, selfservice tills, but most important of all: without tourists. The pavements were not designed to be filled to the brim with old Asian women waddling along as if all of their legs were tied together. If you were outside of Oxford, you might regard a woman holding an umbrella upside-down above her head as someone who does not know how to use an umbrella properly, but in Oxford that just means that they are leading a charge of tourists. Arriving to a place near you: to clog up the street, stop you from accelerating past amble-speed, and to make you do that thing where you can’t decide which side of the pavement to talk on be-
cause there are people coming at you, so you just side-step for a while, give up, and then stand still to wait, like the functionally asocial person you are. They are worst in packs, the alpha tourist deciding what to gawp at while the others shuffle along while taking photos of stuff that they have in their country but in a different language. Before I get reported to the University and have my “U” removed for racism, I would like to clarify that I do not just hate foreigners – I also hate middle-class English tourists who push their barely sentient babies around. My resentment for anything that is wide and walks slowly is probably a bit extreme. There is a reason for this. I seem to be programmed to walking as quickly as possible, which means that I usually end up almost step-
University of Bolton. This seems to be incredibly unfair, and the new market in education seeks to rectify this – if your degree is more costly and will give you a larger private benefit, you should, and will, pay more for it, providing it’s not upfront. In addition, the Browne review attempts to raise the standard of education in our universities: every new academic will have to have some teaching qualifications, ensuring that head in the sky professors who can barely teach should become less of a feature in our educational system. None of this is to say that everyone should support the Browne review, perhaps the government should foot the whole bill, perhaps equality is more important than fairness. However, having read this article, we hope you will now at least read the review with an awareness of the many nuances in what is an overwhelmingly complex issue.
Now available online! @ issuu.com/oxonianonline ping on the heels of any stranger in front of me. I am actually quite self-conscious about this. Especially when there is a woman in front, I am worried that she thinks that I am some sort of sex-pervert, trying to get as close to her as possible to quickly frote-myself-off and then run away in post-orgasm excitement. However, I think that most students here have probably experienced being in a hurry to get somewhere and then ending up being fenced in by a regiment of seemingly-confused tourists who ask you where the University is. My only pleasure is in seeing them walk up to the Rad Cam doors and get turned away for not having a Bod Card. Maybe we should introduce Bod Cards for the street? Bod Cards for shops? Elitism might not be for everyone, but that’s the point.
Editor In Chief- Sofia F. Abasolo - Assistant Editor - Oliver Haste - Comment & Debate Editor - Jake Coltman Treasurer - Barnaby Lynch - Secretary - Eddie Smith - Marketing & Distribution - Fabienne Cheung - Head of Business & Development - James Bridges Contributors: Jim Everett, Luke O’ Boyle, Géraldine Cirot, Roger Smith, Jake Coltman, Oliver Haste firstname.lastname@example.org
4th Week - MT10
OUSU: NOT IN OUR NAME Jim Everett urges everyone to the barricades
My resignation on the 21st October as the VP of Corpus’ JCR over the left-wing bias of the JCR in particular and OUSU in general has prompted much discussion and thought within our little college. What has surprised me, but ultimately given me hope, is the repeated and continued hostility towards OUSU and its patent left-wing agenda. I honestly believe that the zeitgeist is changing within Oxford. People do not want OUSU acting on their behalf, and they do not like being made to feel like right-wing fascists for having the temerity to question the cult of OUSU. A new age of reason and rationality is emerging, and it pleasures me greatly to see this within Corpus. . OUSU and the JCR should, fundamentally, as student bodies, be focusing on the welfare of the students. Our current leaders of OUSU and the JCRs seem overwhelmingly, in my experience, to be far more interested in pushing their own political ideologies than working for the benefits of the students as a whole. This is a dangerous trend, and I hope that for all the attacks I have received from self identified Socialists, my resignation and campaign against this will provoke thought, among students, regarding this issue. I resigned because I could not express any opinion which did not conform with that of a bigoted Left wing. I resigned because I cared more about the welfare of the JCR
than my own political ideologies. Ultimately, though, I resigned because I hoped that it would make people question the current climate whereby this is deemed acceptable and is rapidly becoming the norm. It is on this basis that I urge anyone who is worried about this trend of left-wing bias to individually disaffiliate from OUSU. This will have a negligible negative effect on you personally, but will serve as a strong message that OUSU cannot keep acting in our names without representing us. A range of political opinions exist, and it is disgraceful that only leftish policies are accepted. It is disgraceful that people are being put off from resigning from running in their JCRs and OUSU because they fear that they “are not left wing enough” (and I quote from someone I met this week!). It is disgraceful, ultimately, that instead of focusing on students’ welfare, they are wasting our money pushing their own political ideologies. Write to the OUSU president and express your desire to disaffiliate. If you’re right wing, you should disaffiliate because OUSU is clearly not representing your interests. If you’re left wing, you should disaffiliate by considering how you would feel if the political bias was in favour of right-wing politics. And if you’re neither, you should disaffiliate in protest at OUSU wasting time and money in political movements which are not in your interest. I will be disaffiliating. I hope you will too.
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